And Another Year Passes…

OperaSydney-Fuegos2006-342289398It’s a new year, and there are many things going on at Maison O’Danu. I am in the process of expanding my business, so that (at first) I will have a group practice and (eventually) a franchise of small, responsive therapy offices that take Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, and private pay. Hence the not blogging much thing.

Things in the world have been largely depressing in the last few months. In my metropolitan area, four small children have been killed by guns in the last month in completely unrelated incidents. In France, a satirical magazine that works hard to be offensive to everyone was attacked by a terrorist cell and `17 people were killed, lighting a torch to the racism in France and setting off “retaliations” against ordinary Muslims all over that country. Continue reading

Black Lives Matter: The Role of Allies

A silhouette showing a police officer striking...

A silhouette showing a police officer striking a person, symbolising police brutality. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the Ferguson grand jury decision came the Eric Garner grand jury decision. While disappointing, it was not surprising that the police officer that put him in a choke hold on camera that ended Eric’s life will not face charges. While it is widely said that a proscuter can “indite a ham sandwich, apparently it is impossible (or nearly so) to indict a police officer. Which means that not all pork products can be indicted.

Statistics all over the United States back this up. While over 99% of people arrested for crimes are indicted, at least at the Federal level, this is not borne out when the accused is a police officer. Statistics show that police officers are largely immune to prosecution for excessive force, even when it leads to the death of an innocent person.

This is not a matter of one bad cop, or one bad police station. This is a systemic issue that has repercussions throughout the United States. These repercussions fall mostly, but not entirely, on the bodies of black and brown people. Thus the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. Continue reading

Compassion Under Seige

I am feeling the weight of the various news that affects me directly or indirectly (the elections, Cosby’s multiple and ongoing new rape accusations, the situation in Ferguson and the injustice of it. Right now I am struggling to find the compassion that is so valuable to me and until I can, I will be “going dark”. I am fine, this is a normal process for a social justice druid. Think of it as hibernation. I should be back soon.

Let’s Talk About Barriers to Quitting Poverty

Part of Charles Booth's poverty map showing th...

Part of Charles Booth’s poverty map showing the Old Nichol slum, including Bethnal Green Road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trained, as I am, as a master’s level social worker, I tend to group barriers into three categories: personal (micro), local (mezzo) and global (macro). From that lens, today I want to talk about what you can and can’t (immediately) change about the circumstances that are keeping you poor. Continue reading

Try HabitRPG for a Daily Dose of Fun in a To-Do List

A boss fight.

A boss fight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HabitRPG: How and Why

I started using HabitRPG in September 2014. I have been looking for an all-in-one to-do list system that actually works for me, because I have a lot of scattered responsibilities among several spheres of life, including family, house work, providing therapy, writing blog posts, writing stories and novels and non fiction books, being a social justice activist (a druid, not a warrior, tyvm!), and taking care of myself in order to continue doing all of the above.

My work days often run twelve hours. There can be some down time in those hours, but twelve hours is still twelve hours. This is my “normal” for three or four days a week. So I have to figure out a “flexible” schedule that works with the fact that I don’t have time or energy for a lot of “extras” on those days, but keeps me on track on the other days – and makes sure I honor my body and mind’s need for downtime. That’s no easy task.

So my friend Faith messaged me the link on Facebook, asking me to check it out, knowing I’m both a gamer and a therapist. I agreed to “play test” it, and here I am. In describing the interface, I will be describing the PC interface for two reasons 1) I use it more and 2) it is more complete. Some features have not yet made it to the Android/IPhone versions, including challenges. This is, of course, subject to change.

The Basics:

When you first create an account (you’ll need a valid email account, but that’s it), click on your character avatar on the top left corner. Either choose free accessories for your avatar, or fork out the bucks (or assistance with the site) that the really cool stuff costs. The game is “free plus” – all functions except creating a guild are free, but you pay real money or complete specific tasks for real money credit. Unlike many “free to play” game, full functionality with the exception of leadership (creating guilds) is free, and that is a refreshing change.

The game is designed to help you reach your goals. To-do list items are broken down into three categories: Habits, Dailies, and To-Dos. Habits are things you want to do more often (or stop doing) but not necessarily on a regular schedule. Dailies have a regular, predictable schedule and you expect yourself to do them on the days you’re supposed to do them. You can edit dailies to be every day up, every other day, or weekly. Monthly task options are in development. To-do list items are one time or rare tasks.

Pick a couple of things you regularly do daily to be your daily tasks (you want to reward yourself for things you’re already doing, of course) and then a thing or two you want to be doing daily, but aren’t quite achieving. (The Tavern on the social tab has lots of cool challenges. See below to access it) Then pick a couple of habits you’d like to gain or lose, and add your “one time” tasks to the to do list. If you want to get fancy, assign checklists, due dates, and difficulty factors to the tasks. On the habits, choose whether doing them earns you points, loses you points, or loses if you go in one direction and gains if you go in the other.

Assign yourself the task of turning on the sign theme, go to the sound settings on the tool bar, turn on the Daniel the Bard theme, and click the little check mark. Hear that? Instant gratification.

Social Stuff:

Next, click on the social tab. Here you will find the Tavern, Parties, Guilds, and Challenges. On the Tavern page you will also find the Inn. When you want to take a day off from tracking your habits, check yourself into the Inn, and none of your dailies will penalize you. If you are in a Party working on a shared goal, however, and in a Boss Fight, you can still lose hit points. So don’t rest in the middle of a Boss Fight (you’d think it’d be obvious!)

After the tavern (which also has helpful FAQs) check out the Party structure (for when you and friends or acquaintances want to tackle a challenge together). If you want, create an “empty” party to quest solo (after level 10)

Now comes the fun part (really!) Guilds in HabitRPG are interest based. There are health and fitness guilds, guilds for getting the chores done, guilds for students, financial health guilds, mental health guilds, Whovian guilds, guilds for pretty much any interest you can think of. Once you’ve chosen a few guilds based on your interests, click over to the Challenges tab (only available on Mac and PC), where you can choose challenges (some with pretty neat prizes) to pick Habits, Dailies and ToDos based on your interests

In fact, I recently created two guilds (“Therapy Homework” and “Quitting Poverty”). Therapy Homework (linked to this website and, the website for my private practice) is the stuff you should be doing between therapy sessions, broken down by goals and mental health issues. I am always looking for more ideas, so feel free to add more or simply comment on this post to have me add it for you. “Quitting Poverty” is linked to my new website (formerly MakingDoMakingBetter) for people in or near poverty who wish to learn how to develop relative financial stability in their lives from the ground up.

Okay, I admit it, I’m really, really geeking out about It’s seriously cool and it’s seriously useful for someone like me who is both someone who struggles to get everything done on a daily basis and is in the business of helping others.

Every time I check off a Habit or Daily or To-Do, I get a little rush from the little “task completed” sound. Every time I level up I play around with all the new nifty things I can do (at level 10 you can choose a traditional RPG class. Of course I chose Healer. Why would you even ask such a thing?).

The website is just starting out, and there are lots of opportunities to help the developers. You could create pixel art for them, or create guilds and challenges, code for the Iphone or Android apps, or handle any one of the other tasks on the list. It’s free to play, but of course the developer hopes to make money someday, and frankly I think his financial model is as inobtrusive and reasonable as any I’ve seen.

The chat portions of the site are carefully moderated to a PG level, so the site is safe for children. There is one four letter word (f*ck) on the site, one that is in the middle of the website name of an excellent website (nickname UFYH) for young adults on how to clean their rooms and apartments and homes. Because the challenge names don’t allow for HTML, that one is likely to stay for awhile, and for good reason. The site is an excellent resource.

So head on over to and check it out. Play around with it, tell your friends, and of course, share this article so they have a good quick start guide to enjoying it. Have fun storming the castle!

(This will be part one of several articles. Habit RPG is evolving, and so is my use of it. So keep watching, and don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter!)