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  1. Lunge, step, parry. Lunge, step. Parry Lunge. Step. Parry With lungs burning and muscles aching, Scalyfreak stops her fencing exercises to wipe away the sweat that is running down into her eyes. It's starting to sting. Tired and irritated, but determined to learn how to work with the unfamiliar muscle memory that the plot scroll implanted overnight, Scalyfreak continues her rapier fencing drills. She will learn this. She will adjust. And she is so focused on learning and adjusting that she completely fails to notice that she's being watched by a pair of sharp and calculating eyes. So this is a little bit late. The main reason for this is that Zero Week of this challenge also was my first week back in the office for nearly 26 months. I am on a hybrid schedule, which means I am going in to the office Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and working from home on Mondays and Fridays. It's been... an adjustment. My firmly established morning routine has crumbled. Every shred of mental bandwidth is spent on dealing with the fact that the office has people everywhere. After over two years of spending my workdays almost entirely alone, I am now constantly visible to a crowd of people who surrounds me all day long. There are conversations everywhere, all the time, there is absolutely no privacy to be had anywhere (except of course for in a bathroom stall), and though it technically is possible to take a break every 20 minutes to do stretching and pacing for five minutes, I'm far too self-conscious to actually do it while in the middle of this annoying crowd for several hours on end. In addition to all this, I am no longer able to take my lunch-break walks with Husband and Happy Sidekick, because obviously they are not at the office with me, and I miss these walks to the point of withdrawal symptoms. I am also missing an additional hour of sleep on mornings when I have to go into the office, to say nothing of the fact that I'm spending three day per week in an office building filled with people in one of the least vaccinated states in the US... and I'm the only one I've seen wearing a mask in the entire building. As expected, the Flame of Anxiety is thriving in this stressful environment. I am spending all my time outside work on deploying every stress management technique I've ever learned to try and prevent it from turning into a wildfire inferno. (There has been a lot of hiding away in fictional worlds of all kinds.) And then I remembered that being a part of The Rebellion and having a challenge to post in is on that list, and I have ignored it, so here I am, doing my best to rectify this situation. Because this whole office ordeal sucks, challenge goals are going to be all about back to basics: Recover HP (physical health) Restart Age of Pandora. On days when I don't do an Age of Pandora workout, some other kind of intentional movement (that's not a walk) must be done. The goal is to keep my PAI point average between 80 and 100. Because blood pressure. Restore Mana (mental health) Mediate every morning. No exceptions allowed. Regenerate Stamina (emotional bandwidth) In general terms, this covers all the things that recharge the emotional batteries, which in turn is critical when it comes to not only soothing The Flame, but eventually harnessing it. In more specific terms, I'm working on making a habit of making life a little bit easier by actually utilizing the bullet journal I selected from the list of holiday gifts work offered us last winter. I've been drawing up monthly and weekly calendars to help me plan out the upcoming work week and weekends, so I can literally see what is coming up ahead. (I've been putting shiny stickers on the days when I've done a workout.) Lastly, for those of you who don't know me, this should give you a fairly clear idea of what to expect here:
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