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  1. May 25, 2013 I have been doing a lot of restructuring of my Epic Quest, and have updated it as follows: Retitled to "ShadowLion Weaves the Strands Together," to reflect the more complete version of my epic quest that has evolved since I started this post. It now includes more of a life list and various modules for different aspects of my life that will be showing up in challenges as Life Quests. The "ShadowLion Returns to the Fireline" title has a narrower focus than what I currently see as my epic quest. I am now thinking of that as my Main Quest for the 40 week period that begins June 2, 2014 and ends in mid-March 2015, just in time for the Arizona Wildfire Academy. My plan for that portion of my epic quest is outlined in the next post of this thread and will be called "Forty Weeks to Fire Fit," so that I can abbreviate it to 40W2FF. Writing up this epic quest has been a time of intense and valuable reflection on my values and a realization of my own unique perspective that has grown out of my life experiences and choices to date. Oddly enough, I seem to have come back around full-circle (spiral, maybe?) to a new appreciation of the poem "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. More than 38 years ago, I hung a poster with the following excerpt on the wall of my dorm room above the head of my bed. I dreamed of what I would do when I was out of school, the places I would travel, the adventures I would have someday, somewhere. Some of those dreams have happened, some have changed, some have been left behind in favor of other dreams...but the same words still inspire and guide me. And, as I write this, a line from a popular rock song of the time is running through my head..."You're still the same old girl you used to be." Yeah, I guess so! Ulysses (excerpt) I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades Vext the dim sea: I am become a name; For always roaming with a hungry heart Much have I seen and known; cities of men And manners, climates, councils, governments, Myself not least, but honour'd of them all; And drunk delight of battle with my peers, Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethro' Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades For ever and forever when I move. How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use! As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life Were all too little, and of one to me Little remains: but every hour is saved From that eternal silence, something more, A bringer of new things; and vile it were For some three suns to store and hoard myself, And this gray spirit yearning in desire To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. As I get older, other parts of the poem take on new meaning, yet this fragment is still a polestar, a wish, a dream, and a reflection…
  2. Last challenge I discovered my inner Amazon... This challenge, I go really wild! ShadowLion Wild. As in Wildland firefighting, getting out into wild places, And letting my inner wild woman out to play... Experimenting with new foods, Trying out some assassin guild type exercises, Playing around with gamifying my challenge and Various aspects of my daily life In order to break out of some ruts and Take my productivity to the next level. Fun. Play. Experimentation. 40 Weeks to Fire Fit continues, and that quest remains my prime focus. But this time, the standard firefighting fare will be supplemented with more fun, more chance, more variety. It's time to mix things up. I am past the halfway point, but still in the long middle of my 40 week quest. Fatigue was beginning to set in. I overextended last challenge, and while it was a success, it was also a tremendous struggle to keep on track. This challenge, I have a enlisted a personal trainer, I've stuck my neck out and gotten back in contact with my old department, and I've been letting friends and family know my plans. I'm all in and there is no going back. I will succeed or I will fail. Publicly, undeniably, and in the not too distant future. I have 18 weeks to my goal date, and another 6 weeks or so beyond which there will be no possibility of retesting for the season if I fail to hit my first target. I've been going through a process of questioning and weighing my abilities, strengths and weaknesses, potential, will, and motivation. Asking myself: Who are you when you face the fire? When the task wears on you and weighs you down? Can you hold both the sublime... And the ridiculous... The joyous and the tragic... in your heart at the same time? Do you know in your heart of hearts who you want to be? Your strengths and your weaknesses? Your one superpower? And where you stand in the line of history? Who went before you? (Women firefighters in a training exercise, Pearl Harbor, WWII) Who stands with you now? And who will come after? What I've learned has brought me back around to the same place I started, but with a different perspective. So, maybe it's really a spiral. I am certain that I am on my path, whatever the outcome. And the way I have been following that path has been reasonably effective. However, I now realize that I have been caught in number of paradoxes. I have been being very conventional and methodical, when my nature is intuitive. As an independent sort, I have been doing practically everything myself, even though the nature of what I want to do depends on teamwork and cooperation. And, I am very motivated by social good and interaction, even as I need quite a bit of quiet solitude to be happy. I've been trying to domesticate a Shadow Lion! It's high time to shake things up, get back to my roots, and be my quirky, nerdy, eccentric self! And while I may need to moderate my more absurd character traits and excesses somewhat to get along well in society, I've gone a little too far, gotten a bit too conventional. So, while the firefighting theme will continue throughout, and there are many ghosts of quests of challenges past that will visit here, this challenge is going to be quite a bit different from the ones that have gone before. Shadow Lions dwell in the world of the fantasy novel that I continue to write. And write. They are much like mountain lions or jaguars in that they are more solitary than African lions, and they are almost universally black or very dark brown. For good reason, as their favored prey animal dwells in and around caves. They are a sentient species, with a number of unusual abilities. To learn more, you'll have to read the book. Someday. So this ShadowLion's intentions for her challenge center on being a healthy animal--taking care of those simple, bare necessities like getting plenty of the right kinds of foods, being physically active, and providing for enough sleep. Those are the biological imperatives laid down by Mother Nature. Beyond that, every shadow lion must be true to her own nature. By turns curious, fierce, playful, and philosophical, a shadow lion seeks wild places. Solitude, scenery, and sunny spots in which to snooze are seriously significant. A shadow lion does best when she is coaxed, not forced, to be structured, when she has freedom to roam and play, and when she has options as opposed to an overwhelming number of choices. A shadow lion can be incredibly focused once her prey is selected, but her natural curiosity can lead to getting sidetracked. Many interesting and enjoyable sidetracks...butterfly...that rustle in the bushes...oh, and... Ahem. And, shadow lions have an abiding interest in protecting their homes from threats. (You knew I'd find some way to get back around to it...) This ShadowLion has a very particular interest... So yes, the 40 Weeks to Fire Fit Quest continues, but is themed a bit differently. It will be structured much more around the things that a ShadowLion needs to be a happy and healthy animal. It will emphasize fun and wildness and freedom and chance. ShadowLion Goes Wild FITNESS QUEST I have enlisted the help of a personal trainer. Currently, I am scheduled for 5 strength workouts and 5 cardio workouts per week. My cool downs will be 10 minutes of stretching/yoga, warmups will be 10+ minutes of tai chi/chi gong, belly dance moves, exercise biking, brisk walking, and/or jump roping. I have two rest days per week and they are to be "active" rest. I will base my numbers off these plans and adjust if needed, based on my trainer's instructions. I had intended to go for 5 mins daily handstand prep practice this challenge, but am thinking it would be best to wait on that for now. ShadowLion is Strong, Yet Supple __/40 (+4 DEX) Spinal columns that can twist and bend, limbs that can absorb the shock of pouncing upon an unsuspecting deer from an overhanging tree limb - shadow lions blend strength with suppleness, speed, and agility. (ShadowLion has assassin tendencies, despite being a ranger.) Belly dance, yoga, and various stretchy, bendy and assassiny exercises go here. The number accounts for four days early start on the challenge + 42 days - 6 for the Tai Chi sessions in the following sub-goal. Yoga, anyone? ShadowLion is Dangerous __/6 (+1 DEX) Sharp claws and pointy teeth give shadow lions plenty of weapons at their disposal. My weapon of choice this challenge will be my Tai Chi saber, or broadsword. Once per week as active rest. More for warmups or additional active rest = bonus. But, hey, where is the Fire Fit Strength and Endurance? I am considering those as primarily under my accountability to my trainer and therefore ungraded here. I will track these things on my spreadsheet and on my thread, however. I am trying to put my points on the things I would be most apt to skip or gloss over *cough* warmups *cough* and things that aren't specifically included in my trainer's plans for me. NUTRITION QUEST ShadowLion is Sleek 1 pt for each % body fat reduction, Goal=2-3% (+2 to 3 CON) Only caged shadow lions are fat. In their natural habitat, they are not only supple and dangerous, they are sleek and shiny. They eat what they need and only what they need. They eat a healthy, nutritious and natural diet. Yeah, I know. These aren't shadow lions, or even cats, but they sure are cute! IIFYM ShadowLion Needs Protein (Tracked, but Ungraded - Just an excuse to put in an otter GIF) Last challenge, I learned that I wasn't getting enough protein and my macros were less than optimum. I will be tracking this for my trainer's review and keeping these numbers in my spreadsheet. I am still not sure my actual goal grams. Will post that here when I know it. MOAR Protein! RECOVERY QUEST ShadowLion Needs Plenty of Restful Sleep __/42 (+2 to 3 CON, whatever left after points awarded for the "Sleek" goal) Sleep is critical with the training regimen I am on. I have improved over the last few challenges, but I still need to do more. I am upping my goal to 7+ hours sleep per night and I cannot compensate for more than 1 hour's deficiency on a following night. My method of averaging last challenge gave me too much wiggle room. I will count this goal from the official start of the challenge, as I am still doing some schedule adjustments and rearranging of my sleeping area to be ready for these changes. I am still thinking if I should add some sort of "quality" modifier, as well. MOAR sleep. ShadowLion Needs Wild Places and Solitude to Contemplate the Universe and Dream (Tracked, but Ungraded) This is a "get outside and get some sunshine" goal for mental health and for Vitamin D. As long as I follow my trainer's plans, I will get more than enough. And, as we are now into the nice part of the year where I live, I am taking time to sit out on the porch in the mornings and journal, plan, and contemplate the coming day. If tracking reveals an issue here, it will become a graded goal next challenge. This quest also relates to my old "Get out of Dodge" goal as updated in my "Grab Bag" goal to get out of town and enjoy wilder places than metro-Phoenix. I am also doing as much of my cardio outside as possible, and doing it in parks, nature areas, and urban trails. LIFE QUEST ShadowLion Loves to Play ShadowLion likes otters. They are excellent role models. ShadowLion Needs More Fun in Her Life; ShadowLion Needs to Remove the Obstacles to Having Fun __/25 (+5 CHA) In order to have more fun, ShadowLion must deal with her "toads" - those obstacles that must be removed, responsibilities that need to be addressed, projects that are procrastinated upon. These are those unpleasant, ugly, obnoxious things that drain energy and take up valuable mental and physical real estate. This is the next step forward in dealing with last challenge's "ShadowLion STEAMS GRAPES" goals of taking care of Systems, Time, Energy, Attention, Money, Space. This time the focus is on taking care of as many "dreaded tasks" as I can manage. By doing that, I will earn points to indulge in my "Grab Bag" goals. Those are all the things I would have thrown in this challenge as fun, exciting, "I want to do/try this." I can, if I earn the right and the time for them by dispatching an equal number of points in toads. The better I do with managing my time, the more toads I can take out and the more fun I can have as a result. My method of awarding points is detailed in the reserved posts below.
  3. Last challenge, I decided that I was going to add an appearance goal to my next quest. Because, hey, every gal wants to look good when she's got a big night out... Whether it's a smokin' date... with a hot guy... Or just an excuse to go out with the girls To check out the latest in fashionable footwear. Let's face it. A power suit conveys authority. But there are those times when you just want to get down and dirty... And cruise through town driving a screaming red truck with the biggest engine you can find. Even if no one understands what you really do... The celebrities you admire... Why you go to places everyone else is leaving They don't understand what's important to you: "They're just some old trees," they say. "What's one deer worth?" "There are so many other ways to make friends and serve your community..." There are just some things you can't explain. Things that go deeper than words, That may appear unrealistic, foolish, even dangerous to others. But if it is your quest, your destiny, you must pursue it. Or forever wonder what might have been... Motivation My motivation is simple: I want to fight fires again. To that end, my current Main Quest encompasses a 40 week program to get me "fire fit" - physically, mentally and spiritually - and ends in my attending the Arizona Wildfire Academy in mid-March of 2015 ready to pass my Work Capacity Test, so that I can re-qualify as a wildland firefighter. I plan to be ready to go for wildfire season 2015 in the southwest U.S on either a Type 2 hand crew or a wildland engine crew. Additional details in my Battle Log. (Many additional details - you have been warned.) Firefighters Train Hard to Work Hard STA-3, STR-2 This challenge overlaps Weeks 2 - 7 of my "Forty Weeks to Fire Fit" program, subsequently referred to as "40W2FF." Included in my program is a gradual ramp up in order to build the necessary heat tolerance for exercising outdoors in the high temperatures of a Phoenix, AZ summer and altitude tolerance for the 4 - 6 days per month that I will be at 7,000 ft. above sea level in Flagstaff, AZ. I will provide details of my use of a breathing trainer, heart rate monitor, and all the other geeky stat stuff of my program. (Oh, ye Gods and Goddesses! The Nomograms!) If you have a particular question, just ask. Many moons ago I used to be the training officer in my department and I love to pontificate... Endurance Just Might Save Your Life (STA-3) For wildland fire suppression, endurance is the primary focus, as opposed to the sheer strength demanded by structural firefighting. Weeks 2 - 7 of Phase 1 coincide with this challenge. Phase 1 - 8 week program of walking transitioning to walk/jog intervals. Success will be being able to walk/jog in intervals for a distance of 5K, with an average heart rate of 145 or below, and a peak HR under 155. Goal time: < 45 minutes Strength Could Well Save Someone Else's (STR-2) A pre-conditioning program and two additional phases of a body weight strength program timed to reach the goal of starting the Hotshot Strength program (Phase 3) at Week 29 of my 40 week program. Weeks 2 - 4 of Phase 0, and Weeks 1 - 3 of Phase 1 coincide with this challenge. Phase 0 - 4 weeks of continued injury recovery and pre-conditioning program utilizing exercises from “Durability†section below. Focus on getting elbows to withstand pushups and pull-ups by dropping back and then gradually progressing from wall pushups and lightly weighted rows; establishing base of low set and rep numbers on the other exercises. This is early stage stuff while I establish my top priority right now, the base aerobic levels of my endurance program. Phase 1 - 12 week assisted exercise program of knee-pushups; assisted pull-ups, grip hangs and rows; modified dips; lunges and variations. Additionally - squats, planks, sit-ups, burpees and variations. This will kick things up a notch and prepare me for an increased focus on strength training in Phase 2. Firefighters Take Good Care of Their Rigs CON-5 Care of your vehicle is mission critical. Fueling it right, maintaining all of its systems, having every piece of equipment anchored, in the right place, and in good working order is of the highest priority. I will fuel my vehicle with high-quality, nutrient dense foods with an eye to maintaining endurance and muscle, while trimming off excess weight. I will learn to tailor my macros to the phases of my training. Keep the Crud Out of the Tank! (CON-1) No Soda PVP Achieve another 42 days of my 365 total on the No Soda PVP. This is a reduced point number from last challenge (CON-5) because it is so much easier now! Change the Oil and Lube the Chassis Regularly, Check All Fluids and Maintain Recommended Levels (CON-2) Durability (CON-1) Comprehensive set of warmups, mobility/stability, and “prehab†exercises for an older female athlete. Bone-builders (including jumping exercises); spine/shoulder//hip/knee exercises to maintain joint health; dynamic stretching to increase ROM and overall flexibility; specific exercises for identified weak areas including head/neck/spine alignment and bi-lateral muscle balance, ankles, wrists/hand/grip, pelvic floor, and elbows. I MUST warm up before every exercise session. Fluids (CON-1) Optimize H2O intake. Consume between 80 and 96 oz. of water on "normal" days; up to 128 oz. or more on high activity days in hot, dry conditions. Keep in mind that, if I were a vehicle manufactured in 1958, I would be considered an antique. Humpf... There are those that would consider me irreparable, over-the-hill, not worth restoring... Or only fit for a parade... I aim to prove them wrong! Body Composition Mission (CON-2) My 40 week end goal is a bodyweight of ~150#, +/-5# as long as my body fat % is at 20% or less using the U.S. Navy Body Fat Calculator. This tends to be a little under actual, so a DEXA scan would be even better, acceptable BF% < 24%. Goal for this challenge is to drop my BF% by at least 3 percentage points, to 36% or less. This will be from a combination of fat loss (primarily) and lean mass gain. (The following was calculated using US Navy Body Fat Calculator, it is an estimate. I think the calculator is somewhat overestimating my recent fat loss/lean muscle gain, but that it will all even out by the time I reach my goal weight.) Body Composition - Current Total Mass: 190 lbs. Lean Mass: 116 lbs. Fat Mass: 74 lbs. BF% = 39% Waist = 37" Hips = 43" Neck = 15" Height: 5'6 1/2" One Year Ago Total Mass: 206 lbs. Lean Mass: 107 lbs. Fat Mass: 99 lbs. BF% = 48% Waist = 42" Hips = 46" Neck = 16" Height: 5'5 3/4" 2004 (Fire Academy) Total Mass: 152 lbs. Lean Mass: 117 lbs. Fat Mass: 35 lbs. BF% = 23% Waist = 28" Hips = 37" Neck = 13" Height: 5'6 3/4" GOAL Total Mass: 150 lbs. Lean Mass: 120 lbs. Fat Mass: 30 lbs. BF% = 20% Waist = 27" Hips = 37" Neck = 14" Height: 5'6 3/4" Non-graded extras I want to experiment with at least one day per week of vegetarian eating and play with various combinations of macros to see how my body responds at different points in my training. Ideally, I will figure out an eating plan that will be useful as the intensity of my endurance and strength training increases. Firefighters Always Keep A Reserve of Water in Their Tank; They Top Off Their Tank at Every Opportunity DEX-1, WIS-2, CHA-2 You never run your water tank or other water source completely dry. Never. Otherwise you risk not having enough water for your own protection if things suddenly go south. You always keep that 100 gallon reserve available and you top off your tank at every opportunity. This may well be the hardest part of my challenge. I tend to go all out and to burn the candle at both ends. I will not succeed in my quest if I continue to do that. If I do, I will get injured or sick and will not be able to keep the pace I need to keep. I need to change my habit of staying up late to work or research or write or whatever until the wee hours of the morning and then turnaround and be up at 6:30 or 7 am. I regularly get by on just 4 or 5 hours of sleep during the week, then crash on the weekends. Rest, Recovery & Relaxation (WIS-2, CHA-1) Adequate rest and recovery will be critical to my success, as will providing for regular relaxation and recreation. Rest (WIS-1) Curfew/Bedtime/Lights Out - These are not synonymous. Curfew means I must "be in the house." Screens connected to the outside world must be turned off. Bedtime means actually in bed, but I may read, journal, meditate, or pray until lights out. Lights out - Dark, quiet, eyes shut, and brain powered down. Curfew is one hour before Lights Out. Bedtime can be any time between Curfew and Lights Out. Lights Out for Week One is 1:30 am, Week Two - 1:00 am, Week Three - 12:30 am, Week Four - midnight. At the end of Week Four, I will determine if I want or need to go any earlier for Lights Out. Going to bed much earlier messes with my wind down from work. (Often don't get home until 9:30 or so at night.) Wake Up Time is 7 am for Week One, 6:45 am for Week Two, 6:30 for Weeks Three through Six. Naps are fine, if needed. And, I reserve the right to adjust these times as I go along, as long as it is to increase my total sleep time overall. Recovery (WIS-1) Two cheat meals and one indulgent treat per week are not only allowed, they are encouraged. I am required to take at least one full day off of exercise per week, two if showing signs of undue fatigue or of developing any injury. (Situational Awareness applies to one's body, too!) Recreation (CHA-1) I must take a daily half-hour of recreation time and at least half a day per week of complete restorative down time, preferably much of that fully present with my partner. This is the time for all/any of those fun, relaxing, entertaining and/or creative things that get shoved aside by extra work, low priority household projects, ruminating, obsessing, surfing the net, mindlessly playing games or watching TV that one or the other or both of us don't even enjoy all that much. It's just habit. No more. No multi-tasking, no computer. No business activities, no studying, no housework or little nagging projects, or vegging out in front of the tube. No exceptions, no excuses. This time is my 100 gallon reserve. Attitude and Stress Management (DEX-1, CHA-1) To stay positive and not succumb to my depressive tendencies, or my doubts or fears about what I am attempting, I must cultivate inner strength and resilience. To stay peaceful and calm in the midst of great change and effort, I will manage my schedule and environment for enhanced productivity and streamlined maintenance. I will utilize the fantastic support network that is Nerd Fitness by actively participating in my guild, my accountabilibuddy groups and my PVPs. (Linked in my signature.) Daily Routines (CHA-1) Keep to a set of morning and evening routines that encapsulate recurring chores and desired actions into a simple, easy to follow checklist format. Besides carrying forward my kanban board, clutter patrol, and other good habits I have built in the last year, these routines also include a choice of tools for mental resilience and stress reduction - meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, inspirational reading, etc - of which I will do at least one once per day for a minimum of 10 minutes. These are mix and match, in any combination to reach the 10 minutes, for now. I hope that experimentation this challenge will give me clues as to which ones to focus on in more depth in future challenges. And I have set the bar low. I can always do more if time allows or I need the boost. Tai Chi (DEX-1) I considered including this under "Durability", but decided that it deserved a point of it's own. It is moving meditation, stress reduction, and a workout that can range from light recovery to challenging dynamic strength and flexibility, all in one. At least twice per week. This challenge is far more complex than I originally intended, and that is after I cut out a lot of stuff! I had great success last challenge with simpler, more focused goals, but I believe the quest I have chosen requires all of the above, and probably quite a bit more. For now, it is enough. The studying that I need to do, the drills, all of the other things can wait a little while so that I can get the central component firmly in place, my physical training. Everything else must serve and support the establishment of that. Once I am sure that is complete, then I can add in other things. Oh, and that appearance goal is going to be an un-graded mini-quest with the Renaissance Rebels. All of my activities for this challenge are quite simple to determine on a day-to-day basis: "Was X scheduled for today? Did I do X today?" Yes or no. I will log my progress in my challenge spreadsheet (currently under construction and to be finished prior to the challenge start). Each goal will be graded with the standard A, B, C, D, or F system using the usual percentages, and points awarded accordingly. And just because this is Nerd Fitness: (Cue Star Wars Theme...) Heh, heh. After three challenges of trying, I'm putting some of that Digital Storytellers learnin' to use. I've finally got myself a themed quest... And, oh, the truck porn that awaits!
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