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Welcome back for another episode of The Exciting Adventures of JediNickD! It was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away that I joined this site and started my first challenge.. World 1 was my first extended stay through 22 challenges. I took a hiatus from NF and came back with a new direction for my goals where I warped to World 2, which I defeated in a Boss Fight slaying some mighty big goals. In World 3, I continue to develop my fitness, getting my body in the best shape of my life, even with the Degenerative Disc Disease, Arthritis, Disc Fissures, and more. Through physical therapy exercises and karate, I have maintained my core and back muscles to ease the pressure off my spine, but in the end I defeated World 3 by transforming my life into a new form. With chiropractic care for my spine, hitting the high ranks at karate, starting the new Toastmasters program called Pathways, and working to complete my Novice training at IJRS, World 4 feels like something new everyday. I just keep on L-I-V-I-N, fight the good (and healthy) fight, and level up my life! Challenge Lesson: "Light. Darkness. A Balance" [WARNING! The Last Jedi and Karate Kid SPOILERS below] When Luke begins training Rey, he has her sit on a rock eyes closed to reach out and sense the Force: Balance is everywhere. It is in the duality of nature, opposing forces and laws of conservation in physics, and in Star Wars, it is in the Force. The Original Trilogy deals heavily in the duality of the Force with Light versus Dark, Jedi versus Sith, Good versus Evil. The Prequel Trilogy muddies the water a little with the Prophecy claiming a chosen one will bring balance to the Force, which can be argued is fulfilled by Vader, first reducing the Jedi order to two Jedi, then killing the emperor, but is the Prophecy real? How many Force wielders exist in the galaxy which we do not even know about? And so on... The Sequel Trilogy is playing with the duality of dark and light, but it is appearing less about the confrontation between the two and more about how the two complement each other. One cannot exist without the other. Snoke says, "Darkness rises and light to meet it," then explains, "I warned my young apprentice that as he grew stronger, his equal in the light would rise." Here's a great article about the lines: https://medium.com/@AliyaSmyth/the-most-important-line-in-the-last-jedi-no-one-is-talking-about-2af5996d1b8 There is more to learn coming in Episode IX about this relationship, but back on Earth, we live with balance everyday. Most are physical elements working with and against each other, which are easy to see and understand, but the mental aspects take a bit of experience to begin to construe the cause and effect elements which influence the balance. In exercise, balance is extremely important, like "don't skip leg day" because strong legs are just as important as strong arms. My back muscle and spine issues are a testament to balance. My body was grown for downhill running and forward momentum power playing football and rugby as adolescent. I neglected to strengthen my lower back or gain flexibility in my hips or abdomen. My body was a rolling boulder which could take hits and keep moving. With all the time punishing my body and neglecting proper exercise balance, my spine and back worsen. These days, I'm learning more and more about proper exercises to help build these problem areas and maintain a proper balance. Karate has been awesome for building balance as well, but even before I started taking karate, I always liked to refer to the original film series "The Karate Kid" to describe this concept of balance. I'll stick with only the 1984 first film in the series to keep this post short (well, shorter). If you haven't seen it (It is on cable constantly! How could you not?), then let me explain it quickly. The first film in the series is a straight forward story about two characters. The main character is a teenage boy named Daniel who moves clear across the country from New Jersey to California. In his new school, Daniel has trouble making friends being bullied by a group of kids from the same karate dojo, the Cobra Kais. The second character is a handyman martial arts master named Mr. Miyagi who agrees to teach Karate to Daniel to help him with his bullying issues. While teaching Karate, Miyagi demonstrates that there is more to the martial art than fighting. He taught Daniel many concepts for better living: the main one being balance. After Daniel learns to block, his next lesson is to learn to balance his body. Daniel is eager to learn to punch, but to quell Daniel’s eagerness Miyagi dispatches this wisdom, “Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up, go home.” Daniel learns to keep his body balanced for his karate moves to efficient and effective without giving his opponents opportunity. Later, the night before the karate tournament Daniel admits his nervous and scared, Miyagi helps Daniel see the bigger picture by saying, “Remember lesson about balance? Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better.” Daniel gets it at the end of the movie after he is hurt in the tournament, he is given the option to forfeit the final match. Miyagi feels Daniel has proved himself to win respect from the bullies going further than anyone expected. Daniel sees the injury and forfeit as the Cobra Kais getting a cheap out. He explains to Miyagi that forfeiting won't give him the balance between himself and the Cobra Kais, nor with himself and his girlfriend, Ally, who is a friend of the Cobra Kais. He has to finish the fight. Win or lose, it would show he is not going to let anything keep him down. That warrior mentality along with his prowess as a karate student is something the Cobra Kais will respect. Balance is the key for everyday living. For diet, you have your "balanced breakfast". You should have three "square" meals a day. Of course, there are other moderate diet options with snacking through out the day, 5 small meals, etc. Your workday and home life needs to be balanced to keep both your employer and family happy. Your body needs to be balanced to stay upright. Your body weight and muscles needs to be balanced to avoid back problems. I see this balance lesson at Toastmasters as well. A Toastmasters participation in meetings should have a balance. There are several different roles, each with their own specific lessons. Prepared speeches teach you how to prepare and formulate a speech. Table Topics teaches you to think on your feet. Speech evaluator teaches you to give encouraging feedback. The leadership roles teach you organization, scheduling, problem solving, coaching, listening, improvisation, and encouragement. To get the full benefits from Toastmasters you need to experience each role. Your Toastmasters experience needs to have a balance. Your whole life needs to have a balance. Weigh things to compare, contrast, and compromise. Use moderation in all things to avoid extremes. Find the light and the dark, then understand where the grey is. [SPOILERS Over] My Main Quest and Mission: My mission is to be the best Jedi I can be. My main quest is always to enhance my overall health, fitness, and knowledge to be prepared for whatever challenges life could throw at me. As a Jedi, I need to be able to help people, whether that is a life threatening situation or just a charitable one. There is no boss level in Jedi training, there is only tomorrow. World 4 Level 5 Challenge: FITNESS: Cardio: Speed and Stamina - 320 min total, 80 weekly. STA +1, DEX +1 Walking: Fortify the Spine - 720 min total, 180 weekly. Updating to challenge current routine. STR +1 Exercise: Lifting and Bodyweight - 320 min total, 80 weekly. Adding a nightly exercise routine. STR +1, STA +1 Flexibility: Stretching and Physical Therapy - 560 min total, 140 weekly. DEX +1, STR +1 Karate: Training and Practice - 880 min total, 220 weekly. Adding nightly karate practice with family. DEX +1, STA +1 DIET: Weight Control - Track weight. Complete measurements before or during Week 1 and again during or after Week 4. Watch portions and make healthy choices for 24 of 28 days. Track lunch portions for 24 of 28 days. Track "fasting" after dinner nightly for 24 of 28 days. Keep on cutting out the crap. CON +4 LIFE: Get Stuff Done - Complete 60 Hours of various Chores and Maintenance, with at least 15 hours each week (reducing for the school year as I need time to help the kids with homework). Chores and Maintenance are the following areas (goal hours for challenge Dishes (10) Laundry (8) Cooking/Cleaning/Dusting/Vacuuming/Trash/Other (20) Yard Work (4) Animal Care (32) Home Renovation and Auto Maintenance (8) WIS +1, CHA +1 INCENTIVES! Working hard for CASH! ($107.25 carried over) REWARD: For each week in which I complete 20 or more hours of Chores and Maintenance, I will put aside $10 to spend how I see fit. CONSEQUENCE: For any week where I complete less than 15 hours, I will give up $10 of saved cash. REWARD: $5 for each Personal Project hour (Epic Nerd Camp, Extra Life, Jedi website, VHS-to-DVD conversion project, etc) CONSEQUENCE : Lose $10 for each week without a Personal Project hour. REWARD: $50 for each completed IJRS lesson. MORE WRITING! STOP LOSING EASY MONEY! CONSEQUENCE: Lose $20 for each week without completing an IJRS lesson. REWARD: $1 for each night of fasting after dinner. Fruits and veggies allowed in small quantities, but no dessert or snacking. CONSEQUENCE: Lose $5 for each day without fasting. REWARD: $1 for each day with a small, healthy lunch. CONSEQUENCE: Lose $5 for each day without a small, healthy lunch. REWARD: $2 for each morning or night of brushing and flossing. CONSEQUENCE: Lose $2 for each morning or night I forget to floss. Lose $10 for NOT flossing for the full day. BONUSES: Life: $1 for each hour working on Jedi Training (mentoring, reading/writing, charity, meditation, IJRS lessons). $2 for each hour working on Toastmasters including meetings. $2 for healthy grocery shopping or healthy meal prep. $2 for each Home Renovation or Auto Maintenance hour. Workout: $5 for each cardio session over 30 min $10 for doubling any weekly minimum PUNISHMENT: Lose $10 each day with weight above 149.5 lbs. Lose $5 for eating more than 2 slices of pizza in any day. Lose $5 for each morning not weighing in.