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Shadowlion Returns From Her Quest via the Plague Zone


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I'd been thinking about doing a challenge to help me in my (suspected) COVID recovery, but hadn't gotten very far on the specifics when I came on here two days ago to see when the next challenge was. Surprise! I went ahead and started a topic to anchor my commitment to doing this one.

 

The last two years have been quite a series of adventures and lessons. And, I have several more big ones planned for the next couple years that I need to get ready for. Expect to see goals beyond simply recovering. I've got hikes and back country travel planned–and plenty of other adventures–as soon as I am able to do so again.  Stories, photos, artwork will be sprinkled liberally throughout. This gal has been rediscovering her younger wild nature child self the last couple years!

 

I have also discovered that I have an additional spirit animal as I immerse myself in my sixties. (Ha!) 😄

980455699_cruisingotter.thumb.png.417447a90d157a31911f86dbbe5285a4.png

River Otters at Sequoia Park Zoo, Eureka, California. There will be more pictures of them... 

 

 

Stealthily shot out the door of my rental cottage on the shores of Cordova Bay, British Columbia, Canada, March, 2020 Juvenile Bald Eagle and ravens.

1596930459_eagleandravens.png.55d63ea0bcb307e09072052d3a546442.png

 

So, goals. I got back on the soda and put on weight during the last two years. A sedentary lifestyle of sitting behind a computer for hours on end is not my friend and I've used sugar and caffeine to moderate my moods, energy, and attention span. My programming job is fast-paced and stressful, and there habits are not helping that either,. They are creating a long term form of health debt which, having just recently turned 62, is a really stupid thing to be doing. I want to live to be a healthy, happy, badass old lady, which means I need to reverse course on the stupid ass habits now, and build towards those big items in my bucket list. My health scare the last few months was a much needed wake up call.

 

OBJECTIVES

I resolve to use the next five weeks to:

    1) Reduce my soda consumption

    2) Increase my physical activity

    3) Reduce my stress level

    4) Create cool stuff

 

GOALS

Turning those into specific, measurable goals, each with an associated "WHY" for motivation:

1) Reduce my soda consumption to 25% (or less) of what I am currently drinking, with the end goal of being 100% soda free on or before November 1st, 2020.

  • I'm not even sure how much I'm drinking, but it is a lot, so I need to track it throughout the challenge. Knowing how I am about tracking a bad habit, if I am diligent enough with it, I will eventually reach a tipping point where it's easier to just stop the habit than to keep tracking it. Shadowlion psychology...
  • Make my environment conducive to quitting - have filtered water, ice, green tea, and yerba mate on hand and the ice tea made ahead of time to make substitutions easier. 
  • See if I can get D's buy in to purge the fizzy stuff from the house. Or to at least not drink it in front of me. 
  • This will help me lose weight and improve my overall health, leading to a faster recovery. I want to be able to hike harder trails sooner so that I can get those Arizona Trail section hikes in! (Hopefully some of the easier ones in Spring 2021.) 
  • Why? I want long term health and independence as I age, and to get those long section and thru hikes in before I get too old!

2) Increase my physical activity gradually, and as steadily as possible, given that I am still recovering from COVID-19 and am still quite de-conditioned from it.

  • Increase my daily short walks and/or exercise biking beyond my current walking max of three circumambulations around the backyard or biking max of .5 miles in 30 minutes per day.
  • Increase the variety of my free weight exercises as my costochondritis and joint pain heal. Increase weights, gradually and steadily, as I am able. My goal is to increase either intensity or duration by about 20% per week. 
  • Keep a log to help me gauge when I am ready to increase.
  • In keeping with my otter photo above, make it FUN!
  • Why? I want to regain my stamina and ability to do everyday things around the house, to be able to hold up my end of things. Longer term, I want to be able to haul my pack and photo equipment around easily for my hikes and other excursions, and to be able to move back up to the mountains and do my permaculture project, which will require my being in good condition to do physical labor at 7,000 feet elevation.

3) Reduce my stress through meditation and journaling.

  • Keep my current meditation and journal writing, but extend the meditation from 2x a day for 5 minutes each to 2x a day for 10 minutes each.
  • For journaling, keep my 15 minutes in the morning, but add on a 5 to 10 minute daily review and quick plan for the next day session in the evening.
  • Why? The coronavirus (or its evil twin - my tests came back negative, though my symptoms indicated otherwise and my healthcare providers treated it as COVID-19) played havoc with my immune system and triggered off an old autoimmune problem that has been in remission for around 40 years. I am responding well to medication for it and have a good chance of it going back into remission. I do know from past experience that stress is a major factor for both length and duration of an episode, so keeping my stress levels as low as possible will increase the odds of achieving and maintaining remission.

4) Create cool stuff at least 5 times per week for a half an hour (or even more!).

  • Do fun, creative stuff. Stay curious. Play! It doesn't have to be something to hang in a gallery. Sketch, take some photos, play around some digital art tutorials, whatever! If the joints are up to it, play a few minutes of music, too.
  • Why? Life is too short to spend it all working and striving. Creating is good for the mind, the heart, the soul. And, otters - they are the epitome of curious and playful!

 

Bucket List (Ongoing)

Arizona Trail section hikes

Thru hike the AZT

Pacific Crest Trail section hikes

Thru hike the PCT

Relocate to the Flagstaff, Arizona area

Design and build my permaculture paradise in the pines (including my art studio)

Draw and paint wildlife and plants, landscapes

Learn manual mode on my camera - ha!

Take up the mantle of my uncle's woodcarving and art

More "Creative Coding" - digital art, VR, games, data visualization

Travel - National parks and monuments; wild places, the wilder the better

Complete my Permaculture Design course and dual certificates

Complete my Octalysis training (game making, gamification, and behavioral design)

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10 hours ago, ShadowLion said:

D_R!!!! You doing a challenge this time?

Nope. Had withdrawn to my Battle Log for a while, but apparently some non-NF people had been keeping up with it so I decided to go radio silent for a while. Still following people and commenting though.

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17 hours ago, DarK_RaideR said:

Nope. Had withdrawn to my Battle Log for a while, but apparently some non-NF people had been keeping up with it so I decided to go radio silent for a while. Still following people and commenting though.

 

Sorry to hear that! I had wondered what you meant by your last post. That sucks!

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Rather than try to cram the lengthy saga of the last two years in the first post, I'm going to serialize things a bit, beginning with my solo road trip from Arizona to British Columbia and back this spring. I'll add flashbacks as needed to show how I got there, and ultimately to here and now.

 

To set the mood, a little road trip music. San Luis is in Colorado, but the wide open scenery with the snow capped mountains in the distance reminds me a lot of some of the area of California I traveled through my second day on the road. 

 

While I knew I needed to go, I had no idea of the true nature and impact of the quest I was on...

 

 

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lonepine.thumb.png.1ef0ec32cadd31f1dc50adc812bf4d8e.png

 

This was in my Twitter feed today. It's in the same general area in the Owens Valley east of the Sierras where Emma's video link above was filmed. Lone Pine is where my whole family would go camping and fishing, including my grandparents and my uncle, who will turn up later in this challenge. Heartbreaking. So many of the places I traveled through this spring and was hoping to go back for longer stays in the next few years may not be there anymore, at least nothing like how I remember them. My home state, and beloved back country areas, are on fire, and it is just the beginning of fire season in California. Four more months to go. 

 

I did get my goals done last night and posted them at the top of the thread. Did some setup and prep for the official start of the challenge and will reply to your posts above tomorrow. Right now I'm dealing with the fact that the post I intended to do today was to write about the first couple days of my trip in March, one of happy reminiscences of that area and family gatherings from 50 years ago. I just can't do it right now. 

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On 9/9/2020 at 11:30 PM, DarK_RaideR said:

Memory is by far not my strong point, so I'm struggling to recall if you ever told us you'd be going on such a trip. I don't know about others, I was legitimately worried something had happened to you.

 

Understandable, given that I've been MIA from NF for close to 2 years. My last challenge was somewhere around my 60th birthday, and I just turned 62 a few weeks ago. I've been up to my eyeballs in change and new adventures–calling it a quest really does apply–but getting back on my feet after COVID is a whole new level of difficulty. I realized I needed help and I knew where to come!  

 

 

On 9/10/2020 at 6:29 AM, doctorake said:

Following along, glad you are recovering from COVID

 

Welcome and thank you, doctorake! 

 

 

On 9/10/2020 at 8:26 AM, Emma said:

 

Aberdeen, California
Loved the San Luis song. That does look like the high desert in the Sierras.

Welcome back.

 

Hi Emma! What a great song and video - I have a new artist to add to my road trip playlist. Thank you!

 

 

On 9/10/2020 at 11:15 PM, Rurik Harrgath said:

Technooooooooo

 

Rangerrrrrrrrrrrr

 

ACTIVATE!

 

Hi, Rrrrrrurrrrik!! 

 

 

On 9/11/2020 at 6:00 AM, darkfoxx said:

OMFG YOU’RE BACK!!!!!💥

 

Yep! Love your official handle of "Druid Dachshund Director!"

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6 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

I'm so sorry SL. These fires are just awful.

 

 

I've been so busy during the week and sleeping so much on the weekends lately, that while I was aware there were fires (we've had a lot of smoke here in Arizona from them) and I knew they were bad, I wasn't up on the details. I was kind of avoiding details, quite honestly, as I knew it would be a gut punch. I didn't have a clue. I started really catching up on the news yesterday and it is just horrible on all levels. The environmental destruction, the loss of life, the impact on so many levels on the whole west coast in both the near term and extending out into the future. And I learned of the fires in the Amazon, Indonesia, the Arctic... 😭

 

I heard an interview with a meteorologist (still looking for a link - will post when I find), who is a fire modeling specialist, that these current fires are exhibiting fire behaviors they can no longer accurately model, and they are therefore unable to be confident in their predictions. (For firefighters on the ground, a bad prediction can be worse than no prediction at all. It can cause you to disbelieve or underestimate what you are observing on the ground or to stay in an area too long, thinking you have a certain margin of safety that does not actually exist.) They have never seen anything of this scale and intensity before and it seems to be driven by the amplifying effects of climate change on already extreme weather conditions, combined with other related phenomenon such as decreased soil moistures, and a higher, drier upper atmosphere. 

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/09/12/california-wildfires-smoke-plumes/

 

That leaves everyone from emergency management agencies and incident commanders down to public safety officers and firefighters on the active fire line or those trying to prepare the defenses in the wildland/urban interface without critical information to make good decisions on everything from resource needs to fire strategy and tactics, from evacuation orders to knowing when to drop your tools and get in your engine and flee. 

 

I remember discussions we were having 15 years ago at the annual AZ Wildfire Academy and in our area emergency planning organization about how to prepare for the impacts of climate change and the increases in extreme fire behavior that we were already beginning to see. It was always a range of possibilities that we planned for, always with a number of factors that might cause severity to go up or down. None of us thought it would get this bad this soon. Maybe by 2030 0r 2040, if nothing was done. Maybe.

 

We didn't have a clue about what the western US would be facing in 2020. And that has both immediate and future implications that I am left contemplating today. The limits of our knowledge and the limits of our imaginations, along with the impact of every governmental, economic, cultural and social aspect of our lives need to be very soberly assessed. They will be, I am sure, at least by some. But will that number be enough, and will they be motivated and able enough, to make the necessary changes?

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Sunday Challenge Log

1) Reduce my soda consumption to 25% (or less) of what I am currently drinking, with the end goal of being 100% soda free on or before November 1st, 2020.

  • One mark. I am measuring my soda intake Sunday through Tuesday by marking a 2 liter bottle at each increment. Once that is done, a little math and I'll know how much I need to cut between Wednesday and the end of the challenge and decide the best schedule and increments to reach my goal. Data. 

2) Increase my physical activity gradually, and as steadily as possible, given that I am still recovering from COVID-19 and am still quite de-conditioned from it.

  • 2 yard laps Sunday evening, was having quite a bit of chest tightness and rib pain, so didn't do all three,

3) Reduce my stress through meditation and journaling.

  • 2 10 min meditation sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening
  • 15 minutes in the morning, and 15 minute minutes in the evening for 2 journaling sessions

4) Create cool stuff at least 5 times per week for a half an hour (or even more!).

  • Reviewing my art portfolio, such as it is, and listing the next things I want to draw and paint. I have two partially done projects I really need get back to and finish. Did some doodling just for fun. Around half an hour.
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Monday Challenge Log

1) Reduce my soda consumption to 25% (or less) of what I am currently drinking, with the end goal of being 100% soda free on or before November 1st, 2020.

  • Two more marks on the 2L bottle. I am measuring my soda intake through Tuesday to know much I need to cut by the end of the challenge. 

2) Increase my physical activity gradually, and as steadily as possible, given that I am still recovering from COVID-19 and am still quite de-conditioned from it.

  • 2 laps around the yard this morning and 2 this evening! Personal best since the corona.
  • Also, I pushed a little bit on some strength exercises. Stuck with isolations hoping to not get the chest inflammation kicked up. 1 set 9 x 3# biceps curls; 2 sets 9 x 3# overhead extensions. That was about 30 minutes ago and I'm feeling it already. This may be harder than I thought. I may not have been isolating as well as I thought. May have to cut back to where I was? I was up to 6 with no problem, but I may have gotten a little carried away jumping to 9. Three pounds is so light, though! Patience...

3) Reduce my stress through meditation and journaling.

  • 2 10 min meditation sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening
  • 15 minutes in the morning, and 10 minute minutes in the evening for 2 journaling sessions

4) Create cool stuff at least 5 times per week for a half an hour (or even more!).

  • Played around with this, one of the unfinished pieces mentioned above, for about an hour.

     owlie.png.cbb3d2f991d73c4ea412a2712c0d6f72.png

 

This is a young Great Horned Owl done in Painter, a digital art program, inspired by an owlet I saw years ago when I was out walking on the desert. He was sitting on an arm of a saguaro just hanging out. Took some artistic liberties because I wanted to get a nest in and show some other cactus angles with more light and shade. I still need to finish the shadow of the bird where it falls on the cactus (where I got stuck and left off), add cactus spines, and fix some of the body details, but it's getting there. 

 

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