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[MaD MaLKaV] was taught how to change the topic of a post


MaD MaLKaV

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Hi all! New druid coming from the ranks of the new rebels. I'm going to detail my ideas for this challenge briefly, since I've already been doing them this week and need to get some sleep. I get to enjoy some time with my dentist in the AM for six fillings.

Sooo. Here's what I wrote brainstorming in my last challenge thread: "I've got neck stretches to add, could use some help forcing myself to prepare lectures, should still start walking and/or doing yoga with some regularity, and I don't feel like meditation has become as automatic a habit as it could be. There, planning done, no reason to put off the next challenge!"

Let's formalize those and add some context.

1. Continuing my vegetarian diet that I stuck with the month before and during last challenge, and also challenging myself to 30 days without sweets. Starting the day after tomorrow, basically after I finish the ice cream that I have on hand for if my teeth don't feel much like eating real food.

+3 CON (1 for every 10 consecutive days without sweets)

2. I'm torn between mental and physical for this slot. I think I am going to roll with meditating to help my mental resilience since I have ALOT of studying to do. I plan to do more walking and yoga as time permits, but I want to reinforce my regular meditation habit that I was trying to build for my habit. 5 days a week (or more).

5 WIS (5 if I average 5 days, 4 for 4, etc)

3. I hurt my knee a while back. Last challenge, I challenged myself to get serious about regularly stretching. I used to do my stretches sometime, when I thought about it. Committing to it helped me do them everyday, and more importantly, my knee started feeling (and still feels) better than it has in months. But all my studying and reading last challenge started hurting my neck and back. This time, I want to add neck and back stretches to my current knee stretching routine. I also want to take more breaks at natural spaces in my reading such as end of big problems sections or chapters (for water, stretching, or simply to think).

+3 DEX (1 for every two weeks I do this 5 or more days, mistakes can be made up for by later effort on free days, would prefer to do this 7 days a week anyway, but leaving me some room to stray)

# Epic Life Quest: The Path of the Sage

4. Daily studying for PhD qualifying exams. Minimum 2 hours. No days off for good behavior. Last challenge I did a lot of reading. Some of it included studying and some didn't. I'm still welcome to read, but studying takes priority. Exams are in three weeks. After I finish those, I want to study other stuff in the area of research we're moving into. The PCP theorem along with other pure computational complexity theory topics. After 3.5 weeks full throttle (hopefully more than 2 hours on the average day), I want to back off to 1 hour a day and allow myself to double up on certain days if I wish to take others off. But that isn't an option before quals are finished.

+4 WIS (4 pts as follows: 3 for the 3 weeks at 2 hours, 1 for not letting myself slack off the entire remainder)

Personal Mini-challenge: Review my slides before lecturing each week, at least 15 minutes. (+1 CHA)

I've noticed that I need to spend a little time reviewing my slides before giving lectures, even if I am using the same slides and lectures as I did in the Spring semester for the same course. I've been a little overconfident with how much I need to look them over. It takes very little investment in time (~15 mins or so to refresh my memory) to make my lectures much smoother, more pleasurable for me, and likely more interesting for at least a portion of the students that come planning to pay attention.

I've been doing everything my the meditation and sweets so far. No sweets starts Friday. meditation starts now. The rest I'll continue.

In the future (likely next challenge), I want to take 1 slot each challenge to focus on a particular stoic meditative or contemplative exercise in a particular epic quest that I'm loosely calling "The Path of the Sage." I've been reading a lot of stoic authors lately and found the particular exercises detailed for modern readers either in Irvine, Hadot, Robertson, or the "Stoic Week Handbook". I wrote up the ones advocated by Irvine, but now My focus is on my studies. Actually, it seems a fine time to declare that my life quest, as the Sage possesses both knowledge and wisdom, so studying fits the theme. Next time I will either switch that to studying classic stoic authors, Negative Visulation exercises (contemplating death and loss to better savor what one has), or regularly practicing the "A View From Above" meditations as a reminder of how small our problems seem from afar and how little even our planet is in the larger scope. Any one of those seems a good entry point to go deeper in that quest, but for now I have time.

Stay tuned, same danger time, same danger channel. Next report might just include reports of terrible sugar cravings.

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

Intro | Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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Hello and welcome!  Good luck with the knee!

Spoiler

PREVIOUS CHALLENGES

2013: 6/1/13 - 7/24/13 - 9/15/13 - 11/6/13   2014: 1/5/142/19/14 - 4/9/14 - 6/6/14 - 7/24/14 - 9/11/14 - 11/5/14 

2015: 1/2/15 - 2/20/15 - 4/9/15 - 6/2/15 - 9/10/15 - 10/26/15   2016: 1/1/16 - 2/28/16 - 3/28/16 - 6/6/16 - 9/19/16 - 10/26/16 - 11/26/16   

2017: 1/1/17 - 9/17/17   2018: 1/1/18 - 2/5/18 - 8/13/18 - 11/26/18   2019: 1/7/19   2020: 9/13/20

 

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Welcome here!

 

This sounds pretty good.

 

But I have to disappoint you: Im pretty sure you cant edit the title.

Just send me a PM and I'll do it tomorrow night ;)

Oh, that's nice of you. I should have said "wonders" instead of "hopes" actually . If it doesn't bother anyone else, I'm fine with the title. I'm a firm believer in not trying things via trial and error unless I am willing to accept the results of an error.

On a mildly related note, your challenge thread says "Sumage," (missing an 'n') and I can't help but think "It's pronounced Soo-mahj" everytime I see it. Of course, that always makes me chuckle because I am easily amused, so I am not actually recommending that you fix it.

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

Intro | Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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Welcome to the Druids LLCawthorne, I hope that you feel comfortable here!

I find your goals realistic and they sound well thought out, I look forward to following your progress!

What would you say is your main motivation?

Ugh, you would start me out with a hard question... Motivation? Don't think I've had any of that for a while. But if I'm alive, I might as well be doing something.

I can give my little motivations for tasks:

1. Vegetarian was and is non-harm. No sweets, I'm interested in how that influences my energy and moods, and also losing a few pounds for health reasons.

2. Meditation because I used to find it both useful and enjoyable, so I am trying to get it back to a habitual level.

3. Stretching knee, neck, and back.. Just avoiding pain. Overall, pain makes my poor mood spells more likely, and it's natural enough not to want to hurt unless you have something to learn from it.

X. Study for quals. Well, I get two attempts to pass quals or I am out of the PhD program. Most people do it in their second year, but I've just kinda put it off until now (entering fourth year). Having trouble feeling terribly motivated to do it though except for preparing some in my favorite subject (which, funny enough, isn't my research area). Either way, I'm signed up to take the test is in two weeks, and people are getting on me to get it done already.

Note: I've added a succinct motivation for being here and self-improvement several posts down.

Now, as stated, none of those are my main motivation. I guess a hard question deserves a complicated answer, and maybe you feel like reading through a wall of text, so here goes... I'm pretty sure I don't have one, but it's a long and twisting tale about where I am. I'll just focus on the last seven years since I got married and for the most part rebooted my life. Note: it doesn't have to be such a "twisting tale," but I can get ramble-y.

First, the Short conclusion:

I just want to do something and remind myself that I'm alive and can make decisions for myself, but don't have any major goal or motivation other than doing something particular. Although I am somewhat uncertain about whether continuing it is really worthwhile, I also don't want to necessarily pull out of my PhD program, since that's not an easy step to reverse, hence although me having good explanations of why I could and should, I am viewing them with some suspicion. Because I've been not terribly able to focus on hard material, I've read through a number fitness books and Nerd Fitness blog some while losing weight over the past couple of years (in all that nonsense, I did manage to shed about 50 pounds over the past year or two or so). I actually read a whole lot of them that first loop graduate school year, and retained a lot of that also, apparently. Either way, I decided to show up and join up the rebellion to start making some little changes to remind myself that I can do things. It's also been a pleasant reminder that people aren't all bad, which is nice since I've spent a lot of time getting picked on my use, getting high and ignoring people in my teens, and hanging out with satanists and drug addicts when a bit older. When I cut my ties to those folks, I pretty much cut my ties to everyone buy my wife, her family and my family, which admittedly is a little strange. I've gotten so used to it, that I believe I have become a bit misanthropic over the past seven years or so. Either way, once coming here, I started with small goals that I can easily identify with, especially focused on meditation. Druids seem a good fit, because I like yoga and meditation, and I have an interest in Tai Chi and would take it at the local place if I had a job where I could afford it.

Now, the big ramble-y tale that no one really has to read, but since it's my thread I might as well let loose..

At my youngest, I was always an intellectual nerd with great score and what not. Then, for the longest time, I was side-tracked and motivated by chaotic desires and base instincts. I never planned on living past around 25, so future planning didn't make much sense. At some point, I came to my senses and decided that at the very least, I didn't want to be a bad example for others of how not to live one's life. Now, I'm even older and I even with my limited income as a student paired with my wife's work, I have more than I ever imagined I would have, even if I had lived. Not just physical possessions, but a strong relationship with my wife, tolerable relations with my parents, and excellent relations with the in-laws. But I'm slightly adrift too...

The one thing that I always felt myself to be, unless completely obsessed by mere passions, was a seeker of knowledge. So, after I got things straight, I went back to school. It probably makes sense, as before I got my life all mixed up, I was mostly a kid that did well in school and had one or two weird friends at a time. I enjoyed it there and did exceptional. Because I was a self-described seeker of knowledge, it felt like the right thing to do after I got my life back on track and wanted to be more than "not a bad example." The one other constant in my life is various levels of insanity mitigated by occasional clear periods, due to bipolar disorder. It's part of the reason that I especially feel unmotivated, because I've lived with it long enough to know that no matter what, the moods will come and wash over me and they will discolor everything, either making me feel like my unexpected success is abject failure or like I have a bottomless pit of desires and matching energy but with no focus to direct them at something. They have little influence from outside successes or failures, with the notable exception that stress and instability (such as major changes) can help trigger, so the ending of undergrad and transition to graduate school probably threw me off balance (and my cat dying, and moving to a new house even if it was nicer than that apartment...). During the four year time, I was actually on an inadequate dose to manage my condition anyway, but it was never severely tested...

On a side note, this is where my original long-term interest in meditation came from. It both reduces my overall stress levels and also allows me to keep in touch well enough with myself to have a better idea of whether or not take on extra projects and push myself or go easy or what not. I fell out of the habit in my time of well being and the years directly before that when I was content enough to keep myself out of trouble. Meditation had helped me when I was younger to keep some control of the reins and stay off the Thorazine though. It didn't necessarily make me much of a nicer or less narcissistic (and sometimes borderline solipsistic) bloke. Granted, My own description much harder on myself about that period of time than I likely deserve, and I imagine most people don't hold many permanents scars from the time. Either way, I forgive myself for that now also, and prefer not to reflect back unless there is something useful to be learned (meditation does help me to calm down and steer myself towards my goals, whether they are selfish or selfless) or I want a reminder of things that I don't want to do (it's rather nice having such a ready made bad example). Hmm.. Ok, back to almost now.

But.. Oh, yeah, graduate school started. Change was too much. Adjusted my medications to a brand new scheme that made me incapable of being a grad student or much of anything else. Had horrible grades with a minimal course load my first semester, and doubled-down on the same meds my second semester, and my state got twisted far enough that I had to drop classes before the mid-semester. It was a rather shocking slap in the face after being able to cut through the lower classes like butter with extra time to succeed in other directions, but we figured it out... Teased my meds around the second year & half the third, and I was quite capable of passable grades and little to no interest in my research topic. When we got it settled, I was mostly in a mildly depressed state where little mattered but I could plod around and get something done here or there. Got a new doctor around this past January or so, and actually had my best grades yet and a marked rebound of energy under the 12 or so pills a day I swallow now. The interesting thing about bipolar though, is that it's always questionable whether the 12 pills were the ticket, or I had just settled into an over year of depression after we kicked out the other destabilizing medicine.

In short though, for the last several months, I've felt pretty good. I take a lot of pills, but really don't care whether they are doing it or it's natural, because we've combined medicines in such a way that I don't have noticeable negative side effects. Strangely enough, I'm not terribly motivated for anything, so I think we are covering up for an underlying depression partially. But it's equally possible that I just have no idea what I want. When I went into a tailspin, I went into graduate school. I thought I wanted to teach at that point. Right now, I'm not so sure, which is likely the reason that I need to make a silly public commitment to study for my qualifying exams rather than naturally just devouring the information, since I'm not sure whether I should be where I am or not. To secure a solid exit route, I've recently submitted paperwork for my masters, since in three years I've actually collected more than enough credit for a Masters degree (and am only 3 short of what I need for my PhD, except for the 12 of dissertation work which among other things would require me to decide a topic I like and settle into it).

I like teaching ok, but I'ld rather be writing code. The only tangible accomplishment I've made in the past three years is writing some neat code for my advisor (and earning some credits with mediocre for me, but above departmental requirement scores). Coding is an activity that I am amazing at when I feel good and capable at when I feel bad, and that I can properly lose myself in when doing.. I'm not sure if it's what they call "flow" or not, but it definitely seems like there isn't a separation between do-er and do-ing anymore. Granted, I know doing it as a job isn't *always* like that, but just occasionally achieving it is well worth the activity. That's also why I cook as a hobby... Cooking I get to do something with my hands and meld with the task. I like to code as a hobby, but have been too swamped trying to keep up with other stuff. It should try channel that into a proper fitness practice really.

Anyway the PhD trains you to be a teacher or a researcher, and the Masters if more than enough for any job. The wife doesn't want to relocate, and I agree that it's probably best for me to stay put. She wants a kid, which might be ok, but considering how much trouble I've had just taking care of myself recently... ? Honestly, the only thing I can really say I want right now is to be left mostly alone to read a lot of books, but not research related books that have been frustrating me on and off in my rather if-fy state the last several years. But that's not a tenable long-term plan, so beats me.

Might as well do something, and the challenges give me a way to list off some things so at least I'll get up and put one foot towards the other on something. Although I'm still not really feeling the study for quals thing, and they're in two weeks. I can pass 1 of 3 subject areas, I think, primarily off my talent in pure Theory. I could pass compilers, if I would sit down and read the book. But instead today, I watched "Fed Up", three "Colbert Reports" and a "Daily Show", took a long nap, spent time floating around on this board, and at least fit in two nice meditations (yay for that). It is funny watching all that TV, since I normally don't... I also made a Doctor's appointment and one with the yard guy to look at a grass issue, which is great because I have become quite averse to talking to people in my old age. They took less than 10 minutes, but were probably the biggest thing that I was procrastinating on by putting stuff on the television since I put them off until 3pm.

So... Beats me. I'm in school, but don't really know or care if I want to finish it beyond where I am at this second, because I don't really want to move and also would probably prefer a nice industry job where the PhD would be terribly less useful than going and getting 2 or 3 years of industry experience. Now I do feel good enough that I could theoretically hold down a job (which has been a problem the last several years, combined with the fact that I wasn't in a stable enough mental state to make decisions), although the life of a grad student is terribly slack when you aren't studying very hard. Honestly, that's probably the hardest part of it all... I've spent the last 3 years or so in a state where I haven't been terribly capable of making decisions, so I've went along well enough with decisions I made in advance. That works well enough for short spells, but I definitely feel like I have been treading water to the tune of a drummer who seemed to have his act together but I can't remember much about (me three years ago). To compound that lack of agency, my wife has gotten so used to making decisions without any real input from me, that I've had to do a bit of territorial pissing since coming back to myself, but I think that's generally worked itself out now.

Short conclusion:

I just want to do something and remind myself that I'm alive and can make decisions for myself, but don't have any major goal or motivation other than doing something particular. Although I am somewhat uncertain about whether continuing it is really worthwhile, I also don't want to necessarily pull out of my PhD program, since that's not an easy step to reverse, hence although me having good explanations of why I could and should, I am viewing them with some suspicion. Because I've been not terribly able to focus on hard material, I've read through a number fitness books and Nerd Fitness blog some while losing weight over the past couple of years (in all that nonsense, I did manage to shed about 50 pounds over the past year or two or so). I actually read a whole lot of them that first loop graduate school year, and retained a lot of that also, apparently. Either way, I decided to show up and join up the rebellion to start making some little changes to remind myself that I can do things. It's also been a pleasant reminder that people aren't all bad, which is nice since I've spent a lot of time getting picked on my use, getting high and ignoring people in my teens, and hanging out with satanists and drug addicts when a bit older. When I cut my ties to those folks, I pretty much cut my ties to everyone buy my wife, her family and my family, which admittedly is a little strange. I've gotten so used to it, that I believe I have become a bit misanthropic over the past seven years or so. Either way, once coming here, I started with small goals that I can easily identify with, especially focused on meditation. Druids seem a good fit, because I like yoga and meditation, and I have an interest in Tai Chi and would take it at the local place if I had a job where I could afford it.

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

Intro | Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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Longer than I thought.  When the "Short conclusion" requires scrolling to finish, you know someone got a little carried away.  Going to save all this in a journal entry, since I don't think I've written all that down in one place.  Well, but it looks like my journal lost it's entries in an upgrade.  So it goes.

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

Intro | Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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You know, I bet "lose a little weight, feel healthier and more energetic, and achieve greater peace of mind."  (but actually, in reverse order of priority), would have been more than acceptable as an answer to the "motivation" question.   :pirate:

 

However, I do think I am in the correct place that overthinking things is to be of little surprise, as it's one of the most characteristic "nerd" traits.  If someone read through all of that that and thought I came off a little tired and frazzled, it might be because I was.   :redface-new:   

 

It still made an excellent journal entry, and in other good news, my journal wasn't lost.  Reminds me that I need to go back and enter some earlier details in my journal but I think I'll refrain from entering them here.  But, yeah, some update made Day One think that I kept stored it on iCloud rather than in Dropbox.  I should probably back it up somewhere while I am considering its loss.  

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

Intro | Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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Hmm..  A summary.  Eating is easy, eating no sweets is a bit harder, but after I finished my planned ice cream, I had no problems.  I decided to try making it a bit harder and doing the whole 'no sugar at all' thing, but even with my relatively health diet and trying to avoid HFCS, it's quite surprising how much sugar is in things.  

 

Game plan: There's only 1g in my protein shakes, so I will continue to consider them acceptable.  I already make homemade salad dressing, so I am going to replace the PB&J's I normally eat for lunch & breakfast with eggs for breakfast a lunch salad.  I might even avoid the protein drink if I eat the eggs for breakfast, but at 1g sugar, it's a lot better than other things I can reach for if I get in a hurry and am not going to be around for lunch or don't feel like making breakfast.  I decided to keep things fresh by having both homemade Oil & Vinegar and homemade Caesar reading to mix.  There's 1g or so of sugar in the worchestershire sauce but considering I mix a few drops in a batch of Caesar, it isn't so bad.  I do have an alternative Caesar though that I might give a solid try, especially since the one I have now is mayo based.  The mayo does have HFCS far down as an ingredient, but not enough to contribute any sugar, but still, I'ld rather avoid it if it's do-able.  I don't make pre-packaged junk for dinner, so it's easy enough to stick with my vegetable based meals.  I am fixing a large pot of beans now (which will also decrease feeling the need for the regular protein drinks, especially with egg breakfasts too) and leaving the brown sugar off the carrots that I am fixing tonight.  I still plan to snack on bananas and almonds, but will probably opt for almonds more often.  That should actually get me into the couple of grams of sugar a day max zone for a while, rather than merely "avoiding sweets".  I personally don't care about keeping it that low permanently, but it will be fun to give a try.  The biggest thing I'll miss for the 10 day stint will probably be trying to avoid pasta also, so I don't get a blood sugar spike from it.  No bread and no rice are a change that I could do with or without, but pasta...  Oh well, 10 days, what they hey, eh?  Signed up for the BackToSchool FedUp Challenge to get some email reminders, ideas, and extra tips.  I'm still a success on this goal if I just cut out the ice cream and obvious junk, but I like going beyond the minimum if I feel it is possible.

 

Meditation has been consistently twice a day since I committed to doing it for the challenge (which I started late).  Before that, I was still doing once a day with one exception.  I believe my goal was 5 days a week, since it's harder to do when the wife is around since we like to do more stuff together on her days off, but I think I am going to fit in a small session when she goes to shower here shortly today.  

 

I've been doing the stretches well.  I've been trying different stretches for the back and neck area to see how I like them, picking up several I've never seen from the Internet and incorporating some from yoga.  My knee has been mostly fine.  I haven't needed to wear the brace, but I do notice it is there right now, which is a good deal better than it actually hurting, but not "normal".  My back only seemed a little aggravated yesterday morning, but it felt better after some stretches.  Definitely nicely on track with this goal.

 

Study?  I read 7 pages of what I needed to study last night after writing all that, since I figured if I am signed up for the test in two weeks, I might as well review some.  It was late and I got tired.  Of course, I sat down and read 1 page this morning before stopping to talk to the wife, check email, read some news feeds, etc.  Maybe I will actually decide to take it seriously sometime but listing it among my challenges was not exactly as good at making me take it seriously as I thought it would be.

 

Did I not challenge myself to prepare my lectures better?  Well, pretend I did.  I've noticed that I need to a bit more, and I've been doing it.  Teaching the same slides as last Spring, I've been a little overconfident with how much I need to look them over.  I don't need to spend more than 15 mins or so before giving the lecture to be more prepared though, but if I don't spend that much I'm both boring as all get out and don't enjoy it as much as I flop around reading things.  As long as I remind myself what I am talking about with a quick glance through in advance, I can mostly remember good things to say and what I am talking about without having to read the slides for my audience.  So, yeah, I'm doing that.  Maybe I should edit above.  Either way, it went great this week.   I still had some bored kids, but some of them would be bored if I came in with a honking rubber nose and a little clown car.  I felt better about the way it went, and it's really my own impression that I was trying to influence (although the side effect of it probably giving a much better experience for the kids that are paying attention is an excellent plus).

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

Intro | Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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Huzzah!  I got a new screen name.  And started using a picture of my (much more handsome) son, for now.  Until I feel like a different picture.

 

Correction: I've already changed that picture.  (Un?)fortunately, I don't have a Psychatog for a son.  My son is the striking young fellow pictured twice further down.  It's a shame he ripped up his pirate ship...

 

I guess I could consider getting the title of this thread changed, if I am going to have a new screen name.  I still kinda like it though.  Maybe "[MaD MaLKaV] bugged someone to change the name of this topic."  But I'ld hate to bug someone to change the name of my topic to that.

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

Intro | Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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Huzzah!  I got a new screen name

I was lost for a while, thought somebody else had hijacked your topic :D Hitting the 1-2 combo too, cambion was interesting but Malkavians are definately my favourite Vampire clan

 

And yes, GnR "Night Train" is my go-to song when I'm getting dressed for a promising night out ;)

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I guess it might've been a little confusing changing my handle and picture both at the same time.  Nah, still me!  I've co-opted the antediluvian's name as a handle since BBS days in the early 90's.  Which is kinda funny, since that pre-dates my first hospitalization and official diagnosis and such.

 

Ooo, thread title should be "[MaD MaLKaV] is the artist formally known as LLCawthorne."

 

Hmm.  Changed my picture from my son's also, as much as I love seeing him.  Gonna to put two of him here though (maybe) to both test and have them handy.

 

6272180409_b77b10b0f9.jpg

 

6272707168_87e7d38991.jpg

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

Intro | Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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I was actually making up a storyline at one point about waking up as an anachronism and having odd feelings about feeding on people (which led to the real life vegetarianism) and some other stuff.  

 

I may still switch my race to vampire (since it matches the name so well, especially).  I had originally planned not to just not to give much purchase to my 'dark side', but I can't really say cambion is any less dark than vampire and it's nice having some harmless outlets.

 

BTW, thanks for that page about cambions being included the new AD&D version.  Pretty neat.

 

Picture from another source to test, and also to show how well my son learned to study by watching me in action:

 

1395985_10201786894747270_1257063250_n.j

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

Intro | Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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Honestly, he learns a lot of his bad habits from me...  Or vice-versa.

 

IMG_0012.JPG

 

Enough pictures for now though.  Maybe when this gets to second page I can share one or two of my nephews though.  Today I am being grateful for my Panther.  I'ld be even more grateful if he would come in and see me this morning, but he'll be ready to chill whenever he's ready to chill.

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

Intro | Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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Maybe I just needed a good old-fashioned vent to overcome my hesitation to start reviewing the second topic. Reviewed Compilers the last five hours. Five more and I am almost caught up for last week!

Right now, it's time for a break for water, more stretches, and maybe some grocery shopping.

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

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I may still switch my race to vampire (since it matches the name so well, especially).  I had originally planned not to just not to give much purchase to my 'dark side', but I can't really say cambion is any less dark than vampire and it's nice having some harmless outlets.

How about a Malkavian who thinks he's a cambion?

 

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Ugh, you would start me out with a hard question... Motivation? Don't think I've had any of that for a while. But if I'm alive, I might as well be doing something.

I can give my little motivations for tasks:

1. Vegetarian was and is non-harm. No sweets, I'm interested in how that influences my energy and moods, and also losing a few pounds for health reasons.

2. Meditation because I used to find it both useful and enjoyable, so I am trying to get it back to a habitual level.

3. Stretching knee, neck, and back.. Just avoiding pain. Overall, pain makes my poor mood spells more likely, and it's natural enough not to want to hurt unless you have something to learn from it.

X. Study for quals. Well, I get two attempts to pass quals or I am out of the PhD program. Most people do it in their second year, but I've just kinda put it off until now (entering fourth year). Having trouble feeling terribly motivated to do it though except for preparing some in my favorite subject (which, funny enough, isn't my research area). Either way, I'm signed up to take the test is in two weeks, and people are getting on me to get it done already.

Note: I've added a succinct motivation for being here and self-improvement several posts down.

Now, as stated, none of those are my main motivation. I guess a hard question deserves a complicated answer, and maybe you feel like reading through a wall of text, so here goes... I'm pretty sure I don't have one, but it's a long and twisting tale about where I am. I'll just focus on the last seven years since I got married and for the most part rebooted my life. Note: it doesn't have to be such a "twisting tale," but I can get ramble-y.

First, the Short conclusion:

I just want to do something and remind myself that I'm alive and can make decisions for myself, but don't have any major goal or motivation other than doing something particular. Although I am somewhat uncertain about whether continuing it is really worthwhile, I also don't want to necessarily pull out of my PhD program, since that's not an easy step to reverse, hence although me having good explanations of why I could and should, I am viewing them with some suspicion. Because I've been not terribly able to focus on hard material, I've read through a number fitness books and Nerd Fitness blog some while losing weight over the past couple of years (in all that nonsense, I did manage to shed about 50 pounds over the past year or two or so). I actually read a whole lot of them that first loop graduate school year, and retained a lot of that also, apparently. Either way, I decided to show up and join up the rebellion to start making some little changes to remind myself that I can do things. It's also been a pleasant reminder that people aren't all bad, which is nice since I've spent a lot of time getting picked on my use, getting high and ignoring people in my teens, and hanging out with satanists and drug addicts when a bit older. When I cut my ties to those folks, I pretty much cut my ties to everyone buy my wife, her family and my family, which admittedly is a little strange. I've gotten so used to it, that I believe I have become a bit misanthropic over the past seven years or so. Either way, once coming here, I started with small goals that I can easily identify with, especially focused on meditation. Druids seem a good fit, because I like yoga and meditation, and I have an interest in Tai Chi and would take it at the local place if I had a job where I could afford it.

Now, the big ramble-y tale that no one really has to read, but since it's my thread I might as well let loose..

At my youngest, I was always an intellectual nerd with great score and what not. Then, for the longest time, I was side-tracked and motivated by chaotic desires and base instincts. I never planned on living past around 25, so future planning didn't make much sense. At some point, I came to my senses and decided that at the very least, I didn't want to be a bad example for others of how not to live one's life. Now, I'm even older and I even with my limited income as a student paired with my wife's work, I have more than I ever imagined I would have, even if I had lived. Not just physical possessions, but a strong relationship with my wife, tolerable relations with my parents, and excellent relations with the in-laws. But I'm slightly adrift too...

The one thing that I always felt myself to be, unless completely obsessed by mere passions, was a seeker of knowledge. So, after I got things straight, I went back to school. It probably makes sense, as before I got my life all mixed up, I was mostly a kid that did well in school and had one or two weird friends at a time. I enjoyed it there and did exceptional. Because I was a self-described seeker of knowledge, it felt like the right thing to do after I got my life back on track and wanted to be more than "not a bad example." The one other constant in my life is various levels of insanity mitigated by occasional clear periods, due to bipolar disorder. It's part of the reason that I especially feel unmotivated, because I've lived with it long enough to know that no matter what, the moods will come and wash over me and they will discolor everything, either making me feel like my unexpected success is abject failure or like I have a bottomless pit of desires and matching energy but with no focus to direct them at something. They have little influence from outside successes or failures, with the notable exception that stress and instability (such as major changes) can help trigger, so the ending of undergrad and transition to graduate school probably threw me off balance (and my cat dying, and moving to a new house even if it was nicer than that apartment...). During the four year time, I was actually on an inadequate dose to manage my condition anyway, but it was never severely tested...

On a side note, this is where my original long-term interest in meditation came from. It both reduces my overall stress levels and also allows me to keep in touch well enough with myself to have a better idea of whether or not take on extra projects and push myself or go easy or what not. I fell out of the habit in my time of well being and the years directly before that when I was content enough to keep myself out of trouble. Meditation had helped me when I was younger to keep some control of the reins and stay off the Thorazine though. It didn't necessarily make me much of a nicer or less narcissistic (and sometimes borderline solipsistic) bloke. Granted, My own description much harder on myself about that period of time than I likely deserve, and I imagine most people don't hold many permanents scars from the time. Either way, I forgive myself for that now also, and prefer not to reflect back unless there is something useful to be learned (meditation does help me to calm down and steer myself towards my goals, whether they are selfish or selfless) or I want a reminder of things that I don't want to do (it's rather nice having such a ready made bad example). Hmm.. Ok, back to almost now.

But.. Oh, yeah, graduate school started. Change was too much. Adjusted my medications to a brand new scheme that made me incapable of being a grad student or much of anything else. Had horrible grades with a minimal course load my first semester, and doubled-down on the same meds my second semester, and my state got twisted far enough that I had to drop classes before the mid-semester. It was a rather shocking slap in the face after being able to cut through the lower classes like butter with extra time to succeed in other directions, but we figured it out... Teased my meds around the second year & half the third, and I was quite capable of passable grades and little to no interest in my research topic. When we got it settled, I was mostly in a mildly depressed state where little mattered but I could plod around and get something done here or there. Got a new doctor around this past January or so, and actually had my best grades yet and a marked rebound of energy under the 12 or so pills a day I swallow now. The interesting thing about bipolar though, is that it's always questionable whether the 12 pills were the ticket, or I had just settled into an over year of depression after we kicked out the other destabilizing medicine.

In short though, for the last several months, I've felt pretty good. I take a lot of pills, but really don't care whether they are doing it or it's natural, because we've combined medicines in such a way that I don't have noticeable negative side effects. Strangely enough, I'm not terribly motivated for anything, so I think we are covering up for an underlying depression partially. But it's equally possible that I just have no idea what I want. When I went into a tailspin, I went into graduate school. I thought I wanted to teach at that point. Right now, I'm not so sure, which is likely the reason that I need to make a silly public commitment to study for my qualifying exams rather than naturally just devouring the information, since I'm not sure whether I should be where I am or not. To secure a solid exit route, I've recently submitted paperwork for my masters, since in three years I've actually collected more than enough credit for a Masters degree (and am only 3 short of what I need for my PhD, except for the 12 of dissertation work which among other things would require me to decide a topic I like and settle into it).

I like teaching ok, but I'ld rather be writing code. The only tangible accomplishment I've made in the past three years is writing some neat code for my advisor (and earning some credits with mediocre for me, but above departmental requirement scores). Coding is an activity that I am amazing at when I feel good and capable at when I feel bad, and that I can properly lose myself in when doing.. I'm not sure if it's what they call "flow" or not, but it definitely seems like there isn't a separation between do-er and do-ing anymore. Granted, I know doing it as a job isn't *always* like that, but just occasionally achieving it is well worth the activity. That's also why I cook as a hobby... Cooking I get to do something with my hands and meld with the task. I like to code as a hobby, but have been too swamped trying to keep up with other stuff. It should try channel that into a proper fitness practice really.

Anyway the PhD trains you to be a teacher or a researcher, and the Masters if more than enough for any job. The wife doesn't want to relocate, and I agree that it's probably best for me to stay put. She wants a kid, which might be ok, but considering how much trouble I've had just taking care of myself recently... ? Honestly, the only thing I can really say I want right now is to be left mostly alone to read a lot of books, but not research related books that have been frustrating me on and off in my rather if-fy state the last several years. But that's not a tenable long-term plan, so beats me.

Might as well do something, and the challenges give me a way to list off some things so at least I'll get up and put one foot towards the other on something. Although I'm still not really feeling the study for quals thing, and they're in two weeks. I can pass 1 of 3 subject areas, I think, primarily off my talent in pure Theory. I could pass compilers, if I would sit down and read the book. But instead today, I watched "Fed Up", three "Colbert Reports" and a "Daily Show", took a long nap, spent time floating around on this board, and at least fit in two nice meditations (yay for that). It is funny watching all that TV, since I normally don't... I also made a Doctor's appointment and one with the yard guy to look at a grass issue, which is great because I have become quite averse to talking to people in my old age. They took less than 10 minutes, but were probably the biggest thing that I was procrastinating on by putting stuff on the television since I put them off until 3pm.

So... Beats me. I'm in school, but don't really know or care if I want to finish it beyond where I am at this second, because I don't really want to move and also would probably prefer a nice industry job where the PhD would be terribly less useful than going and getting 2 or 3 years of industry experience. Now I do feel good enough that I could theoretically hold down a job (which has been a problem the last several years, combined with the fact that I wasn't in a stable enough mental state to make decisions), although the life of a grad student is terribly slack when you aren't studying very hard. Honestly, that's probably the hardest part of it all... I've spent the last 3 years or so in a state where I haven't been terribly capable of making decisions, so I've went along well enough with decisions I made in advance. That works well enough for short spells, but I definitely feel like I have been treading water to the tune of a drummer who seemed to have his act together but I can't remember much about (me three years ago). To compound that lack of agency, my wife has gotten so used to making decisions without any real input from me, that I've had to do a bit of territorial pissing since coming back to myself, but I think that's generally worked itself out now.

Short conclusion:

I just want to do something and remind myself that I'm alive and can make decisions for myself, but don't have any major goal or motivation other than doing something particular. Although I am somewhat uncertain about whether continuing it is really worthwhile, I also don't want to necessarily pull out of my PhD program, since that's not an easy step to reverse, hence although me having good explanations of why I could and should, I am viewing them with some suspicion. Because I've been not terribly able to focus on hard material, I've read through a number fitness books and Nerd Fitness blog some while losing weight over the past couple of years (in all that nonsense, I did manage to shed about 50 pounds over the past year or two or so). I actually read a whole lot of them that first loop graduate school year, and retained a lot of that also, apparently. Either way, I decided to show up and join up the rebellion to start making some little changes to remind myself that I can do things. It's also been a pleasant reminder that people aren't all bad, which is nice since I've spent a lot of time getting picked on my use, getting high and ignoring people in my teens, and hanging out with satanists and drug addicts when a bit older. When I cut my ties to those folks, I pretty much cut my ties to everyone buy my wife, her family and my family, which admittedly is a little strange. I've gotten so used to it, that I believe I have become a bit misanthropic over the past seven years or so. Either way, once coming here, I started with small goals that I can easily identify with, especially focused on meditation. Druids seem a good fit, because I like yoga and meditation, and I have an interest in Tai Chi and would take it at the local place if I had a job where I could afford it.

 

Thank you!

I think that is as good as a motivation gets. There are several reasons for the question. One is that it is simply part of the challenge format, and the reason for that is that we tend to be more successful when we have/are aware of our motivation. Second, I actually use my motivation for energy when I feel that I am losing momentum. Third, the process of identifying your motivation has a value in itself, as you showed in a beautiful way above.

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I have chosen to believe in myself.


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Maybe I just needed a good old-fashioned vent to overcome my hesitation to start reviewing the second topic. Reviewed Compilers the last five hours. Five more and I am almost caught up for last week!

Right now, it's time for a break for water, more stretches, and maybe some grocery shopping.

 

That's great !

I have chosen to believe in myself.


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I worked out nicely that I didn't study compilers too much. I was unable to make it to the review session because of teaching, so I went ahead and switched topics to Architecutre (which had a later review session) and just chalked my compiler reading up to fun. It's a smaller book that I've studied more recently, so that ended up giving me less work left than I had left otherwise (but still lots between now and Oct 4).

Level 10 Vegetarian Vampire Warrior

STR: 16 DEX: 7 STA: 6 WIS: 46 CON: 27 CHA: 17

Intro | Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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