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oromendur

[RESPAWN] Ambarwen Oromendur’s sojourn in Middle-earth

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Greetings all! It’s been a while…

 

So, today I’m respawning back to NF after a several-year hiatus. I made it through two consecutive only-just-barely-successful challenges back in the day, but then I got swept into the maelstrom of life and pretty much fell off the self-improvement wagon. Currently I am still in the same place in the same storm, soldiering along in the bloody trenches of scholarship and fighting desperately to make progress on my doctoral dissertation, but my body is starting to revolt against the fact that I’ve basically been using it to do nothing but carry my brain around for about two years now. I’ve recently suffered several bouts of crippling back pain which I know PERFECTLY WELL are caused by the utter lack of any significant physical movement in my life. The other day I stumbled over the Level Up Your Life book on my Kindle while searching for a citation. I let myself get distracted (bad) — but I am now inspired to try and climb back on that stupid wagon again (good).

 

For a good long time now, my only exercise has been ballroom dancing. That was actually all right, when I had tough classes four nights a week and several hours of social dancing every weekend, but last fall my teachers had to close their studio and haven’t found another permanent location. So now I don’t even get much of that anymore :( My body has made it crystal clear that two group lessons one night a week and one or two social dance outings a month are not enough to overcome hours and hours and hours of desk-bound typing every day.

 

Once upon a time I was a military officer, a martial artist, a solo backpacker…the list goes on. But I got promoted out of my unit and had to drop to the Inactive Reserve, I haven’t trained or fought (or even been on a mat or in armor) in over two years, and I cannot remember the last time I walked farther than back and forth to my mailbox (sigh). Dancing was keeping me sane, but when that slipped from “close by, easy to do” to “too far, takes too much energy” I stopped doing it regularly. Contemplating my past capabilities in the light of my current uselessness while also wrestling this bloody dissertation is hugely depressing — so, in the interest of keeping sanity as intact as possible, I am going to try hard to set aside any unhelpful expectations for the next four weeks. Whatever I was able to do in the past is not really relevant; right now I can only work with today’s capabilities.

 

My dissertation involves some source criticism and ecocriticsm of Tolkien’s legendarium. Since I’m spending pretty much every waking hour in Middle-earth anyway, I figure I might as well use it to shape my respawn challenge :)

 

Main Quest: TBD. (I’m having a hard time with visualizing any other goal than FINISH MY DISSERTATION. That singular focus is part of my current problem, but I am struggling to find the energy to imagine anything else suitably aspirational right now. If I come up with something I will edit this quest. In the meantime, the side quests will keep me gaining experience until I can move on. Maybe I can think of it as grinding to unlock the next quest level…)

 

Quest #1: The Endurance of a Ranger (12 points)

“Aragorn rose at once, and he led the Company forth upon the journey of greatest haste and weariness that any among them had known, save he alone, and only his will held them to go on. No other mortal Men could have endured it, none but the Dúnedain of the North.”

                                                                        ~The Return of the King

 

MOVE. I will leave my house for the purpose of moving my body through space under its own power at least three times a week. This can be a walk (at least two miles), a run (at least one mile), a night of active social dancing (at least two hours), or anything else that comes up which makes me move significantly. One point per successful day, additional days get extra points.

 

Quest #2: The Strength of a Dwarf (12 points)

“Gimli the dwarf alone wore openly a short shirt of steel-rings, for dwarves make light of burdens.”

                                                                        ~The Fellowship of the Ring

 

SWING. I will do 50 kettlebell swings, 20 glute raises, and 15 flying dogs three times a week (as described by Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Body). One point per successful day, no extra points — I’m working with the ‘minimum effective dose’ concept here and I don’t want to overdo anything, and with my back the way it is I don’t want to chance further injury.

 

Quest #3: The Flexibility of an Elf

Dance all ye joyful, now dance all together! 

   Soft is the grass, and let foot be like feather!

                                                                        ~The Hobbit

 

STRETCH. I will do a mindful stretching routine of at least five minutes at least three times a week. For the session to count, I must use a timer and follow an established routine (I will start with something from Sang H. Kim’s book Ultimate Flexibility, but I am not limited to it if I find something else I like). One point per successful day, additional days get extra points.

 

Life Quest: The Home of a Hobbit (4 points)

“There was a fearful mess in the room, and piles of unwashed crocks in the kitchen. Nearly every pot and pan he possessed seemed to have been used. The washing-up was so dismally real that Bilbo was forced to believe the party of the night before had not been part of his bad dreams.”

                                                                        ~The Hobbit

 

CLEAN. I am a full-time graduate student writing a dissertation; most days I don't even get dressed, much less worry about cleaning more of the dirty dishes than necessary to wipe out a bowl and microwave something. Naturally, this means that the house looks like a war zone. Here's the problem with this reality: I have friends coming to visit from overseas for several weeks. They arrive next Sunday :eek-new:  I MUST get things to the point where they won’t catch something in the bathroom or get bitten by a black widow spider in the bedroom or poison themselves in my filthy kitchen. This is a no-fail proposition as they are coming whether or not I get my act together…so I will give myself three points for the huge effort it is going to require me to exert this week. I get the last point when I clean up again after they leave. 

 

Total points to be successful: 40. If I’m successful in the challenge, I get to buy new dance shoes (I’ve been needing them for a while but they’re expensive and I haven’t been dancing as much). If I’m successful in the challenge AND I finish chapter 5 of my dissertation by April 15th, I get to buy new dance shoes AND celebrate with an outrageously nice dinner and night out (I *love* good food paired with good wine and craft cocktails, but I don’t ever enjoy them anymore because I begrudge both the time and the money). Extra points in one area are permitted to make up for failures in another.

 

Come, then. Let us walk this path together for a while :) Good luck to all!

 

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20 hours ago, oromendur said:

Whatever I was able to do in the past is not really relevant; right now I can only work with today’s capabilities.

 

This is so important to remember for just about any new endeavor!

 

Good luck on your respawn goals. I love your grad school topic. Following ^_^ 

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I agree - don't be tempted to keep comparing what you do, even just in this challenge, with what you used to do. I understand the continuous feeling that all your time has to go on your dissertation, but you have been really sensible in choosing goals (particularly the ranger and elf ones (don't know anything about the dwarf ones and hate tidying-but love having friends to stay) because you have chosen ones that you can do in such short intervals you can do without feeling anxious about fitting them in. You can do it!

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1 hour ago, Ann of Vries said:

This is so important to remember for just about any new endeavor!

 

1 hour ago, Rainelf said:

don't be tempted to keep comparing what you do, even just in this challenge, with what you used to do.

 

This is such truth. But with my very clear memories of past adventures taunting me every day it's really REALLY (BLEEP)ING hard :(  I'm working on it, though. Hopefully this challenge will help me re-set my brain and get back on the right road.

 

1 hour ago, Rainelf said:

you have been really sensible in choosing goals (particularly the ranger and elf ones (don't know anything about the dwarf ones and hate tidying-but love having friends to stay)

 

The dwarf workout is laughingly short and simple -- it takes less than five minutes. I know this. I also know that doing it regularly for a few weeks it will solve most of my back problems. I just don't do it (sigh). But sensible goals are what I was going for, so thanks for that confirmation :) 

 

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I am pleased to report that today, for the first time in *mumblemumble* years, I successfully completed the short 4HB workout I set as my dwarf quest. It took five minutes. Seriously. Why are the easy things so hard?

 

OMG the cobwebs and dust on the kettlebells though... 

20180319_135353.thumb.jpg.a3984f8c8b0d276243ea09447d05e0aa.jpg

 

While that's basically all I managed today, I do aspire to some stretching before I go to bed. Wish me luck.

 

"All the same, I’m beginning to feel that if we’ve got to go on, then we’d best get it over. 'It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish,' as my old gaffer used to say." ~Samwise Gamgee (The Fellowship of the Ring)

 

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So glad you are working on this quest.  I will be watching, and cheering you on!

 

owlwatch.png.9bc5a1e404c6d10d8ee1d9541295ba83.png

 

(I had kettlebells once.  They were dusty when I gave them away.  I will have some again, I swears!)

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What a gorgeous respawning declaration!! 

 

I, too, am withering away under the trappings of grad school. I stay in, expecting to do school-work, and then find ways to procrastinate at everything else possible until nothing gets done.  Then the day is wasted and I still don't complete the necessary work and I feel too guilty about leaving the house to accomplish other life goals, so then absolutely nothing is completed.  Ugh!  While I love your dissertation topic, it has filled me with anticipatory anxiety thinking about what I'll have to concoct in order to finish my MSN and eventually my DNP. 

 

You, nay....WE can do this!! 

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16 hours ago, rememberyourpromises said:

then it's easier the next time!

 

Good gracious I hope so! I need to do it again today, but I'm still sore from doing it on Monday :(

 

14 hours ago, Eskcanta said:

I had kettlebells once.  They were dusty when I gave them away.  I will have some again, I swears!

 

Kettlebells have always been more aspirational than actually useful for me. Not because they aren't amazing and the workouts aren't really effective, but because there's some weird psychological barrier to them; they're so -- solid. Heavy. Hard-core. Russian :) Whatever. I've started and stopped and started and stopped with them so many times. Every time I start, I think "wow, this is awesome -- do that regularly, that'll get me strong!" but then three days later I'm like "meh." It's crazy. Hopefully I can normalize them a little with the small doses I'm working with this challenge.

 

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14 hours ago, Unicoroner said:

I stay in, expecting to do school-work, and then find ways to procrastinate at everything else possible until nothing gets done.  Then the day is wasted and I still don't complete the necessary work and I feel too guilty about leaving the house to accomplish other life goals, so then absolutely nothing is completed.

 

PREACH. HOLY <insert preferred deity here> this struggle is so real. For a while I legitimately thought I was losing my mind -- I literally had to plan two hours of time just to choose the clothes I would pack for a school weekend. Not two hours for packing -- that was a separate activity -- literally I needed that time just for making simple decisions. My friend (who finished her Ph.D. a few years ago) diagnosed me with a case of 'grad school brain,' and she said it's normal. So much energy is going into the thinking and the writing that there is very little left for anything else not on complete autopilot; things as simple as laundry (or, you know, picking up that thing I dropped two weeks ago and have been stepping over since) take ten times as much effort as it would take a normal person. Nothing to do but plan for it and know it isn't forever :)

 

14 hours ago, Unicoroner said:

anticipatory anxiety thinking about what I'll have to concoct in order to finish my MSN and eventually my DNP

 

You're much more science-y than I am (my field is mythological studies, which like most humanities is basically what I say it is) so you'll have a solid framework of research to keep you on track. My advice would be to pick something that is deeply interesting to you, something you look forward to reading about when it comes up in class, something you thought was really important when you decided to pursue grad school in the first place. You are going to be spending vast amounts of life energy on the topic, so it's important that it feed your soul so that energy gets replenished. It sounds like you've got some time, though, so don't stress about it too much -- as long as you're willing to trust your intuition when the time comes, you'll be all right.

 

14 hours ago, Unicoroner said:

You, nay....WE can do this!!

 

YES! Yes we can.

 

19984139_1396245327132515_9042005703285436618_o.thumb.jpg.3649ca3ee6b5d65efa2c65bd3974c123.jpg

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5 minutes ago, Sloth the Enduring said:

Following for kettlebell talk.

 

I'll try to keep the curse words to a minimum :)

 

Thanks for stopping by!

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Quick update for a Thursday morning. Monday and Wednesday I did the 4HB workout and now I remember why kettlebells are evil. Oh my poor pathetically weak adductors...ow ow ow...maybe I will wait until Saturday to do the third workout... I stretched Tuesday and Wednesday, just random routines I found on the internet because reading Ultimate Flexibility made me feel bad about myself so I stopped (I used to be a disciplined and strong martial artist who trained hard and enjoyed fighting and I kind of wonder where that person went because she's not here anymore :(). If anyone has suggestions for a good, 5-10 minute, relaxing stretching routine that works well right before bedtime, I'd be grateful for any advice. I still haven't walked further than my mailbox (and that only twice; the grad school hermit struggle is overwhelmingly real), but that's mostly because the energy I'd have to expend to leave the house is going into my many hours of cleaning. I'm less than half done and they're coming in three days <EEK> 

 

Must...keep...going...

 

"‘I can manage it,’ said Frodo. ‘I must.’" (The Return of the King)

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[WEEK 1 UPDATE] 

 

Ranger quest (MOVE): Nope. Nada. Nothing. 0/3. Sigh. I have no good reason for failing on this one other than it takes a LOT of energy to get me moving and I didn't have much to spare this week. I *will* do better next week; if nothing else, we're going on holiday for a week on Thursday, and as I recall there are morning Zumba classes at the place we're staying. Doing those will get me out of bed, and will make the cut for this quest (although I have to admit, the mental image of Aragorn doing Samba or Salsa or Reggaeton...just...well...no). But it's exercise and it counts, although I think I will commit to doing at least ONE walk/run in the local canyon before we leave so as to not completely abandon the dignity of my Ranger inspiration :)

 

Dwarf quest (SWING): Done Mon, Wed, Sat, 3/3. Funnily enough, I expected this to be the most difficult quest of the three -- I put it in one of my old challenges and had a really hard time with it -- but this time (perhaps due to something I actually managed to learn in that long-ago effort? Interesting idea...) I just basically wiped the cobwebs off the kettlebell and got 'er done. Next week might be more difficult (no kettlebells at the resort, I don't think) but I'll work around it.

 

Elf quest (STRETCH): Done Mon, Tues, Thur, Sat. 4/3. I can see this is where I will make up my points; it's actually not too hard to fit this into my evening pattern, and being successful in the challenge is likely to provide enough impetus for me to keep it up for the next few weeks. Still, I'm still not completely pleased with the specific routines I've tried -- they all seem to be missing something I know I want but can't quite identify. By the end of the challenge I'd like to have this as an established habit, but it's going to take some experimentation to find something I'll be willing to continue doing after the impetus of the challenge passes. So more research necessary here, even though it's going the best of the three.

 

Hobbit quest (CLEAN): DONE. 3/3. Gods. This was awful. I hate Hate HATE cleaning my house. I love having a clean house, though, and I got it mostly there in time. (I may have been putting sheets on the last spare bed when I should have been leaving for the airport, but I got there in plenty of time.) Great news: the house is clean. Not-so-great news: I got NOTHING done on the dissertation in the last three days... This is REALLY REALLY REALLY bad and I cannot let it happen again. Tomorrow morning, first thing, I will go into my office and close the door and I'm not allowed to come out and socialize until I've given it a solid two hours. UGH.

 

Overall: 10/12, not bad considering the complete failure to do anything on one entire quest. I will do better next week.

 

My horribly jet-lagged friends are safely here and already in bed, and I think I shall follow shortly so I can start Week 2 strong. 

 

"‘I could sleep for a week, and I’d be better for it." ~Samwise Gamgee (The Two Towers)

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Also, in passing (didn't want to clutter up the weekly update with pointless self-pity), considering my normal hermit-like life these days, it was kind of a big deal for me to drive all the way to LAX to get my friends. It's about two hours with no traffic (in LA? yeah right) and it's the most horrible airport in the history of horrible airports (there's an airport in hell and it looks like LAX) and if they weren't coming from bloody ENGLAND on a ten hour flight with a five-year-old I'd have made them get on the train (except that we're not very civilized here in Southern California and you have to take a shitty bus from the airport to the train station and the trains are moderately awful and I just couldn't do that to them).

 

But I did it. It was hard, but I did it. 

 

Sigh. Not only have I lost pretty much every drop of physical discipline and determination I used to be able to muster, simple mental functioning and adulting like a normal human being is really more difficult than it should be these days. Seriously. This grad school brain can go away any time now...oh yeah, to make that happen I have to finish the dissertation...um, the one I haven't touched in three days? Yeah. That one :/ 

 

hobbitintrovert.png.cf16bbd4a07f63059fdfbda62e9851e2.png

 

I have three days to get my act together this week before I have to go out and adult in the big scary world again :) Wish me luck!

 

 

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As I said on my own update--it wouldn't be very much a of a challenge if you aced it all on the first week. You're making a great start. Aim to do at least that much this coming week ^_^ If more, gravy.

 

Also, I hear you on the massive introvert thing >_> Living in London has made me worse in some ways--it's bigger and busier and more draining, and on top of that, I always feel a bit like a fumbling barbarian which makes me even more self-conscious XD

 

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[WEEK 2 UPDATE]

 

Ranger quest (MOVE): Done Sat and Sun, 2/3, cumulative 2/6, overall 2/12. I am kind of proud of these. They were legitimate Ranger-y fast walks, from the resort into town and back. It’s about a 3-mile round trip, and a bit hilly — nothing too extreme, but definitely too much for the little one, so for the last two days she has spent a few afternoon hours in the pool with one parent while I went for a shopping walk with the other. Both times we really stepped it out like the former military personnel we all three are :) I don’t know that we’ll manage to do it again in the next few days, but if we don’t there’s always Zumba class (which I have yet to attend, because, um, reasons). 

 

Dwarf quest (SWING): Done Mon and Wed, 2/3, cumulative 5/6, overall 5/12. My shadow has not come even close to darkening the door of the gym at the resort, so I don’t actually know if there are kettlebells or dumbbells available to me before I head home on Thursday (sigh). If they are not, success in this quest next week might be difficult, but I’ll do what I can.

 

Elf quest (STRETCH): Done Mon, Tue, Wed, Sat, and Sun, 5/3, cumulative 9/6, overall 9/12. Still dissatisfied with the actual routine, but I just can’t spare the energy to do more research so I’m plugging along with what I have. I think I was perhaps a bit under-ambitious here, and I feel a little guilty using something so trivial to plug the holes in the failures of my other quests, but...well...I do think it’s helping somewhat. My back doesn’t hurt nearly as much anymore, and that in itself is quite the result.

 

Hobbit quest (CLEAN): not required this week (thank the gods), cumulative 3/4, overall 3/4.

 

Week 2: 9/9, cumulative 19/21, overall 19/40. Not bad considering the circumstances — and, as happened in earlier challenges, I am grateful that I’ve made things flexible enough to have a chance of recovering from failures.

 

On the dissertation front, I haven’t gone more than one day (I took today off because Easter brunch and candy eggs and walk into town and fancy dinner and oh my goodness it’s eleven pm already??) without doing at least some work. It’s hard on holiday but not impossible, and the knowledge that I have a limited time for writing of a morning (and that I MUST get dressed and go have fun with my friends around lunchtime) actually helps set boundaries around the effort, and I find I’m able to push things harder while I am working. I’ve tried (and generally failed) to implement some sort of structure like this for myself at home, but here the external pressure of expensive holiday fun is working well enough :)  

 

Halfway. Slogging along. Just keep swimming...

 

“It was a weary journey, and a quiet and stealthy one. There was no laughter or song or sound of harps, and the pride and hopes which had stirred in their hearts at the singing of old songs by the lake died away to a plodding gloom.” (The Hobbit)

 

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On 3/25/2018 at 11:27 PM, Ann of Vries said:

I always feel a bit like a fumbling barbarian which makes me even more self-conscious XD

 

Ha! I know the feeling :) Some of the most embarrassing moments of my life have involved US/UK misunderstandings...but they do generally make allowances for Americans, and I’m not shy about taking advantage of that fact! 

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I'm sure the elves, rangers and grudgingly the dwarves are content (and the Hobbit is looking the other way). Well done on the discipline of dissertation in set period whilst having some valuable family time as well.

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1 hour ago, oromendur said:

 

Ha! I know the feeling :) Some of the most embarrassing moments of my life have involved US/UK misunderstandings...but they do generally make allowances for Americans, and I’m not shy about taking advantage of that fact! 

 

It's true! As I'm immigrating, though, I feel more pressure to embarrass myself less and fit in more. (As much as I fit in anywhere, which has never been fully XD Geek life!)

 

2 hours ago, oromendur said:

the knowledge that I have a limited time for writing of a morning (and that I MUST get dressed and go have fun with my friends around lunchtime) actually helps set boundaries around the effort, and I find I’m able to push things harder while I am working. I’ve tried (and generally failed) to implement some sort of structure like this for myself at home, but here the external pressure of expensive holiday fun is working well enough

 

This is true of me and writing, too. Give me all day, and... well, I'll probably still get some writing done. But if you give me an hour or two with clear boundaries around it, I'll probably get as much--if not more--done in that window. 

 

You did great this week. You're on holiday!

 

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It sounds to me like you're doing pretty great on week 2, especially considering that you are on holiday AND have guests. And don't feel guilty about your Elf quest. One, you're doing great on it, and part of the reason is that it's short and easy to fit in. Two, the reason you are doing it is to get moving and help with back pain, and it's working. Three, starting and sticking with a routine is hard, and the practice might even help you with getting in a routine for your dissertation. Celebrate your elven success without feeling you need to make it harder. :)

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On 4/2/2018 at 3:19 AM, juliebarkley said:

It sounds to me like you're doing pretty great on week 2, especially considering that you are on holiday AND have guests. And don't feel guilty about your Elf quest. One, you're doing great on it, and part of the reason is that it's short and easy to fit in. Two, the reason you are doing it is to get moving and help with back pain, and it's working. Three, starting and sticking with a routine is hard, and the practice might even help you with getting in a routine for your dissertation. Celebrate your elven success without feeling you need to make it harder. :)

 

I definitely agree... Sometimes it's an achievement just to stick with a routine... and I bet the mindfulness has good side-effects. Definitely keep it up!

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