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EricMN - Built On Hope


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Hello. I'm Eric. I'm a guy in my mid-50s. I'm a massive Star Wars nerd. 


I was a long-time regular here on the challenge forums and regularly struggled with time management, over-commitment and in late 2019, a massive change in my family structure when my ex-wife passed away and I gained full custody of my two teenage children. I tried to stay active here but the last couple years have been rough at best and I haven't been here for quite a while due to a variety of factors that I won't bore any of you with. 


I was a skinny teenager, I gained a bunch of weight as an adult, and then I finally got healthy in my mid-40s. I spent some time kicking around a second career as a personal trainer but never got certified. I also got into Obstacle Course racing. At first I just did a LOT of races and piled up a substantial "I crossed the finish line" count but eventually I got decently good at it, meaning that on certain weekends with certain turnouts I could place in the top 10 of my age group in the "Competitive" category of a Spartan Sprint. 


That feels like a long time ago. I am effectively starting over.




I've gained about 30 pounds in the last three years. I have lost most of my functional strength and all of my cardio fitness thanks to Long COVID. I have arthritis, which has really done a number on my feet and my grip strength. I have lost my 10-year relationship with the gym where I was a founding member as it has been sold and I no longer know anyone there.

That seems like a lot of bad news. The good news is I have Hope. And this is why I'm back here.




Goals for this challenge:


Be Active

One of my friends joked that I am a long-winded speaker and now I'm constantly out of wind and if they had known that all it took was an infectious disease to solve that problem they would have coughed on me sooner. It's been hard to want to be active when I can run out of breath while speaking a medium-length sentence (again, thanks Long COVID). I'm at my happiest when I'm active, and vital. Yes I'm seeing a doctor as I get back to being regularly active. I won't do anything dumb like start running every day or doing high-intensity workouts four days a week. But I will be active. Walking, running, bike riding, "Prison Cell" workouts in my home office during the day. Those kinds of things.

Goal: 30 minutes of activity every day.


Be Positive

I've noticed over the last three (four? maybe) years that my levels of social anxiety have spiked. Part of that may be getting older, part of that may be me keeping far too up-to-date on the worst parts of society, part of it may just be the built-in relationships I've had for the last decade going by the wayside. It's easy to find the worst in every situation and even easier to find the worst in others. That's unproductive and unhealthy.

Goal: Start a journal and write down at least three positive affirmations each morning, and note three positive things that happened at the end of each day.

Be Present

When my office closed in March of 2020 due to the global pandemic, I made sure I had a support system. I'm an introvert by nature, but there's a difference between having some alone time and being lonely. Now that I'm working exclusively from home - permanently - I'm going to need to find ways to make sure I am not staying isolated. Part of that is coming back here and posting regularly to the forums. I'm at my best emotionally when I'm building relationships and being supportive of others.

Goal: Post an update here every day of this challenge, even weekends.


What's Going On During This Challenge

I used to have a laundry list of stuff - as I said, over-committed. Right now I don't. My most pressing project I'm working on right now are some updates to the deck I built during June of 2020.


Out with the old


In with the new

Also, my oldest son is moving out of my place into his own apartment on the First of November and I'll be helping him move all his stuff, which also means we'll be doing some major rearranging around here.

This means I should have more than enough time and emotional energy to put some focus on regaining my health. I can feel what the cooler weather is bringing.



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Eric!!!!  I remember you and all the obstacle course racing (I went by Phoenix Burning back then).  You were one of the people who got me into it, although I am also in respawn mode since injury, surgery, weight gain etc etc etc.


I am glad you survived your bout with long COVID,  even if you are still feeling its effects.  I'm pulling for you!

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Life before Death

Strength before Weakness

Journey before Destination

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On 10/21/2022 at 6:13 PM, Lyn said:

Wow ... I hear you on so many levels. I will leave it at that, for now. 


Prayers for you & yours. 

Fair enough. Thank you and thanks for your kind words.


On 10/21/2022 at 8:32 PM, Everstorm said:

Eric!!!!  I remember you and all the obstacle course racing (I went by Phoenix Burning back then).  You were one of the people who got me into it, although I am also in respawn mode since injury, surgery, weight gain etc etc etc.


I am glad you survived your bout with long COVID,  even if you are still feeling its effects.  I'm pulling for you!

The good news is we have an awesome community to use for our respawn point, right? 


On 10/22/2022 at 3:04 AM, DarK_RaideR said:

Here for old man Luke Skywalker images and to support my adopted nerddad. Sorry about your COVID struggles, but real glad to see you back around here.

There will be plenty of Old Man Skywalker complaining as per usual. Good to see you too, my adopted nerdson.



On 10/22/2022 at 9:33 AM, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Hugs buddy. I am so happy you are here. I will always be here to support you old friend.

Thank you, my friend. I'm not active on social media but I still read enough to hear the siren's call. Thank you for that.

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Here to cheer you on. Hope is so important. 

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Past Challenges: #1, #2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10#11#12#13#14#15#16

Current Challenge: #17


“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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It was unseasonably warm, nearly 80degF on both days when our normal high temps are around 55degF. On Sundays I have had a standing Tech Crew obligation at church for three or four years. We're finally making headway so it's not an Unpaid Second Job. I was able to get there much later than usual, only had to assist with one troubleshooting item, and was free afterward to actually be present as a member of the congregation. It feels weird. I'll have to get used to it.


We spent all day Saturday putting away our patio furniture and cleaning my garage in preparation for some HVAC work that will happen this week. We spent the better part of the afternoon on Sunday raking the yard. This felt like an exercise in futility, as our back yard backs up onto a large city park and is tree-lined along the back of our property, and about half the leaves have still yet to fall, and yesterday afternoon we were under a high wind advisory with sustained winds of 15-25 miles an hour and gusts between 24 and 45 mph. Nature replaced whatever we took away. We'll have to do it again next weekend. Sounds like a built-in excuse to get some more active time in.


Be Active

I spent all day Saturday and most of the afternoon Sunday moving furniture and raking leaves. 


Be Positive

Three positive affirmations from yesterday:

  • I am thankful for the people at my church who have stepped up to volunteer with the tech work. 
  • I am thankful for my partner and fiancé, who loves doing yardwork and keeps up that part of our home.
  • I am thankful for my kids, who are all much better adults - young and not-so-young - than I was at the same age.

Three positive things that happened yesterday:

  • I am getting support with the tech crew at church and wasn't needed by default.
  • I enjoyed the weather! Arthritis sucks, cold weather hurts, the warm weather was appreciated.
  • I was able to get a very non-standard, fiddly piece of my deck skirting taken care of yesterday. I wasn't sure how I was going to do it, stepped back and thought about it, used some techniques I have learned over the past few years and made it work. I got it done before the winds blew my tools off the deck.

This is going to be a process. I'll provide context.

I got the angled pieces below the stair railing done. I cut them all by hand with a Ryoba saw to make sure I had the angle right.
The first long piece needed to be notched out so that it was even with the rest of the skirting as well. Took me some thought to get that one right.

I'm not sure about the "margin" on the left-hand side of these. There's a one-inch gap between the two "panels" beneath the upper deck.
Should the gap be half an inch to the trim on the left-hand side? It's the same as the gap between the wide fascia boards and the top skirt pieces.




Be Present

Hello! It was nice to catch up on some of y'all's threads here. It felt good to embrace some community.

Well, that's a little dramatic, but I appreciate all y'all.

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Great to see you back man!


The deck's looking good! If I'm understanding you correctly, I think it lining up and not having the gap on the left looks better.

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Level 21 Wood Elf Ranger

STR: 16  -  CON: 22  -  CHA: 9  -  SAN: 19 -  INT: 17


"Shit is going down, but I am not." - iatetheyeti

Don't say "I don't have enough time", say instead "that's not a priority right now" and see how that makes you feel.

Current Challenge: Jarric embraces brevity

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Old Stuff: Battle Log - My Introduction - 2017 Road Map - 2018 Road Map - 2019 Road Map - 2021 Road Map - 2022 road map/wrap-up

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The day started off well. We did a bunch of last-minute moving and rearranging in preparation for having our pellet stove installed in the garage. By afternoon I was feeling dizzy and my vision was kind of blurry, the "Brain Fog" that comes with Long COVID. When this happens I tend to try to lay low. It's frustrating and I'm ready for it to be over.


Be Active

It wasn't a great day. Fortunately, I work from home and Mondays and Tuesdays are loaded with meetings that for now I'm more of a listener than an active contributor and I don't need to burn through my PTO. It was a good day not to have a great day.


Be Positive

Three positive affirmations from yesterday:

  • I am thankful for my project managers at work. They are taking a lot of the stress off of my new position. 

    Oh yeah, I took a "new position". 

    In December of 2017 my company was acquired but instead of being consumed and spit out, Rancor-style, we were slowly digested, like Boba Fett in the Sarlacc pit.

    With equal chances of escape.

    In June of 2020 my team was called together by the VP of IT for Sarlacc Corp and told that our services were no longer required. We were each given an exit date of either June 30, 2022 or December 31, 2022 with a significant severance for me unless we were offered a new position at up to 80% of our salaries. We all decided to do what we were asked when we were asked and otherwise not add value as to not risk being offered a lesser position and lose our severance.


    "Or at 80% of base pay"

    That strategy lasted me exactly three meetings into our first "hand off all our stuff" project before I couldn't take it anymore and exposed myself. By December of 2021, I was actively working on 15 separate projects as either an implementer or a subject matter expert. I was getting feedback that the managers I was working with at Sarlacc Corp didn't want to lose me. This past June they offered me a permanent position, which I accepted in July, that included a retention bonus equal to my severance, payable over three years. I will work from home permanently as part of this new position. Currently my duties are "Support all the stuff you have always supported" until we sunset some of it and figure out what to do with the rest.

  • I am thankful for my daily 30-foot commute to work.
  • I am thankful for Good DaysTM.

Three positive things that happened yesterday:

  • I got complimented by a co-worker on my office redesign from list past summer.

    Oh man, I guarantee I didn't mention this anywhere. It was a metric ton of work but it's turning out the way I want it so far.


    The room was old 60's plywood paneling with old 60's fluorescent lights and a drop-ceiling before I started. I tore everything out down to the studs and installed drywall, a custom light fixture, and new carpeting. 

    Here it is, pretty much empty:


    I'll clean the joint up and take some pics later. I still have a lot of work to do.

  • We got some much-needed rain. The temps fell way off and it was still windy and it wasn't much rain, but we're in the middle of a major drought and it was good.
  • We scheduled a contractor to come in and install a pellet stove heater in my garage shop so I can work out there comfortably all winter long.

Be Present

I posted my update and I'm looking forward to seeing how the NGW story lines play out in @DarK_RaideR's thread.

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