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Oromendur: Scouring, Part 1


oromendur

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“I shan’t call it the end, till we’ve cleared up the mess.” ~Samwise Gamgee (1)

 

Greetings, Adventurers! Here we are, at the start of a new year and a new decade. I have to say it's nice to wander back into the familiar trading post and see some familiar faces, after that fun but enormous party the Rangers hosted over the holidays :)

 

I have survived my adventures in the land of snow (Buffalo to see my sister's family for Christmas) and the land of lights (Las Vegas for the wedding of one of my grad school friends) and made my way back to my 'normal' life in my quirky and much-neglected little hobbit hole in southern California. 

 

It's a mess.

 

And I don't just mean the house.

 

I am currently going through what feels like a never-ending transition period, somewhat fruitlessly laboring to lay the groundwork for whatever my next life chapter is going to be, without any real conviction about that chapter's plot or theme. Of course, if I don't know where I'm going then any road'll get me there -- but the days of my life are going to continue to pass away, with or without my direction or permission. If I want to have a hand in shaping them, it's going to take a good scouring of my own personal Shire to get me physically, mentally, and spiritually in a position where I can be clear about what I want and where I should be going.

 

This challenge is therefore not going to be as much one of doing as one of structuring and system-building and pattern-shaping. I could easily just set out a desultory list to do. There is certainly no lack of things needing done. But so far that hasn't worked, and I'm hesitant to direct my ever-dwindling energy into efforts that, if they haven't completely failed me in the past, at the very least have provided only temporary, questionable success.

 

For each of the three major domains below, the only real requirement will be regular reporting. There will be lists, and intentions, and one or two actual deadline-bound requirements, but there will be no official goals. The point here is not doing (which often turns into flailing) but building a structure to support doing.

 

At the risk of wandering too closely to some fascinating but distracting religo-philosophic territory, I have decided to conceive of my next few challenges in the typically Western tripartite mind-body-spirit construction, from the perspective of the ideas underpinning Middle-earth. Tolkien refers in one of his more obscure writings to the "necessary union of hröa and fëa" present in the incarnate children of Iluvatar (2). These two Quenya terms correlate roughly to "body" and "spirit," and I have added a mind component to match the tripartite structure a bit more closely.

 

Spoiler for challenge-setup ramblings of positively Tolkienian length and complexity:

 

 

Spoiler

 

hröa: The body of an incarnate being. (3) 

 

There are two areas of my life which require a good scouring in this domain right now.

 

Bodily Health 

 

Strength training: I am weaker than I have ever been in my life. I'm also not getting any younger, and the work to regain some semblance of strength is never going to get any easier. I REALLY need to be doing something about it. I have several equipment options to support such efforts laying around the hobbit hole. As I can afford neither the money nor the energy needed for a gym membership right now, the next-best bang for my effort and energy bucks is probably kettlebell training. I have kettlebells. They are covered in dust -- and at the moment one is actually being used as a doorstop, no lie -- but I have them.

 

INTENTION: Pick up a kettlebell more than once a week. 

 

That's it. I can pick it up and put it right back down again and go on with my lazy life if that's all I can manage that day. Obviously, I hope that will not be all I do. What I hope is that I will run through the S&S drills and mobility exercises, with an eye towards actually starting that program in earnest in future challenges. But it is totally OK just to pick it up and put it down again. 

 

Cardio training: I wear a fitness tracker all the time, and keeping it happy generally works as a reliable way to motivate myself to keep my body moving, so I'll continue my efforts on that front. I expect this to look something like a combination of dancing, jogging, hiking, Beat Saber, and general housecleaning, but I am not setting any specific activity requirements here.

 

INTENTION: keep my PAI score over 100. 

 

Medical issues: I need surgery. The ugly bureaucratic mess that is my relationship with the VA right now is less of a barrier here than I think it is, and I'm using the whole overwhelming host of things involved as an excuse to avoid the simple task of calling to begin the process of scheduling said surgery. This is dumb and I will stop doing it immediately.

 

INTENTION: Schedule the [BLEEP]ing surgery. 

 

 

Physical Environment

 

Ugh. House stuff. SO MUCH HOUSE STUFF. Ugly, dirty, unpleasant, long-neglected, been-ignoring-it-but-it's-not-going-away, positively awful house stuff. From the roof leaking so badly that part of the living room ceiling fell in, to a non-functional septic tank overgrown with brush blocking any access to fix it, to things rotting in the fridge, to rodent droppings everywhere, to every room bedecked with fluttering moths and scurrying earwigs and spiders living in third-generation webs, my place is an utter and absolute disaster, a monument to filth and squalor. I have been running away from it for a long, long time. I have now run out of money and excuses. I need to start figuring out how to do something about it.

 

It's funny -- in most life areas, I am actually quite a good planner and project manager who can set intentions and follow through on them and present to the world (however deceptively) as a successful and functional human being. Thus far being a homeowner has been the glaring exception to this (sigh) Since flailing away at trying to do things hasn't worked in the past, my plan here is not necessarily do things but to develop and put in place a structure which will support the doing of them. I've been working myself up to this for a while; now, with the powerful new-beginning energy of a new year and a new decade, it's finally time to do it.

 

I have purchased a Microsoft Office 365 subscription (to replace my now-expired student one), and I intend to use OneNote to start capturing, organizing, and analyzing the projects and tasks necessary to start hauling myself out of this hole. I'll be using a loose structure based on David Allen-style GTD. The ultimate aim here is to get the house into some sort of minimal acceptable state that would permit other people to live in it. Even were it in perfect condition, I would have a VERY hard time selling it (as a dome home, it is a non-compliant property from the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac perspective, and therefore the likelihood of anyone getting a mortgage approved on it is vanishingly small in these more-strict financial times), so -- in the event I get a job and have to move -- my hazy idea involves setting it up as a holiday rental, perhaps through AirBnB or VRBO. If I don't have to move, well, then, at least I'll have a decent living environment for the first time in, well, probably ever.

 

INTENTION: Create and begin using a system to capture and track a list of definite, measurable, and achievable house tasks.

 

Importantly, to be successful in this, I don't actually have to do anything. I just need to get an open-eyed understanding of what really needs to be done. 

 

To make things worsebetter, I have a friend who is coming to stay for a night or two in a few weeks, and at the very least she is going to need a clean bed and a clean bathroom.

 

INTENTION: Do at least the minimum critical surface cleaning to ensure my friend isn't in danger of catching anything during her stay. 

 

 

sanar: Mind, reflector, thinker. (4)

 

As a scholar and a writer, the section of life goals that usually falls under the category of 'career' or 'work' is for me the domain of the mind. There is less scouring required here, because I don't need to uncover and set into order what needs to be done -- I just actually need to do it. I have two main areas of the mind requiring effort this challenge.

 

Other people's work

 

I have a spreadsheet of academic job openings sorted by deadline date. I need to keep plugging through the work of preparing and submitting applications to the openings as the deadlines arrive.

 

INTENTION: Submit the applications.

 

There is also still unresolved the situation an offer of employment that came up during the holiday challenge. I've put the decision off in order to handle my surgery and recuperation and the last of my academic applications, but -- in order to keep the option open in case none of my applications pan out -- I have agreed to take the first of a few certification exams in the next few months. I now have shiny digital copies of three exam-prep books for that exam.

 

INTENTION: Read at least one of those books during this challenge. 

 

My own work 

 

While the applications take effort and energy, they are also soul-sucking exercises that, in my worse moods, feel like pouring out my life force trying to convince people I don't like to give me jobs I don't really want. To counter this, and to try and keep yet another set of options open, I will find a way to carve out time to work on my own writing projects. While there are more than a dozen to choose from, I am going to try and focus on two: developing the book proposal for my revised dissertation, and cleaning up a fantasy novel to the point it is ready for submission to agents.

 

INTENTION: Spend at least five hours a week doing my own work. 

 

(I am hoping for a bonus on this, in the form of a structure to start actually tracking the time I spend on things. Double bonus if I manage to get it at least tangentially integrated into the house tracking structure mentioned above.)

 

 

fëa: The indwelling spirit of an incarnate being. (5)

 

In what has evidently set itself up as the norm for this challenge, I have two areas of concern in this domain as well.

 

Patterns

 

There was a time, in recent memory (only a few challenges back actually) that I had solid routines that supported my spiritual health. Such routines naturally also support physical and mental health, but for me the disciplined adherence to them was at its root a spiritual exercise that strengthened my spiritual self. I would like to regain at least a part of that.

 

At my best, I would meditate, do Julia Cameron-style Morning Pages, and go through a Tai Chi form right after awakening and before doing anything else, and then I would floss/brush, wash my face, and do a mindful mobility routine right before going to bed in the evening. I don't expect to get back to all of this perfectly all at once, but any small piece would help me rebuild my confidence in my spiritual discipline.

 

INTENTION: Begin to re-establish and perform my morning and evening routines. 

 

Delights

 

There is an inordinate amount of unpleasant things in the paragraphs above. They are all of course important, but if they were not unpleasant my life would not be in the state it is right now. So, as a conscious effort to offset the grinding pain of stretching myself physically and mentally in this challenge, I am setting an explicit intention to also seek spiritual delight. This can take the form of anything at all, as long as it brings me joy and inspires me to be grateful for all of the wonderful good things that (despite the above catalog of miseries) I really do have in my life. There are a few large discrete events of this type on the calendar this challenge (my friend's visit and the fun SCA event that we attend every year together, and a big annual historical dance event which I tend to use an excuse to celebrate the wonderful city near which I make my home), but I would also like to find small things worthy of delight. I can read books simply for enjoyment. I can go on small adventures to enjoy the beauty of my favorite Southern California season. I can get lost in fun, complex, and mythically satisfying games. Maybe I can even bring myself to wade into the fraught difficulties I have engaging with cinematic stories and watch The Witcher on Netflix :)

 

INTENTION: Capture and publicly expose moments of gratitude and delight. 

 

Instagram is probably the best vector for this, but I won't stress myself out if I forget and just list them here occasionally. 

 

 

 

Right. That was a lot. Really a lot. I honestly typed it all out solely for my own purposes, and I truly hope that no one feels obligated to slog through it. But the truth is that, for me to be successful in this challenge, very little of it actually has to get done. My only real commitment is to report here at least weekly (preferably with as little self-flagellation as I can manage) on the intentions I have listed above. Also, I expect this scouring process to take more than a single challenge, so I'm preemptively labeling this one as Part 1.

 

If you don't hear from me at least weekly, please feel free to start poking. The sharper the stick, the better :)

 

I want to take a moment and thank you all for being part of my journey. I'm certainly not the most social NF rebel out there. I sometimes feel bad about the unbalanced way I take so much from these forums and give back so much less --  but even if nobody ever reads my unfocused ramblings, I find the process of thinking through everything enormously helpful, so just by existing out there in the internet you are helping  me, and I am very grateful for that.

 

Here's wishing everyone the very best of luck in this challenge of powerful new beginnings!

 

Spoiler for footnotes listing sources because I have an honest-to-goodness PhD in Tolkien geekery and literally can't help myself:

Spoiler

 

1 The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Edition, p. 1020.

2 The War of the Jewels, p. 405.

3 The Peoples of Middle Earth, p. 461.

4 Vinyar Tengwar 41, p. 13.

5 The Peoples of Middle Earth, p. 455.

 

 

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hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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27 minutes ago, oromendur said:

 I truly hope that no one feels obligated to slog through it. 

No slogging required! I loved reading through everything you've written here - not only for context for yourself, but I always find that reading how other folks are handling their challenges can often inform and aid my own adventures. And I have to say, I can really relate to a LOT of what you're talking about here. Following!

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...but I'm adorable! Ask anyone who doesn't know me...

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Spoiler for an emotional bomb that exploded quite messily all over me while I was in the middle of drafting the above novel of a post:

 

Spoiler

 

So, as I may have mentioned, I attended the wedding of one of my grad school cohort over New Year's. There was one other person from our cohort there with her partner; she seemed very excited to see me, and we had great fun catching up and dancing and drinking and celebrating our friend. It turns out that she and her partner were engaged, and she invited me to the wedding. "You should come!" she gushed. "It will be so much fun!"

 

"Sure!" I said. "Send me details!"

 

The next day she sent me a text with an invitation and a link to RSVP. I gladly did so, and then made some rather final travel plans, because the wedding is only six week away. I added the event to my calendar with delight.

 

Today I missed a call from her. I called her back right away to find her crying. When she got control of her words again, she basically un-invited me to her wedding. Evidently her partner was jealous; I was too 'touchy,' whatever that means, and he resented the fact that we were laughing and dancing and enjoying each other's company, and complained that I didn't engage in conversation with him. She said that she didn't think it would be possible for this issue not to negatively affect her celebration and told me she was going to have to ask me not to come after all.

 

Look, it's her celebration and her life and I am absolutely not going to force myself into a place where I will be unwelcome, and I told her so in words that I hope did not cause her any more pain than she was already obviously feeling. But it hurt. It really, really hurt. Like nothing has hurt me in a long time. It was a two-hour struggle to get myself back to where I could finish my challenge post, and I am utterly without any more emotional energy to handle anything at all for the rest of the day -- so today's applications are very definitely not going to get done. This is a bad thing but there's not much to be done about it.

 

I am still just so confused. When they first arrived at the chapel, he ignored the greeting I waved at him (I am doing my charitable best to believe he simply didn't recognize me), and it wasn't until I touched her elbow and she turned to hug me in delight that he acknowledged me. When she and I resolved to find some celebratory champagne to lift in celebration between the ceremony and the reception, he begged off and disappeared back to their hotel. At the reception, when I offered to get him a drink, he said he didn't drink. When I asked him to dance, he responded that he didn't dance, and told me not to ask him again. I took all of that to mean that he didn't feel comfortable interacting with me, so I stopped trying to engage and just enjoyed the celebration. He took many pictures of the two of us and the bride. I took pictures of him smiling and dancing with his partner. I suck at interpreting subtext. I had no inkling whatsoever that he had any problem with my presence in any way.

 

The wise, spiritually developed part of me knows that this is not about me. This is his business. This is not my business. 

 

The ugly, scorned, unpopular, too-smart and too-loud and too-different little girl deep inside who just KNOWS that nobody really likes her and people are only politely putting up with her in public because they are expected to do so is still crying.

 

It is not my business. I know it is not my business. I will keep telling myself it is not my business over and over and over again. It is his business (and partially hers -- it's a very petty thing, really, to be so easily influenced to hurt someone in such a way). But it nevertheless drove a sharp knife deep into the center of one of my oldest scars and it REALLY [BLEEP]ING HURTS.

 

I don't believe she intentionally hurt me. Unintentional wounds still bleed just as much and take just as long to heal as intentional ones, though, and I'm still gasping from this completely unexpected and nearly incapacitating injury. She promised that she still considers me her friend, and still wants to see me and talk to me, and plans to contact me when she comes to San Diego in May. I don't know if I'll be healed enough by then. I managed not to go and unfriend and block her on all social media (yay adulting) and contented myself with removing the tags on pictures she posted OF THE THREE OF US. SMILING. Gah. I'm still gasping with the pain of it all.

 

 

I'll get over it. This feeling, like all feelings, is not permanent. But I really don't have anyone else to talk to right now and if I am going to avoid doing anything extreme in my pain I need to get it all out. Right now, I am going to go get pizza, probably have a little too much to drink, and get lost in playing something mindless for a while. Thank you so much for reading and being a safe audience for me -- I had no idea I was going to need one today, but I'm so grateful that you are here.

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hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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16 minutes ago, Defining said:

No slogging required! I loved reading through everything you've written here - not only for context for yourself, but I always find that reading how other folks are handling their challenges can often inform and aid my own adventures. And I have to say, I can really relate to a LOT of what you're talking about here. Following!

 

I do the same -- other people's insights are often very helpful in bringing context to my own thoughts. But I did end up spewing an enormous amount of emotions onto the page (even before my super-emotional second post), so I knew it would be a lot for anyone to get through. I'm glad you didn't feel the effort wasted :) Thanks for stopping by! Welcome to my crazy thread!

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hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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53 minutes ago, oromendur said:

The point here is not doing (which often turns into flailing) but building a structure to support doing.

 

I really freaking love this.  Once you're ready to start setting goals for realsies again having a way to make sure you are accountable will be HUGE.  Also, just making yourself report will probably push you along in completing your intentions anyway.

 

Happy new year!!

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1 minute ago, Raxie said:

just making yourself report will probably push you along in completing your intentions anyway.

 

I'm kind of counting on this :) 

 

So good to see my new ballroom nerd friend back again after the new year :wub: 

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hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Link to post

OMG I'm really sorry you got your feelings hurt. Your friend's partner is an ASSHOLE. 

 

I just want to make sure this is really clear because I know intellectually you know this isn't about you, so I'm speaking to that hurt part of your heart: HE IS AN ASSHOLE, and your friend is choosing to marry him anyway. You deserve better friendships than that. 

 

What really helps me with the house is keeping a calendar of house chores for the non-weekly chores, and just setting a weekly schedule for the other chores. I'm sharing this with you in the spoiler listed below: 

Spoiler

 

Wednesday: Dust and vacuum all the rooms. Clean banisters, and all light switches, handles, etc.  Mop floors

Thursday: Clean the bathrooms, take out the trash

Friday: Laundry and Grocery Shopping

Saturdays or nice days: yard work. we don't mow but in the nice weather days, I weed and clean out the beds, chop wood, trim hedges, whatever. Maintain tools.

Winter: Shovel snow and lay down melt as needed

Daily: clean kitchen

 

My non-weekly tasks go like this:

 1st of the month- clean washing machine

5th of the month- replace fridge baking soda (sometimes sooner if the ice smells funny)

second Friday- clean inside the windows

April and October- clean outside the windows, 

May: Go through attic storage/closets for donating/selling

January: Run to Lowes and buy replacement lightbulbs for all the wonky light fixtures 

Last day of the month- organize paperwork into files: bills, receipts, anything I need to keep a record. My files are organized not by company, but what it's for so

Bank

Cell phone

Credit cards (each card gets a folder, but they're in a bigger folder)

Healthcare etc

 

 

Outside Chores

November- Remove window screens. Empty outside faucets for winter

May and November- Clean out garage and organize tools. 

April- hire exterminator to spray for ants

May- Lay down mulch in flower beds, plant flowers. 

June- Power wash driveway and porch

 

 

Feel free to dismiss my schedule completely, but I've been in that place where it's just like "I'm completely overwhelmed and need help" and my mom actually came and helped me sort all this out over a weekend. While there are sometimes factors that keep me from being really strict with my schedule, it's just nice to have this time map and feel like "I can do this"

 

You can do this. :) Because you are awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh jeez. I goof off for two days and miss something like this. I’m in agreement with @Snarkyfishguts about the quality of your friends partner. It is likely a whole mess of a situation and you’re collateral damage in it. I’m sorry that happened. 

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Adventurer, Half-Dwarf Chaotic-Good Paladin

Ne me dites jamais les chances!  ¡Nunca me digas las probabilidades!

Character Sheet Training Logs Challenges Prepping for Adventure PrepAdventure Prep Fall BabyWhen Are We Again, Anyway?WhirlwindThe Leaf's LocusHarnessing Hamingja New Roots More Beginnings, More Roots Cleaning Up Facing The Hailstorm Yo Ho Yo The... Keto Life For Me? Taming the Beast Another Step Towards the Future Baking, Suburban Homesteading, and Health, The Adventurers of the Lucky Vale IIIIIIIVVVI, VII VIIIIX

Spoiler

Perennial goals: Sleep 7+ hours a night, retain (and continue to learn) French and Spanish as a family, increase Spanish Proficiency for work and play,  read like a maniac on my own and with my kids, carry heavy stuff

Long term goals: Cut to 13-15% bodyfat, And now that I'm grown I eat five dozen eggs, so I'm roughly the size of a baaaaarge! -> Someday I'll challenge a Disney world Gaston to a push up contest and win

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WOW I don't know how I missed the craziness you posted right before my response - and again, WOW.

 

I am so sorry you were hurt like that, this is definitely not a "no one likes you" thing - this is a "your friends partner is a giant insecure butthead" sort of thing. The whole thing is totally unacceptable and IN NO WAY YOUR FAULT.  It sounds like you all had a lovely time at the wedding, try to focus on that :( Ugh. You 100% deserve better, as others have said.

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Hey there, I found you! I love the approach you're taking in setting up structure to set yourself up for success in the future (and I love that you're doing moderation far better than I ever manage to).

 

Also, I'm sorry to hear about that emotional shitstorm you're enduring - as others have said, that 100% is on other people and their insecurities and IN NO WAY something you're responsible for. I hope that time helps the wound scab over and heal quickly for you. And of course, that all the other good things you've got going on bring you lots of joy!

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 Ballroom dancer, data nerd, calisthenics dabbler

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I'm sorry to hear that things are tough right now, but this too shall pass. Let me know if I can help in any way.

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Who am I? -- My NF Character

Current Challenge: WolfDreamer Embraces His Wild Poet

Past Challenges: 

Spoiler

Winter is ComingWolfen Strengthens His Heart, Body, Mind, and Spirit, Wolfen Becomes One of the PeopleWolfen Strengthens His ChakrasWolfen Welcomes Summer and Gets Primal, Soulcon and Spartan, Wolfen Develops Mental ToughnessWolfen Joins the Wander SocietySoulcon, Spartan, School, and Stranger ThingsWolfen Becomes a Warrior EliteWolfen Goes Here and There and Back AgainWolfen Becomes a Soulcon Warrior EliteWolfen Returns to His RootsWolfen Wanders in Soul, Spirit, and BodyWolfen Owns the DayWolfen Searches for His Wild Heart, Wolfen Runs for His LifeWolfen Hits the TrailsWolfen Becomes an Explorer and Joins the ResistanceWolfen Goes Back to the SourceWolfen Begins the Hero's JourneyWolfDreamer Returns to the People,  WolfDreamer Pushes BackWolfDreamer PrioritizesBurpees, Books, and BrainworkBurpees, Books, Brainwork, and BodyworkWolfDreamer Masters the Four ElementsWolfDreamer Continues to Master the Four ElementsWolfDreamer Returns to SpartaWolfDreamer Returns to Middle EarthWolfDreamer Continues His Middle Earth AdventureWolfDreamer and the FallWolfDreamer Forges His Own PathWolfDreamer Has HopeWolfDreamer Returns to Middle EarthWolfDreamer Reads Harder, Breathes Harder, and Journals More

I'd rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.” -- Jack London

“I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love.” -- Leo Tolstoy

"I feel love rising in my chest again
Rising like a burning sun into the day..." -- Gungor, "Hurricane"

"...wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17b

 

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Wait, what? It's Wednesday? Of WEEK THREE? How did that happen??

 

I guess it's long past time for an update...  I'll break it down by week since that's what I was supposed to be doing, dammit.

 

[WEEK 1 UPDATE]

 

So, I'm definitely in the "challenges should NOT start on a Sunday" camp. Sundays are for mimosas and lazing around in pajamas and running away from unpleasant responsibilities. Mondays are for starting new things. My challenge is officially shifting to the right one day because this is madness.

 

hröa

 

Monday I picked up a kettlebell. It was the littlest one, the tiny 8kg thing I use as a doorstop, the adorable bell that makes me think "how cute, what's it going to be when it grows up?" every time I look at it. I spun it round my head eight times in each direction and put it back down again. Does that count as a workout? Probably not -- it was super easy -- but I did it. 

 

I also went for a run on Monday (well, as long as we all agree to be very generous with the term 'run' and permit it to include a great deal of walking, especially up the hills). I tried this silliness in Buffalo over Christmas and didn't die, and since even an easy jog has a lovely time-for-PAI trade ratio, I thought I'd give it a try here in the sunshine. Result? Well, I was reminded that dry hills and heat make for a much different experience than grey skies over snowy flat ground... Between the unpleasantness of the activity itself and the subsequent DOMS and Achilles pain when I woke up Tuesday morning, I resolved to stop that 'running' foolishness immediately -- but then Tuesday afternoon I noticed that my back didn't hurt for the first time in, like, six months. Grr.

 

Also on Monday (it was a productive day) I decided to trial the VA's secure messaging on their online health system, and sent a message asking the surgeon to contact me.

 

Tuesday I went to dance class. This month it's Smooth Waltz and Rhythm Cha-cha (bleah). Not my favorites, and I invariably have to lead -- but I often comment that my teachers are so good I would show up to listen to them read the phone book, and I learned a lot despite my distaste. Thursday I went to Argentine Tango class.

 

Sunday I went for another "run." The runs themselves might be jokes, but they do send the PAI numbers for the week into stellar territory: 194, 170, 116, 119, 117, 118, 181. Two half-assed attempts at activity. That's all it takes. It's downright embarrassing how much I struggle to do even this tiny insignificant bit (sigh) but at least this week was good.

 

I didn't clean a single thing this week, but I did start wrestling with OneNote and got a few network integrations working (I was able to trick my Google calendar into emailing things into OneNote via Outlook but it took SEVERAL DAYS and a lot of frustration to make it work and some of it still isn't working).

 

sanar

 

I spent some time on Monday and Tuesday reacting to some technical difficulties one of my referees was having with his email while trying to submit a letter for my most recent application. Since he somehow wasn't able to see the drafts of his letter I'd written and sent, I finally just created a final version and suggested he forward it on... I believe he got it in on time. It wasn't until Wednesday that I discovered another letter-writer (of course the most important one, my dissertation advisor) was  won't be able to get anything in until Friday at the earliest (sigh). I don't know if they'll accept the letter late or not but I'm asking him to send it anyway just because if he's going to cost me a chance at a three-year postdoc in freaking HONG KONG then he can suffer a little. Grr.

 

I sent in another application on Wednesday and sent associated perky-but-nagging letters to all three referees reminding them of its deadline.

 

I did absolutely zero writing :( 

 

fëa

 

Oooh. Not so good here. The surprise emotional difficulty detailed above spun me into a very bad mindset from which it took me nearly the whole week to extricate myself.

 

Spoiler because I'm embarrassed about it:

Spoiler

How can such an objectively little thing have so much impact on me? I know it's my choice to grant the power to others to hurt me. I know it's not about me. I know I have much better things to do with my energy, and using this as an excuse not to face the difficult things I have to face does nothing but harm me mentally and emotionally. But none of this knowing does me any good and it's REALLY FRUSTRATING. Anyway. Time heals. I'll move on eventually.

 

I didn't succeed in adding anything to my patterns that I wasn't already doing (meditation, morning pages, stretching), but -- largely to the impetus of this challenge, I believe -- I actually maintained a perfect streak on everything I am already doing (taiji, supplements, floss/brush, wash face). I was tempted several times not to bother, but I knew I'd be reporting here so I did them anyway, and had my first perfect week in quite a long time. So, some success, some not-so-much-success. 

 

Also, I did take a minute to actually enjoy the pizza I ordered Friday night (against all nutritional and financial sensibility, of course, but that's the kind of week it was), so that counts too.

 

Overall, Week 1 was filled with lots of early starting energy, and despite a surprise setback I was able to keep moving at least incrementally forward. Not bad...

 

 

[WEEK 2 UPDATE]

 

hröa

 

Well, I didn't actually do anything with any kettlebells this week. I think I picked one up to clean under it -- maybe that counts?

 

I also didn't do any conscious cardio, but between dance class and cleaning and shopping and adventures in the mountains during the latter part of the week, I still maintained some very good PAI numbers indeed: 142, 138, 133, 144, 154, 160, 107. 

 

On Monday -- since I hadn't heard a single thing from the message I sent last week, quelle surprise -- I actually used the phone (gah) and called the VA and left a message complaining that no one had gotten back to me. Almost immediately I started getting calls, and then the surgeon responded to my message and, like magic, I now have a surgery date! WHY does the telephone incantation have to be so powerful? I HATE the telephone. Ugh. Anyway. This to-do is DONE.

 

Also on Monday -- note the magical power of Monday energy? -- I broke down and posted a question to the Microsoft forums about one of my Outlook-OneNote integrations. It took a day or two (and I might have been a bit snarkier than appropriate by the end of the process) but eventually someone suggested a workaround and now that one is working too.

 

Monday also gave me enough energy to clean up the guest room. No, nothing else, just the guest room (sigh). Tuesday morning was therefore spent in a flat-out panic as I scrubbed bathrooms and desperately swiped away at enough surface cleaning that the worst of the spiderwebs weren't visible. Then I picked my friend up on Tuesday evening and dragged her to dance class with me and the madness began.

 

sanar

 

I sent in one application on Wednesday, and nagged my referees to get their letters in. Two of them responded immediately. Of course my advisor was a day late on submitting this one too :angry: 

 

I didn't do any writing again. To be fair, it was a travel week and I didn't expect much out of it, but I have GOT to be better starting in Week 3.

 

fëa

 

Again, no new additions to the patterns -- and I didn't do any taiji from Thursday onward because there wasn't room in the cabin I was sharing with my friend, and I didn't fancy an audience while trying to do it outside in the snow. But I did manage a perfect week of evening patterns, which is actually kind of amazing considering everything that was going on.

 

But delights -- OH THE DELIGHTS. I attended an SCA event with my friend and it was GLORIOUS. Winter Weekend takes place at a church camp in the San Bernardino mountains, and it's the kind of event that attracts a certain type of dedicated artisan. Everyone just sort of sits around gossiping and working on projects and enjoying each other's company. Personally, I'm not much of a handworker, so I always joke that I go to Winter Weekend solely for the music and the gluttony :)

 

To take the latter first, at this event attendees are fed a hobbit-approved four meals a day plus snacks, and every meal is created by fellow attendees whose artistic passion is cooking (including at least one professional chef). My friend and I raided my wine rack and liquor cabinet for libations appropriate to the menus and basically ate and drank ourselves into a stupor for four days running. 

 

Even better, the music was INCREDIBLE. It's usually quite good -- there are three very high-level musicians who turn up every year -- but this time we had a fourth (who actually makes a living playing early music professionally) and the critical mass of brilliant musicianship made the event into something really special. I am by no means a brilliant musician, but I do just sort of squeak over a basic line of competence that permits me to participate without being too much of a drag on the group -- and the opportunity to sit in on sessions with four-count-them-four Laurel-level musicians was definitely a highlight of my year. We spent hours upon hours jamming, sight-reading some amazing settings of medieval and Renaissance tunes put together by one of those Laurels, and filling the hall at every possible opportunity with live music. I got to try out a treble viol. I got to play crumhorns. There were harp lessons. There were bagpipe lessons. Those with large instrument collections lent out their extra shawms and rauschpfeifes for a loud band on Sunday morning.

 

That was super fun, but also kind of embarrassing :( Everyone else wanted to play their favorite instruments, so they decided to take the least accomplished musician (that would be me), give her a sopranino rauschpfeife (I am less-than-fluent with F fingerings on the best of days), and put her on the melody line. This would be a recipe for disaster no matter what, but the fact that the hall emptied out to watch us play outside and there was a forest of phones and cameras taking video while I was struggling to carry songs everyone recognized made it particularly awful. Of course I failed and flubbed and made a mess of things. I spent about an hour feeling sorry for myself and trying not to cry -- but then I just took it for what it was, an opportunity. That afternoon I humbled myself to more instruction, actually tried (and more or less failed) to play the treble viol in consort, and just took the opportunity to stretch myself so far beyond my comfort zone that it almost broke some things (shrug). In the end it was really intense, and really delightful. 

 

Reading over all of that, I think I can call Weeks 1 and 2 a mixed success. I did some things well and some things not so well. Importantly, after missing not-one-but-TWO weekly deadlines, I still came back to post, and I hope to regain enough to finish out the next three weeks of the challenge strong. 

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hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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On 1/5/2020 at 7:38 AM, Snarkyfishguts said:

OMG I'm really sorry you got your feelings hurt.

 

On 1/6/2020 at 2:29 PM, Sciread77 said:

It is likely a whole mess of a situation and you’re collateral damage in it. I’m sorry that happened. 

 

On 1/7/2020 at 12:52 PM, Raxie said:

The whole thing is totally unacceptable and IN NO WAY YOUR FAULT.

 

On 1/9/2020 at 11:14 AM, Mike Wazowski said:

I'm sorry to hear about that emotional shitstorm you're enduring - as others have said, that 100% is on other people and their insecurities and IN NO WAY something you're responsible for.

 

On 1/16/2020 at 6:43 AM, WolfDreamer said:

I'm sorry to hear that things are tough right now, but this too shall pass. Let me know if I can help in any way.

 

Thank you all so much. Part of me really wants to go back and delete that whole cri de cœur because it's all so petty and stupid, but it really did hit me like a punch to the gut, and if spilling it all out anonymously with you guys is what it takes to help me get through it I guess I need to honor that. I've spent a lot of time searching for metaphors to help me get my mind around the best way to get myself sorted out again. Seriously, what the hell good is it to have a PhD in mythology if I can't come up with useful mythic instruction for myself when I really need it?

 

Spoiler for stories:

Spoiler

 

The first story comes from the Taoist philosophical tradition. It is said that there are no absolutely good or bad hexagrams in the I Ching.

 

This may be illustrated by the Taoist story of a farmer whose horse ran away. That evening the neighbors gathered to commiserate with him since this was such bad luck. He said, "May be." The next day the horse returned, but brought  with it six wild horses, and the neighbors came exclaiming at his good fortune. He said, "May be." And then, the following day, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. Again the neighbors came to offer their sympathy for the misfortune. He said, "May be." The day after that, conscription officers came to the village to seize young men for the army, but because of the broken leg the farmer's son was rejected. When the neighbors came in to say how fortunately everything had turned out, he said, "May be." (Source: Alan Watts, Tao: The Watercourse Way)

 

The second comes from Zen, which I tend to argue is just Buddhism filtered through Taoism and colored Japanese :) It honors the idea of suchness, a "simple clarity of experience released from values, utilitarianism, shoulds, musts, and what ifs." 

 

Hakuin was praised by his neighbors for living a pure life. When a beautiful young woman in the village confessed to her parents that she was pregnant with Hakuin's child, they angrily confronted him. His only reply was, "Is that so?" After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin, who by now had lost his reputation and credibility as a teacher. Without question he took the child and cared for it. A year later the young woman could no longer endure her dishonesty. She confessed that the real father was a young man who worked in the fishmarket. The parents went immediately to Hakuin to bed for his forgiveness and to retrieve the child. Without a pause he gave it to them. "Is that so?" was his only reply. (Source: Ray Grigg, The Tao of Zen)

 

 

"Is that so?"

"May be."

 

These are the ideals I am contemplating right now. There are many others out there from many different traditions. Spiritually I have a long way to go before I can claim any such wisdom -- but it is useful to remember the stories and their lessons anyway. 

 

Thank you all again for caring -- it means a lot :wub:

  • Like 3

hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Link to post
On 1/5/2020 at 7:38 AM, Snarkyfishguts said:

What really helps me with the house is keeping a calendar of house chores for the non-weekly chores, and just setting a weekly schedule for the other chores.

 

Thanks, Snarky! I once had a similar schedule in my old place, and you've inspired me to try and dig it up again. Back in the day when I had cats to feed and care for, I had a fairly good pattern going, probably because there were other beings involved who would suffer if I failed to perform the basic actions of living. For some reason I'm perfectly happy to allow myself to suffer :rolleyes:

 

On 1/9/2020 at 11:14 AM, Mike Wazowski said:

I love the approach you're taking in setting up structure to set yourself up for success in the future

 

To be honest, the only time I've ever been successful is when I've had a structure. Steven Pressfield says in The War of Art that "There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't, and the secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance." The only way I have found to overcome Resistance is to focus on making the things I want to do as easy as possible. I won't have a hope of overcoming Resistance unless Resistance is the ONLY thing standing in the way. I have to make eliminating the barriers more of a priority than actually doing the thing, or I'll never do the thing (sigh) That's what this particular challenge is all about.

 

Considering how badly everything went off the rails in Week 1, it's a good thing I've got a few more weeks to go :) 

  • Like 3

hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Link to post

You're back!!!! Glad you were able to notch some wins the past couple weeks, in spite of some really tough life circumstances.

 

And I really like the two stories you shared - I'm not sure what message I'm taking away from them yet, but I like reflecting on them regardless.

  • Like 1

 Ballroom dancer, data nerd, calisthenics dabbler

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Well, it's Monday again. Although it feels kind of perfunctory, I suppose I should go through the motions of a 

 

[WEEK 3 UPDATE]

 

Part of me feels that the less said about Week 3, the better (sigh)

 

hröa

 

I'll let the PAI numbers tell the story: 109, 100, 106, 88, 72, 61, 52. My lovely beginning-of-the-year success, which lasted more than two perfect weeks, vanished as I sat around and did absolutely nothing.

 

One tiny win (leftover from Week 2 but technically happened in Week 3): at Winter Weekend I learned that one of the attendees recently earned his SFG certification. In passing, I knew he was a fabulous brewer and overall brilliant guy, but I honestly had no idea he was such a badass :) Anyway, as we were cleaning up and getting ready to leave the event on Monday, I took advantage of his presence and some open space in the hall for a quick consult on why the ever-loving [BLEEP] I am utterly incapable of understanding the Turkish get-up. He was kind with his time and generous with his knowledge, and lay down on the dusty concrete floor to give me the full lesson. Turns out I have hip mobility problems. Imagine that :rolleyes: I did manage to figure out what I was doing wrong, and I had the best of intentions about practicing what I learned when I got home...

 

sanar

 

We're not going to talk about the fact that I didn't actually submit any applications this week. We're also not going to talk about the fact that I didn't do anything more to develop my structure; the schedule recovery Snarky inspired last week remained firmly in the realm of "thinking about thinking about it" and did not manifest in the real world. We're also not going to talk about the fact that I lost the battle against Resistance every single day this week, as I did the week before, and the week before that :( 

 

fëa

 

We're also not going to talk about how I not only failed to add to my patterns but actually broke my perfect maintenance streak by skipping the supplements, flossing, and face washing on Thursday and Saturday nights.

 

As far as delights go, there is one solidly legitimate win, and some tainted ones. The legit one: I made focaccia! I was inspired by the deliciousness my friend created when she made lunch for 80 people at Winter Weekend, so I tried out a recipe that seemed close to the one she used. It turned out beautifully, much more so than I had any right to expect for my first effort.

 

Spoiler for picture:

Spoiler

20200122_163656.thumb.jpg.7d7350571a73a17afb37d33317dc5f9e.jpg

 

 

YUM B) I tend to eat fairly low-carb and low-wheat in my normal day-to-day, so (especially after the excess gluttony of the weekend) my digestive enzymes weren't really ready for this, but I didn't care because it was SO DELICIOUS. I think I need to be careful, though, because if I were to do this every week I might make myself really sick.

 

The other things I am going to count as delights are tainted, because they were in excess, and said excess is the root cause of nearly all of the miserable failure described above :( But, while the excess had significant negative effects, the activities themselves were truly delightful.

 

Spoiler for descriptions of excessive delights:

Spoiler

 

On Wednesday evening, all day Thursday, and Friday morning I binge-read the last five Witcher books. (And I mean I binged them -- I actually blew off Argentine Tango class on Thursday night because I was mid-chapter and didn't want to get dressed. My binge was so bad I SKIPPED DANCING. For me that is saying something.)  Then, on Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday, because I was out of books and wanted more but couldn't face the emotional effort to watch the Netflix show (which was kind of the original point of the exercise, but oh well), I dug up my current Dark Mode playthrough of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and dove in headfirst. 

 

I need to explain something here about the way I binge games: because I know my tendency towards excess, one of my iron-clad rules is that I only get to play through any given game in English *once.* If I want to replay it, I can, as many times as I like -- but I have to play it in German after the first time. My German is not actually very good, so doing this is a LOT of work, but it does ensure that when I sit down to play a game I can be certain that I REALLY want to do it. And, hey, if I do it this way, it isn't frittering away my life, it's language practice, right? Right?

 

Anyway. I played the game (in German) all weekend. There was pizza involved. There were drinks involved. I really did have a good time; sometimes, when I'm binging like this, I push it past the point where it's fun, but for some reason that didn't happen. I plowed through a whole bunch of content, using walkthroughs to help fill in where my roughly 60% comprehension failed me, and got myself to a sensible stopping point by Sunday evening. And then, because I was thinking about this challenge and what I was going to type in this update, I stopped. And, shockingly, got to bed before midnight.

 

 

Now the Monday morning energy has arrived. I lost a week. I don't have to lose any more. Typing this all out has helped me realize that I really do want to get back on track. From one perspective, in Week 3 I was a fat ugly useless unemployed geek reading fantasy and playing video games instead of, you know, getting a job and dealing with the real world. From another perspective, I'm under a lot of stress and the fun-but-draining four days of constant peopling in Week 2 used up all of the energy I might have used to face that stress, some questionable decision-making was probably to be expected, and it could have been a lot worse. I'm especially pleased that with all the binging I didn't have too much to drink; in similar past descents into overindulgence I would have added getting drunk to the list, but for some it didn't happen this time, and I'm grateful.  

 

(shrug) Sometimes a girl just needs a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl to put herself right, I guess...

 

My challenge is solid. My plan is good. I've had some failures, but I can make different choices starting today -- and I mean to do so, starting now.

 

I hope everyone else had a better Week 3. Onward to Week 4! 

  • Like 1

hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Link to post

Double post deleted...sorry...I'm blaming my VPN and wonky browser...

hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Link to post
On 1/23/2020 at 10:40 AM, Mike Wazowski said:

You're back!!!! Glad you were able to notch some wins the past couple weeks, in spite of some really tough life circumstances.

 

Thanks! The difficult circumstances caught up with me again in Week 3, but that happens sometimes.

 

On 1/23/2020 at 10:40 AM, Mike Wazowski said:

I really like the two stories you shared - I'm not sure what message I'm taking away from them yet, but I like reflecting on them regardless.

 

One of my favorite things about myth is that what a person takes away from a story depends much more on the person than the story :) The best stories are ones that engage the conscious mind in a way that permits the unconscious to influence the interpretation, so both the conscious and unconscious questions get addressed in some way.

 

Stories from living religions can sometimes produce mixed results, especially for sincere believers -- the pressure of orthodoxy and the threat of heresy in the consciousness can censor the unconscious interpretation and taint the mythic instruction -- but they are always very powerful. I'm glad these spoke to you!

hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Link to post

Hm. Challenge? Oh, yes, I do remember something about a challenge, now that you mention it. Do we have to talk about it? We do? (sigh) Well, all right, then...

 

[WEEK 4 UPDATE]

 

Not much to say about Week 4, really, so I'm not going to bother with an itemized report. PAI numbers were crap until the weekend because I sat at my desk grinding out four applications in three days to make up for the train wreck that was Week 3. I didn't add anything to my routines but I didn't miss any of my existing habits, so I think that counts as a tiny win. Kettlebells, structure building, cleanup, and writing were all big fat zeroes.

 

I did have a delightful weekend though; once a year, the San Diego Historical Dance Society puts on a Viennese Nights ball. Pretty much everything I know about vintage dance boils down to "put on a hoopskirt, flounce around, and follow polite men in tuxedos wearing white gloves on the nicest dance floor in San Diego" but that is more than enough to make for a splendid night :) I take advantage of this event every year to celebrate living near America's Finest City. I splurge on the military family rate at a downtown hotel, go thrifting, and enjoy the delights of urban living (this year I visited my first cat café! It wasn't as cool as I thought it would be, though.). Then every year one of my dance friends joins me for happy hour before the dance at The Lion's Share, dessert afterwards at Extraordinary Desserts, and this year she also joined me for a gorgeously gluttonous Sunday brunch at the Westgate Hotel the next morning. It was a wonderful weekend. The cost is a bit difficult to justify in my current circumstances (especially when I feel like I don't deserve anything this nice because I've been such a useless [BLEEP]), but I'd made the plans more than six months ago and decided just to suck it up and go and enjoy myself. It was lovely and I'm glad I did.

 

[WEEK 5 UPDATE]

 

All of that glorious energy of delight took me into Monday morning on a big high, ready to attack Week 5 with a vengeance and close the challenge out strong. Sadly, it was not to be :(

 

Starting Monday afternoon, the debilitating physical condition for which I am having surgery in March caught up with me again. It was my worst episode since last summer (when I passed out in the dining room of the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park -- but that's a whole different sordid tale). I was basically combat ineffective until Wednesday, and didn't start recovering any capacity for more than an hour or two of positive action until Saturday. There are few things more disheartening to me than these episodes; all of the work I put in over months and months, all the careful nutrition and painstaking supplement timing and easing back into exercise, gets basically wiped away in a few days and I end up back at the bottom of the same [BLEEP]ing hill with the same [BLEEP]ing rock sitting on my chest. I went from being someone actually able to run for short distances to one who struggles for breath as she climbs a single flight of stairs. I suffered a minor syncope lying on the futon in my office on Tuesday afternoon and woke to find a text from my dance teacher wondering if everything was OK because I never miss class without letting her know :(

 

hröa

 

Kettlebells? Yeah, right. I didn't even move the one I use as a doorstop because I didn't leave the house for pretty much the whole week.

 

My PAI numbers weren't awful: 131, 109, 116, 126, 135, 76, 78. The residuals from the dancing at the end of Week 4 saved me here, along with the fact that during these episodes even the simplest movement requires an almost superhuman effort and so the tracker gives me a ridiculous amount of PAI just for living my daily life. To give you an example, on Friday I earned ten PAI points in the five minutes it took me to walk to the mailbox and back (an action I hadn't taken since I got home on the previous Sunday because I physically couldn't face it). I finally was able to get dressed and go buy some much-needed groceries on Sunday. I cannot [BLEEP]ing wait for this surgery so that I can get my life back.

 

On Sunday, desperate to gain at least a tiny bit of traction before the end of the challenge (see, this is totally why challenges should end on Sundays and start on Mondays!), I finally dug the sheets with the zone cleaning schedules I had been using in my old place out of my disastrous office closet. I didn't get them all into my OneNote system by the end of the day, but at least I started the process of doing so. I also re-read the book Sink Reflections to remind me of what I'd been thinking about when I built those schedules. The processes outlined in that book are useful enough that they're totally worth wading through its painfully sexist traditionalism and perky pop-culture Christianity, but I now remember how annoying it is to have to do so :angry:

 

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I spent what energy I could spare on pulling years of clutter out of the guest room closet. That energy certainly wasn't enough to finish anything, but it was enough to start, and I'll keep plugging away, fifteen minutes at a time if that's all I can do. The guest room is currently a jumbled messy disaster, but there's a big pile of crap to be donated and I have a much better understanding of the projects in that closet. By the time I get it sorted there should actually almost be room for guests to hang their clothes in there! That's the goal anyway. Despite everything I'm closer to it than I have been in years.

 

sanar

 

I'm getting close to the end of the application process, I think. I carefully considered and finally decided against applying for a postdoc in mainland China (it just didn't offer enough financially to offset the effort of putting together such an adventure). On Wednesday I burned up the entire first flush of returning energy to draft a letter for a very important application -- probably one of the three or four on my list of about forty for which I think I actually have a serious chance -- and send it to a friend to look it over. She didn't get it back to me until today, but it's not due until the 17th so I'm still OK on it. I'll send it in this week.

 

Writing: no. Nothing. I don't want to talk about it.

 

fëa

 

I missed my routines on Monday and Tuesday because it took pretty much everything I had just to claw myself to the bathroom and back. I got back on track on Wednesday and didn't miss anything else the rest of the week.

 

I did manage some minor delights this week: on Thursday I finally gave the wild yeast sourdough starter I've been nurturing for forever the chance to prove its worth, and baked up my very first boule. The sad-looking gloopy pancake I pried out of the brotform with my fingers didn't look very promising, and I almost didn't bother putting it in the oven -- but it actually didn't turn out too badly. Spoiler for pictures:

 

Spoiler

20200207_140332.thumb.jpg.2dee4bf62296c97dfd8c43950c6fb39f.jpg   20200207_142855.thumb.jpg.96205c9cfd9042ffbaf89c73eff78156.jpg

 

I tried again on Sunday, with somewhat better results:

 

Spoiler

20200209_123240.thumb.jpg.e79ed189ec484454508ea810ec4e3306.jpg   20200209_135843.thumb.jpg.a3e598375ad494f7d161350b77966a87.jpg

 

Bread magic. It's something anyway. 

 

Overall, I think that Week 5 was not a total loss, despite everything. But it certainly came close (sigh)

  • Like 1

hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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[CHALLENGE RETROSPECTIVE]

 

So, how did I do overall?

 

hröa

 

INTENTION: Pick up a kettlebell more than once a week. 

 

2 days out of, what, 35? Almost a complete failure here.

 

INTENTION: keep my PAI score over 100.


24 days out of 35. Moderate success.

 

INTENTION: Schedule the [BLEEP]ing surgery.


DONE! Complete success. And did I mention I can't [BLEEP]ing wait??

 

INTENTION: Create and begin using a system to capture and track a list of definite, measurable tasks. 


Mm, the days on this one don't look so good -- 7/35 -- but I think a better measure is the state of the system, which I'd say is about halfway there. So I'm going to go with moderate success because I think the regain work I did on Sunday should count double :) 

 

INTENTION: Do at least the minimum critical surface cleaning to ensure my friend isn't in danger of catching anything during her stay.


Done, I guess. She didn't catch anything while she was here, and I actually washed the sheets and put the room back together before I vomited the closet all over, so I'll call this one a success.


sanar

 

INTENTION: Submit the applications.


I submitted seven applications and considered carefully the decision not to submit four others. There was only one application that didn't get submitted because I missed a deadline. Moderate success, all things considered.

 

INTENTION: Read at least one of those [financial] books during this challenge.


I only got through about half of it. The concepts aren't difficult, exactly, but they are complicated -- and oh so very VERY dull 😴 Moderate failure.

 

INTENTION: Spend at least five hours a week doing my own work.


Zero. Nothing. Utter and complete failure. Resistance absolutely crushed me. [BLEEP] Resistance anyway (sigh)


fëa

 

INTENTION: Begin to re-establish and perform my morning and evening routines.


All in all, while I didn't really add anything, I only missed doing my established activities 4 out of 35 days. I'm going to call that success.

 

INTENTION: Capture and publicly expose moments of gratitude and delight.


I actually did fairly well here. I'm kind of divided on how to feel about it; considering all the big failures and overall miserable situation, it feels more than a little extravagant to be spending scarce money on things like Winter Weekend and the Viennese Nights ball, or scarce time on things like reading and playing The Witcher, or scarce energy on things like the two-day process of baking wild yeast sourdough. But the way things have been going recently I guess I'd be feeling crappy and disheartened no matter what, and it is nice to take a break from all of the gloom once in a while -- and it's stupid to feel guilty about that, so I guess I'll stop. 

 

Looking back on things, this challenge seems like it was ill-starred from the beginning. Between that ridiculous emotional ambush in Week 1, my binges in Week 3, and my physical unwellness in Week 5, I feel like I'm struggling and struggling and not getting anywhere. I thrash and thrash and thrash, get my head above water for a few gasps of air, and then just sink back down into the depths to thrash some more. But there really isn't any alternative other than to keep thrashing, I guess.

 

I have the beginnings of a structure. It's slowly starting to grow. I think my next challenge will focus on nurturing it rather than relying on it as I had planned to do; because of all the setbacks, it isn't strong enough yet to hold anything up, and I think it will crash down if I put too much pressure on it. It will be better to keep developing it, and I'm beginning to realize I'm not really going to be in a position physically to make any significant progress until after this [BLEEP]ing surgery. So: more scouring to come.

 

Seasoned followers of the Quenta Mentieryon Oromendur will recognize this Tolkien quote, because it always seems a little too painfully relevant at the end of a lot of my challenges: 

 

"Well, well! it might be worse, and then again it might be a good deal better.... On we go!" ~Gandalf (The Hobbit)

 

  • Like 1

hröa Periano, sanar Eldaro, fëa Núnatano

(body of a Hobbit, mind of an Elf, soul of a Dúnadan)

Memories of a former Age [ 1 |  2 ]  ~  Return from Mandos [ respawn ]

Recent sojourns in Middle-earth [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 ]

[ Current: The Last Homely House ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.  ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Link to post

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