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  1. So, here we are again. I should be sleeping, but I couldn't. I have let my last three challenges or so trail into the oblivion due to lots of different things. But mostly sloth. All things considered, 2020 was "good." My relationship survived, and even thrived in many ways thanks to extra time to be together; I taught in every different conceivable mode (virtual, in person, hybrid, synchronous, asynchronous, on zoom and in person at the same time) and only contemplated throwing in the towel a few times; both of us kept our jobs, and my family and his family are all healthy. There were lots of things I could have done...that I wanted to do, that I beat myself up over not doing... but that's really why I'm here...again, facing off against the oblivion: to remind myself what matters. So, that being said: The challenge will be broken into three categories: Need, Should, Want NEED: the "put your own air mask on first" category Take meds Drink at least 80 oz water Relationship therapy goal Get 7 hours of sleep with phone plugged in across the room SHOULD: the "things I struggle to do after work" category Make healthy meal choices: namely: eat a vegetable or eat a reasonable portion Clean or organize something in my home Workout Read WANT: the "gets lost in the endless hours I spend pretending to watch Netflix while I look at my phone" category Working on writing projects Duolingo Learning to play PC games (hubs has been wanting me to do this for years...I'm horrible, but I like shooting things) Experiment with baking So, we are aiming for it to look a bit like this daily Need: 4 Should: 2 Want: 1 But really the main goal is to So, here we go
  2. I know I want this challenge to be about summer and getting more in touch with my primal self (this includes movements, diet, rest, etc.) as well as my spiritual self. I'll get my goals figured out and add them in later. For now... an infographic to serve as the rough draft of my challenge:
  3. “Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Thus power generation processes and energy sources actually involve conversion of energy from one form to another, rather than creation of energy from nothing.” The law of conservation of energy. It’s an irrefutable fact of physics. We talk about it a lot in relation to weight loss. Calories in, calories out. But I wonder; what would this look like in terms of the way I spend my daily energy? The way I spend my life? I tend to think about some things as "requiring energy" while others don't. But that's not true. Everything requires energy, according to the first law. And I have all that energy already within me. So it's up to me to be conscious how I spend it. So this challenge I'll still be making my to do list. But I want to explore limiting it. And reflect on what gets done -- and what doesn't. How am I choosing to spend my energy?
  4. The time has come to throw the Harkonnen dogs off Arrakis, along with their pompous Corrino masters! The indigenous Fremen, ancestors of the wandering Zensunni, shall see to this reality, employing the newly learned Weirding Way to not only match, but to overcome the Empire's very best. Long live the fighters of Muad'Dib! For those not familiar, the Weirding Way refers to the fighting style learned by the Fremen in the sci-fi novel Dune by Frank Herbert. I have recently begun reading Dune once again. It has perhaps been about 7-8 years since I last picked the book up. Each time I read it, I realize something I had missed before. Seems it is always worth revisiting. And this time I plan to finally venture into the rest of the Dune series. The challenge itself is not terribly different from the last one. I am simply going with a Dune theme to give it more flavor. And it's just plain fun! The Weirding Way seems an appropriate name for my training, as it is a culmination of mental and physical training that results in extreme ability. My results probably won't be quite so extreme (such as moving so fast it appears as teleportation), but it's the same idea. It means extreme mental focus, and extreme control over all the muscles in one's body (the Bene Gesserit could supposedly move the very last joint in their toe precisely, without moving anything else). Such ability can only come from discipline and consistent effort. ***UPDATE AS OF 09/19/2015 - I will be posting a reboot of my goals in a new post within a day or two. Rehashing the same stuff from the last two challenges isn't working. It's uninspiring. I think I had the right idea, but I need something new and interesting to spice things up (hehe, spice...the spice must flow ). Also, I need to make it as simple as possible. Simple is good. It creates less anxiety, and enables me to better roll with the punches life throws at me. More to come.*** Here's the breakdown of the goals: Goal 1: Daily Routine - These are the same daily practices I employed in the last challenge. +4 Wis, +1 Con Sleep - Get to bed no later than midnight, every night.Meditation - Every day, for at least 8 minutes or more.Priorities - Every day, make a list of priority tasks I intend to accomplish that day. Writing it makes it more relevant, and I am more likely to do it.Goal 2: Body Weight Exercises - This is the same exercise routine I employed in the last challenge. It is more or less designed to enhance my ability to train in parkour/ freerunning, as well as improve overall strength and muscle endurance. This routine is to be done 4 times per week, as before. +3 Str, +2 Dex Air squats - 3 sets of 15 reps.Pull-ups - 3 sets of 4 reps.Decline push-ups - 3 sets of 15 reps.Decline bridges - 3 sets of 15 reps.Short stretching routine at the end of workout.Parkour training can be done as a substitute for this routine.As before, more reps or sets can be added, depending upon how my body is adapting. Currently, the above numbers are still challenging if I'm doing everything at a fairly rapid pace, circuit-style. Goal 3: Weekly Routine - This is the new stuff. Well, not really new. I was often doing this on the side, intermittently. Now it is to be a consistent, weekly effort. +2 Dex, +2 Wis, +1 Sta Parkour/Karate - 1x/week, dedicated training of parkour and/or karate skills. This can take place at home, but preferably in a park or anywhere else outdoors, where there are obstacles that can be utilized. Weather permitting of course. I will also often include my 4 year old in the training, as I often do. She enjoys seeing daddy jump around, as I enjoy coaching her through basic jumps, rolls, and other movements (she has been amazing me with her cat grab/hang lately). She is also going to start in a kids karate class as this challenge kicks off, which will very likely rekindle my own interest in karate. It's good for both of us, incentive to stay active for the rest of our lives.Yoga - 1x/week, attend a class at the YMCA. I've established a pretty good habit of meeting my sister at the Y on a weekly basis for this. It's been good for both of us to get out of the house, and as always, yoga does a world of good for my back. Solo Walk/Run - 1x/week, take a walk by myself, somewhere. Or a run, if I'm feeling it. Doesn't really matter where. At least cover one mile. I tend to go for several walks throughout the week as it is, with my daughter, but the point here is to get at least one walk in where it's just me and my own thoughts. A time to reflect, as well as move. Also always, these goals are simply bare minimums. I am always free to do more reps, more sets, longer practices, etc. I just want to make sure I am at least hitting the minimums consistently. Even if I don't feel like it that day. Even if it doesn't make me into a remarkable athlete. The point is to be a little bit better each day. Thanks for reading...and long live the fighters of Muad'Dib!
  5. Ok, so I'm not literally joining a cult. The title is simply a historical reference to the Roman deity Disciplina, worshiped by Roman soldiers as the personification of discipline through frugality, sternness, and faithfulness. Wikipedia has a brief entry on the topic here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disciplina The purpose of this quest is to go back to the absolute basics and establish a solid, disciplined daily routine from which I can progress. This is primarily going to focus on habits versus fitness routines, though fitness will still play somewhat of a role. A lot of what I will be doing is possibly more suited to other Nerd Fitness guilds, such as Adventurer or Druid. However, I have decided I am Assassin to the core, and with the Assassins I shall remain. Nothing is true; everything is permitted. Here is how it will all break down. Goal 1: Sleep - Get to bed by 11:00 PM at the latest between 11:00 PM and 12:00 AM every night. I'm not going to get too excited by the occasional slip, especially when it's a situation where I am burning the midnight oil for a very good reason, such as catching up on stuff from work, which I do on occasion. However, such a thing should never become regular habit. The bad habit I am putting to rest here is staying up late, sacrificing good sleep (therefore sacrificing readiness to tackle the next day) for trivial matters such as video games, surfing the internet, or watching TV. The goal is discipline through respecting myself and the obligations I choose to fulfill the next day by being well rested and alert. +3 to Con, +1 to Sta Goal 2: Priorities - Every day, make a list of priority tasks I wish to accomplish. I already do this at work. This goal is specifically to create a comparable daily list at home. By doing this I intend to be more mindful about how I spend my time and energy on any given day, therefore accomplishing things that bring me true fulfillment. +3 to Cha Goal 3: Meditation - Every day, meditate at least once, for seven minutes or more. Simple as that. Take the time to do it, and feel better about everything in general. +4 Wis Goal 4: Arm Strength - This is the only workout oriented goal of the quest. I simply wish to continue the gains I have made in the last six months in terms of upper body strength. Four times per week, I will do a minimum of 3 sets of 3 pull-ups. This is about my max ability right now. At week four of the challenge, I will increase to 3 sets of 4 pull-ups, minimum (or at least attempt to do so). I will of course increase beyond this as ability allows, but this is not required for the goal to be a success. In addition, I will do a basic body weight exercise routine four times per week. This will consist of air squats, decline push-ups, and decline bridges. +4 to Str And there we have it. I will still be working an additional body weight exercises, parkour, and yoga. However, I simply want to focus on what's most important to me right now for this challenge. Right now what I need most is a return to a steady routine. Once I do that, the rest will fall into place with significantly less strain. ***Changes made to Goal 1 and Goal 4 on 07/26/2015.***
  6. If I had to choose the character in literature that I most identify with, it would be Hermione Granger. I was a frizzy haired, smarty pants who spent more time with books than other people for a large part of my school years. I’ve been called a goodie-two-shoes, a brown-noser, bossy, and many other things I wouldn’t type in pleasant company. I didn’t come from “pure bloodâ€. But I will learn and dare almost anything to move forward and help my friends. The Harry Potter series has been reminding me to play to my strengths as I approach some big challenges – moving across country, two sets of boards, and starting a new phase of my training. Hermione embodies a lot of my strengths, so I’m going to use some of her favorite spells in my quest toward freedom from my food triggers and bad food habits. Like Hermione, my perfectionist ways can sometimes be an exercise in missing the point. My scale, weight, BMI, calorie counts, and any other numbers ARE NOT the priority. I want to be fit, healthy, and well. So, time to listen to Ron and sort out my priorities. Fewer numbers... more focus... Main Quest: Craving Control Habit Alohomora = unlock my mind from food triggers. Work with ideas from Eating the Moment to break the bad eating habits I have, including mindless eating, snacking in certain locations, and rushing through lunch. Nox = lights out at 9:30pm. More sleep is physiologically important for fighting cravings. Incendio = walk 10,000 steps per day. When I’m active, my mind is healthy. When my mind is healthy, I make healthy choices. Books and Cleverness! I have got to start seriously studying for boards. Time Turner = No video games until I have completed my tasks for the day! Devices can help us make the most of time. My iPad is NOT just for games... Ready, Assassins? Let's do this!
  7. So, the basis for this is that I'm pelted with schoolwork, out of shape, tired, but that's not the point. The point is how procrastination and frittering away time bleeds into everything: I have something I need to do. Say, an assignment. Say then I don't do it, because I watched read-webcomics, watched youtube, [insert blank]. Then I start to worry about it, more and more. The constant worrying and procrastination kills productivity something awful, and the stress compounds. I felt a bit like crying at the end, just because I couldn't pull it off, because my time went all to the wrong places all the time. I don't want to keep doing this. My aim is to work a chunk at a time, focusing clearly on one thing, and not worry about it the rest of the time. 1) Set an amount, say 4 hours per day, stick to it, and during that time, do the work. “When walking, walk. When eating, eat. Above all, don't dawdle.†~Zen proverb 2) The Zen Habits 1000 cuts Fearkiller, on 26 Feb 2014 - 10:46 PM, said: 200 points, 3-4 things a day. 3) Find an half an hour for drawing every day. Basic shading excercises, drawing a bent wire, legos, wooden blocks, and basically just stuff all around me.
  8. Aye, me bonny lasses, when we last left off our story we were a-huntin' a fine little brigantine. Perhaps we shall catch her yet... Join us on our hunt fer fortune n' adventure aboard the Queen O' Swords, where we ply the waves in search of our true treasures - freedom n' friendship! We are the Pirate Queens... Fierce in our commitment to our goals and determined to pursue our destinies wherever our dreams may take us. We raise our standard and set sail!
  9. Five days after the end of this challenge is my first Nerdversary. While I have made progress in one year, I know I am capable of more. I am hungry, and I am going hunting - stalking myself, my excuses, my bad habits, my faulty beliefs and attitudes. It's time to get tough. That cute little cub laughing at burpees has grown and now it's time go after fresh meat on the hoof. Stalk it, kill it. Focus... But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy some adorable baby animals... Or hang out with my fellow Renaissance Rebels and the merry, marauding pirate queens, the CutLasses. (That last should actually be written as "The CutLasses!" Those ladies boarding your ship have not come to join you for tea and crumpets...) Aargh! Oh, yeah...focus. BECOMING THE SHADOW LION My motivations and commitment for my quest are detailed in my battle log. The premise of this whole year's worth of challenges is that I am attempting to emulate the rangerly heroine of my fantasy series, to understand my protagonist from the inside out as it were, and Become the Shadow Lion. It has been an interesting psychological exercise to see the ways in which one's literary creations mirror their creator - or not. And, it can be decidedly uncomfortable, and very instructive, to have some of the shadowy corners of one's own psyche reflected back at one's self. My overall goals from last challenge, and for this year's quest as a whole, remain essentially the same - more muscle, less fat; more skill, focus, and creativity. What will be changing this time, however, is that I will be going deeper and expecting much more from myself. Instead of focusing on establishing a variety of good habits, as I have up until now, I will instead zero in and stress test specific ones. I will use those select few to really go after my most persistent demons and the highest value targets. (Dr. Pepper, this means you!) I do plan to keep doing many of the established routines I have built up in the past year, but they will be clearly subordinate to the major goals listed below. Their intensity and frequency will be scaled to support the Big Four targets; if they interfere or take too much time, energy or focus from the highest priority items, they will be modified or even dropped. This will all be detailed in my battle log. This challenge will be a major test of my desire (my hunger) and my commitment (my will to endure and ability to stay on the trail of the beast and make the kill). Success resides inside and depends on intense focus, crystal clear priorities, mental toughness, trust in my abilities, and a belief that I am worth it. Each of the five factors listed above has doomed other, similar efforts in the past. The differences between then and now lie in my greater awareness, months of preparation, and my wonderful support network. Even so, I place my odds of total success at about 50-50. These are called "challenges" for a reason, right? Here goes... 1) ShadowLion Trains for the Hunt - STR-3 DEX-2 The Shadow Lion LAUGHS at Burpees! She LOVES all forms of bodyweight training. (_/3) ShadowLion's unofficial PvS Burpee Quest DEX -2 (_/1) 3 sets of 15 Burpees in less than 21 minutes. As many unmodified as possible, but knee pushups are acceptable. I'm getting into the PVP mindset and a Burpee challenge was discussed last time. This may become official... Armstrong Pullup PVP STR- 3 (_/2) Complete the Beginner Level of the PVP with 3 sets of 15 assisted pullups and 3 sets of 15 knee pushups OR 2 sets of 1 pullup and 2 sets of 2 full pushups. 5/12 - Revision for final two weeks of challenge and Week 0 of the next: I'm dropping the burpees, pullups, and pushups, and refocusing on my lower body (squats, lunges) and endurance training (exercise bike, walking) until my elbow really heals. I can get my weight down some more that way, too. I can still do planks and situps, plus standing "knees to elbows" for core work. Stamina Work - Walking and/or exercise biking, 5x per week STA-3 Strength Work - Squats and lunges, 2x per week - STR-2 2) ShadowLion Slays the Soda Demon - CON-5 Live 100% soda-free for all 47 days of the "The No Soda PVP Challenge" (_/47) This portion of my quest will extend 5 days past the normal end of the 6 week challenge. Ah, the warm fuzzies of last challenge's food quest are gone. This is "Battle!" and it is all or nothing. No partial points will be awarded. 3) ShadowLion Creates Her Plan of Attack - STR-2 DEX-1 (2/3) The end point of the original goal I created for this challenge was completed April 20, just 7 days into the challenge, which rendered much of the rest of the goal moot. The original goal is contained in the spoiler below for reference. For completion of that goal, I have awarded myself STR-1. The remaining STR-1 and DEX-1 points are rolled over to the revised goal, which I intend to complete by the end of the challenge. I have retitled my Life Quest goal "ShadowLion Creates Her Plan Attack" and reworked it as follows: Perform Initial Size Up, Determine Primary Objectives, Strategy, and Major Decision Points STR-1 (_/1) Since I have determined that I want to return to the Fire Service, I am going to approach this as if I were sitting in the officer's seat on the first arriving engine: What is the current situation? What are my primary objectives? What resources are at my disposal? What method of attack has the greatest likelihood of success in this situation? What needs to happen, in what time frame, and in what order? What are the critical decision points? What can go wrong and how can I mitigate the risks? The responses to these questions will be used to create my action plan. Create Action Plan DEX-1 (_/1) Create a written action plan, with checklists and timeline, that incorporates the above information. For Nerd Fitness purposes, portions of this action plan will be formatted and pulled over into my as yet unwritten Epic Quest and into my current Battle Log. To earn my point, all three items must be up-to-date by the end of the challenge. 4) ShadowLion Pursues Mastery - STA-2 (_/4) Quality over quantity, focus over variety. One-half point each. One main task for each area and all four tasks must be completed before adding any shiny new task to any area as a bonus/reward. Art - One finished drawing that goes with my writing Craft - Finish the shrug Guitar - Relearn "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" and memorize it Writing - Three installments/posts of "Shadow Lion" themed challenge The above will be graded with the standard A, B, C, D, or F system using the usual percentages. Note: I have gotten a bit more creative with how I allocate attribute points. Thus the STA points on my Creative Quest (#4) are for patience and perseverance. On my Life Quest (#3), STR points are for inner strength and self-honesty, and the DEX point is for willingness to question both my assumptions and conventional wisdom, and to imagine new possibilities.
  10. We are the Pirate Queens... Fierce in our commitment to our goals and determined to pursue our destinies wherever our dreams may take us. We raise our standard and set sail!
  11. A restless night, followed by a hollow day... I live in an island paradise for which many a queen would lay aside her crown. I command the loyalties of free men and women such that no empress could compel. Yet I look across the sand to a clear, cerulean sky and vivid turquoise waters and I am only aware of the dark storm brewing within my mind. I have fine ships and treasure aplenty, and yet... And, yet. What has it gained me to have escaped the confines of that narrow life reserved for so many others of my sex? I pursued freedom on the high seas and won it, only to realize that I am still in chains. My days pass in an endless stream of responsibilities and tasks. There are so many that I must provide for and watch over. Even my twin loves of the sea and of the art of the sword are fading. I no longer take joy in plotting my attacks, nor in my daring escapes. Would that I could find again that glad simplicity of my younger years... But, wait! Have I grown so weary as to have forgotten the simple truth that once filled the sails of my ambition? It is my choice and my choice alone that steers the ship of my future. Dare I take my sword to those things that grind down my days and steal the precious hours of my life? Will I make my fears and failings my new enemy and win my way to freedom and joy once again? Do you dare to become the Pirate Queen of your own life, to cut away all that stands in your way of epic awesomeness? How many ships can you realistically command, anyway? What is your joy? Where is your freedom? What is your true treasure? Ahoy! I'm ShadowLion, and I started this thread after reading a conversation between Starpuck and Wufkar. Their discussion contained this, among other wise and useful insights: I realized how hard it can be to make the sorts of choices that would simplify our days, allow us to take back our freedom, and live life on our own terms. Come on up the gangplank and let's plan our adventure over some rum laced with tea...
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