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  1. After some personal battles combined with the start of the school year requiring me to adjust my routine, I am ready to get back at it... for real this time. My goals for this challenge remain the same as the last, although some specifics have changes. I will be channeling great warriors, both mythical and real, as my guides, such as Kratos, King Leonidas, Geralt, Achilles, Beowulf, and more. STRONGER: GOAL: By the end of this challenge, I will have increased my physical strength by at least 10% 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 -- Five rounds of: 200 meter run kettlebell clean and press x 2 each side goblet squat x 5 two-handed kettlebell swing x 20 rest 2 minutes Tuesday -- 30 minute run; record time Wednesday -- 5-10 rounds of: 30 seconds one-handed swing with left hand 30 seconds rest 30 seconds one-handed swing with right hand 30 seconds rest Turkish get-ups Thursday -- 30 minute run; improve previous distance Friday -- 15-45 minutes of: clean with left hand press with left hand one arm front squat with left hand one handed swing with left hand park the kettlebell, recover, repeat with right hand Saturday -- Distance run on trails; mark distance and pace 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 (see 200 m run above). 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 take 30 minute mindful walks to help clear my mind. I will write down what I am grateful for and create daily affirmations using the 5 Minute Journal app. I will practice a relaxing breathing technique (short inhale through nose, long exhale through mouth) and apply this technique in moments of stress and frustration. I will listen to music that elevates my mood.
  2. Am I late, or are y'all early? Or did I start this precisely when I meant to? It's totally me, I'm late, you guys, I don't know how it happened I'll let you ponder that. I skipped out last challenge because I didn't know what I was doing and I didn't really know what I meant by saying I wanted to "Maintain." And truthfully, some of that is still at play now. My old workout routine has completely flown the coop. I don't really have a routine anymore so much as a series of touchstones that I try to touch every week. Instead of thinking about particular movements, I think these days in terms of patterns - press, pull, squat, hinge, lunge, invert - and do a little core work on the side as it relates to or enhances my martial arts. (At this point, that means hanging leg raise progressions, loaded carries, and side planks with the goal to develop a Copenhagen Plank for adductor strength). I walk more these days too. A lot more. I managed to get a pedometer app on my phone and it's been mindblowing to see how little I was moving beforehand. It's not perfectly accurate, but it's consistent, and I can work with that. I'll document that some in the logs this week to give you an idea of what this comes out looking like. I feel really good these days as a result. My busted shoulder is nice and quiet. I'm better-rested, and I feel like I'm moving better as a result. I've been going easier in the rolls out on the mats for BJJ these days and I've had to get technical since I'm not using strength so much. I think I'm better, and even when I'm tapped, I find that I don't care about the tap so much as getting tapped safely (ie don't be stubborn, tap early, tap often). I got a couple things coming up this challenge. One of these is a belt promotion this Sunday, 8/6, which I'll go to. I don't have any expectations; the job has consumed me and I'm not making the time that I want to for this, so, I'll go, but I'm not so certain that I'm going to be promoted. It's fine if not. I've been meaning to go to these things for a while anyway, and it'd be good to be a part of the community. The other thing is a GoRuck challenge out in Denver at the end of the month. This will be with my brother, who is apparently arranging the whole thing. I've bought the tickets and the weight, so now I just need to get a couple other pieces of safety gear and I should be good to go. Just need to get some training volume. This particular event is slated to just be a 12 mile hike in 5 hours with a 20 lb weight. I think that's too easy given how it went the last time I did one of these, but I think I'll be better-prepared this time. More prep time would have been better, but I couldn't accomplish that with the equipment I had, so, I'll just have to make the most of what I can do now. I have three goals for this challenge. Surprisingly, only one physical, but that one physical goal will cover, like, everything, so for the most part I'll just be logging that stuff here. The other two goals are to keep working at my writing and to meditate. I'm up to 5 minutes at this point, so I'd like to hit 6 minutes for the remainder of the challenge. And, uh, yeah. That's that. I'll be about. Good to see you all again.
  3. Atreus: Father, when will I look like you? Kratos: In what way? Atreus: Like bigger... when do I get muscles like yours? Kratos: When you work for them. Atreus: But Baldur was really strong and he didn't have any muscles. Kratos: My strength does not come from my body but both are honed by discipline. Atreus: What does that mean? Mimir: Means you've got the strength of a god no matter what, lad. But if you want the physique of one, you better start picking heavy things up and puttin' em back down. Atreus: Ugh While I am, of course, not a child, this advice sets the tone for this challenge. If I want to become stronger, I need to work for it. While I do not expect (nor want) to be as big as Kratos, he will be inspiration and motivation during this challenge. I have broken this challenge into four categories: STRONGER, FASTER, SMARTER, CALMER. If you've been following me for a while, you might notice that I have tried something different this challenge by setting SMART(ish) goals that are a little more specific. However, expect that my usual morning routine and past habits will continue. STRONGER: GOAL: By the end of this challenge, I will have increased my physical strength by at least 10% 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 can include standard equipment, such as kettlebells and dumbbells, but also includes logs, stones, cinderblocks, and my children. Workouts will be MWF, which is both manageable and sustainable. BONUS: On "off days," practice "greasing the groove" by doing a single set of a low rep exercise with a "heavy thing," stopping well short of failure. Training will look like this: Monday: Strength workout Tuesday: Grease the groove Wednesday: Strength HIIT Thursday: Grease the groove Friday: Strength workout Saturday: Trail run Sunday: Rest and recover 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 5k at least two days a week, with an endurance run at least one day a week and sprint/speed intervals at least two days a week. Training will look something like this: Monday: Sprint intervals Tuesday: 5k run Wednesday: Rest Thursday: 5k run Friday: Rest Saturday: Trail run (for endurance) Sunday: Rest and recover 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 take 30 minute mindful walks to help clear my mind. I will write down what I am grateful for and create daily affirmations using the 5 Minute Journal app. I will practice a relaxing breathing technique (short inhale through nose, long exhale through mouth) and apply this technique in moments of stress and frustration. I will listen to music that elevates my mood.
  4. Harriet of War 2023 This challenge I turn 36. It’s a good moment for a new start. I am not satisfied with the direction I’ve taken over the last year. Pacing has not improved my fatigue, and has in fact simply reduced my activity levels and coincided with multiple long slug phases. I’m sick of the fearful, avoidant, pessimistic attitude promoted by CFS patient advocacy groups and online forums. I choose to believe in recovery and the possibility of a normal life, and that is what I am going to pursue this year. As Mr Harriet has pointed out, though, my focus cannot be exclusively on health, in case it doesn't come. So I will do. my. art. And I will develop the life I want with or without recovery. Having recently played and loved God of War 2018, I am taking Kratos, the incredibly tough Spartan warrior from said game, as a model for the next year. Erm, not because he kills things, but because he has the physical and character strength that I so badly need. Sometimes we choose idols because of similarities between us, and sometimes we choose them because they have precisely what we lack. I loved playing as Kratos because it made me feel powerful and capable of anything. I want to be Kratos when I grow up. Of course, life is both easier and harder than a game. But I hope to borrow some of Kratos’s attitudes and virtues. For each challenge over the next year, I want to make sure I am hitting each of four categories that I think will be important: Strength: I will work on my physical fitness, carefully increasing both strength and cardio fitness. Someone has already made an exercise programme specifically for POTS, so I’ll do that and just slow down the progression if needed. There is no bonus for going too hard; the only thing that matters is getting fitter over time, and that requires staying below my maximum recoverable volume, which is unfortunately very, very low. Wishing and heroically overdoing things won't change that, but consistent, appropriate workouts might. Stoicism: Okay so stoicism isn’t Spartan, exactly. But I think it’s the closest available approach to developing strength of character. I wish to cultivate a stoic practical philosophy as an antidote to the fragility and suffering that arise from focusing too much on my illness. I will develop my tolerance for effort and unpleasantness, reduce my fear and avoidance, and choose happiness wherever possible. The good thing about developing this mindset is that it will serve me well even if I don't achieve the desired recovery. If my fatigue doesn't change, then I will change to deal with the fatigue. This doesn't mean denying myself rest, where rest would increase my functionality or reduce suffering. It means not waiting for perfect health or energy before I do my work, my life. Spirit: perhaps this category seems too soft for a god of war, but attitude is an important part of strength, and every warrior needs a way of healing between fights. The effect of the mind on the body has been extensively documented, and everyone who reports recovering from CFS included some mind-body stress reduction practice. So, I will cultivate a belief in healing and bring about the parasympathetic state of repair through twice daily meditation or prayer to my own god of war (not Kratos, obviously; he's a video game character, not an actual deity. If someone happened to take one of my deities and put him in a video game, that would be completely different, if somewhat weird) and similar practices, as often as possible. Structure: presumably Kratos got his discipline from being raised in a Spartan society. Happily, I don’t have that, so I will need to support my efforts with various habit-helping structures, which might include designing routines, setting alarms and reminders, employing family to hold me accountable, journalling, programming, reflecting on identities and processes, and setting up my environment to lower or raise barriers to action. Oh, and internet blocks to limit the infinite doom scroll.
  5. There's been a recurring theme in recent challenges: I have a good plan, tailored to my current circumstances. Two weeks into the challenge, circumstances change. I spend the last three weeks of the challenge attempting to stick to my original plan, which is of course, pure garbage given the set of circumstances in which I currently find myself. So I did a branch analysis on myself. What it tells me is that my plans are fragile. So for this challenge, I'm going to pursue the same plan but put more energy into addressing the presumptive root causes of the failures. Here's the plan, which is framed around elemental magic: Water Prime my personal energy by proper hydration — packing water, limiting caffeine intake, and minimizing alcohol and other diuretic fluids. Past Performance: 3 of 5 Fragility: Defaulting to coffee (rooted in preference for hot drinks) Trial: Pack a non-caffeinated, non-dehydrating, non-grody tea as an alternative to coffee #2,3,4,...,n. Fire Build energy by balancing macros and food intake for target BMR — packing lunch daily, sticking to the 7pm cutoff, and minimizing processed foods. Past Performance: 4 of 5 Fragility: Contact with food through kitchen cleanup, next-day prep, etc.. Trial: Say no to leftovers. You are not the family goat. Earth Build core strength and stability through Pilates and yoga. 4x weekly for 30 minutes is the goal. Past Performance: 2 of 5 Fragility: Incorrect scheduling (this should be the afternoon workout) Trial: Reschedule to afternoon workout. Air Increase aerobic fitness through running or alternative cardio, utilizing the maximum aerobic fitness framework of 80% work below threshold heart rate. 4x weekly = 3 slow easy runs and one intense interval or tempo run. Past Performance: 4 of 5 Fragility: Incorrect scheduling, as above. This is further rooted in a tendency to sleep through the morning workout window, so I scheduled this later to avoid missing it. But really, this should be the morning workout. Trial: Correct sleep hygiene. Ether Daily meditation and/or contemplative prayer. Two long opportunities: morning at work and evening before bed. Warrior’s meditation (Micro-meditations using vagal breathing) throughout the day. Past Performance: 5 of 5 Fragility: I've been doing consistently well here. Trial: Keep it up; monitor for second-order effects from other adjustments. Healing Be a healer in all domains of life: Sleep 8 hours. Eat restfully. Move fluidly. Listen attentively. Speak melodically. Return to kindness. Past Performance: 1 of 5 Fragility: A lot of failure here, but mostly rooted in sleep hygiene. Particularly: late bedtime, and using the phone in bed. This is exacerbated by late eating. Trial: Set the phone to require passwords to use apps after 9:00 and put the charger on the dresser. This is to force electronic shut down earlier, encourage actual reading, and make me get up to turn off the alarm. ] Good luck, everyone!
  6. "You must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute, and now a then stab, as occasion serves." - Christopher Marlowe Train the Body: First and foremost, training is important to me. There is an aesthetic I like, a vainness that I enjoy. But, I like being strong. Not just inside the gym, but outside the gym. I thought a lot about it this past weekend with moving and knowing how the strength I've garnished over the years of lifting really helped me out. I think about being weaker and not being able to lift as much weight and how much more difficult the move would have been. I'm thankful for the time I've put in and how it's translated to real world application. I started a new training program through the middle of the last challenge and love it. The programming is great. The structure and ability to complete within an hour is even better, given that 60-65min is basically the max time I have to train before I have to get ready for work. I'm excited to get back into the program called "Comanche" later this week. The program calls for sprints 2x a week but I think with my busy schedule and two jobs that I'll just go for 1x a week for now. Train the Mind: I know that I am mentally strong. The key to me being successful in my every day life is to be strong mentally. I work 2 jobs. Sometimes my day extends around the 17-18hr mark from the time I wake up to the time I get off from Costco and get home. I have a BRAND NEW routine now that I've moved and this week is going to be an adjustment. Finish 2 audible books during this challenge. Utilize my longer commute. Train my Creative Mind™ Empire of Silence (Sun Eater Book #1) (16hrs left) Howling Dark (Sun Eater Book #2) Recover the Body: Foam roll, yoga, massage gun: USE ALL OF THESE THINGS. Work hard. Play hard. Recover hard. Recover the Mind: Nap. Eat at your desk to save time and use part of your hour lunch to catch some Zzz's. Meditation goes a long ways, I think. I definitely don't take the time to relax my mind in that regard and train it up to be stronger and more palpable. 5min a day is not long. I can do this. Wolf
  7. I recently read a tweet where someone said the best era of Doctor Who was when the production team was young, angry, and reading Swamp Thing. Honestly, 100% agree. That was way pithier than the way I said it a month ago to @Jarric , and also that is a real mood. Then I realized that I was also better when I was young, angry, and reading Swamp Thing. I lost my way. I am not the adult version of that person. Why am I not the adult version of that person? I had one job, guys. One job. So I'm doing what any sane person would do in that situation. I'm sticking Swamp Thing, retrofuturist cyberpunk vibes, Doctor Who, and Japanese jazz cafés into a blender and coming up with a challenge. What I'm gonna do this challenge is work on a morning routine. It's gonna be painful and I'll hate it. Welcome to surviving the dystopian future with some dignity intact. It'll also be good for me, and the appropriately mellow use of cool early hours when everyone is asleep, which I need to use now that I'm a retrofuturist jazz hipster with a coffee habit in an scientific-magical eco-horror universe. One half hour of walking. One half hour of meditation. One half hour of making art. That should blast the brain cells with some anti-ADHD juice first thing, and help it chill a little about braining the to-do list later. Then work. And even if I'm too exhausted from lack of sleep to go on living after that, I'll have done the main things for good future decision-making, hopefully. Maybe I'll even get my evening routine back on track. I'll lose sleep at first, probably, but I'm losing sleep now, so I might as well lose sleep the way that involves getting some self-care knocked out early in the day. Yes, that is 90 minutes of new morning routine before work. Fuck moderation, we're doing the thing. No one in a 1980s graphic novel or cyberpunk book ever approached things by making ten-minute incremental changes. I have a reputation to uphold here. An ethos. I'll spend the rest of my time being angry and reading Swamp Thing.
  8. Howdy, y'all! Getting in early on this one as I'm taking off to the beach in a couple hours and I don't know if I'm going to get the chance to post on time. In keeping with the last challenge, I made a point of redistributing my training tasks to win back some much needed time. I applied that the past week as follows: Monday: Simple and Sinister, Farmer's Walks Tuesday: Straddle Planche progression, Side Lever progression Wednesday: Rope Climb progression, Single Leg Squat progression, Manna progression Thursday: Hollow Back Press progression, Front Lever progression Friday: Simple and Sinister, Farmer's Walks Saturday: Handstand and Neck work Sunday: ??? It all sounds like a lot and very heavy until you realize that at this point it's just planks and push ups and inverted rows and super basic things at this point. But I tried it out and, uh, it worked like gangbusters! Everything's done really fast; nothing takes more than 20-30 minutes and I hit enough of my body to feel good for having done it. I've even been able to retain my qigong practice, although that too has changed some. Shi Yan Lei, whose work I'm following, wants like 5 different stances in addition to the qigong, as part of a combined program of qigong and kung fu. Well, I've already got enough leg work in my kung fu program as it is, and only 2 of the stances he provides show up in the qigong movements, so there's no real reason for me to faff about and waste more effort. And the thing is, the training workload as it was distributed last challenge had some substantial effects on my ability to get after the non-training portions - the meditation and the writing. So I want to attack those problems again, but this time with this new set up, just to see how it goes. For those who didn't follow along last time, it goes like this: Goal 1: Training Like it says on the tin. Qigong is going to happen as it does; I actually want to try to get to 3-4 times a week, which I think will be quite doable. This was another one of those things that suffered under the prior load, but really it's more a matter of being an opportunity than something I'm going to pursue aggressively. Goal 2: Meditation Gonna shift this goal a little bit and set a time of 2 minutes as my minimum. To be clear, even if I miss this goal, I'm still going to take my deep breaths at bed time and get some benefit. So it's not an either/or situation by any stretch. I just want to challenge myself to do more, and having a hard standard that I won't wiggle out of will help. Maybe. Or maybe I'll be lazy again. IDK. Goal 3: Writing I found a more detailed version of the Snowflake Method. I think I'm going to use this one, since it has a more integrated approach to character profiling and stuff like that. The old 6-step program on Reedsy that I referenced before was a good starting point, but it was also looser in a way that I had a hard time connecting with. I still think I can use their character profiler as a way to construct a dossier on my characters for reference, but it's hard to use for the planning stages, at least for me. My figuring at this point is, plan out -> write the damn thing -> fill out dossiers afterward with the information I develop. But we'll see. 1st step is to follow the plan. Those are my goals this time. It works out to being mostly a repeat of the last challenge. There is some stuff I want to do/get into, but I don't really have a realistic way of approaching that just yet, so that'll be something that hums along in the background. No worries. T-minus a couple days. See y'all when I do!
  9. This challenge is all about fine-tuning habits, breaking up large blocks into smaller modules, and building in agility. Previous challenges have a common theme -- I get into a groove, and then get interrupted. I find a good time for my workout...someone else thinks that's a great time for their meeting. I find a good staple for my lunch kit...someone else decides not to stock that item any more. I find a spot for meditation...someone else decides I look lonely and could use some company. The world is dynamic, so I have to be more agile. Another common thread in those past challenges is that I have tended to program in large blocks: workout once per day, eat twice per day, sleep x to y, meditate z amount of time. I've wanted to nail it all down. But that's what blows up, and worse...that's what I also get bored with. This time, we're breaking it into smaller bites. BODY Fuel: work toward macro balance and calorie targets. I've set my calorie intake to target BMR + workout calories, with an understanding that every single monitor overestimates workout calories. Still, I'll keep packing my early meal, logging both meals, and cutting off snacks 2 hours before bed. Hydrate properly! Work: Here's where the smaller pieces start. This time we'll try morning Pilates, so that lunch only needs the run (continuing the heart rate focused MAF routine, so these are easy runs). This will also give me two chances at getting something in, so interruptions won't necessarily cost me a whole day's workout. Mon-Tues, rest on Wed, Thu-Fri, recover on weekends. HEART Play: Work through the fretboard course on bass (I dug out the guidebook, so just need that 10-minute minimum 5x weekly). Do something for self-care twice weekly. I have sucked at this...working on it. Love: Mindful listening practice continues: look at the talking face! The second piece: respond to the emotional need in the talking, and not necessarily the concrete one. There are already a thousand little pieces to this one. SOUL Grow: This is another small-pieces area. I need to use pomodoro much more frequently, and with more intention. So: identify the daily task, and work on it with gentle intentionality during the pomodoro sessions. Pray: Continue daily meditation, but add in grounding at key times. A short list of such keys: before driving, before a meeting or phone call, before eating, before exercising. Again, many opportunities so that missing one long sit doesn't derail the intention. REST: Down by 10:00, up by 5:30. Eat restfully. Walk between pomodoros at work.
  10. Spring is near for those of us in the northern hemisphere, so I think a spring themed challenge is appropriate. The key word for this challenge is NOURISHMENT. An account I follow on Instagram, Noble King Wolf, posted a quote that has stuck with me: "I don't want satisfaction. I need nourishment." That is my overarching goal for this challenge: to be nourished. Goal 1: Nourish My Soul speak gratitude: say a brief prayer of gratitude upon waking re-instate a morning devotional practice (reading/listening, prayer/meditation) daily gratitude journaling: write down at least three things I am grateful for every day practice at least one act of random kindness every day spend at least 30 minutes outside in nature, preferably near trees and water Goal 2: Nourish My Heart spend quality time with wife and kids; include physical touch (hugs, high fives, snuggling, etc.) speak at least one compliment to my wife daily practice at least one romantic gesture for my wife daily spend time daily reflecting on things that I love listen to music that lifts my heart Goal 3: Nourish My Body move my body in fun, dynamic, and challenging ways that feel good eat foods that nourish rather than satisfy (i.e. nutritious whole foods with simple ingredients, no "empty calories") savor what I eat and drink; use all of my senses to truly enjoy it drink more water; no seriously, drink more water listen closely to my body's signals: eat when I feel hungry, rest when I feel tired, be alert when I feel stressed/overwhelmed/irritated/anxious Goal 4: Nourish My Mind read something for at least 20 minutes per day listen to informative and/or inspiring podcasts read at least one scholarly/educational article every day complete the daily requirements on Duolingo complete the daily requirements on Elevate
  11. Hi! So this past Tuesday, I had something of an epiphany. I went home to help my dad out with some chores about the place. Nothing strenuous in particular, but it reminded me of an old guideline from Simple and Sinister about testing yourself against unusual and unorthodox demands every now and again. This has always worked out for me to being a matter of serving others somehow, because everyone needs help with moving their couch. I found that I missed the program a great deal. I've also been working on losing some body fat per the latest iteration of Berkhan's Leangains protocol, which is basically all protein all the time. He's suspicious of "fuckarounditis," or trying to train everything and ultimately training nothing. My latest measurements indicate that I'm actually gaining fat on this protocol right now, and that's a matter of compliance more than it's anything else. The past month has been remarkably social, and I've not had all that much opportunity to be compliant. I can't do anything about the social component beyond damage control, but I can do something about my training, and I think it's worth it. New plan is to hit S&S on as near to the daily as I can. GB training is going to be broken up some as a result - no more core movements and one upper-body movement per day, plus one leg movement and 1-2 days of handstand work. Reason being that GB's protocols call for integrated mobility, and in their core series they all ultimately work out to having a lumbar flexion component that Pavel warns against. S&S in its current iteration fortunately can make space for this - once I get back to lifting the 32, the recommended days drop off from daily to 3-4 days per week, and I can return to core training then. In the meantime, the work I'm doing will build me toward a Hollow Back Press, and a Straddle Planche, which are non-flexion core strengtheners which would be good to have a base in by the time I get to the point that it matters. Fortunately, everything should work just fine, I think. The past few days have felt pretty good in terms of me getting what I want. Now the trick is to work in qigong and stretching, which I think I can do as long as I'm focused properly on it. So here are the challenge goals: Goal 1: Train Bit of a gimme, but consistent logging is good for me when I make changes like this, so I can confront myself and be honest about what's happening and whether I like it or not. Goal 2: Meditate This fell off in the past week. Dedicate 10 minutes a day to relaxing my mind. This feels like something I can get after now, but I'm reserving the right to adjust if needed. Goal 3: Write This fell off in the past week too. No excuses, and the good news is that when I've done work, it's been good, deep, structural work. I've been figuring out what kind of cast of characters I need and who they are in relation to the structure of the story, which is good to do. Now I need to keep going. I don't really know how to quantify it at this point beyond "just sit down and do the thing," but I think I can do it. And, yeah. I've been writing down what I do on the mats afterward and that alone has been helpful, but I've had a hard time with actually doing the homework of reviewing videos and taking notes. This could be better. Just a matter of making time, really. Can do. Will do? That remains to be seen. But, uh, yeah. T-minus a couple days. Let's go.
  12. While this is supposedly a Doctor Who themed year, I tend to do a special Valentines themed February, to be hot and shallow and slightly drunk. (Mostly shallow, as I still largely aspire to either of the other two.) So we will have a short diversion. After all, one can get into a rut. 1. Strength training Dating on Vulcan requires a lot more combat than you might expect. So physical training is important. But what will not do is upsetting the delicate hormonal balance that keeps you from killing half a dozen people with sharpened hockey stick. To keep cortisol down, the goal is one single strength exercise a day, from this list: plank, bridge, horse stance, superman, maybe some rowing if I'm feeling it. Also, my stupid daily walk for my stupid mental and physical health. I will count anything. The goal is consistency. But I do want giant muscles, cuz I have people to beat with a lirpa, so strength. Goal: be strong, do an exercise 2. Eat the plomik soup. Dating on Vulcan requires correct fueling of the body. We're aiming for closer to therapeutic keto this time around. Brain needs ketones. I don't know if we'll get to that macro split, but we can manage a stick of butter. Goal: eat a stick of butter (or equivalent fats) Goal: drink a gallon of water 3. Rest Dating on Vulcan requires quality sleep, or at least some quality meditation. Goal: 11pm bedtime with meditation. 4. Emotional Management This is me lately. Also, I recently heard someone say that time management these days is really emotion management, and I think that's very true. For me, this also hits some ADHD stuff, cuz ADHD tends to magnify strong emotions. I'm gonna practice spotting and reacting to emotions or emotional spirals (hopefully not too many of those). Treating the don't-wannas with rest counts. Goal: one emotional intervention Bonus: Vulcan eye makeup Vulcans play a good eyeshadow game, so this probably requires at least some eyeliner. Okay, wait, this challenge is entirely inappropriate for a February challenge. It involves actual stuff, and not, like, stocking my bar and upgrading my wardrobe. I may need to reconsider this. Sigh. Vulcans do not know how to have a good time.
  13. Hi Druids! I've decided to challenge with you, and this will be my first druid challenge ever! I've had an extreme amount of difficulty figuring out how to find and maintain a balance with my life between my job, workouts, nutritional, and personal development goals. Despite my efforts to make my challenges increasingly simple, I'm unable to maintain a workout routine, and I'm struggling with getting the recuperative rest I need to remain functional mentally, physically, and emotionally... Actually I do find this rest, but it's chipping at my other goals. Here's my situation... Over a year ago, I quit working on my PhD and walked out of grad school with my master's because academic life was increasingly dissatisfying and the financial burdens of being an underpaid grad student with student loan and credit card debt was becoming too difficult. All of the lack of progress and fulfilment despite a lot of hard work made me stressed and depressed. Not able to afford a new place or stay in my old one, I moved back in with my parents, temporarily, until I could find a new job. I thought I would be able to get a pretty well-paying job quickly, and I even got an interview for a good job within a week of being home, but that fell through. So I started working in a warehouse for about the same amount of money as my grad stipend. And I've been there ever since. On the upside, things have stabilized in the past year. I'm caught up on bills, and have enough money in my pocket finally to survive. Earlier this week I applied for an apartment and should hear back in the next few days. If that goes through, and it should, I'll be moving out in the beginning of December. This challenge times out well for preparing for that transition. Basically, I'm treating this all as a reset, and I'm going to focus on rebuilding a solid and balanced foundation. Goal 1, Moving on: In the past hour or so I've been cleaning my room and starting to, or think about how to, pack up my things. As I go through I'll have to think about what should be thrown away, what should be kept, and what I'll need for my new place. I'm going to spend a day each weekend, at least, working on this. What I'll do for accountability's sake is jot down notes in here about the thought process. Mostly I just want to avoid procrastinating, then mindlessly packing everything up and dragging around a ton of useless clutter to my new place. I think everything,I have, need to get rid of, or want/need fits into three categories: Essentials: Things I need to take care of myself and be healthy. Comforts: Things I use to add comfort and convenience or entertainment. Capital: Things that I need to work, make a living, or advance in my career like my computer or books for learning new things. For everything, I need to identify which category it falls into, and figure out its overall value to that category. However, a more practical scaffold is to assemble my "five rooms:" Living Room -- where I live and entertain myself and others Kitchen -- where Noms are made Bedroom -- where I rest and sleep, then meet the day Workshop -- where I build, create, work, and tinker Bathroom -- where grooming and pooping happens Okay, goal: Assemble lists for five rooms based on 3 criteria. I think it's time for a spreadsheet. Goal 2, Nutrition and Food Budget: This is a combo of two goals from last challenge. My food and my money are always at odds with each other. (Damn you breadfast sammiches! Damn you! I love you! ). So I'm going to keep tracking noms on MFP and keep a weekly tab on food expenses so I can check on problems with both nutrition and overspending. Another spreadsheet. Goal 3, Get up at 4:00 am. I have to be at work by 6:30. Last challenge I had a goal of going to the gym every morning, which required I get up at 4 am. That crashed and burned. Now I just have to get up early enough. And maybe, just maybe I'll get to the damn gym at some point, but right now I'm just going to focus on getting up that early. Bonus: Do something for my health when I get up. So if I meditate (that's likely where I'll start), stretch, or go to the gym... boom +1 point. (Assuming I'll assign a point system to this challenge). Edit: I'm changing goal 3 because I know it's not gonna happen. I'll work on this one later. new! Goal 3: Fix my Achilles' heel: Literally, I'm having issues with Achilles' tendinitis in my left ankle, so I need to find some stretches and exercises to fix it, and do them everyday. This one's more important than getting up earlier. We are heading into the peak season at work which means I'm gonna be on my feet 50-60 hours/week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Currently, I limp out of my car at the end of the day because my feet/ankles, especially and mostly my left, bother me. That needs to be fixed and worked on so I can survive the Holiday season at work. LUYL: Novel making. As I mentioned in a post at the end of my last challenge, and have alluded to in several other posts, I have ideas for a novel. Well, actually, there's five or six ideas, and an entire slew of short stories. Devising characters and plots in my head is one of the ways I get myself through the day at the warehouse. Last weekend I read an article about the "Snowflake method" for constructing a novel. I played with it and I have some good notes on the plot and main characters for one novel. I want to keep going and try this with my other ideas and see what pans out, which one I really get into, and finally start writing something substantial soon. It wouldn't hurt to find my copy of Strunk and White while I'm packing either. I'm going to shoot for three outlines: Plot summary, character descriptions, and major scene descriptions... by the end of the challenge. Also, I downloaded a book/lecture series on Audible about writing fiction. So maybe finishing that for some bonus points.
  14. (Video of the 1930s Movie Scene of Christmas Present) Here in MN we are fully in Christmas Spirit, especially as the snow has come down and the cold is settling in. As the nights are getting longer. I'm far from being a Scrooge. However, I have some scars from Past years and worries of the future. I am being urged to do one thing. Sit in the present time. I have been urged to do this for a very long time, I however have a new understanding. To choose the discipline to sit with myself. I thought a nice Christmas spin, is sitting with the Ghost of Christmas Present. The happy and scary of seeing what i have setup for myself. The goal of this challenge is to take some time to be in the moment. Not just sit and meditate but to work on quieting the inner noise and allow room for something deeper. Ways I am going to focus this on this challenge: 🎄Continue a Morning Meditation Practice. 🎄Silence the noise in my home and be present in my life. I'm planning on keeping my phone and computer off unless to have intentional time on the computer. To allow for more intentional time. 🎄Take time to be thankful for what I have. I'm going to try to setup a practice to create a trigger to stop be thank 3-5 times a day 🎄Have a smoothie every morning. This for me has caused such an intentional practice, and also has been a helpful plan in my eating plan. 🎄Show up to my NF Coach goals daily. Stop worrying about the Future and the Pass and focus on what the plan is daily. 🎄Make room for Christmas Spirit in my home. Cleaning and decluttering for the new year. I also realize this is a perfect time to add some holiday cheer in my own apartment. This Challenge's Sidequest: Host a Christmas Feast. Due to being intentional with my time, I am putting the focus away from the computer. My goal is to check in at least weekly!
  15. When the stockings are hung by the fireplace, and the snow is falling, and the mince pies and sherry have been left out for the Hogfather, and everyone is settled in for the end of the year, there is only one question left: have you been naughty or nice? That's it. That's the challenge. Along the way, I'm going to lean into hibernation. A week of meditation retreat, a week of extra sleep, a week of intermittent fasting (and feasting). I'm going to lean into all the martial arts/meditation "soft is better than hard" and "do less" mottos, and treat every under-performance or attention failure as a reason to rest more. I'm going to try to solidify my evening workout and metta meditation before bed. What I'd like to add is consistency with a daily walk, preferably first thing in the morning, and for mindfulness meditation. And I'm going to aim for a lot of holiday cheer. As close to a fatal dose of winter hygge as I can manage. Mandatory hot cocoa. table { --palette-red: #7b0a0a; --palette-cream: #e5d5bb; --palette-tan: #b2a288; --palette-lgreen: #668c6f; --palette-dgreen: #213c18;} table.plan { border: 2px var(--palette-dgreen); Border-top: 50px; Border-bottpm: 50px; background-color: var(--palette-lgreen); Width: 100%; Color: var(--palette-dgreen); } .plan tr:nth-child(even) { Background-color: var(--palette-cream); } .plan tr:nth-child(8n+1) { background: var(--palette-dgreen); color: var(--palette-cream); font-weight: bold; text-align: center; } .plan td:nth-child(4n+1) { Background-color: var(--palette-dgreen); color: var(--palette-cream); font-weight: bold; text-align: right; } .plan td:nth-child(4n-0) { font-weight: bold; text-align: center;background:var(--palette-dgreen); } table.tally { border: 1px solid var(--palette-red); Background-color: var(--palette-tan); Width: 100%; Color: var(--palette-dgreen); } .tally tr:nth-child(even) { Background-color: var(--palette-cream); } .tally tr:nth-child(9n+0) { background: var(--palette-red); color: var(--palette-cream); font-weight: bold; text-align: center; } .tally tr:nth-child(9n+1) { background: var(--palette-red); color: var(--palette-cream); font-weight: bold; text-align: center; } .tally td { } .tally td:nth-child(4n+1) { Background-color: var(--palette-red); color: var(--palette-lgreen); font-weight: bold; text-align: right; } .tally td:nth-child(4n-0) { font-weight: bold; text-align: center;background:#7b0a0a; } Day Plans Hogswatch Cheer 🎄 M28 Winter clothes Digital job Fix Christmas lights Xmas movie Warm socks next to the bed T29 Wrap early gifts Schedule Doctor Who Xmas specials Xmas movie W30 Online zendo hours Get dates for events Redo work schedule Xmas movie Th1 Winter clothes Start all the yule logs Xmas movie F2 Find winter boots Get out lights Xmas movie S3 Garden task 12/5 prep Xmas movie Su4 Seasonal baking Find a timer Restock the hot cocoa stash Xmas movie Plans Hogswatch Cheer 🎁 M5 Date to watch Xmas movie Batch of eggnog week T6 Start meditation week Time scarcity week Xmas movie W7 Th8 F9 Finish project A S10 Su11 Seasonal baking Plans Hogswatch Cheer ⛄ M12 IF week Test morning routines T13 W14 Th15 Date to watch F16 S17 Su18 Seasonal baking Plans Hogswatch Cheer 🎄 M19 T20 W21 Th22 F23 S24 Su25 Hogswatch #1 Plans Hogswatch Cheer 🕯️ M26 Day off T27 Annual review Annual plan W28 Th29 F30 S31 Hogswatch #2 Su1 Tracking template:
  16. This challenge is a little different, although I am still working on attaining a healthy weight (152 by the end of November ....). My major goal is to manage my mental health and to be calm, rational, and adulting by the end of the year. With the approaching holidays, I am feeling dread and stress. Not at levels that would send me to a health professional or counselor, but enough that I know I need to institute self care routines to head off problems. For the most part, I think that small changes will have a big impact. I have been noticing that I am spending too much time online with social media and news sources, and it is definitely stressing me out. In addition, some nasty graffiti has been appearing on campus. This wouldn't stress me out, but the campus reaction and blame-game is definitely pushing me over the edge. Especially since, there is little to nothing that I can do about any of it. My first sensei, may he rest in peace, always told me that I should remain relaxed until an opponent came into the "red-zone" --- the point at which they could strike me. To be calm and relaxed in the center of the my circle was the goal then. And I think it needs to be the major goal for the next challenge. How?? Working on it ..... but here are a few ideas: A social media and online news fast. Other than Nerd Fitness forums. Meditate Hang with my peeps: Pound class, pottery class, CrossFit sessions, etc. Be with people off-campus. In fact, be off campus unless I am in class or holding office hours. Improve 5K time. My last attempt was 48 minutes. I can beat that if I just keep working on it gradually. I like the Zombies, Run! app. Lat pulldown max of 100 pounds. I already dropped a bunch of Discord server memberships. Not that I am on Discord very often .... Facebook is more of a problem. I turned off "news" notifications on my cell phone. I am not going to log!! That can also become a point of stress. I will come and describe what I am doing and how I am feeling. Time to ....
  17. "In the Beginning" by David Whyte Sometimes simplicity rises like a blossom of fire from the white silk of your own skin. You were there in the beginning you heard the story, you heard the merciless and tender words telling you where you had to go. Exile is never easy and the journey itself leaves a bitter taste. But then, when you heard that voice, you had to go. You couldn't sit by the fire, you couldn't live so close to the live flame of that compassion you had to go out in the world and make it your own so you could come back with that flame in your voice, saying listen... this warmth, this unbearable light, this fearful love... It is all here, it is all here. For this challenge, I will be recovering, both from an impact injury to my back after running a 15 mile race and to my heart after some changes to the dynamic of our family (no, I'm not getting divorced). I decided to follow the advice I've been given several times when I have felt overwhelmed. Keep it simple... Simple Morning Routine: 0445 wakeup read (scripture, poetry, philosophy, etc.) meditate/pray get grounded (bare feet on the earth) Simple Workout: 20 minutes a day of any activity my body can handle without pain (yoga, walking, stretching, etc.) Simple Nutrition: eat real foods with simple ingredients drink simply: water, tea, coffee, juice (no energy drinks, sodas, store-bought protein drinks, etc.) And that's it. No pressure to "get it right," just the basics. I really need low-stress right now (or is low-impact a better word?). (edited to add the "drink simply" goal)
  18. Well, howdy there, folks! I'm Kishi, an inconveniently itinerant monk. Good to see you again or for the first time, as it applies. I was scrolling through Facebook one night and I came across a piece about Felipe Costa, who's a BJJ black belt of some renown. I read something that struck me: apparently, he was a competitor who never won a "major" tournament up until he hit his black belt. I was struck by that - black belt takes a long time to get in this art, and to go that long and fight that hard without getting anywhere... well, maybe that sounds crazy, but I found some inspiration in that. Like a release from pressure. So when the word came down that there was a tournament up in September, I took 20 seconds of courage and applied for it. (and then thought about how, just because he didn't win a "major" tournament didn't mean he didn't win a "minor" tournament, or didn't medal or otherwise outperform a lot of people that I might not necessarily do, but we're past that point now). Now, you might think that I was getting ready to do a lot of crazy shit for training to get ready for this thing. I will be doing no such thing. For one thing, the new demands on the body would detract from training for the tournament. And for another, the last time I went out for tournament, I didn't even make it past the first fights in my divisions. I have no reason to believe that any particularly exotic training will get me where I need to go. Instead, I want to focus on my mind. Because I know that's where I tend to fail the most. The tournament's going to present a twofold problem - one, the weight of public performance, and two, my lack of intelligent aggression. The second of these is actually going to be easier to deal with than the first. Knowing that it's something to work on, I've gone out and rolled and started fighting better, at least with folk around my weight class who are similarly skilled. That can fly out the window at any time for a bunch of reasons, but the general trend is better and I believe it will only improve with practice. That means dealing more with the first. Which is more of a mindset confidence thing than anything else. I've picked up some resources about that which I'll be studying over the course of the next five weeks leading up, but it doesn't track neatly onto the challenge, and I'd rather it have room/time to work and be effective. But there is a challengeable way to approach this too: Goal 1: Meditation Keep that up. My blood pressure's gone way down thanks to this and I want to keep that going. Anything goes; regular practice is 10 minutes, but if I can only manage a few deep breaths before sleep, that's okay too. Ideally, I'd carve out another minute, just because I want to. Goal 2: WHM Breathing helps. Keep doing that. Goal 3: Writing Writing also helps. I'm not going to journal or anything so much as just keep showing up to write. Participation in any part of that process sets my mind at ease, and I want that. Beyond that, my training isn't going to change much. I've added a third day of skipping rope, but that's only for a minute. Not a lot of conditioning yet; this is going to be about building my connective tissues instead. I've also added suitcase and farmer's carries specifically to help with my lower back. This is a method that is apparently endorsed by Dr. John Rusin, who I'm inclined to trust given @Shotokan's past endorsement. I've also adjusted my stretching regimen to be a bit more challenging, which is helping me feel better. I'll also be going for the bamboo brush after all, but even then, I'm not going to be doing that much in terms of qigong this time. I'll be working on the first movement of that routine, but that shouldn't really constitute a strenuous load on top of the other stuff. I guess if I wanted to, I could make a fourth goal of sticking to my training and not changing anything, because that would be the hard part, but this mix honestly feels dialed in enough that I'm not going to have a compliance issue. Anyway. T-minus a few days until the challenge. Let's go to work.
  19. Harriet's Year of Battle The objective: to gain the mountain and obtain the precious treasures of lifting, writing, painting, walking, cooking and spirit work. The enemies: fatigue, emotional resistance, distraction addiction, hopelessness The weapons: axe of strength, sword of courage, staff of clarity, reflective shield ---- Fifth Skirmish: Another Stab at Meditation All right. I am adjusting to the fact that I have limited forces and the best strategy is to take and hold small pieces of territory, not to declare war on entire continents, oceans, and outer space. Reflective Shield: Meditate fifteen minutes I want to build up a much longer and more consistent meditation practice, because there are evidence based reasons to think it can help with anxiety, fatigue, and brain fog. Fifteen minutes is long enough to see a nice effect, but not so long as to be intimidating. It should be done daily, first thing. Staff of Clarity: Adjust the internet block I promised myself I would free myself of internet addiction this year. I made a start last challenge with a two hour limit on my desktop, but that allows me too much leeway: I can check the internet, then turn it off, repeatedly and all day long. This keeps me in the distraction addiction state. So I will adjust the ban: internet after 7pm only, unless there is some administrative need. Axe of Strength: Rest fifteen minutes I am coming to terms with the fact that diet will likely not cure me. I am now turning my attention to pacing, which can be extremely and unpleasantly strict if done correctly. I can’t face that, so I am just going to create a tiny new habit: rest for fifteen minutes after walking, grocery shopping, or the gym instead of diving straight into computer, reading, etc. That’s it. For the gym, I will rest AT the gym after my workout, AND at home after walking back. Sword of Courage: Letters from Source I have begun a practice from The Artist’s Way that supposedly helps heal creative blocks and reduces resistance to creative practice. I will continue this. It just involves typing a page of whatever is on my mind, each morning. I call it letters from source. Maybe it will alert me to themes in my life that need attending to, or help me shed mental clutter, or put me in touch with deities or the miraculous source of nature. Who knows. ... I will also try to get to the gym, of course, but I think my idea of increasing frequency to four or five days a week was outrageously stupid and born of denial. I’ll go three times, keep the volume even lower than I think it needs to be, and maybe use the sauna. I need a consistent habit before I can even think about increasing. And to get a consistent habit I need to stabilise the push-crash cycle which means not doing the stupid push bit.
  20. For this challenge, I have one goal: to nourish my mind, body, and soul. I will achieve this by being mindful of everything I "consume," making a conscious effort to only partake in things that nourish me. Mind: read at least 10 pages of any book that develops my mind in some way learn something new every day (via websites, videos, podcasts, articles, etc.) view art that calms and/or inspires my mind complete a daily crossword complete the daily goals for Elevate and Duolingo take a mindful walk every day; don't stress about time--the focus is on intention, not duration. Body: complete the Daily Dare on Darebee stick to an exercise routine: Monday: Sprinting Tuesday: Lift heavy things Wednesday: Move slowly, play, rest Thursday: HIIT Friday: Move slowly, play, rest Saturday: Lift heavy things Sunday: Move slowly, play, rest practice Yoga daily post workout fast intermittently (using Zero app as a guide) drink enough water eat foods that nourish my body (i.e. avoid processed foods that contain "empty" calories) Soul: maintain morning routine: daily meditation/prayer daily breath work daily scripture and poetry reading spend at least 30 minutes in nature daily spend quality time with wife and children
  21. Well, howdy there, folks! Good to see you again, or for the first time. I'm Kishi, a monk prone to itineracy and general quietude. I hope you are well. I had a challenge last time and I disappeared. Unfortunately, I can't say it's because I was really doing my challenge, but fortunately I can say it wasn't for any dramatic reasons. Life just got busy, and instead of developing my meditation like I told myself to, I found myself falling back on a lot of other challenge habits like my cleaning and my writing. I'm pleased to say those are all doing better, and my own drilling/shadowboxing/chess and such are doing better too as I've been prioritizing mat time and responding to the input I get from people. Also, the reward I chose for myself came to make less sense, and I just didn't feel driven to press the reset button. I guess to continue the game metaphor, I got lost in the side quests, and by the time I cared about my main, the game was over. But you may notice I have a meditation tag again, along with some others, and I reckon that deserves some explanation. My reasons for meditation, beyond the mental health benefits, are also physiological: I have heart issues to worry about at the ripe old age of 36, and meditation is a useful practice for heart health. Fortunately, there's good science to say I need less of it than I've been trying for to get the benefits I want. Which is good news. More is not always better; sometimes it's just more, and in order for more to be better, sometimes it has to be less. Because less is more. Huh. Right. Cool. There's some other stuff going on too. I've finally returned to striking sparring, and it's proving to be a real shock to the system. The caliber of striking here is relatively high compared to what I've seen in a while, and it's Thai-Dutch style boxing, which means high volume striking at close range with the head as a viable target. It's a lot to work with, and this in a hot academy in the opening of an NC summer. It's not going to get colder. So I need to work on my conditioning; going back to the GST folk, the two recommendations they have are running and skipping rope. Running would take a lot of time and wouldn't come with the coordination benefits or the raw lightness of foot that comes from constant bouncing, so skipping rope it is. Another thing I need to work on is my recovery. I've been using glucosamine to help out with joint pain, and while I did find an effective brand, it's also pricey, and I'm getting real sick of having as little money on hand as I do at the end of the month. (especially since my job is just being icky with pay right now). So I'm looking into recovery methods and found the work of a Shaolin monk named Shi Yan Lei, which I'm finding fascinating on account of his pedagogical preferences. He has a book on qigong for longevity, which I'm willing to gamble would help with recovery, so I'mma do it. My goal with this is to deal with and prevent joint pain over time without having to go the supplement route. Between this and the mobility training in GST, I'm hopeful. The goals are as follows: Goal 1: Training The qigong routine calls for 3-4 times per week, but before I even get into that, I need to learn to breathe. Shi Yan Lei calls for a kind of "reverse breathing" in his method, which is a kind of chest breathing for energy. I need to practice that first before I even get into adding extra movement. Also, the skipping rope is going to be done 1-2 times per week to start with, per the recommendations of the Jump Rope Dudes and Crossrope. These will be very small practices: 5 breaths, and skipping for 1 minute, because what I need is consistency right now and something to build on. These are being lumped onto/into my general training as it stands, so this is really about making the logs simple. Goal 2: Meditation Meditate 10 minutes a day after whatever nightly stretching I'm doing. I've fallen into the evening routine of coming home from mat time, showering off, and stretching while warm. This is a really freaking nice way to end the day. Meditation afterward would suit, I think. Goal 3: Breathe So, out of left field: the Wim Hof Method, which is fantastic for grappling because it teaches you not to be afraid of time without air. I just grapple better when I'm doing this. I like grappling better. I like the lack of fear, and I'm already taking cold showers these days just as it is. Might as well complete the process. As to my reward? Well, if I get the breathing right, I'll be taking the next challenge to begin work on movement. But Shi Yan Lei isn't just talking about movement. He's also talking about massage, with a possible avenue toward Iron Shirt training. This would be incredibly useful and has been something I've tried to cultivate on my own without any success. The Shaolin method for this training involves the use of very specific brushes to massage the body. The first step would be a bamboo brush. This is used in conjunction with the qigong program anyway, so once I've demonstrated my seriousness to myself, I'll reward myself with the brush. These goals excite me. Can't wait to get started... so. Might as well.
  22. 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.
  23. I had plans for this challenge. I am not using them. It's time for a special monk challenge. I need to get in touch with my inner girly monk, and I will be using my blond guru for this. After all, aikido is about elegance, and who is more elegant than Miss Piggy? Miss Piggy's Life Lessons Spirit, Determination, Grit, Confidence, Pursuit of Dreams, Beauty, Being Tough, Kicking Down Barriers with Martial Arts, International Star, Best-selling Author, Diva Kicking Down Barriers: Strength and Mobility I will lift the one I love. I will stretch the one I love. Spirit: Meditation I will meditate. (That's meditation depicted there, right? Pretty sure.) Toughness: Prioritize Sleep and Rest I will sleep well. I will schedule rest breaks timed for better performance. Kicking Down Barriers: Eat Enough I will eat enough for my metabolism to run right. (And maybe try to get some data.) Determination, Grit, and Confidence: Know What I Want I will practice knowing what I want. (This will be partly in a journal, but I also want to practice knowing what I want when I hit roadblocks in the dayor encounter task resistance, so this will evolve.) I will practice rewarding myself for incremental progress on goals to reinforce grit. Diva: Look Fabulous I will incrementally increase my fabulosity. And possibly refuse to age. International Star and Bestselling Author: Art is Important I will make art. I will make things around me beautiful. Diva Bonus: Be a Rockstar I will give myself bonus points for being more rock n' roll. Templates Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Totals Strength: At Least One Exercise Yoga Walk Eat Enough Sleep: Full Lights Out by Midnight Meditate Dopamine Increments Write Schedule of Rest Write Down What I Want (in a Journal) Make Art Make Something Pretty Fabulosity Improvement Bonus: Rock n' Roll Totals While that is a lot, most of it is things I am doing or have been working on, or fun things. It's more about noticing what I do that serves a goal, or opportunities to do something that serves a goal. I am a busy person, being a big international star, so I will just do what I feel like each day, and track it. After all, why should moi do anything she does not feel like, hmmm?
  24. Whew! Where do I begin with how wild life has been lately? Some pretty major changes to our family dynamic (good changes but also difficult) have occurred recently, and I just haven't had the opportunity to be active here. However, I do have some goals I want to set for this challenge, and I hope those of you who have been patient with me will continue to be so. Also, I recently accepted a position as a Language Arts teacher at the same high school I graduated from 25 years ago. It feels surreal, but I am honored and eager to begin. Forgive me this introduction before I get to my goals: I recently joined a community called The Fifth Direction, which has reawakened my creative spirit. It is inspired by poet Robert Bly and the Mythopoetic movement. If you're not familiar with the Mythopoetic movement, fear not; I'll talk about it more in a later post. Short version: it seeks to view life through the lens of story, especially ancient stories (i.e. myths, folk tales, legends, etc.). I have really been exploring how my growing interest in poetry and myth impacts my own faith and spirituality. I was at first concerned that much of it would "debunk" it but instead have found that it has deepened it. Reading scripture through the lens of story and myth and reading stories and myths that are similar and, at times, very parallel to stories in scripture, has reminded me of the omnipresence of God's Spirit in all things. I am also writing poetry again. Robert Bly said that he was inspired by poet William Stafford to write a poem every morning, and eventually Bly published these poems in a book aptly titled Morning Poems. I plan to take similar inspiration and write a poem every day during this challenge, as well as read a poem every day (and share it here, of course). I have also transformed my morning "routine" into something more akin to a morning "ritual" that includes prayer, reading scripture and poetry and stories out loud, meditating and doing breath work. I have not done well recently with my nutrition. I think part of the issue is I have approached it more as a disciplined practice rather than a spiritual one. Fasting has deep spiritual roots and therefore should be meaningful and have reason beyond just "cutting calories." I plan to continue my workout routine, which includes three days of strength training, one day of sprints, three days to move slowly/play/rest. Which day for what is usually determined by life. So, my goals for this challenge: Write a poem of my own every day and read/share someone else's poem every day. Continue my morning ritual: scripture, meditation, breath work, etc. Fast from 7 pm to 11 am daily except on strength training days; also fast for 24 hours every Sunday and Wednesday (I may post later about why I chose those two days). And that's it. Short and sweet and simple. To the best of my ability, I plan to be here daily and hope to not only post but also visit many of your challenge post, as well. Thank you if you've sat with me this long. I hope you will continue to visit and feel welcome here.
  25. The part of being a Druid to enjoy the magic and the miracles in daily life. Is also giving the time to sit calm and recharge. What would happen if one followed the instructions to sit down and allow the mind to calmness, letting go of any energy used in other parts of life? I'm a Druid that never desired to be a Druid, it kind of came to me and held on. No matter how I stray away, I now have a literal mentor who reminds me every week. Stopping for a just a moment taking a deep breath and ground myself, the better my days will get. And to me the process itself is like Magic. What would happen if I grounded myself for at least 5 mins a day? Closed my eyes, put my hands to my heart, take a large breath...? Would balancing my life, money choices, relationships and side quests be easier? Would shrinking into my pants also get to be easier? Pant shrinkage "before photos" here (shrink out of my work pants). 2nd quest starting: 5 mins of meditation a day. Also will be daily checkin for NF Coaching and LowFodMap quests... that I'm still working on. And may add. Also been heavily interested in the RPG challenge I've seen and might throw in here.
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