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  1. I know the entire NF community--hell, the entire INTERNET--has anxiously been awaiting my return to challenging and here it is. You are all welcome. I started out this year with a lot of enthusiasm and grand plans to have each challenge consist of one goal in each category of gym, food, and home. I think that lasted for ... 2? challenges? then I dropped out of the whole deal for months. After some thought, I'm back and I'm giving myself permission to not feel guilty for not getting eleventy workouts per month or not eating "well" or not cleaning the bathroom 6.7 times per month. I tend to set a lot of what-sounds-like-reasonable goals for myself and then talk myself into not doing them. After 40+ years on the planet, I've also realized that I'm self-destructively stubborn. The quickest way to make me not want to do a thing is to have someone (even myself) tell me to do it. Because I want to do it because I was going to do it, NOT because someone else said something, so then I will specifically NOT do that thing to prove that no one can tell me what to do. Healthy, eh? So, how to reconcile that with the goal-oriented format of an NF challenge? Good question. I don't think that I do. Perhaps that makes this an un-challenge, or maybe the whole challenge is to not continue to set goals that I keep refusing to meet. So if there won't be goals, what will there be? (Ya'll are full of the good questions today) There will be gifs, clearly (feel free to add to the collection) There will be random rambling musings which I will likely immediately forget about even writing and insights that I won't remember having. Probably some kind of workouts--though I seem to not be making time for those currently Likely discussion (or perhaps even photos) of sewing projects, as that's a hobby I've recently picked back up after... 30+ years Mostly this will be an outlet for keeping connected in this community that I've been a part of for so long. To that, I will try to post here on the reg, and attempt to post more (not just lurk and hit the react button) in threads of my fellow rebels. If you've made it through all of that, you are amazing. Welcome to my brain dump space.
  2. I was only going to lurk this challenge, after completely forgetting challenges were a thing I was checking on during the last cycle and then missing my Nerds. I successfully lurked for like 3 days. And then FOMO SHINY RACCOON BRAIN STARTED SCREAMING AT ME DURING BREAKFAST. Warning: Raccoon brain is still in full effect. I make no promise any sentences I’m about to type make any damn sense. Yo … Yo … Breakfast is nice, but …. We need a June sewing project. I should make a shirt. I hate shirts. I probably can’t have only dresses in my wardrobe. I have no more room for dresses. *Stage WhIsPeR* But … what if we make a mini capsule wardrobe for our upcoming vacation since we’ve been spinning our wheels and hate all shirts in existence that don’t either cost $400, exist only in Japan or the Ukraine, only exist in digital form, or are so damn simple we can just make it ourself? Like seriously. I’ve been all over the damn Internet and 3 malls and there are only like 20 shirt designs out there right now - 10 came straight from 2007, and the other 10 are dead simple shirred cottage core looks I’m either loving or hating depending on the moment. Raccoon brain would not let me treadmill at the gym post-breakfast. WE COULD MAKE LIKE ELEVENDY THINGS Raccoon brain needed to ensconce itself in a nest of electronic devices in the lounge to draw. (I’m off again in my favorite place on Earth - just a slightly different hotel with no Starbucks) Raccoon brain forgot I can’t draw a straight line for shit and get annoyed at my handwriting on screen. Raccoon brain cobbled a workable holiday wardrobe in like an hour. Or two. I barely know what damn time it is. Ooh. And then I finished the really cool online course I started this week on creating digital floral patterns for print on fabric or other goods. This came about because I suuuuuuuuuuuuper hate all the patterns that aren’t geometric I can find at the shops - or I hate the colors because they’re not black - and DH thinks I should try to create a houndstooth-but-make-it-dachshund print. Which is hurting my brain. So. I took a pattern making course to figure out how to even make a pattern for fabric, by the chick who has the free tutorials I’ve been using to learn how to draw on the iPad in the first place. Not sure if I’ll ever actually use these skills, but it’s a thought. And something I can practice toward. I also learned how to do mock-ups in Procreate, so if I ever did want to Etsy the cards and art shit I’ve been making, I could. Maybe. Not sure how I’d actually ship items, though. Anyways. A brief catch-up because I can’t remember when I ghosted last challenge. RHOD (Real Housewives Of Doha - aka my expats behaving badly drinking group) friends came in to town to celebrate one of the group’s 50th. Three of us shut the bar down on 3 separate occasions that week and hung out for dry breakfasts a couple times. A good time was had by all. I bailed on yoga every day I was either busy or hung over, which was most days last week. Or the week before since this is actually Monday. This last week, I’ve been in the Happiest Place On Earth - taking my course, hitting the gym for at least :30 on a scenic zippy walk program every day but the longer mall walk day, and crocheting - then destroying - a project I hated. And planning our next vacation - to Greece - where we aim to meet up with @DarK_RaideR Excited is an understatement. Hence the manic crafting plans. And I broadly sketched out like everything in a couple hours without the 2 months of intensive underpants collecting I normally go through. Thinking about AI taking my damn job potential still hurts my heart’s feelings, but I broke down and put an itinerary request into Google Bard - and it wasn’t terrible. I used like a tenth of it, but it was … interesting. I like my underpants, though. I then limited myself to 3 ‘this is the ultimate list of shit to do in Athens+’ and the suggestions a friend sent, and I was off. Remembering this is July and the entirety of the UK is like to descend upon Greece like a horde of sunburnt sausages, I preliminary booked tours for the biggie sites we wanted to see that involve small groups + waaaaaaaay too early for my liking times in the hopes to avoid said hordes for the nerdy parts. Of course, we are also in talks with a tattoo studio I’ve been Insta-stalking for years …. But this is about the patterns! Bummer. Freeform won’t easily export a good file. This is my chicken-scratch plan, and it even includes a COLOR and a PATTERN. *pats self on back* - let’s see if I can physically purchase fabric in a bright color and/or a pattern. Or, if I can even find such a thing. - Updates may be infrequent, but I’m aiming to lurk daily at least.
  3. Short-term goals: Finish jeans. Be social at least 3 times a week (on NF, not going nuts with this one). Practice Russian once a week. Long-term goals: Purge: go through the house and get rid o' unused stuffs. Quality: replace failing things with quality items, as needed. Pike press as part of handstand. The quest to clean up the house is ongoing, and I aim to have it done by 2023. The kitchen and most of the dining room has been purged, plus it prompted us to get rid of crappy old pans and get new, quality ones. The exercise goal that I've had running for the past (forever) is off my list now, because it's an established thing. I have ordered a hula hoop as a birthday gift to myself and for silliness; it may find its way into the exercise routine. I also successfully held a handstand away from the wall for 5 seconds today, which means I can start working on pike presses as well,; I'm quite proud of that, but it's not gonna happen within a single challenge. What will happen? Jeans! I know how much you all (and @Red1263 in particular) love looking at a billion pictures of sewing projects on my butt, so I'll refrain from overposting. I made a mock-up of the jeans I've been wearing for years this past weekend, but did not take into account that the jeans material is stretchy, and my mock-up wasn't. It was tight enough that I didn't take pictures, but the pattern is correct and I started in on cutting the real denim. THAT SAID...!!! As further part of birthday gifts/ going for quality, I got a new pair of shears (yes, I know, I have a problem), and got my 15-year-old serger serviced. The shears are bent-handled, which means one blade lies flat against the cutting board as you cut, resulting in amazingly clean cutting lines. I very nearly cried tears of joy. The serger went from making a functional serge line but with lots of excess loops and not precise edges to beautifully balanced, clean edges. The servicer even sent samples home to show it was working, and I didn't realize I could do a folded, 3-string seam, so hey hey I learned a new trick! So yeah, I'm quite excited to get back to sewing. I'm also going to make an effort to get on here and be social at least 3 times a week, because I absolutely sucked at that on the last challenge, and there are a number of people whose thoughts, insights, and experiences here I quite enjoy. Lastly, I have let language practice go for a number of very good reasons, but it's time to bring it back. Russian practice of some sort shall be done at least once a week. I can do this.
  4. Alternately titled, “Let’s Try This Again, Shall We?” Apparently, attempting to join a new community of cool fitness friends while also getting a master’s degree AND battling a pandemic is just doing one thing too many. So now I’m back again to see if I can make this nifty Forum thing work! First things first: hi! I’m Sparkle, a 24-year-old lady in the piney forests and concrete canyons of Seattle, WA. I spent the pandemic finishing my bachelor’s in graphic design, then earning my MBA (Fighting Irish, twice over!), driving cross-country back to the family home, and getting my first Real-Deal Adult Job as the Creative Director for a small engineering firm. Now I’m getting my mental feet back under me after the chaos of moving and readjusting, and this challenge has landed in my lap like a perfectly-timed kick in the pants. My goal for this challenge is simple: be brave. Enough of running scared and wishing for more courage, it’s time I made myself some courage of my own. Be brave at work, by daring to engage playfully with my grouchy-bear boss and proposing innovative designs that push his conventional envelope rather than just keeping my head down. Be brave in my workouts, by pushing myself to hit 80 lbs for all sets of my upper body lifts and adding rear deltoid rows to my existing routine. Be brave personally, daring to carve out time for myself and spending at least two concerted, focused hours on personal development/enjoyment each weekend. Charisma: +1 each weekday for engaging playfully and teasingly with my boss (possible total: 5 points per week) Strength: +1 each workout (goal of 4 per week) that I add in shoulder work, bonus point for each new lifting set I push to hit 80 lbs (possible total: 4 points per week, more with bonuses) Intelligence: +1 for each solid, focused hour spent working on sewing projects or learning to design mobile-first websites via my Skillcrush course (possible total: 2 points per week) I’m not gonna start my challenge until November 1, for tidy timekeeping reasons, so this weekend will be a good time to get some practice in. So, without further ado, let’s go! HUZZAH!
  5. This Cycle may or may not see me home the entire time - I may end up following DH on a trip; we may end up taking an actual vacation - who knows? We may just be here the whole time. If I need to adjust, adjustment protocols will be enacted. Nutrition I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s time to shift some weight. I don’t want to buy a second round of new clothes. Cook paleo-ish meals (fake meats, soy and the occasional garbanzo bean are ok) with an emphasis on protein Go back to tracking macros. My scale had itself an electrical aneurysm and started muttering to itself all on its lonesome (it was seriously sad - poor little guy kept trying to weigh air, coming up with wildly different answers, until his batteries died). As it stands, I’m estimating my TDEE at 1541 based on my current weight and activity levels. I’ll start with reporting and tracking via MFP with an eye on coming in under calories and will strive to make protein a priority. We’ll see what that gets me re: fitting into some of my clothes again by the end of challenge and refocus from there. Movement Keep up with my 4x a week yoga with walks to and fro - hopefully in less than 115F temps, “windchill” of 125, and over 70% humidity. Fall, as it were, is coming - the news and the Ministry promised. As my schedule stands, and I hope it continues, I’ve got: Monday morning: Slow Flow (a mostly gentle class) Tuesday evening: Functional Flow (hella hard rehab style movements) Wednesday morning: Detox (a hard class with lots of twists and fun movements) Friday morning: Slow Flow (ha! I guess it’s slow? It’s usually hard and full of novel movement - same teacher as Wednesday’s class) With an 18-minute walk to and from. I also want to add more HIIT or Barre videos at home, but wasn’t quite meshing with that this past challenge. We shall see here and I’ll do what I can. I need to get on my ass about it a bit, but finding the balance between that and the don’t wannas has proven difficult without an actual tangible goal in sight. Enrichment I’m still playing both Stardew Valley and Cozy Grove and will pick Animal Crossing back up if they ever release an update. I’m currently working on an 18thc. shift & chemise set. After I finish that, I want to dye the rest of my medium weight linen with avocado pits, and jump to a modernized walking skirt/vest/petticoat project. I also have some crochet supplies on order - I want to do something with my hands again while watching tv at night. Sashiko sounded great, but is a bit fiddly for my hands at the moment. Hand sewing has been great, but I want to give crochet another go. It seems to hurt my hands less than knitting. I also want to keep up with my digital art practice, and still feel like I should be doing something actually useful instead of just killing time. It’ll ostensibly be cooler soon, so the pups would appreciate more evening enrichment. Although it’s going to suck mightily, walk practice and desensitization with Odin should go back on the docket. And that’s it. Nothing earth shattering, but without something big looming (like a mud run or series of 5ks), self-starting is not my strong suit.
  6. Brains are interesting things, and the persistence of ones’ past experiences is super fascinating. Case in point: It’s February. I spent my early childhood in the Midwest USA, where we pretty much always had snow this time of year. I split my remaining childhood between the Midwest and Southeastern US, where it was always cold - but not usually cold enough to snow - and potentially rainy this time of year. I moved to the extreme Southeastern US, where winter meant the dry season and temps would dip down to jacket territory. I moved to the Northeast, where the biting wind and snow would occasionally cause the City to freeze, resembling a snow globe. I currently live in the Middle East, where it’s sunny every day with an average temp in the high 70s F. Winter here means the freedom to enjoy the outdoors and (usually) an increase in festivals and other cool things to do. What does my brain think about all this bouncing around? My brain takes the calendar month and the deep shade that is my balcony (my apartment doesn’t get direct sunlight at any time of the year) and translates that into: whelp, it must be cold. Probably with howling winds. Never mind that it’s 23C in the house; you want to hibernate with your gathered nuts. Cabbage & potatoes with kielbasa sounds great. I’m continually shocked that it’s warm outside. Shocked and disappointed that it’s too warm for a jacket (most days, and then the wind kicks up and I’m freezing to death). I’ve spoken about this disconnect to friends from other climates (mostly regarding holidays), and their feeling is the same: my Australian friends fare pretty well - and are more surprised when it’s 50C here in July - friends from snowy climes are confused in similar way to me. Friends that are less hiberatory (just go with it) see less of a disconnect because they deal more in actual reality - whereas I have theory and feeling to inform my brain. Super interesting stuff and has shitall to do with my goals this Cycle, but is a drop in the bucket to explain my seasonal need to pad my ass with fat (lol). More contextual stuff: There is also a rumor that we may imminently be going back into lockdown here. They’ve increased restrictions a bit again (with at least lip service being paid to mask enforcement), but cases are still rising (we are currently at 427 new daily cases). We are also in the midst of the FIFA World Cup 2020 (or something like that) tournament with a big tennis tournament later in the month set to start. And it’s winter - when things usually happen around here. Aaaaaand the blockade just lifted, and with it - a slight lift in travel restrictions (quarantine is still required and tourists aren’t allowed in - but citizens and residents can, at least at this moment, move with some amount of guarantee they can get back into the country if they leave. We’ve also got at least 1 travel bubble in place). So. That all is a conflicting pile of info and it’s unclear what that all will come to mean for day-to-day life. Whatever it is, I shall adjust accordingly. Updates coming if needed. Goal 1: Nutrition Staying the course on my more recent nutritional guidelines: Smaller portions, less meat, more veggies, nutrient dense food options, no GI issues. Drink enough water. Eat with an eye toward Base MFP goals for slow weight loss: 1,260 calories, 20% protein, 50% carbs, 30% fat but without judgement if I go over or under on calories. Basically, eat what I’m going to eat - but by the fact of tracking, that tends to be more reasonable. I’ll also be adding in some probiotics and digestive enzymes in an effort to help with gut issues. Goal 2: Fitness Staying my Druidy course of action (shocker) with 4-5 yoga classes per week - hoping to continue my M vinyasa /T functional/W detox/F handstands schedule, with a 20 minute walk to and from the studio. Goal 3: Fulfillment This goal encompasses a bunch of small things I have going on a daily basis already - with a couple tweaks. Some bloggy stuff, some creative stuff, some dog stuff. Checklisty Stuff Daily [ - ] Duolingo Arabic classes [ - ] Physical craft project (currently sashiko, lucet cord making & planning another quilt) [ - ] Digital art practice [ - ] Enrichment feeds for the pups [ - ] Training for the pups [ - ] Yoga class [ - ] Breakfast: [ - ] Probiotic & Enzymes Lunch: [ - ] Probiotic & Enzymes Dinner: [ - ] Probiotic & Enzymes Snacks: [ - ] Picture of the Day + Daily meal collage Weekly/Challenge [ - ] Finish W30 recipes e-Book [ - ] Post W30 recipes e-Book for sale [ - ] Work on Paleo recipes e-Book [ - ] Post weekly recipe [ - ] Create February/March Pins [ - ] Schedule & post February/March Pins [ - ] Schedule February/March ‘Grams [ - ] Review Q1 financial shit in prep for taxes send off [ - ] Stay connected with the world outside my little bubble - be it through keeping a regularly scheduled chat up (my local bestie is moving to North America next week - so my now-usual Tuesday coffee morning will likely be spotty at best as our remaining coffee friend has a newborn and spotty attendance) or attempting to forge new connections. Or, if restrictions go the other way, who knows? We may just see a return to forced scheduled socialization
  7. As we slide into this next challenge cycle, the place I live is on the cusp of entering Phase 3 of reopening. According to the Ministry, Phase 3 will include: Medium-sized gatherings of less than 40 people allowed 54 mosques reopening for Friday prayers Low-risk inbound flights for returning residents Driving schools opened Playgrounds and skate parks opened Team trainings in groups of under 40, amateur sporting events with no spectators Hospitals operating at 80% capacity Nurseries and childcare facilities opened All malls open full hours; souqs and wholesale markets open with restrictions Restricted restaurants open with gradually increased capacity Gyms, health clubs, pools, beauty parlors, spas and hairdressers open at 50% capacity What I’m looking forward to is my yoga studio(s) opening back up, the probable return of IRL Tuesday coffee group, and maybe changing my haircut up eventually - when I find a new hairdresser I like. I was in the middle of finding one that I liked who was sticking around; aaaand who knows who is still here after months of being out of work. So we shall see. I most likely won’t actually get a haircut scheduled for the first month open; my salon is popular and I can imagine they will be packed to the rafters. What this means for me: A potential gradual rejoining of the flow of at least somewhat “normal” life (or whatever you call what I had Before Corona). We won’t be traveling for a bit yet and 2/3 of my friends have scattered to the winds, but it will be good to rebuild myself a new-new-new normal for a bit. I plan on hitting the yoga studio as much as I can fit into the schedule I’m liable to make happen (read: morning classes that aren’t too early), have a once-weekly scheduled social outing over breakfast, maaaaaaaaybe plan a wine by the pool day with a girlfriend, and maaaaaaaybe go out to dinner with DH. This will also mean a return to taking Ubers all over creation; yay, during the heat of the summer. Fingers crossed that I get better Ubers with adequately-powered air cons. As such, my goals are shifting a bit for this cycle as I find my footing for the umpteenth time. Goal 1: Nutrition. Always nutrition This goal is largely the same: don’t eat like an asshole, don’t eat things that I know are going to cause gastric distress, and eat moar veggies. Actually kind of happy that buffets aren’t returning and that a chunk of my ‘let’s go eat a ton of shit and drink all day’ friends have bounced. That will help re: not eating like an asshole. Goal 2: Physical Movement I need more of this in my life. Go do yoga as much as I can make work with my actual schedule (I have 1 set social thing I could actually be late to but hate being late so won’t), the schedule I tell myself I have (100% have to be home in the evenings because DH is), and the schedule I can commit to without anxiety paralysis (anything between 10am & 4pm except Tuesday, when even 4pm is a stretch but I make happen). Goal 3: Creativity Outlets I still need to keep this up because I like it and it’s good for me to actually accomplish things. Currently planned projects include: another bed gown, another quilt, finishing my peplum top, finishing more of my fake lace, a corset, fixing or remaking my walking skirt because the damn hook and eye closure came off (the last of it while I was walking around the mall - so I held my skirt shut behind my back while I continued shopping for half the afternoon. Don’t think I remembered to tell y’all about that hilarity), maybe another article of clothing - probably yet another dress - maybe pants instead. Depends. Also planning on continuing with Animal Crossing, just maybe not for hours every day; maybe quick check-ins on the days I leave the house + longer on days I don’t. Depends on how draining leaving the house turns out to be. Shoehorning in-person being social is going to be incredibly draining for a bit, I’m certain. I need to find ways to deal with that drain that isn’t just watching hours of true crime and historical documentaries on YouTube while semi-napping on the couch. Yoga, man. Yoga. Build some shit on my island. And that’s it. Not terribly different than the goals I’ve had for the last while, but some new challenges to navigate and minor course-corrections to help with that.
  8. This is a short cycle, but I’m determined to roll into this new year on track. At the start of this challenge, I’ll be on vacation celebrating my 40th(!!!) birthday with friends in a place I never imagined I’d actually get to visit. I plan to OD on junglescapes, Insta-worthy healthy food, yoga, boutique shopping and (hopefully) some culture. While I’m put, my goal is to maintain or increase my yoga schedule (a solid 2x a week - hoping for 3), and look into which other classes I might want to get into. Word around the campfire is that more friends are moving on, so I need to do what I can now to mitigate that shit. I will also continue to try and not eat like an asshole, aim to finish at least 1 more sewing project, will continue working on dog training, and hope to spend more time outside and off my couch. It is the “good” season, afterall. It would be a shame to miss it. Holiday 2019, let’s do this!
  9. As the name might suggest, I'd like to finish up the current thermoplastics piece and shift focus back to sewing for this month. After 23.25 hours, I've got all the pieces for the Thor sabatons sorted, they "just" need a base coat, paint, and sealer. The only cloth items for the outfit that need made - leggings and a base shirt will be bought - are the cape and skirts, which (HA HA) shouldn't be too difficult. The breastplate is still on hold for the artist to get the designs back to me. I don't expect to finish all the sewing stuff this challenge, but I'd like to at least get a start on it. I am also working on editing a 400+ page book for a friend, which I promised to finish by V-day. That's not going to happen, but I don't want it to slip away from me, so that's my main focus until it's done. Second focus is the sabatons (weather permitting), then sewing, all over the backdrop of my usual habits and goals. Sounds busy, but it's really not - everything has a place and order, and there's no big rush on anything. Goals: Editing: Finish editing friend's book. Thermoplastics: Finish sabatons, touch base with artist on breastplate designs. Sewing: Start on cape/ skirts for Thor. Maintenance: Language practice, workouts. Below are pictures of where the sabatons sit now. I've only made one of the ankle/ greave pieces, but the second shouldn't take long. Once the second one is formed, I'll take it all apart, prime, paint, and seal each piece, and put it back together, then probably wear it around a bit to make sure the paint doesn't wear off. Here's a link to the pattern I want to try for the cape. For those of you channeling Edna Mode, the great part about the pattern is that it's meant to be held on with snaps, allowing for easy breakaway. I might have to tweak it a bit to connect to the thermoplastic breastplate, but I'd much rather have it be relatively easy to pop off rather than being strangled when a kid (or adult, I suppose) grabs it or something.
  10. My to do list is down to just a few items, and I'm feeling whimsical this morning, so: Tinker: Ironically the least pressing of my goals; keep messing about with Thermoplastics stuff. Tailor: Make 2 pairs of work pants, one to be used for the company Winter Party on Dec 9th. Soldier: Keep working out/ doing PT. Spy (3 parts): Keep improving knowledge with online classes and language practice, turn down unnecessary schedule entanglements, and update my resume. I have not actually read the book or watched the movie by that name, but it fit my challenge goals better than the rest of the counting rhyme, "rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief." This year has been dedicated to calming myself down, and getting (and keeping) my schedule manageable. It hasn't been 100% successful, but that's the point of challenges: to keep at it. I turn 40 next year, which isn't a big thing to me, but I'd like to hit some goals by then: new career (preferably based on all the things I've been studying for the past decade), new cosplay outfit (by May, eep!), and new fitness levels (ok, ok, I"m already there, but that just means set the next level higher, right?). I feel like I'm in a good place to reach all of those, but the first one, which is most out of my hands, is the one I'd like best. I've been putting it off for a bit because a) I made a deal with my boss to stay through mid-2019, and b) I let my plate get over-full in the last few months, and wanted to clear it before really focusing on job hunting. Think I'm in a solid place now, though, so start with the basics: clean up the resume.
  11. As of today, I officially have 1 year to go to meet my goal of doing a pike-to-handstand by the time I'm 40. That said, I find I make a lot of progress when I stop looking at the overall progress, and focus on smaller steps along the way, so I'm going to try breaking this challenge down into weekly challenges. I will also try not to plan out too much, because things change and I don't need to stress about minor goals made too far in advance. Maintenance goals: Exercise: 3x weightlifting, 2x cardio, 3x PT. Languages: Daily Russian practice, French in downtime. Medium-term goals: Garden: winterize garden, bring in the clementine before it freezes, redesign and put up greenhouse before we freeze. Sewing: Halloween costume: vest and skirt for Anna (from Frozen) costume. Winter party: pants, vest, and spats for the company 1920s-theme winter party. Work: an extra pair of pants (in addition to the ones from the winter party) to be safely clad throughout winter. Thermoplastics: Thor costume, but secondary after sewing goals. There's a lot I want to do, but only so much time, so I have to prioritize. Since the sewing projects and the greenhouse have looming deadlines, those have to come first. I did get an airbrush and new, thinner, untextured EVA foam to make another shot at the chestpiece, though, and reigning myself in is being difficult. More impetus to get the sewing projects done, I hope. So that said... Week 0 goal: Sew the vest for the Halloween outfit. Pieces are already cut out, mock-up has been made, make like Mortal Kombat and finish it.
  12. Challenges: 31: Apr '18 - Jedi belt, Mjolnir, work skirts 32: May '18 - Extra masters class, attitude 33: Jul '18 - Weird... NF lost this challenge. Started Mjolnir, extra masters class. 34: Aug '18 - Kenpo knives, Mjolnir 35: Sept '18 - Start Thor breastplate, poke at shorthand 36: Oct '18 - Halloween outfit, winterize garden 37: Nov '18 - Winter party outfit, maintain 38: Jan '19 - Finish Thor breastplate, redo resume 39: Feb '19 - Finish Thor sabatons, cape, skirts; book edit 40: Mar '19 - Finish Thor breastplate details, lots of other stuff, propose Got back late Tuesday from 2 weeks' vacation abroad. While it was lovely, it was disruptive to my hobbies and goals, so I want to get back on track with all of those. To Do: Garden: plant backyard garden, finish replacing beds in large garden, take down "greenhouse" under stairs, plant large garden. Sewing: replace Jedi under-belt, recreate green work skirt. Thermoplastics: finish bracer, start new Mjolnir project, finish/ make more practice knives. Exercise: resume weights, continue PT, institute daily kenpo practice. I am taking language practice off my mental list of things to track. It's a well-seated habit and I was easily able to communicate while abroad, so I am not going to stress about it. I was able to keep up with PT and cardio while abroad; now I need to re-establish weightlifting, and figure out how to add 10 minutes of daily kenpo practice. Otherwise, just keeping on, keeping on, working my way through projects. If I had to pick one "challenge" for this round, it would be to actually finish the bracers and the jedi under-belt wrap, and start on Mjolnir. That's my pass/fail.
  13. I've managed to get a stable pattern for challenges and hobbies over the winter months, so naturally, here comes a season change to shake things up. Goals: Crafting: Mjolnir, skirt, finish bracer, kenpo knife carrier. Exercise: keep it up. Languages: keep it up. Gardening: let the games begin. The main goal for this month is to finish Mjolnir, my first major EVA foam project, and the main focus of a female Thor cosplay (hence the possibly misleading title). Once/if I get that done, the next projects are: recreate a work skirt (two, if possible), finish the Worbla bracer (need warm weather to work outside), and throw together some sort of carrier for the practice kenpo knives I made last challenge. Exercise is the same: weights, cardio, kenpo, and PT. Languages are the same: maintain French, improve Russian. The troublemaker is gardening. Gardening takes a lot of time, and is entirely dependent on the weather, making it difficult to plan ahead. I have put several limitations on the garden this year: not starting seeds indoors, buying plants rather than seeds if I'll just have a few plants, a strict "follow the plan" policy to avoid last-minute additions and chaos, and outlining the projects I want to complete this year. Even with these efforts to cut chaos, there's still just a lot of work that goes into a garden. Fun, productive, and calming work, but still work that takes time. My preliminary plan is to only go out on weekends, since my days are pretty strictly scheduled with workouts. This might get tweaked as things progress. Another point to note, although I don't think it needs to go into goals, is that "reading" is no longer classified as "strictly leisure." My tastes have shifted in that I enjoy reading books that are useful to my long-term goals, so I don't need to feel guilty about devoting a couple hours to reading. It's not stealing time from goals, it's actually helping. All things in moderation.
  14. Slight adjustment to hobby categories this time around. Goals: Exercise: Weights, cardio, PT, and Kenpo. Languages: French, Russian, and Japanese. Crafting: Practice Kenpo knives, 3rd pair of work pants, Mjolnir. It seems like less than last time, but if I have two craft projects going, my brain goes wonky and neither end up getting done in a timely fashion. This also doesn't show that I've rediscovered the joys of reading (although my tastes have changed drastically), and that the garden will be rearing its head soon. So I suppose the focus of this challenge is discipline in crafting and, as always, finding balance.
  15. Not a big 'do for the new year, just keeping on. Goals: Sewing: finish another pair of work pants. Exercise: kick the crud and resume weights and running, keep up PT. Thermoplastics: bracer is on hold 'til painting weather resumes; start Mjolnir. Languages: Add weekend reviews on kaniwani, keep at it. I know, it's not fun and exciting, but I'm in a good place and want to keep working at all of these things.
  16. The last challenge got me finishing old projects and starting a new trade: thermoplastics. I've figured out that I do best when focusing on one thing at a time (freaking, surprise there, eh?), so while I still am allowed my 4 hobbies, each one will have one focus only. Sewing: Finish the blue skirt, then start another pair of work pants. Exercise: Solidify PT and Kenpo practice. Languages: One module of French or Russian per day, maintain Japanese at lunch. Thermoplastics: Make a new bracer, practice painting on the prototype. For a lot of my life, I would try to get into everything, and ended up not finishing much and feeling overwhelmed. Throw it all out, start over, cycle continues. While doing grad school on top of a full-time job, I found out I get a lot more accomplished by limiting myself to 4 hobbies (gardening is on hold til spring), and having one thing on my "To Do" list per day. If I get more done, great, but there's no pressure to do it, so I'm more willing to work on it. I still want to do everything, get into everything, learn everything, but I can't argue that I've accomplished a lot more by focusing on one thing to completion. Sewing is pretty straightforward - finish one, start the next. I've let PT slide a bit lately, and my body forcefully reminded me that that's dangerous. I'm going to try changing from a M-Th workout schedule, with PT on the weekend, to a split week schedule with PT mid-week and on the weekend. Kenpo practice is a goal of 10 minutes a day, fit in wherever possible, and no pressure if not. Similarly, I've not been keeping up on French and Russian, so one module a day, maybe 5-10 minutes. Thermoplastics is the fun part. I made a prototype bracer, to see how it's done, and I was pretty happy about how it turned out. There are a couple bubbles and rough patches, but I thought they'd be covered over by priming and painting. I was wrong: Don't get me wrong, it looks spiffy and I'm proud of it, but those bubbles on the top and middle layers bother me. I was trying out different heat settings when I made those layers, and they got too hot, too fast. If it was just that, I might try to ignore it, but there are some other issues that I think I can make better on a second go 'round. So, back to the crafting table!
  17. Challenges: 21: Mar '17 - Handstands, languages, work pants #1 22: Apr '17 - Breathe, stat daily to do list 23: May '17 - Grey Jedi Code, maintain 24: Aug '17 - End of parkour and master's degree, bad nutrition advice 25: Sept '17 - Respawn, fix food intake, Kenpo 26: Oct '17 - Joined a gym, work pants #1, Halloween outfit 27: Nov '17 - Thor bracer, work skirt, Kenpo 28: Dec '17 - Mjolnir, Japanese, work pants #2 29: Feb '18 - Kenpo, languages, work pants #3 30: Mar '18 - Mjolnir, Thor bracer, Kenpo knife, gardening I'm not sure what iteration of myself I'm on at this point, but it's time for a new one. My gentleman and I are getting back into things we did before I started the masters degree, my body is definitely not in the same place it was back then (for the better), and neither are my hobbies. Since spring is almost here, I figure this is a good time to mark a next iteration, of sorts. Not a start over, but a new "this is my starting point" to gauge progress from, mentally and physically. Goals: Handstands: If I'm serious about my life goal, I need to get on this. Adding 5 minutes of handstand work on cardio days. Languages: After 10 weeks of focusing on the thesis, the languages and my area knowledge took a hit. I'll stick with the Japanese during lunch, but the 5 minutes of French/Russian in the evening needs to start with Duolingo, then progress to either online courses, history, or catching up on regional news. Sewing: As much as I love the results of sewing, I really don't enjoy actually doing it. But I need to. I will finish 1 pair of work pants this challenge. (I hope). My usual exercise and food regimes will continue, and hopefully I'll be able to add in gardening this month. We're supposed to have a rather large snowstorm starting tonight; I'm hoping it's winter's last hurrah and then real spring will come. Let's see how it goes, shall we?
  18. At the start of this new challenge, I'm afraid I'll have to be completely off goal on a few things, because I don't expect I'll get much reading or smart eating done when I'm in Disneyland! I'm immensely nerv-cited about this trip. It's not the first time I've gone away by myself, but it's the next step on that series of quests in my life. I'm not good at planning nice things for myself. I'm not good at spending time and money on myself, and truly seeking out joy. I began putting the idea out there when I first joined NF, of trying to go and do amazing things just because I want them. That resulted in flying to a new city, all on my own, to see a live show of a podcast. It was a great time, and it started giving me travel and social confidence. I won't deny it's been hard, yet amazing, for my anxiety. The next big trip took some time to happen, but Camp presented itself as a perfect option. It was a controlled environment, which felt safe, with lots more strangers than I would have interacted with normally, which scared the pants off me. But I went, and found people that were supportive and loving and incredible, and doing these amazing things for myself, taking up space in the world and pursuing the things that I love, began to feel possible. Camp helped me find my bravery again. Camp helped me see how to dream big again. So, I want to take myself to Disneyland. And I deserve to take myself to Disneyland. And I'm going to take Character selfies and eat glorious food and have all of the magical fun. But I need to be honest in a big, weird way here. I'm never someone who does things this big on a whim; the time of year isn't without purpose, and neither is the choice of destination. Going to Mesa in the spring for a podcast was arbitrary. This date is not. This date, eight years ago, used to mean something. This being the first anniversary of that day since the divorce, I find myself needing to take it back, to be somewhere not my home town, but also somewhere that would feel safe, happy, inclusive. I wanted to go back to Disney, somehow. For New Readers, Disney World was how I met my ex. I went there, not to pursue love, but to pursue a new experience: the internship away from home. I grew up in Huntington Beach, CA, and Disneyland was a shining part of my childhood. I wanted to work for them. I wanted to be inside the magic. I had my own reasons for going to Orlando. I loved Disney on my own, and I wanted to reconnect with that. I couldn't let this person take away a place that is so big and magical and shiny for me. I couldn't. I'm scared that I'll feel lonely, instead of alone. I have to remind myself that I went to the internship barely knowing another soul, ready to work in the parks and live with strangers. I think I'm scared now because I don't have the job as an excuse, I don't have busy friends or roommates as the reason I'm alone. I'm going by myself because I wanted to go and it was a trip that I need to do on my own, a time of year I need to spend more on my own. I don't need to worry about arguing over rides or food or show times. I can just enjoy myself. And that's a scary thing for me. I'm writing this out and trying to be as forthcoming about this as possible, because it feels important to explain myself. I know on some level I've been needing the external justification from Ifrit, how I deserve to have good, fun things. I'm here sharing with my Nerds because you guys helped me get here. You helped me see that taking up space and seeking joy are necessary. You helped me be patient and gentle with myself, and learn to do the things that will help me heal and grow. I'll be flying out Monday and coming back Wednesday to begin tracking all my main goals. I'll consider any steps from the Parks as bonus exercise. I cannot promise I won't eat seven beignets for breakfast. (Additionally, I chose the challenge title from Sigma's new single featuring Birdy. The lyrics and video are powerful, to say the least.) Our Cast of Characters: Merrin: Me! 31 years old, foodie, soda free for 1.5 years, lover of avocados and bacon, Ravenpuff, passionate about sewing, bubbly introvert, depressive, baker of cookies. Rebecca: The name for my Depression; the Monster I frequently try to kiss on the nose. Ifrit: Boyfriend! Main supportive force, disliker of avocados, expert bacon cook, incredibly weird, incredibly intelligent, Slytherin, introvert, archery master, stealer of snuggles. Part-Time Spare Spoons Puppy: only the best and sweetest and smartest dog ever, tolerant of hugs, fetcher of rope, murderer of sticks, giver of snuggles. This Month's Focus Darebees: Daily as possible. Hoping for Bronze level. Paleo: 1 fresh meal per day, including days off. Keep carbs/snacks (-fiber) at 100g maximum. Sewing: 1 hour minimum nights off for various production. Check lighting/fan set-up. BBW: Mondays and Fridays. Reading: 1 hour per work shift. Adulting: laundry on Tuesdays, floors on Thursdays, kitchen daily. Journal: bullet items as needed, daily summary post on here.
  19. For the first time in 3-4 years, I will not be taking a class this semester, so my schedule just blew wide open. Typically, it takes about 2-3 days for me to get confused by free time, and start whining about how bored I am despite a plethora of things to do, forsaken responsibilities, and stuff I've said I want to get done "when I have time." The next few challenges will focus on giving me things I HAVE to do, so I don't come to the end of my break and have nothing to show for it. Goals to complete this challenge (all are pass/fail): Make at least one wearable skirt: Kilted or gathered, it must be completely wearable. Restructure my weights workout (see life goal): Figure out which steps of the life goal to work on first and add or sub them to my workout. Done! Install a border along the fence: Every time I water the back garden, it just rolls off into next door's yard. I got a border to fix that, it just needs placed. Find and schedule a Russian tutor: Duolingo is great, but with no other classes, I can ramp this up. Research and schedule at least the first meeting. Prepare for our trip and go on it: My gentleman and I are going on our first ever vacation to London and Ireland, leaving September 11. I have a lengthy list of things to do to prep for it. They must all be done, and not the night before we leave. Long-term goals to complete before next class: Measure the back porch/stairs and make plans to close it in: My fruit trees/bushes need a place to winter over. Create a plan for the strawberry bed in the big garden: I am not happy with the current layout; would like to add tiers, stepping stones, and ground cover to prevent weeds. Make at least three wearable skirts: I WANT KILTS!!!! Measurable life goal: I finally found out what the below move is called, and have made it my goal to be able to do a pike to handstand or press handstand. I recognize that I have a lot of work to do to get here, but I have a goal! There are lots of helpful sites out there with tips on what to work on and how, and my first step is to sort through them and come up with a working plan (see current goal #2). Allowing for a lot of mistakes, I hope to do this by the time I'm 40 (3.5 years). Rewards: 80% done: I can order 1 new fruit tree for spring 2017. 100% done: I can order 3 new fruit trees or 2 trees and another berry bush. (Yes, my goal is to have a dwarf orchard). I realize that I am often super ambitious and schedule way too much to do, but since I still seemed to get lots of stuff done while I was taking classes and working.... I'm going to go for it. Failing all else, it will give me a better idea of how much I can accomplish for the next challenge. As per usual, my running and weights workouts, healthy eating goals, and parkour classes will be going on in the background. Ok, enough talking, here's my life goal:
  20. No, I won't leave, I want to try everything, I want to try even though I could fail~ In case it's not become clear over the last year and a half of being here on NF (wait, what? wow) I really, really love Disney. I worked there a decade ago as an intern, and it's kept a hold on me ever since. I love Zootopia for giving us a main character who gets told 'No' at every turn of her path. 'No', her parents tell her. 'No', says the academy. 'No', says her new friend. But our beloved Carrots does. Not. Quit. She doesn't care if she might get hurt, or look foolish, or make mistakes. She wants to keep going. I do, too. I've tried several things over my challenges, and when goals or activities don't work, I try not to let the failure hold me back. I just look to see what the next thing is that I want to try. Of course, successful framework helps even out any potential mistakes, so I've also got several goals on here that have really worked in the past. Eat Like an Animal: stick to paleo 2x meals a day at minimum. Don't Be Clawhauser: 1 sweet snack a day. Back-Up Tigers: one five minute dance party per day, at minimum. ZPD Academy Climbing, poses, inversion 2x week at minimum Suspended for accident recovery. Push-ups, lifts, rows, planks 2x week at minimum Yoga/stretching 1x minimum Go On Patrol: scooter ride 1/x week minimum Performing Arts Sewing 1x week
  21. Hey, folks. I'm back after being absent from the last challenge. It's been a sad and painful time of the year for me. I just got through my first post-divorce wedding anniversary. This time six years ago, I was in Europe. This time, six years ago, I was only a bit skinnier than I am right now. I'm proud that I lost the unhealthy weight I gained from living with Beast and Witch. I'm proud that I've unlearned so many of the bad food habits from those two years. I'm proud that my fancy dress shirts, which I bought for a promotion three years ago, fit again. I'm amazed at the girl who lived through those circumstances. I'm amazed at the resilience I didn't know I possessed until I needed to put it into practice. I'm amazed at the life I've rebuilt for myself, and I want to continue improving. This challenge, I've elected a set of tasks, rather than specific activities or goals, because I've learned over the year+ of challenges that I succeed best when I give myself options. And because it's my first fandom, and I haven't done so yet, it's time for a Sailor Moon theme. Each Scout brings something important to the team, so that's where my tasks will originate. Mercury: There's always something to be studied, and right now, that's language. Learning Spanish will cut down on a lot of frustration at my job. 10+ minutes a day. Venus: As the most athletic of the Inner scouts, she prizes being active every day. Kickboxing, walkies, circus tricks will all count for this. Moon: Usagi's favorite thing is spending time with Mamoru. Ifrit and I were enjoying a more regular date night. 1x a week. Mars: A strength that comes from inner calm cannot be swayed. Daily meditation. Jupiter: Mako-chan loves being in the kitchen. She shows her love for others by feeding them often. Cooking 1+ meal every day. Saturn: Her poor health means she spends a lot of time alone; my mental health requires alone time as well. Self-care day 1x a week. Uranus: Haruka loves racing motorcycles; I named my Vespa after her. I need to go riding more often than just to and from work. Out 3x a week. Neptune: While my violin was not named after her, I do miss playing. It's been a long time since I've had a space where I could do so. Practice 3x a week. Pluto: A lover of fashion and sewing, a woman after my own heart! Cosplay work, 3x week. If I feel like there are other areas to improve, I'll branch out the challenge to the Starlights.
  22. To infinity and beyond! Last year I’ve been quite negative about lack of progress but truth be told I’m in the best shape of my life. I have a level of fitness that allows me to do things with my body that I’d never imagined doing, be it climbing or aerial or arm balancing or other things that make my mum go whoooah and my dad shake his head, roll his eyes and call me crazy. And that feels amazing. Since I already can do so much I might as well relax and have fun with it rather than get upset or sad because I’m not progressing fast enough or think that I suck because there are things that I can’t do. Because that’s just silly. So in 2016 I will focus on approaching my training from a place of positivity and playfulness and learning. Here are some things I’d like to learn or do: Handbalancing: 10s consistent freestanding handstand, solid forearm stands, flying crow, crane, crocodile Flexibility: Unassisted feet to head cobra, consistent splits (all of them) Contortion: Cheststand, walkovers, ankle grab, runarounds Climbing: Climb all red problems, solve black problems on a regular basis Aerial: Have fun, learn some tricks, link movement together and maybe put together some mini-routines General fitness: Get pull-ups, push-ups & dips, toes to bar/pull-overs, funky squats and cardio to a decent level Diet: Get to an ideal BF% range, eat better to improve energy levels and aid recovery And some life goals: Improve the ratio of passive time (films, games etc) vs boring time (adulting) vs active time (learning, creating) Learn to sew Level up cooking Call friends on a regular basis Be less antisocial and do more things on my own Do more fun things like gigs and mini-excursions Complete Katy Bowman’s 52 week course on biomechanics and movement And here are the goals for this challenge. To keep it in line with the epic quest goals I've picked one (mostly) small goal for each category. Climbing: Dedicated core training 1x/week including leg raises and push-ups Flexibility: Try out 2 hip end-of-ROM strengthening drills each week Contortion: Backbends 1x/week practicing elbow lever to chest stand Aerial: Go to open training 3 times Handbalancing: 15-20 min handstand training 7x/week. At least two of them should include or consist of wrist and forearm prehab/conditioning. Fitness: Cardio 3 times Life goal #1: Sew a shiny new outfit Plan: Week 1 - make a pattern, Week 2 - cut out fabric pieces Week 3 - sew Week 4 - win! Life goal #2: Keep up with Katy Bowman's biomechanics course weekly homework Bring on 2016! It's going to be so shiny!
  23. Eat Clean: 1/4-1/12. Stay on Keto during work days. Plan out supplies for all meals. Non-work days will not be Keto, but will also not allow for junk food. No cereal, chips, cookies, pop-tarts, can teas, or can coffees. +3 to STA Weave Silk: I am still very, very new to Tai Chi, having only just picked up a step-by-step book, and watching a few videos on the background, history, and mentality of the forms. I'm really excited to try it out because it sounds like it will be good for me. I will begin daily practice, and see how far it takes me. +3 to DEX Make Things: There are a few fairly ambitious projects on my cosplay docket for this year. I intend to finish one complete outfit for this first challenge. Duelist!Utena will require only shorts and a jacket. I will need to purchase shoes and part of her armour. +3 to CHA Self Care: Something that's always been a struggle for me. This can be several different things, and I'm working on a list as I go. Cuppa Tea: brew, prepare, sit quietly until done. Bubba Baff: candles, salts/bubbles/bombs, book/magazine, Paige (if needed). Skin Care: face mask, moisturize, body moisturizer. +1 to CON Read More: Hi, I'm Ever, and I collect books. There's a shelf full of stuff I haven't touched, and have had several of these novels for far too long. I'll try to cover one book a week. (LifeQuest^)
  24. I opened up a notebook on my desk, and was greeted by my Level 50 wish list. I've been working on some of it on and off, and am going to continue working them, along with adding a new skill to work on. I'm keeping my clutter goal and headstand focus, and I'm adding (wait for it) sewing. Yes, sewing. I've been putting it off because of a $30 part. Well, it's on sale for $17, and I need to stop putting it off. As a bonus, I'm also working on "geek crafts" in the form of cosplay outfits for camp. So, this should be fun. BADASS WOMAN Part of my level 50 involves reducing my consumption. This round I will have NO REAL GOAL. This is crazy scary, but I need to stop getting frustrated and not doing anything because I don't want to deal with what I'm currently working on. Goal is to work on ANY area 3x a week for the entire challenge. I need to keep doing resistance training. Goal is to do 3 strength workouts a week. I have been focusing on increasing strength in a different ways with my eventual goal being handstands. I rocked the freestanding headstand last challenge, but I'm not really secure in it. Goal is to be super confident with my freestanding headstand by the end of the challenge.SIDE QUESTS I need to start getting back into sewing. My pedal is ordered, and I have things that need to be altered. Goal is to be able to use my sewing machine again and have a few small projects done by the end of the challenge. I want to have awesome cosplay outfits for camp. I have ordered most of the pieces for one, but don't even have the glow themed one started yet. Or gone to the thrift store for rubix cube night. I'm not as worried about the rubix stuff, but I need to put the first costume together, and figure out the second. I have to have my 2 main costumes ready for Camp. MOTIVATION PROGRESS Week 1: Decluttering: 3/3 Workouts: 3/3 Headstands: Done. Sewing: Started. Cosplay: Started. Week 2: Decluttering: 3/3 Workouts: 3/3 Headstands: Done. Sewing: Started. Cosplay: Started. Week 3: Decluttering: 3/3 Workouts: 3/3 Headstands: Done. Sewing: Started. Cosplay: Started.
  25. Hello fellow nerds! I figure with so many of us on these forums there must be some crafters out there. I thought it would be nice to share past, present and future projects with each other. I love seeing how creative people are! I dabble in bits and bobs as the mood takes me, I knit, sew, felt and glue things. My current project is this scarf, not so nerdy, but pretty bad ass all the same. Before I've made Pokemon and Final Fantasy felt creatures; Since then I've made zombies and other spooky creatures too. But I've recently I've made hair clips too; The bottom two are in stages, I've got a green zombie badge and the one on the right is going to be a dead pool one. Of course my favourite one I also did Star Wars ones, too! I used the figures from the lego advent calenders, I also made them into christmas tree ornaments. Recent non nerdy crafts I've recently finished include A dinosaur; And a hat; My other half cross stitches, so he is currently working on this bad boy! So, that's my little dabble into nerdy crafts, I'm looking to make a sci fi blanket next, as soon as I finish the scarf that is. You guys must have some great projects, lets see 'em!
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