Winter Recap: The Longest Night

I haven’t written a blog post in a while, though I had every intention of writing more this year. Inspired by the prolific Gersande, I want to change that, starting with a recap of the past five months, because a lot did happen.

To start, this past winter was miserable. As someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, cold temperatures and short days bring down my mood; the colder and darker it is, the worse I feel. The winter of 2017 was surprisingly mild, and I took Vitamin D supplements to help my mood and lower my stress. Unsure if the Vitamin D actually worked or was merely a placebo, I didn’t take them this past winter — a clear mistake. This was my worst winter, mentally, in recent memory, so bad that I broke down in front of Dan one day and he saw how badly it affected me.

At the end of January, I started yoga again, to exercise my body and to help my struggling mental health. I started by attending 70-minute classes on Wednesday afternoons at the local YogaWorks studio. I succeeded at it for a while, and I did notice how much better I felt, physically, after a class. But rushing home to change and then rush back outside to make it to the class was not helpful to my mental health, especially when I was already warring with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I decided to try yoga at home, which has been successful in its own way. These days, I try to practice for 30 minutes every Wednesday after work, but I’m still trying to make a habit of it. My ideal schedule would be 30-minute sessions twice or three times each week. I’ll get there.

Of course, the highlight of my year so far is my engagement. Dan proposed on Saturday, March 16 and it was a dream come true. We celebrated together afterward by going into Washington D.C. for a date night at Tryst, the coffee bar and lounge where we had our first date. Anyone who knows me well will know how much I love to plan and organize, so my own wedding is the biggest and most exciting project to come across my plate. I’ve thrown myself into it, and it’s progressing really well. The best part, though, is how involved Dan is. Our wedding is our first big project as a team, and I love that we are working together on it.

A couple of days after our engagement, Dan and I went skiing and snowboarding. Dan has skied all of his life, but I have not done either, and I wanted to give snowboarding a try. Because we went so late in the season, only the lower slopes still had snow, and the weather was quite tolerable. Few other people came to the resort to ski and snowboard, so there were no lines at the lifts or any crowds at all. Dan said it was an ideal day for a first time. I was even the only person in my beginner’s class, so the teacher tailored the lesson for me. I was surprised by how much yoga I could apply to snowboarding. Standing on the board properly and maneuvering came more naturally to me than I expected, and by the end of our four-hour excursion, I made it to the bottom of the beginner’s hill without falling once — which is exactly what I went there to accomplish. We drove home earlier than we expected, but we were tired, sore, and famished. My whole body ached the next day, and my tailbone took two weeks to recover from bruising.

Description: The photo Dan took of me on my rented snowboard, atop the smallest hill at the ski resort.

As winter ended and spring began, my friends and I started playing tabletop games again. I started — and recently concluded — my first game for Degenesis: Rebirth, which is currently my favorite tabletop RPG. Instead of using one of the premade adventures published by SIXMOREVODKA, I crafted a homebrew adventure, a “short story” with a simpler plot so that I could keep the number of sessions low. Despite the fact that I’ve made many homebrew games for Dungeons & Dragons before, creating one for Degenesis is very different. The two games are nothing alike, so I almost felt like I was relearning how to be a Game Master. It was challenging, but it was fulfilling. Nothing makes me quite so happy as a storyteller as my friends enjoying a campaign I’ve crafted from scratch.

We played Emberwind, too, a high fantasy tabletop RPG that addresses a lot of the number crunching problems found in D&D. Three of us played the starter adventure, and though the setting and lore were unappealing to us (we are not fans of high fantasy as much these days), the combat mechanics are spectacular. Emberwind is a simpler, more streamlined, more sensible game, and if we can take its system and apply it to other genres, other stories, I think we could have a lot of fun. I’m tempted to convert the Pathfinder campaign “Reign of Winter” into an Emberwind game much later — perhaps next year, when I have more time.

With the end of these two games came spring. I can watch the sun rise while I drive to work during the 5 o’clock hour now — a sight that never fails to raise my mood and bring me joy. The weather is much improved, and the days have lengthened. I’m trying to make the effort to go out more and spend time with friends. I’m taking vitamins more regularly — especially Vitamin D, even though I’m spending more time in the sun. Overall, I feel rejuvenated, alive, with the weight of winter lifted from my chest.

And soon it will be summer.

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