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Oromendur: Hobbitry


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“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”  ~Thorin, to Bilbo (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Annotated Hobbit, p. 348)

 

New Year greetings to all, from your friendly neighborhood Tolkien-obsessive mythologist. Having survived the past quite strange and difficult year through sheer bloody-mindedness (augmented with some NF challenges, of course), I now find myself back in my own hobbit hole after much travel and adventure and toil. The start of the new year is bringing me all sorts of fresh beginning energy. In an effort to avoid squandering that energy, I am going to set myself a challenge of simplicity, routines, and quiet joys. A challenge of hobbitry, if you will, after a year requiring full-on wizardry :)

 

Spoiler for length:

Spoiler

 

Simplicity: Every day, I will ask myself: a) Is my PAI score over 100? b) Did I go outside?

 

PAI: This is a fitness metric related to time spent in heart rate zones, calculated with an algorithm developed by researchers at NTNU (study link). I have been using the PAI system for...<checks>...a solid four years now. While my n=1 anecdotal experiment can't really make any empirical health or fitness claims, I do know that I am more active (and feel better about myself!) when I focus on it. I want to keep my momentum going into year five. I switched from an old, crappy Mio heart-rate tracker to a fancy new Fitbit one at the end of the year, and I've noticed some differences in how the PAI accumulates, so I reserve the right to alter my numerical goal if I feel like it's not working for me as well as it used to.

 

Outside: My hobbit hole is an absolute disaster. It's not too untidy, at least some of the time, but there are some significant external issues -- from the septic to the roof to the electrical and beyond -- that just keep getting worse and worse as I ignore them. The amount of work necessary to even make a start on tackling these problems in too overwhelming to contemplate, so I'm not even going to try. I'm just going to set an intention to spend at least ten minutes outside every day. My hope is that the daily effort of overcoming the huge getting-dressed-and-putting-on-shoes obstacle that keeps me at my desk until all hours will eventually lead to small bits of progress. Of course working on clearing brush or pruning trees or opening up the path to the septic tank will be wonderful, but they are not the stated goal: just getting outside will be enough for now. Walks in the canyon count, as does lunch on the deck in the sunshine. Walking to and from the car to go somewhere explicitly does not.

 

 

Routines: Every day, I will ask myself: did I complete the quaternal quaternity of my four four-part routines?

 

Morning routine: morning reading, HRV/meditation, Taiji, 3:2:1

 

Right after I wake up, I will read the day's entry in at least one of the many daily-thought 365-day yearbooks I've collected over the years. (I'm not going to specify any individual books, but my choices are likely to prove generally spiritual in nature; currently on the go I have topics ranging from Taoism and Buddhist thought to mindfulness and the sacredness of the ordinary.) Then I will put on my HRM strap and begin a meditation session of at least six minutes (during which I will also take a five-minute HRV measurement; more QS data, yay!). Then I will do the same daily Taiji form I've been practicing for decades (my teacher's White Crane 28-Form). Then I will do a very simple, utterly trivial, dig-a-groove-in-the-ground-for-the-bar-so-I-have-a-chance-of-clearing-it strength training routine I call 3:2:1 -- three twisty pushups, two ab wheel rollouts, and one (heavily band-assisted) pullup. (This might sound so trivial as to be pointless, especially in this august NF company, but I actually had some minor success sticking to something like this over the summer. I know strength training is important. But WE HATES IT PRECIOUS and I've pretty much failed every time I've tried anything bigger, so I'll just be over here with my baby-hobbit steps while y'all are out there crushing it deadlifting and shit.)

 

Work routine: Fiction, nonfiction, language, lesson

 

Since I'm not working right now, I'm choosing to actively focus on my writing practice. During the working hours of my day, I will work on my current fiction project (I'm revising a drafted psychological-alchemical-romantic fantasy novel at the moment), work on my current nonfiction project (I have a mythology book in review that needs follow-up, and another I'm outlining for proposal), do a session of language training (Duolingo, Pimsleur, reading at least a few paragraphs in a language other than English, textbook exercises, it all counts), and actively study something new (Great Courses lectures/podcasts/audiobook chapters count as long as they are objectively outside my academic field; reading words explicitly doesn't count unless it's an instructional text on a new physical skill which I also physically practice during the session).

 

Home routine: make bed, 15 zone mins, kitchen sink, tidy bathroom

 

Each day I will also take steps to maintain (and perhaps even improve!) the horrid state of my hobbit hole. The zones are those defined in Marla Cilley's original FlyLady book; the rest are pretty self-explanatory.

 

Evening routine: intention, teeth/face, stretch, evening reading

 

Before I go to bed, I will consider carefully (and then physically write out with pen and paper!) my most important task/focus/intention for the next day, brush my teeth and wash my face, do a lower-back-pain-focused stretching routine, and dip into the daily-thoughts books one more time to give my mind something positive to chew on as I drift off to sleep.

 

 

Quiet joys: At least three times a week, I will post publicly, here or on IG, about something I find delightful.

 

This can be anything: gratitude, joy, beauty, funny memes, feel-good news -- whatever, as long as I publicly remark on it. I do well with a daily gratitude practice, but it's been feeling kind of perfunctory lately, so I'm hoping to clean my joy lenses by expanding the focus to include pretty much anything that makes me smile.

 

 

To those unfamiliar with my recent challenges the overly-complex wall-of-text in the spoiler will probably seem like an awful lot, and I apologize if it comes across as overwhelming. It's not actually as bad as it sounds. Almost everything in there is an already-established habit. Although I've tweaked some details, the general structure of my routines is unchanged from previous (reasonably successful) challenges, and I've resisted the temptation to add a bunch of additional weekly requirements (at least until I can get my feet back under me after the holidays). There will be plenty of time later for stretching myself; for now, I just want to get back to where I was :unsure:

 

I am a die-hard partisan of the challenges-start-on-MONDAYS-dammit movement, so Day One of Week One of my challenge will be tomorrow. Here's wishing you all good luck in your own attempts to harness the fresh wind of new-year energy!

 

Quote

Frodo sat for a while in thought. ‘I have made up my mind,’ he said finally. ‘I am starting tomorrow, as soon as it is light.’ (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Edition, p. 107)

 

  • Like 6

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 ]

[ Current: Misty Mountains ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]   ~   [ Books ]  

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 1/3/2021 at 3:41 PM, oromendur said:

To those unfamiliar with my recent challenges the overly-complex wall-of-text in the spoiler will probably seem like an awful lot, and I apologize if it comes across as overwhelming. It's not actually as bad as it sounds. Almost everything in there is an already-established habit. Although I've tweaked some details, the general structure of my routines is unchanged from previous (reasonably successful) challenges, and I've resisted the temptation to add a bunch of additional weekly requirements (at least until I can get my feet back under me after the holidays). There will be plenty of time later for stretching myself; for now, I just want to get back to where I was :unsure:

 

Whether it's a lot or not, intention and routine are two key factors so many of us (including myself) obfuscate or ignore entirely far too often.  Thanks for the reminder!

  • Like 1

 [ Level ?? ]    Havoc, the Cyberpunk Outrider. 

BRUTALITY 13 | FINESSE 12 | GRIT 13  | INSIGHT 15 | MOXIE 13

Challenges1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35

 

"Rangers have to at least give up on pants. It's a special rule we enacted after Rurik became a Guild Leader.” – DarK_RaideR.

"Did I just get my ass kicked by a member of Metallica meets History Channel's Vikings?" - Wolfpool.

"By the Well-Oiled-and-Meticulously-Groomed Beard of Rurik!" - Tanktimus the Encourager.

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The Shire at this time had hardly any ‘government’. Families for the most part managed their own affairs. Growing food and eating it occupied most of their time. In other matters they were, as a rule, generous and not greedy, but contented and moderate, so that estates, farms, workshops, and small trades tended to remain unchanged for generations. (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Edition, p. 9)

 

Ah, the comforts of escapist fantasy (sigh)* 

 

So, it's Monday of Week -- what? Three? Four? <checks> Four.

 

Wow.

 

I mean, there was a challenge around here somewhere, wasn't there?

 

Although I think I'd rather just pretend the last few weeks didn't happen, that actually won't improve anything, and the whole point here is trying to improve, right? So I guess I'll just go ahead and post a catch-up set of updates anyway.

 

[WEEK ONE UPDATE}

 

There are a couple of ways to look at my results from Week One. An overall score of 54% is objectively a failure, but I guess I could also say that I did what I said I was going to do slightly more than half of the time. (It doesn't sound so bad that way.)

 

PAI: 4/7 [57%]

Outside: 2/7 [29%]

Routines: Morning (22+2)/28 [86%], Work 6/28 [21%], Home 21/28 [75%], Evening (18+3)/28 [75%]

Delights: 1/3 [33%]

 

Yeah, the whole work thing wasn't going all that well, but I managed to get a handle on the rest of it, and hey, it was Week One, I was just getting used to the new set of tasks. Yeah, that's it :rolleyes:

 

[WEEK TWO UPDATE]

 

Things admittedly kind of started to look up a bit in Week Two. An overall grade of 68% is definitely showing improvement, and actually squeaks into passing score territory. (Spoiler: it didn't last.)

 

PAI: 6/7 [86%]

Outside: 2/7 [29%]

Routines: Morning (27+1)/28 [100%], Work 12/28 [43%,] Home (23+1)/28 [86%], Evening (25+2)/28 [96%]

Delights: 1/3 [33%]

 

Morning and evening routines were pretty good, and I even managed to get some cleaning done. But, um, yeah -- see that still-seriously-failing Work score? It got worse...

 

[WEEK THREE UPDATE]

 

I really don't know why, but I was seriously struggling in Week Three. I honestly think there's something wrong with my brain sometimes. I had real work to do -- actual real-world writing tasks, with deadlines and everything. I just didn't do them. And after nearly a week of this not-doing I honestly started to fall into the questioning-my-sanity patterns that hit me so hard last summer. Out of habit (or some sort of morbid curiosity) I kept recording my challenge efforts anyway, and so I can confirm my failure, with an overall score of a pretty pathetic 45%.

 

PAI: 1/7 [14%]

Outside: 1/7 [14%]

Routines: Morning 27/28 [96%], Work 3/28 [11%], Home (21+1)/28 [79%], Evening 28/28 [100%]

Delights: 0/3 [0%] 

 

Actually, typing this out has helped me see that -- even in the midst of a full-on failure-to-person -- my morning and evening routines are actually pretty rock-solid. I guess it didn't feel like I was succeeding at anything because I was failing miserably at the stuff that actually matters, but I should probably acknowledge that nailing those (especially in the midst of such a shitty episode) was a fair accomplishment.

 

The only reason the PAI and Outside scores for Week Three aren't zero is that on Sunday I just really couldn't take it anymore. I forced myself to get dressed (it had been a few days) and go out for a ramble in the canyons, and that little bit of exercise seemed to help lift some of the funk. It also exhausted me, and it certainly didn't help me to get any work done, but it did set me up for success today. Here on the evening of Monday of Week Four, I am actually on track to have my very first perfect day of the challenge. I really hope this means I'm done with whatever foolishness my brain was pulling on me the last few weeks.

 

I will have a go at catching up on some Adventurer threads over the next few days. If I don't manage it, I do want to say that, if you're reading this, please know that I am grateful for your attention and for your presence on these boards. I'm pretty shit at interacting, but just the fact that NF exists is enough of a lifeline that I usually can manage to use it claw myself out of these awful pits I fall into :) 

 

Week Four. New day, new week, new opportunity to try again. Let's go. Onward!

 

* I mean, I'm not sure how a place with twice-daily post services (The Annotated Hobbit, p. 32, p 39n15) and lawyers to conduct estate auctions (The Annotated Hobbit, p. 360) can legitimately be characterized as a place with 'hardly any government,' but that's a bit beside the point.

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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 ]

[ Current: Misty Mountains ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]   ~   [ Books ]  

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 1/5/2021 at 3:01 AM, annyshay said:

Hi Oromendur! Looks great as usual. Glad to see you!

 

AAAAAAAH ANNYSHAY'S BACK HOORAY :wub:  Welcome, friend! Wonderful to see you! Hope your challenge is going well!

 

On 1/5/2021 at 11:27 AM, Rurik Harrgath said:

Whether it's a lot or not, intention and routine are two key factors so many of us (including myself) obfuscate or ignore entirely far too often.  Thanks for the reminder!

 

I'm actually struggling a lot with setting intentions in the evening. I don't have a great system for it (yet) and over the last week or so it's actually done little more than make me feel shitty the next day when I don't even come close to actually accomplishing the things I do manage to write down. There's quite a skill to setting daily intentions, much more of one than I thought when I decided to try it, and I clearly need more than a bit of practice :) Hope you're having better luck with your own! Thanks as always for stopping by.

 

On 1/15/2021 at 7:16 AM, Teros said:

Hey how's it been going?

 

Like a dumpster on fire, to be perfectly honest (sigh). But I'm back (and cautiously hopeful that Week Four has a chance to be better). Thank you for the poke, and for your steady support! Hope things are well with you.

  • Like 2

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 ]

[ Current: Misty Mountains ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]   ~   [ Books ]  

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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WEEK FOUR. Seriously. What can I really say about Week Four?

 

Well, I could say all sorts of horrible things...

Spoiler

...things about the worst back pain episode since last fall that has pretty much immobilized me since Wednesday, or things about the fact that my oven decided to die on Friday while I was baking pizza, like: a) the temperature control completely failed, which meant self-cleaning levels of heat, very black pizza, and an inability to shut off at all, and b) a desperate search for the circuit breaker in the rainy night that ultimately failed because I was afraid of the scary don't-touch-this-or-you'll-die labels from the solar install, and c) the resulting necessity of pulling the oven out and unplugging it from the wall to avoid a house fire -- while the oven was superheated -- while I could hardly move for back pain, and d) the $160 for the electrician who had to make a trip on a Sunday morning to rewire the outlet, something I would ordinarily be able to do except that I couldn't [BLEEP]ing move (much less bend down to dig out the jury-rigged bullshit I apparently had going on back there), or even things about the fact that I forced myself out for a VERY painful walk on Sunday afternoon to try and loosen things up in my back and reclaim my PAI score which had been coasting on residuals all week only to find out that my once-lovely canyon nature walk has turned into a muddy disaster of a construction site, right down to the ugly stumps of hundred-year-old oak trees poking out of the torn-up ground (sigh) I've had kind of a shit week.

...but I won't. Instead I'm going to say that I squeaked out a passing C grade for the first time this challenge, and I actually managed two perfect days on Monday and Tuesday before everything went to shit.

 

Thinking positive, right? Anyway. Here's the official [WEEK FOUR UPDATE}:

 

PAI: 7/7 [100%] 

Outside: 3/7 [43%]

Routines: Morning 26/28 [93%], Work 16/28 [57%], Home (24+1)/28 [89%], Evening (28+3)/28 [111%]

Delights: 0/3 [0%]

 

A bit of extra credit (and a lot of residual PAI) meant I was able to prop up the seriously failing grades from the Outside, Delights, and Work Routine tasks (although, in that thinking-positive spirit, I'll point out that my Work score was the best I've managed this challenge) and I somehow ended up with a 70% overall score. Not too shabby, all things considered.

 

Now, on Monday of Week Five, I'm sitting in a chair with a massager on my back, looking at my blank white spreadsheet, and trying to come up with the motivation to publicly state an intention to beat my challenge high score this week. Considering that my morning and evening routines are nice and solid, and considering that posting nice things on IG three times is hardly punishing labor, and considering that for about two hours today I was actually able to walk around in only a little bit of pain, it's possible. So, yeah. I'll do it. Week Five. Let's go. 

 

Right.

 

I, uh, guess that means I'd better quit goofing off on the internet and go do some work...

 

Good luck everyone! Hope you are finishing strong! 

 

Here is plucky little Bilbo with some wise guidance for us all:

Quote

“Go back?’ he thought. ‘No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!’ So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Annotated Hobbit, p. 116.)

 

  • 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 ]

[ Current: Misty Mountains ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]   ~   [ Books ]  

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 2/5/2021 at 5:34 AM, Teros said:

How's the back now?  Also, that sucks about the charred pizza. No molto bene.

 

Better, thanks. Well enough that I can mostly move during the day and don't need painkillers and muscle relaxants to sleep, anyway. I'll take what I can get (even if I am still really creaky in the mornings). And this week's pizza was much better too!

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 ]

[ Current: Misty Mountains ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]   ~   [ Books ]  

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

Welp, the New Year challenge is over.

 

Good riddance, if you ask me (sigh) 2021 started with such a low bar to clear that improvement over its predecessor felt like a slam dunk, but, well, here we are...

 

I did manage to keep it together a bit better here at the end. Here's the [WEEK FIVE UPDATE]:

 

PAI: 7/7 [100%] Yay, residuals.

Outside: 4/7 [57%] Still a failure, but, hey, improvement?

Routines: Morning 28/28 [100%], Work 20/28 [71%], Home (22+1)/28 [82%], Evening (27+3)/28 [107%] Look, a passing Work score! Yay! (To be fair, this is mostly because I'm in a research phase on the nonfiction project and all I have to do to earn my green box is read a chapter of a book I'd want to read anyway, but, you know, whatever it takes.)

Delights: 2/3 [67%] This really shouldn't be this hard. I don't know why I can't get my arms around this. But, still, improvement.

 

Week Five's final tally comes to a perfectly respectable 84%, which easily beats my barely-passing Week Four high score. Well done me.

 

I suppose.

 

I don't know why I feel so dissatisfied with everything right now. Looking back, I really did do a lot of good things that I probably wouldn't have been able to make myself do had I not had a challenge going, and that is undoubtedly a win, so I need to stop being such a grump and get on with closing out this challenge and setting up the next one.

 

Spoiler for challenge retrospective:

Spoiler

Analyzing the changes I made to my old routines, I had some successes and some failures:

  • I am glad I added the HRV measurement to my meditation. Although I suspect it is probably more a measurement of the quality of my meditation practice than the quality of my overall health, the two are not completely decoupled, and -- even if they were -- such information is relatively useful. Once I get this habit solidly established I might actually be able to start tracking the relationship between HRV and sleep and mood and other things which are all too much trouble right now. Also, having an external technological box to tick also makes it considerably less likely that I will skip the meditation, which is excellent. I will keep doing this.
  • I am less convinced about substituting a positive daily thought reading in the morning and evening for my morning journaling requirement. It is objectively easier to earn my green boxes every day (and green boxes are weirdly motivating for me) but I do think I am missing out on the benefits of the journaling. I *know* I am more productive when I do morning pages.  But they just take SO LONG and my routine already takes forever and I already have so little productive morning time before the weight of the day bears down and sucks the life out of me <WAILS> Ugh. I'll have to think about this ridiculous Catch-22 a bit more.
  • I suck at writing intentions. Again, this provides a quick and easy slam-dunk green box that makes me feel like I've accomplished something in my evening routine, but there's no real incentive within my challenge structure to actually, you know, DO what I say I'm going to do. This pushes me to make other choices, but leaves me feeling bad, and that's not a good way to set things up. Maybe I should make that an extra credit opportunity or something?

There were some insights related to the existing (i.e. unchanged) routines too:

  • I feel a little constrained by the housecleaning zones. More than a few times there was something that needed done, and I was in a time-and-energy position to do it, but I didn't because it wasn't in that week's zone, and of course there wasn't anything in that week's zone that did fit my time-and-energy situation, and so nothing got done at all. This is stupid. Energy and willingness to do household jobs is rare enough that I should not permit my structure waste it like that. But -- but -- without the organization of the zones there will be parts of the house that never ever get touched...so... Double ugh. I need to think about this too.
  • Even though I failed utterly at posting delightful things, I know for an absolute fact that I'm a better person all around when I have some sort of explicit gratitude or joy practice going. I'm not sure why it's not working right now; maybe it's time to stop fooling around and just make it a daily requirement, so it's less easy to put off.

 

I see that all you overachievers are already out of the gates and running over on the new challenge boards. I'm going to need a few days, I think, but I'll see everybody there once I get my act together.

 

In the meantime, I'll be here, hiding in my hobbit hole, waiting for my grumpy mood to improve enough that I can show my face again :) 

 

tenor.gif

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 ]

[ Current: Misty Mountains ]   ~   [ Tracking spreadsheet ]   ~   [ Instagram ]   ~   [ Books ]  

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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