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  1. This is a season of Launching. There are so many projects that have been in the works for several years that are now coming out into the world: SOPHIA Roanoke; Band Communications Officer; Belles & Chimes; the novel; all the many things involving Vivian. Here. We. Go. Skill 24.03 2024.04 Focus Activity May 6th - June 9th, 2024 Reflection Week Jun10-16 Constitution 12 Carry forward: Walking: 2+ miles a day New goal: WATER (drink it; log it) Stretch goal: Sauna? Look for a walk to the Farmer’s Market on Thursdays, daily walks on purpose, and overall increase to activities that happen to involve walking. I’d like to be more mindful and intentional about drinking water, eating fiber, and eating salads. Getting back to the sauna would likely do wonders for my sleep and my sense of presence. Strength 15 Carry Forward: Going to work Stretch goal: Second job? New Goal: Lift - anything that weighs more than a loaf of bread If I can find something to add to the cash generation, it’ll go directly to the debts. I’m doing just fine, of course, but I’ve noticed that the debt tally is taking a toll on my sleep, so if I can find a remote temp job for a few hours a day over the summer while I don’t have classes, this would be some Wisdom as well as some strength. Possibilities: Real estate license; still navigating if I have possibilities for growth at the current job. Intelligence 16 Carry Forward: Philosopher James 2x/week New Goal: Work on the novel. 1,000 words a day. Stretch goal: One Sheets and Fliers for upcoming Philosophy Sessions. I still have a massive Legislation Spreadsheet to finish in Zero Week. It’s the basis for Manuscript 1 of the dissertation. Spreadsheet due to Neal May 31. Updated précis for the dissertation committee to be sent out in June with an invitation to meet in late August to discuss qualifying exam questions. Philosophy with James continues. This is the foundation for Manuscript Three of the dissertation. Writing the novel is definitely part of this challenge. Look for word counts. I'm always hesitant to increase beyond 16, but there's some real proficiency being wrought, so I might bump this to 17 depending on how much I am able to deliver. Dexterity 18 Emotional Balance and Mental health Schedules & Calendars Marching Band Camp Summer Visitation Football Calendar ✅ Counseling sessions Court. Yes, friends, after nothing for years, there is another court date, this time during reflection week, which is just about perfect. Wisdom 18 Stretch Goal: Spending Fast Continue forward: debt New Goal: Sort out the taxes mess Debt and Taxes, it’s like a bad 80s punk band. Charisma 16 Alliances Continue: Time with Emily, Erica, the Band New Goal: Women's Pinball League Summer (June 10-August 5) New Goal: Star Trek & Philosophy Continue: Home-making: Assemble furniture SOPHIA Roanoke Make the Star Trek flier Make the SOPHIA Roanoke web page Choose the calendar for the coming session; schedule the Parrot Room for May 17 ✅ June 14, July 19, August 23. Consider writing a grant proposal for the Rice Room at the Jefferson Center and running the sessions. [If we move to the Jefferson Center, make it Philosophy Fridays at Four. Serve Tea. Consider an informal dinner location after the event.) Belles & Chimes Post Calendar on website ✅ Finalize Summer League Dates with IFPA? Maybe not necessary Website Login ✅ Spreadsheet for scores ✅ Band Communication Officer Discord ✅ Discord Show & tell Google Calendar ✅ Fundraising ✅ Jazz Cafe ✅ Out & Abouting Movies on Fridays and Sundays Swing Dance on Wednesdays 504 Meeting —April 29th ✅ Band Spring Concert —April 30th ✅ Coffee House Mornings Farmer’s Market Thursdays beginning May 9th Pick your own strawberries—May 11th 🍓 🍓?? Philosophy & Star Trek — May 17th Jazz Cafe — May 17th Shakespeare — May 25-26 Community Concert — May 31 Stamina 7 Continue: Rest, Healing New goal: Resume Acupuncture Stretch Goal: yoga? Good sleep schedule, once again Yoga? Dance A friend recommended a new-to-town acupuncturist, and I made an appointment. Fingers crossed that it’s a good solution. ✅ Definitely continuing with the new massage therapist 2-3 times this round.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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:
  5. 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
  6. Some big things are afoot! I’m having to be brave and do some things that are Actually Scary in the coming weeks. Along the way there’s some exciting stuff that will really tax my stamina — a week in New York presenting at a conference is an amazing opportunity, but it’s also depleting for this introvert, and is going to wreak havoc with my disability support structures and routines. And finances. Fight forward. Courage + Defiance = Fortitude A Fortitude Saving Throw measures your ability to stand up to physical punishment or attacks against your vitality and health. Apply your Constitution modifier to your Fortitude saving throws. Intelligence Open Canvas daily Read 60 minutes a day Write daily for class Finalize Conference Presentation Strength Go to work Wisdom: Loosening the hold of debt: Credit card balances <25%; Increase savings (This is going to be difficult with the NY trip, but I’m keeping financial health on my radar.) Constitution Eating good food every day Healing: Acupuncture; therapy; daily medications Charisma Sleep Bonus: sauna, steps, sociability Dexterity Stay nimble and hold emotions loosely (especially at work:without getting caught up in the chaos) stay brave. Stamina Sleep, food, rest Opening Stats Con 8 Str 7 Int 10 Dex 10 Wis 10 Cha 9 Sta 3 Challenge Wrap up A Fortitude Saving Throw measures your ability to stand up to physical punishment or attacks against your vitality and health. Apply your Constitution modifier to your Fortitude saving throws.So, Let’s talk about the Constitution score, which is pretty low, as heroes go, and isn’t going to be getting higher any time soon. Intelligence: I did okay with this until the travels, and then this became difficult and fiddly. Even so, everything (mostly) got done. +2 Open Canvas daily Read 60 minutes a day Write daily for class Finalize & Present at the Conference: Knocked it out of the park, and the travels didn’t kill me! Strength: +1, because all the basics were met. Nothing special or bonus, just doing the things. Go to work Wisdom: +1 for making the debt payments; +1 for lowering overall credit card debt to <25% before the NY trip. Next challenge will be about taking stock of the wreckage and making a plan for that. Loosening the hold of debt: Credit card balances <25%; savings increased. (This is going to be difficult with the NY trip, but I’m keeping financial health on my radar.) Constitution: The interim acupuncturist is not so great, and this is good to know. Good eating happened even while traveling. +1 Eating good food every day Healing: Acupuncture; therapy; daily medications Charisma+2, because the NY trip really knocked this out of the park and will have long-lasting effects. Sleep Bonus: sauna, steps, sociability — this was all excellent, and the Broadway and NYPL glow is still with me. Dexterity+2, where I was only expecting a +1, largely because the Trial that I thought was coming hasn’t and a surprise Trial has blown up in its place, and all of this took a heroic amount of dexterity to navigate without dropping all the other many things that are always going on. Stay nimble and hold emotions loosely (especially at work:without getting caught up in the chaos) stay brave. Stamina I’m making it work. I’m not sure if I will ever actually increase stamina; i’m here to see if I can maintain what I have. I am very impressed indeed with how I managed the constant pace of the NY trip. This is not something I would have thought possible, and I’m kind of glad I didn’t understand how much physicality would be involved, or I wouldn’t have said yes. +1 Sleep, food, rest Closing Stats Con 8 +1=9 Str 7 +1=8 Int 10 +2=12 Dex 10 +2=12 Wis 10 +1=11 Cha 9 +2=11 Sta 3 +1=4
  7. June 11th-July 22nd Heidi Vision: The World is What We Make It I enacted a lot of things last round with physical, real-world, tangible, concrete results. Lots of stuff got dealt with, some really physical (and often sweaty) labor to get rid of what was dragging me backwards. Now, the air is clear, and there’s space for vision, those invisible, woo woo, creative forays of the Spirit. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of work to do and things to deal with, but the (physical and emotional) space from which I approach real life and all its foibles is one of openness and availability, a creative space that invites the work of opportunity. The road map for this challenge has enough structure to generate its own path, with work and summer class churning through the days as though they are competing to see who can take up more space. It will require nimbleness to dance this dance, and if I fall behind in school, it will be hellish to make up the missed steps, since we start deep and go fast for 8 weeks. My challenge is to stay light on my feet and to hold the details loosely; juggling while walking a tightrope over a canyon requires staying loose. As I begin the journey this challenge, I have my metaphorical bag packed with some spiritual tools, a program map, and companionship. The Road Map Visit School: Open Canvas daily; Read for class at least 30 minutes an evening; post every Monday and Friday; Papers every week Intelligence Go to the Office: About ten hours a day, without getting caught up in any of the chaos. Strength Refuel: Vegetables delivery every Tuesday means setting up bread dough and baking to offer as an exchange; Milk pickup on Wednesday; Eating good food every day Constitution Regular Tune Up: Acupuncture; therapy; daily medications; Constitution Warm up your engines! Morning sauna and walk before hitting the laptop or the books Constitution Cool your jets: good sleep every night Constitution Travel Light: loosening the hold of debt Wisdom Postcards along the way: Some sort of social time daily Charisma Clean out the trunk: Apartment therapy; Regular weekly cleaning Charisma Spirit of Adventure: Emotionally balanced, staying between the lines, in my own lane, and all that, while also relishing the journey that I’m on and the possibilities that it brings. Dexterity The 2023 Skills Tree as of now: Con 5 Str 5 Dex 8 Int 6 Wis 8 Cha 6
  8. I need to know more about what's going on, and to do that I need to take a loving and compassionate assessment time. A reflection on what is, and what lies beneath. Feeling my way through this will require going slowly and living in the present with acceptance. Not feeling like a human being until 10 a.m.? That's the answer, then. I'll be writing these things down this round so that I can make loving, supportive, compassionate, informed expectations. The last two challenges I focused on loosening and releasing my attachment to my expectations. This round I'm loosening and releasing my expectations altogether.
  9. The Way of the Jellyfish I’m looking to be able to absorb and go with the flow, no matter what plot twist or power surge comes my way. And, speaking of power surges, I saw meaningful discharges over the course of the last challenge, in the form of messages I sent out and messages I received from my body. Electric fences pack a huge wallop. Conflict is inevitable; combat is a choice. When we are in a position of power, we can choose to act from a place of agency and authority, in elastic response to, and in harmony with, the ocean of chaos and outrage around us, without losing our boundaries. This is the goal. It will require detangling how I have woven the story of my Self with threads (and at times knots) of others, unwinding my habits, tendencies, and fears. This will not be easy or simple, and it will likely be the beginning of a lifetime of weaving who I am in the world. The Details The spreadsheet is much slimmer this round. Constitution: Acupuncture. Rest. This is enough. Strength: Go to work. Do PT. Dexterity: Emotional Balance. Public Transit. Wisdom: Debt Payments. Emergency fund. Taxes. Oh My. Intelligence: Finish the Overdue Paper and turn it in. Charisma: Connect with others. Cultivate a genuine support network. Beginning Stats Constitution 2 Strength 3 Dexterity 4 Wisdom 4 Intelligence 3 Charisma 2
  10. The liturgical calendar marks this as the season of Lent, my favorite season of the Church year, one marked by dedication and gratitude. Through mindful application of ourselves and our spirit, the Way opens before us, as if lit by small lights that bolster us in our efforts. This is the Way. Last challenge I took stock of where I am, of what worked and what didn’t. This round I’m applying a bit of a honing blade, sloughing off that which doesn’t serve me and narrowing my focus and efforts onto what does. Also last challenge I resurrected the old-school skills tree, marking my progress in somewhat less-than-orthodox ways, but meaningful ones nonetheless. I’m interested to see what comes of this next segment, and would like to level up a point in each. Sometimes the Universe gives me the opportunity to level up a second point as well. Constitution: This is wellness, and includes Acupuncture, gym time, good food, and plenty of water and sleep. It also includes the apartment work that I’ve been doing, because being at home while I’m at home is a comfort and an anchor. Strength: Go to work, each day and every day. I know this seems simple. It’s not as easy as it sounds, physically, and I’m seven months into a six-week contract. Being a contractor has a lot of uncertainty with it, so part of my job is also cultivating and nurturing having my job. (See Dexterity) Additionally, my doctor as given me a PT regimen beyond the routine walking. I’ll be doing exercises with bands in the hopes that additional physical strength will help relieve some of the tension and inflammation that is everywhere all the time. Dexterity: Lots of emotional balance going on between the job and the relationship with my daughter. It feels like significant moments are on the horizon for each. Any movement stat also has to take into consideration transportation, which is once again in the Challenge column. I’m hoping to get more fluent with public transit this round. For everything else, there is Uber. Wisdom: Speaking of balance, there’s also perspective. This is the “choose well” portion of keeping my center and being able to choose well during the chaos. It’s also about lightening my debt load. I’d loaded up some debts with scary interest rates over the last couple years, and I’m grateful I was able to leverage my way out of a bad situation, and now it’s time to put that behind me as swiftly and neatly as possible, without wrecking anything else. Possible bonuses to other stats as well. Intelligence: The class wraps up this challenge, and I’m glad I’m taking an accelerated course. Also, there’s a fair amount of work that gets to be done for the dissertation. Before I take on the next project, there’s a lingering, overdue paper that I really want to finish up and move on from, probably next challenge, but definite bonus sparkles if I get it done this round. Charisma: Alliances and support. We aren’t meant to be on this path alone. Thanks for being here.
  11. My Happy New Year I’ve been blessed in abundance in 2022, with the end of the year glittering with moments of miracles and love. That doesn’t mean it was easy, or simple, or that there isn’t work left to do. In many ways, this land of abundance is alien, and I’m making my way into 2023 a little star-struck from it all, and with no small amount of culture shock. How to live in this space, amplify it and honor it? How to make sure I don’t squander the gifts with a scarcity mindset, or from anxiety? How can I go forward in love? This is a time of having set down the weapons; the sword stands at rest in its scabbard; the bow has been unstrung. There is no fight and I have no enemies. The Way forward is one of gentleness, a time of tending to my Self and my Spirit as I would tend a newly-laid garden bed, rich and fertile. In the lunar calendar, this is the end of the year, a time when all things should be squared away, buttoned up, and arguments ironed out. For the Celts, this was a time of looking forward as the earth tilts towards the light, culminating in Imbolc, a time to sweep the house and set the fields to right for the coming gifts of Spring. The Christian liturgical calendar brings Epiphany, a time of revelation and gifts, the joy of the end of waiting in the dark, the manifestation of the miracle. These traditions focus on looking at our everyday lives in ways that we can prepare for the coming abundance, making ourselves ready to receive very real blessings. This challenge, the goal is to take stock, see what’s what, and make a plan from there. Will there be a spreadsheet? Possibly, but the numbers are less important than the measurement. Because the universe loves me and wants me to be happy.
  12. Last challenge was about embracing the stillness, and as we enter the final days of the year, the nights seem to be gobbling up the daylight, and the thin sunshine buffeted by wind, rain, and and a cold that crawls through the cracks. I have a list of things that need to be buttoned up before the end of the year. My focus this round is to go slowly, making time and space for what supports and sustains me. I've found that when I do this, and go gently, all the rest falls into place. Happy Solstice, friends.
  13. Midsummer June 12- July 23: Take Root Yoga, meditation, anti-inflammatory foods, acupuncture, sound healing, love. This Druid challenge I’m focusing on a single element: The Root. Grounded. I made some significant strides with being grounded last challenge, and this challenge I’m looking to focus on that and deepen it. From stillness comes strength. Strong roots that run deep provide the stability to weather the storm. It’s been noted in recent research that deep roots in old forests act as a communication network, allowing the trees to sense what is happening and respond, from restorative rains to rampaging wildfires, and to act accordingly in their own best interests. The Sanskrit word for root is muladhara, and from the root we receive our security and balance, our ability to be in harmony with the world, no matter what might come our way. It is associated with the color red, the slowest of all the hues in the spectrum. It serves as a reminder of our inextricable connection with Mother Earth. Nourish Flower and urban farm shares (including eggs!) and farm fresh vegetables are populating my pantry once again. I love this time of year. There’s a lot going on with needing to wash, prep and store the bounty, and then turn it into the wonderful meals that are waiting. My kidneys in particular are looking forward to this, and to the beets that are surely on their way. I’m looking to deepen my sense of abundance and sit with the miracle that is the power of the earth to produce food. All my needs are met, if I can meet the universe’s gifts. Creative Power, I haven’t felt very powerful over the last few years, and even my creativity has felt diminished. Deepening my sense of boundaries and allowing myself to take up space is essential to having personal power. The foundation of this is a strong and powerful connection with my center and with the ground. The result is an ability to express my boundaries and personal power in a loving and rooted way. Plans: This is summer, and before I was offered the job I had said yes to a whole host of summertime dogsitting. I’m honoring those commitments while also saying no to any future engagements. This is difficult for me, but necessary. I need time in my life for rest, the first part of the word restoration. I cannot be present and available when I’m depleted and scattering my energy all around. Bask : Acupuncture and milk each week help me heal and deepen my glow. I have signed up for restorative yoga sessions on every other Friday that are like a deep meditation session, and I’ll add those where and when I can. Love Visitation is supposed to be expanding, but it isn’t. Encouraging this with firm compassion is going to take some deep calm, deep wisdom, and deep love.
  14. Beltane May 1 - June 11: Bloom Where You’re Planted Yoga, meditation, anti-inflammatory foods, gardening, composting (with worms!!), love. Welcome to a truly Druidic Challenge. Grounded. Like an errant teenager or an injured pilot, like the third prong on the electrical plug, this challenge I am grounded, or looking to get that way. Me, being me, I’m taking this as literally as I take everything else, and I’m looking to dirt and roots to help me out. Even my yoga sessions are on the ground, and meditation is definitely that way. Nourish Flower and urban farm shares (including eggs!) start this week. Nearby farm vegetable delivery starts May 17. I need to make sure I have the fridge and tools prepared and waiting. Eating farm-to-table is a mindset more than an activity, and having the right structure in place makes all the difference. Weekly vegetable delivery means weekly cooking. Last year was a wash with me having no motivation or energy. Truly, it was a sad year on the cooking front. Looking forward to this year in the kitchen. Vermicomposting, the nerdiest druid thing to happen in the dirt. I’m super excited about this. I’ve wanted to do indoor vermicomposting for years, and am finally making this happen. I have the composter ready to be assembled, and lots of thoughts about worms. The composter isn’t large, but every square inch matters in this small apartment, so I’ll need to figure out where it will live and how collecting vegetable scraps and tea leaves will fit into the workflow. Plants! Vivian wants to plant roses and lavender in containers on the rooftop terrace, and I want to have fresh herbs again, especially rosemary and basil, and possibly sunflowers. Look for green thumb reports. Bask I’m kicking the challenge off with a session of sound bowl healing, one of my favorite activities. A second session is scheduled for the first week of June as well. The weather is warming up and there’s a couple free yoga sessions each week with an instructor I really like, so I’m adding those to the calendar, in pencil as my energy level allows. Acupuncture and milk each week help me keep my glow. I have two passes for a salt float (similar to a sensory deprivation tank, but larger) that are like a deep meditation session, and I’ll add those where and when I can. Love I get to see Vivian every other Saturday, still, and we are supposed to start adding in time on the following Sundays, as well as video chats on the Friday before. I’m looking forward to that. Academic Housekeeping: I need to finish up the semester projects and send them off. I’ve been dragging my feet and will have them done and turned in by the end of zero week.
  15. Ah, Spring. Last challenge I spent nearly every day incapacitated, which was ironic since I had planned to have it be a clearing of decks, titled the kNOwing, focused on NO. It turned out that I even said NO to the challenge that round. As fate would have it, this morning, the first full day of Spring, has dawned with a sense of restoration of body and spirit. I’m not going to go wild with activity or anything, but the positive outlook and energy is very welcome indeed. Spring, forward This challenge sees a lot of nurturing of growth, on all fronts. Mind Academically, I’ve found the framework for my whole dissertation, just this morning, and the cosmic irony is that it has been there the whole time. My mentor and I talked about this at length while he was developing his book, published in 2012 and largely overlooked in favor of his alignment with the Stoic tradition, and here I am, using his framework as my own, as his theory was intended. I miss him, and the conversations we had, and having his framework to guide me feels solid and right. This is “extra reading,” but I’m looking forward to it. Along with class assignments, I’m about halfway through the doctoral program, and I need to get my roadmap in order. I don’t come from an academic family, so I have no clue what lies ahead. Asking for advice is the answer, in this as in so much. Body. When it comes to my physical fitness, I am walking a path of acceptance. I spent two weeks in outright suffering and a few days of exhaustion after that. This was a rough space. It’s also difficult to address the idea of “being better” or “getting better.” Having a condition means I can be wonky and out of commission at any time, without warning and without recourse. Acupuncture, sleep, exercise, and good food all help create optimal conditions. Spirit. Acupuncture, food, sleep, good friends, the sauna, and time in the sun. These help restore me. There is no “better” in so many ways, but at times there is optimism and enthusiasm, and ability, and this is everything. It wouldn’t be a Heidi Challenge without a nod to a court date, and the next one is set for April 25. I’m looking forward to it, actually, and I have a sense that there may be an end in sight for restoration of a normal relationship with my daughter. Spring forward, indeed, as this happened very quickly once the changes started in January. I’m hopeful that this new growth can be nurtured. There’s always a bonus project, too, and this challenge is no different. The storage unit is now history, and that means that the things I decided to keep are all in the apartment somehow. A little more organization would go a long way. The current assumption is that Vivian will be spending the night at some point, so I’d like to rearrange the furniture in a way that is more friendly for a longer term visit. This would be easy in the Before Times, when I was strong-bodied, but now it takes planning and coordination of schedules. I’m blessed to have a friend who wants to help. This is Spring. May we find the path Forward.
  16. It’s been a year since I was in the gym regularly or doing any physical training in any recognizable fashion. Over the last couple years, I’ve focused on Druidics, deepening my abilities and establishing a bedrock. This is good. But it’s time to come out of the cave and stand in the sun, even if it’s the thin light of winter. 2022 begins the Paladin Build, and I’m not going to sugar-coat it: I’m intimidated. I have no idea what I will be able to achieve. I have lots (lots) of self doubt on this front. If I learned anything in the Deep Dark Druid forest, it’s that we can only solve a problem we are willing to have. Simply put, I can’t scale an obstacle that I’m unwilling to face. Join me as I muster my willingness to walk back into the gym and see what I can do, and how often I can do something, anything once I am there. In this, I’m turning to my long-ago skill tree to help guide me through. There is one goal this round: Get in the gym, whenever I can, without judgement. If the core of druidics is “Be here now,” then the core of this challenge is “do something now.” I always know what to do once I’m there. Any of these: Strength: Lifting heavy things Intelligence is a weapon like no other: Reading, writing, classes Wisdom to know how and when and where to fight Constitution: Sleep, eat, water, Wellness Wednesday (acupuncture/massage, milk & eggs) Dexterity: Body-weight training (pushups, core work, yoga) Endurance: Just keep moving (swim, stationary bike) Charisma: Sauna, sleep
  17. What is revealed in the dark, when we sit in stillness, our backs turned against the cold? How far have we come under the last thirteen moons? What path is illuminated by the stars of the new year? The dark chill time of the year is upon us, and the candles flicker valiantly against the gathering gloom. I have within me an ember that glows and carries a soulful solace. Solstice is a time of ending, not with a sense of loss, but with a sense of finishing a chapter. It’s a potent time of discernment for me, a time of reflecting back on the path I have walked and looking ahead with intention. Heart and Soul are the core of this challenge as I wrap up so many things, projects as well as presents, with a sense of presence. Grab a cup of tea and join me for a spell. This is a journey of inner warmth.
  18. The focus for this challenge is to BELIEVE in myself and my place in the universe enough to take risks, and to embark on new journeys that previously may have appeared daunting. Not to be impulsive in my actions, to look before I leap, but also not be afraid of the gap. Relationships require flexibility, and I have the opportunity to use the balance insights from last challenge to increase my flexibility--of expectations and of myself-- and be more flexible with my relationships, letting them deepen by going wherever they need to go. The universe seeks to resolve anything that is in tension, because tension creates imbalance. Through being flexible and having faith, I can help release tension in body and in the relationships around me. How tensions find an outlet for expression often reveal hidden truths, like gold in a mine, treasures to be discovered from deep digging. I often feel pulled in different directions internally, and sometimes I struggle with what choices to make. There is also a stew of external conflict, competition, and often these conflicts mirror my inner dichotomies. Conflict is inevitable. Combat is a choice, and I have the opportunity to see what is being expressed in the tension, to mine for the gold of the universe and let the treasure come forth. Spring is often heralded as a time if new life, but the path I have walked so far leaves this autumn feeling potent for new beginnings. There is treasure in the short days, the deepening of darkness that reveals the subtle shimmer of the universe all around us. When I am flexible and balanced, I lay claim to my place in the universe. Truth can be uncomfortable. It requires courage and compassion to sit with discomfort and uncertainty. When I meet the universe where it is, with an open heart from where I am, insights are possible. Mind *Writing. The dissertation is at 15,726 words as the challenge opens. We’ll see how much gets written. *Classes and papers continue. I have a document analysis due in mid November, and it’s one of my favorite types of assignments. I then lead the class discussion, which I also usually like. *Statistics are real, despite what Mark Twain said about them. I have three quizzes and an exam this round. Body *Make something and eat it every day. *Supplements daily until November 11, review with acupuncturist *B12 shot 11/10 *Saturday vegetable pickup *Milk *Acupuncture or Massage *Maybe the gym especially for the sauna and the hot tub. Sometimes swimming. Heart *Time with Vivian *Outings with a friends *Virtual visits *Pinball Soul *Meditation. Five minutes? Fifty minutes? Whatever, it’s All good. Focus on #reasonsnottoquit and #HeidiKoans *Sleep. My Spirit requires a lot of rest. *Still water float October, November Significant dates: Stats Unit 3 (3 quizzes, 1 exam) due 11/5 Court 11/9 B12 11/10 Paper 4 due 11/11 History of Higher education discussion leader 11/15-22 Insights from last challenge: I am stronger than I know. My real strength comes from trusting myself and trusting the universe. There is nothing that I can't handle when I focus on being present and allow myself to breathe. As we head into the waning light of the year, I am learning to lean into uncertainty with faith, to be able to look at challenges with open mindedness, and to focus on the future instead of the past. Also, random #reasonsnottoquit, because I need them. Possible drops of a #HeidiKoan here and there, because I need to remember them.
  19. This challenge begins during a time of converging paths, each with their own pressures: PhD classes, interpersonal conflict, editing work, physical challenges, emotional balance, spiritual wholeness. At times it feels like I am navigating under a starless sky, and all I can do is trust the sails and be grateful that the water lifts the boat. I hadn't meant to make an Earthsea challenge, and it's been forever since I read the books, but here we are. Writing often reveals the Way; as Ged found, words have power to restore balance to what has been upset. The way will open.
  20. Snow Falling on Warm Ground When I sit Let the thoughts come. Welcome them even! With an open heart, I can receive them Drifts of snow falling On warm ground. When I am work, Let the chaos come. Welcome it even! With a centered heart, I can embrace it Drifts of snow falling On warm ground. When I am play, Let the obstacles come. Welcome them even! With a calm heart, I can resolve them Drifts of snow falling On warm ground. When I am in the world, Let the difficulties come. Welcome them even! With a full heart, I can release them Drifts of snow falling On warm ground. This is a mindset challenge. My goals are about restoring my heart and spirit after a long and difficult dark night of the soul, one that feels as though it is finally beginning to recede. What I learned on my path through Hell is that I have no enemies; there is no fight. I am an agent of the Spirit. Simplicity: storage unit; monthly housekeeping; local food subscription for 2021. Peace: the path forward to togetherness with Vivian; continued thoughts and efforts with the boys; meditation. Integrity: the dance with the job*; begin doctoral classes Restore: acupuncture; massage therapy; milk and honey and yummy goodness; meditation. Initiative: paralegal for those facing eviction; research proposal for honesty project Teamwork: rely on my advocates, the attorney and TheTherapistsThree; maintain contact with my Jedi Council; the morning call; and the Forum Friendship.
  21. Not sure what this challenge holds for me, so I'm coming in with an open heart. Stay tuned, because this is the mindset that usually means the doors get blown off. ❤️
  22. Heidi

    Heidi: Amazoning

    My journey to this point has taken me into some hellish and dark spaces, a trap-laden trek encountering demons; at times there was a sea of despair. I have been stripped of so much along the way, walking naked through the dark without even the light of the moon. But I kept walking, and when I couldn't walk, I sat. Rest is not an admission of defeat. Over the challenges this year, I stood up and walked again, however slowly, a miracle in its own right. The demons are now familiar companions; there is no fear; there is no fight; I have no enemies. I feel as though I'm on the other side now, and I barely remember how I passed through the obstacles, I only know that they are no longer in front of me. Now it is time to move forward, walking and preparing for the future. The battles behind me weren't really battles at all -- they weren’t even really a fight. They were an origin story. Now the real work begins, and it takes me back to my Ranger roots: it's time to suit up. My battle lies in the distance, and I go forth with love in the spirit of justice, knowing my true source of strength is the Company I keep. Diana didn't train alone. Wonder Woman didn't fight alone. Who's with me?
  23. Wow, what a journey we have been on, Dear Readers. The process all began in 2015, but we never know it at the time. I realized I was on some sort of soul journey in mid-2016, then really ramped up through 2017. By the beginning of the year in 2018, I had a name for this path. I can confirm: the past two years have been crucible-level intense. The name "nightmare of the soul" is apt. I even got cocky this time last year, celebrating my new vantage point. I think I might have even said something along the lines of: FOR THE RECORD: DO NOT DO THIS. This was ill-advised. Confession: I kept this attitude through most of the crap that came my way all last year. I don't think the attitude can be beaten out of me, because this year the Universe gave me every reason and opportunity to quit. It would have been easier, for certain, to stop. To take my wounds and call it all a good fight, but over. No. This new land will be mine, and yet I have no idea what it is or what it will look like. For all I know, it's a barren potato field that not even sheep will graze in. I have this vision of cresting a ridge only to see this notice tacked to a tree: There were brilliant moments this year. Real watershed events one after the other (full list) January I wrote a song it went in a tv movie! February I went to a philosophy rave; I went to a Philosophy group; I got a Fellowship to do philosophy all the time; I had a head injury that crippled me; and even through the sidewaysness of it all: the legal situation is a protracted mess that doesn't seem to get better the healing of the head injury is so slow I don't even recognize what I was before intellectually I still can't drive I haven't been to the gym since September. I managed to find my way through by feeling for the next centered thing: I founded a local Philosophy Roundtable I signed up people to vote, raised the roof, amplified messages for causes using my digital life to be active when I had no voice or mobility physically. I am the lead for Philosophers for Sustainability's Public Philosophy team I am a member of the Philosophers for Sustainability Outreach & Social Media team I developed a topic and presented it at a national-level (international?) conference I am presenting a piece on Authenticity, Connectedness, and Hope at the APAPhil Division Conference in Chicago (any Chicago Nerds who want to join the 5e D&D game that is going to happen, or who want to meet RealLivePhilosophers™ drop me a line! It's at the Palmer House Feb 26-29. I'll be in town on March 1, too, mostly because I want to see the Art Institute and because I present on Saturday afternoon, so I wanted extra recovery time). I took my writing to the Thesis Level, and my advisor now refers to it as The Book. I developed the conference presentation into a structure for a book and am working on the proposal and article for submission (see #Goals2020). And now we are here. 2020. I'm not certain how this last part of the Hero's Journey will play out, but I know I'm capable and up for the challenges, whatever they might happen to be. There's a cool lunar eclipse that just happened with the December new moon, and a solar eclipse that is happening at the new moon in January. This challenge is "between the eclipses," so to speak, and I think that has some nice poetry to it. I know that there is a lot of possibility and potential swirling about -- sort of a liquid electricity looking for a channel of expression as it seeks the ground. I think that any number of opportunities await; I have the chance to bring my new sense of self (attitude is everything!) to focus and claim my path forward. I am grateful that you have been part of this with me. I have no idea what I will grasp from the air. Have you guys read the Kingkiller series (by Patrick Rothfuss, first is Name of the Wind) yet? This feels like the moment in the second book, The Wise Man's Fear, when our hero has to go through the willow tree to get the Thing at the center. In ways, it's almost like starting all over again. Thanks for being part of my Fellowship. I can't wait to see what we get up to.
  24. Heidi

    Heidi: Retreat

    Welcome to the WayBack. Inner Light is revealed in the deep darkness. It has been quite the year so far, a bit of a (hopefully) final boss fight in a trilogy of trilogies of weirdness. Frankly, I feel as though I’ve been through some Stephen R. Donaldson weirdness since 2013 (the original Year That Would Not Die). At this point, I don’t know if I would recognize the person I was back then if I met her on the street. They say the butterfly still remembers its caterpillar-self, though. This challenge starts off with a beautiful New Moon that promises insights and revelations, if we are still enough to receive them, and flexible enough to absorb the sometimes shocking adjustments to perspective and attitude, in ourselves as well as in others. The cycle since the end of August has been a very difficult Releasing for me -- I have been stubbornly clinging on to what I want to be real instead of accepting disappointment. This is always hard. The last four weeks have been especially tumultuous, with my blind persistence nearly eclipsing the opportunities that loss makes the way for. I feel as though my whole world is about to pivot. In preparation, I’m taking heading to a meditation commune for a New Moon retreat and I’ve taken a vow of silence for a week. I haven’t said a word with my physical voice since Friday morning, and they were telling words indeed, “I don’t trust you.” I am drawing away from situations filled with injury, illness, and invalidation. I don't know what I have left to say or what I'm capable of. I don't know where I belong. There is a charge in the air, a potential about to be zapped into being. I have drawings for an off-grid Public Philosophy House; I have the beginnings of a proposal for a course of doctoral study; I have an article to submit for peer review. The retreat will be filled with three hours of meditation a day and lots of introspection. I’m looking forward to it. Into the darkness.
  25. Heidi

    Heidi: Emerge

    Hi there. It's been a weird couple months. The concussion symptoms are still with me, but the physical whiplash symptoms are abating. The headaches are less frequent. I can do a little screen time each day. It's time for me to return to the Light, even if it has to be slowly. Emerging back into my life is strange and new -- so much about me has changed since the autumnal equinox. I'm looking forward to having you along for the journey. Thank you for walking this piece with me as I watch for the Way to open.
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