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Hey there, nerds. How long has it been since I've been around these parts? <checks old challenge threads> Let's not talk about that. We'll just say it's been a while. And now it's time to respawn. Almost five months ago, my wife and I began separation procedures. My entire life was turned upside down. We sold our house. On September 8, I packed the last of my possessions into my car, and I drove into America. I would not return to Ontario again for two months. Over the course of those two months, I visited 25 of the continental United States, attended Camp Nerd Fitness 2016, gave out innumerable hugs, and found the most profound, difficult and heart-wrenching reason to be. Me. If you've visited my threads before, you'll know how difficult an admission that has been for me. If you're here from the Camp Facebook page, first off, welcome! Second, you know a little bit more about how I came to that revelation. If my forum friends will bear with me, I'll fill you in on the meaty, painful truths that led up to that. This is harder than I expected it to be. Here's a picture of a fox while I gather my courage. I'm a survivor of abuse. I was physically and emotionally abused as a child. I have lived with a total absence of self-worth and an inability to see value in myself outside of the approval of others. I am still a work in progress. I'm still not in the best head space. But I am acknowledging the darkest parts of me and working towards good mental health. And so, we begin our journey. The Lord of the Rings was the first true novel I ever read. I read it once every year from the time I was twelve years old until the Return of the King came out in 2003. Wow. Return of the King came out 13 years ago. It was my gateway to fantasy and eventually to the entire nerd spectrum. It holds a very dear place in my heart. The struggles of Frodo and the Nine Walkers have been a touchstone in my life. However, due to the peculiarities of my mental health, I have always been drawn to the villains. The Lord of the Rings has those a-plenty. And they shall be my foes. The One Ring In the Fellowship of the Ring, the primary antagonist is largely the Ring itself. It whispers its corrupting song to the weakest members of the Fellowship attempting to sway them to evil. By the end of the first film, Boromir succumbs and attempts to take the Ring from Frodo. This signals the breaking of the Fellowship and the divergence of the characters arcs that are developed throughout the remainder of the story. My brain itself is the corrupting influence of the Ring. Most people put the life goals at the end of their challenge. Well, mine is the elephant in the room that I have ignored for too long. My travels put this in the forefront of my mind a lot of the time. I drove 14,000 km alone in my car. That left me with a lot of time alone with my thoughts. Sometimes they were good, sometimes they were bad. But I was present and looked forward, rather than behind. I am not ignoring it this time around. I'm fighting it by being more present. I have done well when I have been active on my threads. So I am going to post something in my own thread every day. Even if it's simply to say "I'm alive and still going", I will do it. Saruman the White In the first half of the Two Towers, Saruman is the main antagonist. His corruption by Sauron drives him to poison the mind of the king of Rohan and breed his massive army of Uruk-Hai. And Christopher Lee was simply brilliant playing him. Two Towers might be my favourite of the films. The revelation that Gandalf has become the White and Merry and Pippin finding their voices to rouse the Ents were the events that broke Saruman's power in the end. In my long journey, I had to take a good long look in the mirror and acknowledge that I had been living under false assumptions. That I was, in fact, worthy of taking the title myself. A very good friend told me that I was his Earendil, a compliment which still floors me. What I need to do to really live that is find my voice. Hello, segue! I started taking voice acting lessons this month. This is a HUGE departure from my comfort zone in that I have only ever considered myself "okay for an amateur, at best." There have been enough cues, positive feedback, and suggestions from my instructors that I can make a legitimate living at this. Add to that the fact that I am just ecstatically happy being in the recording booth and making a script live. So I have a whole host of practice to get into. The biggest one is to build the habit of reading aloud every day. So every day, I am going to spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day reading whatever text I have aloud. The news, FB posts, the books I'm reading, all of this is fair game. Every word is a story. And I am training to be a storyteller. Let's tell some stories. Gollum Poor Smeagol. He is the most tragic character in the Lord of the Rings. In Gollum we see how far someone can fall. The influence of the Ring drove Gollum to theft, murder, and total isolation from all other living things. So lonely, precious. So very lonely. I always identified most strongly with Smeagol. The darkness does funny things to your head. You have no worth. You can't have worth. It's all a lie. And it's in your own head, so it's not even something other people can see and tell you is wrong. His story touched me very deeply and I always felt that the end of it was inevitable for me as well. Life is precious, friends. Community is the answer. I don't have enough nerds close to me. But I have something that's almost as good. I have my art. I have my hapkido club. I spent this weekend preparing one of my students for his black belt grading. It reminds me how rewarding I find it to teach and to build others up. Now that I'm back in Ontario, I can train regularly again. So let's get back to training. Twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, for black belt training and kicking, respectively. Other classes are available and definitely welcome. But those are my absolutes. The Eye of Sauron The all-seeing Eye of Sauron hovers over the entirety of the Lord of the Rings as the vague yet menacing antagonist. Never physically present, in the books or the films, it still managed to be a frightening presence that unnerved and terrified the Fellowship and drove Sauron's lesser minions like the fiery whips of the Balrog. It was impossible to defeat Sauron through direct confrontation. That was the purpose of the Fellowship, after all, to destroy the source of his power. But it was possible to stand in reckless defiance, to raise one's head and declare that evil shall not be unopposed. This was central to the conflict in Return of the King where every member of the Fellowship, cast across Middle Earth, struggled and pushed to overcome the nightmarish hordes of Mordor. My nightmare horde is my body. I hate it. I hate the way I look. I hate the way I'm shaped. I have little in the way of good to say about it. And yet, I still have times when I feel good about what my body can do. I run aggressive classes in hapkido and I feel exhilarated. I get under a barbell and I feel like a monster. I set up my rings and I am overcome with joy. I am choosing to ignore the whispers of the Eye and stand up against it. I will exercise. I will do three workouts a week, alternating barbells and rings. My power rack is in a basement with 7 1/2' ceilings. I may really want to do OHP, but I need 11' to do so safely. Not practical and muscle ups are a long term goal of mine anyways. Win-win! And that's it. Time to get this thing called life under control.
Hi! Taking February off was WWEEee --- eeerrdddd! It was necessary, but very strange for me. A quick history -- Terinatum has been gaining momentum with NF since February 2013. She has always felt welcomed here on the forums and is quite happy to come back to the folds of the NF family. She has spent the last 14 months on the injured bench and it has taken a toll on her physically and emotionally. Before she was trail running and working up to a 5k on asphalt (best was 2.4 miles), drinking water like a fish, getting junk for out of her life (lost 96 pounds), cooking for herself (a tiny bit anyway), and enjoying her life as a newly single woman with reasons to smile and feel confident along her path to health and happiness. Then the body got hurt. First it was the feet with bunions now active and fallen arches. The achilles had their say about that. The final piece became a tender heel for unknown reasons and happening at unknown times. So Terinatum did some things to help, even without doctors' help, and she has now: orthotics for her arches, a tiny lift for her right shorter leg, and some exercises to help strengthen the foot and ankle. Terinatum is thankful that this part of the puzzle is mostly solvable. Second came her spine. It was more unstable in a spot she knew to be weak. After many a battle with her PCP (5 months), she got help with it, but not before her hips (likely with the help of the arches) became severely inflamed and her glute muscles stopped supporting her walking. Terinatum could no longer walk on pavement of any kind. She was reduce to a hobble after a mere two blocks on cement and around 3 blocks on asphalt. She was walking on not-yet frozen ground with little difficulty just the week before. It was odd, and scary. But the warm, therapeutic water has been helping her make a bit of progress. While working on her glutes and hip rehab with aquatic therapy, Terinatum went to the pain clinic. After much investigation, she had some answers. Her spine has been deteriorating more than normal, and sooner. Causes? heavy weight, running while heavy, bad posture habits, and several old injuries. She now has osteoarthritis in her spine at two places, a bulging disc, facet disease, and degenerative disc disease. So, now it is time to get relief and build up important muscles so that, hopefully, trail running will again be part of her life. The emotional toll of her medical life was excruciating. After almost 2 years of success, Terinatum was reduced to puddles of tears, balls of anger, and tunnels with no visible light at the end. WTF: why now, why me, why this bad, why, why, why? Why take running from her? She had never fallen in love with any activity, even basketball, like she did with running. It was hard on her to be on the bench. She spent decades on the bench because PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) had forced her to flee life. And now when she wants to be off the bench so bad, she's forced down again. Her earlier successes had not prepared her for this. Nothing had. So how will she motivate herself to get off the bench and do what needs doing, even if it's not hitting the deadlift and running in the woods yet? Meanwhile on the PTSD front, Terinatum had put more rules in place when dealing with her parents. It helped a bit, but not enough. She was starting to wonder what to do next, when an old, trauma memory was recovered unexpectedly. It has thrown Terinatum into a whole new realm of chaos. Now is the time to again mourn the parents she never had, and now the ones she will not have anymore. So for those who know me, that was short! Hahaha Goals for this challenge: 1.) Water! 64 oz daily - measured on MFP using my awesome 3 cup mug I got for Christmas. +2 STR 2.) Cooking at home - 4 out of 7 days per week. Avg. of 3.5 for +3 CON 3.) No sugar junk food - by week 4! No sugar for +3 STA 4.) Stretching each day - calves, quads, hams, med. glutes, piriformis, hip flexors, obliques, and neck. For +2 DEX 5.) Strength exercises - glutes, obliques, transverse abdominals, shoulders, triceps, and feet. For +2 STR 6.) World-building project - continue building the elevation map and get 3 outlines for module stories done. For +1 WIS 7.) Write out and check off daily To-Do lists - at least 4 days per week. Avg. of 3.5 for +2 WIS Alright then! Let's blow this popsicle stand! Good Luck to All Cheers, Teri