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  1. The comforting forest eventually gives way to wasteland.... the trees around here are smaller, younger, and farther apart. While the landscape is beautiful and the sun warm, Scalyfreak has learned the hard way that being out in the open like this makes her an easy target, and the lack of cover is making her more and more uneasy. And so, when the road she has been following leads away from safety, Scalyfreak stops following the path and turns back towards the shade of the treeline. Leaving the paved road means progress is slower, but Scalyfreak doesn't mind this at all. The trees are powerful and when she focuses and stands absolutely still, she thinks she can hear them sing to each other... maybe...? Scalyfreak keeps an eye on the wide open field to her right as she continues on her way. The treeline and the paved road are running parallel to each other as far as the eye can see and Scalyfreak can't think of a single reason for why she would want to travel where everyone else travels, exposed to all the hazards of the road, not when she doesn't have to. So she stays with the trees, mindful of her surroundings and cautiously optimistic that she'll reach her destination by nightfall. A brief “intro” for anyone who doesn't know me very well: The quest for better physical health continues, because my doctor's orders to get my blood pressure under control are still very much relevant, because that's what it means to have a chronic medical thing like high blood pressure. The management measures don't go away. One of the most important management measures is that I need to move more, to build my Strength and Constitution attributes, to help my myocardium get stronger, and also to give my body an alternative to storing excess food as body fat, by raising the higher daily energy needs a little bit. Another measure is to stop consuming stimulants that raise my heart rate and blood pressure.... in other words, cut back on caffeine. That last part might not sound like a big deal, but I'm starting from a position of drinking a little over a liter of coffee per day, and that is after already starting to cut back. I like to make my coffee a lot stronger than average (for the US anyway) because I like coffee to actually be black while it's being poured into a cup, and to generally have flavor. I have, as mentioned, started my gradual decaffeination by switching to black tea on weekends. I tend to sleep in for several hours when given the chance to do so, and it seemed unwise to start drinking coffee at noon. So I am drinking tea on weekends, and on workdays I have given myself a cutoff and am not drinking coffee after my lunch break. I'm also starting to collect black teas and herbal teas, and have started searching local stores for coffee alternatives that provide the savory and rich “coffee-type” flavor without dosing me with caffeine. Smokey black teas definitely live in this niche, but a fully caffeine free option that has some kind of coffee flavor would be nice. And no, decaf coffee is not an option. It has a weird kind of side-effect taste that makes it gross. I'm hoping that reducing caffeine for blood pressure reasons also will have a generally positive impact to my sleep. All of these vague descriptions need to somehow solidify into goals though, so here we go: Health Either go for a walk or do a workout, every day. “Workout” is defined very generously as any kind of deliberate movement done for the sake of moving”. The Daily Dare most absolutely counts, and so does stretching on days when that's all there is energy for. Mana Meditate every day. I am still struggling with remembering to do this on weekends, and until that habit is automatic this needs to remain a goal. Stamina Reduce caffeine intake by gradually switching away from coffee to tea and other beverages. Since I have coffee at home that needs to be consumed before the switch can fully take place, there's not a fixed timeline on this.
  2. My last challenge wasn't entirely successful, but I've identified a major obstacle: screen time. Once I sit down and pick up the tablet or phone, I lose track of time and get nothing done. Hence not enough sleep, inconsistent exercise, and a cluttered house. So similar goals as last challenge, but with the addition of paying attention to screen time. 1. Screen time - stick to the time limits I set on the time-devouring apps. No more hitting Ignore Limit --> Remind Me in 15 Minutes. This will help with getting everything else on the list done. 2. Strength - dumbbells and PT twice a week. 3. Space - still need to do some decluttering. We're starting a bathroom remodel in a few weeks, so time to clean out the vanity/medicine cabinet/walk in closet. One thing that has been going well is cardio. I've been doing the Walk to Mordor (although I haven't updated my distance here for a while) and doing fairly well with walking before work. Next week my gym starts it's annual virtual Ironman (5 weeks to cover Ironman distances running (or in my case, walking), swimming and cycling, so I'll be adding in some stationary cycling. It will also be the kick in the pants I need to get back in the swimming pool, for which my back will be grateful. I've also done well sticking to my reading goals. I had 2 LONG books for my book groups so I had to set a page goal, which I managed to meet most days. I would like to keep this up - less screen time = more reading time.
  3. Years ago I instituted a Silent Sundays ritual, a way to create a pause in the workaday life that seemed relentless and inescapable. Lately I’ve felt called to revisit this, and there seems to be a lot of reflection on this idea from others, including Pope Francis’Laudato Si’, the Green Sabbath movement, and one person’s individual reclaiming of Shabbat. The idea is that the earth is damaged by our ceaseless efforts to remake everything, to interfere through work and toiling, and this seems true to me. My immediate world, too, is affected by the ways in which I shape and change it through my efforts, from building shelves to doing laundry. There’s a lot of making my world that will be going on during this challenge as I move to the new apartment and begin the process of settling in and making it mine. I’d like to build in a sense of sacred space, and space for peaceful rest. All of this is happening during a season when I can feel my life becoming more visible and interwoven. This is good, and is part of the Alliances quotient that I noticed needed nurturing. Finding a way to continue nurturing the public, community, social side of being while also having peaceful rest and creating a sacred space is the Way of Ma.
  4. Hey guys, I've made it to my fourteenth challenge, which has brought Bilbo to mind, as the lucky fourteenth member of the dwarfs' party. I would've made an extensive title using his line "from under the hill and over hills and under hills his path has led," but that felt a lot longer than last challenge's "Off the Beaten Path." I'm satisfied with my efforts so far this year to attempt to do Turkish Get-Ups three times a week, and very pleased with how well I've been doing going on a walk during my lunch breaks! I could bring my bike to make distance more feasible, but even taking it slow and easy allows me such delights as yesterday when I encountered a squirrel and mockingbird! I'm contemplating how best to orient my goals, and I think continuing to encourage myself to walk in addition to my three full body workouts is a great boost to my brain even if it's demanding to know when I'll give it video games and mindless scrolling. 🥲 I clearly need to establish this behavior to maintain some distance from my devices, and sustain the opportunity to enjoy real air. Goals: Three days of doing Turkish Get-Ups each week, bonus points for doing them with weights One to five days walking while on my lunch break, bonus points for observation of wildlife Continue to maintain my Sudoku puzzle streak, and bonus points for having at hand a book or Zemi, rather than a device, if I'm good to stay snuggled in the couch I think that's good for my agenda of starting small as I build up my momentum from the respawn. Having walks on my lunch break really isn't something I would've considered since my days of playing Pokemon Go, but I'm liking the direction it's taking me. And hopefully that and the TGUs will add up in a good blend of improving my attitude toward my physical well-being. I hope you've had a good day, and I look forward to seeing you around this challenge. ❤️ Maerad
  5. Sepherina’s soul is weary of the next challenge. Up ahead she notices the path leads into the Enchantress’s Forest. She thinks to herself, I could use some magic and insight to aide me in my quest. With a spring in her step and a sureness of heart, she steps off the path and into the woods. This Warrior is taking the scenic route to her next mission. I feel the need for a bit of self reflection and therefore some Druidic help. A mini quest as part of my larger quest. A reminder of my 2024 goals and where I am heading Goals for this challenge 🏋️‍♀️ Continue with my current lifting schedule. Monday is all body, Tuesday is lower/leg days and Thursday is arm/upper body day. I am holding the line here but I am mulling over some changes. Mostly around if I want to continue to invest the outrageous amount of money I am paying for personal training and maybe find a more affordable option. I will also strive to take at least a 30 minute walk every day with Maple. This is good for her health and mine. With food, I am trying to eat for muscle gains. But the last challenge the scale didn’t budge in either direction despite me eating until I am satisfied. For now that may need to be enough. Additional things needed for this goal. Really try to get water in, keep alcohol to a minimum and nail the sleep schedule. 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Make more forum friends. Spend a least 4 days this month doing something with a friend in person. Continue to cultivate relationships I currently have. Get a couple of date nights in with the hubs. 💸 My credit card balance is now under 7K. I have some extra money this month so I am going to try to bring it under 6500. It may be hard but it is doable if I am diligent. Look into some new ways of being frugal and spending my money based on my values. 🌻 I used to have a very diligent self care and yoga practice. But injury and then life got in the way. The injury now is mostly healed and other things in my life are more stable. I miss my self care. I miss my space on the mat. I will be prioritizing this. More to come on this goal. Plan out my garden for this spring and spruce up our outdoor living spaces for summer. I am a warm weather gal. Soon it will be time for bare feet in the dirt and sun kissed arms. Svastha: There are some things/relationships in my life I am not satisfied with. I no longer accept them as is. If I can change something I will try to do so with empathy, but sometimes you have to cut things loose. A good friend told me that I shouldn’t sacrifice my happiness just to accommodate someone else’s bad behavior or continue to accept the status quo to keep the peace. I also shouldn’t keep habits/lifestyle choices that make me miserable. I will be rooting those out as well. And because it has been awhile since I have shared, here is a Maple picture. She is getting soo big. She is about 7-8 months now.
  6. The shrine to The Iron remains a comfort for Scalyfreak, who is starting to feel quite comfortable in her tent in front of the altar. It is safe, and it provides much needed rest on her long journey. But regardless of how comfortable the shrine camp site is, it is not a full temple and as such it cannot provide either fresh water or provisions or any kind. Since Scalyfreak does need to eat and drink water both regularly and frequently, she finds herself forced to pack up and move on from the Iron Shrine sooner than she wishes to. Ah well. She does still need to reach her destination before the next new moon after all. Decision made, Scalyfreak packs her things up and leaves the safe haven of the Iron Shrine, to once again set out towards the nearest road going west. Every now and then she stops to look for the hoof prints that led her to the Iron Shrine, but most of her attention is spent on being aware of her surroundings and listening for changes from the forest around her. The large demons who have stalked her for as long as she can remember are never far away, and they move swiftly and silently. Still, the further Scalyfreak walks, the more she comes to realize that there is no danger to her where she is at. The forest around her path is teeming with life and all the sounds that creates, but there is a calmness to it, a steady rhythm that knows it cannot be stopped and has no need to hurry. If Scalyfreak concentrates she can feel the ground hum faintly under her feet, and the air is moving around her although there is no breeze underneath the canopy of tall and dense trees. It's fascinating, and soothing, and Scalyfreak cannot help but feel nearly as safe here in this forest as she did by the iron altar. Something about being close to the trees is comforting, and Scalyfreak soon realizes that she appears to have slowed her pace, extending the time she'll spend in this forest, before her path eventually reaches the open valley where the trees are younger, and further apart. A brief “intro” for anyone who doesn't know me very well: I dislike New Year's Resolutions. For one, I subscribe to the notion that if I am serious about waiting to make a positive change in my life, there's no valid reason to wait until the end of the year, I should get started as soon as possible. For another, there's this weird pressure about making them, as if it's mandatory to resolve to either lose weight or exercise more or something else that I should be trying to do regularly anyway, and the extra pressure of New Year's Resolutions being so special and serious makes it more likely for me to give up on them. Yuck. But, with all that in mind, I do need a bit of a fresh start, or rather I need to get back to what I was trying to do as a fresh start a few months ago, before Self-Sabotage “helped” me stress myself out more than I should over just how much adjusting I need to do in order to work well with everyone around me in my new job. So here we are, with a shiny new challenge where my goals are to reestablish good habits I have had in the past, that I know work for keeping me happy, physically healthy, and keeps my anxiety disorder at a level that allows me to live without metaphorically self-immolating the moment my stress levels spike. Physical Health Move intentionally every day. If all else fails and I can't get anything else done, I will do the exercise from the Daily Dare PVP as my bare minimum for that day. It's time to grow stronger again. Mental Health Mediate every day. As is my habit, I lose this habit when I take time off work. This is in large part because the biggest source of stress in my life is work, so I have less of a need for meditation when I am not working. I need to reestablish meditation as a part of my morning routine. Emotional Stamina My old bullet journal only had a very small number of pages left at the end of the year, so I am starting a new one for January. I'm creating pages for things that I have been wanting to do for a while, but never seem to get around to (like sorting through the contents of our linen closet and get rid of the things we haven't used in years), and will also track things like daily walks on weekends, gym visits, et cetera. But emotional stamina is also about doing things for me, that make me happy, just because they will make me happy, so that will also fall under this category. Gym visit tracking will start next challenge. I'm opposed to sharing a small space with a large group of strangers who may or may not be plague-bearers, and historically the New Years Resolution crowd thins out after about 6-8 weeks. I can work out at home while I wait.
  7. So. January?! Last fall I worked hard on getting my life (myself?!) in order. Mentally I’m in a better place, with some new and improved planning skills, and nothing significantly on fire, so this challenge I want to tackle some long-standing Things I Want. Weight loss. It crept up during the house remodel a few years back and just stayed. I feel awkward in my body and I want to deal with that. How: calories under 1900 average/day, workouts as usual, walk 10 miles/week. I’m aiming at very gradual, slow progress is fine. If this doesn’t do it I’ll drop to 1800. Writing. Tackle some projects and build momentum. How: after breakfast, any amount of time, days when I don’t go to the office. And I signed up for a class. Living space. Get things cleaned up and set up. Repair things that need repairing. How: 10 minutes/day, working clockwise around the whole house. And say yes to my husband’s ideas on this, to support and build on his momentum. Can include the garden too. Work. Try some new stuff. Partly for interest, partly to sort of future-proof my thinking in case there are layoffs (feels like there should be more to say about that, but I don’t know what). How: blocked time on my calendar, made a list of things to research. I actually started some of this last week. I’m amazed at how incorrect my assumptions about calories are, but feels pretty good overall!
  8. The Word of the Year for 2024: Ma, the Japanese concept-word that means making space. Some people think of it as negative space, but that sounds too much like a void, and this is not that. This is that space that holds something within it, and it’s a sacred-feeling concept, like the space inside a temple. The Japanese concept of Ma (間) is a philosophical concept of the space between the edges, between the beginning and end, the space in between literally meaning gap, space, or pause, a place to be, and a place for being. Last challenge I stumbled again on this concept-word and thought “yes, this is what I need, not more material things, but more ma— in my material world, yes, but also in my spiritual, intellectual, and emotional world, too.” And the more I sat with that response, the more I knew it was an Insight, and one that was right and true. And then, because the Universe loves me and wants me to be happy, out of nowhere I found that a larger apartment in the same building was available. I asked to view it, and it wasn’t until after I put in my application that I realized that the Universe was opening the Way to Ma. Through embracing Ma, I hope to cultivate the space for connections with others and have more nimbleness in my activities and commitments. While I was writing my vision board for 2024, I found it interesting that Health & Wellness and Alliances came into central focus, while Classes took a decidedly less-prominent placement. This might be because I got deeply burned out (and straight-up burned) last Fall and ended up digging my way out of burnout while still doing the classes, and it likely also reflects a deeper truth: I have nothing left to prove with these academics; this is an activity of mine, but it’s not my sole focus, at least not for this coming year. What’s missing, and what I’ve neglected over the last year, is Health & Wellness and my Alliances, and here we are, working to put balance back in all things. Druid is as Druid does. Making space for all the parts of me to have an equal voice and to be well-nurtured is important. Welcome to 2024. The focus for this challenge is to feel my way through, creating some new structures along the way. Where will the space for alliances and wellness come from? What shape will they take? What energy requirements will they require? Feeling my way through into the new spaces is the Way. In 2023, I started tracking my progress using the old-school D&D ability scores. It served me well, and I’m pleased with where I am. For 2024, I’m not certain I can advance my skills set much further; kind of like being however tall you are, that’s what you have unless you stand on a chair. This year I’m looking for what I can add that elevates and leverages my existing skill set. +1 here and there, and then the always-coveted bonuses for collecting whole sets of assistance. Opening Stats Constitution: 10 Strength: 11 Intelligence: 14 Dexterity: 15 Wisdom: 15 Charisma: 13 Stamina: 6
  9. Tentatively sticking my toes back into the challenge waters after a 2 year absence.... Short and simple refers to posts, not the challenge itself. If I try to make it too long and/or complicated and/or interesting I'll never update. So here it is in a nutshell: 1. Sleep - this is the most important. If I get to bed on time I wake up on time to exercise before work, have more energy and focus at work, get home sooner to eat sooner to go to bed sooner.....I need to plan backward from bedtime to be sure I get dinner, dishes, reading etc in before lights out. The goal is 8 hours. 2. Strength - I haven't been doing this consistently for a while, and I feel better when I do. The goal is at least 2x /week, dumbbells and/or body weight/PT. 3. Space - My office is a mountain of papers. My home office is a mountain of papers. My closet hasn't been cleaned out in ages - and we're getting ready to have our bathroom remodeled, so I need to get it emptied out in a way that's organized so I can find what I need during the process. The goal is to spend 2 hours each week sorting, organizing and discarding stuff. Since all of my goals require me to be mindful of how I use my time, I'm going druid this time around.
  10. I think I'm in the middle of, or at least recovering from, a nervous breakdown from work. I didn't work all last challenge, and basically spent the month drinking and snacking and eating and randomly crying and having anxiety anytime I thought about work. I was 168 lbs. two days before Thanksgiving and was 180 by Dec. 3. I got back to 172 and am back at 180. On a good note, my goals to get into a homeschooling routine is a 100% success. And my goal to get the entire house decluttered, organized, and clean is nearly complete. I have the Master Bath and the boys' bathroom to do. I was hoping to get to my studio/office before the New Year, but I don't think I'm going to make it. Not that big of a deal though as I won't really need it as a studio until April (at the earliest, when the super stressful 4+ year project is finally over). Every evening, I've been binge watching decluttering videos (and ADHD burnout/nervous break down videos) and by day, homeschooling and decluttering. I am hoping that as soon as the house is finished, all that decluttering interest will switch to weight loss focus. So...the year of Wu Wei (pronounced Woo Way for those who care, lol). Going with the flow of the universe rather than working against it. Effortless Action rather than Excessive Effort. Effortless action is working in the zone and going with the flow but "involves letting go of ideals that we may otherwise try to force too violently onto things" such as deadlines on work projects in which you let your ADHD hyperfocus takeover for 16+ hours a day for months at a time...and then you think you are done and you send it out and customer feedback comes back and you have to pivot and go 16 hours a day for a few more months and then you think you are done and you sent it out and customer feedback comes back and you have to pivot again. And again. And then you have a nervous breakdown. Breathe. Breathe. So...Wu Wei. No more deadlines. Which is hard. Because I want this project is done. And I think I can finish by the end of March. So there is a part of me that wants to do the 12 Week Year for the next 3 months but that is not just a 3 month deadline, but a monthly, weekly, and even daily deadlines. And then I feel the panic attack coming on just thinking about it. Part of me things that I should break the project down into micro chunks so that it seems manageable but don't assign a time frame to it. But then I start to panic and think, but what if I can't finish by the end of March? What if it takes longer? I want it done. I want the stress gone. Because once I finish, I can move onto the project that brings me joy. But anyway...goals for this challenge.
  11. I posted a challenge last challenge, thinking I was on the other end of some health stuff, and it turns out the worst was just beginning. It was a tough month, but after a ton of appointments and a quick surgery, I should be back up and running and back to "normal" by next week, just in time for this next challenge to start. So I'm taking my last challenge and almost duplicating it, only simplifying it a bit Spezzy is a Korok If we look back at the periods of time when I've been the happiest and healthiest, they're times when I'm spending significant time outside. Even in my years that I spent hours every day in the gym - I was either doing additional training outside or in open air gyms in Texas. The periods of my life where I haven't had the gym and I was the happiest, I've spent the majority of my time outside Now that I'm back in the darkness of new england, I've been finding myself skipping workouts and other things just to optimize the amount of time I am able to just be outside during the day - and why would I want to be in the gym if I can be doing projects outside? This will be me attempting to build out this new life embracing the fact that I am not a magical humanoid race (Hylian) like I have wanted all along, but am, in fact, a child of the forest (Korok). (Now of course, this doesn't mean I can't do things Hylians can do - Koroks are very versatile little creatures. But it means that I need to prioritize the things that make me the happiest, and for me, that's being outside and interacting with nature/animals/plants/etc. ) It's going to also focus on re-solidifying some older habits that have stopped (like a daily walk or regularly strength training). With recovery, I'll have to focus on doing better each week so may not hit everything the first week, but I'll get there. I'm not concerned about nutrition all around, so no goals around that. Just focusing on reintegrating movement and a solid schedule that includes lots of time outdoors. GOALS: Exercise: Daily Walk - non negotiable. Bonus: a second walk, even if it is on the property. Strength 3x/week Unfortunately, this will have to be inside most days, but bonus points if I can figure out wintertime outside strength work! Rowing or yoga at night - the rower is in the house now. I do best at sleeping if I exercise lightly before bed, so 10 minutes of either yoga or rowing every night. Spellbooks/Schedule: I now have complete freedom of schedule in my new role at work, and since I don't have kids or anything else with a specific schedule, I can really do whatever I want. The problem is, I'm not sure what the BEST schedule is, so part of this is figuring out what that is. I'm also focusing on getting up earlier and earlier, to optimize sunlight since it gets dark very early here. Get up when I wake up or by the last call alarm time (if I wake up before alarm, just get up) Nightly spellbooks review + prep everything for next day (as a part of this challenge, make checklist of things that need to be prepped for next day) Follow schedule plan with work blocks (shifting schedule to do a large portion of work when it is dark out). notes: work when I'm supposed to be working, even though I have my own schedule. Use ADHD coping mechanisms - headphones, timers, do it up. Outdoor Farm Life / Mindset - these specific things will be built into my schedule A few minutes each day either focusing on breathing/meditation. If I do yoga, this can be included at the end there, but I'd prefer to do it outside. Sitting out by the river in the morning sounds like it could be a good thing. Take a break from work and spend at least 20 minutes with the animals during the day - this could be training huckleberry, sitting with the chickens, or hanging with the goats. Doesn't matter, but spend time with the animals. This makes a huge difference in overall mood. Get outside for at least 30 minutes before sundown in the afternoon. And that's it!
  12. Druid related discussions! *Note: You can participate in guild discussions regardless of your chosen guild. Druids spend a majority of their time training in the arts of yoga, tai chi, and other movement-based disciplines. Each movement has a purpose, and that purpose is to further improve the dexterity, agility, and strength of the druid. * Fictional example: Lady Galadriel & Gandalf the Grey (The Lord of the Rings) * Real-world example: Josh Waitzkin, Tai Chi Push Hands US champion and chess prodigy; Kate Merolt of Nerd Fitness Yoga fame! * Typical Activities: Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation, Dance, etc.
  13. Regular challenge posting will commence after the holidays. When exactly that happens, is still under consideration. I almost skipped challenging this period, because holiday stress is a thing that happens every year and burns through the Stamina bar practically daily. The fridge was repaired last week, and it is wonderful to be able to store food safely again. One of the neighboring appliances, the washing machine on the other side of the wall, celebrated by giving up its own proverbial ghost so we've spent about a week without the ability to do laundry. So there has been stress, and The Flame has thrived. But just as I had decided not to bother with a challenge thread, I remembered that I want to post weird Christmas music somewhere, and and these forums are the ideal victims target audience for such a project. So here we are. Since today is the 13th, we're kicking the music off with a Lucia choir.
  14. I have failed every challenge I ever did since 2018 or 2019 when I first joined except the last one I did over the summer. And I didn't even pop on the last week of the challenge to mention that. Then, I gained all the weight I lost in that challenge and literally went back to the same habits (because the same work stressor came back). But, I realized something. I fail because of excessive action. Work takes over everything, and even if I am technically "in the zone," it is not effortless action because I am pressuring myself with deadlines because every other aspect of my life is put on hold and so I just try harder to get it this particular work project done because then I can move into a much more enjoyable work project. And so I stress eat. I eat because the project is stressful. I eat because I feel guilty that I am neglecting everything else. I eat to get the dopamine and concentration boost that food gives (esp. as an unmedicated ADHD'er). And then I gain weight. And I stop working out. And I fail at everything. And then I get discouraged because this has basically been the story of my life for the last 15 years. The opposite of excessive action is wu wei, which is effortless action. Effortless action is working in the zone and going with the flow but "involves letting go of ideals that we may otherwise try to force too violently onto things." such as deadlines. When there is no deadline, everything else doesn't have to get neglected. There is much less stress, and if the project becomes stressful, it's time to take a break rather than force myself to continue for several more hours until I get so burned out I have to drink myself silly. Just to get up the next day and do it all over again. So anyway, 2024 is my year to practice wu wei. This challenge I am getting all the other areas of my life on track (such as minimalizing and decluttering my house yet again, losing the 10+ pounds I gained so I can start the new year with all areas of my life in balance and ready to maintain rather than in havoc. I want to start 2024 with only 20 pounds to lose not 35, and getting back into habit of going to the gym, and starting the habits of yoga and tai chi sword. Practicing wu wei in regards to work basically means, work during work hours ONLY. Stop making deadlines. Yes, it could be finished sooner if I worked all day and several hours into the early morning, but the goal was to finish before 2024 and that is not going to happen. So I may as well just let all the deadlines (and the stress) go so that I can find balance. Prequel Wu Wei Challenge Practice wu wei. No deadlines. Work, clean & declutter, exercise, homeschool & engage with family effortlessly and without guilt. Get back in the habit of going to the gym (barbells and treadmill). Add yoga and tai chi if it is effortless to do so. No snacking and no drinking (for this 3 week challenge).
  15. Okay... so I thought I was going to do a Crock Pot challenge. Still will, don't even need to research it (going to taste all the good food this month that was suggested on the previous challenge chat). I'm making them all, because wowza on the recommendations. I however started to do research today for the Red Moon side challenge... I ended up finding an article that went in detail in a way I haven't seen before, and found matching results as I looked up similar terms. Recommendation to do a Plant-based high fiber and low oil eating. Damn.... this research wasn't what I expected. I have never taken a serious trial to this way of eating. So I will be starting to make the blocks.... Like what will I eat? Trying to figure out the new grounds as I use up food I have and probably meal plan ect. We are an area of diet changes I have never tried before but hoping to mull somethings over before the new year.
  16. Hello fellow Rebels. A lot has been going on in life, most of it good, all of it overwhelming. I'm going to be a grandpa (it's a boy) My family and I were in the local newspaper because we adopted out fourth and fifth children on November 1st (the first day of National Adoption Month) I'm hosting a poetry recitation competition at the school where I teach, as well as sponsoring the Drama Club I've signed up for (and completed) several 5k races and have remained a middle-of-the-pack runner without injury I grew out my mustache So yeah, life has been pretty great lately, just busy. I'm sticking to my past goal since they haven't yet been achieved (although I'm getting closer and closer to the sub-30 5k time). And of course I will be channeling movies and characters that inspire and motivate me along the way. I recently re-watched "Bullet Train," which is still amazing. Tangerine remains my favorite character. So... STRONGER: GOAL: By the end of this challenge, I will have increased my physical strength by at least 25% as measured by an increase in number of reps to failure of kettlebell single-arm overhead press. HOW: I will pick "heavy things" up and put them back down for at least 20 minutes, three days a week; this will include mostly kettlebell training with some "greasing the groove" using resistance bands, random heavy objects, and my kids. Training will look like this: Sunday: Benchmark (single arm overhead press to failure, count reps; 30 minute run, note distance) Monday/Wednesday/Friday: Strength training Tuesday/Thursday: 30 minute run + "grease the groove" Saturday: Long trail run FASTER: GOAL: By the end of this challenge, I will be able to run a sub-30 minute 5k as measured by a 5k run. HOW: I will run for 30 minutes at least two days a week, with a distance/endurance run at least one day a week and sprint/speed intervals at least one day a week. SMARTER: GOALS: By the end of the challenge, I will increase my daily use of Duolingo; I will increase my daily reading habit by at least 5 minutes a day; I will learn at least one new thing daily. HOW: I will set a reminder to complete at least the daily requirements to achieve a 30 day streak on Duolingo I will set aside at least 30 minutes of reading time daily I will use apps such as Humane and Kinnu to learn new information, as well as the NPR app and podcasts. CALMER: GOAL: By the end of the challenge, I will improve my mental health by reducing my angry reactions to stress. HOW: I will use a meditation app to increase my meditation/contemplative prayer practice from 10 minutes to 15 minutes. I will write down what I am grateful for and create daily affirmations using the 5 Minute Journal app. In moments of stress and frustration, I will apply a relaxing breathing technique (short inhale through nose, long exhale through mouth). I will listen to music that elevates my mood.
  17. As we head into the remaining days of the year, I’m grateful for all that I have accomplished in 2023. I’m focusing on squaring things up at the tail end of the year: turning in last assignments; making some small organizational decisions; and focusing on rest. The success matrix remains the same: having my homework done and my house clean. The stats skill tree has grown this year, and I’m very glad I took this approach to my challenges. It’s easy for me to lose sight of what I accomplished six weeks ago, and I’ll be thinking about how I want to level-set the skills going into 2024. In a lot of ways, when I look at the stats where they are now, I think they are descriptively accurate. I am not sure how much more I can add, and it will be an interesting exercise to see what sort of skill enhancing I can add in, kind of like finding Seven League Boots (a car) or a Bag of Holding (better organization in my backpack) or a Thinking Cap (the academy’s writing center has been a godsend boost). I definitely need to rest and recover. Last challenge I expanded my activities beyond what I thought I would ever be able to manage, and I did it with grace and dignity even when I had no clue how it would work. I am proud of all that, and also I know that grace and dignity need rest, too, just like any other muscle that gets a workout. The biggest gain was to Stamina. While it was only a couple points overall, that there were any gains at all is a big deal. And to keep that, I’ll need to have a bit of a recovery period. This is a time of strategic retreat, a time to shelter inside during the gathering darkness and nurture the embers. Welcome. Pull up a seat by the fire, and tell me about your day. Opening Stats Con 10 Str 9 Int 13 Dex 13 Wis 13 Cha 12 Sta 5 Executive Summary (for those of you who, like me, are trying to parse the details) Zero Week, November 30 - December 3: Learning Reflection Paper: Draft to Writing Center; Submitted Playoff Game: We had a great time, even though the team didn't win. Honestly, I think the parents are all secretly relieved to have the season over. Poster Presentation: Submitted Oral Presentation: Submitted seven minutes late. I guarantee she'll take off for that. Visitation: Notebooks; Games; Conversation; Swimming is back on the books and is a great space for us; so much Good Food; Elbow re-injury Week One, December 4 - 10: Finals Week Taking on morning workouts? No, this became taking on morning meditation ma zone: making space for myself in the day. Very helpful. Ethics Discussion Posts and Replies: Submitted Literature Review: Submitted. I got an A Research Proposal Paper: Submitted Research Proposal Discussion Posts (the requirements for this remain completely murky): Submitted Finalizing that pesky holiday visitation schedule (just the thought of this wears me out): Yes, I just keep gettin gon this carsousel. Nothing is solved yet. Laundry: yep Week Two, December 11-17 ma Visitation: Friday morning - Sunday early evening. Gaming store visits and D&D. Delivery of D&D Handbook and Dice to school (They want to have a D&D Club, so I bought 6 of each). Acupuncture: happened Librarian Shannon Meeting: Yes, let's do an independent study! Philosopher James Meeting: Hey, this is great. Let's put together a syllabus for the Spring Reading List Consider moving to a new place. Week Three, December 18-24 Schedule movers Schedule move-in cleaning and exit cleaning for February Sign transfer request for the new apartment Reflection Week, December 25-31 Visitation on Christmas Day: yep, that's it. Might also do laundry or something. Ending Stats, 2023 Constitution: Stregnth: Intelligence: Dexterity: Wisdom: Charisma: Stamina:
  18. Although her maps are no longer valid (thank you, earthquakes) the world Scalyfreak travels through is none the less a familiar one. She has been to this forest before, many times, but the path to it was different back then. It led in a different direction as well. Still, seeing the same trees as last time is reassuring, and Scalyfreak slows down a little bit, giving in to the temptation to linger under the dancing shadows and enjoy the rich fragrance of pine trees and wet soil. The sun grows warmer, and Scalyfreak stops to remove her cloak. As she bends to stow it in her backpack, her eyes land on what looks like a strange foot print in the soft soil next to the path. Curious, Scalyfreak swiftly ties the backpack off and swings it onto her shoulders, and begins examining the print. It has sharp edges, and judging from its shape the imprint was not made by a foot but rather by a cloven hoof. Curious, Scalyfreak searches for more prints and finds them soon enough.... further ahead. The owner of the cloven hoofs has been walking along the path, and as far as Scalyfreak can tell it was an unhurried walk, almost casual, and if the size of the hoof prints is anything to go by it's a rather large creature. Now curious, and with nothing better to do, Scalyfreak begins following the hoof prints down the path. They are easy to spot, and thus easy to follow at a comfortable pace, even more so because the hoof prints never leave the path. Eventually, after a length of time Scalyfreak has failed to pay attention to, the hoof prints turn off the main path and onto one that is so narrow that Scalyfreak would have missed it if she hadn't been actively searching for the next hoof print. By the time Scalyfreak realize that it's been a long time since she saw a hoof print, the narrow path has started to widen and she can see some kind of open clearing up ahead. Across the clearing, standing between two tall trees, is a solid altar and on top of the altar is the very familiar sculpture of two narrow pillars with a long metal bar resting on top of them, and with two round metal plates hanging from the bar, one on each side. Scalyfreak stops. Then, after several false starts, approaches the altar slowly and hesitantly reaches up to touch one of the metal plates. It move easily, turning slowly around the bar in the smooth manner of steel that has never been damaged or corroded. It's a shrine to The Iron. Here, in the middle of nowhere, with no temple and no caretaker, yet pristine and untouched by the elements. It radiates power, of the understated and lasting kind that Scalyfreak remembers being familiar with, once, a long time ago. It's unnerving, but also reassuring. That evening finds Scalyfreak setting up camp in front of the altar, finding comfort in its familiar aura. A brief “intro” for anyone who doesn't know me very well: My new job continues to be fun and exciting, with the exception of some personality clashes and some unexpected meeting drama, all of which both fortunately and unfortunately involve the same person. I'm sure the fact it came to a head in front of an audience on a week when the person's boss missed this particular meeting due to a business trip, was a complete coincidence... My first project, that went very well, was a small one and easy to complete fairly quickly. I've been assigned three other projects to work on, two that are pretty similar to each other and one that is completely different from the other two. All three are fun to work on and require me to learn things, which also is fun for me, so I'm going to ignore the drama and focus on my projects. Before anyone says anything, my boss has been made aware of the drama and is on my side, and I am looking forward to see what happens when she's back in her home office in a little over a week and we have our regular meetings again. In the mean time, I'm going to work on the projects that The Person's team have been forced to leave untouched for months because no one had time for them, and whip at least one of them them into such spectacularly excellent shape that it will be able to over-head press a car, while running a marathon, by the time I'm done with it. Since all the stress and frustration caused by The Meeting Drama (I've been studying capitalization in Heidi's challenges ) happened last week, I have decided the week that starts tomorrow will be the week of a new start. Or restart, since I'm making an effort to resume a habit that has long been lost to me: Going to the gym regularly. This is not going to be easy. But nothing worth doing ever is. When it comes to working out regularly at the gym, discipline is required. For discipline to happen, a habit must be formed, and for a habit to be formed, the task must be made as easy as possible. Therefor, I will not be tracking my initial gym workouts and I will not be following an ambitious program. I will go to the gym and do something that strengthens at least one large muscle group. This is the goal. Nothing more or less than that. I've obtained new workout pants, earbuds and a podcast backlog, and I started the gym visits during Zero Week. My workout days are Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday, with a break for Wednesday and Thursday. Following the approach from previous challenges, the gym workouts will of course be used to replenish the Health bar. In addition, on days when I go to the gym I am, for the purposes of this challenge, not allowed to use the workout as the thing I do to regenerate emotional stamina. In other words, I still have to do something specifically because it makes me happy. This is important because thinking about, planning out, looking forward to, enjoying, and remembering, something that I did just because it makes me happy, is an important Flame repellent that protects me from being burnt when the anxiety flares up. (Yes, doing something nice for yourself is a legitimate anxiety management tool.) Today is Sunday, which means I will go to the gym this evening, after dinner. Let the challenge begin!
  19. Hey there dear folks, there has been a lot of nerding out about psychology and not so much fitness in my posts in the last challenges, and I haven't been around a lot, which I regret. But I'm doing a lot of things at the same time and one of my therapy goals is learning how to make meaningful connections so it's well. Sort of part of my whole deal that I'm working on right now. Laying down roots and becoming functioning. But it's finally time to cocoon and get my general nerd, fitness nerd, and fitness lover on. I've been whipping out a notebook and pen and learning about things that make my brain feel good. I've been eating a lot better than I did in the few years before. I want to start eking out moments to walk/run outside. Laughably small goals. The main thing holding me back is feeling self-conscious about the people in the neighborhood seeing me be confused about walking routes. Which only means that I need to prepare better (and meditate more, because fudge what people think, but I still want to prepare better because I like being prepared. It makes me feel good about myself.) Let's gooo!
  20. Maybe I should finally jump ship and join the battle log squad? Coming up with an actual challenge with goals seems like … a lot … but I want to keep up with my friends who I missed dearly in my absence. So. General Path Shit: Get butts on the mat to attend my virtual yoga classes Get butts on the mat to attend in-person community classes Get on the schedule as a sub for slow flow classes at my studio Build out the anxious newbies workshop, releasing bits as freebies on Insta + a paid full version + offering an in-person version at the studio. Aim is for December/January to loop in the ‘new year/new me’ people. Continue on with the CE in this newest marketing land to actually help me hit my goals. Continue to come up with freebies to drive engagement and build out my portable tribe (via email - my community). Get the proofs for my 3(!) planners - decide what to do with those moving forward, but I’m already thinking Amazon KDP is not the (only) way … I know I’m not going to be happy with the quality. Maybe actually be ahead of the curve this year for holiday cards? 😂😂😂😂😂 who am I kidding?! Continue to pump out content for my yoga shit … increase reels + mini tutorials; stockpile graphics. This is all necessitating making peace with my rolls real damn quick. I do NOT have the energy for heavy editing. There’s a vacation in there to see my European bestie. And I need to get back on my kitchen game - haven’t posted a recipe on the blog in almost a month 🤦‍♀️ Not that more than 609 people care, but I do need to also do shit with promoting that piece of social media, as well. I could, like, recoup the costs at least. I do have 2 cookbooks I could pump back out quickly. More things? I’m sure there are … geopolitical shit is kiiiiiiinda tumultuous in my neck of the world; keeping a slight eye on that and letting DH do the worrying for both of us. Other things? I need to get my ass back on the mat. I’m currently away from home and have done Jack shit in that vein for like 10 days. Oops. And the end of surface of the sun temps! Need to switch my wardrobe over and find the gaps - especially since we will be in frigid-to-me temps for 10 days next month and I’m too fluffy for my winter jacket. I think that’s it … ish … need to get back on the meditation track and actual personal practice. Baby steps there . im sure there is more I need to be aware of for this next Cycle, but this is what I’ve got so far.
  21. I'm upleveling myself to Druid-Warrior and I've got a theme. Last round of 'make work hours not suck' went pretty well and I learned a ton - including that I could really use to keep improving the foundations of my life, including on some areas I hadn't really been paying attention to (good grief, what a grandiose-sounding phrase 'the foundations of my life' is. feels right though). I'm also rambling. I will stop now Giving myself grace to mainly chill during week zero, but I've got some ideas for after that....
  22. This round is a foray into the Way of Wisdom, making soulful, good choices and making space for those choices. The key to this challenge is to take my time, slow down, and remember that there is no pressure. It's time to make time as well as take time. In this Way, all the dots are connected and all the details are in order. Classwork is the success matrix, but there’s a lot of life that is going to happen along the Way. Intelligence: This is the key, and there are a lot of details, but not nearly as many moving parts as there were last round. I came back from NY and was very disengaged, and I’m glad to note that spell passed, but here we are with me taking a very sharp-eyed look at how much I put on my plate this term; it was a lot. It was, in fact, too much, and I’ll not be repeating this (see Wisdom) Strength: Go to work; edited to add a bonus of paying off debt, since this has shifted into the stregnth category. Wisdom: Tuition payment; not signing up for everything under the sun next term. This is a season of focus. Constitution: Eating well; resting often. Bonus: sauna & Steps. I have a fancy MRI during Zero Week to figure out what is going on with my insides. Also, I started gym time twice a week in the pool with Kat and Mikayla and I’d like to continue that. Dexterity: A double helping of dexterity was needed last round. I’ll likely need some dexterity for this challenge too, and I need to make the space to let that happen. Stamina: Anton Chekov wrote, “Any idiot can handle a crisis; it’s the day to day living that wears you out.” Wisdom can help. Opening Stats Con 9 Str 8 Int 12 Dex 12 Wis 11 Cha 11 Sta 4
  23. *sliiiides in with a cup of pumpkin spice coffee* WELP hello there~ ❤️ So TL;DR I was kinda 50/50 on doing a challenge this round because frankly I'm kinda lukewarm on the forums lately, but I'm like.... . next year I will have been here for TEN YEARS and jesus wept that's a long time. Plus everyone here is really the best person ever, all of you, you reading this, you are wonderful and a reason why this community is awesome. So why not give it another go yeah?? Anyways I am writing up this challenge because I have some habits I want to re-lay some foundations for and what better place than here? 1. The first goal is the big important one - I'm gonna STOP DRINKING. And by stop I mean stop except for special occasions and social events. I've always kinda on/off struggled with drinking - and it's not that I drink a lot in one sitting but it's more of the consistency. It affects a lot - my weight, my stomach, my skin, my sleep, my mental health.. on and on. I honestly enjoy drinking every so often so it's been hard! And it's been easier to sit down with a drink or two now that I don't have a job and I've been using it as a crutch for some of my stress and anxiety and I'm at the point where it's just, gotta STOP. I did a little experiment last week - I had no alcohol for 5 days and felt GREAT, then Friday night I had a few drinks that evening just to see how it would affect me. I slept like shit, woke up in the middle of the night hot and sweaty with a minor headache and just this wild!! anxiety over the STUPIDEST little things... and I was just like, ok, heard, no more of this. The after effects of drinking are at the point where it just hugely outweighs the enjoyment it brings me in the moment. Not gonna do this ANYMORE. I've attempted to curtail my drinking before but it never really panned out - frankly I'm not the best at enforcing my own rules - but for some weird-ass reason this time, I feel like it's the TIME. Like previously it's been kinda a heave-ho chore to work on drinking less but right now it doesn't seem like a chore at all, it's like something has clicked and it's like.... oh, ok, cool. It's hokey as hell but I feel like I'm being called to do this right now. I'm ready and I'm honestly EXCITED. I'm looking forward to only drinking as a once in a while treat. I'm looking forward to enjoying this better mental health and joy and clarity I've gained from NOT drinking consistently. I'm looking forward to better health benefits and being able to pursue the goals I want to. I'm looking forward to making this conscious choice DARNIT I do know this will be hard at points so I am giving myself four drink tickets for this 6 week challenge. (yes zero week is included heheh) I can have a few drinks at 4 points over this challenge and that is IT. Each time I do I turn in a ticket, and if/when I'm out of tickets, that's it! I'm also really interested in reporting back the effects of how drinking affects me at this point. I'm so invested in this goal that I'm doing something I NEVER do and giving myself a reward at the end of this challenge if I complete it successfully. There's a super cute FFXIV-themed crossbody bag that is SO my style and I want it realllll bad but it's a whole $75 and yeah I could just buy it but I think it'd be better if I made the purchase MEAN something, you know? 2. Intentional movement more days than not during a week. I had been doing really well with this, then we adopted Hiko and my life turned into Kitten and Cat Damage Control and everything else kinda flew out the window. Things have settled (kindaaaaaa) over the 2 weeks we've had them both co-existing and I feel very ready to get back into this routine! Ideally I'd like one day to get outside and do a good fall hike/walk, two days of lifting, and 1-2 days of getting back into my boxing training BUT I am not beholding myself to any strict schedule, just get myself moving more days than not and it's a win. Once I re-build the habit the rest will fall into place. AND THAT'S IT Those are my main two goals and I'm keeping it SIMPLE so I can start rebuilding my foundation. I've had so much crap happen to me over the past *checks watch* five years that I've just slowly gotten off track.. I've lost a lot of strength and fitness overall and let my habits I worked so hard to instill slip in the face of stress and despair and life tragedies that I'm kinda back at square one. But that's okay 'cause I can only build up from here! I promise to check in as often as I can and also pay the cat tax~ ❤️❤️ ( my beautiful and chaotic sons coexisting aaaaaa )
  24. Bouncer stood facing away from the Eclipse watching as the world turned dark underneath the shadows. Noticing how the world reacted. The moon had said hello to watch the changes in this Autumn season. As the sun returned and the cool wind swept through Bouncer’s robes. Bouncer felt the welcome magic of the Moon, something that she had been ignoring far too long. What would happen once she accepted the magic of the night moon instead of a passing by hello? A friend that could be a healthy relationship, an ally to enhance the tools she already learned over all these years. This challenge fell together. I will be focusing on the number 1 habit of having a routine bedtime (getting to sleep early enough for 7-9 hours of sleep). Turning off screens by 6 pm 7 pm, be in bed by 8 pm. (If out late try to be in bed within an hour of coming home). I have sleep debt and low skill habits on sticking to a healthy bedtime. The one habit I have because of 2 kittens is a wake-up time. Even on a day off I will be up at 5 am due to the squeaky alarms of a tortoise kitten. I will not be 100% on this challenge due to some days I will be out late or working late. I will focus on 80% good enough! Exercise, nutrition, and decluttering are side quests/bonus buffs for this challenge (since they will all enhance a better sleep cycle). But when shit hits the fan I will have a 100% day if I get to bed by 8 pm or within an hour of getting home for late nights. Daily reward, if I have time in the morning 15 mins of no guilt gaming play (or planned time after work). (I’m really into Sims 4 right now and I usually only have time to play 5 mins at a time…) Life Quest – Blood Moon Awareness
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