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tienlong

Tienlong's first challenge

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Hi!  Brand new to the forums, so this is my first challenge.   It's going to look a little different, because I'm not really starting out at Level One when it comes to fitness goals.  I already accomplished several lifestyle changes before I ever found this forum.  I quit meat, which necessarily led to quitting 95% of fast food.  I quit smoking last November.  I drastically lowered my Pepsi and bad snack intake back in March.  I joined a gym at the same time, and created and maintained a plan for fitness on those days I can't go to the gym.  I even quit biting my nails.  This is my usual M.O. - I make a decision, I create a plan, I follow through.  I am very, very good at turning challenges into missions, and then accomplishing those missions.  All the bad habits that got me into the weight and overall health I'm at?  I've made it my mission to identify and reverse them.  I've already changed to the point where weight loss and better fitness is an inevitable effect.  I'm not interested in tracking it right now.  Worrying and fussing about it won't hurry it along, and in the meantime, there's no real challenge in it.

 

I've already accomplished goals that seemed insurmountable before I made the decision that I would accomplish them.  I know that I'm strong, I'm productive, I'm successful.  I also know that I am NOT happy.  Somehow I've forgotten how to feel happy, and without that, there seems so little point in trying so hard to be healthy.  So, for my first challenge, I'm going to follow my besty's advice, "You do you."  My challenges aren't going to be small changes, or about fitness and diet.  It's going to be about my attitude.

 

Challenge One:  I'm going to play with my dog for at least 10 minutes every day.  I'm going to throw the ball and then chase him around the yard trying to make him give it back.  If I do manage to get it back, I'm going to throw it again.   I'm going to end this exercise with five minutes of coat-brushing.  I'm not going to do this because it's good exercise, I'm going to do this because he loves me and he deserves more of me than he sometimes gets.  This is in addition to, not replacing, any attention that he already gets daily.  This might have to replace 15 minutes on the treadmill listening to the Latin Workout station on Pandora.  I think it's a good trade.

 

Challenge Two:  I'm going to establish a better sleeping routine.  I'm going to let tomorrow's problems be solved tomorrow.  I'm going to go to sleep sooner, and wake up sooner, and not waste the morning with worrying. 

 

Challenge Three:  I'm going to trade one hour of mindless television for one hour of meditation.  Not the kind where you breathe and don't think about anything, but the kind where you focus on a prompt and come to a rational decision to change your attitude about it.  For my first week, my prompt will be compassion.  For the second, my prompt will be civility.  For the third, my prompt will be gratitude.  For the fourth week, my prompt will be kindness.  At some point in the last few years, these things have fallen to the wayside.  I was never very good with them, anyway.  I want to change that. 

 

If I procrastinate any of these things, I will procrastinate with housekeeping.  Probably vacuuming.  I hate vacuuming.

 

 

*Reposted to correct forum

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Yesterday morning I managed to wake up a little earlier.  Not that it mattered, I was still running late out the door.  And last night I set my alarm a little earlier, and woke up earlier this morning.  However!  I really need to break my Criminal Minds addiction.  Even when it's not on TV, it's on Netflix, and in a pinch, there's fanfiction.  I'd say Criminal Minds is my number one barrier to getting to sleep on time.

The last couple of days have been filled with torrential rains and tornado watches.  Sunday, Manny and I just played tug of war with his rope in the living room.  Yesterday evening kind of disappeared on me, I looked up and hours had gone by.  Bad dragon.

Beware of tear-jerking in the video above.  It's very powerful.

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I love your challenge of spending time focused on playing with your dog for his sake.  I try to give our cat and dog attention, but it's mostly in the form of snuggles because I'm so drained at the end of every day.  You've got a lucky dog and inspired me to make playing with my pets part of my challenge's "me-time".

 

Sounds like you got this!  I'm excited to see your progress!

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So, I found this while I was at work.  You might be thinking, "Hard to get any work done while watching Youtube," but don't worry, I was working on deadly-boring and repetitive paperwork, and if I can listen to Pandora at work, I can listen to Youtube, as well.

 

 

 

 

So, this was a good talk.  I found another one, too, but I didn't listen to all of it, yet, as I finished the boring stuff and had to move on to work slightly more challenging.

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I'm liking this challenge. It's made me sit up and think, so thank you. Reading your first post is pretty inspiring.

And congrats on the quitting smoking! I quit smoking last April after smoking for eight years. Feels good. So definitely congrats on that :)

 

And I'm liking the idea of meditation. Something I might think about for my next challenge

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13 minutes ago, Kvedulf said:

I'm liking this challenge. It's made me sit up and think, so thank you. Reading your first post is pretty inspiring.

And congrats on the quitting smoking! I quit smoking last April after smoking for eight years. Feels good. So definitely congrats on that :)

 

And I'm liking the idea of meditation. Something I might think about for my next challenge

 

Congratulations to you, too!  It was 24 years, for me, and for the last couple of years I was up to two packs per day.  So, yeah, it does feel good.  And not just to breathe more freely.  I'd made a bargain with my bestie to quit smoking if she'd quit meat, and she did, and I didn't.  So it also feels good, knowing I finally kept my promise.

 

If you do think you want to take up meditation, I would suggest that, at some point, especially if you hit a snag understanding why you're meditating and if you're doing it right, you should listen to what the Dalai Lama has to say about it. 

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Yesterday I had an opportunity to practice compassion.  Not a big show of it, just an internal monologue to make an unpleasant situation less unpleasant for me, and therefore preventing me from being unpleasant to others.

 

I went to dinner at a local buffet family-style place.  I like this place because they put out a nice assortment of veggies that are steamed with only a little salt, butter, or oil.  What I don't like about this place is that it's so hugely popular, even on a rainy Monday evening.  I hate crowds, it's like nails on a chalkboard.  It's like being surrounded by trolls and goblins (small shrieky goblins, if they brought kids, which, you know, it's a family-style buffet), and I immediately feel defensive, which in turn leads to me being rather hateful.  Those other people are just out there living their lives and eating their food and I'm hunched in and being judgey and mean-spirited.  This is one of the ways in which I make myself unhappy.

 

So, yesterday, when someone came waaaay too close to my chair as I was settling in to enjoy my plate, I closed my eyes and inhaled and thought to myself, "They're just like me.  They love their family.  They're enjoying their evening.  They're hungry.  They have the right to laugh and talk and go about their business.  Nothing they're doing is about me.  I'm the one with the problem, not them."  Then I opened my eyes, and wow, all the goblins turned into human beings.  And I relaxed and ate my food.  And when we left and I got into the car, nothing about the meal other than the satisfaction of a full belly was weighing on my mind.

 

Practicing compassion is going to be good for me.  However, at the end of the week, I'm fully aware that there are people in the world that I cannot feel compassion for.  People who are proud of being ignorant, who objectify women, who prey on the worst of humanity for their own sick enjoyment, or worse, people who are horrible because they don't even realize that they're not good people and therefore don't feel they need to make changes.  Frustration and anger are my two knee-jerk emotional reactions, and these two emotions are a huge cause of my overall unhappiness.

 

That's why civility is my next topic of meditation.  It's a little more than, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  That's going to be hard enough, I have very little brain-to-mouth filter.  The biggest advantage I will have on the path of civility is being compassionate.  If I can stop myself, remind myself that this person is just like me and might not have meant what they said or did the way that I took it to mean, this is a huge step in filtering out my first (hateful) reaction and coming back with a polite response.  Becoming more civil may not make me drastically happier than before, but at the very least it will keep me out of so much trouble I get into with my mouth.

 

 

On my progress with my other challenges:

 

The rain has put a (excuse the pun) damper on playing with Manny outside.   Neither one of us is getting the opportunity to run off our energy in happy-making, bonding-type activities.  It's raining outside, we're remodeling the house on the inside - the frustrations are getting to both of us.  He's leaning against my legs every time I hold still long enough to let him, and I'm getting tired of tripping over him every time I want to move again.  Much petting is happening in lieu of running.

 

I am doing a fantastic job of getting up earlier in the morning.  I set my alarm at 5am, and have been getting up anywhere between 5am to 5:30, which is a vast improvement to getting up precisely one hour before I have to be out the door and on the way to work.  Speaking of which, it's now way past time for me to take a shower and get dressed for the day.

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You're really eloquent at narrating your thought process--I was able to imagine the sort of feeling you describe having at the buffet. I have a similar problem when driving sometimes: I live in Boston and many people are very aggressive drivers, and I find myself getting very annoyed and sometimes jumping to really nasty conclusions, like a middle-aged white guy driving a BMW or Lexus will drive up along the shoulder and try to merge at the very last possible minute instead of waiting in line, and I get angry and I think about how he's obviously an entitled rich asshole who's selfish and doesn't know how to wait his turn, etc. Whether I'm right about the reason for the guy's behavior isn't the point--the point is that spending my driving time fuming and hating is really bad for me. I'm trying to work on stuff like that and I really like your technique.

 

Well done on your challenges thus far. Hopefully the rain clears up. Amazing job on getting up early! Way to reclaim those hours from the void and use them for yourself :)

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I'm beginning to suspect there's some kind of irony in attempting to use the internet to learn more about civility.

 

"Civility" is a huge tagword in corporate and public service industries.  I don't want to count how many mandatory annual training or refresher courses I've had to sit through for basic workplace civility.  And it always boils down to the same thing: be nice, use your indoor voice, say please and thank you.  You'd think that would be pretty simple, right?  Toddlers learn that crap, right?  It is simple, as far as that goes.  What's not simple is preventing escalation when civility becomes your biggest advantage in dealing with a situation but is also as hard to hold onto as a wisp of fog.

 

For instance, a scenario from my workday, possibly embellished a little because I don't remember the exact words we exchanged:

Dude:  "You have an aged claim sitting in your queue, do you think you can work it and send it back to the person it belongs to?"

Me:  *in my head* You mean the dumbass who's constantly sending claims to me without any regard for the fact that I have my own job to do and don't have time to do theirs as well?  *out loud* "I'm currently working on a project for my supervisor that's time sensitive.  It's going to take all day."

Dude:  "Well, do you think you could take a look at it sometime today?  It's the only aged one in your queue, it shouldn't take long."

Me:  *in my head*  Did you not hear me, you fathead?  I'm probably not going to do it today.  *out loud*  "Sure, I'll get to it as soon as I can."
Dude:  Great, thanks!

 

I HATE THAT!  OMFG, I absolutely hate sounding as though I'm making promises I know I won't keep, and I hate making it sound like I changed my mind about doing something when I know full well I'm not changing my mind.  The proper response should have been, "Didn't you hear me, you fathead?  I'm probably not doing it today."  But that wouldn't be CIVIL, would it?  It wouldn't have been considered civil even if I'd nobly refrained from calling him a fathead.  Any response other than one that indicates I'll give him what he wants would be considered uncivil, even though he started it!

 

And it turns out that "He started it!" is not considered a legitimate defense argument, even when it's true!  That's messed up!

 

I'm big on honesty, in both its dirt and its glory.  One of my favorite quotes is, "Come naked to the god, naked or not at all."  How profound is that, right?  Think about it.  God (any God, all Gods, self-as-God, etc) sees you no matter what.  It's a fact of Godhood.  God strips you bare, naked in body and in spirit: fat or thin, strong or weak, shamed or unashamed, fearful or joyful, proud or humble, rich or poor, laughing or weeping, it doesn't matter, God sees it all.  You can't hide.  And if you can do that, if you can face God in all your nakedness, then how in the world can you ever, EVER, again be afraid of being judged by a mere human being?  How can you ever again be afraid to be honest?

 

But many people are.  Even the ones who claim they have a good relationship with God.  They can't be honest, and they can't deal with honesty from other people.  And if you want to work with them and be friends with them and deal with them daily, then you've got to either be "civil" or be fired (and possibly jailed, depending on how uncivil you were being).

 

This is the sort of thing that makes me understand why people stress-eat.  I'm not personally a stress-eater, I was a smoker and a nail-biter.  Was.  I don't do that anymore.  :(  Maybe I need a rubber band for my wrist, one of those thick ones that really stings when you snap it.  It's close to the end of the week, ack!  How am I going to be a better person when simple civility is giving me a bad case of the resentments?  I should have put gratitude and kindness before civility.  I suspect it's a lot easier to be civil when you keep in mind all the good things that a person might have done or said or somehow been responsible for.  I thought civility would have been easier with compassion as its basis, but as it turns out, there's a huge difference between curbing the desire to stab someone in the face versus not snapping at someone when they say something stupid.  I don't actually want to kill anyone.  Hurting their feelings, though?  Just a little bit?  Especially if they deserve it for saying something stupid?  Isn't that a teeny tiny bit justified?

 

No, Tienlong!  Bad dragon!!!!!!!  You can't be happy when you're mean!

 

 

Ooh, speaking of civility and gratitude...

 

Severine, Wilkymouse, and Kvedulf:  It has occurred to me today that I'm being rude AND ungrateful for my lack of response to you guys.  I have just paused in typing this and reviewed any possible excuses I could give without liking any of them enough to type them, so I'm going to throw excuses and rationalizations out the window, k?  The fact of the matter is that I'm glad you're on this thread, all three of you.  Thank you very much for reading and responding to me with friendliness and encouragement.  I do feel encouraged when I get a notification that someone has responded to my thread, and then coming to the thread and reading what you actually write to me puts a smile on my face and a bit more determination in my spirit.  The three of you have made me slightly nicer to be around IRL, I think. 

 

Alaysia, you're my BFF, even if I don't tell you how much I love you and am grateful to you anywhere near as often as you deserve to hear it, it's always true.  You make me a better person just by the fact of your existence.    Thank you for bringing me to this forum where I have to think about things instead of ignoring them into nonexistence.

 

 

In Manny-news, the rains continue and so does the extra petting instead of the ball-throwing.  This is good and bad.  Manny's not the kind of dog who likes his head patted or his ears rubbed, so the affection I show him is pounding on his chest and belly and getting my newly-grown fingernails deep into the fur on his butt and scratching like only a dogmom knows how.  He likes it, so, good.  He's shedding pretty ferociously.  Loose wet dog fur.  Not so good.

 

And it turns out that vacuuming my floors more often would be a good thing, and getting to work fifteen minutes early because I was ready to go early, not so good.  I used to do that when I smoked, and used that extra fifteen minutes to get another cigarette in before I had to go to my desk.  Now what do?

 

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I really think you are being way too hard on yourself. You're exchange with that dude wasn't uncivil and you didn't sound as if you changed your mind. He didn't want to hear what you were saying so you told him the truth in a way that he would interpret to his satisfaction. It's not your fault if he took, "I'll get to it when I can," as "I'll get to it today." In fact! You were civil in that exchange because you were being formally polite.

 

I was just having this discussion with my son: you can be directly honest without being insulting. You could have totally said to the dude, "I'll try to get to that today, but I can't promise anything since I'm still dealing with that other thing." Honest, direct, civil. Civil doesn't equal ass-kisser or liar. And civil sometimes means understanding that some people aren't looking for any other answer than the one they want, and allowing them to take what you said as what they wanted to hear is civil. I've got a district manager that is a total tool. He's a slimy car salesman of a guy and is always looking for ways to manipulate people into doing what he wants. He only hears himself. Even when he asked for feedback on how he was doing as a DM, he argued with every point that was brought up and mansplained why he had to X, X, Y, and Z. He got feedback and completely ignored it. He probably read in his Satan's Followers Weekly that if you let people air their grievances they would then feel listened to and "be on board with the vision." So when he tells me to do something completely stupid I say, "I'll give it a try, sure!" and then do what I want. When he says, "I'd love to get you into doing blah, blah, blah. We'll get you a raise." I smile, nod, and don't follow up because he and I both know he's lying, he just doesn't know that I know. But I am still civil to him. I still smile and shake his hand. He doesn't want anything else, so that is all I give him. Because I'm nice.

 

The kind and compassionate thing to do would be to educate him on his assholeness and explain to him the damage he is doing to the people around him and his corner of the company in the long term. To show him that his reputation precedes him from many different companies and counties and does him no favors. To illustrate to him that he is painting himself into a corner he probably doesn't want to be in for the rest of his life. But, well, he won't hear it. He won't understand it. Maybe he would one day. Maybe years after he fired me, my words would resonate and he'd wake up. So it would be the compassionate thing to do, but not the civil thing. I decided to be civil because I'm not the Buddha.

 

There's only so much of you. Share the good stuff with the ones who understand, who will accept your honesty as the love it is, and be civil to the rest.

 

And for the extra 15 minutes? Take a walk. Get some morning air and wake up the body before chaining yourself into your cubicle. Feel alive!!!

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Hi!

Glad to hear from you :)

Liked the Dalai Lama video. Although I always have to resist the urge to call him the Daily Lahma. I find it too amusing. And then feel bad because he's an amazing human being.

Anyhoo... yeah, civility sucks at times. It's such a fine line to tread. I've had the exact same problem. Sometimes I think civility is overrated. @Alaysia seems to have hit it on the head though. Do that and not my suggestion which would be to hit them with a chair :P

 

I had the same problem with not having a cigarette when I got to work early when I quit as well. I just found a nice spot in the morning sun and soaked up the sunlight before I had to go into the sunless hell that was my office.

 

And stop giving me ideas for my next challenge! First it was meditation, now you've made me realise I need to spend more time playing with my dog.

 

9 minutes ago, Alaysia said:

When he says, "I'd love to get you into doing blah, blah, blah. We'll get you a raise." I smile, nod, and don't follow up because he and I both know he's lying, he just doesn't know that I know.

It took me forever to learn that lesson.

 

Good read again. I'm liking your posts. Always with something worthwhile to say and well written too. :)

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First, I must say I really enjoy reading your posts.  You have a way with words.

 

On civility - I think you said somewhere that this kind of goes hand in hand with compassion, and that might be how you need to think about it.  It sounds like you did a good job keeping your cool.  It's so easy to lose your temper when people are frustrating like that.  Would it help to jump back to compassion mindfulness a bit and try to wear his shoes?  Maybe he's got someone over him who's on his back about what he's on you about and he's stuck as the middle man.  Or maybe he's clueless as to what your job is and the reality of what else you have on your plate.  That doesn't always work for me, but sometimes considering what someone else might be going through helps a bit.

 

Sounds like you're being a great dogmom!  'Tis the season for lots of shedding though.  I'm constantly covered in animal fur myself even when I don't touch the creatures in the morning.

 

I've never smoked, but when I studied abroad, my best friend there did.  He told me that he tried to quit, but the worst part was not knowing what to do when he got somewhere early or had to kill time waiting.  It made him feel awkward to just stand around (and we didn't have smartphones there, so that wasn't an option).  I like Alaysia's idea of taking a walk.  At my last job, I'd socialize with coworkers until the clock hit 9 (unless we had a lot of work to do) or read a book or article for a little while.  It might not feel quite right at first because it's new, but you'll find something that works for you and hopefully look forward to those extra 15 minutes.

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I got a random compliment from a stranger the other day.  It was pretty funny, too.  She told me that she liked my boots, that they were cute.  But her tone suggested that she was insulting my mother.  It was obvious that she just had one of those voices, and that the compliment was a throwaway comment due to a momentary thought that was interrupting her conversation with her friend, but it was nice that she took the trouble to actually say it.  Out loud.  To me, instead of about me.

I told her, "Thank you," and she said, "You're welcome."  I've been called a bitch in that exact same tone.  So, yeah, a bit amusing.

A month ago, I would have been offended and steaming over it all day, wondering who she thought she was and what she meant by that.  Today, I'm thinking that I can take a pair of men's work boots from Payless Shoes, put some pink ribbon shoestrings in it, and ROCK that look like a STAR.  Because that lady said they were CUTE!

 

My boss noticed, and commented last week, that I've been quiet lately.  I have been more quiet, mostly because I've been calm and laid back, not fuming over the stuff I can't control.  My stomach has calmed down along with my mood, too.  I'm not frowning so much, which means I have fewer headaches.  However, there were a couple of days when I understood, deeply and profoundly, why it is that some people create drama when they don't have anything going on.  After being on an emotional rollercoaster for so long, it was kind of... boring, to be so calm.  No worries, no grumps, no grouches.  Blah.  Then I found full seasons of Dharma and Greg uploaded to Youtube (I'm still in the middle of season 3).  And that was the missing bits.  I had been culling all of the negative emotions, and not replacing them with anything else.  So now I'm not ignoring opportunities to find something funny.  I'm actively looking for things to lift my mood from blah to Ha!

I absolutely despise those memes you see on Facebook, where someone has taken a perfectly innocent shot of the beauty of nature, like a field of flowers or a rocky coast in the sunshine, and then ruined it with trite motivational speeches that boil down to, "Think positive!" or "Be kind!"  I despise them because they don't reach their intended audience.  They're one of those things where you don't need it if you understand it, and if you need it, you're not in a mindset to understand it.  It's kind of like Snape teaching Harry Occlumency by telling him to clear his mind.  Great, but HOW do you do that?  That's the frustrating thing with motivational posters, and why people hate them so much.  They're useless.  It would be more useful to say something like, "The only way to break a habit is to replace it with another habit.  When you stop being grumpy, you're creating an emotional void that will tempt you to go back to grumpiness.  Fill that void with something you want to experience, instead."  But that doesn't fit on a Facebook meme, does it?  Meh. 

 

 

I've been working on kindness, too.  Not the kind where you start looking for something nice to say about someone for the sake of saying something nice.  For one thing, it's insincere and people cotton on real quick to what you're doing.  For another thing, I already give compliments.  As far as I'm concerned, if you have the stones to say something snotty or mean to someone (online or to their face), you should have the stones to voice a compliment, as well, the moment it pops into your head.  Kind of like the lady who complimented my boots. 

The kindness I've been trying to practice is the culmination of compassion, civility, and gratitude.  Like, if an IM pops up on my computer at work, asking for me to do something, I don't automatically roll my eyes and heave a sigh of irritation.  Before, it was all, "Can you help me," and I'd answer, "What do you need?" and then, "I'll get to it as soon as I can."  Technically polite, but not really.  Instead, I answer, "Hi!  What can I do for you?" and "Sure!" and "Absolutely, I've already started, give me a moment and I'll have an answer for you!"  And I've been getting a lot more, "Thanks!  You're so good at your job!" instead of, "But I really need it soon."  I have my fingers crossed that I'm making other people's lives a little easier with a cheerful can-do attitude, instead of making them afraid of the moment they're forced to ask me for something.  They're not trying to take advantage of me.  They're stressed out, too.  It's not dishonest or weak to be nice, so long as I'm doing it because I care and not because I'm afraid of the consequence of breathing fire on someone.  And it's not a bad thing to care.  It actually feels kinda good.

 

I had a lady tell me she wanted to bring me lunch soon, because she appreciated me so much.  That was nice, and I told her so.  However, inwardly, I panicked a bit.  I'm vegetarian, and watching my calories.  So, instead, I invited her over for a lunch that I'm going to make myself.  She's really nice, and I've probably been making her life miserable.

 

Here's another thing I've realized:  I can't stop at the end of four weeks.  I'll have to revisit the Dalai Lama's video lectures on compassion.  I'll have to keep an eye on my civility, I'll have to keep working on remembering to say all the good things out loud.  And watch more Dharma and Greg and videos of kittens and puppies, and other things that make me laugh.  At some point in the past, I let myself become miserable because I didn't remember these things.  I picture it like climbing a mountain:  I don't want to wallow at the foot of the mountain, I want to be at the top of the mountain, and even if I backslide a little, there's no excuse for not picking myself up and continuing to climb.

 

On the Manny front - it's still raining a lot.  It's hard to get and play when he's no more interested in leaving the protection of the umbrella than I am.  If he wasn't so neurotic about being at least ten feet away from me, and upwind, when he poops, he'd probably never get out from under the umbrella.  So my second challenge is technically a fail.  I'll have to try this again.

 

 

Oh!  I found a four-leaf clover this morning!  That was fantastic!

 

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I am just so.. so happy for you! Like, seriously, so happy! I've always loved your sharp wit and sharper tongue, but not at the expense of your happiness. And now you can save it for those who truly need some sense spoken to them, rather than laying down the fire on all and sundry.

It's funny, I've been reading/listening to two different Buddhist books and one of the biggies they cover is compassion. Empathy. Seeing from your other mind, your other perspective so you can react in better ways with people. And here you are, living it out. It's so beautiful and I am so very happy! 

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Really enjoyed following along with this. Definitely one of the more thought-provoking challenges I've seen and I have a lot of admiration both for what you're aiming to do and also for how you're going about it. Please let me know if you start a new challenge on the 12th as I'll want to follow along.

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I am going to start new challenge.  I've just paid for my Academy membership, and I think that's going to be the basis for my next challenge.  So you'll probably see it, Severine.

 

I've also decided to stay a rebel for awhile.  At least for one more challenge.  I'll reassess my class later.

 

And that reversal of what I thought was a very firm decision is probably one of the reasons why it's strongly suggested that everyone start out as a rebel at first.

 

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