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  1. This: I've been contemplating this challenge, this year, this life, for quite some time now and this is the direction I want to go. In this case, music trumps language. There is a lot I can't put into words, but... The interweaving of the instruments and the various themes is how I want the various facets of my life to play together and support and harmonize with one another. The overall calmness, as the melody moves through various states of resolution and moods, is how I want to approach the uncertainties in my life right now. I hear definite echoes of what I am writing about in morning pages and in novels, in blog posts and in code. For me, the Adagio creates an open and reflective mood that counters so much of the hurry and busyness that I struggle with, and the scenes of nature in this video centers me and soothes my soul. I had already determined that this challenge would be a continuation of last one's "Sisu" theme," and that I would be revisiting "STEAMS," and "Stupid Simple," (among others) again. Then, I realized I could alliterate. Win! Sisu, the Second - ShadowLion's Systematic, Sustainable, STEAMS Six S's... STOP!!! Start simplifying, ShadowLion! That makes sense. So, I settled for a subtler signifier. Alliteration I resolved to routinely eschew. Rhyming, instead, I would try to pursue. Surely not as sophisticated as true Haiku... Hey! I'm a Shadow Lion, What'd you expect me to do? Sisu...2 (Ssssongwriting?) This is certainly a silly start for a such a salubrious subject. Seems to be a side-effect of significant stress and simply too much sitting in front of a screen - slumped, staring, and slack-jawed - still seeking some elusive synthesis of sinew, synapse, and soul. Expect this cycle to showcase similar semantic excursions (sins, perchance?) as those seen thus far. (ShadowLion fancies herself a scrivener, she does.) She has set up a schedule centered upon the spewing and scribbling of significant sums of words, side by side with a series of simple, structured scenarios designed to foster sustainable success! Okay. Time to get serious... Sisu, by way of another definition: Sisu runs even deeper than grit. It is a type of mental toughness that allows you to bear the burden of your responsibilities, whatever they happen to be, with a will and perseverance that is unbreakable. It is the ability to sustain your action and fight against extreme odds. Sisu extends beyond perseverance. It is what you rely on when you feel like you have nothing left. ~James ClearInterestingly enough, Emilia Lahti, a noted researcher specializing in "sisu" and grit, has reworked her blog since the beginning of the last challenge and has dubbed 2015 "The Year of Sisu." I discovered this when I was thinking about how to frame my challenges for the rest of the year. Sisynchronicity. Click on the picture to go to her site... In the spirit of challenges past, I have created an acronym to help me focus on specific aspects of this year's theme: Small (yet significant) Increments, Sustainable (in spite of) Uncertainty Last challenge was fairly successful and it jolted me out of a rut. I decided that I wanted to continue exploring "sisu, " while I look for a “bigger box†in which to put my challenges. I often have trouble determining the optimum scope of my challenges (work and life goals, too, for that matter), stuffing too many things into too small of a box and then getting frustrated, losing focus, or getting injured from trying to do too much. This time I am going for a more spacious container with fewer things in it. I am also breaking out of the usual order, categories and “weighting†of goals, even playing a bit fast and loose with the grading system. I've fallen into a bit of a negative, "I need to fix it NOW†mentality, which I suspect has had something to do with the amount of injuries I have sustained. I'm going to experiment with a more inspirational approach. More carrot, less stick. Let’s see how it works! Disclaimer: This is my 13th challenge and I have followed the challenge rules pretty closely to date. I don't recommend what I am trying unless you have successfully done a number of challenges and have a specific reason to alter your approach. (I am quite open to the possibility I may fail or need to go back to the tried and true method before this is all over...) To help me maintain my focus, I am dividing my challenge into four parts, each with it’s own goal and particular approach or mindset. This is based on the particular spiritual path I follow, where a person is seen as having the following four aspects: Body - The body and it’s various energies and systems and qualities, intimately connected to the earth/environment; one’s vehicle of action, expression; the extension/carrier/reflection of consciousness Mind - The intellect and the emotions; memory; learning; basic waking consciousness Soul - The seat of intuition, imagination and creativity; the synthesizer of experience; the point where individual consciousness and the collective unconscious meet Spirit - The still point within; transcendent wisdom; unitive consciousness Along with these (somewhat artificial and arbitrary) divisions, there are also four major ways of encountering the world. I'm going to gamify those and call them "Warrior," "Scholar," "Magician," and "Healer." For ease of focus and experiment's sake, I am going to put one aspect and one approach in each "box," then turn the usual westernized hierarchical approach to being upside down and inside out. Let's see the boxes as overlapping circles, or - better yet - connected spheres, each relating to the others in various ways, without one or another taking precedence. Each interacts and effects all the others. Still with me? Good. This is Nerdville with a capital N, and a big dose of string theory and mysticism thrown in! Now that the theoretical matrix is decided, and SISU kept in mind, on to the Goals... emphasis on the inside, the attitude, the approach. 1) Spirit/Warrior - Single-mindedness. 2 minutes per day, every single day, structured meditation. 42 days straight. Simple. Hard. 2) Soul/Magician - Average 500 words per day of the challenge. (This would result in ~21,000 words written.) These can be morning pages, blog posts, whatever. Additional words or novel writing = bonus. Every day. 3) Mind/Scholar - 10 minutes per day practicing a skill requiring intellectual or emotional exertion. 42 days straight. Additional time or skill = bonus. 4) Body/Healer - 5 minutes per day/5 days per week of outdoor exercise. Yoga, tai chi, bellydance, and/or rehab/prehab work count. Extras/bonuses can be more time on any of the things listed, and/or strength or endurance exercises related to fire fitness. I have not given up on my fire fitness goals. I am just taking a different approach this time. Likewise, I am still committed to the same goal weight and body fat percentage as previous challenges. The results of this challenge should let me get back to those in a new, more effective way next challenge. (I hope.) I can do more, but I must do the minimum as set forth. To count, the above must be entered in my journal/spread sheet daily and updates posted here at least twice per week. For purposes of this experiment, I will take my weight and measurements as per usual to track if I continue on the desired trajectory, and at what pace, while I change up my methods.This will allow me to alter the above structure mid-course, if needed. I am not going to grade by the usual measuring stick. I am setting a single (!) baseline habit per category. It is all or nothing. Each tiny habit, each day, just as I would brush my teeth, take a shower, eat. This is about absolute consistency. While I am not leaving wiggle room on the consistency, I am being realistic about time and building in variety. I hope that I have that balance right! This baseline is intentionally set quite low in order to incentivize further action and encourage exploration without setting me off on a course where I push too hard and injure myself again. The indicator that I may be on to something is that I had an awful time setting my requirements. Everything felt far too low and I had a great deal of resistance to it, especially picking only one thing per category. Oh, and since St. Paddy's Day will fall within this challenge and we must have cats on this thread....
  2. Original posting, includes links re: "sisu." I still have a very, very full work schedule and I am coming off a bit of a slump last challenge, but I'm diving right into the first challenge of 2015. I need to. This community has helped me keep my dream and goal of returning to fighting fires again alive, despite setbacks and injuries and doubts. My Main Quest for much of last year was to attend the Arizona Wildfire Academy and recertify as a wildland firefighter this coming spring. The fact is, I'm not physically or financially ready for that yet. Part of my slump was due to my disappointment over that. But I am not giving up, merely readjusting my time frames and expectations. I am pulling things from the past 4 or 5 challenges that have worked the best for me and mixing in a few new twists for this go around. And, I am committing to a year's focus on consistency, and a challenge specific focus of "sisu." Expect to hear quite a bit more about sisu in the coming weeks. (There are a number of links in the spoiler.) I believe it is my not-so-secret weapon on the way to success in my quest. All the ideas, plans, programs, workouts, and diets in the world mean nothing if I do not have the grit and the guts to persevere through the inevitable setbacks and difficulties along the way. Consistency is important; sisu is absolutely essential. More to come on Monday evening, MST
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