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Photo by Zach Taiji pathway between red tulip flower field

2021, Part Five: May

Welcome to May! Feels like a turning point in the year because things are looking up. (And I am also looking up!!) A few books this month, lots of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and a few achievements (including another job change).

📚 | Books I Read

I completed two books this month, read a bit of a third, and started a fourth. Not my most active time, but I do have some audiobooks on hold that I need to wait to get. I just got Ninth House in the Libby app, and I’m just preparing because of all its triggers.

The Brain Fog Fix by Dr. Mike Dow (Blackstone Publishing audiobook) | ⭐🔳🔳🔳🔳 | Goodreads Review

Would not recommend, as indicated in my review on Goodreads. It probably didn’t even deserve a one star. The author is a behavioural therapist with education in relationship therapy, and yet the bulk of the book talks about “superfoods”, omega-3 fatty acids, and patronizing tones about farmed salmon instead of wild-caught salmon. If I had known most of the book would have been food rules, I wouldn’t have even requested it from the library, because there were times it started to trigger my eating disorder.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (Hachette audiobook) | ⭐⭐⭐⭐🔳 | Goodreads Review

This was pretty entertaining! I left a short review on Goodreads and I had no idea this book was so popular. I found it while browsing Fantasy genre audiobooks, saw the cover, listened to a sample, and got it immediately. The narrator (whose name is also January, which is fun!) did an exquisite job with this book.

I continued reading Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke, which I think has taken me at least 3 months to get through. I’ve savoured it a lot more on this read-through. This is at least my second time reading the Inkheart trilogy, but it’s been so many years that I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened. Funke is an author I look up to as well, so my time reading the series has included a lot of pausing, highlighting, and enjoying the craft.

And finally, I started reading The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts by Hanne Blank (ebook). I admit I’ve only finished chapter one, but this so far has been the complete opposite to Brain Fog Fix and I’m damn excited to take notes as I continue reading.

I’m wondering if I should add my books of 2021 to Goodreads. It would be nice if the Libby app could coordinate a bit with Goodreads, but I haven’t even put reviews for most of the books I’ve read this year so far. I’ll see if that’s something I want to do after I check my audiobook history.

🎶 | Music I Enjoyed

I’ve been obsessed with the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BOTW) soundtrack this month. The WiiU broke some time ago, and my electrical engineer room mate ordered the parts to fix it. After a bit of trial and error, he got the right chip, and until then, I filled my BOTW absence with the game’s soundtrack. (He succeeded this month, as I mention below!)

I love game scores so much. The variety, even within one game, astounds me. We can have songs of ambience, or upbeat tunes, or intense–almost frightening–thematic showstoppers. Nier: Automata, a game which my room mate has been playing, has an absolutely incredible soundtrack that I think I’ll add to June’s listening lists.

🎮 | Games I Played

Since the WiiU got fixed, and that’s where BOTW is, that’s what I’ve been playing. I’m determined to get all 900 Korok seeds (currently have 529 as of writing on May 31); upgrade all sets of armour; cook one of every non-buff food item; and then, after all that, I’ll go fight Ganon. I have all the Divine Beasts and have completed all the shrines, so I’ve just been putting off ending the game. I may even get the DLC to continue playing before I go defeat Ganon, but until then, I’m farming dragon parts and hunting down Korok seeds… The point is, I don’t want the game to end, so I’m over the moon at how many things there are to do. I’ve already completed all the side quests, too, so now it’s just time to indulge being a “completionist” gamer.

I also played a bit of Papers, Please which was an absolute joy. I want to get all the endings for this game as well, especially because I want to earn the “Endless” mode. I know that I can just get the code online, since it’s the same for everyone, but I want to get it myself. I’ve used just a few guides to work through and I think I’m almost there! I needed to take a break from the game, though, because I sat for literal hours playing it at a time. It’s so… methodical… hypnotic… and satisfying. Stamp, stamp, stamp.

🧠 | Mental Health Check-in:

I think my mental health has been a lot better this month. There was a brief period at the start of the month that… Honestly, it felt like withdrawal. I think I had a behavioural addiction to social media, and the first week and a half without it? I was irritable, moody, and anxious. I couldn’t sit still. I struggled to focus. I wanted to just log on to Twitter and Reddit to refresh, to keep on top of what was going on outside of myself. When I checked in with myself, I knew I would find unhappiness on social media. This irritability began at the end of April but continued into May until I reflected on where it was coming from and what I could do to address it.

I ended up facing that moodiness head-on. I’ve been exercising more and sleeping better, although there are still a handful of 4-hour sleeps. I’ve tried to use my planner more, with the designs I made personally for myself, and that’s helped me stay grounded and connected to my moods (and other bipolar symptoms). That connection is so vital, just like having a routine, which I’ve been a bit less successful at committing to.

⭐⭐⭐🔳🔳

2.5 out of 5 for May. Probably closer to 3, but I’m being realistic and acknowledging that I can be better. I have a concept in mind for a “Level Up Life” tracker that I want to develop, so I can partake in some web-dev hobbies that I’ve missed out on for, oh, perhaps 4 years. I’ve been reading up on databases and Javascript to help prepare for it, but for now I’m letting it marinate in my brain before starting to tackle the actual coding and programming.

🏆 | May Accomplishments & Highlights

So I got a promotion in February. And this month, I was offered another contract with the same company for a role in Quality Assurance. I was so surprised, but I’m so proud of myself and grateful that my skills and potential have been recognized. Here’s hoping that it goes well! I’m excited for the new role and the additional work, but of course there’s also a healthy amount of nervousness that comes with change and new responsibilities.

There were a number of small wins throughout the month: my digestion issues have subsided a lot, my sleep has improved compared to January to April (and all of 2020…), and I got my first COVID-19 vaccine! This month reminded me that the future is something to look forward to, not something to worry about. Last month I said I would take a vacation at the end of May, but I’ve decided to hold off on that for July.

I also joined the Executive Branch for Editors Ottawa-Gatineau (wow!) as Website Co-Chair and I’m excited to use my web-dev skills, get to know more of the group, and become more involved with the association.

📋 | June Plans

I’m honestly not too sure what’s in store for June, at least for my own personal goals. There are a number of external responsibilities that I’m sure will take priority as the month continues, such as training for my new role and working with the executive branch, but I’m looking forward to all of it. I have some blog posts coming up for June, so those are something to look forward to as well. One about blogging vs. content creating, another to update on what it’s been like to quit social media, and a few others I’m still drafting and brainstorming that deal with physical health, bipolar disorder, and more personal stuff.

This is one of the first months in a while where I feel excited about concrete tasks, rather than the possibility of achievement. Does that make sense? There are actual things to look forward to, instead of goals I hope to achieve.


Send me your recommendations for books, music albums, and games! 📬

June and July are slow for work, usually, and I’d love some suggestions for things I can enjoy in between responsibilities.

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