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  1. The world is changed. I can feel it in the water. I can feel it in the earth. I can smell it in the air. Greetings everyone! Your friendly neighborhood disappearing Adventurer/Tolkien scholar/mythologist here, returning to the NF challenge boards after yet another successful but mostly silent challenge. Having a thread going here really does work some sort of mysterious magic on my ability to get things done. So, despite my (quite characteristic) utter lack of updates and interaction last time, I'm back again, to keep on keeping on. The last few challenges have more or less been clones of each other because I just didn't have the wherewithal to do the thinking necessary to update them. I was hoping to do so this time. Ha ha. NOPE. Same-old same-old. I have made some tweaks to some of my long-standing routines to take advantage of their rock-solid status, and -- since I am facing a summer that may involve some very extensive changes in my life -- to shore up the familiar ground where I'm standing so I don't fall down as I contemplate those changes. Spoiler for Adventure™ report from the end of last challenge: Spoiler for THE PLAN this challenge: Spoiler for discussion of upcoming possible changes in my world: Anyway. As per my usual, I make up for weeks of silence with a ridiculously sprawling and overwritten brain dump of a post to initiate the new challenge If you made it all the way through all of that, you are a hero -- thank you for poking into my little corner of this crazy space where we all try and create positive new stories for ourselves. Good luck everyone! Day One! Let's go!
  2. Greetings all! This won't be long -- I'm just throwing this thread up to say that a) I AM doing a challenge this time around and b) it will just be pretty much a continuation of the last one. Life has been beyond difficult lately and I have neither the time nor the energy for the deep consideration needed to change things up right now. Since I'll still be at home all the way up until Week Five (which will involve leading an American Hiking Society volunteer vacation in Northern California -- in passing, if you're in easy striking distance of the US West Coast and want a cheap and easy chance for some big-tree-ocean wilderness adventure, there are still spots left on this trip), I'm going to continue with the living-quietly-in-the-Shire idea and keep working to shore up the foundations of my routines. I honestly don't expect there will be much in the way of narrative updates to this thread (no change there either ). Still, even without a lot of interaction, just having these public challenges going really works for me. So, well, here we are. Thank you, kind reader, for being part of my journey! Lack of updates notwithstanding, my spreadsheet shows that I actually managed to do pretty darn well on my goals last time. (This is admittedly only true as measured by overall scores rather than actual accomplishments; I didn't do very well at all on the things I historically struggle with, but after some simple changes to my routines I absolutely ROCKED the extra credit ). For this challenge I've made a few minor tweaks, basically still casting about to find something that will work to replace the things that very definitely didn't. If for some odd reason you are interested in reading about the details of my routines, have a look at my last challenge thread and substitute "do anything AT ALL with a wretched kettlebell" for the aspirational forearm mobility that only happened once, and substitute "for gods' sake leave the [BLEEP]ing house and go somewhere once in a while" for the 'get dressed before noon' extra credit opportunity. Maybe by the time I get back from the next adventure, things will have slowed down enough to let me do some real assessment and proper challenge-crafting (shrug) Until then, I'm just going to carry on. Good luck to everyone else on your own challenges!
  3. Greetings all! It's your favorite Adventurer, Tolkien scholar, and wandering mythologist, rocking up late AGAIN for another quixotic attempt to complete a NF challenge (sigh) So, it's...<checks>...Wednesday of Week One, and I'm just now drafting my challenge after having abandoned the last one in...<checks>...Week One. Ugh. The only excuse I can come up with is the disruption in my life caused by an unexpected international trip last challenge combined with a long-planned (but still-stressful) adventure leading an American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation in Joshua Tree National Park in Week Zero of this one. Oh, and then before I even unpacked I got on a train to Santa Barbara for a short turn to see some friends who were visiting from Colorado... BUT I'm on my return train now, and I will officially start my challenge tomorrow. On the 1st of April, no fooling! After much adventuring and travel in the past month or so, it actually looks like I'll be sleeping in my own bed in my own house for the entire month of April. I plan to take advantage of this fact to make some serious progress on my current fiction project, complete a first draft of a nonfiction book proposal due in May, and (hopefully) start to get my arms around the sprawling project that is sorting out my hobbit hole after many MANY years of neglect. Here's my plan. Spoiler for details: So, that's it. It might look like a lot for those new to my challenges, but -- assuming we all go by the various challenge spreadsheet entries and very politely pretend not to notice the utter lack of narrative updates in my various threads -- I've actually been pretty good about keeping up with a good chunk of these tasks over the past few months. I would really like to build on that success this time! Wish me luck....
  4. New challenge greetings to all the Rebellion! Your friendly neighborhood mythologist/Adventurer/Tolkien scholar here, back with another attempt to actually complete a full NF challenge. Due to a profusion of pre- and post-holiday adventures at the end of last year I turned up very late to the last challenge, and previously I rarely managed more than a week or two of focused effort before the hordes of Orcs frothing at the walls overran me yet again and oopsie doodles there goes another challenge off the face of the earth Still, since the end of January I have managed to sort out a few things, and I used the last two weeks of the last challenge to test-drive some ideas for this one. I'm afraid I don't have the energy to come up with a full-on challenge theme at the moment, so we'll just make do with a random a scattering of vaguely-appropriate Tolkien quotes here and there to keep in the spirit of things. I'm starting with Bilbo's pensive reflections right before he returned from his adventures to discover his lovely hobbit hole in an uproar. There is some, ah, applicability for me here Spoiler for the list of things I want to accomplish this challenge: OK, so that's the challenge. It looks like a lot, but much of it -- the morning and evening routines especially -- are already pretty solidly-established habits. It's the (big, important) stuff in the middle that's giving me trouble Here's wishing all of us the best of luck. New challenge - GO! PS - Please to be enjoying the official recording of Billy Boyd's absolutely lovely song inspired by Bilbo's poem above ❤️
  5. Holiday greetings to the Rebellion! In the spirit of my last two holiday challenges, I'm back to make an effort to seek out moments of #YuleCheer in and among the random and ofter exhausting adventures that generally characterize the holiday season for one over-educated, under-employed, somewhat-unmoored wandering mythologist Adventurer. I'm sneaking in late (as usual) as today is the first day of Week One for me (challenges start on MONDAYS and I refuse to listen to talk that says otherwise) but if I can get this up before midnight I'll call it good. The real challenge tracking happens over on the spreadsheet, but here's a breakdown to put some narrative flesh on the spreadsheet's bones. PAI: I will keep my PAI score over 100. I've been doing this for a few years, and it works as well as any other arbitrary measurement designed to keep me moving, and it actually requires me to get my heart rate up for a time as opposed to simply counting steps. To get to 100 I generally need at least two short (or one long or very intense) proper cardio sessions a week. Outside: I will go outside every day for at least ten minutes. I'm in the second week of a six-week trip (see Adventure description below for details) and I want to take advantage of the opportunity to see things I love that I generally can't get in Southern California (pine trees, mountains, snow). Routines: Every day, first thing in the morning I will do a meditation/HRV reading and do Julia Cameron-style morning pages, and right before bed I will write in my gratitude journal and do at least the Sleep routine with the Theragun. In recent challenges I've been attempting to keep up with a long list of routine habits. I won't try and do everything -- it is a holiday after all -- but I want to keep these four going because when I blew them off in the craziness of the last week I felt icky about it. #YuleCheer: Three times a week I will post something highlighting my enjoyment of this holiday season, extra credit for more (up to 1 per day). I've done this for the last two holiday challenges and I like what it does for my mindset. If I'm noticing how pretty that bright silver ornament is nestled in dark green pine, or smiling at the colorful patterns of lights in the darkness under a fluffy snowfall, I'm not seething about family drama or feeling sorry for myself. Since I also need some encouragement to keep this thread updated (for proof of how awful I am at this, see pretty much every one of my NF challenges ever), updating this thread will count for this task. Charming hobbity holiday images encouraged but not required Adventure: Twice a week I will leave the cocoon of my various comfy temporary homes for some sort of adventurous activity, extra credit for more (up to 1 per day). Spoiler for trip description: Should the snow gods prove kind, I hope to get a few days of skiing or riding in before I leave. If not, well, I will have to figure out some more hiking options to meet my adventure task (preferably with fewer incidences of questionable decision-making but I can't make any promises on that). There is also the option to drive to Reno for a some ballroom dancing at a holiday ball this coming Friday, which since I know not a soul in the city will totally count as an adventure Projects: As this (like most) is a working vacation, before Christmas I have three personal and professional projects to complete: a) submit a paper proposal to the Tolkien Studies area of the Popular Culture Association National Conference (deadline 23 Dec), b) mail my holiday cards (deadline next week sometime), and -- this is the big one -- c) edit the page proofs of, write the index for, and submit the final version of my forthcoming academic book on Tolkien and wilderness (proofs deadline 13 Dec, index deadline 3 Jan, ideally I'd send it all at the same time before I leave for Buffalo). Spoiler for book discussion: So. That's the challenge. It's a bit more complicated than expected for a short holiday challenge while traveling, but I think it should do the job anyway. Here's wishing everyone all the Yule Cheer you can enjoy, and not a drop more!
  6. Hello everyone, here I am rocking up late YET AGAIN to another challenge, to post YET ANOTHER thread which I am as likely to ignore as anything else, but whatever. Even if nobody reads this, typing it all out is a valuable exercise for me, even if all it does is provide a bit of narrative structure to the spreadsheet that actually does the tracking GUYS IT'S ALMOST NOVEMBER AND I AM KIND OF PANICKING BECAUSE I HAVE NO [BLEEP]ING CLUE WHAT I'M GOING TO DO FOR NANOWRIMO THIS YEAR I mean, that's not really all that unusual (I often sit down on November 1st and start typing and that's the first I see of the story) but it is not usual for me to be anxious about it. I think it's probably just the unending stress of these really crazy times (and even discounting the pandemic times are unusually crazy, even in my crazy life). So, anyway, I intend to ease back a little on the challenge front to give myself space for NaNo exploration this month. Last challenge was considerably more successful than my lack of updates indicated. I squeaked out passing grades every week -- which hasn't happened in quite a while, to be honest -- and I also got to go on a proper Adventure™ up at Great Western War during Week Four (an SCA event -- see this post for pictures of me in armor and a link to cool drone footage of a battle). I'm feeling okay about my trajectory right now. I don't want to lose any momentum, even if I am restructuring things a little, so I'm going to try and keep a steady state as much as I can. Spoiler for the plan: So, that's the challenge. Long and overwritten as always, and late as usual, but it's better to have one up than not. Here we go!
  7. Like Bilbo, I am alive...but I do seem to have been knocked on the head or something, because apparently I missed seeing the end of the last challenge But whatever. It's a new day and a new week and a new challenge, and I'm here for it. There is a spreadsheet. There will be a challenge write-up (in a day or two I hope). Here's to continuing Adventures!
  8. "He was not held long, and hobbits have an amazing power of recovery." ~ Gandalf, speaking of Pippin after the incident with the Palantír of Orthanc Long-delayed greetings to the Adventurer's Guild! Your favorite Tolkien obsessive here, returning from a (mostly but not completely) figurative journey through perils and wonders, there and back again, maybe not quite to the crack of Doom but I could certainly see it from there I've missed two or three of these challenges while attending to the craziness of my life over the last few months. Things finally came to a head this past week, and as bad as it got, it's finally OVER. I am now in a position to take a breath and think about the future again. Spoiler for long sob story ^w ^w bitch session ^w ^w overview of previous adventures: So here I am, the beginning of a new challenge coinciding with the beginning of a new month. As I was working through what I want from this challenge, three big things came out: - I want to not be in pain anymore. The second course of antibiotics appears to be slowly working its magic and the need for heavy-duty analgesics is waning, for which I am definitely grateful. Unfortunately as they recede I am becoming more aware of the terrible post-trail-building-adventure state of my back, which has been masked by the marvels of modern chemistry. Fixing this will require EXERCISE AND MOBILITY WORK. - I want to not live in a manky crapshack of a filthy environment anymore. At my best I'm pretty shit at cleaning or home maintenance, so you can imagine the squalid disaster surrounding me right now. Fixing this will require CLEANING AND HOME TASKS. - I want to not be a miserable [BLEEP] anymore. Depression, self-pity, illness, these things have done a number on my equanimity and my general attitude towards life, and I have fallen into some pretty self-defeating (and self-fulfilling!) attitudes of mind. Fixing this will require DOING THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY. Spoiler for detailed plan: Here's to recovery! Wishing everyone else a successful challenge.
  9. Greetings all! I’m sliding in here late, on the last day of Week Zero (yes, I know, the challenge has already started for most, but my challenges start on MONDAYS dammit). My previous few challenges have been focused around trying to establish home routines that support my current reality of post-grad-school unemployment, and I’ve had a bit of success, I guess. I had planned on continuing that for this challenge, but, well, life happened, and I now find myself at the beginning of a quite unexpected adventure Spoiler for the (kind of long) story: Since instead of puttering around my hobbit hole I am going to be enjoying my version of the beautiful mountain valley of Rivendell, the many detailed routines characterizing my life back at Bag End feel kind of far away. For the first three weeks of this challenge, then, I plan to simply embrace the spirit of adventure that landed me here in the first place. I’ll save tending the routines for the last two weeks, when I will be back at home and in need of some structure to recover from whatever frenzy this current madness creates in my life. Spoiler for discussion of my goals for the first three weeks: For the last two weeks of the challenge, I will plan to return to my routines as tracked in my previous challenge, with some possible tweaks to be determined once I think about it some more. I will edit this post with further details later; I don’t want to delay getting this up any further, but I also really don’t want to waste any energy dealing with something beyond beyond this current madness. Right. There we are. I got something up, and I’m here! I’m late, but I’m here... Good luck everyone on your own adventures!
  10. New Year greetings to all, from your friendly neighborhood Tolkien-obsessive mythologist. Having survived the past quite strange and difficult year through sheer bloody-mindedness (augmented with some NF challenges, of course), I now find myself back in my own hobbit hole after much travel and adventure and toil. The start of the new year is bringing me all sorts of fresh beginning energy. In an effort to avoid squandering that energy, I am going to set myself a challenge of simplicity, routines, and quiet joys. A challenge of hobbitry, if you will, after a year requiring full-on wizardry Spoiler for length: To those unfamiliar with my recent challenges the overly-complex wall-of-text in the spoiler will probably seem like an awful lot, and I apologize if it comes across as overwhelming. It's not actually as bad as it sounds. Almost everything in there is an already-established habit. Although I've tweaked some details, the general structure of my routines is unchanged from previous (reasonably successful) challenges, and I've resisted the temptation to add a bunch of additional weekly requirements (at least until I can get my feet back under me after the holidays). There will be plenty of time later for stretching myself; for now, I just want to get back to where I was I am a die-hard partisan of the challenges-start-on-MONDAYS-dammit movement, so Day One of Week One of my challenge will be tomorrow. Here's wishing you all good luck in your own attempts to harness the fresh wind of new-year energy!
  11. YULETIDE GREETINGS TO ALL! This quote from last year's holiday challenge should serve well enough as my introduction. Naturally, like everyone else, I've struggled to hold on to who I really am in this nightmare year (which is why it was all just too much trouble to write another intro, to be honest). Once the plague cancelled pretty much most of Western civilization, my normal and regular travel, ballroom dancing, and hiking fell off quite precipitously, leaving me with nothing much to do but worry. I guess will add 'writer' to that list of self-definitions, though, as that's pretty much the only thing constructive I've managed to do since the spring For the next three weeks, I intend (as I did last year) to absolutely drown my sorrows in the joy and festivities of the holiday season. I love this time of year. Goodness knows there's been little enough to celebrate, and while I could quite justifiably fall into a trap of 'why bother' and 'this sucks like the rest of the year did,' I'm going to do my best not to, and I'm going to use this huge party of a holiday challenge to help me stick to that goal. I've decided on a few daily and weekly intentions for the next few weeks. Every day, I will ask myself two questions. One: is my PAI score over 100? Two: did I go outside? In-depth discussion of daily goals, spoilered for length: Every week, I will ask myself two questions: One: did I share some sort of #YuleCheer on Instagram or here? Two: did I complete my Yuletide task? Further discussion also spoilered for length: So, there we are. Holiday goals for a holiday challenge. Fitness and health and all that stuff can just wait for the new energy of the New Year -- the next few weeks are all about my own efforts to ensure a much happier Yule season than I really have any reason to hope for Here's last-year-me with a conclusion as useful as the introduction to close things out:
  12. I have been wrestling with the urge to read the LotR series again, so what better way to motivate me than to theme my challenge after LotR. I could use some inspiration and heart from some of Tolkien's heroes. As this challenge progresses, I will no doubt be channeling some of the traits of some of my favorites, specifically the race of Men because I find myself identifying most closely with Tolkien's human characters. . Lately, some... temptations have arisen, so it is also fitting to work through a challenge that themes these temptations as the pull of The One Ring. And so it begins. Goal 1: Resist The One Ring "Not if I found it on the highway would I take it I said. Even if I were such a man as to desire this thing, and even though I knew not clearly what this thing was when I spoke, still I should take those words as a vow, and be held by them. ‘But I am not such a man. Or I am wise enough to know that there are some perils from which a man must flee." -- Faramir For this goal, I will be channeling Faramir, who is without a doubt my favorite of the characters who successfully resists The One Ring, even though he had reasons outside of the Dark Lord's power to take it from Frodo. I also identify with Faramir's struggles to make his father proud, to know that he isn't the favored son, and his choice to be peaceful and merciful by nature: “I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” Without getting into specifics, this goal focuses on recognizing when and why these temptations occur: what triggers them and what is the best way to resist them. Faramir's quote above also brings to mind scripture: "But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." -- 1 Timothy 6:11-12 learn about these temptations and what hidden dangers lurk within them set boundaries and barricades against temptations; arm and fortify yourself against the attacks of the enemy be brave and stand strong when you can, but have an escape plan if you get lost, call out to your fellowship of brothers to help you find the way again fast and pray to build discipline celebrate victories and milestones, but remain resolute and do not lose your temperance Goal 2: Build Strength, Wisdom, Courage, and Heart to Become Who You Were Meant to Be "But I am the real Strider, fortunately. I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by my life or death I can protect you, I will." -- Aragorn For this goal, I will be channeling Aragorn because of his strong heart, his wisdom, and his courage, which grows as he breaks free of the shame of his father and steps into his destined role as heir to the throne of Gondor. Aragorn is aware of his flaws and weaknesses as a man, but he strives to do good by serving others. He faces peril, inspires others into battle, and fights courageously for his fellowship. None of this would be possible if he had allowed himself to get weak or distracted or lose his self-control. He is also faithful to the cause of defeating evil and to the love of his life. He is watchful and alert, wise and intelligent, humble and modest by nature but also mighty and proud when necessary. Some aspects of this goal will look familiar if you have followed me for some time. awaken before dawn pray/meditate/study scripture & other books of wisdom fast daily (intermittently) eat whole foods (mostly plants) drink at least 64 ounces of water daily WHM breathing daily (I really need to get back to this; it clears my head and may help stave some of the temptation triggers) read at least 30 minutes every day (LotR, of course) spend at least 30 minutes every day in nature strengthen the body (I'm using Hero's Journey from Darebee for this) spend time with my queen; this includes going to bed with her and not staying up late Goal 3: Rebuild Your Heart and Your Kingdom "For he was a gentle heart and a great king and kept his oaths; and he rose out of the shadows to a last fair morning." -- Aragorn, speaking of King Theoden Theoden is a good example of someone who, as he grew older and more tired, allowed himself to become misled and lost sight of his true purpose as king. It corrupted him and led to the usurping of his kingdom by evil forces. Once he is set free of this spell, however, he steps into his role as king and, in spite of the bleak outlook, fights for his people and for the good of all Middle Earth. For this goal, I am both literally and figuratively referring to my "kingdom" (as in my home, my domain) meditate on/reclaim my purpose as husband and father (as "king") spend time with daughters; hug them, play with them, go on adventures with them keep my current house in order: clean daily, keep the yard clean and mowed, make necessary repairs work on the other house, as well, at least twice per week; be assertive but clearheaded when any obstacles arise And that is it for now. If I think of some other goals, I will add them and try to think of characters that embody those goals, as well.
  13. Greetings, fellow Adventurers! Ambarwen Oromendur, reporting for duty, sporting a guild badge for the first time in her entire NerdFitness career Traveler, Tolkien nerd, graduate student, ballroom dancer, musician, ecocritic, seeker of experience: finding categories that that don't pinch me a bit in the corners has been difficult thus far, but perhaps, hopefully, I have finally landed in the right place. I am coming off two (barely) successful recent challenges. I respawned after a several-year hiatus, and then I spent some time in the Druid grove working on balance and home energy, and now I'll be returning to my normal (and rather more itinerant) life. I will be traveling for almost this entire challenge I'm heading to Edinburgh on 30 May for a wedding, and afterwards I will visit some friends in the Shropshire hills. I will still be there at the end of these four weeks, so for this challenge I need to keep my goals well within the 'doable while traveling' framework. In that spirit, and hopefully in synergy with my dissertation on Tolkien, I am structuring this one as a hobbit walking-party. Also, since this map puts Weathertop somewhere in Scotland, that's where I've decided I'm going! Main Quest: The Red Book of Westmarch "I want to see mountains again, Gandalf – mountains; and then find somewhere where I can rest.... I might find somewhere where I can finish my book." ~Bilbo Baggins (The Fellowship of the Ring) Until the end of this year, the most important thing in my life needs to be the work I'm doing to FINISH MY DISSERTATION. I made very good progress last challenge, and I actually emailed Parts I and II to my advisor today. (!!!!!) Now I need to put together and execute a solid plan for starting and structuring Part III. I have a deadline of 21 June to submit 20-30 pages for a workshop with some of my cohort in July. That's roughly a chapter; I don't think I'll have all of Chapter 7 done by then, but my goal for the challenge is to submit the introduction to Part III and at least half of Chapter 7 to the workshop. Quest #1: Walking with Frodo (12 points) "His plan -- for pleasure and a last look at the Shire as much as any other reason -- was to walk from Hobbiton to Bucklebury Ferry, taking it fairly easy. ‘I shall get myself a bit into training, too,’ he said, looking at himself in a dusty mirror in the half-empty hall. He had not done any strenuous walking for a long time, and the reflection looked rather flabby." (The Fellowship of the Ring) As I will be away, I will not be able to fall back on ballroom dancing to fulfill my basic exercise requirements like I did last challenge. Therefore I will walk for at least one continuous kilometer, using either the GPS on my phone or my clunky old Garmin Fenix to keep me honest, at least three times per week. One point per successful day, extra days earn extra points. Hopefully the draw of the beautiful Scottish and English (and possibly-hopefully Welsh) countrysides will be enough to get me out and about as often as I can manage. Quest #2: Building the strength of Men (12 points) "But happily your Caradhras has forgotten that you have Men with you.... And doughty Men too, if I may say it; though lesser men with spades might have served you better." ~Boromir (The Fellowship of the Ring) While I am not prepared to commit to any structured strength training, I have signed up for a fairly flexible Accountabilibuddy challenge including many and various bodyweight exercises I should probably be doing anyway (Doodlies are awesome but WAFFLES RULE!!). I will perform at least three activities from this challenge per week, one point per successful activity, extra activities earn extra points. Quest #3: Resting with Legolas (20 points) "Legolas already lay motionless, his fair hands folded upon his breast, his eyes unclosed, blending living night and deep dream, as is the way with Elves." (The Two Towers) Last challenge I reclaimed a morning routine involving meditation and morning pages, but I know from experience that it is a very location-dependent routine, and I have generally failed in my efforts in the past to sustain it while traveling. I don't want to lose everything I gained, however, so I will give myself maximum flexibility in keeping at least some of my habits as current as can be managed. I will choose an action from the below list and perform it at least five times per week. One point per successful action, extra actions earn extra points. - Meditate for at least ten minutes - Perform a structured stretching routine of at least ten minutes in length - Perform a Tai Chi form (most likely my teacher's White Crane 28 Form, but if I get motivated to try and remember any of the more formal ones, that would be awesome) - Do Julia-Cameron style morning pages (the other things on this list I can do any time, but to count these must be done right when I wake up) Life Quest: Adventures with Bilbo (6 points) "So after that the party went along very merrily, and they told stories or sang songs as they rode forward all day, except of course when they stopped for meals. These didn’t come quite as often as Bilbo would have liked them, but still he began to feel that adventures were not so bad after all." (The Hobbit) I am very excited to be visiting the UK in the summer for a change. (Usually it's November or December when I go, and the weather is invariably cold and wet and unpleasant.) I want to take advantage of both the weather and the block of generally unstructured time to do some interesting things I haven't done before. During this challenge I will seek out at least three new touristy or adventurous things. Some options on my planning radar (I am allowed to choose other things if and as they come up): - visit Gloucester for the festival celebrating the Lady of the Mercians - visit Harlech Castle in Wales - spend a day in Edinburgh castle (I've never been willing to spend the time or money to go inside before, but I have to kill my jet lag before the wedding somehow!) - do a long walk in the country for the purpose of enjoying a pub lunch - hike up Mount Snowdon Two points per successful adventure, extra adventures earn extra points. Life Quest adventures are explicitly permitted to also count as walks for Quest #1. Total points to be successful in this challenge: 50. Extra points in one quest are permitted to make up for failures in another. I'm really looking forward to some adventuring, and to reading about other adventures as I try to be more active on the NerdFitness site. If you don't hear from me reasonably regularly, feel free to poke me and remind me I need to check in. One thing I am going to try very hard NOT to do is be too serious for the next few weeks! I have had to be very serious indeed over the past two months as I desperately tried to play catch-up on my long-delinquent dissertation responsibilities, but I think I'm more or less on track again, and I need a bit of lighter fun and play for a while. I don't care what any grumpy old wizard thinks! "This is a serious journey, not a hobbit walking-party." ~Gandalf (The Fellowship of the Ring) OH NO IT'S NOT, you old stick-in-the-mud. So there!
  14. Respectful greetings to the Druids! Ambarwen Oromendur here, coming off a (barely) successful respawn challenge, and after spending more soul-searching time than was probably necessary on deciding where my next challenge would land (long detailed post here), I think it feels right to start in this guild. My goals are to continue to solidify the habits I started to build in my respawn challenge, and so I will retain roughly the same categories, with a few tweaks and additions. I also will seek to take advantage of a rare situation: I am not traveling, hosting anyone, or doing anything unusual in my life from now until the last week in May. This means I have an opportunity to truly establish routine habits without the sort of distractions that normally derail my efforts. I’m generally satisfied with my evening routine, so now I plan to try and reclaim some parts of a morning routine I used to have, back in a long-lost day when I wasn’t quite so hopeless... As a Ph.D. candidate writing a dissertation on Tolkien, I’m still soldiering along in Middle-earth, and will likely be doing so for at least the next six to eight months. My challenges are likely to be Tolkien-themed for the foreseeable future — so any and all Tolkien geekery is more than welcome here (For those uber-nerds interested, my title means "Tale of her Journeys" -- or at least I hope it does, because I don't actually know enough Quenya to string two words together. Using the amazing cross-referenced dictionaries at Parf Edhellen and the grammar notes at Ardalambion this is what I've come up with. Anyway. Moving on.) Main Quest: FINISH MY DISSERTATION. Period. This has to be the most important thing in my life, every day. Last challenge I let external pressures distract me, and now I’m even further behind and starting to feel like I’m in trouble. Current milestone goal: I want to send all of Part II of the dissertation to my advisor before I leave for the UK the last week in May. It’s going to take a lot of focus and more than a little luck to get me there, but I think I can do it. Quest #1: Bilbo’s heart (20 points) “Go back?’ he thought. ‘No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!’ So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” ~The Hobbit Last challenge my Ranger quest was kind of a failure, I think because I tried to focus on specific exercises rather than just looking for exercise in general. This challenge, my plan is to use the heart rate monitor I wear all the time anyway (Mio SLICE) to keep me motivated to move. There are no limits on the type, distance, length, number, or suitability of the exercise — as long as it gets my heart beating enough to satisfy the tracker, it counts. One point for every day that the PAI score on my tracker is over 100, with a goal of five days a week. Extra days earn extra points. (Conveniently, if I am diligent in performing my other quests, this one should very nearly take care of itself. We’ll see.) Quest #2: Boromir’s strength (20 points) “Pippin marvelled at his strength, seeing the passage that he had already forced with no other tool than his great limbs. Even now, burdened as he was, he was widening the track for those who followed, thrusting the snow aside as he went.” ~The Fellowship of the Ring The first of the three pieces of the morning routine I am attempting to reclaim during this rare month at home is an upper-body strength practice that will hopefully serve as a foundation for getting back into trying to do pullups someday. I will do three max sets of twisty pushups (I have a dusty set of these I will have to dig up tomorrow) first thing in the morning, five days a week. One point per successful day, no extra points. Quest #3: Legolas’s lightness (32 points) “The strongest must seek a way, say you? But I say: let a ploughman plough, but choose an otter for swimming, and for running light over grass and leaf, or over snow — an Elf.” ~Legolas Greenleaf (The Fellowship of the Ring) The Elf quest from my last challenge was quite a success, and I am going to try and solidify that habit while expanding its scope, with a two-part challenge. The first part is a continuation of my last challenge habit, and the second is (in the spirit of reclamation that seems to be a feature of this challenge) another resurrection of an activity from one of my old challenges. - I will do a mindful bedtime stretching routine of at least five minutes (keeping myself honest by using a timer) five days a week. Extra days earn extra points. - I will perform a set of exercises designed to correct Anterior Pelvic Tilt three days a week (this is a lifting-specific program; I'm allowed to skip any exercise requiring gym equipment). One point per successful day, extra days earn extra points. Life quest #1: Galadriel’s focus (20 points) “But perhaps you could call her perilous, because she’s so strong in herself. You, you could dash yourself to pieces on her, like a ship on a rock; or drownd yourself, like a hobbit in a river. But neither rock nor river would be to blame.” ~ Samwise Gamgee, speaking of Galadriel (The Two Towers) For the Druid portion of my challenge (there is one, really) I will reclaim the remaining two pieces of my old morning routine. While it might seem like I’m trying to make a big change here, I actually did this regularly off and on for many years — it’s more a matter of rediscovering the groove than creating anything new. - I will do Julia Cameron-style morning pages (link) five days a week. - I will meditate for at least five minutes five days a week. No restrictions on the type of meditation, and whether or not I count it successful depends entirely on whether or not I manage to sit still in my meditation space for five minutes (I think that trying to grade the quality of my meditation before I get used to doing it again would be a recipe for failure). A successful day requires both of these; one point per successful day, extra days earn extra points. Life quest #2: A hole worthy of a Hobbit (8 points) “The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill…and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another…. Bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage.” ~The Hobbit Last challenge I gave myself an extra point for dunging out one of my horrible closets, and even a week later it makes me very happy to be able to open that door and fetch a roll of toilet paper or something and not have my skin crawl. I have a HUGE list of that sort of thing that needs doing. I want to use the fact that I’m home this month to take advantage of how good it felt to have a clean house for the briefest of moments (it’s already kind of a mess again. Sigh. WHY AM I LIKE THIS???). This is a two-part quest. - Once per week, I will pick up clutter, put things away, sweep the floors, and generally get the house to a point where I would not be embarrassed if a friend stopped by. I don’t actually expect to host anyone, but that’s not relevant — what I want is to feel like it would be OK if I did, because last challenge having my house clean for my friends made me feel SO much better. One point per successful weekly tidying effort, no extra points. - Twice at any point during the challenge, I will choose a task from my VERY long list of home-sorting projects and complete it. Possibilities include: empty and tidy office closet, empty and tidy spare room closet, sort through and deal with the huge piles of mouldering stuff under the deck, empty and clean refrigerator, empty and clean kitchen cupboards — oh, there are a million things like this. I will draft a fuller list later, but this is enough to capture the concept and give me enough to be getting on with. As all of these tasks are big and icky, I will earn two points per task. Extra points are possible after the first two. Total points to be successful: 100. Extra points in one area are explicitly permitted to make up for failures in another. Best of luck to all in your own challenges! Let us journey together through the Golden Wood, and see what is to be seen if we leave the Mirror free to work...
  15. Greetings all! It’s been a while… So, today I’m respawning back to NF after a several-year hiatus. I made it through two consecutive only-just-barely-successful challenges back in the day, but then I got swept into the maelstrom of life and pretty much fell off the self-improvement wagon. Currently I am still in the same place in the same storm, soldiering along in the bloody trenches of scholarship and fighting desperately to make progress on my doctoral dissertation, but my body is starting to revolt against the fact that I’ve basically been using it to do nothing but carry my brain around for about two years now. I’ve recently suffered several bouts of crippling back pain which I know PERFECTLY WELL are caused by the utter lack of any significant physical movement in my life. The other day I stumbled over the Level Up Your Life book on my Kindle while searching for a citation. I let myself get distracted (bad) — but I am now inspired to try and climb back on that stupid wagon again (good). For a good long time now, my only exercise has been ballroom dancing. That was actually all right, when I had tough classes four nights a week and several hours of social dancing every weekend, but last fall my teachers had to close their studio and haven’t found another permanent location. So now I don’t even get much of that anymore My body has made it crystal clear that two group lessons one night a week and one or two social dance outings a month are not enough to overcome hours and hours and hours of desk-bound typing every day. Once upon a time I was a military officer, a martial artist, a solo backpacker…the list goes on. But I got promoted out of my unit and had to drop to the Inactive Reserve, I haven’t trained or fought (or even been on a mat or in armor) in over two years, and I cannot remember the last time I walked farther than back and forth to my mailbox (sigh). Dancing was keeping me sane, but when that slipped from “close by, easy to do” to “too far, takes too much energy” I stopped doing it regularly. Contemplating my past capabilities in the light of my current uselessness while also wrestling this bloody dissertation is hugely depressing — so, in the interest of keeping sanity as intact as possible, I am going to try hard to set aside any unhelpful expectations for the next four weeks. Whatever I was able to do in the past is not really relevant; right now I can only work with today’s capabilities. My dissertation involves some source criticism and ecocriticsm of Tolkien’s legendarium. Since I’m spending pretty much every waking hour in Middle-earth anyway, I figure I might as well use it to shape my respawn challenge Main Quest: TBD. (I’m having a hard time with visualizing any other goal than FINISH MY DISSERTATION. That singular focus is part of my current problem, but I am struggling to find the energy to imagine anything else suitably aspirational right now. If I come up with something I will edit this quest. In the meantime, the side quests will keep me gaining experience until I can move on. Maybe I can think of it as grinding to unlock the next quest level…) Quest #1: The Endurance of a Ranger (12 points) “Aragorn rose at once, and he led the Company forth upon the journey of greatest haste and weariness that any among them had known, save he alone, and only his will held them to go on. No other mortal Men could have endured it, none but the Dúnedain of the North.” ~The Return of the King MOVE. I will leave my house for the purpose of moving my body through space under its own power at least three times a week. This can be a walk (at least two miles), a run (at least one mile), a night of active social dancing (at least two hours), or anything else that comes up which makes me move significantly. One point per successful day, additional days get extra points. Quest #2: The Strength of a Dwarf (12 points) “Gimli the dwarf alone wore openly a short shirt of steel-rings, for dwarves make light of burdens.” ~The Fellowship of the Ring SWING. I will do 50 kettlebell swings, 20 glute raises, and 15 flying dogs three times a week (as described by Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Body). One point per successful day, no extra points — I’m working with the ‘minimum effective dose’ concept here and I don’t want to overdo anything, and with my back the way it is I don’t want to chance further injury. Quest #3: The Flexibility of an Elf Dance all ye joyful, now dance all together! Soft is the grass, and let foot be like feather! ~The Hobbit STRETCH. I will do a mindful stretching routine of at least five minutes at least three times a week. For the session to count, I must use a timer and follow an established routine (I will start with something from Sang H. Kim’s book Ultimate Flexibility, but I am not limited to it if I find something else I like). One point per successful day, additional days get extra points. Life Quest: The Home of a Hobbit (4 points) “There was a fearful mess in the room, and piles of unwashed crocks in the kitchen. Nearly every pot and pan he possessed seemed to have been used. The washing-up was so dismally real that Bilbo was forced to believe the party of the night before had not been part of his bad dreams.” ~The Hobbit CLEAN. I am a full-time graduate student writing a dissertation; most days I don't even get dressed, much less worry about cleaning more of the dirty dishes than necessary to wipe out a bowl and microwave something. Naturally, this means that the house looks like a war zone. Here's the problem with this reality: I have friends coming to visit from overseas for several weeks. They arrive next Sunday I MUST get things to the point where they won’t catch something in the bathroom or get bitten by a black widow spider in the bedroom or poison themselves in my filthy kitchen. This is a no-fail proposition as they are coming whether or not I get my act together…so I will give myself three points for the huge effort it is going to require me to exert this week. I get the last point when I clean up again after they leave. Total points to be successful: 40. If I’m successful in the challenge, I get to buy new dance shoes (I’ve been needing them for a while but they’re expensive and I haven’t been dancing as much). If I’m successful in the challenge AND I finish chapter 5 of my dissertation by April 15th, I get to buy new dance shoes AND celebrate with an outrageously nice dinner and night out (I *love* good food paired with good wine and craft cocktails, but I don’t ever enjoy them anymore because I begrudge both the time and the money). Extra points in one area are permitted to make up for failures in another. Come, then. Let us walk this path together for a while Good luck to all!
  16. Hi folks! Ann of Vries signing in, a returning Adventurer I’m a hiker/rambler (urban and wild), traveler, fantasy, and RPG geek who moved to London 2 years ago from Seattle. This has been an excellent opportunity to explore and have new experiences, but in between I tend to become a hermit for weeks (*cough-or-months-cough*) at a time and leave the house as little as possible unless my husband drags me out on a new adventure (thank goodness for him), and I’m looking to change that. Especially now that I’m 33 weeks pregnant, and I know how easy it could be to lock myself up in my hobbit hole and just watch Netflix and eat donuts—this could spell doom for my adventuring life if I don’t stay proactive. I don’t want that; I've managed to stay fairly fit so far during the pregnancy (despite some periods of Netflix and donuts), but I need to keep those habits going into the home stretch. Fitness Quests: Keep on Wandering: Continuous walking (20+ min) 5 days a week; at least 3 of those days should be 30+ min. (Measured by Active Minutes on my FitBit.) Insert usual disclaimer that this will get adjusted based on pregnancy/midwife concerns. A guiding philosophy: I’m a bit of an online shopping junkie, and I want be more engaged with my local area, so: more walking out to the High Street shops when I need something (particularly, groceries I can carry. I will still order in large or heavy items). I’m unclear how to measure this one, so it’s more of a note to get myself out and about than an actual goal to check off. Increase Hydration: 8 glasses of water (or herbal tea, etc.) a day. (Last challenge I averaged about 7.) Life Quest: I did technical writing for several years as a day job, and I’ve been writing fiction for as long as I can remember (hobby/semi-pro), but I’ve always been intrigued with narrative/creative nonfiction. Now that I’m living my life as an Adventurer, I want to put a renewed focus into developing my narrative nonfiction skills: Module 1.1 Intro to Travel Writing: Since I came to London, I’ve been dissatisfied with my attempts to write my stories of moving abroad and exploring my new country (even just for my friends/family back home, who aren’t exactly looking for High Art). I also don’t want to be a total homebody after I have my child in a few weeks (EEEEK), so I’ve decided to learn more about travel writing—both in how to write engaging tales of my experiences, but also to encourage me to keep exploring, now and after. I mean, I live in London. There’s so much exploration to be done without even leaving the city. Why am I not taking more advantage of this? (I can't blame the bump, this was true before that happened.) Module 1.1 Objectives: Complete the Travel Journaling and Travel Writing courses I bought. Go on at least 4 Field Trips (overlaps with Keep on Wandering) Practice travel journaling and writing based on courses, with Field Trips as inspiration (no requirement to share my practice writing, sorry )—four 500 word essays: each outlined, drafted, and notated for future revisions. Update on Mondays (at least): I’ve been attempting NF challenges on and off for years… I’m often good at keeping up on the goals (or at least the spirit of them). It’s always the tracking on the forums I fall off on. So I will plan to update on Mondays. (Too often and I feel like I’m spending more time tracking than doing.) I'll put it on my calendar as a proactive step. However, this time if I disappear--particularly late into the challenge--it may be because someone decided to show up early and I got a little distracted. XD Cheers, Ann x
  17. Don't Turn to Stone I have all the mobility stuff ... foam rollers, lacrosse ball, miracle ball. Do I use it? Nope. Never even think about it. I'm pretty flexi-bendy for my age, years of dance, martial arts, and forced yoga marches had a lasting effect. Still, though, I am older than I was, and I do have aches and pains and stiffnesses. Challenge Goal: Work on mobility, mostly cervical spine but other areas as needed, at least 5 min/night at least 5 nights/week. 25 points possible Enjoy Second Breakfast Challenge Goal: This one is simple - I am now on week three of my gym's three-month Nutrition Transformation Challenge - continue to comply with coach's meal plan. Bonus points: streamline meal prep down to 5 hours (currently about 7). 5 points possible (one point per week, including zero week) Walk to Mordor According to my often-ignored fitness tracker, I average about 6k steps per day. Challenge: Walk 7,000 steps per day at least 28 of the 35 challenge days (counting zero week) A Hobbit Hole Means Comfort I've made some dents in the library/junk room/cavern. I'll take pics when I'm home during daylight (probably weekend). Time to buckle down and get this library party started! Goal: Get rid of enough junk that I can move the remainder to the center, leaving room around the perimeter to start prepping the walls for paint. Scoring is simple pass/fail Don't Turn to Stone 0/25 Enjoy Second Breakfast 0/5 Walk to Mordor 0/28 A Hobbit Hole Means Comfort 0/1
  18. So I was checking out some new challenge threads and I came upon IslandGirl_Becks' thread "Becks goes There and Back Again with the Hobbit", which appears to be the first in a series of Hobbit/LotR themed challenges she is planning on doing. I am a big fan of LotR and the Hobbit, I have even read the Silmarillion (it is a hard read do not attempt unless you are a total nerd). I have seen several Middle Earth based challenges and workouts but most of them are walking/running based, something I have no interest in participating in. But as I read Becks' post it occurred to me, there is certainly a ton of walking in the books, but there is also a lot of epic battles. One of my hobbies being reenactment/swordplay, that is exactly the sort of thing I am interested in. So that leads me here, to plan a set of challenges, each based on a Battle of the Third Age. I haven't decided whether to do them chronologically or from easiest to hardest yet but the first step will be to make a list of the battles I want to cover. Then I will set up a basic template to follow before building unique challenges for each battle. I already have a challenge set up for this round so I am hoping to have this together for the next challenge. The first three I know I want to be more ranger themed but then I want to switch to warrior/bulking mode for the fall and winter. If I can't make that work, I may just take a break from my themed challenges until next spring. Anyway, I'm not just here to talk, I want your input! What kind of exercises belong in a battle workout? What equipment should I use? How many dwarves should I throw? If you like you can even play along and set up your own Battles of Middle Earth challenge. Lets have some fun together.....FOR FRODO!
  19. Main Quest - Climb Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in the 2014 season. The Half Dome climb is a strenuous, 16 mile round-trip with approximately 4800 feet of elevation change. Thus, my main quest is to put one foot in front of the other many times in a row and get to the top of some of the most beautiful country America has to offer. And then, I will throw the One Ring off of it and save all Middle-Earth. (No, no, every park ranger that just had a heart attack. I promise I will not do any such thing.) However, just like any other chubby, asthmatic hobbit who enjoys second breakfast and plenty of ale, I have a lot of training to do in the meantime to make sure that Gwaihir and the eagles don't have to come save me. - Complete Couch to 5k: This will be my primary cardiovascular and aerobic training. I've gone to week 4 or 5 multiple times in the past, but never actually finished. (Let's face it. I just hate running.) I will follow the plan and run 3 times a week. - 100% Sync: No repeats, 18 sessions. - Two strength workouts a week: using either the Sworkit app or the Beginner's Bodyweight workout here on NerdFitness. I may substitute these for self-guided yoga or long stretching routines as my health dictates. 12 sessions total. - Sworkit (100% sync) - start at 10 minutes per session, advance 3 minutes a week. - Beginner's Bodyweight (100% sync) - start at 1 set. Advance in reps or sets each week. - Hit the trails: The county has graciously given us an entire network of hiking trails - albeit much less strenuous than Yosemite - just a mile away from my house. One loop through the closest trail is 3 mi, and there are a total of 8 mi of trails all within walking distance from the first trailhead. My goal is to start at 3 mi per week - one loop this weekend - and increase each week until I reach 18 mi: an increase of 3 mi per week. While I'd like to pledge to do all those in one day, my night shift schedule often means I won't be able to awake at dawn and dedicate an entire day to hiking every week. Completion Criteria: Since some aspects of the main quest are out of my control (i.e., weather, Half Dome permits, travel logistics) I will consider this quest completed if I complete the three sub-goals successfully. Side Quests - Life Goal: There's no getting around it - I like my beer. I'm by no means an alcoholic, but I'm also keenly aware that I'm drinking many, many calories during the week, largely out of boredom or to 'wind down' (unhealthily) after work. Thus: No alcoholic drinks during the work-week. (And no binges on the weekends to 'make up' for it. 1 drink per hour ONLY + proper hydration.) - Fitness Goal: (LOCKED) Motivation:(http://52brandnew.com/2012/09/30/frequently-asked-question-7-do-you-still-seek-new-experiences-for-yourself/) "What do you fear, lady?" he asked. "A cage," she said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.†― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King ============================================================== +sheet/stats for Aes Sedai Anaelle============================================================== Age: 29 Race: Hobbit Sex: Female Height: 5'4.5" Weight: 145 lb Class: Adventurer -> Ranger Level: 0 Inventory: 1 x Fitbit, 1 x HR Monitor, Hiking Boots, 1 x flask of Scotch Companions: 2 x level 0 common housecat Strengths: Viking Metal Weaknesses: Asthma, Comfort==============================================================
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