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  1. Sepherina’s soul is weary of the next challenge. Up ahead she notices the path leads into the Enchantress’s Forest. She thinks to herself, I could use some magic and insight to aide me in my quest. With a spring in her step and a sureness of heart, she steps off the path and into the woods. This Warrior is taking the scenic route to her next mission. I feel the need for a bit of self reflection and therefore some Druidic help. A mini quest as part of my larger quest. A reminder of my 2024 goals and where I am heading Goals for this challenge 🏋️‍♀️ Continue with my current lifting schedule. Monday is all body, Tuesday is lower/leg days and Thursday is arm/upper body day. I am holding the line here but I am mulling over some changes. Mostly around if I want to continue to invest the outrageous amount of money I am paying for personal training and maybe find a more affordable option. I will also strive to take at least a 30 minute walk every day with Maple. This is good for her health and mine. With food, I am trying to eat for muscle gains. But the last challenge the scale didn’t budge in either direction despite me eating until I am satisfied. For now that may need to be enough. Additional things needed for this goal. Really try to get water in, keep alcohol to a minimum and nail the sleep schedule. 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Make more forum friends. Spend a least 4 days this month doing something with a friend in person. Continue to cultivate relationships I currently have. Get a couple of date nights in with the hubs. 💸 My credit card balance is now under 7K. I have some extra money this month so I am going to try to bring it under 6500. It may be hard but it is doable if I am diligent. Look into some new ways of being frugal and spending my money based on my values. 🌻 I used to have a very diligent self care and yoga practice. But injury and then life got in the way. The injury now is mostly healed and other things in my life are more stable. I miss my self care. I miss my space on the mat. I will be prioritizing this. More to come on this goal. Plan out my garden for this spring and spruce up our outdoor living spaces for summer. I am a warm weather gal. Soon it will be time for bare feet in the dirt and sun kissed arms. Svastha: There are some things/relationships in my life I am not satisfied with. I no longer accept them as is. If I can change something I will try to do so with empathy, but sometimes you have to cut things loose. A good friend told me that I shouldn’t sacrifice my happiness just to accommodate someone else’s bad behavior or continue to accept the status quo to keep the peace. I also shouldn’t keep habits/lifestyle choices that make me miserable. I will be rooting those out as well. And because it has been awhile since I have shared, here is a Maple picture. She is getting soo big. She is about 7-8 months now.
  2. Warrior related discussions! *Note: You can participate in guild discussions regardless of your chosen guild. You love the idea of getting stronger and more powerful. Every day is an opportunity to move heavy things or test yourself against others in competition and prove your might. * Fictional example: Thor of Asgard (The Avengers); Brienne of Tarth (Game of Thrones) * Real-world example: Mattie Rogers, US Weightlifting Olympic team; 10x IFP World Champ Jen Thompson; Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, who plays The Mountain on Game of Thrones.
  3. The comforting forest eventually gives way to wasteland.... the trees around here are smaller, younger, and farther apart. While the landscape is beautiful and the sun warm, Scalyfreak has learned the hard way that being out in the open like this makes her an easy target, and the lack of cover is making her more and more uneasy. And so, when the road she has been following leads away from safety, Scalyfreak stops following the path and turns back towards the shade of the treeline. Leaving the paved road means progress is slower, but Scalyfreak doesn't mind this at all. The trees are powerful and when she focuses and stands absolutely still, she thinks she can hear them sing to each other... maybe...? Scalyfreak keeps an eye on the wide open field to her right as she continues on her way. The treeline and the paved road are running parallel to each other as far as the eye can see and Scalyfreak can't think of a single reason for why she would want to travel where everyone else travels, exposed to all the hazards of the road, not when she doesn't have to. So she stays with the trees, mindful of her surroundings and cautiously optimistic that she'll reach her destination by nightfall. A brief “intro” for anyone who doesn't know me very well: The quest for better physical health continues, because my doctor's orders to get my blood pressure under control are still very much relevant, because that's what it means to have a chronic medical thing like high blood pressure. The management measures don't go away. One of the most important management measures is that I need to move more, to build my Strength and Constitution attributes, to help my myocardium get stronger, and also to give my body an alternative to storing excess food as body fat, by raising the higher daily energy needs a little bit. Another measure is to stop consuming stimulants that raise my heart rate and blood pressure.... in other words, cut back on caffeine. That last part might not sound like a big deal, but I'm starting from a position of drinking a little over a liter of coffee per day, and that is after already starting to cut back. I like to make my coffee a lot stronger than average (for the US anyway) because I like coffee to actually be black while it's being poured into a cup, and to generally have flavor. I have, as mentioned, started my gradual decaffeination by switching to black tea on weekends. I tend to sleep in for several hours when given the chance to do so, and it seemed unwise to start drinking coffee at noon. So I am drinking tea on weekends, and on workdays I have given myself a cutoff and am not drinking coffee after my lunch break. I'm also starting to collect black teas and herbal teas, and have started searching local stores for coffee alternatives that provide the savory and rich “coffee-type” flavor without dosing me with caffeine. Smokey black teas definitely live in this niche, but a fully caffeine free option that has some kind of coffee flavor would be nice. And no, decaf coffee is not an option. It has a weird kind of side-effect taste that makes it gross. I'm hoping that reducing caffeine for blood pressure reasons also will have a generally positive impact to my sleep. All of these vague descriptions need to somehow solidify into goals though, so here we go: Health Either go for a walk or do a workout, every day. “Workout” is defined very generously as any kind of deliberate movement done for the sake of moving”. The Daily Dare most absolutely counts, and so does stretching on days when that's all there is energy for. Mana Meditate every day. I am still struggling with remembering to do this on weekends, and until that habit is automatic this needs to remain a goal. Stamina Reduce caffeine intake by gradually switching away from coffee to tea and other beverages. Since I have coffee at home that needs to be consumed before the switch can fully take place, there's not a fixed timeline on this.
  4. Welcome, one and all, welcome to Level Four! Same basic premise as before, starting with the big goals: 1. Become an Ordained Deacon in the ACNA. Just started seminary classes so that will be the bulk of this goal for now. Also hoping to meet with my Parish Discernment Committee this challenge. 2. Strength GainZ Continue my Stronger by Science workouts 3/week. Currently doing Bulgarian Split Squats and Overhead Press, at the end of this training block (which will be about Week 3 in challenge time) I will be switching to lunges and rows (with deadlifts in both cycles, always). Also going to lump my cardio goals here, thought about making them separate, but really since the goal this year is a faster mile, that's more of a strength goal than an endurance goal. Also, three is a good number, so I didn't want to add another. For this challenge, the goal is just to start rebuilding the habit on my bike trainer. I'm also going to count it if I do stairs during my lunch break, to give me other options on busy weeks. 3. Finish Barndominium Spring is slowly creeping in, so I'll be able to start putting more work into my barn/apartment again. This challenge I want to get my north door hung, finish the interior barn walls, and at least start the barn ceiling.
  5. I'm going to continue working on the habits I've been trying to establish: Habit #1 Reading Bible before looking at screens Habit #2 Setting Workout clothes on my bed before breakfast, so that I am ready to workout as soon as I finish breakfast Both of these I have in my habit reminder on the phone, so I also need to check off there whether I have done them or not Habit #3 Writing out weekly goals and daily goals for the week/day. New goal: The workout program I'm doing: Anabolic , has what they call trigger sessions on days where I'm not working out. The idea is you use resistance bands, some intensity but not too hard, just enough to get a pump. Goal is to do these at least once ( they recommend 1-3 times during the day) a day 3 times a week What else I'm doing: Right now I' m doing a slight bulk. I want this to be at least mostly muscle gain. Which means I need to track calories, and weigh and measure myself. So, I will be doing that. I'm not listing it is a goal, because that actually backfires and makes me less likely to do it, because I slide too quickly into the all or nothing category. I feel like I'm lying if I report on here that I tracked, and I really can't remember what I ate for lunch, and it was only a guestimate. Where if I'm just noting it for myself I don't do as much self questioning and am more flexible. My workout program is Anabolic by Mindpump it's set up to be a 2 to 3 day a week workout. I will usually do 3 days, cause I love working out. I will also do walking. Maybe not as much rowing. I felt like January I was sick and pushed myself too hard, so I'm trying to back off. Let my rest days be rest days . I have the trigger sessions to do, which gives me movement, so I think I will just do walking. If I really want to get a row in, that's fine. J
  6. Finally getting back into a routine with the arrival of baby #2! It was recommended by @Sloth the Enduring to consolidate threads so I’m going to be posting my challenge and daily logs all right here. Still a bit sleep deprived but will be posting more soon. Thanks for all the well wishes!
  7. 銀公雞的光輝長廊 (Beware of Chicken) 貪得無厭的班卓人無情的教導 (Banjo Practice) Work ligaments every day for at least 3 sessions - Working to get better in the "window", or holding frets 8 and 9 while switching among 10, 11, 12 on the banjo. Means my poor left pinky needs to learn new ROM's and lots of small physical therapy-style sessions every day are best. Reward - an Earl Skrugg's songbook!! Practice on fucking Thursdays and Saturdays - those days are the most often skipped. Reward - fancy new picks!! 沉睡惡魔的隱密法庭和他的許多仁慈 (Sleep Hygiene) 7 hours per day in a week Reward - Punjabi curry bowl on takeout Friday!! 支撐世界的烏龜必須自己更換無價的外殼 (Moving Prep) Empty both garage bays - before and after pics included. Reward - AYCE sushi!! Organize craft area - before and after pics included. Reward - $25 order credit on Pandahall!! Put away Christmas shit. Reward - $25 order credit on Pandahall!! 短暫的鑿子賦予了看不見的奇蹟以形式 (Sculpture Production) Print & paint Brigid v1.0 - pics before and after painting. Print & paint Persephone v.20 - pics before and after painting. Print & paint Oski-Otsi v2.0 - pics before and after painting. Print & paint Frō-Ingvi v2.0 - pics before and after painting. Print & paint Ylgr v2.0 - pics before and after painting. Print & paint Lucy-Asherah v1.0 - pics before and after painting. Reward - re-order lion's tail petals. 光榮但笨重的泰坦研究卑微但不知疲倦的螞蟻 (Barbell Volume) 3x8 sets at 65% 4x a week. Whining before and after is not mandatory but will be included. In copious amounts. Reward - replace the old crumbling gym bag!!
  8. "Oh hey you guys! Man, it's been a long time, hasn't it? I'm sorry to have been away from this wonderful place for such a long time. Life has been interesting to say the least. I hope you've all been good. Me? Oh well, it's a bit, I'll tell you that. There was that... Oh then there's the... Well, heh, let me do this in my usual way." *Ahem* "So I met a girl in the usual way. We were playing Mario Kart and, what can I say? The shells were flying! I remember it so fondly..." "But she might remember things differently..." "But her name is @Blue1323, she's a Scout, loves Mass Effect, baking and is just the coolest person. Then after having my rent increased, I decided to move in with my friend and got an apartment together." "Once that was done, it was time to resume my Certification exam! I took the exam and unfortunately, I failed the exam by 2 points!" "Sigh... 2 Points. But you know what?! I'm not going to let that deter me! I'm going to take it again! I got this! But before this one, I'm going to take the Florida exam and guess what? I passed it! Narrow margins was the name of the game, but who cares? I passed!" "OK, Now on to the next attempt and wouldn't you know it?" "I failed it. Again! This time by 1 lousy point! One!! But you know what? That's ok. Because it was onto the next big thing that was on my mind. Throughout this whole endeavor, I've had the love and support of someone who became very special to me. I saved up enough gold and made a purchase and then I asked a question so few Adventurers are so lucky to ask..." It was shortly after this heartwarming scene that Blue1323 equipped the Ring, and gained +2 Int. She then briefly changed her mind... Briefly. "So now that brings us to here and now! I have tried to stay in shape on my own and trying to keep up with my own endeavors, but it's not the same. Especially since 'the incident' " "I've officially hit 200 lbs! This is a first for me, but also a wake up call that I need to do something about it. In the past, I have been hyping you guys up to @Blue1323 and we both felt it was time to join the folds (once again for me). So here is my return challenge!" The Return: "OK So in the past I've been infamous for going MIA due to some excuse reason, but now that I have someone to keep me in check and make sure that I stay consistent with both my goals and my personal accountability. So here's my 3 fitness goals: Running 2x a week Strength Training/Lifting 2x a week "Movie Night" 1x a week And for my Life goal: Post on NF boards, consistently, 3x a week For my fitness goals, these three things don't all fall on the same days, but there will be some overlap. For my Strength days, I'll be breaking them into 2 things: Upper and Lower. With Upper, they'll be Push and Pull exercises but they'll have a run day with them. With the Lower, I'll just focus on strengthening my legs and core, but no running. For Running, I can do a 5k with some walking in, but I want to do better. I'm going to push to be able to run a 10k. I have some... motivation to achieve this goal, like agreeing to run one, ha ha ha! But I have obtained a guide to help me find out the best way to increase my running distance. "Movie Night" will be an youtube video that Blue1323 and I found that is either a Muay Thai video or some intense Yoga video. Either way, we're going to be sweating at the end of it! Happy to be back with you guys and I'm looking forward to what lies ahead!
  9. I posted a challenge last challenge, thinking I was on the other end of some health stuff, and it turns out the worst was just beginning. It was a tough month, but after a ton of appointments and a quick surgery, I should be back up and running and back to "normal" by next week, just in time for this next challenge to start. So I'm taking my last challenge and almost duplicating it, only simplifying it a bit Spezzy is a Korok If we look back at the periods of time when I've been the happiest and healthiest, they're times when I'm spending significant time outside. Even in my years that I spent hours every day in the gym - I was either doing additional training outside or in open air gyms in Texas. The periods of my life where I haven't had the gym and I was the happiest, I've spent the majority of my time outside Now that I'm back in the darkness of new england, I've been finding myself skipping workouts and other things just to optimize the amount of time I am able to just be outside during the day - and why would I want to be in the gym if I can be doing projects outside? This will be me attempting to build out this new life embracing the fact that I am not a magical humanoid race (Hylian) like I have wanted all along, but am, in fact, a child of the forest (Korok). (Now of course, this doesn't mean I can't do things Hylians can do - Koroks are very versatile little creatures. But it means that I need to prioritize the things that make me the happiest, and for me, that's being outside and interacting with nature/animals/plants/etc. ) It's going to also focus on re-solidifying some older habits that have stopped (like a daily walk or regularly strength training). With recovery, I'll have to focus on doing better each week so may not hit everything the first week, but I'll get there. I'm not concerned about nutrition all around, so no goals around that. Just focusing on reintegrating movement and a solid schedule that includes lots of time outdoors. GOALS: Exercise: Daily Walk - non negotiable. Bonus: a second walk, even if it is on the property. Strength 3x/week Unfortunately, this will have to be inside most days, but bonus points if I can figure out wintertime outside strength work! Rowing or yoga at night - the rower is in the house now. I do best at sleeping if I exercise lightly before bed, so 10 minutes of either yoga or rowing every night. Spellbooks/Schedule: I now have complete freedom of schedule in my new role at work, and since I don't have kids or anything else with a specific schedule, I can really do whatever I want. The problem is, I'm not sure what the BEST schedule is, so part of this is figuring out what that is. I'm also focusing on getting up earlier and earlier, to optimize sunlight since it gets dark very early here. Get up when I wake up or by the last call alarm time (if I wake up before alarm, just get up) Nightly spellbooks review + prep everything for next day (as a part of this challenge, make checklist of things that need to be prepped for next day) Follow schedule plan with work blocks (shifting schedule to do a large portion of work when it is dark out). notes: work when I'm supposed to be working, even though I have my own schedule. Use ADHD coping mechanisms - headphones, timers, do it up. Outdoor Farm Life / Mindset - these specific things will be built into my schedule A few minutes each day either focusing on breathing/meditation. If I do yoga, this can be included at the end there, but I'd prefer to do it outside. Sitting out by the river in the morning sounds like it could be a good thing. Take a break from work and spend at least 20 minutes with the animals during the day - this could be training huckleberry, sitting with the chickens, or hanging with the goats. Doesn't matter, but spend time with the animals. This makes a huge difference in overall mood. Get outside for at least 30 minutes before sundown in the afternoon. And that's it!
  10. So. January?! Last fall I worked hard on getting my life (myself?!) in order. Mentally I’m in a better place, with some new and improved planning skills, and nothing significantly on fire, so this challenge I want to tackle some long-standing Things I Want. Weight loss. It crept up during the house remodel a few years back and just stayed. I feel awkward in my body and I want to deal with that. How: calories under 1900 average/day, workouts as usual, walk 10 miles/week. I’m aiming at very gradual, slow progress is fine. If this doesn’t do it I’ll drop to 1800. Writing. Tackle some projects and build momentum. How: after breakfast, any amount of time, days when I don’t go to the office. And I signed up for a class. Living space. Get things cleaned up and set up. Repair things that need repairing. How: 10 minutes/day, working clockwise around the whole house. And say yes to my husband’s ideas on this, to support and build on his momentum. Can include the garden too. Work. Try some new stuff. Partly for interest, partly to sort of future-proof my thinking in case there are layoffs (feels like there should be more to say about that, but I don’t know what). How: blocked time on my calendar, made a list of things to research. I actually started some of this last week. I’m amazed at how incorrect my assumptions about calories are, but feels pretty good overall!
  11. Here we are, with my 4th cleric challenge, and while not much is changing with the format of the challenge, there are some underlying shifts happening. Starting with the fact that I have not tagged this with ranger, and instead am running in the warrior guild. You'll notice that my crest hasn't changed, because I'm easing myself into this, but my Ranger Brain(TM) is being put in the closet for 2024 while I focus on my three main goals of the year: becoming an ordained deacon in the Anglican Church of North America (which may take longer than a year), gaining as much strength as possible, and completing my barndominium. 1- Become an Ordained Deacon in ACNA I will be starting seminary classes on January 29. It's about a 2 year program, but depending on how things go my first semester, I may double up on classes. On Wednesday, I have a meeting with the Bishop, after which I'll hopefully have a better idea of the timeline for everything else. I'm actually not sure my seminary certificate is required to be ordained, but I do love classes, and it should be helpful, so either way I'm completing the program. 2 - Strength GainZ Why did I spell gains with a capital Z? I really don't know, but we're going with it. Anyways, I'm really enjoying lifting, and I want to take advantage of still being in the period of my life where strength is fairly easy to come by. I feel good when I'm strong, life is easier when I'm strong, and the stronger I get now, the easier it will be to maintain once my immortality wears off. I'm currently following Stronger by Science's free programming which so far has served me well. 3 - Complete Barndominium For those of you who have been following, you know I've been working on building a barn + apartment for 1.5 years already. The barn portion is mostly done. Horses are moved in, and they are loving life in their new digs. This will mostly be on hold for the beginning of the year. Through the winter, I may pick away at finishing a few things inside the barn. Once spring arrives, I'll be focusing on finishing the apartment. The goal is to be moved in by the end of 2024. Since it's all interior work, the weather isn't actually that much of a limiting factor, but at the moment I have very limited daylight outside of work hours, so I'm waiting for longer days as much as nicer weather. There are lots of smaller things I still want to incorporate into my challenges, but here are my big 3 for the year. Let's do this!
  12. The shrine to The Iron remains a comfort for Scalyfreak, who is starting to feel quite comfortable in her tent in front of the altar. It is safe, and it provides much needed rest on her long journey. But regardless of how comfortable the shrine camp site is, it is not a full temple and as such it cannot provide either fresh water or provisions or any kind. Since Scalyfreak does need to eat and drink water both regularly and frequently, she finds herself forced to pack up and move on from the Iron Shrine sooner than she wishes to. Ah well. She does still need to reach her destination before the next new moon after all. Decision made, Scalyfreak packs her things up and leaves the safe haven of the Iron Shrine, to once again set out towards the nearest road going west. Every now and then she stops to look for the hoof prints that led her to the Iron Shrine, but most of her attention is spent on being aware of her surroundings and listening for changes from the forest around her. The large demons who have stalked her for as long as she can remember are never far away, and they move swiftly and silently. Still, the further Scalyfreak walks, the more she comes to realize that there is no danger to her where she is at. The forest around her path is teeming with life and all the sounds that creates, but there is a calmness to it, a steady rhythm that knows it cannot be stopped and has no need to hurry. If Scalyfreak concentrates she can feel the ground hum faintly under her feet, and the air is moving around her although there is no breeze underneath the canopy of tall and dense trees. It's fascinating, and soothing, and Scalyfreak cannot help but feel nearly as safe here in this forest as she did by the iron altar. Something about being close to the trees is comforting, and Scalyfreak soon realizes that she appears to have slowed her pace, extending the time she'll spend in this forest, before her path eventually reaches the open valley where the trees are younger, and further apart. A brief “intro” for anyone who doesn't know me very well: I dislike New Year's Resolutions. For one, I subscribe to the notion that if I am serious about waiting to make a positive change in my life, there's no valid reason to wait until the end of the year, I should get started as soon as possible. For another, there's this weird pressure about making them, as if it's mandatory to resolve to either lose weight or exercise more or something else that I should be trying to do regularly anyway, and the extra pressure of New Year's Resolutions being so special and serious makes it more likely for me to give up on them. Yuck. But, with all that in mind, I do need a bit of a fresh start, or rather I need to get back to what I was trying to do as a fresh start a few months ago, before Self-Sabotage “helped” me stress myself out more than I should over just how much adjusting I need to do in order to work well with everyone around me in my new job. So here we are, with a shiny new challenge where my goals are to reestablish good habits I have had in the past, that I know work for keeping me happy, physically healthy, and keeps my anxiety disorder at a level that allows me to live without metaphorically self-immolating the moment my stress levels spike. Physical Health Move intentionally every day. If all else fails and I can't get anything else done, I will do the exercise from the Daily Dare PVP as my bare minimum for that day. It's time to grow stronger again. Mental Health Mediate every day. As is my habit, I lose this habit when I take time off work. This is in large part because the biggest source of stress in my life is work, so I have less of a need for meditation when I am not working. I need to reestablish meditation as a part of my morning routine. Emotional Stamina My old bullet journal only had a very small number of pages left at the end of the year, so I am starting a new one for January. I'm creating pages for things that I have been wanting to do for a while, but never seem to get around to (like sorting through the contents of our linen closet and get rid of the things we haven't used in years), and will also track things like daily walks on weekends, gym visits, et cetera. But emotional stamina is also about doing things for me, that make me happy, just because they will make me happy, so that will also fall under this category. Gym visit tracking will start next challenge. I'm opposed to sharing a small space with a large group of strangers who may or may not be plague-bearers, and historically the New Years Resolution crowd thins out after about 6-8 weeks. I can work out at home while I wait.
  13. 2023 was a good year: I got a new job, I got married and I found out that I really like kettlebell sport. My life is steady, I'm happy with my weight and I'm progressing nicely with the bells. Still, I wanna challenge, since it is January and it is the season of new goals and good intentions. My sports-calender currently looks like this: Jan 13: snatch competition Feb 18: full KB competition Mar 24: powerlifting meet I'm looking forward to all of this, since the people at the gym are awesome and these competitions are very wholesome. The KB training is all set, I just show up twice a week and all is fine. For the powerlifting, it is time to start training again since I did not really do that for quite some time now. Goals: 1. Do all the powerlifting lifts at least once a week, with exception of deload week. For example squats + bench press on Wednesday after KB training, deadlift on Sunday after KB training 2. Work on posture at least 3 times per week. My shoulders are rolling inwards, and it is causing some pain at my collar bone. Not sure yet what I will do to correct it. Something with pulling exercises and stretches. My hips could also some work. Suggestions for specific routines are welcome, although I prefer to keep the sessions short to keep them accessible. 3. Incorporate vegetables at lunch one workday per week. I'm working hard for my muscles, I want to see them at some point as well! My typical lunch is sandwiches, so hopefully adding some vegetables will make them more filling.
  14. I think I'm in the middle of, or at least recovering from, a nervous breakdown from work. I didn't work all last challenge, and basically spent the month drinking and snacking and eating and randomly crying and having anxiety anytime I thought about work. I was 168 lbs. two days before Thanksgiving and was 180 by Dec. 3. I got back to 172 and am back at 180. On a good note, my goals to get into a homeschooling routine is a 100% success. And my goal to get the entire house decluttered, organized, and clean is nearly complete. I have the Master Bath and the boys' bathroom to do. I was hoping to get to my studio/office before the New Year, but I don't think I'm going to make it. Not that big of a deal though as I won't really need it as a studio until April (at the earliest, when the super stressful 4+ year project is finally over). Every evening, I've been binge watching decluttering videos (and ADHD burnout/nervous break down videos) and by day, homeschooling and decluttering. I am hoping that as soon as the house is finished, all that decluttering interest will switch to weight loss focus. So...the year of Wu Wei (pronounced Woo Way for those who care, lol). Going with the flow of the universe rather than working against it. Effortless Action rather than Excessive Effort. Effortless action is working in the zone and going with the flow but "involves letting go of ideals that we may otherwise try to force too violently onto things" such as deadlines on work projects in which you let your ADHD hyperfocus takeover for 16+ hours a day for months at a time...and then you think you are done and you send it out and customer feedback comes back and you have to pivot and go 16 hours a day for a few more months and then you think you are done and you sent it out and customer feedback comes back and you have to pivot again. And again. And then you have a nervous breakdown. Breathe. Breathe. So...Wu Wei. No more deadlines. Which is hard. Because I want this project is done. And I think I can finish by the end of March. So there is a part of me that wants to do the 12 Week Year for the next 3 months but that is not just a 3 month deadline, but a monthly, weekly, and even daily deadlines. And then I feel the panic attack coming on just thinking about it. Part of me things that I should break the project down into micro chunks so that it seems manageable but don't assign a time frame to it. But then I start to panic and think, but what if I can't finish by the end of March? What if it takes longer? I want it done. I want the stress gone. Because once I finish, I can move onto the project that brings me joy. But anyway...goals for this challenge.
  15. Rise from thy slumber, ancient thunderer... awake now and remember ye Ancient Vigil. Ancient Thunderer, suffer not their profaning of our world; Though ye but one, ye the might of many. Thy Ancestors bid ye rise from thy slumber; answer true their call. Suffer not ye indolence, but bolster thy might and means, thy grim purpose known, That ancient hands remember well the strength of earth-stone and thy Spirit recall its memory in the mists. Wield storm as hammer, ancient stone your shield, And thine, too, shall be the fury of molten flame once more. Rage against the night and dark villains therein, Wrest from thy languor like a meteor expelled into the deep abyss of long night, And smite their remains upon the mountainside. Let none who oppose thy Ancient Vigil survive. Here lay the Tenets of my Ancient Vigil: [Suffer not their profaning our ancient lands]: Daily walk. [Wield storm as hammer, ancient stone thy shield, and molten flame thy fury]: Complete 2 strength workouts weekly. [Wrest from thy languor like a meteor]: Check-in on the Forums 3 times per week. [Thy Spirit recall its memory in the mists]: Eat 3 sources each of protein and veggies per day.
  16. Regular challenge posting will commence after the holidays. When exactly that happens, is still under consideration. I almost skipped challenging this period, because holiday stress is a thing that happens every year and burns through the Stamina bar practically daily. The fridge was repaired last week, and it is wonderful to be able to store food safely again. One of the neighboring appliances, the washing machine on the other side of the wall, celebrated by giving up its own proverbial ghost so we've spent about a week without the ability to do laundry. So there has been stress, and The Flame has thrived. But just as I had decided not to bother with a challenge thread, I remembered that I want to post weird Christmas music somewhere, and and these forums are the ideal victims target audience for such a project. So here we are. Since today is the 13th, we're kicking the music off with a Lucia choir.
  17. Last challenge of the year usually means reflection for most and wrapping out the current year. But I feel like I have spent a lot of time this year just reflecting. It is now time for some actionable steps around the reflections. Upping the ante: I have always wanted to do a physique competition and I would like to do it before I turn 50. But before I can even get to being stage ready I need to put some SMART goals in place. This is a very long term goal. Specific: Add a third day (Monday) to my training. This day is included in the price I am paying currently for training. Recovery days are now going to be Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Measurable : Easy, I either make it on Monday or I don’t. Achievable: There is nothing stopping me from meeting this goal. I have no commitments on Monday, and I am currently healthy. Relevant: I need to put on more muscle. This is a step in the right direction Time Bound: I need to do this 3 of the next 4 weeks. (This means I can only take Christmas Day off. If I miss any other week, I have the ability to make it up on Wednesday. Supporting the new training day: Training requires more than just showing up on the day of. To support results, I need to really drive home the following: Sleep: Bed by 10:00 PM and up by 6/7 AM (weekdays/weekends). No phone or screens. Food/Minimize Alcohol: Must eat meals. Right now I am not tracking calories. I am only working towards maintaining my weight or a slight bulk (less than 10 pounds). Also, no more than 2 alcoholic drinks a week. I feel better if I just don’t have it. Hydration: It is Fall/Winter. The air is soo very dry. Week 1, I need to have 60 oz of water each day. This will increase 10 oz every week until I am at 100 oz. Movement: Daily walks with Maple. There is no bad weather….just bad clothing. So unless its too cold for puppers….we go for our walk (or I am very very ill). Some other maintenance items: Accountability: Posting here helps hold me accountable. No Spend: Holding to our minimalist Christmas this year. Each minion gets a gift and a stocking. Most family and friends don’t need things either. At the most I maybe need to buy 3 gifts for extended family/friends. Gratitude: This practice has helped me a lot. I used to judge people who did this every year around November, but just the mindfulness of thinking more positively around things in life has made a difference in my mood. And just because we love her dearly, a Maple picture. She was pouting because I would not let her play outside in the below zero weather ALL DAY today.
  18. After 10 years on NF, I hate to say it, but, I need a break from the forums. It's been great but I'm a little fatigued and not putting in the effort I used to, to be here and stick to my goals. But I figured I'll be around for one more challenge to say some goodbyes, let you all know what I'll be up to, and not just disappear. I'm not likely to quit entirely, or forever, but just taking an indefinitely long break. So here's a list of my biggest priorities over the next few months. 1) Get spiritually swole: As I've mentioned in previous challenges, I am converting to Orthodox Christianity. Today marks the first day of the Nativity Fast, and with this comes a lot of prayer, fasting, reading/studying, and attending extra church services etc. Then Great Lent and the Catechumenate start in February/March. Then I'll be baptized on May 4 (love that it's on May 4). So that'll be another big bout of fasting, reading, prayer etc. So I'll be quite busy and focused on all that, and I'm planning to disengage from a lot of screen time. 2) I mentioned in the last challenge that I've hung up my heavy bag. I"m considering joining an MMA gym. The goal is to focus on karate for all around fitness, and be able to do some boxing/kickboxing for conditioning, and dip my toe into BJJ when I need to get humbled. 3) Running: for karate/mma and general fitness I want to be running/jogging regularly. For now I'll be working on that first mile, and hopefully working up to running 5k and 10k. 4) Strength training: I want to go back to a more bodyweight focused training and max that out before I set up the old power cage again. But also, do some clean and presses. 5) Trying to find a new line of work: I'm burning out in my current job/company. Doing the same job at another company may or may not appeal to me. IDK. I want to do something else. I recently was offered an adjunct teaching role, but I turned that down because of the catchumenate/Lent because I can't make the time commitments with that going on. But I can dabble, learn about, and explore other things. So basically, this isn't goodbye forever, but I feel like I need to pull away from the forum and screens in general to recharge and focus on other efforts.
  19. I have failed every challenge I ever did since 2018 or 2019 when I first joined except the last one I did over the summer. And I didn't even pop on the last week of the challenge to mention that. Then, I gained all the weight I lost in that challenge and literally went back to the same habits (because the same work stressor came back). But, I realized something. I fail because of excessive action. Work takes over everything, and even if I am technically "in the zone," it is not effortless action because I am pressuring myself with deadlines because every other aspect of my life is put on hold and so I just try harder to get it this particular work project done because then I can move into a much more enjoyable work project. And so I stress eat. I eat because the project is stressful. I eat because I feel guilty that I am neglecting everything else. I eat to get the dopamine and concentration boost that food gives (esp. as an unmedicated ADHD'er). And then I gain weight. And I stop working out. And I fail at everything. And then I get discouraged because this has basically been the story of my life for the last 15 years. The opposite of excessive action is wu wei, which is effortless action. Effortless action is working in the zone and going with the flow but "involves letting go of ideals that we may otherwise try to force too violently onto things." such as deadlines. When there is no deadline, everything else doesn't have to get neglected. There is much less stress, and if the project becomes stressful, it's time to take a break rather than force myself to continue for several more hours until I get so burned out I have to drink myself silly. Just to get up the next day and do it all over again. So anyway, 2024 is my year to practice wu wei. This challenge I am getting all the other areas of my life on track (such as minimalizing and decluttering my house yet again, losing the 10+ pounds I gained so I can start the new year with all areas of my life in balance and ready to maintain rather than in havoc. I want to start 2024 with only 20 pounds to lose not 35, and getting back into habit of going to the gym, and starting the habits of yoga and tai chi sword. Practicing wu wei in regards to work basically means, work during work hours ONLY. Stop making deadlines. Yes, it could be finished sooner if I worked all day and several hours into the early morning, but the goal was to finish before 2024 and that is not going to happen. So I may as well just let all the deadlines (and the stress) go so that I can find balance. Prequel Wu Wei Challenge Practice wu wei. No deadlines. Work, clean & declutter, exercise, homeschool & engage with family effortlessly and without guilt. Get back in the habit of going to the gym (barbells and treadmill). Add yoga and tai chi if it is effortless to do so. No snacking and no drinking (for this 3 week challenge).
  20. Although her maps are no longer valid (thank you, earthquakes) the world Scalyfreak travels through is none the less a familiar one. She has been to this forest before, many times, but the path to it was different back then. It led in a different direction as well. Still, seeing the same trees as last time is reassuring, and Scalyfreak slows down a little bit, giving in to the temptation to linger under the dancing shadows and enjoy the rich fragrance of pine trees and wet soil. The sun grows warmer, and Scalyfreak stops to remove her cloak. As she bends to stow it in her backpack, her eyes land on what looks like a strange foot print in the soft soil next to the path. Curious, Scalyfreak swiftly ties the backpack off and swings it onto her shoulders, and begins examining the print. It has sharp edges, and judging from its shape the imprint was not made by a foot but rather by a cloven hoof. Curious, Scalyfreak searches for more prints and finds them soon enough.... further ahead. The owner of the cloven hoofs has been walking along the path, and as far as Scalyfreak can tell it was an unhurried walk, almost casual, and if the size of the hoof prints is anything to go by it's a rather large creature. Now curious, and with nothing better to do, Scalyfreak begins following the hoof prints down the path. They are easy to spot, and thus easy to follow at a comfortable pace, even more so because the hoof prints never leave the path. Eventually, after a length of time Scalyfreak has failed to pay attention to, the hoof prints turn off the main path and onto one that is so narrow that Scalyfreak would have missed it if she hadn't been actively searching for the next hoof print. By the time Scalyfreak realize that it's been a long time since she saw a hoof print, the narrow path has started to widen and she can see some kind of open clearing up ahead. Across the clearing, standing between two tall trees, is a solid altar and on top of the altar is the very familiar sculpture of two narrow pillars with a long metal bar resting on top of them, and with two round metal plates hanging from the bar, one on each side. Scalyfreak stops. Then, after several false starts, approaches the altar slowly and hesitantly reaches up to touch one of the metal plates. It move easily, turning slowly around the bar in the smooth manner of steel that has never been damaged or corroded. It's a shrine to The Iron. Here, in the middle of nowhere, with no temple and no caretaker, yet pristine and untouched by the elements. It radiates power, of the understated and lasting kind that Scalyfreak remembers being familiar with, once, a long time ago. It's unnerving, but also reassuring. That evening finds Scalyfreak setting up camp in front of the altar, finding comfort in its familiar aura. A brief “intro” for anyone who doesn't know me very well: My new job continues to be fun and exciting, with the exception of some personality clashes and some unexpected meeting drama, all of which both fortunately and unfortunately involve the same person. I'm sure the fact it came to a head in front of an audience on a week when the person's boss missed this particular meeting due to a business trip, was a complete coincidence... My first project, that went very well, was a small one and easy to complete fairly quickly. I've been assigned three other projects to work on, two that are pretty similar to each other and one that is completely different from the other two. All three are fun to work on and require me to learn things, which also is fun for me, so I'm going to ignore the drama and focus on my projects. Before anyone says anything, my boss has been made aware of the drama and is on my side, and I am looking forward to see what happens when she's back in her home office in a little over a week and we have our regular meetings again. In the mean time, I'm going to work on the projects that The Person's team have been forced to leave untouched for months because no one had time for them, and whip at least one of them them into such spectacularly excellent shape that it will be able to over-head press a car, while running a marathon, by the time I'm done with it. Since all the stress and frustration caused by The Meeting Drama (I've been studying capitalization in Heidi's challenges ) happened last week, I have decided the week that starts tomorrow will be the week of a new start. Or restart, since I'm making an effort to resume a habit that has long been lost to me: Going to the gym regularly. This is not going to be easy. But nothing worth doing ever is. When it comes to working out regularly at the gym, discipline is required. For discipline to happen, a habit must be formed, and for a habit to be formed, the task must be made as easy as possible. Therefor, I will not be tracking my initial gym workouts and I will not be following an ambitious program. I will go to the gym and do something that strengthens at least one large muscle group. This is the goal. Nothing more or less than that. I've obtained new workout pants, earbuds and a podcast backlog, and I started the gym visits during Zero Week. My workout days are Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday, with a break for Wednesday and Thursday. Following the approach from previous challenges, the gym workouts will of course be used to replenish the Health bar. In addition, on days when I go to the gym I am, for the purposes of this challenge, not allowed to use the workout as the thing I do to regenerate emotional stamina. In other words, I still have to do something specifically because it makes me happy. This is important because thinking about, planning out, looking forward to, enjoying, and remembering, something that I did just because it makes me happy, is an important Flame repellent that protects me from being burnt when the anxiety flares up. (Yes, doing something nice for yourself is a legitimate anxiety management tool.) Today is Sunday, which means I will go to the gym this evening, after dinner. Let the challenge begin!
  21. Welp, I disappeared again during the May/June challenge after succumbing to a combination of fatigue / job searching and career stress / disruptive travel. Things have finally calmed down the past month or so, so I'm returning my focus to progressing my health and fitness. This challenge I'm just focusing on writing things down because I tend to make better progress when I track. Goals: Writing down food: Track my food on MFP at least 5 days/week (I started today and I am not definitely not getting enough protein 😬) Writing down workouts: Record my strength/skill training workouts. In theory I've written up a programme focused on unilateral squats and rebuilding my chin-ups, but sticking to regular workout sessions is the priority. Writing on NF: Update my NF thread at least 2x/week. Writing code: Work on a personal coding project at least 1x/week (after frantically upskilling all summer, I got burned out and haven't done much the last several weeks). I may try to make this challenge Shadowhunter (TV series) themed since Shadowhunter runes are all about written things giving strength and special powers, but for now I just wanted to start my challenge asap!
  22. I'm upleveling myself to Druid-Warrior and I've got a theme. Last round of 'make work hours not suck' went pretty well and I learned a ton - including that I could really use to keep improving the foundations of my life, including on some areas I hadn't really been paying attention to (good grief, what a grandiose-sounding phrase 'the foundations of my life' is. feels right though). I'm also rambling. I will stop now Giving myself grace to mainly chill during week zero, but I've got some ideas for after that....
  23. The pain eventually ends. Walking becomes easier, smoother, as stiff muscles begin to loosen up and find their strength again. Scalyfreak eats as she walks, unwilling to stop and grateful for her travel rations, that for some reason still seem to be just as fresh as they were when she packed them. This is strange, and initially a little unnerving, but Scalyfreak learned not to question positive surprises a long time ago. It's an unnerving walk. The terrain remains unfamiliar from the earthquake. The weather is bright and sunny warm, the sky is clear and blue, and the forest around her is quiet. Completely quiet. Too quiet. It is very unnerving. So Scalyfreak continues to walk, continues to eat, continues to stretch in between bites as she walks, and continues to remain on alert for another ambush or sudden attack from Self-Sabotage. The forest is peaceful and silent. Completely silent. Too silent. A brief “intro” for anyone who doesn't know me very well: I am still working on re-establishing my healthy habits from before I was laid off. Meditation is back on track, but my health bar and stamina bar continue to regenerate slowed than I spend. For this reason, I will “only” have two goals this challenge: Refill the stamina bar, and level up the health bar. The health bar is the red HP meter and it is maintained and refilled by taking care of my body. This means giving it regular opportunities for movement move and building muscles, and yes, the myocardium remains one of them. The green stamina bar is emotional bandwidth and mental strength. The bar is replenished and grown by doing things that genuinely improve my quality of life, make me happy now or in the future, or just make me feel really good And that is it. Physical HP (physical health) Walked in the evening. Feisty Sidekick walked with us again, and it was as adorable and fun as it was before. Recover Stamina (fortify emotional bandwidth) After talking about it for a couple of months now, we finally did it... we have paid off our mortgage. Husband and I now officially own our house, and as a pleasant side-effect we are now also completely debt free. This is a big deal for us, and we're excited, and I feel good about this.
  24. Right at the end of this challenge, I turn 40, so that's really really exciting! (jk i am fine with it... for the most part 😆 ) Anyway, the last few years have been some of the toughest of my life, and I'm really struggling with finding myself and figuring out who I am again. I’ve got some major life changes in the works that will help, but this challenge is gonna focus on the getting the fitness stuff back in order. I was really sick the majority of last challenge (...I somehow even lost 17lb ), but am feeling better again now and have full clearance to move forward with fitness stuff. It feels like most challenges have ended up like the trans-matter ray, though: I go in with the right intentions, getting some of the way there, but the results are, well, mush. And honestly, when it comes to me and just general feeling of life? And I would like for it to be closer there by the time I hit 40. And good news is: But obviously what I've been doing hasn't been working, and I recognize that. SO it's time for a different kind of challenge: I'm teaming up with @Rurik Harrgath on this, at least for the most part. Since we're both having health challenges, we've decided to make our main goals the same, because honestly right now we need to focus on the basics so we're hoping if we do it together it will help both of us. Anyway, So goals? Keeping them simple and schedule based: 1) Spellbooks/Nightly Scheduling/Follow the Schedule Most importantly: follow the schedule. We're shifting to an earlier schedule for the sake of winter mental health and for the animals, as its going to be getting dark by 430pm here very, very soon. 2) Walking every morning We had switched this to offer some alternatives, like walking through the woods here, but in order for this to count moving forward it needs to be a walk where we put the dogs on leashes and go somewhere for the purpose of a walk. If it's a bad health day, it's to the mailbox and back, which is at least at the very edge of the property. 3) Exercise in the gym every day I know, I know you say - every day is a lot. But this means a workout of ANY length, including a 100m row. If its a bad health day, walking to the gym (it's in a detached garage) and doing a stretch or sitting in there for a few minutes is enough. The goal here is to build the habit and get used to being in the gym consistently again. 4) Yoga every night We have the down dog app, so at least a few minutes. We set up a yoga room for this that is to be animal free. I love all the animals but with 4 cats and 2 dogs in the house, any sort of personal space is hard and one of my post lyme things is overstimulation issues, so having a room where we can remove as much stimulation as possible will be great. Plus I'm excited to not go out to my yoga room and find vomit all over my mat 🤮 5) 3-4 servings of veggies and protein each day I lost 17lb last challenge, down to 141 as of this morning, sooooo I'm gonna be tracking to make sure I'm getting enough food. So 3-4 servings of veggies, 3-4 servings of protein Just spezzy goals: 1) Focus on my nutrition certification and get at least 1/4 done (has to be done by end of year) 2) Finish getting my own sites (for farm and for myself) up and running 3) Meditation - working up to doing this at least 3-5 minutes/day 4) phone hygiene - i don't have specific goals but watch myself here 5) Secret side project I can't really talk about here. anyway happy challenge y'alllllllll
  25. After some personal battles combined with the start of the school year requiring me to adjust my routine, I am ready to get back at it... for real this time. My goals for this challenge remain the same as the last, although some specifics have changes. I will be channeling great warriors, both mythical and real, as my guides, such as Kratos, King Leonidas, Geralt, Achilles, Beowulf, and more. STRONGER: GOAL: By the end of this challenge, I will have increased my physical strength by at least 10% as measured by an increase in number of reps to failure of kettlebell single-arm overhead press. HOW: I will pick "heavy things" up and put them back down for at least 20 minutes, three days a week; this will include mostly kettlebell training with some "greasing the groove" using resistance bands, random heavy objects, and my kids. Training will look like this: Sunday -- Benchmark (single arm overhead press to failure, count reps; 30 minute run, note distance) Monday -- Five rounds of: 200 meter run kettlebell clean and press x 2 each side goblet squat x 5 two-handed kettlebell swing x 20 rest 2 minutes Tuesday -- 30 minute run; record time Wednesday -- 5-10 rounds of: 30 seconds one-handed swing with left hand 30 seconds rest 30 seconds one-handed swing with right hand 30 seconds rest Turkish get-ups Thursday -- 30 minute run; improve previous distance Friday -- 15-45 minutes of: clean with left hand press with left hand one arm front squat with left hand one handed swing with left hand park the kettlebell, recover, repeat with right hand Saturday -- Distance run on trails; mark distance and pace FASTER: GOAL: By the end of this challenge, I will be able to run a sub-30 minute 5k as measured by a 5k run. HOW: I will run for 30 minutes at least two days a week, with a distance/endurance run at least one day a week and sprint/speed intervals at least one day a week (see 200 m run above). SMARTER: GOALS: By the end of the challenge, I will increase my daily use of Duolingo; I will increase my daily reading habit by at least 5 minutes a day; I will learn at least one new thing daily. HOW: I will set a reminder to complete at least the daily requirements to achieve a 30 day streak on Duolingo I will set aside at least 30 minutes of reading time daily I will use apps such as Humane and Kinnu to learn new information, as well as the NPR app and podcasts. CALMER: GOAL: By the end of the challenge, I will improve my mental health by reducing my angry reactions to stress. HOW: I will use a meditation app to increase my meditation/contemplative prayer practice from 10 minutes to 15 minutes. I will take 30 minute mindful walks to help clear my mind. I will write down what I am grateful for and create daily affirmations using the 5 Minute Journal app. I will practice a relaxing breathing technique (short inhale through nose, long exhale through mouth) and apply this technique in moments of stress and frustration. I will listen to music that elevates my mood.
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