WDW2020: Planning for Disney- What are our objectives?

Welcome to my series of posts for planning my trip to Walt Disney World in 2020. Post “zero” of this series can be found here: Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation where I pretty much just summarize why I’m so excited to be going again, and ask for your questions about the WDW trip planning process.

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What is the goal of your trip?

The first step in planning a Disney vacation is to figure out your objectives. Walt Disney World is a vast place with a wide variety of vacation activities (aside from the parks there is also dining, golfing, camping, water sports, musical entertainment, dancing, mini golf, water parks, and more- you could have a fabulous vacation at WDW without even going to the parks). As my husband likes to say, the Circle of Life lyrics “…there is more to see then can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done…” were written about Disney World.

Why are you going? Perhaps you have never been to Disney World before and you want to see what the parks are all about, or maybe you have been before and know the types of things you enjoy. Are you going because you want to bring your kids and think it’ll be a great family vacation? Are you going to explore Galaxy’s Edge with four of your besties (raises hand)? Are you going to have as much fun as possible and ride ALL THE RIDES? Or are you looking for a normal chill vacation?

Who are you going with? Will there be kiddos? How young? Senior folks? A large diverse group? Just you and your partner? What do those people enjoy? Your trip will be amazing no matter what you do, so focus on the things that will make the people in your party really happy. Don’t plan to do everything. Prioritize your interests and focus on achieving those goals. A trip with some little princesses may need to include a princess makeover and dinner in the castle. A trip with your parents may need to include sometime walking around Disney Springs and plenty of relaxing downtime. A trip with some Star Wars fans may need to include 4 days in Galaxy’s Edge.

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What are our objectives?

My group for 2020 consists of 5 adults (including one married couple) in their 30s. Four of us are big Star Wars fans. Most of us are interested in being somewhat economical.

Our goals are to:

1) See as much of Galaxy’s Edge as possible

2) Avoid crowds caused by Galaxy’s Edge

3) Keep the trip on the less expensive side

4) Maximize our time so that we can stay for only 5 days

There is also the possibility of a 2021 trip with some relatives. This trip will likely have different objectives than the above.

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My strategy for reaching these goals

My strategy for reaching these objectives will be to favor Hollywood Studios when deciding what parks to go to when, following detailed touring plans, observing crowd calendars, utilizing extra magic hours, staying at a value resort and choosing less expensive dining options.

Some of the above strategies will be similar to my previous trips, but other aspects will be very different. I will go into detail about each strategy in the upcoming posts.

If you are following along and planning a possible Disney trip (even if it is just a hypothetical future trip), what does your party look like? What would your objectives be?

Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation

I’m going to Walt Disney World!

Sorry, I don’t mean to brag, but I’m super excited that I am once again visiting the most magical and happiest place on earth!

Disney is so much more than an amusement park to me. As someone who is terrified of roller coasters, prone to motion sickness, and gets super anxious around crowds, Walt Disney World is a magical place where my fear and anxiety melt away. I feel safe. Only in Disney do I happily talk to complete strangers and ask for help when I need it. I constantly push the boundaries of my motion sickness and my fear because it feels safe to do so. This scaredy-cat would never vacation alone anywhere else, but if my husband didn’t also adore Disney, I would be headed there on my own in a heartbeat. It’s comfortable and I understand why so many Disney fans refer to it as “home”.

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Planning for Disney is a great self care tactic for me. I find the organization and research fun and soothing. Planning isn’t for everyone, but for those who do like planning, it makes a trip to Disney even better! Planning for Disney also REALLY pays off. With planning, you can avoid crowds, get to go on way more rides, and eat at the places you want to eat. Disney puts a lot of information online including complete menus for all their eateries. They also allow you to book fastpasses (sort of like reservations for rides) up to 60 days in advance and their version of dining reservations 180 days in advance.

I went to Disney (both world and land) many times when I was a kid. There was a gap for over a decade when I didn’t go because college and grad. school. However, my husband and I went there for our honeymoon in January 2015. Then we returned in 2017, 2018 and 2019. I also had an extra bonus single day Animal Kingdom adventure in the fall of 2018. I think it’s safe to say I’ve had a lot of experience planning WDW trips recently. Given my naturally nervous nature, I read a lot of articles, make spreadsheets, listen to podcasts and investigate the best touring strategies.

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Last year, for the the first (in forrrreevvverrr) , we brought two friends with us to Disney. One of the friends had never been before. These two (non-couple) friends both enjoyed their trip so much that they are going to WDW again. Not just again, but with me. And not just with me but on my next trip! I did not expect them to go again so soon. While most of the credit goes to Disney and to our mutual friendships, of course, I’m going to give a bit of that credit to my travel agent and tour guide skills.

I'm going to be sharing my planning experience here. My strategies, tips and tricks, moments from my previous vacations and more. I would love to help you plan your next Disney trip or answer some of your Disney questions. Please leave suggestions for topics, questions and comments below.

What do you want to know about planning a Walt Disney World vacation?

*Giveaway!!* Enter to win Sims 4 DLC or a copy of "The Bullet Journal Method"

I’m celebrating reaching 700 Twitter followers with a giveaway!


I’ve reached 700 followers on Twitter, and to celebrate I’m doing a small giveaway. Two of the most popular topics of my posts are my Sims 4 stories, and my Bullet Journal or planning posts. To honor that, and the variety of my readers, I’m allowing the winner to choose between two prizes!

You can win either:

A Sims 4 DLC pack of your choice purchased through Origin

or

A copy of “The Bullet Journal Method” by Ryder Carroll. Ryder designed the time management system. It is an excellent read for anyone who values time and is trying to live more intentionally.

Thank you for reading & following!


I'm crazy excited for Planet Zoo!

I’m a little behind here folks, as this past weekend I just learned of the announcement of Frontier’s Planet Zoo. Within the first couple of minutes of the game play video I had happy tears and goose bumps. Shortly after four minutes, they mentioned how the animals will be unique individuals and have genetics. At that moment, I paused the video and pre-ordered the game.

I’ve always loved tycoon games from when I played Lemonade Stand in elementary school through Roller Coaster Tycoon, Airline Tycoon and Sim Tower, and up to the most recent ones like Game Dev Tycoon, Project Highrise and Twopoint Hospital. However, one of my ALL TIME favorite games is Zoo Tycoon. Wait…make that Zoo Tycoon with the Marine Mania DLC. Man, I played so much of that game. I have fallen in love with very few other games to that extent (the Sims and Stardew Valley being in that category with it).

My major in college was Environmental Science and Management, and my graduate degree is in Ecology. I love learning about animals and nature. When I was very young, I wanted to be a “dolphin trainer”. I’ve always wanted to work at a zoo or aquarium. Okay, well, technically I have worked at a zoo, but it was in the gift shop. :) In the past, I have taught Environmental Science and I’ve worked on conservation related molecular research. These days, I work in an aquaculture facility where I tend to a colony of frogs (technically a group of frogs is called an army).

Zoo Tycoon let me act out my dream job and I am far too excited for another chance to do just that! From what I have seen, the Planet Zoo team is paying a lot of attention to the things that matter to me- animal care, realistic and detailed animals, habitat construction and conversation.

139 days! The countdown is ON!

Getting Back on Track: Three ways I create new goals

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Feeling Overwhelmed & Without Purpose

After several emotionally taxing events last year, I had another round of depression that crept in and hung around for several months. Overlapping with that time, but extending until just recently, I had a couple stressful work events that consumed a fair bit of my time and, more importantly, my energy.

Getting Back on Track

When I get frustrated with my work-life-play balance and how I’m allocating my energy and focus, I find it helpful to switch around my bullet journal setups, reevaluate my routines and typical behaviors, contemplate my values and set some new goals. It can provide me with inspiration, excitement and a more optimistic outlook.

The first thing I typically do is review articles about the “Eisenhower Matrix”. The Eisenhower Matrix is a prioritization system for your to do list that emphasizes the difference between important things and urgent things. If you haven’t heard of it before, you should definitely read up on it. The goal is to be working on important, but not urgent, things most of the time. Sometimes I need help deciding what is important, though, and this is where my three methods of deciding goals comes in.  Once I have some goals, my goal-related items on my task lists get stars next to them- they are important and should be given the priority they deserve even if I feel there are more pressing matters.

Method One: Value Sorting

Have you heard of value sorting before? It’s a common life coaching tool. It consists of a deck of cards with values on them. Some examples of values are: “creativity”, “wealth”, “professional accomplishment” and “faith”. You sort these values based on their level of importance to you. Eventually you sort them into five categories: least important, less important, neutral, more important and most important. You can find one online version of the tool here: http://thegoodproject.org/toolkits-curricula/the-goodwork-toolkit/value-sort-activity/

Understanding what your values are is important for living authentically. Authenticity is about living consistently with your beliefs and values. Someone who is honest, hardworking, down to earth and responsible might still not be an authentic person. For example, a person who matches the above description might spend a lot of their time working, taking care of family and meeting the expectations of others; however, they truly have a passion for art and beauty that they are ignoring. They might be a wonderful person, but they aren’t living authentically.

Once you’ve done a value sorting exercise, take a look at your “most important” values. Each time you do the exercise these might change slightly, and that’s alright. You are looking to acknowledge what is important to you at that moment. You should have just four most important values. Brainstorm possible goals that relate to these values. What helps you live more in line with these values? What activities can you add to your daily life that relate to these values?

Method Two: Categories of Self Care

Consider the different categories of self care. If you are unfamiliar with those categories take a look at  another one of my blog posts: http://www.crazycatnerd.com/meowing/2019/2/28/types-of-self-care-a-comprehensive-look-at-self-care What categories do you feel you could give more attention to? What areas would be beneficial for you to focus on? Is there something self care related that you’ve been wanting to work on? Perhaps you already recognize you need to get more movement or better sleep, listen to what your body is telling you and focus on that. But if you aren’t sure, review the self care categories and brainstorm possible goals related to them.

Method Three: Wheel of Life

There are several variations of the Wheel of Life which is another popular life coaching tool that is used for finding balance. If the various aspects of your life were put together to form a wheel would you have a smooth ride? Some of the aspects to consider are career, family, health and fun. Find a template such as :https://medium.com/@chengeerlee/wheel-of-life-a-self-assessment-tool-to-find-out-what-is-not-working-in-your-life-8af1faadafa5 or https://raviraman.com/the-wheel-of-life/ .

Rank your satisfaction with each area of your life on a scale of 1 to 10. Which areas are the lowest? Brainstorm goals for each of your lowest categories.

Setting Goals

Choose one goal from each method- Values, Self Care and Wheel of Life. If any of the goals from each method are the same or similar, I give them priority. If something can help increase both my self care and helps me realize one of my values, I go with that one! It’s important to limit your goals. I chose to do one from each category, but you could do more or less. We are seeking to find purpose and have a clearer path so limiting ourselves to just a few goals gives us focus.

Once you have your three goals, break them down into small actionable chunks. Something that will take you less than three months to achieve. I write my goals in my monthly bullet journal spread along with five actionable steps I can take that month to work towards that goal. When I set up my weekly spread, I take at least one actionable step from each goal and add it to my weekly task list. When I setup my daily spread, I write down three small, achievable tasks that work towards the step I chose for the week.

For example, one of my goals is to establish a blogging routine that I maintain for three months. For the month of June, my goal was to simple write three blog posts. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t been blogging as much recently so I started simple- I just wanted to get some posts written. Writing posts will help me formulate my routine. For this week, my goal was to write a blog post. My goal for today- write a paragraph for that post.

By breaking my goals down into more reasonable steps I can ensure I work on them mostly everyday. This keeps my motivation up and ensures I don’t let my goals fall to the wayside. It makes me feel good to know I’m moving in the right direction step by step.


Moving Forward

This has helped me immensely over the last couple weeks. I feel optimistic about the future and motivated to improve my life. I hope this post gives you some inspiration. One of my top four values is personal growth, so please share any ideas you have with me about goal setting in the comments!


Self Care Focus: Physical Self Care

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Just over a month ago, I wrote a post about the different types of self care where I discuss nine different kinds of self care that are all important for wellness. Having good self care is more than just occasionally taking an evening off to binge your favorite show, or taking a luxurious bath. It is a mindset. It is a collection of small habits that you do on a regular basis to maintain your health and happiness.

My approach to improving myself care is to make small changes, on a weekly basis, to help me form habits that will help me feel healthy, energized, motivated and happy. Of course, I use my bullet journal to keep track of these changes, and to reflect on my progress.

This week, I am focusing on improving my physical self care.

What is Physical Self Care?

To quote my own blog post:

“Physical self care is one of the more obvious categories [of self care]. It is likely when you think of ‘self care’ at least one of the first things you think of will be in this category. This is the care of our physical bodies. This can include things like: exercise, nutrition, hydration, sleep, skin care, beauty, stretching, rest, medical and dental appointments, medicine, and pain management.”

Take a moment to reflect on your own physical self care. Are there any obvious gaps in how well you are presently taking care of your body? Do you need more sleep? More movement? Better nutrition?

For myself, I take a 25 minute walk several times a week and I do a 12 minute stretching/yoga routine three times a week. I also pack my lunch everyday and I eat most of my dinners at home. I try to incorporate lots of fruits and veggies into my daily meals. I frequently floss, and I see the dentist every 6 months. I see my doctor at least annually, if not more often. I try to maintain a somewhat consistent sleep schedule too.

There are definitely many ways I can improve my physical self care routine, but it’s also important to acknowledge the good things I am doing! So…yay for all of the above! I feel like there is room for improvement in all the areas of my physical self care with the exception of perhaps making and keeping routine appointments. However, there is one thing in particular that I’ve been wanting to work on lately.

My New Physical Self Care Habit Goal

As I said before, good self care is a collection of small everyday habits that make you feel better. This week I’ve added one new goal to my to do list- form a better hydration habit!

I do drink water and I typically have water with me. However, I don’t drink as much as I’d like to. Drinking a certain amount of water a day (such as 8 glasses) or trying to drink as much water as you can isn’t useful or healthy despite the common myths surrounding it (https://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/how-much-water/). My problem is that I’m not always drinking when I’m thirsty.

I check-in with myself often throughout the day to record my brain state, emotions, etc… as part of my work with EBT. One of the things I record is physical states or body sensations such as hunger, thirst, feeling too hot and anxiety symptoms. I’ve noticed I record “thirsty” quite a bit. I think I need to do a better job of noticing, acknowledging and responding to thirst.

I’m currently testing out an app that tracks water intake, but I might come up with another way of working on this habit. Mainly, I just need to remind myself to drink more often.

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Other Physical Self Care Ideas

Hydration might not be an issue for you, but there’s likely something else you can do to improve your physical self care. Here are some other ideas:

  1. Keep a record of what you eat for a couple days. Also record how hungry you were before you started eating and any other activities or emotions. Make some observations about your logs.

  2. Track how many servings of fruits and veggies you eat daily for a week. Average it. The following week aim to get that average one higher than it was the week before.

  3. Look up what a serving of fruit and veggies looks like.

  4. Make a list of fruits and veggies that your really enjoy. Use it for inspiration when you go shopping.

  5. Find a few new healthy recipes to try, or start a healthy recipe board on Pinterest.

  6. If you track your steps, look at your average daily step count. Try to increase that next week by 500.

  7. Start taking an extra 20 minute walk each week.

  8. Find an exercise you can do at home (hula-hooping, an exercise machine, etc…) and schedule a weekly session.

  9. Increase your normal exercise routine by 5 minutes.

  10. Think of something you enjoy doing that requires movement (playing basketball, swimming, geocaching, playing Pokemon Go) and make plans to do that.

  11. Track and/or log your sleep. Make some observations.

  12. Establish a bedtime.

  13. Setup an evening routine that helps you fall asleep.

  14. Try meditating before sleep to increase your quality of sleep.

  15. Adjust your thermostat settings so that you are cooler when you sleep.

  16. Make a doctor’s appointment- either an annual check-up or for an ongoing problem you’ve been having.

  17. Make a dentist appointment.

  18. Refill a prescription.

  19. Ask a doctor for suggestions on treating an ongoing problem such as allergies.

  20. Make an appointment to get a massage.

  21. Floss every day.

  22. Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush heads.

  23. Ask your dentist for suggestions on how to improve your dental hygiene- perhaps getting an electric toothbrush or using a flouride mouthwash.

  24. Start a skin care routine.

  25. Moisturize regularly.

  26. Get your haircut.

  27. Change your hairstyle.

  28. Find time to rest- take a relaxing bath, sit on the porch or take a nap.

  29. Replace an item of clothing or shoes that no longer fits or isn’t comfortable.

  30. Make your own list of physical self care activities.

Will you be taking the time to improve your physical self care this week? How? Let me know in the comments!

What am I Nerding Out About? March 2019 Edition

Finding time to write on the blog this week has been such a challenge! Both the work and home life have been SO busy. This post has taken me a full week to write! Ideas for blog posts are oozing out of me (my January trip to WDW, souvenirs from Disney, earring collections, sticker collections, self care posts, Sims stories, bullet journal spreads, cat and dog updates and more!), but there just isn’t enough time in the day. I have a wonderful full time job that I am super grateful for, but I really wish I could be a full time blogger! If you have a preference about what I write about next, please let me know in the comments. It will help me decide!


(All recommendations are spoiler-free.)

One of my aims for this blog is to help you find new hobbies or other means of finding more joy in your life. To that end, I give you just a sampling of what I have been enjoying lately. Let me know if anything catches your interest! Also, if you have any recommendations for me leave those in the comments too!

Reading

I recently finished One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. It is an adorable feel-good romantic comedy. I was in the mood for something heartwarming and fluffy, and that’s what I got. Don’t get me wrong, it was a page-turner and I did stay up very late one night to finish it. Also, I’m not very big on physical love scenes (yawn for me)- I’m all about emotional attachments, and this was perfect! If you are ho-hum about romantic comedies but think you might want to try one, I highly recommend giving this one a go. It is supposed to be one of her best, but I’ve never read anything else by her. Thanks to this book I might be more willing to check out a romantic book in the future.

 
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Watching

My husband and I also just finished watching seasons 1 & 2 of “The Good Place”, an American fantasy comedy. While season 3 exists, only seasons 1 & 2 are available on Netflix. The show has gotten great reviews, and was highly recommended by some friends. It did not disappoint! The writing is wonderful and the actors are superb. The story is unique and is constantly moving forward. I quickly became attached to all the characters. While always funny, it is also, at times, intense and heartwarming. I LOVED it and highly recommend it! I can’t wait for season 3 to drop on Netflix.

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Planning

I love organizing gatherings with my friends. However, I’ve lived, worked and gone to school in many places and I have friends all over the states these days. Getting together as a big group is much harder, but it is SO worth the effort!

Right now, I’m planning a weekend trip for some of my friends, and we are using a site that calculates the midpoint between all our homes (we are scattered from Michigan to New Jersey, and down thru Virginia). I use Doodle Polls to find out who is interested in attending and when they can make it (do this months in advance for better success!). Once I know who is going we calculate the midpoint using something like: https://www.whatshalfway.com/. And then we get a house with enough space for all of us on something like AirBnB or https://www.vrbo.com/ (I prefer the latter).

For my friends, we plan to stay at the house, play board games and chat. If you planned one for your friend group you could also explore the area, go hiking, watch movies all day, cook a meal together…whatever your particular group of friends loves to do.

It’s like having a big sleepover party with adults, and it’s amazing. I highly recommend it.

Listening

I listen to about 15 podcasts a week at the moment. I only listen to one episode of each every week as I’m not a fan of bingeing. While I enjoy all the pods I’m listening to, my current favorite is a fairly new addition to my list. I’m only about seven episodes into it, but I’m madly in love with it.

Girl in Space is a fiction audiodrama…I’d describe it as “space fantasy” maybe? It’s witty, charming, adorable, intense, fascinating…just listen to it. It’s impossible to describe exactly how dang good it is, but it is definitely worth listening to. It’s high quality with fabulous voice acting and storytelling. Also, once you listen, we can discuss throwing a party together where we watch Jurassic Park and eat cheese. (Don’t worry, that was not spoilery.)

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Investigating

I’ve been doing a lot of research in the area of self care, and experimenting with how to improve my own self care. It’s not just taking “me” days and allowing yourself an ice cream sundae. It involves everything from doctor’s appointments to journaling , and from budgeting to calling your mom. I’m planning on doing additional posts soon, but you can checkout my first one on: the Types of Self Care.

Playing

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Two Point Hospital came out last year from Two Point Studios as the spiritual successor to the 90’s game Theme Hospital. It’s a hilarious business simulation game about running a hospital. The humor is whimsical and silly, but also quite clever with lots of wordplay. The game has a lot of detail, and they’ve already come out with quite a bit of DLC for it, so there is lot to keep you coming back. I immediately fell in love with the game, and it always makes me happy. I started playing it the week it came out, but this past weekend I returned for another fling, as I have done many times since downloading it and hope to continue doing for quite some time.

And those are just some of the things that have been enjoying recently! Thanks for reading!

About: What do I want from this site?

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My site is still undergoing a bit of a reboot/reorganization and I’ve been considering how to separate various topics. I used to have separate blogs (all on this site) for the various topics I post the most about (Sims, Bullet Journals, etc…). I’ve condensed down to one feed now, but I do plan to have pages dedicated to specific topics. To help me decide which topics would be turned into their own pages, I took a look at my most popular content over the last year or so. One thing that I noticed was that my “about” page was one of the top pages.

That information inspired me to focus on creating another about page as I currently don’t have one. My idea for the about page is to have a collection of posts about the site and me. That brings to me to this post! The first “About” question I’m going to answer is what I want from this site. Here is what I’m striving for:

Community

The first thing I want is the creation of a community. I have a have a habit of creating communities, or at least attempting to, where ever they fit into my life. For many years, I had Yahoo! groups dedicated to various interests of mine- mostly with friends or real life acquaintances, but sometimes strangers too. When I was younger (highschool through undergrad), I organized group trips of 10 to 18 people for a week long vacation in Maine, all staying in one house. Not all of the people were my friends- we had friends of friends, acquaintances and relatives too. I organized food, activities, games and tried my best to bring everyone together as a group. I now have several Slack communities I manage- one for friends, one for family, one for a game I like to run called Mafia, one for work, and one for a Pathfinder game I run. I also like to arrange group gatherings and trips among friends and family.

Ultimately, I want to have some sort of community here. A community of people with similar interests. There might be a forum, or maybe a Slack workspace. I’m not sure how it will develop, but I want my readers to interact with me, the blog, and each other. I want to facilitate new friendships. I’d like games, events and snailmail swaps. I’m not sure how I’m going to get there yet, but it is my aim.

Discovering Fun

Another thing I want to do is help people add more fun and play into their lives. There are plenty of reasons to be serious in life, but having fun is equally important for ALL AGES. Adults should be playing board games, collecting things that make them happy, and striving to have a sense of wonder and joy. It is important to be creative, learn new things, try new hobbies and seek out ways to make your life more fun. I have a lot of hobbies and I want to share them with you in hopes that you find something that interests you. If you are excited and happy about life you have more energy to get the things done that you need or want to do.

Inspiration, Self Motivation & Accountability

I find sharing my journey quite inspiring and motivating. With whatever hobby or self care practice I’m trying out, blogging about it encourages me. Sometimes I find support through comments or tweets, but also the act of self reporting provides some accountability on its own. Thinking about topics from the perspective of a potential reader brings new ideas, interests and paths to the surface for me to explore further. When I layout a blog post on a particular topic, or am generating ideas for blog posts, I find inspiration for all aspects of my life.

Self Care Awareness

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Since then, I’ve begun viewing everything with the lens of self care. I’ve done a lot of work with therapy, classes, research, mindfulness, meditation and health coaches. I’ve made some huge leaps in how I feel. I didn’t realize how intensely my mental health could impact my physical body when I started this journey, and I have learned so much about why self care is important. I want to help others become more self aware, and share the tools I have found in hopes they can help someone.

A Job I Love

Yes, someday I do want the blog to generate a little bit of income for me. Right now, it generates $0 and I’m okay with that. Oh, actually like -$50/year due to costs of domain, etc… I don’t know how I want to handle generating revenue yet. Integrity and honesty are very important to me, and I haven’t been totally satisfied by some paths I’ve looked into. I have a full time job that I like well-enough, but I really love blogging. In the future, I’d like for it to produce enough income that I can make blogging my primary job.

(A Sim Challenge) Connections: Rule Post #1

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Connections is a Sims 4 challenge that I’m developing. Right now, it is more of a play style than a true challenge, but we’ll see where it goes.

It is a multiple household challenge that spans all the households in a save. Every round, you select a number of households based on the relationships of the previous round of households. The intended result is that you have a very interconnected set of households that have relationships with each other, but you are also not playing the same households over and over again. Your set of households shifts and changes as your story develops.

When I play a Legacy or another challenge that involves a single family for several generations, I get bored. However, I don’t have the time and patience to play challenges that involve rotating between all the households in a neighborhood. I get attached to individual Sims story lines and want to see them play out, so whole neighborhoods take too long. I also enjoy a bit of randomness in my game and I love playing households that I normally wouldn’t play or create.

This is the first rules post, but I anticipate there might be more in the future as a refine the challenge.

Connections Rules (as of 3/5/19)L

  1. Decide if you are going to play with Premade Sims or Sims of your own creation. I like using the premade Sims that come with the game. For my starter household, I download a household off the gallery (such as a household made for a game trailer).

  2. Setup your neighborhood. Choose your starting family. Move any other Sims you want to be involved in the challenge into that save. Personally, I don’t add anyone except my starter family. However, there is no reason why you couldn’t.

  3. Establish the number of houses you wish to play each round, and how long you want to play each house. I suggest playing each house for an in-game week and using 3 to 5 households per round. You could easily change those numbers, though.

  4. Round One (1 household)

    1. Play your starter household for your chosen time.

    2. At the end of the time (such as a week), pause the game.

    3. Score the relationships (see below).

  5. Round Two (2 households)

    1. The first household of Round Two will be your starter household

    2. The second household will be the household of the individual Sim that scored the highest at the end of Round One

    3. Play each household for the chosen time frame.

    4. Pause at the end of each household’s play through and score the relationships.

    5. Combine the scores as described below.

  6. Round Three (3 households)

    1. The first household is your starter again.

    2. The second is the highest total score from Round Two.

    3. The third is the second highest score from Round Two.

  7. Repeat with future rounds, except the Starter household is no longer automatic. So, if you are playing 3 households/round, Round Four would look like:

    1. Highest score from Round Three.

    2. Second highest score.

    3. Third highest score.

Relationship Scoring

Technically, you are scoring every Sim that your Sims know. However, you can quickly ignore anyone that is merely an acquaintance, as their total is 0. Further, we are not paying attention to relationship numbers/bars, just the labels the game generates (or if they are in a club with one of your Sims). So scoring goes pretty quick.

Here’s the scoring chart:

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  1. Ignore Sims who are living in the household that you are presently scoring. For example, if Edith and Jake are roommates, and we are scoring their relationships because we just finished playing with them, Jake doesn’t get any points for being friends with Edith.

  2. Chose the first Sim who is not a member of the household, and more than just an acquaintance. Record their name.

  3. Add the appropriate score next to their name. Scores stack. For example, if Edith works with (coworker +1) her best friend (+4) Samantha. Then Samantha’s score would be a 5. We are effectively summing the impact a Sim has on another Sims life.

  4. Score each Sim for each person in a household. Scores accumulate. If Edith has a roommate, Jake, who is “Love Birds” with Samantha. Samantha’s new score is 9 (+5 from Edith, +4 from Jake).

  5. Score all the Sims for all the households played in that Round. Scores continue to accumulate. For example, if our second household for this round consisted of Beth and Roger, and Samantha was good friends with Roger, Samantha’s new score would be 12 (+5 from Edith, +4 from Jake, +3 from Roger).

  6. Scores from different households played in the same round count. For example, if Beth is good friends with Edith, Edith will have a score of 3 this round, even though Edith couldn’t win any points from being friends with Jake since they share a household.

  7. Compare all the scores. Play the household with the Sim that earned the highest score.

Okay, so I know that probably sounded SUPER confusing. However, it is actually pretty simple and quick to do. After I finish a round in my game, I will post my score breakdown as an additional example.

I’m currently doing a play through of this challenge which you can follow along here: The Keye Family.

Types of Self Care: A Comprehensive Look at Self Care

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I’ve become increasingly interested in self care recently. I want to feel happier and healthier, and proper self care seems to be the best path forward for that journey. I want to create some weekly self care goals in my bullet journal. While I could write a long list of all the different activities that would be good self care for me, I wanted to make sure I was considering all my options. Were there self care activities that I wasn’t thinking of that would be beneficial for me?

As always, I did my research! What I found was that self care touches on all aspects of life and that I probably would not have considered all these areas. Or if I did, I wouldn’t have had a balance between them.

I started with the simplest question- What is self care? According to Merriam-Webster, it is “Care of oneself.” Um...I could’ve guessed that much, thanks. I think you pretty much used the word in the definition there, and a teacher would have taken points off of you, Merriam. Google told me “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress” or “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health”. Now there is a proper definition, thank you!

Those definitions cover a pretty broad area. We need to consider our own health, happiness and well-being. Even on their own, those three areas (health, happiness and well-being) are complicated with a bunch of factors contributing to them. What factors should we look at? Here’s where the self care categories come into play. I consulted six websites and found a lot of overlapping information, but with some variety too. I’ve consolidated the information I found into the following list, and added my own examples. You can explore my sources in the links at the bottom if you’d like a second (or third, or fourth, etc...) take on this information.

Types of Self Care

1) Physical- Physical self care is one of the more obvious categories. It is likely when you think of “self care” at least one of the first things you think of will be in this category. This is the care of our physical bodies. This can include things like: exercise, nutrition, hydration, sleep, skin care, beauty, stretching, rest, medical and dental appointments, medicine, and pain management. If you’d like to improve your physical self care try setting a goal like one of these:

  1. Increasing your daily step count

  2. Setting a bedtime

  3. Eating 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables daily

  4. Establishing a skin care routine

  5. Making an appointment to see a doctor about a medical issue that concerns you

2) Emotional or Psychological- This is self care as it relates to your emotional and mental health. This involves being aware of your emotions- recognizing, honoring, accepting and feeling them. Activities in this area might include: crying, laughing, therapy (including traditional talk, EBT, CBT and others), self awareness, journaling, mood tracking, art, self compassion, meditations, gratitude journaling, mindfulness and being aware of your own triggers. Examples of goals you could set for emotional self care include:

  1. Making an appointment to see a therapist (you do not have to wait for someone to diagnosis you with something, talking with a therapist on a regular basis is just as important as getting a physical checkup with a PCP)

  2. Read a book such as “Wired for Joy” or download a CBT-style workbook

  3. Journal for five minutes every night

  4. Each day identify three things you are grateful for- you can’t duplicate them, so keep a log and be specific

  5. Find websites or apps that explain meditation, mindfulness or self compassion and complete a daily exercise in one of those areas.

3) Spiritual- Spiritual self care does not mean religion, which is good since I’m an atheist. Spiritual self care focuses on providing meaning and purpose, and increases your humanity. Some activities might include: donating time or money to important causes or charities, learning about different cultures, religious activities, spending time in nature, meditation, anything that helps you get perspective, gardening, bonsai, alone time, visiting historical places and learning about history. Activities that can help your improve your spiritual self care might include:

  1. Visit a local museum and learn something

  2. Volunteer

  3. Take a walk in nature

  4. Read a book from another religion

  5. Travel to a foreign country

4) Intellectual/Mental- Intellectual self care is to nourish the mind, to prevent it from getting bored and to keep the brain healthy by learning new things. Some activities might include learning, puzzles, games, reading, hobbies, professional activities, career development and critical thinking skills. Some examples of things you can do include:

  1. Research ways to improve your critical thinking skills

  2. Play a resource management game such as Settlers of Catan or Two Point Hospital

  3. Listen to a science podcast such as Science Vs.

  4. Read a book about a topic you are interested in

  5. Do a crossword

5) Social- Social self care involves interacting with other humans in a positive way. Humans are social creatures and, even those of us who are introverted, need to feel connected to other humans. This may include activities in areas such as having meaningful and healthy relationships, support groups, clubs, friend gatherings, setting boundaries, and being intentional about our social interaction. Family relationships are not included in this category. It is important to socialize outside your family.Things you could do to improve social self care may include:

  1. Making an effort to improve your relationship with coworkers

  2. Writing or calling a friend whom you haven’t been in touch with recently

  3. Arranging a game or movie night

  4. Joining a club or other recreational organization

  5. Arranging a weekend trip with close friends.

6) Environmental/Sensory- Environmental and sensory self care involves making your surrounding environment comfortable for you. This might involve things having to do with your five senses, climate control, the tidiness of the space around and the appeal of your local environment. Ways to improve this area might be to:

  1. Light a candle with your favorite fragrance and put on fun or soothing music.

  2. Declutter and clean a shelf in your living room.

  3. Decorate your work area with a plant or favorite picture.

  4. Invest in a good desk chair.

  5. Wash your sheets, change your air filter, and vacuum often if you have allergies.

7) Play/Fun/Joy- An aspect of self care that you may not consider is having fun! Finding moments of play throughout the day keep us energized, motivated and optimistic. We enjoy having fun and we aren’t our best if we aren’t finding enough of it. This includes any activities you truly enjoy- watching a movie, participating in a hobby, watching television, going out with friends, playing games, reading etc...Here are some ideas of ways you can improve this area of self care:

  1. Consider your work-life balance. If you feel like you are working too hard and finding no time for fun, reprioritize.

  2. Intentionally watch a tv show. Flipping channels when you are tired or putting something on in the background doesn’t count. Find a show you really enjoy and set time aside to do just that.

  3. Play a board game you’ve never tried before

  4. Add to a collection or organize it

  5. Put “play a video game” on your to-do list

8) Family/relational- This category includes your relationships with those whom you consider family. Family might include your blood relatives, your pets, your spouse, friends you’ve had since you were tiny or friends of the family that you treat like family. It also can include family planning, if you plan to expand your family at some point. Here are some ideas for working on family self care:

  1. Schedule a family game night.

  2. Call a parental figure you haven’t spoken to in awhile.

  3. Create a family photo album

  4. Look into adopting a new pet (even something as small as a fish or rodent)

  5. Using either your DNA or information from your family, start researching your ancestors and genetic connections.

9) Safety & Security- This area of self care considers your risk of harm from others, preparedness in an emergency situation, and other practical concerns. This might involve insurance, finances, self defense, risk assessment, gathering resources and increasing your ability to be independent. In extreme situations, this may involve extricating yourself from an unsafe environment (such as in the case of domestic violence), breaking an addiction, or seeking legal help. Some less extreme examples might include:

  1. If you live with someone, take a moment to consider the possibility of suddenly being on your own. Do you have the means to support yourself? Are there any activities that your partner, roommate or family member does that you might want to learn how to do? What can you do to prepare from a practical standpoint?

  2. Check to make sure you have smoke detectors in enough places in your home. Do they need new batteries? Should the be replaced? Do you need carbon monoxide detectors?

  3. Take a self defense course.

  4. Open a savings account.

  5. Review your home and/or auto insurance.

Sources:

https://themighty.com/2017/11/types-of-self-care-for-mental-health/

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2011/05/the-7-vital-types-of-self-care/

https://tulipandsage.com/2018/11/08/6-types-of-self-care-ways-to-practice-them/

http://lunanimafox.com/blog/self-care-types

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shyness-is-nice/201403/seven-types-self-care-activities-coping-stress

https://www.coffeewithsummer.com/self-care/dimensions-of-self-care/



What areas of self care do think you need to work more on? If you want more blog posts related to self care be sure to check off the “self care” option in the poll in the sidebar! If you’d like me to go more in depth with each category of self care in future posts, comment below.