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  1. Mistr Changes Things Up - May 2024 I have been doing well with my meditation goal the last two challenges. That is giving me the mental energy to face other things. Time to change things up. I. Move my sleep time I have been talking about doing this for months, with little progress. Instead of working towards it, I am just going to make it happen. I am setting my alarm for 5:30am and getting up. No snooze, no turning off the alarm. My head-to-bed alarm is already set to 8:30pm. I can make things easier by doing evening prep earlier. If I get things done sooner, I can do fun things like knitting or spinning before bed. I want to move my meditation time to the morning so that I have more flexibility in the evenings. II. Exercise every day I have been doing some exercise, but not consistently. Aikido varies a lot in how aerobic or intense it is. I used to exercise at lunch every day in the before times, when I was always working in the office. That routine was great for me getting in good shape and losing weight. I want to set up a new routine that works with my partially remote schedule. Exercise needs to happen first thing in the morning or at lunch. I might say I will work out in the evening, but the only thing I am actually willing to do by myself is go for a walk. I am going to start with working out in the morning and sitting zen at lunch. I have found that I am more willing to go do nothing at lunchtime than I am to go work out 😊. My main focus is on strength training. I am terrified by all the things I have read about people in their 60s rapidly losing strength. My plan is to alternate core strength yoga (thank you Adriene!) and an all-around routine with TGUs, push-ups and knee PT exercises. I can mix in rowing if I need to work out at lunchtime. If I am having a bad day, I can do regular yoga instead. Just do something. III. Do fun things Instead of thinking of fun things as a reward for doing work, plan on doing something fun every day. I can give myself time to do creative projects or read for fun instead of doing coloring on my phone. In the cosmic scheme of things, doing knitting is equally important as gardening. No one else cares about me doing either one. Not changing Keep doing zen every day. Meditation is making a difference, keep doing it. Do aikido two or three days a week. I love doing it and the dojo is my main social connection. Selectively work on making my living space better. Do a mix of routine and one-time projects. I am curious to see where this will get me in six weeks.
  2. I have plenty of things to clean up this challenge. I am happy to report that I made a good start during Zero week. Goals: 1. Clear out my mind. Sit zen every day. Preferably 30 minutes, but at least 10 minutes. It does not matter how late it gets, sit zen before going to bed. If I do stay up too late, taking the time to calm my mind will help me sleep. I did this last challenge and it is making a difference. My mind is not back to normal, but it is better than it was. Maybe I will find a different new normal. Keep moving in that direction. 2. Clean up my eating. I have a huge emotional resistance to restricting what I eat, but I am fine with intermittent fasting. I can also work on having fruit before having other types of sweets. 3. Assorted cleaning tasks. This includes regular chores, since those still need to get done too. Finish things up, put things away, sort things, get rid of things, raking, garden clean-out, it all counts. Extra points for dealing with things that have been sitting in piles for a long time. __________________________________________________ Zero Week report This past week was extremely busy at work. On top of planned time off and project time, a different person called in sick every day. I was covering for the person on vacation, plus filling in for people who were out sick. I mostly kept my head above water. I am sure that I missed some things that will come around to bite me this week. I could have tried to get the older stuff done first, but that would just mean that different things would have been left waiting. I hope I won't find too much waiting for me on Monday. I went to aikido on Monday, Wednesday, practice with my weapons partner on Thursday, and an all-day seminar on Saturday. I went with my chief instructor to the seminar. There were seven hours of classes with six different instructors. It was a friendship seminar, which means the instructors came from dojos with different affiliations. For those not familiar with aikido, there are numerous different flavors. The founder of the art died in 1969. He had a bunch of senior students that settled all over the world. Most of them set up their own organizations. Some were on speaking terms with each other, some were not. Almost all of that first generation have now passed away. A lot of American students are wondering just why instructors of the art of harmony were not able to get along with each other. People are working to form connections and learn insights from other lineages. Physically, I did better than I expected with training all day. By the end of class #6 my brain was full. My sensei was worn out by the beginning of class 6. We left early. It was a 90 minute drive, so we left home at 7:00am and were glad to get back by 7:30pm. This week I plan to train on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. That is plenty. Spring Cleaning I scrubbed the couch again with Citrasolv and vinegar. I think that took out the last of the cat pee smell. At least, it covered it with orange scent. Used leather cleaner/conditioner on the couch. Maybe it looks a little better. It has been scrubbed at least four times now. Really, it is as clean as it is going to get. I hope we don't need to replace it. Washed three loads laundry Packed up Wensleydale yarn and put it back in the garage. I got it out a couple months ago when I thought I would use it for my next knitting project. I decided to do a different knitting project next, so this can wait where it belongs. Finished spinning blue merino/silk singles. I thought I bought four ounces of roving, but it does not look like that much on the bobbin. I will wind it off and weigh it later. Cleaned and oiled spinning wheel. Went through my fiber stash to pick my next spinning project. Rediscovered fiber that I bought a long time ago. Some of that will be great to use in blends on my drum carder. I chose a bag of silver-grey alpaca that I forgot I had. I picked it up at a stash sale after my friend Kathy from spinning passed away. I am going to blend it with silk for strength. Getting out the silk involved more cleaning. I went through the books stacked on top of my steamer trunk and dresser. Four of them are not mine and can be put away elsewhere. I had to take everything off the top of the steamer trunk to open it and get out bag of silk roving. In doing so, I discovered a solid line of dust bunnies behind the steamer trunk. I vacuumed those up (plus the rest of the bedroom floor). I now know what is in the piles on top of the steamer trunk (but have no clue what to do with them). Scrubbed the kitchen sink, stovetop and counters. Normal weekend chores. Elf did a LOT of cooking. They batch cooked asparagus, green beans with almonds and garlic, roasted potatoes and braised pork shoulder. The kitchen was only clean for half an hour, but it was totally worth it. I said I would make cookies, but that is going to wait until tomorrow.
  3. 2024 Challenge 2: Mistr searches for her mind In the rotating series of things I want to work on, finding my mind is my top priority this challenge. I have had too many days where I just can't focus or all I want to do is play games. When color-by-number on my phone is so absorbing, that is a sign there is something wrong. I am not at all clear on what is wrong. Things are better at work. I have picked up my exercise routine again. I am mostly getting enough sleep. Aikido is slowly getting better. The number on the scale is even down a pound from last week. No smoking guns. I think I am going to just have to sit quietly and wait for the culprit to poke its nose out in the open. Goals: 1. Sit zen 30 minutes every day. I pretty much dropped zen in December and only did a few short sessions in January. Meditation is my best tool to figure out what is going on in my brain. I feel like the universe is reaching out to hit me in the head with this one. On Saturday at aikido, a senior instructor asked me again how my meditation is going. He told me that he meditates twice a day, in the morning and before bed. He says if you can control your mind, you will have a happy life. He is in his mid-eighties and can still take falls. I think he knows what he is talking about. 2. Manage my time so I can get enough sleep AND sit zen. Sleep is lower priority than zen this time. I already know that getting enough sleep makes me a happier human. I just have trouble remembering that sometimes in the evenings. As a corollary, no screen time after 8:30pm on week nights. 3. Keep moving. Over the last several weeks I have gotten back into my exercise rotation of aikido, strength work, rowing and core work. Some days I do more, some days I just do one thing. Make sure there is at least one thing every day, even if it is just gentle yoga. 4. Cut back on mindless eating. This may be difficult while I am still hunting for my missing mind. I got into bad habits of stress eating over the last couple years. One week ago I was at the highest weight I have ever been. I was better last week and it seems to be helping. I would love to lose a pound a week this challenge. The real measure of success on this goal is not actually the number on the scale, but whether or not I can tie my hakama. When I was at my target weight (four years ago), I had about a foot of extra length after tying my hakama waist straps, with them wrapping around my waist twice. Now I can't get it to tie. 😟 My new hakama has longer straps, but I am not wearing it for a while because the dojo just got a new mat. Sensei was very clear that she would not tolerate blue stains on the new mat from indigo-dyed hakama. All of us who have new Japanese hakama are wearing older black hakama instead. I made a start on all of this during zero week. Onwards and upwards!
  4. January 2024 - Mistr takes notes I took and honest-to-gosh vacation last week. This was the first stretch of 6 days where I was at home and did not have any pressing commitments that I have had in years. Most of my vacation-from-work time has involved travel and doing things that were far from relaxing. I thought about what I want to do this challenge and what my goals are for 2024. Figure out a new path I still wish I could wave a magic wand and go back to where I was in January 2020. Things were going well for me and I was making progress on my goals. Four years later, I am dealing with different things. I am still in the same job, house, dojo and relationships. The key changes have been with me. I had covid last January and that took away some of my energy. I am getting older and that is causing changes in my body. Things that used to be fine (dairy - I'm looking at you) have unpleasant consequences. I am realizing that some of the tasks I was pushing myself to do are not actually that important. I can take time to relax and things won't fall apart. Most January challenges have firm goals. Things like "go to the gym 3x a week" or "keep an 8-hour eating window". My mind rebels from those type of arbitrary rules now. I may very well do those things, but I am not going to push myself to do them. This time I am going to be gentle with myself and see what I actually can do without getting stressed out. Goal: observe what I choose to do and how that works out. That's it. I already know that I love aikido and feel better when I do it. I know I like my home-cooked meals better than most of what I can buy. I can make a pretty good assessment of whether I want to spend my energy on cooking or doing other things. I have a long history of underestimating how much time it takes me to cook, so I can take that into account. If I don't have energy to do things, rest is a smart choice. It would be great if I could exercise and sit zen 30 minutes a day, eat protein and veggies at every meal, limit sweets, stay on top of things at work and chores at homes and do things with people. Some days I might be able to do most of that, but I can't count on that like I used to. My goal for this challenge is to gently explore what works for me in this new post-pandemic world.
  5. This gives a good feel of the track I'm on. I am continuing with the musubi theme that has been working for me this year. Adapt to circumstances and deal with things in a way to make them end better than they started. Goals: Sleep continues to be my top priority. I make much better decisions and am a much nicer person when I get enough sleep. Down time. I have been pushing myself to the limit a lot of the time. Some of my sleep problems are due to Revenge Bedtime Procrastination. My life will be better if I allow myself time to do fun, creative and relaxing things. Some zen every day. Ten minutes a day is fine. More is also fine. My zen teacher says that continuity is important. Maybe I will see something shift if I am more consistent. It will certainly be a more comfortable conversation with my teacher the next time I go to a zen group session. Some exercise most days. I have not been able to stick to a regular schedule. That is okay. I can do walking, aikido, yoga, core exercise, rowing and strength training as they fit in my daily schedule. I can even take a day off here and there. All the other projects can happen when I have energy for them. I will not be bored.
  6. I am going to continue with the theme of blending with the challenges that come at me. I was trying to think of a better idea for this challenge and any inspiration I had is gone. While blending is the essential first part of musubi, what follows next is shaping the situation to one's benefit. Deal with things in the moment and set it up to get better. My goals are around steps to set myself up for success 1. Sleep time. During the last challenge I mostly shifted my sleep time to 9:30pm to 5:30am. This time works better for a lot of things, provided I get to bed before 9:30pm. My goal is to do prep earlier in the evening so I can get to bed on time. No screen time after 8pm. Knitting is great for relaxing before bed. 2. Exercise. I have been going for 30 minute walks several days a week. I will keep doing walks some days. Possibly do strength or core training some days. I have options. I am doing aikido two or three days a week. That is great, but does not actually count as exercise. I am at that critical age where strength training becomes more important. You've seen the graph where strength declines with age - that's where I am. It's scary. 3. Be gentle with myself. I was pushing myself as hard as I could for too long. My mind and spirit are still recovering from that. I am giving myself permission to take breaks and do fun things. Sitting zen is good for my brain, but so is carding wool. More musubi.
  7. Mistr stops playing games - Summer 2023 I want to refine this a bit, before I lose all nerd credibility. For this challenge I will not play any games on my phone. I am not counting Duolingo, even though is certainly has game aspects. I want to keep working on learning French and Duolingo is my main place to practice right now. Ideally, I would not play any games on my computer either. Yesterday when I was planning my challenge, I wanted to say no computer games for the challenge. I spent a lot of time playing Immortal Life instead of doing other things I wanted to do. On top of the direct time, playing games in the evening messes with my sleep. My ability to turn off the game and do other things is lousy. I will tell myself that I will just play for an hour, then go do other things. Ha. I ignore the timer and just keep playing. So if playing games is causing me so many issues, why am I even questioning stopping? Because it gives my brain a huge hit of happiness. That should be a red flag. My focus this challenge is on mental health. Which things should I do so that I can cope and feel better about my life? I know what I was doing regularly in the before times. I feel like I am just getting back to making progress as a martial artist again. I want to come up with strategies so that I can feel like I am making progress without getting overwhelmed. Next week I will be at our family cabin on vacation. My plan is to take a bunch of fun projects along - and to leave my computer at home. That means I will have to do all the bookkeeping this week before we leave. Which is good, because it will not leave time for playing games. I want to see how I feel after two weeks with no computer games. I can use the extra time for reflection. Note: social gaming is a whole different beast. I am still in a tabletop RPG group that meets on Tuesdays and may do other gaming with friends. That is all good.
  8. Mistr's May Summer Musubi Challenge Musubi is a Japanese term for connection. It has a sense of flow and perception. This was working for me last challenge, so I am continuing with only minor adjustments. In aikido, an important goal is to immediately establish musubi with an attack so you can feel where it is going. Is the attacker drawing back to prepare for another punch? Is their weight forward or in their heels? Valuable information. My goal for this challenge is to apply this principle to making choices about what to do with my time. I am now in month 4 6 of respawning after having Covid. Physically, I'm starting to see signs of improvement. I still have 15+ pounds to lose and a lot of capacity to rebuild. I have a plan for that. (more below) The mental health side is harder. I was in bad shape at the end of last year. Bad enough that getting sick was a welcome break. I want to keep a close eye on my choices and the stories I am telling myself about what I should do or need to do. This remains my primary focus. You may be familiar with The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. He talks about decisions we make about food. Humans can eat an awful lot of things, so how do we choose? I am looking hard at the same question about time. I clearly cannot work on all my projects all at once. Some things have to wait. Other urgent things happen and I am the person who can handle them on the moment. Which tasks will make me happy if I get them done, and which can wait? How can I tell which ones will cause me grief later if I put them off? You would think (at least I certainly would think) that by my age I would have figured this out, but this is my main challenge. I am going to see where the pressure is coming from in different tasks and see if I can side-step them, draw them along or if I should just get in and deal with it right away. Challenge Details: Sleep is a top priority. Tomorrow me will be much happier and more productive if I go to bed on time today. There are usually things I want to get done in the evening. Most of those can actually wait. Doing zen helps me sleep, so that can push back my bed time (but not on purpose). Ibuprofen and melatonin are my friends. Caffeine is not my friend. Avoid the temptation to drink even decaf coffee. Zen, specifically seated meditation (zazen) is something I have been working on for several years. I'm not sure the meditation is getting better, but the side effects are helpful. My goal for this challenge is at least 10 minutes a day. Normally 30 minutes. Exercise: - Aikido twice a week (maybe more) - Cardio twice a week. This is usually 25 minutes on the rowing machine on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Hiking or brisk walks are a fine substitute. If I get motivated, I could bike to work instead. - Strength or core exercise twice a week. There are a lot of mornings where I just cannot get myself to do the strength training circuit. Keep working on it when I can face it, and do core work when I can't. Food is on my radar, but not exactly a goal. I have been keeping to an eating window of 8am to 6pm during the week. That seems to be working pretty well. I am telling myself I can have whatever I want to eat, but only at meals. No snacking. That is pretty good in the morning and not so successful in the afternoons. Dumbledore (my partner) is also trying to improve his eating habits, which helps. Last week I saw some movement in the right direction of the number on the scale. I just need to keep this up. Projects This is the biggie. I have lots of things I want to do. Some are fun, some are chores. Taking time for myself to relax falls in this category as well, because all my non-work time is competing for open slots. My initial approach is to pick one larger project and a couple chores for weeknights or two projects for weekends. I want to feel like I am making progress AND having time to do fun things. Much musubi to see where the pressures are for the day and the week.
  9. Mistr's May Musubi Challenge Musubi is a Japanese term for connection. It has a sense of flow and perception. In aikido, an important goal is to immediately establish musubi with an attack so you can feel where it is going. Is the attacker drawing back to prepare for another punch? Is their weight forward or in their heels? Valuable information. My goal for this challenge is to apply this principle to making choices about what to do with my time. I am now in month 4 of respawning after having Covid. Physically, I'm starting to see signs of improvement. I still have 15+ pounds to lose and a lot of capacity to rebuild. I have a plan for that. (more below) The mental health side is harder. I was in bad shape at the end of last year. Bad enough that getting sick was a welcome break. I want to keep a close eye on my choices and the stories I am telling myself about what I should do or need to do. You may be familiar with The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. He talks about decisions we make about food. Humans can eat an awful lot of things, so how do we choose? I am looking hard at the same question about time. I clearly cannot work on all my projects all at once. Some things have to wait. Other urgent things happen and I am the person who can handle them on the moment. Which things will make me happy later if I get them done, and which can wait? How can I tell which ones will cause me grief later if I put them off? You would think (at least I certainly would think) that by my age I would have figured this out, but this is my main challenge. I am going to see where the pressure is coming from in different tasks and see if I can side-step them, draw them along or if I should just get in and deal with it right away. In that spirit, this is a start. I'm going to aikido and will put in more details later.
  10. Mistr Respawns March-April 2023 I joined NF almost nine years ago, in August 2014. Before Covid, I was at my target weight, had a regular exercise program and was making good progress toward my goals. I had plenty to work on, but I was in good shape. Now I am back at the weight I was before I started. The level of exercise I was able to do during the pandemic was not enough to maintain my strength and endurance. Work demands and the pandemic did a number on my mental health. I avoided getting Covid until this January. That was a further hit to my endurance, although it gave me a much-needed chance to rest and reflect. I took last challenge to recover. Now it is time to respawn. One nice thing about respawning is that it is not the same as starting from zero. I have been on this path before and have a clear idea of what I need to do. I know better than to try to jump back in at full speed. This is the first phase of a long journey. Phase I plan: 1. Mental health - I was in a bad state last fall. I was feeling overwhelmed and like I had to take care of everything. Thankfully, I don’t feel that way now, but I want to avoid the slope back into that mire. A. Get plenty of sleep. There will be days when sleep conflicts with doing other things. Most of the time, sleep is more important. I am vastly more cheerful and make better decisions when I am rested. If I need more motivation on the moment, I can remind myself that sleep deprivation prevents weight loss. B. Sit zen every day. At least 10 minutes, usually 30 minutes. Mornings are best, but anytime is fine. If things are nuts and I choose to stay up late, I am likely to need at least 10 minutes to let my brain wind down before sleeping anyway. C. Do fun stuff. Revenge bedtime procrastination is a sign that I haven’t done fun things. Make choices so that I feel good about my day. 2. Exercise I need to work on strength, endurance and mobility. I turned 60 this year and I am hearing a lot of messages about “get in shape now or else”. This respawn is likely to be at a higher difficulty level than my earlier fitness journey. Base plan: Monday and Friday – strength training at home. Include TGUs, pushups, side-step and exercises that feel like a good fit. Tuesday and Thursday – cardio at work. I am using the rowing machine for this phase. I’ve never used a rowing machine before, but I like it so far. I am starting slowly and learning good form. I hope that rowing will be a good all- body exercise that is low impact for my knees. Wednesday – Aikido training with my weapons partner Saturday and Sunday – Walks, aikido, yoga or core exercises. I know there will be times when I have to substitute activities or take days off. I have two trips scheduled this challenge. I don’t know what facilities I will be able to use. Whatever I can do is fine. 3. Food I know that stress eating has been the main cause of my gaining weight. I am taking steps to cut down on stress. I need to get back into better habits too. I have a negative response to restriction, so I am telling myself I can eat whatever I want, just not whenever I want. - no snacks between breakfast and lunch. Eat a substantial breakfast that includes protein and veggies. - No chocolate after 7pm. Ideally this should be no food after 7pm, but some days I am starving after aikido and really want food before bed. - no caffeine. I’ve been good about not drinking caffeinated beverages for a long time now, just putting it here for reinforcement. That is plenty for this challenge.
  11. Active Recovery Challenge - 2023 February-March This was me lounging on the couch when I was sick with Covid at the end of January. The rest and relaxation part were great, apart from the being sick. I feel healthy now, but I also feel like I lost 20% of my strength and endurance. This challenge is about gradually building back. Get lots of sleep. My body is still recovering. Even though I want to be back to normal, I need to rebuild. Go to bed early. Some movement every day. Start with yoga and aikido, then add strength training and cardio back in. Keep doing 30 minutes of zazen a day. I got a good streak going last challenge, keep that up this time. I want to lose the weight I gained, but I think that should wait until the next challenge. For now, I will just work on not mindlessly snacking on sweets.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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