Good Intentions for the New Year

plansandgoals2020I know what you’re thinking: Tracey, what the literal hell? It’s nearly a week into the year already and you’re just now coming out with your plans and goals for 2020?

And you know what? I get it! I really do! It doesn’t set a great precedent, taking so long to even start talking about your plans, right? Absolutely.

But here’s the thing, my lovely, sweet, summer children:

2020 has hit me like a motherfucking ten-ton truck straight between the eyes.

Believe me when I say that between the sinus cold, the full-day travelling for work, the massive inner ear infection, and the thirteen-hour work days, this is the first chance I’ve had to even attempt to write this post. And the only reason I’m even writing it now, instead of collapsing into bed and letting my poor, burning eyeballs rest, is because tomorrow I have to do my first weekly update post! Kinda hard to do an update post when you haven’t yet written the post that’s being updated on.

So, ignoring for the time being that the thread of sanity I’m currently clinging to is pulled tighter than a bowstring, let’s take a look at what I’ve decided to put my focus into for 2020.



Goal #1: Be Healthier

  • Eat better (and less)
  • Drink more water
  • Get more exercise
  • Lose 2 lbs per month

“Be healthier” is the overall idea, but it seemed a little too vague for my sense of requiring something to track, so I came up with a few specific items to focus on. This one might seem a bit cliche, honestly, but it is actually something I want to start paying more attention to. I was doing really well for a while there when I was working the shutdown in the Fall, but I kinda fell apart once I went home and started in on the holidays and whatnot. I want to try to turn that back around, because I’ve definitely been feeling the failure physically lately.

The first three bullets ultimately lead to the fourth, which is the main part of my goal. Weight, of course, isn’t always the most important factor, but in my particular case I have gained weight and want to shed it again. Plus losing some weight will help significantly with the overall health factor.

Goal #2: Be an Author

  • Write 500,000 words throughout the year
  • Promote published books
  • Promote Patreon & exclusive content
  • Work on Author social media

For my word count goal this year I’m repeating my 500k goal from last year. I could probably go higher, since I was so close to hitting that goal in 2019, but I wanted to stay reasonable and I didn’t want to take away too much from other goals. Writing is incredibly important to me, but there are other things that I want to focus on as well.

The word count part of this section is obviously the big one, but I also want to start putting more work into self-promotion, as well as the community aspect through social media. More followers equals more potential readers, after all.

And finally, I also intend to upload Patreon only content for lovely folks who want to support me just because they’re awesome.

Goal #3: Be a YouTuber

  • Film/edit/upload
  • Promote and Interact (Social Media)
  • Expand website content

Let’s face it; I haven’t been a very good YouTuber for ages now. There have been excuses, some good, some pathetic, but the long and short of it is that I just haven’t been doing it. In the coming year I want to start carving out time to ensure that videos are filmed, edited, and uploaded, and to regularly promote the channel and interact with the community through social media. Alongside that, I intend to take a more firm hold of the channel website, catch up on video-related posts, and start creating a variety of other content to entice visitors with.

Goal #4: Be Fun

  • Read 50 books throughout the year
  • Play video games
  • Watch shows/movies

The least important in many ways, but the most important in some ways, my final overall goal for 2020 is to have fun doing things I love doing. The most specific one is the reading one, since it coincides with my Goodreads 2020 Challenge, but the overall intention for the goal is: Read – Play – Watch. Because, after all, all work and no play makes Tracey a homicidal maniac.

That is how that saying goes, right?


And there we have it, easy as 1-2-3….and also 4, I suppose. It took me nearly a week to get here, but I officially have a recorded and shared list of goals for 2020, all shiny and new and waiting for me to hop on them. Now, if I could just get rid of these blasted ailments… *cough cough ; snort snort; dead*

Did you make any goals for 2020? Any plans to do marvellous things? Any thoughts on where the New Year is headed? Let me know in the comments!

The Ultimate Acid Test

I’m throwing myself to the wolves, dear friends, and I sincerely hope I come out uneaten.

Let’s talk about depression for a few minutes.

It’s a shitty, hateful, unfair thing, depression. It doesn’t care who you are, where you’re from, what your background is, or what your future looks like. It strikes regardless of age, race, or religion, and it doesn’t give two shakes of a rat’s ass whether you’re rich or poor, a loser or a success, or whether you have any real logical reason to be suffering from it.

Depression, despite what those who don’t suffer from it sometimes think, is not like being sad. The two can be interrelated, but are not nearly the same thing. Sadness is something you feel when you flunk a test or break up with a significant other or say your final farewells to a loved one. Depression can hitch a ride on those situations, no doubt, but depression also hits a victim with no reason and no warning. Depression can strike because your drive to school was two minutes late, or because you hit your toe on the bed-frame, or because a coworker is mildly annoyed with you. Depression strikes at the tiniest provocation – sometimes so tiny that you’re not even sure exactly what set it off – and quickly swells into vicious self-loathing and an almost physically painful misery. Oftentimes, with depression, you might even have the foresight to see how ridiculous it is to get so upset over something so minor, and yet you can’t shut that feeling off. Like someone with a manic phobia, you might be perfectly able to say “there’s nothing here to be afraid of”, and yet your mind and body tell you otherwise. They act instinctively and take you down with them.

For years I fought silently with depression, laboring under the impression (as many do) that there was nothing truly wrong with me: I was just a weak, pathetic idiot letting stupid things rule my life. I could be better, I was just failing to be better, or so I thought. And those thoughts compounded, making me hate myself even more, making any episodes I had feel that much worse. In my mind depression wasn’t something that I was suffering from; it was something I was allowing myself to get caught up in.

From a place of maturity and understanding, I now realize that I’ve been suffering from depression – as well as anxiety – since my childhood. I was the kid who puked her guts up on the first day of school every year because I was terrified I’d be put in a different class from my friends. I was the nerd who had great grades but would break down into panic attacks if I thought I might have done poorly on a test. I was the teen who relied entirely on her boyfriend to define her personality. I was the college student who landed in the emergency room the night before her Calculus exam because she was just scraping by in that class and the thought of possibly failing it sent her into waves of hyperventilation. And I’m the adult who got so progressively worked up because of gastrointestinal issues that for a few years straight even just looking at a form of public transport made my heart start to race and my body sweat like crazy.

No one ever realized that there was a deeper problem – least of all myself – because so much of what I went through in my earlier years could have been attributed to the overreactions of a kid who took things too seriously, or just wanted attention, or was “going through a phase”. I don’t blame anyone – not my parents, not my teachers, not my family or friends – for not recognizing that there was a major issue. After all, I myself couldn’t see it. Time and time again I’d get through to the other side of an episode and laugh at myself, the way one laughs nervously after a jump scare in a horror movie has scared the dickens out of them. Time and time again I’d tell myself I was being dumb. I was being foolish. I needed to “smarten up”.

But as time went on, things only got worse, particularly after my daughter was born. Whether because of hormonal changes, the ordinary parent life of poor sleep for months at a time, or just the fact that I’d reached a certain age and my brain was starting to morph, the episodes started to come faster and stronger. I’d convince myself that I had a good reason to be “upset”: the baby wouldn’t stop crying, or I’d accidentally burned supper, or a family member with too many strong opinions was hurting my feelings. But eventually, as even more time went on, I started running out of good excuses because the triggers were getting progressively tinier. I’d break down into tears because my husband and I had a mild disagreement about something. I’d lock myself in the bathroom at work and bawl my eyes out because my boss would point out something I’d done wrong. Some days there wouldn’t even be a trigger that I could actually pinpoint. I’d just feel like a huge piece of shit, collapse on the bed or the couch and just stare at a wall or close my eyes and hope to fall asleep in the middle of the day.

Funnily enough, my daughter, when she was a mere five or six years old, seemed to be the only one who emphatically understood, while the adults in my life couldn’t fathom why I was being such a whiny, miserable brat. I’d be having a particularly hard day, and would retreat to my room and slam my face into a pillow, and the next thing I know she’d be bringing me a picture she drew to make me feel better, or she’d snuggle up to me, tell me she loved me, and leave it at that. Children can be incredibly perceptive sometimes, right?

The point that I’m leading up to is that I eventually reached a breaking point. There was only so far that things could go before something drastic happened. Luckily, my breaking point took me in a positive direction. I won’t go into deep detail (I could write a whole other post explaining all that) but it involved some major heart-to-hearts with my wonderful husband, an incredibly sympathetic story from an actor I adore, and the will to finally admit that I needed help. A few weeks later my doctor put me on a prescription for an antidepressant, and over the course of a few months we gradually raised the dosage until we hit something that felt right.

There have been many times since when I’ve contemplated whether or not my prescription is really doing anything. After all, in a general sense I don’t feel any different. My day to day life has continued as normal. I’m not doped up. I’m not emotionless, or anything like that. But there have been all kinds of little moments that make me realize how much of a change there actually has been. I can do something embarrassing in front of an audience and laugh it off. I can have an argument with my husband or daughter and just walk away. Random idiotic comments on the internet don’t make me feel like quitting at life. Poor book sales don’t send me into a spiral of self-loathing. I can use public transport again without a second thought.

And let’s be totally honest: in the past year and a half or so I’ve had plenty that I could have been depressed about, especially when it comes to financial difficulties. Yet I continuously pressed on because, thanks in part to my prescription and in part to a great support system, I no longer feel like my emotions are at the whims of an itchy trigger finger. I’m able to breathe, I’m able to relax, I’m able to look at the bigger picture and see what’s absolutely, positively not worth having a complete meltdown over. Mentally, and emotionally, I’ve felt better in the past year than I’ve felt in practically my entire life.

I was extremely lucky. I didn’t have to see a dozen different therapists and try a hundred different drugs and dosages before something clicked. My doctor was able to prescribe something that made sense for my complaints, concerns, and physiology, and we worked together to figure out how much of that something would make the necessary change. A lot of people aren’t that lucky, and to those people I emphatically encourage you to keep trying. Surround yourself with people who care enough to help, and work your butt off until you figure out what you need to do – or take – to fix things. You can do it if you just keep pressing forward, step by step. I believe in you. Always remember that.

In the meantime, I’m writing this post because I’m about to face my biggest challenge since seeking help in the first place.

The last time I worked an on-site oil-sands job was before I began taking antidepressants. At that time I’d only ever worked a 2-weeks-on / 2-weeks-off schedule in which I’d fly home for my days off every turn around. Some shifts were incredibly difficult, but I always knew that I just had to make it through 14 days of work, plus flight days, and I’d be home again for a little while. Now, for the first time ever, I’m going to be going out on a job that requires me to actually stay put for a few months in a row. Couple that with the fact that I haven’t even been out to the oil-sands in nearly two years, and you can see that this is a bit of a big deal.

Two years ago I would never have even imagined myself taking this sort of job. Two years ago I was so terrified of my own internal ticking time bomb that I regularly refused to even do overtime. I couldn’t handle any more than those 14 days. It was, as far as I was concerned, literally impossible. And even being able to look back now from the other side of things, I still believe that it was impossible. In that previous state of mind there’s no chance I would have survived a shift like the one I’m about to begin. I would have broken down. Extreme things would have happened.

But these days, I have genuine faith in myself to get through this job with relative ease. Will it suck being away from my husband and daughter for such a long stretch of time at once? Definitely. Will it suck working 12 days in a row, then only getting two off before starting another 12 on? Oh, for sure. Will it such spending a few months straight in a work camp, in a small bedroom, sharing a bathroom with my next-door neighbor, only able to eat the food that the camp provides to me? No doubt about it. But the fact of the matter is that I look forward to all of that stuff with a smile on my face, because I know this job (and the money I’m going to make, obviously) is the best thing for my family right now. And I know that, thanks to finally seeking help two years ago, I’m not going to completely dissolve the second I step on the plane.

I know that I can handle this. And now I’m going to prove it to myself.

Throw me to the wolves, friends! I’ll see you on the other side.

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart

They say that you’re only as old as you feel. It’s a bit of a silly saying, but also true in a lot of ways. I personally feel that my love of toys, video games, YA books, and so on keeps me young. After all, if you’re not having fun in life, you’re just spiraling inexorably toward the end of it.

That said, from a purely chronological and biological standpoint, I can’t deny the fact that I am, indeed, growing older. Oh, I’m not making plans for my inevitable stay at the old folk’s home or anything. Thirty-four is still plenty young. But it’s old enough to realize that, at least from that biological standpoint, you’re definitely not a kid anymore. In the mid-thirties things start to happen that force you to look in the mirror, cringe a little, and admit, “Dammit, I’m getting old.”

One such moment occurred for me this past week, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t at least a little bit scary.

I’ve always had excellent blood pressure (we’re talking an average of 125/70), but in the past few years, without me really realizing it, it had started to sneak upward. I didn’t test it often, but every now and then there would be a doctor’s appointment or a medical for a job that would inform me that I’d crawled up into 135/75 territory, and eventually into the 140s/80s range. I never worried about it too much because I felt fine. End of thought process. Stubborn, “I’m too young for this shit” nonsense.

But in the past several months in particular, I found that I’d worked up into the 150s/90s area, and that started to bother me a bit. More bothersome, though, was the fact that I started to feel very random little flutters in my chest. To this day I can’t really describe exactly what they feel like. It’s not pain, not tightness, just….flutters. The best way I can put it into words is that it feels a bit like I’ve lost my breath for just a moment, but simultaneously it feels like my chest is as full of air as it can be. They were just tiny little flutters at first, enough to be noticed but not enough to be particularly concerned about.

But then, a few days ago while I was at work, the flutters seemed like they were coming all at once. I felt a bit like there was a hand on my breastbone, pressing in; not enough to call it “tightness”, but definitely a “this isn’t right” kind of feeling. I tested my blood pressure (there’s a machine where I work) and it was higher than I’d ever seen it, at about 162/91. I checked it again an hour later and it had gone up to about 173/93. That definitely concerned me, but my coworker told me to sit down, take some deep breaths, and take it easy for a bit before trying again. I did, and sure enough when I tested it again it had gone back down into the 160s, and then eventually back down into the 150s. Even still, it was freaky, so I made an appointment with my doctor for the following week.

However, the following day I decided that I couldn’t wait for that appointment. I’d gone the day at work with little to no incident, checking my pressure every so often and finding that it stayed in the 150s, but that evening at home things got scary. We’d just finished supper, and Jason, Adrianna, and I were relaxing in the living room, playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate together. I was having fun, and had no reason to be worked up or stressed out, but after a few matches I began to feel very off. I was getting flutters, and that hand-on-my-breastbone feeling again. Adrianna’s yelling at the game started to feel like physical punches to my ribs, and my heart felt like it was beating way too fast, even though a pulse check told me it wasn’t much higher than 80 bpm. I decided to take the chance at looking foolish and head to outpatients at our local hospital.

I’m quite certain that the triage nurse who saw me first thought that I was overreacting, and perhaps a little bit of a hypochondriac. She asked tons of questions before actually checking my blood pressure, including asking if I was in any pain and getting a bit of a look on her face when I said no. But then she finally did check my blood pressure. Twice.

193/112.

For those of you who don’t really understand blood pressure measurements, that reading is just shy of “if I cut you, your blood will gush out like in a Quentin Tarantino movie”.

I was immediately brought into the back for an EKG, a bunch of blood work, and a chest X-ray, and after a few more questions from the doctor on hand I was given two different blood pressure medications as well as an anti-anxiety med and told to lay down and rest until they gave me the okay to leave.

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If that’s not a scary situation to find yourself in, I really don’t know what is. I tossed out a few messages to friends and coworkers, and tweeted about the incident on the YouTube channel account, and if you asked the people who saw those things they’d probably say that I seemed pretty calm about it all, but I can’t lie and say that I was. I was pretty freaked out. I’d always assumed that my blood pressure would get bad eventually, since the entirety of both sides of my family suffer from it, but I didn’t expect it to happen in my mid-30s, and I definitely didn’t expect it to go so high all at once. When I saw that 193/112 pop up on the monitor screen, I seriously thought I was taking a heart attack or something.

Luckily, that wasn’t the case. All of the other tests came back fine, I was deemed to be perfectly healthy aside from the blood pressure itself, and whatever that anti-anxiety med was it worked so well that I actually passed out and slept in the hospital bed for nearly two hours. When I awoke my blood pressure had dropped down into the 140s/90s area, and I was given a shiny new prescription for a daily blood pressure med and told that I could go home.

In the end, the experience came down to one very small pill that I have to take every morning to keep my pipes open enough for the pressure to stay down (which it has: my blood pressure actually dropped to 129/80 yesterday for the first time in goodness knows how long). But the experience as a whole was definitely life-changing in other ways. For instance, I’ve concerned myself with what goes in my body before, but generally only because I was looking to lose weight or avoid things that bother my stomach. Now I find myself looking for heart-healthy solutions and keeping track of the amount of salt I take in.

But the even bigger one? Stress. Definitely stress. For years I denied the very concept that I could possibly be depressed, until I very nearly broke down completely, and luckily had a life-changing moment that worked out for the best. Stress is a very similar deal with me. Even now, as I sit here writing this, I’d swear to you that I don’t feel stressed. Maybe a little concerned about finances, maybe a little annoyed with current situations, maybe even a little PO’ed at some things…but stressed? Psh. I’m not stressed.

Except I absolutely am. I hate to admit it – to the point that I rarely ever do admit it out loud – but I definitely qualify as a stressed-out person. Going on my antidepressants has changed a lot in the level of damns I give about some things (mean comment on my YouTube video? Psh. I don’t know you and couldn’t give two shakes of a rat’s arse-hairs), but other things are a lot more deep-rooted. In particular, I have this constant voice in the back of my head screaming about all the things that need doing that I’ve failed to get done. And the thing is, most of them aren’t even important things – like, at all – but they’re still on that list that my inner-stress-monkey shrieks at me non-stop. Even at this moment, while admitting that they’re totally unimportant things that don’t NEED to be done, the voice is reminding me that I went three days this week without writing anything, and I haven’t shared any toy-pics on the YT Instagram account in ages, and I’ve got a pile of comics and books that I haven’t scanned into my tracker yet, and oh man, it’s getting close to supper and I haven’t decided what I’m making yet, and Jesus, woman, you let your damn tea get cold again, why don’t you just fucking drink it?! 

Stress, you guys. Stupid, pointless stress as it may be, but stress none-the-less.

So I guess the moral of this post comes down to the fact that I have to learn to control that pointless stress. Obviously there are things that are worth getting stressed about, and obviously there are things that I can’t just give up on in the name of staying stress-free, but there are a lot of things in my life that stress me out that just shouldn’t. Who cares if I didn’t tweet anything today? Who cares if the laundry stays unfolded for another day? Who cares if I got caught up in reading a book and forgot about writing one for a day or two? In the end all that really matters enough to get stressed over is my family, making enough of a living to keep us all alive, and our general happiness. And if I have all that, I shouldn’t really be stressed at all, now should I?

Well, I’m still gonna be anyway, but all those other smaller things can just kiss my ass.

Story for a Coffee, Guvna’?

For those of you who didn’t already know, a little while back I set up a BuyMeaCoffee account, which allows supporters to contribute a few bucks (a coffee, as it were) to content creators they appreciate. There’s also the option for the creator to be able to link to exclusive content for those who “purchase” it by contributing a pre-set amount.

Buy Me A Coffee

Currently I have two short-short stories (1000 words each) set as exclusive content, but I’m planning to add much more. Specifically I was thinking about making a bunch of my fan-fiction available, since these are fun stories that are otherwise legally unsaleable.

So I’m looking for thoughts, ideas, and feelings on the concept. Would you be willing to pay a small fee to read some short fan-fiction? What about paying per few chapters for longer pieces? (For instance, I’m currently rewriting a Final Fantasy 3/6 novelization that will be quite long by the end of it.) Do you have any ideas for other short fan-fiction pieces I could try out? Feel free to bounce any and all ideas off me!

For the record, current donations will be going toward the publication costs (specifically, commissioning the cover art) for The Other World: Book Two. ❤

So what do you guys think? 🙂

“Night Wolves” Available Soon!

It’s time to share something awesome!

In the later part of last year I stumbled across a submission call for Shifters United, who were looking for paranormal romance featuring shapeshifters for an anthology book. I happened to have a short werewolf romance manuscript squirreled away and though, hey…why not? So I shipped it off to them, and if I’m being totally honest, I just put it out of my mind and forgot about it…

…until only about a week later when I heard back that they liked the story and wanted to offer me a contract!

To say that I was excited would be understating it. I have, of course, self-published two books, but I’ve always had that niggling desire to have something traditionally published, so this was a bit of a big deal to me.

I won’t bore you with all the intricate details, but suffice it to say that a deal was struck, some edits were made, two other author’s manuscripts were involved in the project, and now I’m officially part of “Night Wolves“, which will be released as an e-book on January 15th and a paperback soon after.

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To say that this book is a bit different from my previous two would be another massive understatement, but I’ve long since come to terms with the fact that I just can’t be typecast into a specific genre. I love writing, and I definitely have genres that I’m best at, but there are just so many options out there to enjoy and have fun with! So I’ve published zombie horror, young adult fantasy, and now I’m delving into paranormal romance. If this book does well perhaps I’ll continue to write for the series!

Whichever way the world turns, I’m just super-excited to be a part of the project, and I hope that my third of the book will be enjoyed!

If you want to check the book out and maybe pre-order the e-book version, you can do so here, and if you’re more of a paperback person, keep an eye out! I’ll be announcing it the second it’s available.

SO EXCITING!