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  1. I've realized as I'm about to start writing some sort of intro to another challenge that I barely write about me and what's going on in my head. I used to journal once a week and when I was at my height on NF, I would post stuff I was thinking about and debating in my head 2 or 3 times each week for a couple years. Now though, there's just this....blankness. And I'm not sure if it's because I ran out of things to say and what I feel, or if I'm just really rusty with writing in this way. Maybe it's because writing out what's going on is too painful to even talk about. I don't want sympathy and a random thumbs up from some people I used to talk to years ago doesn't address what *is* happening. I feel like I'm spinning my wheels. I'm stagnant and I don't know how or what needs to happen to make things not feel this way. Being with my ladyfriend: it's not *bad* but it's not really *good*. It's just stagnant. My job. It's not *bad* but it's not *good*. It's just stagnant. My weight doesn't seem to budge - taking literal years of bouncing around the same 20ish pounds before I finally just snap and binge-eat; only to claw my way back to re-lose 20 pounds and trip again and again. My sister isn't doing well. I know she's not and the fact she isn't bringing up what her scan results say, means that she's terrified and at the same time, doesn't want me to worry about her (which I'm obviously doing regardless). There isn't a sense of looking forward to anything. I've really fallen into a wormhole of art and reading which has been a good comfort but it isn't really a challenge - it's not something where I'm growing and doing better and better. There's a lot of shit that I thought I resolved that hasn't truly been addressed. Case 1: My mom. She died 3 years ago now and while I've had to deal with it, at the same time; it's left an emptiness. I don't have her judging me and thinking less of me which emotionally is a good thing. But my life feels a little emptier with her not being around. Case 2: My sister. I already think I had my last christmas, thanksgiving, halloween with her and I'm in a weird position because she's not gone, but she's also not 100% here. When my mom died, my sister did too. She never recovered - slumping in to a massive depression and never giving a fuck about herself and her well-being since then. She's basically become what my mom was: glued to a couch, watching tv and passing out on it, eating random junkfood, and bitter. I can't blame her for this, obviously. But it's also like my sister hasn't been my sister for years. I don't know how to deal with this. I'm there for her as best as I can be and I talk to her all the time (I had to stay away for a couple weeks to detox from junk food but I'm ok with hanging out with her these days). It's like talking to a ghost; she's a shade of her former self. And I can't be like, "Hey get your shit together" - I mean, she's going to be gone soon. All I really can do is be supportive. Case 3: 'Failure'. I don't even want to speak the name of the woman that I was madly in love with some 5ish years ago. That was the most intense and serious emotional intimacy I ever had and then she disappeared. I grew desperate, then angry and bitter, resentful, and eventually I realized that anyone who would act like that to me doesn't deserve to take up space in my head. She doesn't deserve someone to miss her - not when she was an emotionally stunted failure. And I wrote out the entirety of the relationship one day and afterwards, I had a calmness. She doesn't lord over my thoughts at all. However, what should be said is that my emotional connection to *anyone* is now less intense. I don't feel those 'butterflies' of being in love. I don't have a strong pining for past relationships. They have all been put into perspective and I realize that the women that I had attachments to weren't emotionally there. I've been trying to make an intense connection to another person that truly wasn't there. In order to have that deep level of love, both people have to have a level of vulnerability and in the end, there hasn't been a single woman that has lowered their guard in the way that I so deeply wish would happen. Instead I get close....but not *that* close. There are feeling, but they aren't *that* strong. I've often thought that maybe that emotional part of me is broken: that having connected and lost so many times that I'm sort of indifferent to other people being in my life. All of these things happened in the past 3 years and having all my family (I don't consider my sister's doofus husband who doesn't care about her to be family) and the strongest emotional connection either disappear abruptly or fade away makes me feel less, overall. There's a dulling to how I feel and that bleeds over to being passionate about anything or anyone. Like when I get a message from a woman on a dating site and I leaf through their profile and see stuff like 'morbidly obese', 'I know my worth', 'working a dead-end job', 'has two kids and is divorced last year', 'interests are shitty canned laughter comedy', 'drinks on the weekends and does pot', 'looking for something serious, no fuckboys'; all I can muster is a 'eww, no'. I have no desire to be some woman's golden parachute after they made a lifetime of mistakes and bring literally nothing to the table, who wants something serious after they had their years of fun, and there isn't a single attribute that they have that I don't and could look up to. It's basically a wasteland and I find myself going a month or two without even looking at the site. These days, I'm not even checking. I just couldn't care less. The above cases of loss for me, has made it extremely hard for me to care about anything. I hear about the covid shit night and day despite not even clicking on articles or reading any news about it. There's that trucker strike that is getting censored and I see various content creators that I watch starting to get copyright strikes and legal battles to even stay around. I see no brightness at the end of the tunnel in regards to serious relationships. Everything seems dim and pointless. And don't get me wrong, I'm trying. I've tried to have some convos with people at work, I talk with the owner at the warhammer store (Jimmy). I spend time with a ladyfriend. I come on here and try to post on a somewhat regular tempo. But it feels like I'm treading water. I'm going through the motions. I'm surviving, NOT thriving. I'm not sure what needs to happen, what I need to do, to get that kick in the ass to do anything more than maintain. I don't see weight loss progress despite hitting the gym multiple times a week and cutting out all the trash food. I mean, I physically feel better. I'm not getting constant headaches, stomach aches, and serious suicidal thoughts and huge bouts of anxiety. But NOT gaining weight isn't the same as losing weight. NOT being an emotional wreck isn't the same as being happy and fulfilled. I'm kinda just here. I don't know where I'm supposed to find joy and happiness. Like, let's do a thought experiment and I get this huge burst of adrenaline and go all david goggins or some shit. Let's say, theoretically, that my sister will be gone by June. I'm worried that when she is gone, my bro-in-law will inherit the house and there is no love loss between us and he'll kick me out so I'll be homeless. I have enough money in the bank that I won't need to sleep in my car but I'll have a ticking clock. So to avoid that, I need to talk to my sister first to see about what assurances are that things won't end up with the jackass that literally has a song on his phone of 'I married for money' inherits the house my mom broke her back to buy in cash like 40 years ago. Say I talk to her and I end up getting half the house and pay for utilities and my bro-in-law stays in one house, while I'm in the other. Do I ACTUALLY want to be there? Well, I don't want him to have the house. Maybe I could buy his half off with the money I have saved up. Then I have a duplex all to myself and literally no one there. Let's work backwards: In order to either 1) Have my own place or 2) Own my family's house, I need $. That means I need to get the therapist job. In order to do that, I need to address this mental block I have. In order to address the mental block I have, I need to lose weight and build my confidence back up (because it's currently utter shit confidence). In order to do that, it seems I can't lift 3x week and eat healthy: I need to go full-on gym rat and do more cardio, get more strict with measuring food, weigh myself more often to make sure I'm on top of shit, etc. So theoretically, I go beast-mode and Feb+March I lose the weight. I get the job in April and start making some decent money. In June, shit hits the fan and the saved money+the new money gets used..... THEN what? Like, am I happy then? What do I do in, say, August of 2022? October of 2022? I lost some weight and I have a better job. Does that mean I'm fulfilled? I don't think I will be but I don't know for sure. Like, what would an average week look like in October 2022? Monday - Go to work. Monday night - Gym, eat, ???? Tuesday - Go to work. Tuesday night - Gym, eat, ??? Wed/Thur/Fri- same shit. Weekend - Batch cook, do some art. Is that it? I need social connections. Is life worth living if you are all by yourself? What happens when you 'solve' things and life is working a few hours to maintain your life. Like, what ELSE is life? I used to come on here and say that life is the 1/3 of the day you are free. If in 24 hours you sleep 8 (yeah right...), you work 8, then there is 8 leftover. Less because travel time but you get what I'm saying. What the fuck is that 1/3 of the leftover supposed to be? I mean, let's say I won the lottery today and I never had to work. Would that even make me happy? Then I would have 16 hours a day instead of 8. Sure, doing this art stuff is nice and all, but that still doesn't feel like *thriving*. What else should I be doing? I guess the three cases have me questioning how to feel fulfilled when those 3 are all gone. I mean, I didn't feel fulfilled when my mom was alive, or when 'traitor' was texting me all the time. Is life just about filling up your time until you have none left? My sister said two or three months ago that she wanted to know that 'this all meant something', 'this' referring to life and what she has done up to this point. The thing is, I don't really think it has. I don't think there has been a meaning and with her being like this, it's making me reflect more and more on myself. Who else is there to lose? Let's say she is gone, bro-in-law takes the house. I have a bed, tv, chair, loveseat, punching bag, weight bench, and 7 bug-out bags. Back when I had the great purge, I consolidated everything of importance to me into just 7 backpacks. Two were important papers, two were clothes, two were items, one was electronics. I still have those backpacks ready to go, if say, the apocalypse happens. This means that besides a couple pieces of furniture, I could fit everything of value in my car today. So what do I value? What do I want? And will getting those things actually make me happy or will the goalpost towards happiness just be pushed further back? Perhaps the treadmill is a state of mind. You know, I think a lot about the dating scene and about people's likes, wants, and needs and it's a laundry list. All I wanted in my teens was to be with a woman. Now that I've had that several times....whatever? I wanted random toys and crap. I got them and then.....whatever? When I was trying to eat healthy, all I wanted was junk food and then once I had it....whatever? Happiness may not be a state of mind but a constant suffering and longing for what we think we want. A sense of this is also part of how I dealt with case #3, the traitor. If I run through the theoretical life choices and consequences, and I act out reaching that finish line to happiness; is it a reality or just a projection to keep me running on that treadmill? Am I just coming up with more and more carrots on a stick? I mean, when you think about it, that's capitalism: it's the manufacturing of happiness depending on the wanting of things. If I won the lottery and had that bag of money, would I even spend it on shit I wanted? We have these uber trillionaires that accrue more and more but do you really think that the owner of facebook, youtube, various fortune 500 companies etc is truly happy when they can buy a boat or skyscraper and then never even use the damn thing? Should I spend that 1/3 of my life chasing shadows or am I going about this all wrong? What do I actually want and why? This challenge, I'm going to try something different. For frigging years, I've had the same goals over and over and maybe that's me just on the treadmill. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, so I should change. I'm not going to posting how I ticked some boxes that I set for myself. If that works for you, more power to you; but I'm not seeing the benefits these days. This challenge, the only goal is to write. I'll still do workouts and stuff but the more important thing is to keep writing. Just posting this made things feel a little bit clearer so this might be the piece that I'm missing so I'll go from here.
  2. Stagnation is Death Annals of a Bladesinger A haunting melody weaves its way through the quiet forest. An alien in her homeland with a mind touched by the hand of darkness, the elven wizard hones her dangerous dance, ever vigilant, ever mindful. She practices her art not just for the protection of her people, but to soothe her tormented soul with the meditative, otherworldly whistle of bladesong. Journey to Bladesinger Master 2020 Stats: STR 10 || DEX 11 || CON 11 || INT 15 || WIS 16 || CHA 12 2020 Level: Bladesinger Apprentice Goal Stats: STR 14 || DEX 17+ || CON 14 || INT 18+ || WIS 18+ || CHA 14 Goal Level: Bladesinger Master Bladesinger Apprentice - Trains under a Master. Must demonstrate above-average intelligence, and wisdom to be accepted into training for a wizard, must show some promise in dexterity to be accepted by a bladesinger master. STR 8 || DEX 10 || CON 8 || INT 14 || WIS 14 || CHA 8 Bladesinger Knight - Able to train and fight independently. Must demonstrate above-average mastery of dexterity, and very high intelligence, and wisdom. Strength, constitution, and charisma must be high enough as to not impede progress. STR 12 || DEX 14 || CON 12 || INT 16 || WIS 16 || CHA 11 Bladesinger Master - Can train an Apprentice. Demonstrates exceptional abilities in dexterity, intelligence, and wisdom. Above-average abilities in strength, constitution, and charisma are required to perform at this level. Goal Stats: STR 14 || DEX 17+ || CON 14 || INT 18+ || WIS 18+ || CHA 14 Bladesinger Leader - Can serve as leader to other Master roles. Demonstrates all the abilities of a Bladesinger Master, with higher charisma for leadership qualities. Goal Stats: STR 14 || DEX 17+ || CON 14 || INT 18+ || WIS 18+ || CHA 17 How to Level Scores based on max 20 system, current list only filled to requirements for mastery from current stats, does not include information prior to or past current and master stats Strength (STR) - Calisthenics and Iron STR 11: Plank 1min, 4x13 Pushups, 4x25 Crunches, 30/20 bodyweight squats, 2x20 tricep dips, 2x30 one-leg calf-raises STR 12: Plank 2min, 3x15 Pushups, 3x30 Crunches, 2x40 15lbs one-leg calf-raises, DB Bench 30lbs, DB Squat 50lbs, Deadlift 40lbs STR 13: Plank 3min, 3x20 Pushups, DB Bench 40, DB Squat 60lbs , Plank 3min, DB Deadlift 60 STR 14: DB Bench 60, DB Squat 75lbs , Plank 4min, DB Deadlift 80 STR 15: DB Bench 90lbs, DB Squat 100lbs, Plank 5min, DB Deadlift 100 Dexterity (DEX) - Flexibility, Agility, Balance, Coordination DEX 12: Eagle pose, Warrior III, Hands flat on floor in waist bend, Baby Crow pose DEX 13: Front and side splits, Crow pose, complete NF Yoga DEX 14: Crane pose, Wall handstand (1min), start martial art or agility training DEX: 15: Flying crow pose, 8-angle pose, dragonfly pose, unassisted handstand (1min+), 1 year of martial arts training DEX 16: Level 5: Dophin Push Up Challenge DEX 17: Black belt in a martial art DEX 18: 3rd degree black belt in martial art AND first degree black belt is second martial art Constitution (CON) - Stamina, Endurance CON 12: Complete a 5k in under 45 min CON 13: Complete a 5k in under 35 min CON 14: Complete a 5 mile run in under 60 min CON 15: Complete a 10k run in under 60 min Intelligence (INT) - Academia and Language INT 16: Personal Trainer Cert AND Health Coach Cert INT 17: Complete a Master's Degree program AND reading intermediate reading level for 2 forgeign languages INT 18: Complete a PhD INT 19: Research published in 5+ academic journals INT 20: Research published in textbooks and taught in classrooms Wisdom (WIS) - Generativity, Activism, Social/Environmental Awareness +Be a founding member or leader in a non-profit organization +1 Teach a skill to at least 10 people (OR) mentor at least 10 people +Teach a college course +Create a college or arts scholarship fund +Convert >90% of Beauty, Cleaning, and Meal Prep products to reusable/recycleable/eco-friendly Charisma (CHA) - Leadership, Social, Performance, Confidence CHA 13: Perform a leading role in a community/unpaid show (OR) 1k sub on social (OR) Manager 1+ employees (OR) Promote to SR/Lead position CHA 14: Perform as a supporting role in a paid performance (OR) direct a community show (OR) Manage 10+ employee team CHA 15: Perform as a leading role in a paid performance (OR) release a music album (OR) 10k subs on social (OR) Manage 50+ employee team CHA 16: Publish best-seller (OR) 10k subs to a blog (OR) 100k subs to social (OR) Run a business of 100+ employees CHA 17: Performance award (OR) 100k subs to personal blog (OR) 1mil subs to social (OR) CEO of 1,000+ employee business
  3. Wow, what a journey we have been on, Dear Readers. The process all began in 2015, but we never know it at the time. I realized I was on some sort of soul journey in mid-2016, then really ramped up through 2017. By the beginning of the year in 2018, I had a name for this path. I can confirm: the past two years have been crucible-level intense. The name "nightmare of the soul" is apt. I even got cocky this time last year, celebrating my new vantage point. I think I might have even said something along the lines of: FOR THE RECORD: DO NOT DO THIS. This was ill-advised. Confession: I kept this attitude through most of the crap that came my way all last year. I don't think the attitude can be beaten out of me, because this year the Universe gave me every reason and opportunity to quit. It would have been easier, for certain, to stop. To take my wounds and call it all a good fight, but over. No. This new land will be mine, and yet I have no idea what it is or what it will look like. For all I know, it's a barren potato field that not even sheep will graze in. I have this vision of cresting a ridge only to see this notice tacked to a tree: There were brilliant moments this year. Real watershed events one after the other (full list) January I wrote a song it went in a tv movie! February I went to a philosophy rave; I went to a Philosophy group; I got a Fellowship to do philosophy all the time; I had a head injury that crippled me; and even through the sidewaysness of it all: the legal situation is a protracted mess that doesn't seem to get better the healing of the head injury is so slow I don't even recognize what I was before intellectually I still can't drive I haven't been to the gym since September. I managed to find my way through by feeling for the next centered thing: I founded a local Philosophy Roundtable I signed up people to vote, raised the roof, amplified messages for causes using my digital life to be active when I had no voice or mobility physically. I am the lead for Philosophers for Sustainability's Public Philosophy team I am a member of the Philosophers for Sustainability Outreach & Social Media team I developed a topic and presented it at a national-level (international?) conference I am presenting a piece on Authenticity, Connectedness, and Hope at the APAPhil Division Conference in Chicago (any Chicago Nerds who want to join the 5e D&D game that is going to happen, or who want to meet RealLivePhilosophers™ drop me a line! It's at the Palmer House Feb 26-29. I'll be in town on March 1, too, mostly because I want to see the Art Institute and because I present on Saturday afternoon, so I wanted extra recovery time). I took my writing to the Thesis Level, and my advisor now refers to it as The Book. I developed the conference presentation into a structure for a book and am working on the proposal and article for submission (see #Goals2020). And now we are here. 2020. I'm not certain how this last part of the Hero's Journey will play out, but I know I'm capable and up for the challenges, whatever they might happen to be. There's a cool lunar eclipse that just happened with the December new moon, and a solar eclipse that is happening at the new moon in January. This challenge is "between the eclipses," so to speak, and I think that has some nice poetry to it. I know that there is a lot of possibility and potential swirling about -- sort of a liquid electricity looking for a channel of expression as it seeks the ground. I think that any number of opportunities await; I have the chance to bring my new sense of self (attitude is everything!) to focus and claim my path forward. I am grateful that you have been part of this with me. I have no idea what I will grasp from the air. Have you guys read the Kingkiller series (by Patrick Rothfuss, first is Name of the Wind) yet? This feels like the moment in the second book, The Wise Man's Fear, when our hero has to go through the willow tree to get the Thing at the center. In ways, it's almost like starting all over again. Thanks for being part of my Fellowship. I can't wait to see what we get up to.
  4. I was recently taking a gander at the "Elements of Martial Arts". I thought it was really interesting that there use to be a traditional system used to represent the different Movements/Agents/Phases/Elements in Martial Arts. However, as I was looking into it I found there isn't a widely agreed idea of what the all the elements were. Depending on the culture, the number of elements used and the element types differ. There seemed to be at least three widely agree elements for each philosophy: Water - Flowing and redirection Fire - Fast movements and rapid attacks Earth - Slow and heavy, use of grabbing and sedation Then the rest of the elements differ from here: Metal - Rigid thrust attacks (Chinese Philosophy) Wood - Large and expansive, uses push-type attacks (Chinese Philosophy) Wind - Freedom and evasiveness (Japanese Philosophy) Void(ether) - Spontaneity and inventiveness. Act without thinking (Japanese Philosophy) What do you guys think about the element theory in martial arts? Do you guys think there is a different philosophy that better represents the elemental structure?
  5. *Trigger warning: this post contains imagery and concepts that can be disturbing to heavy lifters – calorie deficits, sets with more than five reps, and cultivating inner calm. Care – with the holidays doubling down on normal stress and getting settled into a routine after all the moving; self care is a priority this season. I’ll be yammering about daily care activities like meditation, quality sleep, and mobility; weekly chiropractic visits and the occasional leisurely smoke. There may be high handed criticism of the odd novel or two that I’m reading. Who can know? Cultivation (of the self) – instead of being an awkward synonym for self-development, chosen to allow an alliteration of c-words (okay, mostly that), I’ll be posting about my efforts to cultivate and explore some fledgling interests including dog training (I have a tiny dog with massive dreams), German practice, creative writing, and a non-fiction reading list that’s been kicking my butt lately with the move these past weeks. Wendler’s 5-3-1 is first on the list, but some fun historical criticism theology, and post-structuralist philosophy is in there too. Conditioning – short on time, as always, I’d barely managed to make room for main lifts + accessories this last month, but now with a more stable schedule, I’m chasing the golden snitch of conditioning again. Circuits, sprints and other non-warrior stuff will get talked about here; and any lucky followers get to hear me complain about it. Daily MFP logging (same username as here) with initial CI target of 2000/2200 gross for rest day/gym day, 200g of protein and <=100g carbs. A few parties are on the schedule and I’ll aim for moderation, but we all know it’ll be a caloric reenactment of the red wedding - I’m okay with that.
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