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  1. Challenge 2023 - Give myself a break New Year's challenges are always I'll get in shape or this year I'm getting enough sleep. Push yourself a bit more and achieve greatness. Not this year. I am taking a look at what I did last year and changing my approach. My goals a year ago are practically identical to what I would write today if I did a normal challenge. Did I actually make progress on my goals last year? Let's take a look. Cut for length The biggest thing I have been struggling with is feeling like I have too much to do and not making good choices from that to-do list. Just changing the priority order on the list is not going to fix that problem. Things to test for this challenge: 1) Keep work in bounds. Stay on task during the day and put it down at 5:00. If is it clear that some tasks cannot get done by the end of the day, make myself a list of what needs to be done first the next day. Yes, there will be more to do the next day. Keep a priority order and delegate as needed. 2) Move my sleep schedule up and sit zen first thing in the morning. The house is always quiet and no one will bother me. 3) Exercise at lunchtime when I work on site. On days I work at home, I can exercise in the morning. I can fit in a 30 minute workout consistently and some days can go longer. I have the option of strength training, cardio or yoga at one of five exercise facilities within 5 minutes of my office. 4) Do actual fun things after work and on weekends. On days I am going to the dojo, bring a book or knitting to do before class starts. Playing phone games does not count. Those are a sign of stress, not a cure. Take at least 15 minutes a day to do something fun. Sure, I am going to make an effort to work on some of the other important things like home improvement projects, getting on top of my finances and doing general adulting. I'll do those anyway. First I am going to give myself more breaks.
  2. Mistr's Hogswatch Hygge Challenge I am going to keep things simple for this challenge. 1) Sit back with my feet up. If I give them enough time, my family members will do their share of the cooking and cleaning. 2) Sit still and contemplate the snow. In my case, just sit zen. Minimum 10 minutes a day. 3) Swords are seasonal. This is relevant because my dojo is hosting a weapons seminar in the middle of this challenge. I am actually planning on doing a lot of cleaning this weekend and next week because we are hosting the dojo party for the seminar. After that, things can coast. My first hygge goal is to put up outdoor holiday lights tomorrow. It is predicted to be the last warm day. I went hiking on the gorgeous warm days last weekend instead of getting lights up.
  3. Mistr picks things up - late autumn 2022 Last challenge I took a step back, which I desperately needed for my mental health. I no longer feel like I am racing with the Red Queen. I feel like I've stopped long enough to look around and see where I am at and look at where I want to go. Part of that is taking my time getting there. The journey is more important than the destination. Things to pick up for this challenge: 1. Aikido. I have been taking breaks and coming back, which means I'm frustrated about not making real progress. I am vastly happier when I do aikido. I can be strategic about when I go, but my goal is 2 or 3 classes a week. 2. Heavy things. My strength training was moving along earlier this fall, then I let it slip again. I feel better when I am doing it regularly. Goal is 2 or 3 sessions a week. 3. Stuff around my house. That starts with a major cleaning this weekend because I am hosting my spinning group on Monday. None of them will say anything about how I keep house, but most of them are middle-aged women and they will all notice. I am planning another party for dojo people in early December, so I have reason to keep things tidy. 4. Stuff that has accumulated. I have been moving the same set of boxes between the family room and the out-of-sight-but-very-much-in-the-way pile in the bedroom every time we have guests. I want to take time and just deal with the stuff. If I decide not to deal with it now, it can go in storage. 5. Yard and garden. Time for the fall picking up and putting away. Drain the hoses, take down the tomato cages, spread the compost on the garden. Most of that should happen this weekend because the weather is going to be perfect. 6. Start working on the downstairs bedroom remodeling project again. This has been on hold for nearly a year. Things to keep going: Zen - at least 10 minutes a day, 30 preferred Go to bed early. This has been more of a struggle than I'd like it to be Knitting and spinning. Do more of these instead of phone games in the evening. Duolingo Stay on task at work and stop on time. Still a struggle, but making good progress on this. No caffeine for this challenge. I started strict restriction on this over a week ago. No caffeine will help with the get more sleep goal. I can make other tasty beverages. I am in good shape to start working on the project goals because past me scheduled several random days off in the next several weeks. I have four weeks of vacation time, I can afford to take a day here and there.
  4. Mistr takes a step back I feel like I've been running too fast to think for months. This challenge my goal is to not push so hard. I want to take time to sit still and consider what I'm doing instead of just picking the next thing off my to-do list. I am starting this challenge late because I was on vacation last week. The "vacation" part was more of a hope than an actual restful time. I did get to do a bunch of fun things and went to my family's cabin on a lake. I brought along my computer and planned to have time to write my challenge and read what everyone has been doing. The only thing I did with my computer was send an email to my boss asking for time off for a dentist appointment that I forgot about. I did get my knitting project going again. I cast on (for the 5th time) and made it through enough rows that I think it is going to work. I learned some things that make the later rows look better than the first few rows, but I am not going back and starting over again. I did some exercise and some zen. Dumbledore and I did some exploring and had good conversations during the road trip. I would like to kvetch about stuff, but I don't have time for that either. Tonight I am going to the dojo for the first time in a couple weeks. I will check in when I can.
  5. Mistr makes today better August will mark my 9th year in NF. I will also be turning 60 just after the end of this challenge. I am going to use what I have learned in the last several challenges and change my approach a bit. My goal for this challenge is to work on dealing as well as I can, one day at a time. This is a mental health challenge, not a physical fitness challenge. Sure, I still have plenty of fitness goals. I've seen that figure of how people lose strength in their 50s and 60s and it terrifies me. I want to lose the extra 10 pounds I've had since the pandemic started. I would like to get some sign that I actually am on the right track in how do zen meditation. All those things will fit in the implementation pieces of my larger goal. I was going to say that my job is more stressful than normal, but after two years I need to face that this level of work is the new normal and just deal with it. I am considering applying for other positions in my company. I am too close to retirement to want to switch to a different company. I am also feeling very risk-adverse, since I am supporting a family of four. Elf (my non-binary adult offspring) is looking for a full-time job again. I am sure they will find one soon. That will cover their phone, clothes, gas and incidentals. It would be nice if they could kick in for groceries, but I'm not holding my breath. I feel overwhelmed and show spikey anxiety behaviors when I try to look at all the things that I need to do. So I am consciously going to focus just on the next task instead. I can make it across the gorge and even enjoy the scenery if I keep my eyes on the goal and don't look down. I will not try to do All The Things. Instead, I will pick a thing to do that is fun or necessary. I will do that thing, then I will pick another thing. When in doubt, it is fine for me to pick an easy thing. Doing all chores does not make for a better day. Some of the things need to be fun things or my brain gets cranky. Small things count. I can do 5 minutes of zen, or knit one row. If I decide to let something wait, I will actually let it wait and not stress about it. I don't have to log everything, but it helps if I write down some of it to have a feeling of accomplishment. For the last several months I have been noting if it was a good day or not in my log book. I would like to have more good days.
  6. Mistr respawns - Summer 2022 I was going to write my challenge while I was on vacation last week. I was also going to start exercising again. Lots of projects I intended to do on vacation did not happen. Quite a bit of fun stuff did happen, so it wasn't all work. Keeping with making a fresh start, I am just going to write goals and not refer to where I was before. 1) A little bit is better than nothing. Sure, it would be great to do 30 minutes of exercise and zen every day. There are some days when I can do more and others that are overbooked. Just 10 minutes of zen is much better than nothing. I can do a few minutes of stretching and a walk around the block most days. 2) Keep up with logging. Having a record of what I did helps me keep track of progress and points what I might choose next in rotation. Writing down projects and chores lets me see how I used my time and feel better about it. My first task here is to get the tally pages set up in my current notebook (after I write my notes for yesterday ). I have all sorts of things I want to do and need to do. For now, I will work on seeing what I can actually do.
  7. Mistr edits her story My goal for this challenge is to reframe my story so that I feel better about my life. I had a bad week in April. Not that anything actually happened, just that I was super stressed about things at work. The tasks I needed to do were not harder or less pleasant than usual. There were a couple instances of poor communication coupled with my brain telling me stories that put the situation in a bad light. I felt stressed because I was worried about bad things happening, not because anything was going badly at the time. I know historically that I want to do more things than can fit in a day or a week. I am not doing myself any favors by overestimating what I can do, then being disappointed that I didn't do everything. Just because I sometimes have very productive days does not mean that I need to feel bad about having less productive days. I have a lot more control over how I feel than I want to admit. In my last challenge I focused on doing just one thing at a time. That made a big difference in reducing my stress. This time I am going to continue doing one thing at a time and also look at the stories my brain is telling. I know that "I'm tired and I want to go home" really means "I don't want to deal with this". The impulse to get food rarely has anything to do with being hungry. There are other stories my brain wants to tell me that need editing too. If I am going to have a good life, I have to frame my choices to fit the new narrative. No waiting for anything external to change. Supporting goals: Get enough sleep Sit zen every day Both of these things help me notice what my brain is doing and give me the resources to do editing. All the other recommended activities like eating healthy and exercising are optional. I would love to be able to keep a regular schedule of doing them, but that might not be feasible. I will make the choices that look best on the moment and do what I can to set things up so tomorrow is better.
  8. There are a lot of things vying for my attention this challenge. My goal is to choose just one thing at a time. If I try to look at all the things it is overwhelming. I tried doing that this weekend and got depressed. If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is months away. I need to keep my sanity while coping as best I can. Last week my boss told me that two high priority projects need to get done SOON, on top of my regular work. I was planning on working more on those next weekend, when I found out that the aikido seminar I'd signed up for was not cancelled after all. I volunteered to drive my sensei to the seminar, so I can't bail out of it. Thankfully it is just Saturday and Sunday morning. There is a Friday class, but I knew from the start that I couldn't get there on Friday. There is another aikido seminar coming up the second weekend of April. I do really want to go to these and see people, it just is a lot all at once. Oh yeah, and tax time is looming. And gardening. If I look at all the things, I want to run and hide. So I'm not going to do that. Goal: I will pick one thing, work on that, and put it down. It does not have to be finished to put it down. I will pick up another thing that seems doable at the time. It can be fun and relaxing or work. No judgement. Just keep going. I am going to make sitting zen a high priority for this challenge. I need to get my brain to hold still so I can make good choices.
  9. February Flex Challenge This one is about going with the flow, although getting more flexible would be nice too. Continuing from my last challenge, my main goal is having a more positive attitude about things in my life. I know I am going to have to do some things I don't like, but sulking about it will not make it better. Neither will procrastination. I like having a plan and getting things done. Knowing that, I want to have flexibility to deal with things as they come up and not be too attached to my original plan. Deal with what is really happening, not what I expected to happen. Time-bound Goals: A. Financial tracking and tasks 1. Update GnuCash 2. Submit 2021 HSA reimbursents 3. Get tax info to the accountant early for a change 4. Document how we overspent so much on our Costco credit account 5. Document what we spent money on last year so we can make a realistic budget B. Clean the family room so it is suitable for guests. Guest will be here the first weekend of March. 1. Put boxes of craft supplies in the garage 2. Hem curtains and put them up 3. File financial papers 4. Sort and neatly stack the pile of stuff behind my desk 5. Final dusting and vacuuming Routine Goals: 1) Exercise every day. Currently alternating between bodyweight exercises and yoga. Some days this might just be aikido or a walk. If things are really dire, I can walk 20 minutes on the treadmill and listen to a podcast. I hate the treadmill, so that is encouragement to do yoga instead. Doing 15 minutes of yoga is better than doing nothing. 2) Sit zen every day. I can tell the difference when I skip a day. If my day goes wonky I can just sit for 5-10 minutes before I go to bed. If the day was that bad, I probably need 10 minutes of calming down before sleeping anyway. 3) Do Duolingo. Working on learning French expands my brain in a good way. Keep it up. It also helps me hope that someday the world will be a less scary place and we will have money to travel. 4) Give myself time for fun projects. Spinning, knitting, reading. There will always be chores waiting. Usually they can wait another 30 minutes. 5) Get enough sleep. Everything goes better when I do. Getting next day prep done early counts for bonus points.
  10. Challenge 2022 The NF App is running a Jump Start 2022 side quest which coincides with zero week here. The task for today is to come up with a BIG goal for 2022, something inspiring. That's a hard one. My life is pretty comfortable. Sure, there is lots of room for improvement. Those things are incremental - not earthshaking. I'd been pondering whether taking an archery class would count. Probably not, when the universe dropped two videos on me. And @Heidi's post from last challenge here. Both of these are about mental framing. I also got a surprise Yule gift from an old friend, Naked in the Zendo by Grace Schireson. Three things make a pattern. My main goal for this challenge is to examine how I look at the world and change my attitudes. I'll have other goals about exercise and projects too. The main one is a biggie. Edited to fix link to the post in the last challenge. 12/30/21
  11. Holiday Cheer Challenge 2021 Last challenge I worked on having more grace in my life, and that was somewhat successful. This time I am working on cheer. I almost wasn't going to because I thought it would be too hard. I am not feeling at all cheerful at the moment and the holidays typically make that worse. That said, I do have choices about how I deal with the things I don't like. I know that Elf and Cleo both have bad histories with this season. Me being cheerful will help them get through it with far less stress. Goals: 1. Get enough sleep I know that tired => cranky. Now is not the time to try to be disciplined about getting up at a specific time. Continue to work on ending evening activities and getting to bed on time. If things happen, sleep as much as needed and rearrange my morning activities. 2. Sit zen Sitting zen lets me look at what my brain is doing and helps quiet my brain weasels. It also helps develop Jedi powers. Keep doing it every day. Mornings are best, but a short session in the evening is better than nothing. 3. Exercise Movement helps me feel better physically and feel better about myself. a. Finish up the Elements course. I think I have about 10 sessions left. Do those as soon as I can. It is working, but I don't love it. I want to say I gave it a fair shot and finished the whole thing. b. Do the NF pushup challenge. I'm on week 3 of a 6 week challenge. When I finish this, I will move to bodyweight exercises. c. Do PT exercises. I just met with my physical therapist about my left hand and shoulder. Earlier this year I was doing PT for my hips. For now I will do PT in the rest intervals in my other workouts. When I am done with Elements, I will alternate days of PT with days of strength training. d. Aikido - practice as much as I feel works with my life. Aikido is more fun than most things, but it takes a lot of time. Make good choices. 4. Work I am stressed about being behind at work again. Put in extra time as feasible to get caught up. The incoming work volume historically slows in December. Hopefully that will help. 5. Finances I am worried about money. Make time to at least know where we are at. If I can do analysis and budgeting, so much the better. 6. Fun stuff Do a little of this every day. a. Take 10 minutes to spin or knit, even if things are really busy b. Duolingo. I decided to start working on my French again. I would like to spend the month of December doing review. I am not thrilled with the current cost/reward format for Duolingo, but I'm willing to pay for their premium service for a month so that I can blast through a bunch of sections doing review. My goal is to do one topic area a day, like an advent calendar of French grammar. I can do more on weekends if I need to skip days or do short sessions during the week. In order to maintain my cheerful outlook, I am NOT going to worry about cooking or chores. I can do things when I have time and want to. If we actually manage to have a household meeting and divvy up chores, I will do mine and not worry about anyone else's. Our holiday meals might be pizza or Chinese take-out. All good so long as everyone is happy.
  12. Mistr works on grace My theme for this challenge is to handle everything with more grace. What do I mean by that? The opposite of graceful is awkward. I want to work on smoothing out the stiff, frustrating, sticky parts of my life. Certainly I want my movement to be smooth and flowing too. The exercise side is easier to see, if not always to do. Decisions and interactions are harder. That will be the main focus of this challenge. You may notice that the first five goals are the same as last time. Having accountability here helps me keep working on things. Goals: 1. Continue with the Elements program and aikido. I am halfway through the Elements program and already seeing improvement in my movement. Once that is done, I will do bodyweight workouts instead. I need to do lunges and work up to pistol squats so that I can get up gracefully from sitting when one of my feet is asleep. 2. Keep doing zen. Let the passing thoughts go without engaging them. 3. Do creative projects. These give me a sense of accomplishment and progress. I selected the "Practice Creativity 101" mission on the NF app to remind me to do this. 4. Get on top of my &^%$#(@! finances and stay there. Continued from last time. Still climbing the metaphorical hill. Block time on Sundays and Thursdays until this is at a steady state. 5. Flexibility in household tasks. Concentrate on doing the things that I care about. I can let everything else go unless I get a specific request from Dumbledore or Elf. 6. Improve my eating habits. I fell back into bad habits because of stress and working from home. I want to get rid of 12 pounds of extra weight over the next three challenges. My strategy has three parts A. The first is to do intermittent fasting with a window of 12 hours from 7am to 7pm. I usually eat breakfast about 8 and try to eat supper by 6, but want to leave myself some slack. On weekends this can shift to 9am to 8pm. The main thing is no snacking in the evening. B. The second is to limit baked goods to things we make ourselves. No commercial bread or cookies, no buns on burgers. I can make any decadent desserts I want to have. My free time is the main limitation. If Elf makes pizza or Dumbledore makes bread, that is fine too. One the same note, no Halloween candy (or the same thing not in orange wrappers). I can still have high quality chocolate. In a perfect world I would cut way back on sugar, but I'm not ready to go there yet. C. The third thing is to strictly limit dairy. This is for health reasons, not to control my weight. It seems like butter and cheese is okay. Milk, yogurt and sour cream are clearly NOT okay. Keep working on alternatives to the high-dairy foods I grew up with.
  13. It's autumn. I need to do the things. And I need a bit of discipline and structure about it. But the supportive mentor variety. So I need to get the dojo mentality back into my life. This fire dude will do, cuz of all of them, he's the one who has his adulting game on point. Hopefully there will be autumnal moon cakes. (Of the inauthentic low-carb variety. This is Avatar, you're lucky they're not on fire.)
  14. Mistr returns to reality Thanks to @sarakingdom for the inspiration for this challenge. I spent the last week of the previous challenge on a cruise ship visiting coastal Alaska. It was stunningly gorgeous, and far, far away from my normal reality. Having a week where I had no responsibilities was very strange. On port days I went on hikes and went shopping with my mom. On sea days we went to talks by the naturalist and the port historian and read books. No cooking or cleaning. The last time I had a week with no responsibilities was fall 2019, when I did a week-long retreat (sesshin) at a zen monastery. My earlier vacations this year were to my family's cabin. That is a lovely break from normal routine, but we still have to do cooking and cleaning. There is always some project that needs to get done while we are there. It felt very strange not to have a to-do list on the cruise. I missed my normal life a lot. That said, my approach to normal life could use some improvement. Goals: 1. Implement new exercise plan. I just met with my physical therapist and am done with the latest round of PT. She recommended that I keep doing side-steps with a resistance band, leg-lift alphabet writing and foam rolling. My left hip is still not as strong as the right and my IT bands are super tight. I was doing some PT exercises, some yoga and some hiking while I was on vacation. Strength and cardio have been lacking. Now I need to come up with a good all-around plan that will get me back in shape. I would like to get back to doing aikido twice a week. I may talk to the personal trainer at work if I get stuck. 2. Keep doing zen. It makes a big difference in my ability to put up with annoying stuff and make good decisions. 3. Do creative projects. These give me a sense of accomplishment and progress. I selected the "Practice Creativity 101" mission on the NF app to remind me to do this. I did this once before and it helped. 4. Get on top of my &^%$#(@! finances and stay there. I used to be on top of things. I've been sticking my head in the sand for the last year. I may find that the crawling feeling of dread I have is justified, but I will be able to do something to fix it. I have to get delayed tax info to my accountant by the 15th. That will be the first step. 5. Flexibility in household tasks. Concentrate on doing the things that I care about. I can let everything else go unless I get a specific request from Dumbledore or Elf.
  15. Mistr takes it on the road - August 2021 This challenge is starting and ending with trips. I will have two and a half weeks at home in the middle of the challenge. I'm going to have to stay on my toes to keep on top of everything. Right now I am at my family's lake place with Dumbledore. We spent a lovely day exploring Duluth on the way here. After that I took some much needed down time. Dumbledore is under deadline for an academic paper, so he has mostly been working. Today is our last full day here. I am doing all the housecleaning and he is writing. I'm a little salty about that, but I am also proud of him and want to support him. I am planning on asking him to do housecleaning at home to even the score. This weekend I will be in the Twin Cities visiting people. I'm spending most of Friday with my mom. I have lunch plans for Thursday and Saturday with close friends who I have not seen in person in years. I'm also hoping to see my brother. I may run into other friends, but at this point I feel like my dance card is full. The last week of the challenge I will be on an Alaskan cruise with my mom (crosses fingers). We were planning a trip through the Canadian Rockies, but between the fires and COVID she decided it was too risky. The cruise is all technically in the country and requires all passengers to be vaccinated. She went on a similar trip 25 years ago with my dad, but I have never been to Alaska. It should be fun. To add to the fun, I'm hosting my spinning group on Monday, August 23. I need to get my family room/work area cleaned up to host guests. The rest of the upstairs is not bad right now, but not at a party level of neat either. I've done pretty well on sitting zen and doing hip exercises from my PT while traveling. My main goal is to keep both those up. This challenge is going to be a whirlwind for me.
  16. Mistr paces herself - Summer 2021 Challenge My last challenge was all about discernment - picking the best thing to do next. My challenge this time is to keep that up as the world opens up again. I. Battles go much better when I am rested. My first goal is to let go of activities in the evening. So many nights I want to get more done, or I want to have some time to relax. I need to put down work, chores and big projects at 8pm on work nights. All screens off by 8:30pm. I can do fiber arts until 8:50. Reading non-fiction is okay. Reading fiction is not because I can't put it down if it is good. Make peace with the fact that it really does take me 40 minutes to close things down and go to bed. II. Strength and Skill My dojo is open again and I am halfway through a 6-week class to get back in shape. Getting back to where I was at the beginning of 2020 is going to take more than six weeks, but I can make progress. At least one type of exercise every day. Core, bodyweight, kettlebells, yoga, biking - all good. PT at least once a day, twice is better (details later) Aikido twice a week, maybe three times a week. Work on form, not speed. III. Awareness without Attachment Sit zen every day. If I can't fit in a regular 30 minute session, do at least 10 minutes. If my family is doing distracting things, go outside and do walking meditation instead. Battles I am putting back - cooking, cleaning and gardening. I will do some of all of these, but I'm backing off from what I did before. The yard won't be perfect, there will be weeds in the garden. I can eat simple food that doesn't need much prep for a lot of meals. I will do my share of batch cooking for the week, but I won't worry if there is not a lot of food in the fridge (that's a lie, I will worry; I'll just learn to live with it). I can let the dishes pile up and other people take their turn to clean. Projects - pick only one battle for the weekend. If that turns out to be an easy win, I can pick a second battle. Give myself time to actually relax.
  17. Mistr Practices Discernment My biggest challenge right now is picking what to spend time doing. I know what I need to do to get back in shape, lose the weight I gained last year and do things I enjoy. The problem is that my work is demanding a lot of time and many things I would normally want to do just won't fit in my week. All that "just do 15 minutes of this" advice is not working for me. Under normal circumstances I like my job. At the moment we are understaffed and having a hard time finding people to fill our open position. My boss is going to batt with management to get us two new people, if we can get some decent candidates. Until that happens, I am putting in extra hours. I realized that I have to let go of some other things or I'll drive myself nuts. Last challenge @sarakingdom shared a video from a Buddhist monk that I found really helpful. He talked about the stories we tell ourselves about things. Am I enjoying soaking my hands in warm water, listening to music and feeling good about clearing off the kitchen counter? Or am I feeling resentful about doing a chore instead of something more fun? Am I unhappy about my arm hurting, or am I feeling relieved that I got a vaccination and it is doing something? An awful lot of how I feel depends on how I view what is going on. I can work on that. Knowing that I can only do a few things makes it easier in some ways. My tendency is to want to to ALL THE THINGS. Since that is obviously not going to happen, I can pick and choose a few things that will make a difference. Sometimes that will be sitting still and just looking out the window. Things that are high on my list: Sleep. I cannot make good decisions and am a grouch when I don't get enough sleep. Work. I am supporting my family. Work anxiety is worse that working lots of hours. Time with my family. This is always in short supply, enjoy it whenever I can get it. Zen. Very useful for dealing with anxiety and choices Exercise. Good for making me feel better in lots of ways Fiber arts. Creative outlet and destressing. Gardening. Outdoors and a feeling of control over my environment. Cooking and cleaning are only happening when I am inspired or something is bugging me. We have the household cooking divided up so we each cook one day a week (in theory). Elf and I usually batch cook something. I grilled 5 lbs of chicken breast last weekend. The previous week I made a ham. I can live just fine on frozen veggies and protein with an excessive amount of dark chocolate for snacks. I will do my share of the dishes and laundry. If the kitchen is a disaster in between, I can ignore it. I've been practicing and getting much better at letting cleaning chores wait. Scoring for this challenge will be how I feel about the week. Do I feel like I took care of the important things? Am I stressed out? Did I make good choices about self-care? I would love to lose 10 pounds and get back in shape, go biking and deal with the boxes in the garage. Maybe some of those things will happen, but I'm not going to judge on them.
  18. Suddenly the machine was wobbling... In a few hours the shops out there were expecting deliveries, and they weren't going to arrive. The government couldn't sit this one out. A city like Ankh-Morpork was only two meals away from chaos at the best of times. Every day, maybe a hundred cows died for Ankh-Morpork. So did a flock of sheep and a herd of pigs and the gods alone knew how many ducks, chickens and geese. Flour? He'd heard it was eighty tons, and about the same amount of potatoes and maybe twenty tons of herring. He didn't particularly want to know this kind of thing, but once you started having to sort out the everlasting traffic problem these were facts that got handed to you. Every day, forty thousand eggs were laid for the city. Every day, hundreds, thousands of carts and boats and barges converged on the city with fish and honey and oysters and olives and eels and lobsters. And then think of the horses dragging this stuff, and the windmills... and the wool coming in, too, every day, the cloth, the tobacco, the spices, the ore, the timber, the cheese, the coal, the fat, the tallow, the hay, EVERY DAMN DAY. And that was now. Back home, the city was twice as big. Against the dark screen of night, Vimes had a vision of Ankh-Morpork. It wasn't a city, it was a process, a weight on the world that distorted the land for hundreds of miles around. People who'd never see it in their whole life nevertheless spent their life working for it. Thousands and thousands of green acres were part of it, forests were part of it. It drew in and consumed... ...and gave back the dung from its pens and the soot from its chimneys, and steel, and saucepans, and all the tools by which its food was made. And also clothes, and fashions and ideas and interesting vices, songs and knowledge and something which, if looked at in the right light, was called civilization. That's what civilization meant. It meant the city. Was anyone else out there thinking about this? Was anyone important thinking about this? Suddenly the machine was wobbling, but Winder and his cronies didn't think about the machine, they thought about money. Meat and drink came from servants. They happened. Vetinari, Vimes realized, thought about this sort of thing all the time. The Ankh-Morpork back home was twice as big and four times as vulnerable. He wouldn't have let something like this happen. Little wheels must spin so that the machine can turn, he'd say. But now, in the dark, it all spun on Vimes. If the man breaks down, it all breaks down, he thought. The whole machine breaks down. And it goes on breaking down. And it breaks down the people. Terry Pratchett, Night Watch My machine is wobbling, and little wheels must spin so that the machine can turn. Right now, it all spins on me. If I break down, it all breaks down.
  19. SYRRAN: [My name is] Arev. T'POL: That means 'desert wind'. SYRRAN: Does it. Why are you here? ARCHER: We could ask you the same thing. SYRRAN: I follow the path of Surak in meditation and study. Challenge goals: Walk Meditate Study Bonus: Do logical things when there is emotional resistance. Challenge Tasks Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Walk Meditate Study Cleaning Meditation Intermittent Fasting Logic Over Emotion (stretch goal) Yoga (stretch goal) Mindful Sleep Don't Forget Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Meds Mail Monday ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ Trash Tuesday ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ Wash (clothes) Wednesday ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ Food Friday ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖
  20. Mistr works on weekends My major goal this challenge is to get back in shape for aikido. The weather is getting warm enough that aikido in the park will start soon. Hopefully we can go back to training in the dojo by summer. I have put on weight and lost strength and aerobic condition. Lots to work on there. My second goal is to keep balance in my life as the world opens up again. There are some good things about this enforced time that I want to maintain. The third goal is the one in the title, work on my weekends. Which includes doing work for my day job on weekends. We are still short-handed. Unless by some miracle the incoming work flow lightens up, I need to put in a few hours on weekends to keep from feeling like I'm drowning. I also need to change my planning to make time for zen and exercise on weekends. I always want to do more than is feasible, so I need to make better choices. Details: I. Exercise and food. A. Alternate strength and core exercise/yoga days. 1. Strength alternates between days A and B a. bodyweight exercises and back roll practice b. TGUs and sumo shiko (combination bodyweight squats and side leg lifts) 2. Yoga rotates between core routines with other practices thrown in for variety B. Start the NF Journey biking challenge in April. I just dropped off my bike at the shop for a long-needed overhaul. It should be done by the second week of April, just in time to get outside. C. Eating improvements 1. No snacking between breakfast and lunch 2. Protein and produce at every meal 3. Take breaks instead of stress eating. 4. Portion control at meals 5. Take-out must include salads II. Balance Keep a regular schedule. This is easier because my adult offspring, Elf, is working a regular job with an early start time. I can't bargain on sleeping in if I stay up late. So all I have to do is go to bed on time. Still a challenge, but I've been better about it this year than ever before. Stick to the regular schedule on weekends. Staying up late and sleeping in contributes to me not doing zen and exercise. Stay on task at work and stop by 5:30pm. I may not be done, but I can have a plan of what I need to do the next morning. Plan what to do on the weekend ahead of time. Pick one task from my wish list to get done every weekend. Feeling I'm making progress is important. Take breaks to spin or knit to deal with stress at work. This is one of the major benefits of working from home. Take advantage while I can. Clean one thing or do 15 minutes of yard work most days. Sit zen for 10 minutes on days when I feel like I want to do other things and leave it until the end of the day.
  21. This challenge was rudely interrupted by a pandemic last year. However, now that we're settling into our post-apocalyptic plaguescape for the long haul, it is yet again time. This challenge, I will endeavour to become the Disc's second greatest lover. "My name's Casanunda," he said. "I'm reputed to be the world's greatest lover. What do you think?" Nanny Ogg looked him up and down or, at least, down and further down. "You're a dwarf," she said. "Size isn't important." This challenge, I'm working my way up the rankings of the world's lovers by leveling up my international playdwarf lifestyle. (Or, as a previous challenge put it, do things with elegance. Strangely, despite years of aikido and years of urban myths about people being told to do things elegantly, I had to re-derive the principle in another way before I realized this was not about aesthetics but about managing to combine mindfulness with emptying the mind.) Some of these may seem like odd choices for a fitness/life level-up (like increasing alcohol consumption, and, I dunno, taking life advice from the worst possible people), but there are three factors at play here: first, this challenge needs to be fun, cuz this us what we do instead of vacations in plague years; second, it's addressing recovery from a certain amount (which is to say, lots) of cutting corners on self-care in the broader day to day living sense and getting by on "acceptable"; and three, it's addressing the (narrative) causality between good habits and seemingly unrelated projects and lifestyle choices. Or, as Vetinari would have it, all the little wheels must spin so the machine can turn. And this is a timely challenge. I've really been struggling with self-care lately. Part I: Casanunda Training There are two first steps to becoming the world's greatest lover: First, yoga warmups with lots of hip openers, for obvious reasons, and, second, get into bed as often as possible. (For sleep, of course. I don't know what you're thinking.) If I'm going to be a soldier of fortune, I need to work on mental stillness and physical prowess. Walking and strength training, to start with, and some meditation. Tasks to be checked off: rewatch Casanova and take notes. Part II: Be a Better Lover Than Lord Rust "It was a Guild of Assassins, after all. Black was what you wore. The night was black and so were you. And black had such style, and an Assassin without style, everyone agreed, was just a highly paid arrogant thug." While Assassin-School-trained, Lord Ronald Rust did not particularly benefit from the lessons on style. So I think I can outdo him here on the things that make an Assassin an Assassin. The projects I will do here include repairing and replacing bits of my wardrobe with a focus on rotating in my higher quality clothes, leveling up my daily grooming from ultra-practical to something attempting a little actual style, and more aperitifs-and-tapas. This will also involve getting back in the habit of making actual things with recipes and planning and cultural connotations, rather than just going with the fastest and most basic form of slapping nutrition onto the table, and managing my pantry better. Also, getting back to my macros and IF schedule. Part III: Be a Better Lover Than Rufus Drumknott "I believe he collects different types of stationery," said Vetinari. "I have sometimes speculated that he might change his life for the better should he meet a young lady willing to dress up as a manila envelope." All this lifestyle-leveling-up requires a certain amount of organization and schedule-wrangling. Being the world's second greatest is demanding. And for me, leveling up the bachelor pad is going to center on organizing: not just finding the right place for everything, but finding the right use for everything, and the most efficient way to organize it all. Where the Lord Rust half of this focuses on making everything I own beautiful, the Drumknott portion involves making it all useful, and also includes recycling things I don't use into things I do. Things will fit into the storage I already have, be more organized, and work better. Also, the habits I use to clean and organise it will be streamlined.
  22. I want to take this challenge to set up improved habits for the year. The world is going to change a lot this year, and I want to be in a good place to adapt to those changes. I was thinking I was coming up with new goals, but here is what I wrote in January last year: My goals for this year are more for fine tuning and continuous improvement rather than major changes. I want to improve in aikido and zen. I’m always going to want to keep moving up along those paths. I want to include more strength training and cardio in my exercise program because I’m at the age where decline is a real concern. My biggest challenges are dealing with the tedious and unpleasant tasks at home and at work. Goal 1: Stay on top of the tedious task at work. It is not so bad if I do a little a couple times a week. I just got caught up this week and want to keep it that way. Goal 2: Stay on top of our financial situation at home. Dumbledore and I are going to meet quarterly to look at how we are doing and what we need to modify. I need to have the data together for those meetings. He takes care of the daily bills, I take care of the long term data analysis (at least I should be doing that). Schedule a two-hour block every weekend to get the info together and keep it going. Doing this will eliminate my stress about not knowing where we are at. Bonus goal: Read I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. I bought the book months ago and started it, but felt too guilt about my financial situation to read advice on how to fix it. Stupid, but true. Things have gotten better recently and I could use some tips. Exercise A. Alternate yoga and strength training. Last challenge I alternated kettlebells and a NF pushup challenge. I missed the yoga. I like turkish get-ups (TGUs) and part of the push-up routine. I will make up my own plan with a rotation of exercises. I just got a set of resistance bands so I can expand the range of things I can do. The NF Journey app uses an A/B workout plan with a rest day in between. Yoga will be on rest days. B. Cardio one day a week. In the before times, I got a lot of cardio taking falls and getting up in aikido. That is not happening now. It is rare for me to do something that gets my heart rate up. We have a treadmill. Dumbledore walks on it a lot. Treadmills make me nervous and I've never used it. Time for me to get past that. It is snowy winter here, I can look forward to outside cardio in the spring. I will do walking interval training every weekend. One day a week is not much, but it is better than I have been doing. Zen Sit every day, even just 5 minutes. The ideal is to sit 30 minutes before work. Some days I manage that and other days I say I'll do it later. My follow-through on doing it later is lousy. Keep using the NF Journey app to remind me. Every day is more important than a long time, with the understanding that more is better. Better food choices I have put on 15 pounds over the last year. My reasons are probably the same as everyone else's. I am going to eat more veggies and fruit and cut back on snacks and sweets. The thought of eliminating sweets makes me want to rebel and eat all the treats, so I'm not going to set a limit. Substituting an orange for a cookie is a win. I've done well before on limiting myself to treats that I cook. I might try that as soon as we get the holiday sweets out of the house. continued from last challenge Just One Thing My ongoing challenge is having too many things I want or need to do, and not enough time to do them. This is not new. The pandemic has not even made it worse. My work goes through cycles of good times when we are fully staffed and busy times when we are short-handed. Early this fall things were getting better as a new person was trained in, then someone else left. So it goes. The major change for me is that I'm now working from home and not practicing aikido. Aikido is a full-contact martial art and zoom classes are not working for me. I also miss the group strength training classes I did at work. I don't have any commuting time but my stress relief is not there either. You would think that I'd have more time with no commute and no classes, but it has not worked out that way. I often feel overwhelmed by all the things I need to do. My goal for this challenge is to pick one thing and do it. If something more important comes up I can put down the thing. Otherwise, keep working on that without distraction until it is at a resting place. I can pick whatever I like on the moment to do. Sometimes that will be a high priority task, sometimes it will be a task that has been waiting, sometimes it will be a fun recharging activity. No judgement. I acknowledge that not everything can possibly fit in the time I have. I need to step back and take a hard look at the things I want to do - do I really want to spend time cooking that thing? Which house project will make the most difference to get done this weekend? Can I ask my family for help or should I really do this myself? Give myself permission to take down time and do fun things. I am not going to get "caught up" and have free time. I just have time. I can choose what to do. Sometimes staring at the ceiling and not doing anything is the right choice. Perspective instead of guilt. In a perfect world I would exercise, sit zen, eat lots of vegetables, be productive and get enough sleep every day. I need to work on making good choices and owning them rather than feeling guilty when I can't do what I "should". I get credit for each thing I get done.
  23. Hi, I'm RisenPhoenix. I'm going to try and be normal here (*snort*) , in an attempt to be somewhat accessible to people who might drop into my thread now that we have merged the guilds. I've been around the block here in some form or another since 2012, so I've gotten lax with how I do challenges. For me, this challenge is definitely about becoming more Normal. Or at least MY normal. Which besides 2020 being 2020 I also mostly had upended in the tail end of the last year after almost nearly keeping it together. Almost very nearly practically together. So, here's to getting back on the normal horse that's probably some giant antlered zebra bear but whatever, it's my horse deal with it. 1) Normal Diet: Paleo-leaning calorie counting My diet is normally pretty paleo-leaning, but the holidays and some quarantine baking turned it a bit carb heavy. Not that it's a BAD thing, but it's hard to quantify my baking sometimes, which makes my consumption hard to track. Ultimately I do best on a higher fat diet with counting my calories. I'm going a slightly lower energy counting method which ignores all my veggies - they aren't calorically dense enough to make the hassle of putting them all in worth it. Slightly will underestimate my carb counts and what not, but that's fine. I'm looking to get into a calorie deficit again more than anything. Since I went to the doctor today, we'll use their clothed, mid morning weigh in that I tried to avoid as the start point: 222 pounds (which is still lower than I was in January 2020 so I'm counting it as a win). Goal is to get back down to closer 200-ish. At the very least to fitting easier into my jeans again. Calories logged should be net 2200 calories or less, when accounting for physical activity. But really I have enough glycogen stores right now that I should be able to fuel quite a few workouts before I need to feed myself more. 2) Normal Body: PT Exercises as dictated, 1 yoga class a week, 1 aikido class a week Part of my derailment at the end of last year was screwing up my back after doing a crappy deadlift pull. And then not paying attention to it as much as I should. And then having a mental breakdown where I tried to do a workout to help with the mental health because I felt physically better-ish but learned shortly thereafter that I am impatient as everything seized up on me. A doctor's appointment today got me a referral for PT and a bottle of muscle relaxers. So I need to 1) set up that appointment, 2) do the damn exercises, 3) I should really work on doing weekly yoga that I pay for and the aikido I don't need to pay for but do anyway. Start small and make sure the last two things don't interfere with the PT things. 3) Normal Brain: Self care Journaling, reading/tech disconnect 1/day I am perpetually an anxious mess, but the last year did enjoy ramping it up to 11. After a breakdown I had late November, I decided to put myself back on some meds. A couple weeks in and things are settling in well it seems, but I've also been on vacation for two weeks, so the rest test of work and life really hasn't taken root yet. In addition to drugs I finally got my butt to therapy and it's.... a thing. Not really sure it's giving me much space to benefit from, but we're still relatively early (4 or 5 sessions in). One thing is that I have used NF for years as a journaling space, which this will probably keep being, but I do want to try and find a guided journal or series of prompts to write for my eyes only in an attempt to not have me self-censor (which I have done before - yes people who've followed me before, that was me censoring myself occasionally). So I need to find a journal or a list of prompts to use. Suggestions welcome. I also really need a tech disconnect once a day, even if it's just reading for 30 minutes. My brain works better having that space. Thankfully I have three books on my kindle in queue, plus two others in hand. So reading material is abound. I'm also trying to get my library/study space up and functional (after a year of the room being a junk room I just tossed things into), which will include a space to do crafts/projects/puzzles/legos. That'll help. That's the gist. Try to be normal, or at least as normal as I can be. (New people will quickly see that normal for me is very much a relative scale....)
  24. SYRRAN: [My name is] Arev. T'POL: That means 'desert wind'. SYRRAN: Does it. Why are you here? ARCHER: We could ask you the same thing. SYRRAN: I follow the path of Surak in meditation and study. Challenge goals: Walk Meditate Study Bonus: Do logical things when there is emotional resistance. Just three goals this time, but my head is feeling in need of a clear-out and my physical conditioning is feeling blah, so I want to hit those three hard, to see where I feel health improvements. I'm going for endurance on all three. My end goal for the challenge is two hours a day of walking (though a substitute of half an hour of yoga and alternate day half hour strength workouts will count towards the activity total if I want to mix it up with more mobility and strength), and half an hour of meditation per day. There are two things qualifying for study at the moment, one professional and one brain hacking. I'll count either, with a goal of two hours a day. I won't hit these goals right away, I'll be stepping up to them. No, they're not sustainable amounts of time long-term. But for a focused short-term reset, I think they'll be worth the time I put in. Like a deep spring-clean. The catch: My sleep, hydration, and food need to be fairly stable for this, and they're not. I'm hoping the increased activity will help stabilise my sleep, and the activity plus meditation will take down some brain focus issues that will improve my routines. But there's a hidden hydration reset and diet reset in here. I'm thinking about batch cooking on weekends to keep the diet reset from being a daily concern, at least. I'll be testing this a bit in zero week, though I still have a week of Hogswatch to go. Fortunately, there's enough overlap that I can run both simultaneously.
  25. Hello and welcome to my battle log, est. 2016! I've been doing challenges for over a year straight and I decided to experiment with an alternative style that gets away from the feeling of being perpetually "on" and one step away from the pointy end of the spear that is the 4WC format while not losing the structure that said 4WC format provides. Kinda strike a balance, like? This will be an ongoing experiment, with some room to adjust. This will be accomplished by a month-to-month formal re-evaluation of goals, without grading per say, and the freedom to change things up at any point with no regrets. All in one place! No need to wonder when my new thread will be up, just stay tuned for the next day's post! Below I will update links to each month's first post so you can see change over time. To round off 2016's activity, I'm posting links to prior challenge activity for the sake of completeness. ...And we're off! Index 2016 Challenges: January, February, March, April 2016: May, June, July, August, Intra-Month Madness, September, October, November, December 2017: January, February, March, April, May, Intra-Month Madness v.2, June, July, August, September, October, November, December 2018: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December 2019: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December 2020: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December Lessons Compendium *~* 5/6/2016 *~* Magnesium deficient is something you don't want to be--supplement You might also be deficient in other vitamins and minerals--supplement with a multivitamin Magnesium is a diuretic Squat foot position should be maintained at hip width, no farther: a wide stance is Trouble for your inner legs *~* 5/21/2016 *~* Ukemi must be executed with one's head tucked There is in fact such thing as too much ukemi, especially when biased to one side of the body TM Fact: If you get to a place on Intensity Day where you struggle to PR, add volume to volume day *~* 8/1/2016 *~* Daily neck stretches keep even small tension headaches away Too much of the wrong kind of foot rolling can lead to TIGHTER feet *~* 8/27/2016 *~* Stress is real and it will harm training momentum. Knee sleeves are good tools in the gym for preventing quad tension. *~* 11/7/2016 *~* 1/wk DL Intensity Day is too intense. 2/month is good. *~* 1/29/2017 *~* When stressed, a massive deload is not necessary. Just hold fast to the same weights and...wait it out. Too much magnesium = diarrhea *~* 7/10/2017 *~* A reminder: sleeping on one's back reduces the risk of headaches and muscle knots. *~* 12/09/2017 *~* Do not stop taking Slo-Mag. Just. Don't. *~* 1/19/2018 *~* Drinking a minimum of 44oz of water helps regulate headaches, even migraines to some extent. *~* 7/18/2018 *~* Hormonal birth control does cause migraines. So does looking down at phone with bad posture all day. *~* 7/30/2018 *~* Dairy and yogurt disagree with my stomach. Vegetables + fermented food are keys to BM balance. *~* 10/1/2018 *~* Fruit disagrees with my stomach. Bananas are fruit. Lacrosse ball rolling helps manage bad posture headaches. *~* circa 4/2019 *~* I need the lunch hour away from my desk to keep headaches down *~* 10/4/2019 *~* Remember how fruit disagrees with my stomach? That goes for ingredients found in preworkout. Gas and bloating.
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