Self Care and the Small Local Gaming Convention

The past two weeks have weighed heavy on me, I became an aunt for the first time ever to premature 27 week old nephews that have been stronger than I ever imagined two tiny people could be. If you live in the US, you know that things have been rough here as we had our presidential election. This week, unlike other weeks, I’m not going to talk about how we can be better to one another, I’m going to talk about how we should be better to ourselves and give ourselves permission to have fun. In the spirit of Self Care, I’m going to tell you how I spent my weekend at AcadeCon, a small local gaming convention. Yup, I’m totally going to blog my diary of how I spent my weekend for you. Full disclosure, we backed AcadeCon’s Kickstarter, we won some door prizes (including the pocket edition Pathfinder CRB), we had an awesome time, but we were in no way compensated for the plugs they are about to receive in this blog, they were just the con at the right time and the right place for us. There are tons of great small cons out there, you should definitely find them and support your local gaming community.


We all have limits, you should learn to identify yours and try not to push yourself past your limits. Sometimes you don’t have good options. I was at work on Thursday when I received the phone call from my brother telling me “The babies are coming, get to the hospital.” It was a long, stressful, tearful day that ended with two new family members, but it wasn’t an easy day to get through.

AcadeCon 2016 Logo. The RPG Academy.

AcadeCon 2016 Logo. The RPG Academy.

I really wanted to call off, but I couldn’t, we had several others already out for family emergencies. Friday was another good news – bad news kind of day and I know that that is going to be the way the next several months or longer are going to go. We had plans to go to AcadeCon and since I already had to cancel two other small cons earlier this year, we decided we should go, in spite of all the scary possibilities of not being in town, but we were only an hour away and only going to be gone one night, it was within my limits of stress.


I have never been to this particular small convention, but they are all pretty similar – only a couple hundred people, a dozen or so vendors, some organized games and some open gaming tables. It was strange walking into a convention center that wasn’t wall to wall people and it was nice. I made early hotel arrangements, but changed them at the last minute to be in the adjacent hotel, it cost a little more, but so convenient, well worth the money.

We walked in and to check out the games available to play and realized that with two kids we were going to have to jengaentertain for two days while we both ran games the next day, we might blow through our available entertainment quickly. A quick family conference ended with us leaving to find a movie theater to see Doctor Strange instead. We haven’t had a weekend off together for a while and with the holidays coming up, it’s unlikely we will have one off for the foreseeable future. Another solid choice, we all love Marvel films. The film gave us something fun to explore as a family at dinner and then back to play new to us games – Elevenses, which was delightful, and Dimensions, which was a good puzzle game but didn’t really scratch our game itch well. We headed back to the room because we were tired and called it an early night.

On Sunday we played a couple games before our scheduled events. My game had no takers, but Andrew ran his game. So, I hung with the kids, played games (Dixit is also now on our Christmas wish list), talked to complete strangers about the virtues and pitfalls of games and systems, listened to vendors talk about their wares and their lives, visited with some friends we hadn’t see in a while, and recharged from the energy of the moment.

Everyone I met at the convention was wonderful. We shared the space with a Christmas Santa’s Workshop and an African-American business leadership workshop. We stood in concession lines, lingered over the coy pond in the convention center (So relaxing), and generally just occupied the same space and time. We were people being friendly to one another and engaging in life. One of the concessions personnel asked if we would be back next year, stating we were so nice.

We drove home, singing silly songs loudly, and laughing about the weird little things that happened while we were a family. Our weekend ended with our regular adopted family, our Pathfinder group playing at our regular time.


Yeah, that’s a bummer, but I bet you have a local friendly game store or a bookstore or a coffee shop or a park or any number of other places you can go to be with people who want to just be part of relaxing and changing their scene. Self-care can be elaborate like a massage or facial, or having an at home spa day – don’t underestimate the power of a long bath and cooling face mask, even for guys! Or find a barber in your area who will shave your beard for you, I hear it is relaxing.


Friends, the family you choose! Steven Universe, Cartoon Network.

If you have a partner or a trusted friend, trading foot rubs is a great way to release stress and spend some time with a person you would be talking to anyway.

Friends are family you choose, go have coffee, see a movie, Skype, follow the advice of Crosby, Stills, and Nash (although not necessarily literally) and love the one you’re with. Speaking of Crosby, Stills, and Nash – don’t underestimate the power of music and movement. Dance like no one’s watching or other things (with consenting partners).

I’m sure you have a book or six you’ve been wanting to read. Light some candles and take a night off from social media and television. Or maybe you invested in one of the Bones Kickstarters and have hundreds of unpainted minis. I find creating or crafting very therapeutic, putting my energy into something productive helps me to move forward, especially when my energy is otherwise chaotic. I got through a very dark part of my life with mandala coloring books and my favorite movies and old TV shows.

Self-care can mean going to a restaurant you love with your favorite book or a movie you’ve been wanting to see, even if you don’t have someone to go with you. It feels weird at first, but this is about you and doing something you like because you need to escape for a little bit that something that has pushed you to or beyond your limit.

Ultimately, this is your life, own your time, your emotions, and your energy to spend. It has taken me many years to get to this place, but I know that I get to decide what I keep and what I let go of and how I remember it. I write it down things that really bothers me, like I’m doing right now. I write down what bothered me the most or what stood out the most or what I loved the most about an event. I write the narrative that is my life and I get to direct the way my brain and heart remember the events. I choose the course of my emotions. I get the bad stuff out and then sometimes I delete it, electronic medium is great for that. I get the benefit of putting it aside and then forgetting about it.

This has been a weird little blog, because I am still troubled by so much, but I know it helped me to get some of it out and ordered so I can consider it in a better format, I hope it helped you too.

Here are my nephews – their names are not included for their privacy, but I’m too excited not to share.

Baby A

Baby A


Baby B

Baby B


Monica Marlowe

Monica Marlowe is the 2015 Paizo RPG Superstar. Winning the contest launched her freelance game designing career. Her winning adventure, "Down the Blighted Path" and PFS scenario "Captive in Crystal" are available through Paizo. She’s publishing additional gaming materials under Marlowe House and through 3rd party publishers. Monica is also active in the ongoing education in gender, sexual, and racial equality in the gaming community. Driven by a desire to see a more diverse gaming community, Monica has joined the Know Direction network to help and encourage all gamers, veteran and new, to find their voices. Monica lives in southwest Ohio with her husband, Andrew, and 2 children, Kate and Thomas.

Burst of Insight


  1. Jay k.

    Well spoken. Its important to take time for yourself from whstever stresses you. From skipping raid night on wow or getting out of your house because of an on going divorce. Self care and ‘you time’ is critical. I love the new voice you have brought Monica. Been a fan of the show for three years and you bring something great to it. Thank you.