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  1. Hi friends! My name is Sky, and I used to be fit and active and energetic, and instead am currently pregnant, tired, rapidly gaining weight and racked with anxiety. We're a couple weeks into the second trimester so I'm feeling like a human again, with lots more energy, although things like showering, bending over, and walking up and down stairs are getting challenging. And sitting on my tuchus for the last four months means that I have lost the last scraps of stamina and fitness that I had at the beginning of the summer, so even getting myself off the couch for walks is a lot of effort and frankly isn't happening right now. I would love to set some structured exercise goals for myself and kick my butt into gear, because I honestly don't love looking and feeling so sluggish and heavy. I have heard all about how physically demanding childbirth and parenting are, and I am absolutely not in the shape I want to be for what lies ahead. That said, my mental health is also not the best at the moment - my anxiety/OCD and emetophobia have skyrocketed in recent weeks and made my inner life pretty miserable. So instead of being a drill sergeant to myself, I want to strive toward nurturing and caring for myself, asking for help (including in prayer!), resting productively instead of numbing, finding movement that feels good, and enjoying the last few weeks of summer before the cold and darkness returns. This is going to be an unstructured challenge (more like a battle log) because I know I'm less likely to show up here if I set goals, don't meet them, and then feel ashamed of myself. So for now, all I'm setting out as a goal is, I would like to feel more nourished and supported at the end of this challenge than I do at the beginning. I'm keeping garden metaphors in mind and going to treat myself like a seedling growing into a new world for the first time and in need of lots of care and support:
  2. My main goal is weight loss, for health reasons as well as I want to look good (to me) naked. I'm in a struggle with this goal because it doesn't get easier when you get older. I don’t want this to be a focus for the rest of my life, I want to build some habits/routines so it becomes second nature and I don’t have to think about it. I also want to be around to watch my grandkids grow up and be able to do things with them, as well as things I enjoy as I get older, and I enjoy a lot of things! I work from home as an accountant. I have a full time job and a few side gigs, making sure I have enough movement in my day is important because it's very easy to lose track of time and I feel better when I move more! The Struggle is real! I'm going to take the time to do what I need to do, also making sure I get enough off-time, put in the work and effort that hopefully will lead to lower numbers on the scale as well as other health markers that are important. The Struggle... ( S )teps - Hitting my 7500 steps a day goal ( T )rack - using Cronometer ( R )est - Sleep (7 hours a night) ( U )nder - Stay under calorie goal ( G )o - Do things in life you enjoy, 5ks, ride motorcycles or bicycles, travel. ( G )uitar - practice 5 days a week ( L )ift - Lift some semi-heavy things (I have nerve damage in my neck, so some limitations) ( E )xercise - Exercise, on days I don’t lift things I do cardio Checking in to hold myself accountable is key to this being successful, I don't want to have to post bad news here. Update - Daily Done - 🌈 Not Done - ❄️ I want to get my granddaughter's item I've been crocheting since before Xmas, finished. Yes, I’m still working on it. I want to get my bicycle fixed (tires are flat, not a tough fix) and take advantage of the bike trails around this area when the heat isn’t so bad. I want to take advantage of the fact I have a pool in my backyard. I want to take advantage of a lake less than half a mile from my house and the paddleboard in my garage. My personal life may be falling apart, I am doing my best to keep me from doing the same…therapy is a big part of this, journaling is another part. I'm going to continue doing this, as well as working on getting back to me and what I need in my life.
  3. For those who are new or behind, my main goal is weight loss, for health reasons as well as I want to look good naked. I'm struggling with this goal because it doesn't get easier when you get older. (W) I work from home, (4 jobs) as an accountant, so making sure I have enough movement in my day is important. It's very easy to lose track of how much time I've been sitting trying to solve an issue. I use a 5K training plan that I’ve used in the past, 3 days of intervals and 1 - 2 of strength/cross training days, I may graduate to the 10K and half marathon plans this year, I may not. I just want to keep moving. (R) I struggle to get enough sleep so that shall remain on the list until it's no longer a struggle. (E) I found a ‘diet’ plan, the Dr. that came up with its target audience is post-menopausal women. So far I’m down 11 lbs. This has kind of stalled no matter what I do about it so I'm going to just focus on not going overboard, stopping when full, and not blowing my calorie budget. (S) I want to hit at least 7500 steps a day, once this becomes habit I’ll raise it (T) Tracking the things that I eat so I’m aware (L) I’ve been learning Spanish on Duolingo, because this country scares me and I may want to move abroad one day. I want to learn to play guitar.. (E) Extra things that make life worth living, 5k’s or more that I may do, motorcycle rides, FL trips, and life events will go here. Checking in to hold myself accountable is key to this being successful, I don't want to have to post bad news here. I plan on posting daily to make sure I'm on track where I need to be So I'm going to try throwing in the towel with this challenge, not as in giving up, but to focus on the goal. I'm going to take the time to do what I need to do, also making sure I get enough off time, put in the work and effort that hopefully will lead to lower numbers on the scale as well as other health markers that are important. T - Time O - Off (recovery) time W - Work E - Effort L - Lower The Plan... Workout - 5k a day/Weight training program I want to try Rest - Sleep (7 hours a night) Eat - Stay under calories Steps - Hitting my 7500 steps a day goal Track - using Cronometer Learn - Guitar Extra - Rides, 5k's, events, and life Update - Daily Done - 🌈 Not Done - ❄️ I want to get my granddaughter's item I've been crocheting since before Xmas, finished. Changing the workouts to do things that may work towards my goals a bit better, macros and eating goals are also changing, sleep, steps, tracking is staying the same, learn is now practicing guitar at least five days a week, extra is whatever. My personal life may be falling apart, I am doing my best to keep me from doing the same…therapy is a big part of this, journaling is another part. I'm going to continue doing this, as well as working on getting back to me and what I need in my life. Week 3 I will be on the motorcycle all week for the WOW ride-in, this is a planned break from the workouts
  4. I've been hemming and hawing about this introduction for the last few days, trying to come up with something clever to say about this challenge, but nothing's quite hitting right and I've completely missed Week Zero, so let's just jump right in: MY HUSBAND AND I ARE EXPECTING A BABY!!!!! *faint screams of emotion* This represents a seismic shift in my and my husband's identity and life trajectory, obviously; but more immediately, it means my challenge goals are going to be looking pretty different for a while. Less idle beating myself up, and more listening to my body, getting comfortable with uncertainty and being flexible, caring for my mental health, nurturing my relationship with Eamon, making logistical plans and purchases, and cultivating a spirit of ease, trust, and acceptance - for today and for the future. ❤️ Eamon and I am so full of joy, excitement, curiosity, and eagerness to discover who this little person is and who they're going to become. My biggest challenges currently are navigating wildly fluctuating symptoms without checking out of life, managing my anxiety, and starting to get ready logistically, because 8 months is not very long At All and we have zero baby supplies. (And yes, I know a lot of people wait until the second trimester to share about their pregnancies because the risk of miscarriage is still so high this early, but we decided to share with family and friends early because this is our first time and we need all the support and encouragement we can get. ❤️ ) My first and foremost concern for this moment is my mental health. As I've mentioned off and on over the years, I have general anxiety disorder, suspected obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a severe phobia of vomiting - all of which are very, VERY triggered by pregnancy, as you might imagine. I have not yet vomited with morning sickness, but I've been very close to it a handful of times, and a lot of my daily energy is spent like an alchemist frantically juggling potions and remedies to keep the symptoms manageable for another day. It's a huge struggle to leave the house because I feel vulnerable and unsafe if I'm not secure in my controlled environment with my medications, places to rest, safe bathroom, etc. around me. My first week after my positive test was sadly not spent in rejoicing, but in panicking because of the feeling of losing control over my body and my core fears of failing or being inadequate as a mom. And of course, my hormones are all over the place and I am crying unexpectedly at very weird things. So in the midst of this lovely storm of Feelings, my primary goal is to put down anchors in the things that keep me grounded, safe, and peaceful: Scripture reading and meditation, prayer, very gentle movement, sunshine, music, working on things with my hands, and taking action in the areas I can control (like list-making and shopping!). My midwife reminded me at our first appointment that high levels of anxiety can be harmful to developing babies, and plus - I just don't want to feel shitty for the next eight months. So this is where the bulk of my efforts are going to go this challenge. My second concern, then, is caring for my changing body. Y'all, I have never been this hungry in my life. I knew it as a mental fact that expecting moms eat more, but holy crap, I feel like a vacuum cleaner. Except for when I'm feeling really sick, in which case I feel like every morsel of food in the world has turned to disgusting rot and I am doomed to wander through a nauseating wasteland for all eternity. Right now I'm eating even more carbs than usual, which is kind of expected, but I'm doing my best to work in protein and fruits and veggies where I can. I'm craving salsa a lot. And Eamon picked out some canned fruits and veggies for me today since I seem to tolerate those better than fresh, so hopefully that will be a good start. I truthfully have zero idea what I'm "supposed" to be eating except for "healthy" (and no sushi), so that's another area I can research while I'm resting too. All of this feels very jumbled, but that's about where my head is at currently, so that's okay! This thread will be more of a battle log to stay connected and keep myself accountable for taking care of myself, though if specific goals pop up later, I will add those as well. Thank you for starting this amazing journey with me!
  5. Hello friends! I'm Sky, and I want to feel good. The quick story of where I'm at this challenge: I am overweight, out of shape, and not eating very well (lots of carbs and processed food; not enough fruits, veggies, protein, healthy fats, etc.). I am recently recovered from COVID, so my energy levels are not super high, and I'm still having nightmares and poor sleep. Due to my muscles being weak, I have a lot of knee and hip pain that makes it tough to walk long distances and sometimes wakes me up at night. I have irritable bowel syndrome (mixed type) and am currently in the throes of a bout of constipation and bloating. The title of my challenge, however, refers to my last challenge going completely off the rails, and trying to figure out what I want to attempt from here. I have generalized anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and emetophobia (a phobia of vomiting), and in the last challenge, I worked up the nerve to try both antidepressants and phobia therapy. I had a bad reaction to the antidepressants, mainly because I was on antibiotics and still recovering from COVID at the time, and had the worst panic attack I've ever had in my life. It took me many days to feel like myself again. Phobia therapy has been horrible so far and increased my intrusive thoughts and terror around vomiting - my therapist seems to know what she's doing, but it's absolutely making things worse before they get better. And early this week, my boss's boss's boss ("great-grand-boss," if you will) announced that our agency is transferring back to mainly in-office work, an announcement that was communicated pretty harshly and making it clear that employees' reasonable concerns about productivity and morale are not as important as their desire to see people physically in the office space. I live on the other side of a major metropolitan area from my office, so that's going to add 6+ hours of stressful urban highway driving to my schedule each week. So taking allllllll of that stuff together, I feel like this: Like my life is the library and I'm Evie, trying to figure out where it all went wrong and where I start cleaning it up. What I do know is that I don't have a ton of mental energy for big changes right now, even though big changes are definitely warranted. If I try to overhaul my diet, workout routine, sleep schedule, and work routine all at once, I'm just going to crash and burn out. That said, making changes in these areas will help me feel better, and hopefully give me energy to make more changes down the road. I'll hop back in and start working on some real goals tomorrow, but I wanted to get a post started, lay out my scenario, and organize the areas where I do want to make changes even if I can't do it all at once. I need to be nice to my body, nice to my mind, and especially cultivate health and wholeness in my spirit. I want to keep inviting others into my struggles, even though I would prefer to isolate and hide. And I need help to make the harder changes that I know will be good for me (keep going to therapy, clean up my diet, get gentle movement, etc.). That's partly why I'm here. I love you guys and I'm excited for this challenge with you!
  6. Well! Here I am at 7 weeks pregnant, desperately trying to hold onto both this baby and my mental health. I'm not even going to pretend that this challenge is about much more than managing my panic spirals as I battle my way through the first trimester (hence the title) and pray the baby makes it to the end of June with me. I'm dropping the walking quest - I know, I can hear people saying "but it's good for pregnant women!" already. It's not something I feel up to most of the time and I'm struggling to care. However, I will be upping my nutrition quest for fairly obvious reasons. The work/school quest will still exist, though it won't be a giant focus once the school year ends on the 19th. The rest is mostly me trying to cling to whatever shreds of sanity I can salvage from the wreck that is my brain right now. Quest One: Nutrition Water: Still focusing on water, of course! Aiming to stay at 24 as a minimum but try to up to 32 when I can. Protein: My doctor says protein intake is super important, so I've been trying to get some protein-heavy foods in (hard boiled eggs, nuts, meat, cheese, etc.) I switched to greek yogurt for breakfast this morning and I'm going to try to keep that up (certainly not every day, but maybe twice a week?) and I also sometimes drink high protein Boost drinks. Iron: I'm far less concerned about iron, since I'm on a very high dose of an iron supplement and have been for several years now, but I'm on that due to persistent anemia so it's always something to keep an eye on. Thankfully a lot of iron-rich foods are also protein-rich foods (like meat and beans). Spinach and fortified cereals are also...not common in my current diet, but not totally missing either. General "balance": I know I'm continuing to break the SMART goals focus here, but oh well. I want to just generally feel decent about the variety of foods that I'm eating and feel like I've done what I can to help the baby grow. This is going to mean upping fruits and veggies, upping variety, and trying to minimize the random snacking on crap (especially with my emotional swings). Quest Two: Work/School Reckley: Grad class will be wrapping up even faster - this week, I think! I have been putting it off and putting it off because I just don't have the mental capacity for it right now. But I need to practice my final presentation, finish my playlist analysis thing, and prep for the final exam. Grading: Could be better, could be worse. Right now all my classes are caught up to about April 17th. I need to finish unit 6 for both French 1 and Spanish 2, knock out tests for everyone, throw something in quick for unit 7, and prep for final exams. Lesson Prep: Not usually such a problem for me, but this has fallen off bad lately. I'm not even ready to teach tomorrow yet and I have typically been a full week ahead this year. Spanish 2 is prepped through Wednesday only because my next OB appointment is Wednesday morning and I needed to make sure it wouldn't mess with them too much. Spanish 4 is prepped through Wednesday technically but that's only because they're on independent projects; French 1 is only prepped through tomorrow and Spanish 3 is only prepped through today. If possible, this can also include some planning for next year and prepping curriculum documents. Quest Three: Stay Sane Find a Few Coping Mechanisms: other than eating sugar and sleeping until July, of course. Ideally I'll be able to find some things I can do while at work, in public, etc. as well as at home in my free time. Right now my only real coping mechanism, besides the aforementioned eating sugar and sleeping, is intense daydreaming. Which works okay, but not in all situations for obvious reasons. Pick a Bassinet: IF (and that feels like a very big IF) all goes well with the pregnancy through this challenge, I want to buy a bassinet. We had one for my son that we borrowed from my sister-in-law, but we gave it back a long time ago (seeing as our son is now five!) And for some reason I feel like researching this is something I want to do despite being terrified of another loss. Keep Quilting: Part of me wants to pick out a quilt pattern to make for the baby. The other part of me says no way, too fast!! So for now I will keep focusing on trying to get some knots into the log cabin quilt so it can be (closer to) done. Currently at 270/450 knots needed to finish off the first quarter or so.
  7. For those who are new or behind, my main goal is weight loss, for health reasons as well as I want to look good naked, and fit in clothes I used to. I love 5Ks and kettlebells. I'm struggling with this goal because it doesn't get easier when you get older. (W) I work from home, (4 jobs) as an accountant, so making sure I have enough movement in my day as well as not eating "all the unhealthy things" is important. It's very easy to lose track of how much time I've been sitting trying to solve an issue. Not having "all the unhealthy things" in the house also helps. I use a 5K training plan that I’ve used in the past, 3 days of intervals and 1 - 2 of strength/cross training days, I may graduate to the 10K and half marathon plans this year, I may not. I just want to keep moving. ( R )I struggle to get enough sleep so that shall remain on the list until it's no longer a struggle. (E) I found a ‘diet’ plan, the Dr. that came up with its target audience is post-menopausal women. So far I’m down 11 lbs. This has kind of stalled no matter what I do about it so I'm going to just focus on not going overboard, stopping when full, and not blowing my calorie budget. (S) I want to hit at least 7500 steps a day, once this becomes habit I’ll raise it (T) Tracking the things that I eat (L) I’ve been learning Spanish on Duolingo, because this country scares me and I may want to move abroad one day. I also want to learn to play guitar, since I have one collecting dust in my room and it will not learn to play itself. There are plenty of free videos on how to do this on YouTube. Learning something, at least once a week (Duolingo goal is daily) will count towards this. (E) Extra things that make life worth living, 5k’s or more that I may do, motorcycle rides, FL trips, and life events will go here. Checking in to hold myself accountable is key to this being successful, I don't want to have to post bad news here. I plan on posting daily to make sure I'm on track where I need to be The Plan... Workout - Intervals/Kettlebells Rest - Sleep (7 hours a night) Eat - Stay under calories and don’t make excuses to eat the unhealthy things Steps - Hitting my 7500 steps a day goal Track - using Cronometer Learn - Duolingo, other stuff Extra - Rides, 5k's, events, and life Update - Daily Done - 🌈 Not Done - ❄️ New Stuff: Yes I carry goals over from one challenge to the next, for those that stick around for multiple challenges (I love you, seriously, thank you!) New stuff will always be at the end of the first post Going to make a couple additions to this challenge now that I've gotten my schedule pinned down a bit better. I want to get my granddaughter's item I've been crocheting since before Xmas, done, since it's only about five weeks before I see her! I also want to do something to focus on me each day, this can be (finally) starting to learn to play the guitar, journaling, or riding my bike. I would say reading but I honestly do that every day, and if I put crochet in there it's like cheating LOL I may count crochet anyway...
  8. Hello friends! My name is Sky, and I'm a 30-something wife and social media specialist who has been Rangering here at NF for almost 7 years. There are a lot of physical goals I need to be working on right now (rebuilding strength in my legs so my knees don't hurt so badly; building core and upper body strength; losing a little weight; getting my janky shoulder looked at), but the biggest hurdle I'm facing this challenge is a pair of therapy/psychiatrist appointments that I've been putting off for many years. Short version: I have moderately severe anxiety and a severe phobia that have made my quality of life pretty crappy for a long time, but they worsened during the pandemic to the point that a lot of my daily energy goes to managing my symptoms and it's wrecking my body (nightmares, panic attacks, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.). Recently, my husband and I started looking for a new house, which is something I'm very excited about and have looked forward to for months; but even that positive change triggered strong anxiety attacks and made me miserable for several weeks. So, I'm finally admitting that I need some extra help to get back to where I'm feeling good more days than I'm feeling bad. Next week, I have an appointment with a psychiatrist to start medication (likely antidepressants), and with a new therapist to start specialized phobia treatment. While I know these are positive steps that will almost certainly drastically improve my quality of life ... I'm terrified. I've never been on antidepressants before and I'm scared of possible negative side effects (even though I know those are uncommon, I'll start on a very low dose, etc.). And I know that no matter what paradigm this new therapist uses for phobia treatment, one way or another it's going to mean facing the thing that scares me more than anything else in the world. I would basically rather sacrifice my own hand. I almost didn't create a thread this challenge, because I really don't have many concrete goals besides rest, self-care and doing the hard work of starting meds and settling into that routine. That could be either really boring or really dramatic, and I feel a little shy about both options. But I really need the support and accountability of my NF peeps who will not only listen to me process with compassion, but also give me a kick in the pants to keep going and not give up. So ... I'm showing up because I'd rather run away and hide, and in my experience this has been one of the best places to go when I feel like that. ❤️ This will probably be more of a battle log than a challenge, but I do have other projects and workout things I'm tinkering with, so I'll talk about those too. And I'm glad to be here. I love you guys. ❤️ Onward!
  9. For those who are new or behind, my main goal is weight loss, for health reasons as well as I want to look good naked, and fit in clothes I used to. I love 5Ks and kettlebells. I'm struggling with this goal because it doesn't get easier when you get older. (W) I work from home, (3 jobs) as an accountant, so making sure I have enough movement in my day as well as not eating "all the unhealthy things" is important. It's very easy to lose track of how much time I've been sitting trying to solve an issue. Not having "all the unhealthy things" in the house also helps. I use a 5K training plan that I’ve used in the past, 3 days of intervals and 1 - 2 of strength/cross training days, I may graduate to the 10K and half marathon plans this year, I may not. I just want to keep moving. ( R )I struggle to get enough sleep so that shall remain on the list until it's no longer a struggle. (E) I found a ‘diet’ plan, the Dr. that came up with its target audience is post-menopausal women. It’s really a combination of several different things like IF, Low Carb/Keto, and Macros. The common denominator is calorie reduction, of course, unless you burn more than you take in, nothing is going to work! My biggest issue is I get tired of trying to figure it all out and do a lot better when someone just tells me how and when to do it, so I’m putting this on easy mode until I lose the weight! So far I’m down 11 lbs. (S) I want to hit at least 7500 steps a day, once this becomes habit I’ll raise it (T) Tracking the things that I eat with an app makes hitting macros and the calorie goal easier, this is in conjunction with E, even though I can eat and not track, doing both is better (L) I’ve been learning Spanish on Duolingo, because this country scares me and I may want to move abroad one day. I also want to learn to play guitar, since I have one collecting dust in my room and it will not learn to play itself. There are plenty of free videos on how to do this on YouTube. Learning something, at least once a week (Duolingo goal is daily) will count towards this. (E) Extra things that make life worth living, 5k’s or more that I may do, motorcycle rides, FL trips, and life events will go here. Checking in to hold myself accountable is key to this being successful, I don't want to have to post bad news here. I plan on posting daily to make sure I'm on track where I need to be The Plan... Workout - Intervals/Kettlebells Rest - Sleep (7 hours a night) Eat - Stick to macros and don’t make excuses to eat the unhealthy things Steps - Hitting my 7500 steps a day goal Track - using Cronometer Learn - Duolingo, other stuff Extra - Rides, 5k's, events, and life Update - Daily Done - 🌈 Not Done - ❄️ My mental health has taken a serious beating since 2019 and the events that happened there, it's not anything I care to rehash but D and I have been talking about our feelings surrounding that time of our lives. It's not been easy, I do feel it will be worth it though. Seriously considering therapy for the first time in my life, but not certain if that's a step I'm going to take or not yet.
  10. Hello friends! This is a quick placeholder post because I am in an airport and keep getting booted off the wifi! Edits and actual challenge deets to come!
  11. It was the last days of the harvest season, when the sun was still golden on the aspens and birches, still brilliant as it flickered over the red maples and the solid brown oaks, lighting up the last sheaves of the wheat fields and cornfields that still swayed and rattled, dry and raspy, in the brisking breeze. Winter was coming, its first chilly whispers biting at the edges of dawn and dusk, but it was not here yet, and the world was still warm and inviting in spirit even as the temperatures sank and the light darkened. I smiled faintly and felt a flicker of pride in myself as I carefully arranged dark red chrysanthemums in a couple of hand-me-down baskets on my crumbling front stoop in the last of the golden evening light. The womanly arts of homemaking had never come naturally to me, and autumn was the season when I most keenly felt my fumblings with decorations, hospitality and delicious hot meals. But, no matter what the wintery whisperings of my own mind said, I wasn't failing at everything. I could still bring beauty and happiness in my own ways. I was - cursed? gifted? - with two powers, two identities, if you will, that I attempted daily to carry in balance. On the one hand, I was the Silver Archer: A Lightbearer, one who, with the power of light and words and encouragement, could heal hearts and bodies. My power came from the Silver Bow - a gift given to me by the skilled wordsmiths and encouragers who had come before me. When my blood ran golden-white with joy and warmth, I could do great works of peace, love, service, and friendship; and with the Silver Bow, I could fire those words like arrows that shot across space and time. On the other hand, I was also the Dark Elf, a title I still didn't care to confess to most people I knew. My other power was that of ice. Of fear. Fear, and anger. With this power I could wound, harm, and destroy - and, I could also protect. When my blood ran icy with fear, it was a heavy weight that was nearly impossible to hide or restrain without pulling away from the rest of the world. But it also gave me a strength to sense others' fear, to protect them from danger, to light the way through shadowy valleys that my imagination had traversed like a well-worn path through my dreams or midnight awakenings. And somehow, in between those two things, the light and the dark, the heat and the ice, the joy and the fear ... I was also just ... Sky. A small half-elf, pale and plump, wife of my beloved Eamon, the broad-shouldered blond paladin. Once a servant in the great university on the mystic Temple Island, I now worked at writing and distributing bulletins for the Chief Scientist's small office in our city. It was modest work, but I enjoyed it, liked my colleagues, and especially liked bringing home a bit of extra money to contribute to our little household. The sun dipped below the horizon and I sighed, turning to glance at the little timepiece on the wall in our cottage. So early and already almost dark. Winter was the hardest season for me - the long, cold days and nights made my small body ache, and the long hours of darkness made it harder than ever to resist the silvery whisperings of icy fear and sorrow in the back of my mind. Still, as I took one last look at the mums and went back inside to warm our dinner, I set my jaw and pushed my unruly strand of white hair back up into the rest of my blonde braid. The sun isn't the only source of light, I thought quietly, selecting some carrots and potatoes, and part of my task as a Lightbearer is to seek out and reflect that light and joy wherever I can find it. For myself, as well as for others. Winter may be coming, but there are plenty of bright and happy things to find if I'm willing to go looking in the darkness. I grinned at myself and dragged the heavy cast iron pot out to boil water. Yes, you pretentious philosopher, that counts for hearts, too. Even the Dark Elf has beauty and brightness to offer, and if you're willing to go looking in that side of yourself, you might be surprised what you can find.
  12. The early night of winter had settled softly but firmly over our little home on the outskirts of the city, and the daytime sounds of trade and travel outside had given way to the nighttime sounds of raucous celebrations and the smells of food being prepared. My husband Eamon and I had already eaten, cleaned up and put our simple wooden dishes away, and Eamon was settled by the fire, his healing body wrapped in a warm blanket and his mind wrapped up in a book he'd waited weeks to read. I took a deep breath of contentment and let my gaze linger on the small, bright little room we called home: The one big window, the hand-smoothed walls and low ceilings, the little bedroom with our big soft bed squashed inside, the cozy kitchen and eating area connected to the rest of the house by a narrow door. It was a little cramped, yes; but I loved all the touches that we'd added to make it uniquely ours. I settled myself across from Eamon in the wooden chair he'd carved and the padded cushions I'd sewn and stuffed myself. The weather was mild and rainy, and I pulled a light blanket over my knees as I picked up my new, blank journal. With my favorite ink pen, I carefully wrote inside the cover: Sky Elvenword Nobleheart Ranger Field Journal Even though I called it that, though, I knew this journal would be different than past journals I'd kept. There wasn't as much time for hunting and exploration as there used to be, and fewer enemies to fight. Many of the pages would be filled with mundane things like recipes, or tracking my archery practice and weekend hikes. But still, it felt good to be writing again, to be tracking my progress as I learned new things. I sketched out a few ideas for topic headings: Dragon riding. Lessons twice a week, practice twice a week. Cooking. Use veggies from cellar? New grain recipes for winter? Herbs? Creativity / fun! Movement. Hiking, archery, meditation, foraging, sightseeing in the city, etc. Silver Bow practice. Keep those skills sharp! Management. House stuff, money, wife stuff. Being an adult. I doodled a few leaves and vines in the margins before setting the pen down and yawning luxuriously. It was the festival of the new year and Eamon and I got to rest for three days before going back to work. I wanted to start planning some blankets for friends' new babies, dream about a garden, and venture out for a hike in the rain. Closing the soft leather cover, I ran my fingers affectionately over its wrinkles and leaned back to doze. I couldn't wait to see what adventures would fill this journal's pages.
  13. Ahahahaha yes hello hi GREETINGS once more~ I am returning from yet another half-done challenge where obvs I fell off the wagon - where even is my wagon now? Do I still HAVE a wagon hoo boy howdy... ANYWAYS TL;DR hello I am shaar, longtime forum member but heavy lurker as of late; my mom passed away very unexpectedly in September and the trauma and grief surrounding not only her passing but dealing with every aspect of her estate/proceedings/etc. has been sitting HEAVY with me and frankly I've been dealing with it quite terribly. As of April 11th I'm on mental health leave from my job and have since been firmly diagnosed with PTSD and have been having a WILD TIME with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. I'm sure I'll unpack more of this ~*~exciting point in my timeline~*~ later but in the meantime... I'd like to maybe finish a challenge?? But only MAYBE. I've been going to therapy weekly and my session yesterday really opened my eyes about expectations - things I unwittingly set for myself.. how I've done it over my whole life and even now that I'm stepping away from everything, I'm still doing it, and it's not fair to myself! I'm a big fan of to-do lists but right now it's kind of counter-productive to what I'm trying to accomplish.. which is to retrain myself how to live without impending doom around every corner, and get back to some semblance of who I am. SO. I'm here with a non-challenge. No lists to tackle, no goals to reach. Zero expectations to just... see what happens. Somehow through all this I've managed to keep up a REALLY good gym habit - I'm there at least three times a week (because I have time now, wow what a concept) so things aren't all terrible! I have really good days but the terrible ones are just TERRIBLE but I guess I'm working on acceptance, too. Blah blah blah I'm looking forward to being more PRESENT and catching up with everyone and seeing where I'm at in a month?? There's still so much up in the air for me - and not having a plan SCARES me, yes I've brought this up in therapy ahaha - BUT I will do my best, whatever level that's at each day. I'm just gonna show up. I think that works for now! (Also sorry for all the John Murphy gifs, some days have been nothing more than binging The 100 and I have ZERO REGRETSSSSS)
  14. Oh, bother. I was not planning to challenge in this round. I thought perhaps I would just lurk and cheer other folks on, because I don't really have a lot going on except "keep doing what I'm already doing." But having accountability and friends to cheer is always good and there are a few things that I ought to probably bother about Walk like Eeyore Walk for 15 minutes every day. Ideally in the evening, with dog. On days that schedule or weather makes that impractical, around the campus at lunchtime or even around the inside of the large academic building. I'm depressed, have been for a while, and I didn't even realize it until I started throwing pity parties for myself about things that simply didn't warrant them. Walking helps. And it's spring, generally nice weather (wicked humid, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ), and I have a walk-friendly neighborhood and a beautiful walking path around the campus. Bounce like Tigger Nothing fancy here. Keep doing IS 3 or 4 days a week. There's a fair bit of jumping in IS. Eat like Rabbit A salad a day. I have vegetable ... issues. I don't eat nearly enough of them. I feel much better when I do eat enough of them. There are some I even like. But the easiest and surest way for me to get a reasonable amount of vegetation into my bod is salad, which I both like and find easy and convenient to make. That's enough for now.
  15. For this challenge, I decided to return to a challenge I posted almost two year ago. Much has changed since then, but as to the purpose, I feel this would be an excellent way to work through getting rid of some bad habits and restore some habits that have been lost. As before, I will be using some inspiration and heart from some of Tolkien's heroes. As this challenge progresses, I will be channeling some of the traits of some of my favorites, specifically the race of Men because I find myself identifying most closely with Tolkien's human characters. Because some bad habits have returned (spawned mostly as a result of too much downtime and being in a strange place emotionally as a result of some career changes), it is once again fitting to work through a challenge that themes these temptations as the pull of The One Ring. And so it begins. Goal 1: Resist The One Ring "Not if I found it on the highway would I take it I said. Even if I were such a man as to desire this thing, and even though I knew not clearly what this thing was when I spoke, still I should take those words as a vow, and be held by them. ‘But I am not such a man. Or I am wise enough to know that there are some perils from which a man must flee." -- Faramir For this goal, I will be channeling Faramir, who is without a doubt my favorite of the characters who successfully resists The One Ring, even though he had reasons outside of the Dark Lord's power to take it from Frodo. I also identify with Faramir's struggles to make his father proud, to know that he isn't the favored son, and his choice to be peaceful and merciful by nature: “I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” Without getting into specifics, this goal focuses on recognizing when and why these temptations occur: what triggers them and what is the best way to resist them. Faramir's quote above also brings to mind scripture: "But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." -- 1 Timothy 6:11-12 learn about these temptations and what hidden damages lurk within them set boundaries and barricades against temptations; arm and fortify yourself against the "attacks of the enemy" be brave and stand strong when you can, but have an escape plan if you get lost, call out to your fellowship of brothers to help you find the way again fast and pray to build discipline celebrate victories and milestones, but remain resolute and do not lose your temperance Goal 2: Build Strength, Wisdom, Courage, and Heart to Become Who You Were Meant to Be "But I am the real Strider, fortunately. I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by my life or death I can protect you, I will." -- Aragorn For this goal, I will be channeling Aragorn because of his strong heart, his wisdom, and his courage, which grows as he breaks free of the shame of his father and steps into his destined role as heir to the throne of Gondor. Aragorn is aware of his flaws and weaknesses as a man, but he strives to do good by serving others. He faces peril, inspires others into battle, and fights courageously for his fellowship. None of this would be possible if he had allowed himself to get weak or distracted or lose his self-control. He is also faithful to the cause of defeating evil and to the love of his life. He is watchful and alert, wise and intelligent, humble and modest by nature but also mighty and proud when necessary. Some aspects of this goal will look familiar if you have followed me for some time. awaken before dawn pray/meditate/study scripture & other books of wisdom fast daily (intermittently) eat whole foods (mostly plants) drink at least 64 ounces of water daily daily breathing exercises (I really need to get back to this; it clears my head and may help stave some of the temptation triggers) read at least 20 minutes every day spend at least 30 minutes outside every day strengthen the body (Darebee workouts, bodyweight, cinderblocks, log, sandbag, resistance bands, etc.) spend time with my queen; this includes going to bed with her and not staying up late Goal 3: Rebuild Your Heart and Your Kingdom "For he was a gentle heart and a great king and kept his oaths; and he rose out of the shadows to a last fair morning." -- Aragorn, speaking of King Theoden Theoden is a good example of someone who, as he grew older and more tired, allowed himself to become misled and lost sight of his true purpose as king. It corrupted him and led to the usurping of his kingdom by evil forces. Once he is set free of this spell, however, he steps into his role as king and, in spite of the bleak outlook, fights for his people and for the good of all Middle Earth. For this goal, I am both literally and figuratively referring to my "kingdom" (as in my home, my domain) meditate on/reclaim my purpose as husband and father (as "king") spend time with children; hug them, play with them, go on adventures with them keep my house in order: clean daily, keep the yard clean and mowed, make necessary repairs And that is it for now. If I think of some other goals, I will add them and try to think of characters that embody those goals, as well.
  16. Hi friends - I went back and forth a zillion times about “should I post a challenge after falling off my last 183 of them” and I thought to myself… why not? What’s the worst that could happen, I make it 184? So hi, I’m shaar, and I’m 100% going through the motions. 🙃👋 Since my last updates in January my mental health has gotten worse than ever and I am currently struggling with high functioning depression - TL;DR my mom passed away very unexpectedly 6 months ago yesterday and my usual chaos life has been waaaay more of a tragic tornado than usual. I’m dragging around an enormous amount of trauma and grief and poor mental health from having to shoulder every bit of her passing and estate myself and now that the dust has settled things have gotten worse instead of better. I’m honestly not even sure what this challenge will BE or how often I will try and check in but it will at least be something. I’ve made a big decision to take a mental health hiatus from my job, which is a HUGE point of my stresses - I am at the point where I can’t function and do my job at the level I need to and I need to back away to get better. I am pretty much expending all of my energy at work to Keep Up Appearances and not lose my mind that by the time I go home or the weekend comes, I’m spending 80% of it on the couch or in bed, and that’s Not Okay. That will start next month (if I don’t have a meltdown and quit first ha ha ha) for a few months so there may not be a whole lot of posting here until I can get to that point where I actually have energy to do updates or, you know, actually give a flying heck about anything at all. My nutrition has been somewhat tragic 🙃 and my drinking has been a little bit excessive 🙃🙃 but I made a deal with myself yesterday that today the drinking was going to stop. So, there’s a goal! I haven’t been to the gym in a week but at least I hope to have the energy to tonight. And that’s about it! I will do my best to stay around this time and hang in there so I can start to get better and work towards CAPS LOCK SHAAR again. ❤️❤️
  17. The bright autumn sun colored the forest a shimmering rainbow of oranges, reds and yellows, curtains of leaves floating and tumbling down around me as I walked slowly down the path toward town. And I saw none of them, because I was in the throes of the pounding panic that beset me every week on this miserable assignment. "Sky, think of all the opportunities this will open up for you," my husband had said earnestly, holding my hands as if to help me feel how strongly he felt about his words. "There's so much you can see, so many new places you can go, whenever you want. We can help more people instead of relying on them. You'll be even more independent and it'll be such a confidence boost. I really think this is something important for you to do." I didn't know how to explain to him the steel-cold shots of fear that gripped my stomach at the thought of trying this again. I knew he was right and I wanted everything he said - yet I could think of very little I would rather do less. Every weekly lesson felt like the culmination of every failed exam at the Temple, every scolding from my parents, every wound from the Elder and every bungled work assignment, all wrapped up in one miserable hour. But I was Sky Elvenword Nobleheart; and I was brave. I did not run away from hard things; I did not let fear stop me from my goals and I never said no to an adventure. So I swallowed hard and tried to hide the panicky tears in the back of my throat as I said quietly: "I'll try, Eamon." I wrapped my cloak a little tighter around my shivering body and hoped no one in town would see how pale my skin was. I had learned after the first lesson to keep the runes on my arms carefully covered with long sleeves or strips of cloth - my Dark ice powers shone like beacons out of every exposed rune the first time my terror levels shot through the roof. And considering how close I'd come to a fiery crash last week, keeping those runes covered seemed like wisdom for every lesson going forward. Much too soon, I came over the dreaded last hill and saw the stables and open field ahead of me. I was right on time; the other students were opening the pens and greeting their mounts for the day. But I was not learning to ride a horse. I was learning to ride a dragon. I'm not a Dragonrider. I'm not a Dragonrider. I tried to drown out the refrain beating like an ice storm in my brain, but it matched my footsteps toward my assigned pen. I've gotten along fine all these years without this. It's not worth it. I don't need it. I'm not good at it. I can't do it. I don't want to - A gentle huff from the pen at my elbow made me jump, and I realized I couldn't stall any longer. Slowly, I turned to face the slender white dragon who sat quietly in her cage, her ten-foot tail curled primly around her four graceful white feet, her long neck bent to bring her intelligent dark eyes down to my level. She seemed almost amused by my shaking and heavy breathing. I fleetingly wondered, not for the first time, how much these creatures could understand about us. "Hello, Tianlong," I stammered, fumbling with the latch on the gate. She waited quietly until I shook it off and pulled open the door, and I held my breath as she gracefully unfolded herself and slipped out into the grass. She was too well-trained to try to escape, even though it took me three tries to get the harness on her neck and the saddle on her shoulders, my hands shook so badly. Once again, I saw her glance at me with a look in her eyes that was almost amused. "How we feelin' today, Missus?" The teenage boy teaching the lessons, Erkus, stopped by and doffed his hood respectfully. "A little nervous," I admitted. There was no point in hiding it; I let a strap slip through my fingers the moment I spoke. "'Ow, now, ye'll be just fine, you wait an' see," he said confidently, and patted Tianlong's neck affectionately. "This 'ere is the finest dragon I ever took off an Eastern trader. Almost as smart as our Western dragons, she is. Just trust 'er, trust yerself, an' ye'll get along just fine." He'd said the same thing the last few times, so I nodded politely and focused on getting her saddle strapped snugly around her muscular body. I didn't trust Tianlong, and I didn't trust myself, and we probably were not going to get along at all. "Owright, today we're takin' a short flight out to the hills an' back, same as we did two weeks ago," Erkus hollered to me and the other (much younger) riders shuffling nervously. "We'll be practicin' the turns, so remember how to use the reins an' shift yer body weight. Remember: Trust yer dragons. They know more'n ye think they do." My mouth was too dry to swallow against the nausea rising in my throat, so I just tried to focus on steadying my rapid breathing as I shakily climbed up into the saddle and settled onto Tianlong's back, strapping my own safety harness around my thighs. The dragon flicked her tail and stood up, ready to take off into the frigid, empty heights yet again. I sucked in a deep breath. I was a Ranger. I was a Lightbearer. I was a Protector. And now I was going to be a Dragonrider.
  18. And maybe always has been? Hello friends its been like...actual years. How goes it. Knife to see you again. With the seasons changing and some of the crises of the last few years calming down a bit (literally covid-19 was like a 4 out of 10 of what’s been happening since I was last here,) I got the urge to work towards some goals! A little over a month ago I was up at 3am and was like “I need to learn to juggle knives” and since I had bought some dulled knives for our Roomba (and they came in a large pack) I dug those out and started messing around. I was, predictably, terrible. I couldn’t even throw them from one hand to the other or flip the knife one time in my hand and reliably catch it. No I don’t know how to juggle other things already. Should I have looked up a youtube video on juggling? Anyway I’ve been screwing with that for about a month and sent a progress video to my friend and he was like “I expect to see a Loki cosplay in the future now that you have the skills” and this was on the same day I took a ‘what superhero are you’ uQuiz and got Loki (and a scathingly accurate mental health commentary? uQuiz you don’t need to go so hard.) I hadn’t thought about this character in like 6 years lol, but it keeps sliding into my orbit (especially since the new show came out, which I have Opinions™ on.) Since it fits all my goals for this challenge I’m going with a Loki theme. Skill Goal: Get to 10 reps with juggling three knives I am currently solid with 3 reps in a row. I have ONE time done 7 in a row. I think it was a fluke, however I believe that with solid practice, I will be able to nail 10 reps in a row at least once, even as a fluke, in 5 weeks. Method: Daily juggling practice, even just for a few minutes. Preferably for about a half hour a day. For reasonableness, I’ll call this a pass at an average of 5 days/week. Motivation (why I want it): I’ve been getting seriously into circus arts lately and a variety of knife tricks is just one of many things I’ve wanted to do since childhood. My eventual year-long goal is to hit 100 reps, which might be a long shot, but I’m taking it in steps. Fitness Goal: 360 Inward Dive Roll Ehhhhh sort of lol. So the roll itself is actually a long term goal. It’s well outside of my current skill level. Fitness Goal: 360 Inward Dive Roll Improve overhead strength so that I do not break my fragile little neck Method: This is a little more free-form than I usually like my goals, but I’m going to be working a variety of things. The Specific and Measurable part of the method is to do a full handstand workout each Monday. It’s a 30 minute routine that really works on the handstand strength, for holding duration and also HSPU work. The less specific and measurable part is when I’m messing around with my tumbling practice (Wednesday Thursday Friday) I’m going to squirrel around with some roll variations, getting my easy dive rolls dialed in, trying different ways to roll out of a handstand, ect. Not too much strength work, but movement exploration/making new neural pathways. Motivation: The 360 inward roll is one of the most advanced rolls in a list of rolls I want to know how to do, to throw into parkour stuff and tricking and just cool looking flows. I’m going to work my way through them piece by piece until I get to the “Final boss” lol. This video shows a lot of the rolls I want to get locked in: Life Goal: Mental Friggin Health Because we all know Loki is the poster child of a stable mental condition. Interestingly enough, I have just started the therapy that Loki actually needs lol. With all the latest Loki hype on tumblr I’ve been seeing a lot of meta, and many by actual psychologists that say he has all the diagnostic criteria for Borderline personality disorder (not narcissism, frell you Michael Waldren?) And I just got officially diagnosed with BPD this week (*worlds most pathetic party sounds* yayyyy…….) But while that sucks, I have been told that if someone takes therapy seriously and does the work, symptoms can be reduced to almost none in an average of 5 years. I am nothing if not a hard worker. So. Method: It’s a two-parter. 1. I’m supposed to do the mindfulness thing. Back on the headspace app I go. I need to restart this habit into something long-term and really focus on making it happen EVERY day. 2. Do all my therapy homework. It looks like this therapist is into that pretty often. Motivation: While I’ve always been hostile toward therapy, honestly I’m really ready to stop being everyone’s problem. So I’ll even try this. And any scientific endeavor is useless if you don’t commit to the experiment. Alright guys,
  19. The evening breeze curled playfully around the hillside where Eamon and I had spread out our picnic several hours before, surrounding us with the spicy damp scent of trees exhaling their warmth from the day and the soft hum of insects serenading each other in the dusk light. Night was falling, and the village vista far below had quieted, with lamps lit in windows and a softening of the sounds of bustling carts and brisk voices. Our conversation, too, had softened into a comfortable silence; and I curled into the space underneath Eamon's strong arm, resting my head on his shoulder and letting his body support my weight. It was my favorite kind of evening, where in privacy I could tell and show my partner how deeply I loved him - but as happened so often on those evenings, instead of being filled with bright warmth and loving happiness, I was hollowed out with the frosty stillness of my ice powers, as numb and lifeless as a forest clearing buried in midwinter snow. I ached with wishing I could just once feel the love and delight I knew I felt for him underneath the chill - but no matter how hard I tried to shake free, I was locked inside, all my emotions buried underneath the cold. I laughed when he joked or flirted, said all the things I knew in my head that I would say if I could feel anything - but I was sure that somehow, even in the dimming light, he had to see the deadness in my eyes and hear the hollow emptiness in my laughter. I didn't understand why it was happening and that made it even worse. As we gazed quietly down across the valley, Eamon unexpectedly reached over to take my hand - and I thought I saw him flinch the tiniest bit when his warm fingers contacted my frigid palm. Still, he didn't hesitate as he enveloped my small hand in his big one, and he said calmly as if nothing had happened, "You know, I heard from a friend a few villages over that some of the harvest festivals might take place this year. If you like, I could ask him for more information and we could try to go. It might even be after the wedding, so we could go together. What do you think?" I looked sorrowfully down at the dull blue glow of the runes on my bare wrists and arms, and two cold tears rose in my eyes. "Eamon," I whispered, "I'm sorry I'm not going to be a better wife for you." Immediately Eamon shifted to gaze down into my eyes, his heavy brows lowered over concerned blue eyes. "What are you talking about?" I spread my palms and bit back tired tears at the scars and patterns that laced across my hands and forearms, all of which were glowing a jagged, frosty blue instead of the golden light of healing and compassion that seemed so elusive these days. Words and emotions jumbled up in my thoughts, until all that would come out was, "I'm sorry I'm ... not normal. I'm ... sorry I'm ... broken." Eamon sighed heavily and pulled me close to his heart, pressing his warm hand over the cold one I rested miserably on his chest. "Sky," he said, firmly but gently, "I love you. Because you're you. I wish I could do something to help you heal and make your life easier - and if there ever is anything I can do, I will gladly do that, because I want you to be happy. But even if nothing ever changes - even if you feel this way for the rest of our lives - I'm going to love you and be here with you anyway. Not because you're perfect, not because things are simple and easy, but because you're my best friend and the woman I love and want in my life. Nothing will ever change that." "I know," I mumbled. "I just wish I were -" "- perfect," Eamon supplied. I looked up at him, startled. "What?" "You want to be perfect and flawless. But honey, that's not how anything works. I'm not perfect and neither are you. But we don't have to be." His words reminded me of one of my counselor's favorite sayings - "Breathe in, and when you breathe out, release your need for perfection and say to yourself, 'This is good enough,'", she always said. "I don't want you to suffer and I do want you to heal. But that's not for my sake. I'll love you no matter what. And part of how I'm going to love you is by supporting your healing journey any way I can." Maybe allowing love to come into your brokenness is part of being good enough, I wondered to myself. Maybe accepting that two broken people are going to have mess and pain and needs - and can still bring all the love they have to give - maybe that's good enough. Maybe it's good enough to be unwell or irritable or frustrated or half-healed or struggling, together. "Okay?" Eamon leaned back to smile into my face, and for the first time all evening, a tiny spark of hope flickered in my heart as I smiled back. "I may not be perfect, but I'm good enough," I whispered back. Eamon beamed and kissed my forehead. "Amen."
  20. After a depression & no motivation break, I’ve returned. Yay me! A little bit about me first. I’m a gamer who enjoys music, hiking, and photography. I would love to learn parkour and snowboarding. I’m a non-binary asexual person who is on the autism spectrum. My two biggest weaknesses are that I’m a perfectionist and vain as hell. And I struggle with depression and C-PTSD. This is a 3 goal challenge, designed to build up to what I want my actual goals to be. #1: Build up to exercising every other day. I’ve written down the days I plan on doing an at home kettlebell workout. The 4th, 8th, 11th, 17th, 19th, 21st, and 23rd. It roughly translates to progressing from twice a week to every other day. Or something like that. It makes sense visually on a calendar. It’s a beginner workout that I was doing the last challenge I was here. So I already know how my body deals with it, and that every other day won’t physically be a problem. Mentally, it might get a little rough. #2: Take both of my meds every day. I have a morning medication (mood stabilizer), and a nighttime medication (anti-depressant). This should be relatively easy. I just easily forget to take them no matter what “sure fire” methods I’ve used to make it easy just do it. For my first challenge week, the goal is 3 times a week. And then 5 times a week. And finally the last week is every day. #3: Hydrate myself. And being hydrated is drinking however much Plant Nanny 2 says I need. Which right now is about six 16 oz cups. I’m counting everything I drink, except any alcoholic beverages. And how many days is exactly the same as the take my pills goal. 3, to 5, to 7. I’ve set up a cork board in my room to track everything. There’s a couple papers with the days/numbers written down. And I get to put a sticker when I do a thing! Because stickers are awesome, And yes, I’m starting today.
  21. This challenge cycle will mostly be spent traveling in the US. Still not sure how I feel about that, aside from being excited about consumerist shit, but I’ve cast that lot and it’s happening regardless. As such, this challenge can’t just be SSDD on coast mode. Which is probably a good thing, tbh. Here’s my plan to cope with “vacation”: Managing Anxiety I’m sure crowd, travel and people pandemic-ing wrong anxiety will be a thing, and not jumping into reflexive judgey bitch mode to cope with said anxiety is going to be a definite issue. Timelines, time zones & travel time already all have my anxiety at 11. Management: Deep yoga breaths, and reminding myself to get a grip. Not my monkeys, not my business. Also stocking up on hand sanitizer & antibac wipes if I feel I need more control over the situation. We’ve also got disposable masks for that 12+hour plane ride & will have our normal masks on us as well. My general abhorrence of feeling trapped always rears it’s head when forced into social situations I don’t want to be in. Management: Staying in Air BnBs, having a rental car at all times, planning things to do that aren’t just sitting on the couch at a relatives house staring at their damn eyeballs. Family dumbassery. Talking to some family members over the phone is exhausting; seeing them in person is going to be more so. I’m also not interested in 3 weeks of continual bitching about COVID from everygoddamnbody I see. It’s exhausting. Management: Tell said family member(s) that I don’t have the damn bandwidth for this conversation. Change the subject. Leave early if necessary. Hubby and I need to settle on a ‘get me tf out of here before I start screaming’ code. Too damn bad we don’t still smoke. Trying to fit everything and everyone in limited time - especially when everyone only wants to meet up when it’s convenient for them. Management: Not doing that, and not feeling guilty for doing so. Giving people clear guidelines of when I have available slots and when I do not. This I always do, but it’s still always a shit show. I generally don’t feel bad about it, but i inevitably still end up anxious. Those should be the biggies, but I’m sure more will pop up. Nutrition Whelp, this one is going to be a curveball. Body was on a less carb trajectory - aaaand then the stress of planning this trip hit. A few ground rules to help myself not feel quite so bloated and terrible by week 2 of travel: Don’t finish the fries. Start with the main, eat half of it, and then go in for bites of the sides. Don’t eat all sides one by one and then tackle the high dollar item. Eat slower and take stock of when you are full. You’ve already paid for the meal; you’re on vacation - wasting $ is to be expected. Remember that the clean plate club is not a thing. Don’t eat shit I know is going to kill me. If family members are drenching everything in cheese, either just eat sides or pick around the cheese. I don’t need to leave full. Remember that even though we’ll be hitting up some favorites and going in for some primo meals (on top of straight garbage), I’ve had good food before and will have good food again. I don’t need to gorge myself to enjoy the meal. Drink what you damn want but attempt to not go for 2 days in a row & limit shit that’s going to lead to a hangover. Body Care Realistically, I won’t be hitting any yoga classes in the 3 weeks we will be gone, and pressuring myself to do a hotel-style daily workout before leaving each day is not conducive to good mental health for me. I know I don’t sleep for shit while traveling, and often have to get up too early. Do what I can, when I think of it. If I’m bored and feeling trapped, suggest a walk around the neighborhood instead of trying to hide in my phone with DH. It’ll be hot and I’ll be in the ‘burbs, but it may still be doable. Pull up some simple bodyweight routines that can be done whenever - and keep them in the forefront of my mind so maybe that actually happens. And that’s it for this Cycle. Or at least most of it. I will reassess once I’m back and settled. Yoga will definitely return.
  22. So I've been out, and not for a lack of trying. I think it's been years since I actually completed a challenge satisfactorily (probably because of the depresso and the drugs 😝). Tried to do the last challenge as @sarakingdom suggested, but I kept procrastinating, and here we are. For those not following the absolute disasterpiece that is my Instagram fitness-turned-meme-page, I haven't really trained since lockdown, I've been sleeping on the couch for a year (because I can't afford to fix the room), depression hit hard and I ended up dropping out of school, and I'm on my second week of withdrawals from 3 different meds, (though I think I'll keep taking one for a little bit more). My challenge is to force myself to be healthy, one step at a time. I'd like to start with the easiest ones, and maybe I'll add more layers once I'm able to make them habits: Take my vitamins Get a workout (very loose definition) in Track sleep and water intake The first part of every game I've enjoyed playing ALWAYS sucks butt. It's a tutorial, you know what to do, but doing it just sucks. I guess this is my Temple of Trials... EDIT: Actually, Goodsprings might be a better representation; waking up at a home clinic after having a bullet extracted from my head. The game was rigged from the start.
  23. I pretty much fell off the planet during my last challenge. Everything was going along very smoothly until my sleep just suddenly deteriorated and my mental health spiraled intro a crazy rollercoaster. Come to find out, what had been diagnosed as depression was actually bipolar II. And I have been riding a crazy mixed episode for about a month. I am not entirely sure where to go with this challenge. The next month or so are going to be challenging. This week, I started some new meds that will hopefully help me to find some stability, but I have to increase the dose very slowly, which means dealing with a new round of side effects every two weeks, and it will still be another three and a half weeks from now before I reach a clinical dose (the dose typically necessary to start experiencing the benefits of the medication). My sleep still hasn't stabilized, either. This combination makes it hard to focus and even harder to do anything physically strenuous, because I am chronically sleep deprived and the start-up side effects are making me dizzy and occasionally nauseous. Over the last month my entire routine has fallen apart and I have fallen behind in a lot of areas, so I also have some work to do in just generally rebuilding habits and catching up. I am honestly feeling pretty overwhelmed with life as a whole right now. So, I am just going to set some intentions for this challenge, with no expectation on completing everything. I am not even going to set numbers or time limits, because I know that will just stress me out if I don't meet it. Intentions Complete bodyweight workouts when side effects and sleep allow Go for walks during lunch break when schedule, weather, and sleep allow Stretch/yoga when side effects allow Drink plenty of water Read Try to study for cert when brain is at least semi-functioning If things start improving later in the challenge, I may revise this challenge into something more structured and goal-oriented, but for now, my main focus is just on keeping my head above the water.
  24. I heaved a sigh and glared at the thick, foul mixture eating through the bottom of my cauldron, aware that the other students were noisily packing up but mostly ignoring them. I was so sure I had followed the directions for Snot Sealing Potion exactly, but whatever mess had burbled up in my cauldron looked more like snot than the clear, refreshing lilac in the book. "Perhaps if you had paid attention to your homework, Elvenword," Professor Snape said languidly behind my head, making me jump and start cramming my books into my bag. "Yes sir, Professor," I stammered, and hissed "Scourgify!" as I hastily waved my wand over the vile mess. I'd have to review the instructions later and take better notes - exams were coming up and I felt hopeless in this class. Come to think of it, I felt a little hopeless in most of my classes, even though my marks were solidly average. Unlike most of the students who had arrived at Hogwarts as 11-year-old First Years, I had transferred in later. My parents were Muggles, and I hadn't even realized I could do magic until I was 15, much older than the average new student. So in addition to the history and literature classes that were appropriate for my Muggle grade level, I also took some classes with much younger students, like first-year Potions. As I scuttled out of Professor Snape's dungeon and headed back upstairs, I was startled by a faint, ghostly feminine whisper coming from somewhere behind the paneled wall: "Sky Elvenword ... Sky, do you hear me?" I froze in my tracks and the students behind me nearly slammed into me. "Watch where you're going," they snapped, and I melted against the wall to get out of the way, my skin prickling. "Peeves?" I whispered back, "is that you?" "No, Sky, listen to me. I need your help!" Other classes were letting out and it was getting too loud to hear. I pressed closer to the wall, uncertain whether I was being tricked or about to fall for a dreadful practical joke. "Who are you?" I said louder. "I can't tell you that now. After dinner, go to the northernmost corner of the Great Hall and use your wand to tap three times on the panel at your eye level. When you do that, a key will appear in your left hand. Use that key to unlock -" At that moment, someone crashed into my bookbag, knocking me off balance and sending two of my books flying off the staircase. I yelped and dashed down the stairs to retrieve them before the crowd of incoming Second Years trampled them; and by the time I had scrambled back to the panel where the voice had spoken from, it was silent. I gingerly tapped the wall. "Hello?" I squeaked. "Are you still there? What am I supposed to unlock?" But there was no answer, and the other students passing me were giving me strange looks. Reluctantly I tore myself away and hurried to get to my next class, but my heart was pounding. Who was the mysterious voice? Were they a good or bad witch? Why did they need my help, and what was I supposed to unlock with the mysterious key?
  25. Hey guys! This is going to be a very soft challenge, as I'm not setting any major goals (I have goals, but I'm not going to feel too bad if they don't happen), and using this space more like a battle log to chat about my day, what I'm learning and how I'm doing. As many of you know, my mental health has been up and down over the past year, and while I feel much more in control of myself and my moods after many months of hard work and learning about myself, I'm still taking some time to go gently and try to regain some ease and creativity instead of being constantly in "Oh my gosh I have to fix this so it goes away" mode. To that end, I've decided to step down from my responsibilities as a guild leader for a little while. ❤️ I do not intend for this to be permanent; but with most of my energy going to getting through the day and trying to take care of myself, I didn't have much steam left over to look in on others as much as I want to. Letting go of the pressure to do better at checking in on everyone will, ironically, make it easier for me to check in more often. And I hope to be back on the GL list before long. My goals for this challenge are: Work with my therapist on specific affirmations, grounding actions, etc. to help me focus on living my life in spite of anxiety, shifting my attention away from focusing 24/7 on "fixing" my anxiety and toward being myself and doing things I enjoy. Continue to follow my nutritionist's diet plan, while experimenting with ways to bring my favorite foods and dishes back into the rotation. Do one creative thing every day. It can be so small - just a few crochet stitches, coloring a coloring page, writing a vignette, baking something, it doesn't matter. Just one thing to create or produce each day, outside of work. Move my body every day. I want to finish Yoga with Adriene's BREATH series, and I've been taking short jogs and long walks outside when I can. I need to keep doing that, because it really feels good. Get in bed by midnight every night, even if I don't go to sleep or put my phone down right away. A few things I'm looking forward to this month are Valentine's Day (my first ever!! Valentine's Day!! with a real date!! and not an awkward get-to-know-you date but my beloved boyfriend!!), getting back into D&D after missing a few sessions, planning my balcony garden and starting to gather supplies, and thinking ahead to a COVID-safe visit with my family in the spring. It's 12:30AM so I need to head for bed! ❤️ So looking forward to seeing what everyone is thinking about and planning for this challenge!
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