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  1. Challenge 2023 - Give myself a break New Year's challenges are always I'll get in shape or this year I'm getting enough sleep. Push yourself a bit more and achieve greatness. Not this year. I am taking a look at what I did last year and changing my approach. My goals a year ago are practically identical to what I would write today if I did a normal challenge. Did I actually make progress on my goals last year? Let's take a look. Cut for length The biggest thing I have been struggling with is feeling like I have too much to do and not making good choices from that to-do list. Just changing the priority order on the list is not going to fix that problem. Things to test for this challenge: 1) Keep work in bounds. Stay on task during the day and put it down at 5:00. If is it clear that some tasks cannot get done by the end of the day, make myself a list of what needs to be done first the next day. Yes, there will be more to do the next day. Keep a priority order and delegate as needed. 2) Move my sleep schedule up and sit zen first thing in the morning. The house is always quiet and no one will bother me. 3) Exercise at lunchtime when I work on site. On days I work at home, I can exercise in the morning. I can fit in a 30 minute workout consistently and some days can go longer. I have the option of strength training, cardio or yoga at one of five exercise facilities within 5 minutes of my office. 4) Do actual fun things after work and on weekends. On days I am going to the dojo, bring a book or knitting to do before class starts. Playing phone games does not count. Those are a sign of stress, not a cure. Take at least 15 minutes a day to do something fun. Sure, I am going to make an effort to work on some of the other important things like home improvement projects, getting on top of my finances and doing general adulting. I'll do those anyway. First I am going to give myself more breaks.
  2. Mistr's Hogswatch Hygge Challenge I am going to keep things simple for this challenge. 1) Sit back with my feet up. If I give them enough time, my family members will do their share of the cooking and cleaning. 2) Sit still and contemplate the snow. In my case, just sit zen. Minimum 10 minutes a day. 3) Swords are seasonal. This is relevant because my dojo is hosting a weapons seminar in the middle of this challenge. I am actually planning on doing a lot of cleaning this weekend and next week because we are hosting the dojo party for the seminar. After that, things can coast. My first hygge goal is to put up outdoor holiday lights tomorrow. It is predicted to be the last warm day. I went hiking on the gorgeous warm days last weekend instead of getting lights up.
  3. Mistr picks things up - late autumn 2022 Last challenge I took a step back, which I desperately needed for my mental health. I no longer feel like I am racing with the Red Queen. I feel like I've stopped long enough to look around and see where I am at and look at where I want to go. Part of that is taking my time getting there. The journey is more important than the destination. Things to pick up for this challenge: 1. Aikido. I have been taking breaks and coming back, which means I'm frustrated about not making real progress. I am vastly happier when I do aikido. I can be strategic about when I go, but my goal is 2 or 3 classes a week. 2. Heavy things. My strength training was moving along earlier this fall, then I let it slip again. I feel better when I am doing it regularly. Goal is 2 or 3 sessions a week. 3. Stuff around my house. That starts with a major cleaning this weekend because I am hosting my spinning group on Monday. None of them will say anything about how I keep house, but most of them are middle-aged women and they will all notice. I am planning another party for dojo people in early December, so I have reason to keep things tidy. 4. Stuff that has accumulated. I have been moving the same set of boxes between the family room and the out-of-sight-but-very-much-in-the-way pile in the bedroom every time we have guests. I want to take time and just deal with the stuff. If I decide not to deal with it now, it can go in storage. 5. Yard and garden. Time for the fall picking up and putting away. Drain the hoses, take down the tomato cages, spread the compost on the garden. Most of that should happen this weekend because the weather is going to be perfect. 6. Start working on the downstairs bedroom remodeling project again. This has been on hold for nearly a year. Things to keep going: Zen - at least 10 minutes a day, 30 preferred Go to bed early. This has been more of a struggle than I'd like it to be Knitting and spinning. Do more of these instead of phone games in the evening. Duolingo Stay on task at work and stop on time. Still a struggle, but making good progress on this. No caffeine for this challenge. I started strict restriction on this over a week ago. No caffeine will help with the get more sleep goal. I can make other tasty beverages. I am in good shape to start working on the project goals because past me scheduled several random days off in the next several weeks. I have four weeks of vacation time, I can afford to take a day here and there.
  4. Mistr takes a step back I feel like I've been running too fast to think for months. This challenge my goal is to not push so hard. I want to take time to sit still and consider what I'm doing instead of just picking the next thing off my to-do list. I am starting this challenge late because I was on vacation last week. The "vacation" part was more of a hope than an actual restful time. I did get to do a bunch of fun things and went to my family's cabin on a lake. I brought along my computer and planned to have time to write my challenge and read what everyone has been doing. The only thing I did with my computer was send an email to my boss asking for time off for a dentist appointment that I forgot about. I did get my knitting project going again. I cast on (for the 5th time) and made it through enough rows that I think it is going to work. I learned some things that make the later rows look better than the first few rows, but I am not going back and starting over again. I did some exercise and some zen. Dumbledore and I did some exploring and had good conversations during the road trip. I would like to kvetch about stuff, but I don't have time for that either. Tonight I am going to the dojo for the first time in a couple weeks. I will check in when I can.
  5. Mistr makes today better August will mark my 9th year in NF. I will also be turning 60 just after the end of this challenge. I am going to use what I have learned in the last several challenges and change my approach a bit. My goal for this challenge is to work on dealing as well as I can, one day at a time. This is a mental health challenge, not a physical fitness challenge. Sure, I still have plenty of fitness goals. I've seen that figure of how people lose strength in their 50s and 60s and it terrifies me. I want to lose the extra 10 pounds I've had since the pandemic started. I would like to get some sign that I actually am on the right track in how do zen meditation. All those things will fit in the implementation pieces of my larger goal. I was going to say that my job is more stressful than normal, but after two years I need to face that this level of work is the new normal and just deal with it. I am considering applying for other positions in my company. I am too close to retirement to want to switch to a different company. I am also feeling very risk-adverse, since I am supporting a family of four. Elf (my non-binary adult offspring) is looking for a full-time job again. I am sure they will find one soon. That will cover their phone, clothes, gas and incidentals. It would be nice if they could kick in for groceries, but I'm not holding my breath. I feel overwhelmed and show spikey anxiety behaviors when I try to look at all the things that I need to do. So I am consciously going to focus just on the next task instead. I can make it across the gorge and even enjoy the scenery if I keep my eyes on the goal and don't look down. I will not try to do All The Things. Instead, I will pick a thing to do that is fun or necessary. I will do that thing, then I will pick another thing. When in doubt, it is fine for me to pick an easy thing. Doing all chores does not make for a better day. Some of the things need to be fun things or my brain gets cranky. Small things count. I can do 5 minutes of zen, or knit one row. If I decide to let something wait, I will actually let it wait and not stress about it. I don't have to log everything, but it helps if I write down some of it to have a feeling of accomplishment. For the last several months I have been noting if it was a good day or not in my log book. I would like to have more good days.
  6. Mistr respawns - Summer 2022 I was going to write my challenge while I was on vacation last week. I was also going to start exercising again. Lots of projects I intended to do on vacation did not happen. Quite a bit of fun stuff did happen, so it wasn't all work. Keeping with making a fresh start, I am just going to write goals and not refer to where I was before. 1) A little bit is better than nothing. Sure, it would be great to do 30 minutes of exercise and zen every day. There are some days when I can do more and others that are overbooked. Just 10 minutes of zen is much better than nothing. I can do a few minutes of stretching and a walk around the block most days. 2) Keep up with logging. Having a record of what I did helps me keep track of progress and points what I might choose next in rotation. Writing down projects and chores lets me see how I used my time and feel better about it. My first task here is to get the tally pages set up in my current notebook (after I write my notes for yesterday ). I have all sorts of things I want to do and need to do. For now, I will work on seeing what I can actually do.
  7. Mistr edits her story My goal for this challenge is to reframe my story so that I feel better about my life. I had a bad week in April. Not that anything actually happened, just that I was super stressed about things at work. The tasks I needed to do were not harder or less pleasant than usual. There were a couple instances of poor communication coupled with my brain telling me stories that put the situation in a bad light. I felt stressed because I was worried about bad things happening, not because anything was going badly at the time. I know historically that I want to do more things than can fit in a day or a week. I am not doing myself any favors by overestimating what I can do, then being disappointed that I didn't do everything. Just because I sometimes have very productive days does not mean that I need to feel bad about having less productive days. I have a lot more control over how I feel than I want to admit. In my last challenge I focused on doing just one thing at a time. That made a big difference in reducing my stress. This time I am going to continue doing one thing at a time and also look at the stories my brain is telling. I know that "I'm tired and I want to go home" really means "I don't want to deal with this". The impulse to get food rarely has anything to do with being hungry. There are other stories my brain wants to tell me that need editing too. If I am going to have a good life, I have to frame my choices to fit the new narrative. No waiting for anything external to change. Supporting goals: Get enough sleep Sit zen every day Both of these things help me notice what my brain is doing and give me the resources to do editing. All the other recommended activities like eating healthy and exercising are optional. I would love to be able to keep a regular schedule of doing them, but that might not be feasible. I will make the choices that look best on the moment and do what I can to set things up so tomorrow is better.
  8. There are a lot of things vying for my attention this challenge. My goal is to choose just one thing at a time. If I try to look at all the things it is overwhelming. I tried doing that this weekend and got depressed. If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is months away. I need to keep my sanity while coping as best I can. Last week my boss told me that two high priority projects need to get done SOON, on top of my regular work. I was planning on working more on those next weekend, when I found out that the aikido seminar I'd signed up for was not cancelled after all. I volunteered to drive my sensei to the seminar, so I can't bail out of it. Thankfully it is just Saturday and Sunday morning. There is a Friday class, but I knew from the start that I couldn't get there on Friday. There is another aikido seminar coming up the second weekend of April. I do really want to go to these and see people, it just is a lot all at once. Oh yeah, and tax time is looming. And gardening. If I look at all the things, I want to run and hide. So I'm not going to do that. Goal: I will pick one thing, work on that, and put it down. It does not have to be finished to put it down. I will pick up another thing that seems doable at the time. It can be fun and relaxing or work. No judgement. Just keep going. I am going to make sitting zen a high priority for this challenge. I need to get my brain to hold still so I can make good choices.
  9. February Flex Challenge This one is about going with the flow, although getting more flexible would be nice too. Continuing from my last challenge, my main goal is having a more positive attitude about things in my life. I know I am going to have to do some things I don't like, but sulking about it will not make it better. Neither will procrastination. I like having a plan and getting things done. Knowing that, I want to have flexibility to deal with things as they come up and not be too attached to my original plan. Deal with what is really happening, not what I expected to happen. Time-bound Goals: A. Financial tracking and tasks 1. Update GnuCash 2. Submit 2021 HSA reimbursents 3. Get tax info to the accountant early for a change 4. Document how we overspent so much on our Costco credit account 5. Document what we spent money on last year so we can make a realistic budget B. Clean the family room so it is suitable for guests. Guest will be here the first weekend of March. 1. Put boxes of craft supplies in the garage 2. Hem curtains and put them up 3. File financial papers 4. Sort and neatly stack the pile of stuff behind my desk 5. Final dusting and vacuuming Routine Goals: 1) Exercise every day. Currently alternating between bodyweight exercises and yoga. Some days this might just be aikido or a walk. If things are really dire, I can walk 20 minutes on the treadmill and listen to a podcast. I hate the treadmill, so that is encouragement to do yoga instead. Doing 15 minutes of yoga is better than doing nothing. 2) Sit zen every day. I can tell the difference when I skip a day. If my day goes wonky I can just sit for 5-10 minutes before I go to bed. If the day was that bad, I probably need 10 minutes of calming down before sleeping anyway. 3) Do Duolingo. Working on learning French expands my brain in a good way. Keep it up. It also helps me hope that someday the world will be a less scary place and we will have money to travel. 4) Give myself time for fun projects. Spinning, knitting, reading. There will always be chores waiting. Usually they can wait another 30 minutes. 5) Get enough sleep. Everything goes better when I do. Getting next day prep done early counts for bonus points.
  10. Challenge 2022 The NF App is running a Jump Start 2022 side quest which coincides with zero week here. The task for today is to come up with a BIG goal for 2022, something inspiring. That's a hard one. My life is pretty comfortable. Sure, there is lots of room for improvement. Those things are incremental - not earthshaking. I'd been pondering whether taking an archery class would count. Probably not, when the universe dropped two videos on me. And @Heidi's post from last challenge here. Both of these are about mental framing. I also got a surprise Yule gift from an old friend, Naked in the Zendo by Grace Schireson. Three things make a pattern. My main goal for this challenge is to examine how I look at the world and change my attitudes. I'll have other goals about exercise and projects too. The main one is a biggie. Edited to fix link to the post in the last challenge. 12/30/21
  11. Holiday Cheer Challenge 2021 Last challenge I worked on having more grace in my life, and that was somewhat successful. This time I am working on cheer. I almost wasn't going to because I thought it would be too hard. I am not feeling at all cheerful at the moment and the holidays typically make that worse. That said, I do have choices about how I deal with the things I don't like. I know that Elf and Cleo both have bad histories with this season. Me being cheerful will help them get through it with far less stress. Goals: 1. Get enough sleep I know that tired => cranky. Now is not the time to try to be disciplined about getting up at a specific time. Continue to work on ending evening activities and getting to bed on time. If things happen, sleep as much as needed and rearrange my morning activities. 2. Sit zen Sitting zen lets me look at what my brain is doing and helps quiet my brain weasels. It also helps develop Jedi powers. Keep doing it every day. Mornings are best, but a short session in the evening is better than nothing. 3. Exercise Movement helps me feel better physically and feel better about myself. a. Finish up the Elements course. I think I have about 10 sessions left. Do those as soon as I can. It is working, but I don't love it. I want to say I gave it a fair shot and finished the whole thing. b. Do the NF pushup challenge. I'm on week 3 of a 6 week challenge. When I finish this, I will move to bodyweight exercises. c. Do PT exercises. I just met with my physical therapist about my left hand and shoulder. Earlier this year I was doing PT for my hips. For now I will do PT in the rest intervals in my other workouts. When I am done with Elements, I will alternate days of PT with days of strength training. d. Aikido - practice as much as I feel works with my life. Aikido is more fun than most things, but it takes a lot of time. Make good choices. 4. Work I am stressed about being behind at work again. Put in extra time as feasible to get caught up. The incoming work volume historically slows in December. Hopefully that will help. 5. Finances I am worried about money. Make time to at least know where we are at. If I can do analysis and budgeting, so much the better. 6. Fun stuff Do a little of this every day. a. Take 10 minutes to spin or knit, even if things are really busy b. Duolingo. I decided to start working on my French again. I would like to spend the month of December doing review. I am not thrilled with the current cost/reward format for Duolingo, but I'm willing to pay for their premium service for a month so that I can blast through a bunch of sections doing review. My goal is to do one topic area a day, like an advent calendar of French grammar. I can do more on weekends if I need to skip days or do short sessions during the week. In order to maintain my cheerful outlook, I am NOT going to worry about cooking or chores. I can do things when I have time and want to. If we actually manage to have a household meeting and divvy up chores, I will do mine and not worry about anyone else's. Our holiday meals might be pizza or Chinese take-out. All good so long as everyone is happy.
  12. Mistr works on grace My theme for this challenge is to handle everything with more grace. What do I mean by that? The opposite of graceful is awkward. I want to work on smoothing out the stiff, frustrating, sticky parts of my life. Certainly I want my movement to be smooth and flowing too. The exercise side is easier to see, if not always to do. Decisions and interactions are harder. That will be the main focus of this challenge. You may notice that the first five goals are the same as last time. Having accountability here helps me keep working on things. Goals: 1. Continue with the Elements program and aikido. I am halfway through the Elements program and already seeing improvement in my movement. Once that is done, I will do bodyweight workouts instead. I need to do lunges and work up to pistol squats so that I can get up gracefully from sitting when one of my feet is asleep. 2. Keep doing zen. Let the passing thoughts go without engaging them. 3. Do creative projects. These give me a sense of accomplishment and progress. I selected the "Practice Creativity 101" mission on the NF app to remind me to do this. 4. Get on top of my &^%$#(@! finances and stay there. Continued from last time. Still climbing the metaphorical hill. Block time on Sundays and Thursdays until this is at a steady state. 5. Flexibility in household tasks. Concentrate on doing the things that I care about. I can let everything else go unless I get a specific request from Dumbledore or Elf. 6. Improve my eating habits. I fell back into bad habits because of stress and working from home. I want to get rid of 12 pounds of extra weight over the next three challenges. My strategy has three parts A. The first is to do intermittent fasting with a window of 12 hours from 7am to 7pm. I usually eat breakfast about 8 and try to eat supper by 6, but want to leave myself some slack. On weekends this can shift to 9am to 8pm. The main thing is no snacking in the evening. B. The second is to limit baked goods to things we make ourselves. No commercial bread or cookies, no buns on burgers. I can make any decadent desserts I want to have. My free time is the main limitation. If Elf makes pizza or Dumbledore makes bread, that is fine too. One the same note, no Halloween candy (or the same thing not in orange wrappers). I can still have high quality chocolate. In a perfect world I would cut way back on sugar, but I'm not ready to go there yet. C. The third thing is to strictly limit dairy. This is for health reasons, not to control my weight. It seems like butter and cheese is okay. Milk, yogurt and sour cream are clearly NOT okay. Keep working on alternatives to the high-dairy foods I grew up with.
  13. Mistr returns to reality Thanks to @sarakingdom for the inspiration for this challenge. I spent the last week of the previous challenge on a cruise ship visiting coastal Alaska. It was stunningly gorgeous, and far, far away from my normal reality. Having a week where I had no responsibilities was very strange. On port days I went on hikes and went shopping with my mom. On sea days we went to talks by the naturalist and the port historian and read books. No cooking or cleaning. The last time I had a week with no responsibilities was fall 2019, when I did a week-long retreat (sesshin) at a zen monastery. My earlier vacations this year were to my family's cabin. That is a lovely break from normal routine, but we still have to do cooking and cleaning. There is always some project that needs to get done while we are there. It felt very strange not to have a to-do list on the cruise. I missed my normal life a lot. That said, my approach to normal life could use some improvement. Goals: 1. Implement new exercise plan. I just met with my physical therapist and am done with the latest round of PT. She recommended that I keep doing side-steps with a resistance band, leg-lift alphabet writing and foam rolling. My left hip is still not as strong as the right and my IT bands are super tight. I was doing some PT exercises, some yoga and some hiking while I was on vacation. Strength and cardio have been lacking. Now I need to come up with a good all-around plan that will get me back in shape. I would like to get back to doing aikido twice a week. I may talk to the personal trainer at work if I get stuck. 2. Keep doing zen. It makes a big difference in my ability to put up with annoying stuff and make good decisions. 3. Do creative projects. These give me a sense of accomplishment and progress. I selected the "Practice Creativity 101" mission on the NF app to remind me to do this. I did this once before and it helped. 4. Get on top of my &^%$#(@! finances and stay there. I used to be on top of things. I've been sticking my head in the sand for the last year. I may find that the crawling feeling of dread I have is justified, but I will be able to do something to fix it. I have to get delayed tax info to my accountant by the 15th. That will be the first step. 5. Flexibility in household tasks. Concentrate on doing the things that I care about. I can let everything else go unless I get a specific request from Dumbledore or Elf.
  14. Mistr takes it on the road - August 2021 This challenge is starting and ending with trips. I will have two and a half weeks at home in the middle of the challenge. I'm going to have to stay on my toes to keep on top of everything. Right now I am at my family's lake place with Dumbledore. We spent a lovely day exploring Duluth on the way here. After that I took some much needed down time. Dumbledore is under deadline for an academic paper, so he has mostly been working. Today is our last full day here. I am doing all the housecleaning and he is writing. I'm a little salty about that, but I am also proud of him and want to support him. I am planning on asking him to do housecleaning at home to even the score. This weekend I will be in the Twin Cities visiting people. I'm spending most of Friday with my mom. I have lunch plans for Thursday and Saturday with close friends who I have not seen in person in years. I'm also hoping to see my brother. I may run into other friends, but at this point I feel like my dance card is full. The last week of the challenge I will be on an Alaskan cruise with my mom (crosses fingers). We were planning a trip through the Canadian Rockies, but between the fires and COVID she decided it was too risky. The cruise is all technically in the country and requires all passengers to be vaccinated. She went on a similar trip 25 years ago with my dad, but I have never been to Alaska. It should be fun. To add to the fun, I'm hosting my spinning group on Monday, August 23. I need to get my family room/work area cleaned up to host guests. The rest of the upstairs is not bad right now, but not at a party level of neat either. I've done pretty well on sitting zen and doing hip exercises from my PT while traveling. My main goal is to keep both those up. This challenge is going to be a whirlwind for me.
  15. Mistr paces herself - Summer 2021 Challenge My last challenge was all about discernment - picking the best thing to do next. My challenge this time is to keep that up as the world opens up again. I. Battles go much better when I am rested. My first goal is to let go of activities in the evening. So many nights I want to get more done, or I want to have some time to relax. I need to put down work, chores and big projects at 8pm on work nights. All screens off by 8:30pm. I can do fiber arts until 8:50. Reading non-fiction is okay. Reading fiction is not because I can't put it down if it is good. Make peace with the fact that it really does take me 40 minutes to close things down and go to bed. II. Strength and Skill My dojo is open again and I am halfway through a 6-week class to get back in shape. Getting back to where I was at the beginning of 2020 is going to take more than six weeks, but I can make progress. At least one type of exercise every day. Core, bodyweight, kettlebells, yoga, biking - all good. PT at least once a day, twice is better (details later) Aikido twice a week, maybe three times a week. Work on form, not speed. III. Awareness without Attachment Sit zen every day. If I can't fit in a regular 30 minute session, do at least 10 minutes. If my family is doing distracting things, go outside and do walking meditation instead. Battles I am putting back - cooking, cleaning and gardening. I will do some of all of these, but I'm backing off from what I did before. The yard won't be perfect, there will be weeds in the garden. I can eat simple food that doesn't need much prep for a lot of meals. I will do my share of batch cooking for the week, but I won't worry if there is not a lot of food in the fridge (that's a lie, I will worry; I'll just learn to live with it). I can let the dishes pile up and other people take their turn to clean. Projects - pick only one battle for the weekend. If that turns out to be an easy win, I can pick a second battle. Give myself time to actually relax.
  16. Mistr Practices Discernment My biggest challenge right now is picking what to spend time doing. I know what I need to do to get back in shape, lose the weight I gained last year and do things I enjoy. The problem is that my work is demanding a lot of time and many things I would normally want to do just won't fit in my week. All that "just do 15 minutes of this" advice is not working for me. Under normal circumstances I like my job. At the moment we are understaffed and having a hard time finding people to fill our open position. My boss is going to batt with management to get us two new people, if we can get some decent candidates. Until that happens, I am putting in extra hours. I realized that I have to let go of some other things or I'll drive myself nuts. Last challenge @sarakingdom shared a video from a Buddhist monk that I found really helpful. He talked about the stories we tell ourselves about things. Am I enjoying soaking my hands in warm water, listening to music and feeling good about clearing off the kitchen counter? Or am I feeling resentful about doing a chore instead of something more fun? Am I unhappy about my arm hurting, or am I feeling relieved that I got a vaccination and it is doing something? An awful lot of how I feel depends on how I view what is going on. I can work on that. Knowing that I can only do a few things makes it easier in some ways. My tendency is to want to to ALL THE THINGS. Since that is obviously not going to happen, I can pick and choose a few things that will make a difference. Sometimes that will be sitting still and just looking out the window. Things that are high on my list: Sleep. I cannot make good decisions and am a grouch when I don't get enough sleep. Work. I am supporting my family. Work anxiety is worse that working lots of hours. Time with my family. This is always in short supply, enjoy it whenever I can get it. Zen. Very useful for dealing with anxiety and choices Exercise. Good for making me feel better in lots of ways Fiber arts. Creative outlet and destressing. Gardening. Outdoors and a feeling of control over my environment. Cooking and cleaning are only happening when I am inspired or something is bugging me. We have the household cooking divided up so we each cook one day a week (in theory). Elf and I usually batch cook something. I grilled 5 lbs of chicken breast last weekend. The previous week I made a ham. I can live just fine on frozen veggies and protein with an excessive amount of dark chocolate for snacks. I will do my share of the dishes and laundry. If the kitchen is a disaster in between, I can ignore it. I've been practicing and getting much better at letting cleaning chores wait. Scoring for this challenge will be how I feel about the week. Do I feel like I took care of the important things? Am I stressed out? Did I make good choices about self-care? I would love to lose 10 pounds and get back in shape, go biking and deal with the boxes in the garage. Maybe some of those things will happen, but I'm not going to judge on them.
  17. Mistr works on weekends My major goal this challenge is to get back in shape for aikido. The weather is getting warm enough that aikido in the park will start soon. Hopefully we can go back to training in the dojo by summer. I have put on weight and lost strength and aerobic condition. Lots to work on there. My second goal is to keep balance in my life as the world opens up again. There are some good things about this enforced time that I want to maintain. The third goal is the one in the title, work on my weekends. Which includes doing work for my day job on weekends. We are still short-handed. Unless by some miracle the incoming work flow lightens up, I need to put in a few hours on weekends to keep from feeling like I'm drowning. I also need to change my planning to make time for zen and exercise on weekends. I always want to do more than is feasible, so I need to make better choices. Details: I. Exercise and food. A. Alternate strength and core exercise/yoga days. 1. Strength alternates between days A and B a. bodyweight exercises and back roll practice b. TGUs and sumo shiko (combination bodyweight squats and side leg lifts) 2. Yoga rotates between core routines with other practices thrown in for variety B. Start the NF Journey biking challenge in April. I just dropped off my bike at the shop for a long-needed overhaul. It should be done by the second week of April, just in time to get outside. C. Eating improvements 1. No snacking between breakfast and lunch 2. Protein and produce at every meal 3. Take breaks instead of stress eating. 4. Portion control at meals 5. Take-out must include salads II. Balance Keep a regular schedule. This is easier because my adult offspring, Elf, is working a regular job with an early start time. I can't bargain on sleeping in if I stay up late. So all I have to do is go to bed on time. Still a challenge, but I've been better about it this year than ever before. Stick to the regular schedule on weekends. Staying up late and sleeping in contributes to me not doing zen and exercise. Stay on task at work and stop by 5:30pm. I may not be done, but I can have a plan of what I need to do the next morning. Plan what to do on the weekend ahead of time. Pick one task from my wish list to get done every weekend. Feeling I'm making progress is important. Take breaks to spin or knit to deal with stress at work. This is one of the major benefits of working from home. Take advantage while I can. Clean one thing or do 15 minutes of yard work most days. Sit zen for 10 minutes on days when I feel like I want to do other things and leave it until the end of the day.
  18. Mistr just keeps swimming I made it through the first 11 months of the pandemic in pretty good emotional shape. We'll just ignore the stress eating for the moment. Now things are piling up and I am not coping as well. The main problem is that work is crazy busy. This is not just me, I've heard the same comment from several other people on my team. We are trying to fill an open position, but that is not really the problem. Our staffing level is decent because no one is on vacation this time of year. The cause seems to be that our customers are all working hard and want help from us. I need to put in extra time to deal with all the requests, and worry about dropping the ball for someone. My goal for the year was to keep up with things at work so that I don't feel stressed out and guilty about it. That has not been going well at all. In normal times I would get stress relief from aikido. That is not happening now. Sure there are zoom classes, but they do not involve the thumping and flinging that makes a difference. Even in pandemic times my partner Dumbledore and I usually go for walks. My BFF and I go hiking. The weather has been too to do that for the last couple weeks. Right now I can face doing yoga and zen. I'm doing some knitting and spinning and playing lots of games on my phone. My goal for this challenge is to just keep doing as many of the good things as I can. On busy days that might be just putting away the clean dishes. That's okay. I just need to keep it together until spring.
  19. I want to take this challenge to set up improved habits for the year. The world is going to change a lot this year, and I want to be in a good place to adapt to those changes. I was thinking I was coming up with new goals, but here is what I wrote in January last year: My goals for this year are more for fine tuning and continuous improvement rather than major changes. I want to improve in aikido and zen. I’m always going to want to keep moving up along those paths. I want to include more strength training and cardio in my exercise program because I’m at the age where decline is a real concern. My biggest challenges are dealing with the tedious and unpleasant tasks at home and at work. Goal 1: Stay on top of the tedious task at work. It is not so bad if I do a little a couple times a week. I just got caught up this week and want to keep it that way. Goal 2: Stay on top of our financial situation at home. Dumbledore and I are going to meet quarterly to look at how we are doing and what we need to modify. I need to have the data together for those meetings. He takes care of the daily bills, I take care of the long term data analysis (at least I should be doing that). Schedule a two-hour block every weekend to get the info together and keep it going. Doing this will eliminate my stress about not knowing where we are at. Bonus goal: Read I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. I bought the book months ago and started it, but felt too guilt about my financial situation to read advice on how to fix it. Stupid, but true. Things have gotten better recently and I could use some tips. Exercise A. Alternate yoga and strength training. Last challenge I alternated kettlebells and a NF pushup challenge. I missed the yoga. I like turkish get-ups (TGUs) and part of the push-up routine. I will make up my own plan with a rotation of exercises. I just got a set of resistance bands so I can expand the range of things I can do. The NF Journey app uses an A/B workout plan with a rest day in between. Yoga will be on rest days. B. Cardio one day a week. In the before times, I got a lot of cardio taking falls and getting up in aikido. That is not happening now. It is rare for me to do something that gets my heart rate up. We have a treadmill. Dumbledore walks on it a lot. Treadmills make me nervous and I've never used it. Time for me to get past that. It is snowy winter here, I can look forward to outside cardio in the spring. I will do walking interval training every weekend. One day a week is not much, but it is better than I have been doing. Zen Sit every day, even just 5 minutes. The ideal is to sit 30 minutes before work. Some days I manage that and other days I say I'll do it later. My follow-through on doing it later is lousy. Keep using the NF Journey app to remind me. Every day is more important than a long time, with the understanding that more is better. Better food choices I have put on 15 pounds over the last year. My reasons are probably the same as everyone else's. I am going to eat more veggies and fruit and cut back on snacks and sweets. The thought of eliminating sweets makes me want to rebel and eat all the treats, so I'm not going to set a limit. Substituting an orange for a cookie is a win. I've done well before on limiting myself to treats that I cook. I might try that as soon as we get the holiday sweets out of the house. continued from last challenge Just One Thing My ongoing challenge is having too many things I want or need to do, and not enough time to do them. This is not new. The pandemic has not even made it worse. My work goes through cycles of good times when we are fully staffed and busy times when we are short-handed. Early this fall things were getting better as a new person was trained in, then someone else left. So it goes. The major change for me is that I'm now working from home and not practicing aikido. Aikido is a full-contact martial art and zoom classes are not working for me. I also miss the group strength training classes I did at work. I don't have any commuting time but my stress relief is not there either. You would think that I'd have more time with no commute and no classes, but it has not worked out that way. I often feel overwhelmed by all the things I need to do. My goal for this challenge is to pick one thing and do it. If something more important comes up I can put down the thing. Otherwise, keep working on that without distraction until it is at a resting place. I can pick whatever I like on the moment to do. Sometimes that will be a high priority task, sometimes it will be a task that has been waiting, sometimes it will be a fun recharging activity. No judgement. I acknowledge that not everything can possibly fit in the time I have. I need to step back and take a hard look at the things I want to do - do I really want to spend time cooking that thing? Which house project will make the most difference to get done this weekend? Can I ask my family for help or should I really do this myself? Give myself permission to take down time and do fun things. I am not going to get "caught up" and have free time. I just have time. I can choose what to do. Sometimes staring at the ceiling and not doing anything is the right choice. Perspective instead of guilt. In a perfect world I would exercise, sit zen, eat lots of vegetables, be productive and get enough sleep every day. I need to work on making good choices and owning them rather than feeling guilty when I can't do what I "should". I get credit for each thing I get done.
  20. Mistr does just one thing - Festivus 2020 I am late to the party because my work has been insanely busy. I've been composing this in my head for weeks and just now am sneaking in some time to write it down. In November I went on a 16 day road trip. Definitely an adventure rather than a vacation. However, it did give me a lot of time away from my usual responsibilities to think about things. I think I may have found a clue. Just One Thing My ongoing challenge is having too many things I want or need to do, and not enough time to do them. This is not new. The pandemic has not even made it worse. My work goes through cycles of good times when we are fully staffed and busy times when we are short-handed. Early this fall things were getting better as a new person was trained in, then someone else left. So it goes. The major change for me is that I'm now working from home and not practicing aikido. Aikido is a full-contact martial art and zoom classes are not working for me. I also miss the group strength training classes I did at work. I don't have any commuting time but my stress relief is not there either. You would think that I'd have more time with no commute and no classes, but it has not worked out that way. I often feel overwhelmed by all the things I need to do. My goal for this challenge is to pick one thing and do it. If something more important comes up I can put down the thing. Otherwise, keep working on that without distraction until it is at a resting place. I can pick whatever I like on the moment to do. Sometimes that will be a high priority task, sometimes it will be a task that has been waiting, sometimes it will be a fun recharging activity. No judgement. I acknowledge that not everything can possibly fit in the time I have. I need to step back and take a hard look at the things I want to do - do I really want to spend time cooking that thing? Which house project will make the most difference to get done this weekend? Can I ask my family for help or should I really do this myself? Give myself permission to take down time and do fun things. I am not going to get "caught up" and have free time. I just have time. I can choose what to do. Sometimes staring at the ceiling and not doing anything is the right choice. Perspective instead of guilt. In a perfect world I would exercise, sit zen, eat lots of vegetables, be productive and get enough sleep every day. I need to work on making good choices and owning them rather than feeling guilty when I can't do what I "should". I get credit for each thing I get done. We are almost at the end of week one and I have been applying this strategy. So far it is working really well. I am have been mostly keeping up at work with less stress than normal. That still is a lot of stress, but I know what worse looks like. Cast of characters for those new to my challenges
  21. Mistr tries something different I was tempted to say completely different, but actually most of my goals are the same. The different part is my exercise plan. Goals: 1) Go to bed on time. I am struggling to go to bed on days when I have to work late or do time consuming chores. I want to have more time for fun and relaxation in the evening. Which I would have if I got exercise and zen done before work. My evening brain says "it will be fine, we can get up with just 7.5 hours of sleep". My morning brain says "sleep is key to productivity. Where is the snooze button?". Implementation: Start going to bed sequence at 9:00pm. I can do spinning or knitting until bed time if I get those tasks done earlier. 2) Exercise of some sort. I am currently doing the bodyweight - Level 3 and Walk 30 Days challenges in the NF App beta test. I'll be done with the walking challenge today if all goes according to plan. I am finding the structure and rewards in the app to be helpful keeping me moving. The bodyweight sequence alternates training days and rest days. I'm going to do yoga on the rest days. There is a Level 1 Yoga challenge that I can sign up for. Since I bought NF Yoga when it first came out, I suspect I can do more than is in Level 1 of the app. If that turns out to be true, I will substitute a new-to-me video from Yoga with Adriene. I have been doing four of her core videos and like them a lot. She has put out a ton of material on her YouTube channel. I would enjoy expanding my yoga horizons. 3) Zen most days. This should be every day, but feeling pressure to do that makes me contrary. The NF App has a 5 Minutes of Meditation challenge. I'm doing that to give myself permission to sit just 5 minutes on days when I don't want to sit 30 minutes as usual. 4) Prepare for winter. I will be working from home until my work feels it is safe for people to congregate again. Considering that my state had record-breaking case numbers last week, that may be months. I have several tasks that I need to get done before the weather gets cold and others that would be nice to do. Paint the downstairs bathroom. Wash and Rainex-treat the windows on my car Bring down my cold season clothes from the attic Put the ice cream maker in the attic for the winter Make candles 5) Improve my eating habits. I've been eating too many treats and it shows. The weather is turning cooler and I will want to wear jeans. Right now I can't zip up the jeans that are in my closet. I could get down my old fat jeans from the attic, but I don't want to do that. Instead I will implement all the strategies I've learned here to make better choices.
  22. 2020 Hindsight Challenge The start of a new decade is just the impetus I need to look back and see how well I’ve been meeting my goals. I’m going back to my first NF challenge and each new year since then. I feel like I’m in much better shape, but let’s see what the evidence really shows. Then: (cut for length) Now: I’ve been doing mostly the same range of things for the last seven years with gradual improvements in my approach and implementation. The major big new thing was becoming the parent of a young adult (Elf). I also started doing zen about the same time, which probably helped me deal with things. Over the last couple years I have spent more time doing knitting and spinning. I completely stopped playing the piano – mostly just due to lack of time. I keep saying that I want to weave, but I have not gotten my loom out in a couple of years. I have a pretty good set of habits for doing aikido, exercise and zen. Most of the time I eat well. I could cut back on desserts, but I’d rather just eat less of other things. The things I struggle to get done haven’t changed. My goals for this year are more for fine tuning and continuous improvement rather than major changes. I want to improve in aikido and zen. I’m always going to want to keep moving up along those paths. I want to include more strength training and cardio in my exercise program because I’m at the age where decline is a real concern. My biggest challenges are dealing with the tedious and unpleasant tasks at home and at work. For this challenge I’m going to keep it simple: Attend the Barbells class at lunchtime T/Th. This hits two goals, maybe three. I get to meet more people at work while doing strength training. Once I get the moves down, there can be a cardio component too. Deal with paperwork at home. I am hosting a big party on January 25th. This time I want to have everything dealt with and filed, not just shoved in a closet for the party. Get through my backlog at work by the end of week one. I have no excuses, I’ve just been avoiding it. Tasks from the task list. Points for getting things done.
  23. Mistr gets more creative (part two) In an earlier challenge I worked on foresight and making better choices. That went reasonably well. I've been much less stressed about getting ALL THE THINGS done. I want to keep working on the balance of doing useful things and creative things. Since the useful things have guilt attached already, I'm concentrating my goals on doing creative things. I'm also going to need to get creative to work out at home the last week of the challenge. Main goal: work on creative projects at least 3 times a week Bonus points for finishing projects Extra bonus points for weaving My main project right now is spinning fiber from my stash. I checked off two items last challenge. I'm on a roll. I just finished an alpaca 2-ply yarn. Final step is to wash and block it. My current spinning project is angora/merino wool fine yarn for knitting gloves. I'm blending the fibers on hand cards which is time consuming. This will probably take more than three weeks to finish. That's fine, I'm thrilled to be using up the bag of merino that has been in my stash for years. I'm free to choose any of the bags in my stash when I'm done with this yarn. It is all fair game. Other projects include: knitting a pair of socks - nearly done with the leg of sock #2 embroidery - large counted cross-stitch picture of a sorceress anything from my unfinished objects bag - must finish socks first. I might just finish the sock before I have the yarn finished for gloves. Current mending counts because it is sitting out and I started it a couple weeks months ago. This kind of involves being creative with a needle. (1 item completed last challenge, two to go) Check things off goal: Things that need doing and mostly stay done. Taken from @Xena's sushi list idea Swap out summer/winter clothes, take bins back to the attic Put up the new shelves in the laundry room Sort one box from the garage. Bonus points for more boxes sorted. Wash the bag of used gis that showed up at the dojo. Make an electronic list of articles that Dumbledore has on paper (linked to the journals). Recycle the paper and use the file cabinet for things we actually should keep. Donate the stuff that is accumulating next to the coffee maker. Keep up good habits: Lay out clothes the night before Pack lunches and breakfasts ahead of time Do something for exercise every day. I'm struggling to do weight training regularly because it takes a lot of time, even though I enjoy it. Yoga or walking is fine if I'm feeling stressed. Zen every day. This can be after work or at lunch if I'm running late in the morning. Saturdays have been a problem - do zen early in the day. NO CAFFEINE. Exceptions allowed on Saturdays and during winter break. Plan for down time after work. Maybe even take a brief nap. Better to take a break than to drag for the whole evening. Make short lists of things I might do and pick the top ones. Wash, rinse, repeat. I'm also planning on doing a lot of aikido. That is not a goal, it is part of my regular life at this point. My weapons training partner is getting ready for his second-degree black belt (nidan) test. I can get in a lot of high-level training by attending all the advanced classes over the next two months.
  24. Mistr gets creative Last challenge I worked on foresight and making better choices. That went reasonably well. I've been much less stressed about getting ALL THE THINGS done. I want to keep working on this. I had an interesting week doing zen and not needing to worry about doing anything. The thing I missed most while I was away from normal life was working on creative projects. I want to maintain the good habits that I've been working to establish over the last year, but with a bit more flexibility. Main goal: work on creative projects at least 3 times a week Bonus points for finishing projects Extra bonus points for weaving My main project right now is spinning fiber from my stash. I just finished spinning the singles for a three-ply silk yarn from silk I dyed in February. Next step is to ply it. I have alpaca yarn in progress on my wheel. I have half of that done and am working through it fairly quickly now that I figured out to pick out the bits of vegetable matter before I start spinning it. This will become a 2-ply yarn. I'm free to choose any of the bags in my stash when I'm done with these two yarns. It is all fair game. Other projects include: knitting a pair of socks - nearly done with the leg of sock #2 embroidery - large counted cross-stitch picture of a sorceress embroidery - packed so long that I've forgotten what the picture is about anything from my unfinished objects bag - must finish socks first. Current mending counts because it is sitting out and I started it a couple weeks ago. This kind of involves being creative with a needle. Check things off goal: Things that need doing and mostly stay done. Taken from @Xena's sushi list idea Swap out summer/winter clothes, take bins back to the attic Put up the new shelves in the laundry room Donate or discard the cooler packs in the trunk of my car Sort one box from the garage. Bonus points for more boxes sorted. Wash and donate the dojo lost & found (currently in my car) Make an electronic list of articles that Dumbledore has on paper (linked to the journals). Recycle the paper and use the file cabinet for things we actually should keep. Donate the stuff that is accumulating next to the coffee maker. Keep up good habits: Lay out clothes the night before Pack lunches and breakfasts ahead of time Do something for exercise every day. I'm struggling to do weight training regularly because it takes a lot of time, even though I enjoy it. Try adjusting my schedule to do weight training before or after work. Yoga or walking is fine if I'm feeling stressed. Zen every day. This can be after work or at lunch if I'm running late in the morning. NO CAFFEINE. I broke this rule yesterday and am regretting it (again) today. Yes, I like coffee. No, it is not worth it. Herbal tea is fine. Plan for down time after work. Maybe even take a brief nap. Better to take a break than to drag for the whole evening. Make short lists of things I might do and pick the top ones. Wash, rinse, repeat.
  25. Mistr works on foresight My last challenge focused on looking at my choices. Looking back over the past challenges gives me plenty of hindsight. Now I need to put that to use to make better choices moving forward. There are two forces at work here: I have a pretty good idea of how my common actions are likely to pan out. I also know that things are going to happen unexpectedly. I know that I'm happier when I have a plan and when I'm not too attached to the plan. Overall my goal is to make good choices and pay attention to what is happening NOW. That often means looking at how I am feeling. Sometimes the smartest thing to do is give up all my project goals for the evening and go to bed.
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