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Kyellan Fights the Hollowing


Kyellan

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To be honest, gang, I'm feeling a bit Hollow.

 

2017, now that it has left us, officially goes on the books as one of my worst years ever. Like, top 3 worst-ever. It was full of stresses, destruction of property, financial catastrophies, the works. That's not to say there weren't a few points of light, but overall, it SUCKED. I am not at all sad to see it die.

 

And, naturally, I woke up sick this morning to start off 2018 just the right way. Not a good showing, '18. Not at all.

 

I really considered making this a very complex challenge, using HP to track how well I was doing against my goals, rewarding myself with little fake internet points for doing good things, and so forth, but honestly I can't bring myself to do it.

 

A need to simplify has been creeping up on my brain over the past few weeks. I actually purged a whole bunch of useless crap out of my office a couple of weeks ago: I trashed years' worth of old PC game cases (most of which were online games whose servers have shut down) and a bunch of other junk too.

 

So, instead of an over-complicated fiddly challenge, I'm going to pare it right down to the bone.

 

1. Burn the Effigy (Meditation & Tai Chi)

These now go together, because one flows so neatly into the other. More, dammit, not less. They are good for me.

 

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2. Declutter Inventory

More throwing things away. Less crap hanging around. I'm sick of staring at it. I inherited the barest hoarder instincts from my mother (she's not a dangerous one, but still has a lot of trouble letting go of things and trinkets), and I shall not let them win.

 

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3. Train For the Hunt

Once I'm feeling better, I'm going to start adding some bodyweight strength training. I've figured out a place in my house that I can do pull-ups and rows without any additional equipment (except maybe a rope or sheet for the rows). This is something I can do in small sets to improve my life incrementally. I want to be able to do one full pull-up again before the end of the challenge. That's the extent of the goal. When I get there, I'll consider adding more next time.

 

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(Extra Goal) Decaffinate the Estus Flask

 

So, my blood pressure has been testing 'pre-hypertension' for like a year now. I've cut down my salt intake, but it doesn't seem to be helping. Next target for culprit: caffeine.

 

I love coffee. I really, really do. It's possible that as I am aging, I am developing a caffeine sensitivity. So, for January I'm going to try cutting my coffee intake severely. My Estus Flask shall be filled only with herbal tea or water for the rest of the month. The last thing I need is to develop some kind of chronic health problem like hypertension.

 

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Dark Souls has taught me one thing very clearly; something I knew but hadn't really internalized.

 

Failure is the only way to REALLY learn.

 

 

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"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

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Well, I did a meditation/Tai Chi session yesterday. May not have been my best idea. The meditation was fine, but during the Tai Chi practice my muscles were shaking rather profusely. My hands were trembling when outstretched, my legs quivering when shifting my weight... this illness is taking more out of me than I thought. 

 

Also, I distantly remembered Sifu saying something about not practicing Qigong and Tai Chi when you're sick, since it can make things worse instead of better. Don't know how much there is to that, but honestly I'm okay with the idea. Things did not feel right yesterday, so I'm going to lay off until I'm definitely on the upswing.

 

Looks like I'm going to miss the entire first week of classes for the year. Yay. Off to a great freakin' start here.

"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

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Okay, so I think I'm winning the fight against the illness. My voice is mostly returned during the day, and is only scratchy now after a night of sleep (less hydration), instead of being completely missing. I've still got a cough as I'm trying to eject all of the grossness in my head and upper chest, but it's not deep and it's not constant.

 

I've cleaned a few things out of inventory this week. Not as many as I'd like, but it's genuinely hard to part with some things. Even if they're utterly useless. It is my struggle. =)

 

I'm not yet well enough that I've begun strength training, unless you count shoveling 12" of snow off of everything yesterday. Which I probably should count, because even fluffy snow is freakin' HEAVY when you get up above 8" or so. My snow-clearing circuit is pretty intense:

 

1) Shovel the back deck & the front deck

2) Use snowblower to clear driveway. This is not as easy as it sounds. My snowblower is an ornery mechanical monster from the early 1990s, but it's a Craftsman, and by golly it starts up happy as an angry dragon every year. It fights me every step of the way, but we get it done

3) Rake 6 sides of roof: main house front & back, addition front & back, garage front & back

4) Shovel all the (much-heavier) raked snow from the driveway, front deck, and back deck

5) Shovel any additional snow that the plow kicked up at the end of the driveway

6) Liberate the mailbox from the mountain of snow at the side of the road

7) Repeat as needed

 

Apparently here in my part of New England things weren't as bad as my bro @RisenPhoenix down in Boston. Hope you're okay down there, buddy. Our internet went out for a couple of hours last night, but no loss of power and I didn't have to go anywhere (praise be for work-from-home VPN capability) so all is well there.

 

I'm finally feeling better enough that I might have gone to class tonight, but it turns out I have to work until 7pm. So, that's not gonna happen. I'll make it back there on Tuesday. Missing one week isn't going to kill me.

 

Doku kuwaba sara made. "When poisoned, one might as well swallow the plate." - Japanese Proverb

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"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

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1 hour ago, Kyellan said:

Apparently here in my part of New England things weren't as bad as my bro @RisenPhoenix down in Boston. Hope you're okay down there, buddy. Our internet went out for a couple of hours last night, but no loss of power and I didn't have to go anywhere (praise be for work-from-home VPN capability) so all is well there.

 

I don't know how many inches we got.  Last night shoveling at 4PM or so I'd guess around 14-16 inches, but that's also with snow drifts.  We stopped getting snowed on around 7:30 or 8.  I tried to work from home and failed miserably.  How do you people do that shit regularly? :P

RisenPhoenix, the Entish Aikidoka

Challenge: RisenPhoenix Turns to Ash

 

"The essence of koryu [...is] you offer your loyalty to something that you choose to regard as greater than yourself so that you will, someday, be able to offer service to something that truly is transcendent." ~ Ellis Amdur, Old School

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2 hours ago, RisenPhoenix said:

 

I don't know how many inches we got.  Last night shoveling at 4PM or so I'd guess around 14-16 inches, but that's also with snow drifts.  We stopped getting snowed on around 7:30 or 8.  I tried to work from home and failed miserably.  How do you people do that shit regularly? :P

 

Woof. That's quite a bit more than we got. For once NH gets spared the worst of a storm. Who'd have thunk it? :D 

 

As for working from home, I think it depends a lot on the actual day-to-day of one's job. Mine is pretty reactive, and allows for quiet time in between responding to things or working on self-driven initiatives during downtime, and occasionally attending meetings (which are all Skype-based now since we're split across three offices plus regular work-from-home types). I don't have a lot of hands-on requirements on a daily basis, so my job is pretty easy to do from home. Results may vary.

 

=========================

 

I added a bonus goal. I have to try cutting out caffeine. My blood pressure keeps testing in the 'not quite scary but maybe not so good range" for about a year now. Time to seriously address that before it becomes something worse.

 

I've got a home blood pressure tester, so I'll be able to know within the month whether my caffeine cut-down is working.

 

=========================

 

Since I'm feeling somewhat better today (but can't go to class because I have to work late... grr), I did a 30 minute combined meditation & Tai Chi session. 15 minutes of meditation, 15 minutes of Tai Chi exercises & Yang-form practice. It went much better. No trembling or weakness, just the understandable stiffness given my lack of activity over the last couple of weeks.

 

Next week things can get back to normal-ish, I hope.

"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

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109 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 |

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Okay, so, wow. Here it is 1/18 already.

 

The last ~3 weeks have been HELL, you guys. Ever since I started feeling sick on 12/29, life has basically been misery. 

 

I've made it to class a whole four times this month. I should be at 3-4 times A WEEK. After the coughing faded to mostly nil and the actual illness went away, I've just been left with this impossible fatigue and a pervasive weakness throughout my whole body that comes and goes like the tide. When I manage to drag myself to class, I get winded just doing the most basic things and end up even more tired for several days following.

 

It's only in the last two or three days that I've started to have glimpses of light through the fog that's surrounded me. Due to the ongoing weakness, I've basically been following goals which are nothing at all like the ones I outlined. Instead, I've gone back to focusing on reducing intake (my weight has begun creeping up again) via fasting; I've basically given up added salt and caffeine entirely because my blood pressure keeps testing in the pre-hypertension range, and now I've decided to subtract added sugar as well because I realized just how dependent I was becoming on it for even the shortest burst of feeling okay.

 

Perhaps surprisingly, so far, dropping my added sugar really hasn't been nearly as difficult as the first time I did it a while back. It's still tough, but mostly in a broken-routine kind of way, rather than in a dying-of-cravings way. The loss of my daily coffee intake is much harder, and it's really not helping with the whole mental fog thing. I've been drinking decaf at work to try and fulfill the routine, but it's only made it painfully obvious that I NEED CAFFEI--er, uh, yeah.

 

So, that's where I'm at. Suffering from a near-total lack of physical strength, I've decided instead to completely overhaul my diet. Control what you can control, right?

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"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

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On 1/18/2018 at 9:01 AM, Kyellan said:

Okay, so, wow. Here it is 1/18 already.

 

The last ~3 weeks have been HELL, you guys. Ever since I started feeling sick on 12/29, life has basically been misery. 

 

I've made it to class a whole four times this month. I should be at 3-4 times A WEEK. After the coughing faded to mostly nil and the actual illness went away, I've just been left with this impossible fatigue and a pervasive weakness throughout my whole body that comes and goes like the tide. When I manage to drag myself to class, I get winded just doing the most basic things and end up even more tired for several days following.

 

It's only in the last two or three days that I've started to have glimpses of light through the fog that's surrounded me. Due to the ongoing weakness, I've basically been following goals which are nothing at all like the ones I outlined. Instead, I've gone back to focusing on reducing intake (my weight has begun creeping up again) via fasting; I've basically given up added salt and caffeine entirely because my blood pressure keeps testing in the pre-hypertension range, and now I've decided to subtract added sugar as well because I realized just how dependent I was becoming on it for even the shortest burst of feeling okay.

 

Perhaps surprisingly, so far, dropping my added sugar really hasn't been nearly as difficult as the first time I did it a while back. It's still tough, but mostly in a broken-routine kind of way, rather than in a dying-of-cravings way. The loss of my daily coffee intake is much harder, and it's really not helping with the whole mental fog thing. I've been drinking decaf at work to try and fulfill the routine, but it's only made it painfully obvious that I NEED CAFFEI--er, uh, yeah.

 

So, that's where I'm at. Suffering from a near-total lack of physical strength, I've decided instead to completely overhaul my diet. Control what you can control, right?

 

 

Suddenly my last week or so makes so much more sense, O Twin o' Mine....

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RisenPhoenix, the Entish Aikidoka

Challenge: RisenPhoenix Turns to Ash

 

"The essence of koryu [...is] you offer your loyalty to something that you choose to regard as greater than yourself so that you will, someday, be able to offer service to something that truly is transcendent." ~ Ellis Amdur, Old School

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On 1/20/2018 at 10:22 PM, Jigme said:

Hey, Kyellan, I started learning Yang long form two weeks ago; I can only go to classes once a week bc of work, any tips for how to practice at home?

 

Also, I've got the fricken post-flu fatigue, too.  It's been over a month.

 

Hi! If you remember the movements, just practice what you have a few times each. Also if your instructor has given you any exercises to do (we have several which are part of the form, but they're taken out of it and used just to train the body in the movements) practice those as well. I find that 15 minutes of practice is a pretty good estimate, but you may need more or less depending on where you're at.

 

If you're having trouble remembering what goes where and when, check out YouTube. There's a million different Tai Chi videos on there. Find a Yang Long form one that matches what your instructor has given you so far, and use it as a reminder. Don't go any further, mind you, but you can definitely use it as a reference point for what you've already received.

 

I really hope the fatigue lifts for you soon... I haven't seen hope yet, but I keep hoping :) 

 

========================

 

Still can barely move. I will go to Tai Chi/Lightsaber tonight, and I will go to Kung Fu on Wednesday and Friday, even if I can only manage half of what is asked of me. I will, I will, I will.

 

Diet control is rocky, since fatigue comes with a lack of discipline and willpower, but I'm giving it everything I've got. I'm not expecting perfection, just improvement. I've done a good job with the removal of added salt and sugar, and although it's killing me to not have caffeine in the middle of this flu-fatigue, I am soldiering on. I'm drinking plain rooibos tea just as something hot, and doing my best not to eat anything before lunchtime.

 

Cutting out extra sugar is not as difficult this time as it was the first time. Interesting.

"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

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Yeah, there's no way around it. January killed me.

 

I made it to class a grand total of FIVE times in the entire month of January. Flu fatigue has kept me from doing pretty much anything. Immune system damage caused me to get sick a second time just as I was starting to feel better and wrecked the final week. 

 

My only real accomplishment for January is that I beat Dark Souls III. That was pretty cool. It's a great game, requiring mental grit and determination, as well as patience, reflexes, persistence and skill. It's at times breathtakingly beautiful, creepy, frustrating and wholly rewarding. As a reward for persevering to the end, I bought myself the DLC for more hours of entertainment. 

 

Still, for the real life part, I got beat and I got beat bad. 

 

Bright sides: I have successfully reduced my caffeine, salt and sugar intake by a significant margin. I'm only drinking decaf coffee and herbal tea. I've not purchased any sugar treats for myself in two weeks. I'm no longer using the salt shaker or salt packets for meals. Apparently it can take 90 days to show a change in blood pressure, so I'm being patient there. I've been 16hr fasting somewhere between 4 and 5 days a week, which has already reduced my weight by 4 pounds (as of a few days ago).

 

It wasn't a total failure, but it doesn't take total failure to die in Dark Souls. All it takes is a few critical mistakes, allowing the game to get you overwhelmed so that you stop paying attention to your timings and your good habits falter. 

 

So for now, I'm going to rest here by the bonfire, doing what I can and waiting for the next adventure.

 

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"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

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Well, but wait a minute, though. From out here, it doesn't sound like your good habits died at all. Your drive is still there, and without the physical ability to engage in your arts you still made sure to adjust your eating habits to reflect the data that you gathered about how you were doing. It's going to take time for those to come to bear fruit, but on the whole I think you're going to find that while this doesn't feel good, it's going to work out to a net positive on your end.

 

I get being frustrated by not being out on the mats doing what you love. I do. At the same time, though, I don't think you can take the blame for this. This flu season isn't statistically the worst we've ever had, but it's a spike in the general trend by a long shot. It's made the news for being particularly bad, and the vaccine this season hasn't proven to be as effective as one would hope. In other words, assuming that you did get vax'd and did your due diligence, falling to this isn't something you had any control over or could have done anything more about.

 

Failure due to circumstances beyond your control is bitter, but it's like we say around here. You adapt, improvise, and overcome. You've done the first two, and time will see to the third. As far as I'm concerned, the only reason you have to rest by the bonfire is you're waiting for your win to come.

 

Keep getting that good rest and eating that good food. You'll be back.

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Aha, there may be a fundamental misunderstanding, a feeling that I should have made clearer.

 

I'm not feeling particularly defeated. Dying in Dark Souls is not really a bad thing. It's a failure, sure, but that happens out of one's control plenty of times. Well-hidden ambushes, a particularly difficult enemy that may take a few runs to learn, or just leaping off a ledge where an ill-meaning passerby left you a message promising treasure (when in fact there was only death) are all possibilities. They all end the same way: YOU DIED.

 

This time I got ambushed by a particularly powerful foe (the flu) and his minion (the common cold). Sure, they knocked me down, but that just puts me back at the bonfire to give it another run. Fortunately, in real life, I don't have to go through the exact experiences a second (or third, or fourth) time until I get it right to overcome them, but the principle remains the same.

 

Death is not permanent for those branded by the Darksign. It is merely a setback. We arrive at the bonfire, wiser for the experience, in whatever we can take from it.

 

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I did get vax'd, by the by. According to my research, the vaccine producers were prepared for the H1 variants this year, but were not expecting the rather virulent H3 strain that's going around. 

 

And 'resting' in this case is merely a metaphor for the last days of the challenge, when there's no real reason to radically change the goals, but rather to look back and contemplate, to derive wisdom from the experience, recharge a little, and prepare for the next foray. =)

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"You are what you do. Choose again, and change." - Miles Vorkosigan

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