Re-up: Fitness, augh

Things have been going well with the daily-habits-per-month-for-a-year (I mean, it's still Month One, so not a lot to report; but The Thing is Getting Done, so no complaints) — but I need to take on another thing.

This is a post about fitness.

About losing it, and getting it back again.

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Ah crap, November is National Novel Writing Month.

So, this was my original list of 12 habits to solidify this year:

Oct ~ Meditate ~ Daily

Nov ~ Cleaning ~ 3x week (I was thinking an easy one goes second for maximal survival of the metahabit)

Dec ~ Conditioning ~ 6x week (daily exercise, perfect for the holidays and will tolerate travel)

Jan ~ waking at 4am ~ 5-6x week (figuring a day or two off a week will be necessary in winter, plus this is a good one to ride the wave of New Years resolutions with. I currently get up at 4 about 2-3x per week, and the rest of the time I’m just lazy about getting my naps, or snuggling in bed with people in the mornings)

Feb ~ art project time ~ 6x week (this should feel nicely like a birthday present to me)

Mar ~ taiji ~ daily (good time of year to be getting more movement; I currently only get “real” taiji practice about 3x week)

Apr ~ admin tasks ~ 5x week (I can totally give myself weekends off from paperwork)

May ~ fiction writing ~ daily (this is a tough one but after all these others I’m hoping it will feel positively overdue to happen…currently my fiction writing is all mixed up with editing and only happens a few times most weeks)

June ~ studying time ~ daily (work or fun, whichever feels more necessary)

July ~ paperwork ~ 1x week (summer is hard, saved this easy one for an impossible month)

Aug ~ studying #2 (whichever of work or personal wasn’t done in June) ~ daily

Sept ~ 7pm nap ~ daily (I could write for days on this tricky nap, how I should / hope to be getting it daily once I start getting up at 4am more regularly, but I know from experience that it still doesn’t happen; I’m more likely to still skip it and be a little tired…but yeah. Last big push = The Hard Nap.

And that all looks good to me, EXCEPT THAT I forgot that November is NaNoWriMo. …I have no desire to start another novel, but I have done the month of November (in addition to doing it twice normally) another twice before as NanoWriMo, writing one flash-fic every day for 30 days, and that was hugely helpful for my writing. And I happen to be doing this monthly habit thing already! Could the social wave of NNWM help me slot one of the harder monthly habits (and one of the more important ones, to me) in there earlier? Or is pounding out 1,000 words per day just too much to ask, and likely to derail everything? QUESTIONS. AH GOD, THE QUESTIONS.

Feel free to ignore MY problems, but also feel free to share your own ideas for monthly habits, and any thoughts you have on what to schedule when.

This feels SO much like playing a game of Go against my brain. :D

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Month 1 update!

I love Day Ones. :) This is Day 4, but I had to point it out.

No misses so far — and I would hope not – but hey, I’ll take it. What’s going to be interesting to me, I think, is what it feels like to near a month, get a bit comfy with this, and then add something else. But one thing at a time I guess!

HELLOOO to everybody who’s joined me so far — so cool! Company for this stuff kicks butt. Leif and I are friends, and Jimmy’s my boy, but I don’t think the rest of us know each other. Intros welcome, or just drop in anytime to let us know how you’re doing!

If you’d ‘like some extra help, by the way, I highly recommend reading some good blogs on how your mind and body works when it comes to things like habit and willpower. I’m at big fan of Minding Your Way (this article is a great start), if you need a good source. (If you have others, I’m all about recommendations for me, too!)

My goal this month is to meditate every day — in some form, any form. I know zhan zhuang (kungfu standing-meditation), plus chan buddhist sitting, Eckhart Tolle’s inner-body mindfulness, and geez, you just about name it — but in all these years I’ve never managed to do any of them every day. Thus is my goal. And it’s 1/6 ingrained. :D

More updates soon. Send me your thoughts, successes, frustrations, etc!

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a year-long habits project – guests welcome!

So, the fact that I'm posting about this project literally one day before I start it is…indicative. This has been a messy year.  A good year, but one with almost every major ground-level change you can have, and barely room to keep any semblance of good habits going, never mind adding any robust new ones.

So after much research (you know me) that I didn't have any time to write about here (see above), I've formulated a PLN*.  Since a new habit takes a month to sink in and start becoming automatic, I've plotted a list of 12 habits I'd like to accumulate in the coming year.  

I'll post the list later, but first I wanted to make the offer — since everyone I've mentioned this to has asked about it — If you'd like to join me on my quest, come on in!

I've even managed to create a spreadsheet:  You can access it here.  There's a simple points system a la an extremely simplified Magic Spreadsheet; I find those useful, but again, this is totally "whatever works for you".  Comments welcome, including from people who just want to drop me comments or send emails about their progress — it's all good for me, hearing about your struggles and victories!  I'm also happy to share the research I did to come up with this idea, and to pick my 12 habit-goals.  

Like I said, I'm starting this tomorrow, but you can join in anytime.  My October goal is to MEDITATE EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Yell at me if I screw up!  (I won't.  ::GRIN::)



*If this reference went by you, read more Terry Pratchett.  I mean, do that anyway, but if Rob Anybody Feegle isn't a minor deity in your head yet, you need to fix that!

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Listen to the instrument, damn it

Most of my life, I was a slave to my mind, and if you'd asked me I would have said straight-faced that the whole useful world was inside it; a straight-up victim of stockholm syndrome of the brain. Held and tortured and unable to even think of another reality.

Here's what I've learned: The body is a violin that responds exquisitely to everything that touches it — including the mind. Like a violin, you can listen to the sounds it makes and hear the results of what's touching it expressed in amazing detail. The mind can lie to you, intentionally (ego, fear, etc) or otherwise (bad training, illness); and it's so so hard to tell what's true and what isn't. But if you listen to the notes of your body, you'll know almost instantly — especially once you're used to just listening — whether something is good for you or not.

And your body is YOUR BODY; it's had YOUR precise experiences for all those years; don't be scared if it responds in ways that the magazines say are wrong. Eat steak: Does it feel good, over the next day or so? No? Then probably it's too heavy for your digestive system; or something else about it disagrees with you. (I love describing food etc as "agreeing or disagreeing" with my body.) Or yes? Then maybe you're shy on iron or protein. I tried to stop eating meat for years, because I thought it was making me fat (no, lack of exercise was), and later found out that I have really high blood-iron requirements, and would need supplements if it weren't for my meaty diet. LISTEN to your body. How much sleep FEELS good, and when? Whose energy makes you relax and smile? Try getting WAY more exercise than you're used to, and see how it feels. When I started lifting weights, I thought I must be insane and going to hurt myself — I was thirty, and not in that great of shape — but even while the muscle-soreness screamed, I felt like a fucking timpani at the climax of a symphony; and thereafter I learned that my body, MY body, for whatever reasons, needs a LOT more exercise than most people take as baseline. (And lo, my brain is *much* happier and easier when I get it, too.)

Listen, listen, listen, and TRUST. Breathe. Let it surprise you — and it will. Mine *loves* a shot of whisky sometimes. I no longer care in the slightest what anyone says about this, health-wise. I know it's healthy because I can feel it. I get a full check-up with blood-work and oh, my liver is perfect, as is my cholesterol etc.? My doctor is surprised — "at my age", she says, most people have *something* that needs adjusting — but I am not. If I told her about the beer-and-a-whiskey I have most days, she'd probably be even *more* surprised. But my body likes beer, especially after a workout. ESPECIALLY don't worry about anything your body wants that isn't too often — your system is strong (especially if you're usually kind to it, which means listening to it), and if you make a mistake (*three* whiskeys probably isn't the best idea), it'll recover. One mistake is no big deal. Every day mistakes, like getting no exercise, eating crap food or the wrong food, etc., ARE a big deal.

Last thing: Stress is SO BAD FOR YOU. Western culture has very specific habits built-in that encourage us to ignore this particular thing — and for reasons that are pretty obvious with a minute's thought — but it's vitally (!) important. LISTEN to your BODY and when it's making that horrible keening noise because your shoulders are tight and you've had no fresh air and no meditation and no naps, TAKE ACTION. It doesn't take much to reduce stress, and your body will tell you instantly what's working. Nice music. A rest with your feet up. A run. A scream. Don't ignore those things and let it build up. Stress is playing your violin with a saw, and over time it will destroy you.

I'm so grateful for my health, and so cognizant of how weird and lucky I am to have found so much of it in my adult years, when I had way way less through those typically-automatically-healthy childhood ones. I'm extra lucky to be able to share some of the really cool parts of it via teaching taiji sometimes, but for you guys, if I can give you one thing, it's this order: You are playing an instrument, right now, by living in and piloting your body. It is a crazy complex instrument, but you were born with the skills to work the bow, so don't stress that part. DO, however, PAY ATTENTION to it, and above all LISTEN, and trust what you hear.

Marie out. :)

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So, as a trained philosopher I try not to moralize, kinda for the same reason that, as a kungfu enthusiast, I try to stay out of bar-fights:  it's neither fair, nor usually fun, nor often useful.  But I've seen some disturbing actions by my peers lately, and my peers are generally smart people who deserve an opportunity to learn.  So…into the bar-brawl we go.  ::rolls up sleeves::

Also like a bar-brawl, declaring who's right and who's wrong in any situation can get all sorts of tangly — but that's morals for you.  It's entirely possible to look like a jerk from one point of view, but, given more or different information, to be totally vindicated.  

That doesn't make it unimportant whether you're an asshole or not, mind you.  Being a jerk hurts people, real people with real feelings who really don't deserve to take your shit just because you didn't think to keep your mouth shut.  Life is hard enough, and one of the few meaningful things we can do to make it easier is to not be jerks to each other.

And my peers are good people — but it's not being a good person that stops you from being a jerk; it's paying attention, and lately that's felt lacking.  Specifically, it's seemed lacking in the words of the pro-social-justice people:  The very ones who spend the most time looking for privilege, pointing out unfairnesses, and generally thinking their butts off.  AND YET, I'm SO UNSURPRISED to find this particular group falling into the trap of being assholes to people….why?  Because being good at social justice can lead you to feel that you have moral authority, and one of the core lessons of my Catholic-raised, Detroit-bred life has been that the people who get used to thinking of themselves as "right" are 1000% more likely to be the people who act like jerks.  Getting it into your head that you're one of the good ones — be it because you're a priest or a cop or a respected member of your whatever etc. — is THE major qualification for eventually forgetting that a) other people are not bad, and b) even when they might be, you don't have the right to be a jerk at them, because you are probably lacking a LOT of information and on top of it, making things worse by being an asshole.

I'm going to be forced to give an example at some point, so I'm picking the easy one:  Just this week, I've watched white-skinned people who never fail to point out and fight against racial privilege make fun of other people because of their chosen hairstyles.  Their mistake is thinking that their racial consciousness is somehow relevant to their actions — that they are exempted from worrying about being an asshole because they're an ally, basically.  But this is a huge error, on the order of assuming that because there is sugar in your kitchen, of course your cake will come out fine.  

The ingredients in your cupboard do not affect your cake.  
Your social-justice creds do not affect whether or not you're being an asshole to that human being right now.

Mocking someone's choice of self-expression is awful and pointless; it never helps, and it hurts like hell for zero gain.  If you're privileged and you do it to someone who isn't, then yes, you've added "being racist" or whatever to that awful pie you're making; but if not, you've still just been a jerk.  If you are unprivileged and the person you're mocking IS privileged, AND certain other conditions apply, then your assholeness may be tempered or even entirely forgivable — like I said, this stuff is tricky by definition.  That's why philosophers will write 15,000 words about one sentence in one situation, trying to follow all the threads.  But I'm not talking about that very particular situation:  I'm talking about when normal strangers who've done nothing to you wear a hairstyle you feel you have some reason to disapprove of, and so you mock them because a) it feels safe among your peers and b) you've convinced yourself that your moral cred as a social-justice warrior means that you can go after people you're able to label as "dudebros" or whatever with impunity.  

Good people do not mock others.  They don't "only mock [these] others”, where [these] are the ones that your peers will probably side with you on.

Good people remember that others, even if you only encounter them as models in a photo-shoot, are still people.  Maybe that guy wore braids because his parents are Norse and he thinks it's a cool throwback.  Maybe that other one just really thinks it looks cool.  Who the fuck are you to shoot them down?  (I do have other examples, but this one is recent and easy, so I'm breaking my usual style and sticking with it.  :)

I used to say, simply, "To be a good person, do not be a jerk to others."  I think, after witnessing so many people recently that I find respectable — not the Nice Church Ladies or whatever, but the social-justice warriors, the masters of talking about consent, the uber-feminists, the eco-badasses — slipping into finding their own assholery acceptable because it's theirs, that I'll have to amend that.  To be a good person, do not be a jerk to others, and do not forget that you CAN be a jerk.  Do not fall into the trap of seeing sugar on your shelf and assuming that everything that comes out of your oven will be sweet.

Thanks for letting me vent, ya'll.  Have a great weekend!  

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Forced Desynchrony Recovery

I like how natural it feels to refer to the world forcing me to be monophasic as "forced desynchrony".  Like, yes, forcing vegetarians to eat burgers is not ok, and neither is forcing me to sleep on your shitty 8-hour schedule.  ::glare::

Anyway, I'm mostly back!  The period of sleep-dep was a day longer than I expected, and nearly everything about coming back from it has been unideal.  Instead of getting at least one nap on the last day of the summit and then being picked up from the airport and driven home to blissfully sleep off the sleep-dep, however long that took, I was kept from napping both at the hotel and the airport, had to endure a long commute home with my luggage, and then arrived to find my partner very ill and requiring pretty intense care through the night.  I hit near-having-a-newborn-levels of sleep dep with that one, and I only got about 4h before I had to literally tear myself out of bed to go to work again.  BUT, I was able to get an afternoon nap, and lay down for an evening one (I was too stressed to sleep, but smart enough to take the break and lay down anyway).  

However, you can imagine my shock when I went to bed that night, setting my alarm for as late as I dared, figuring if I slept the whole 8.5-9h, forget it, I needed it (especially with a germ-infested person in my room!) … and woke up at precisely 4:15am, feeling great.

It took ONE day of Everyman 4.5 to, I'm guessing, recover about 80% from that hellish week of torture.  WHAT.

I'm pretty sure that if I'd gotten that sleep-deprived and had to fix it with monophasic nights-of-sleep, just one 8h night wouldn't have done it.  

But one 4h night with 2 naps did.

I usually try to be at least moderately scientific; or at a bare minimum show actual respect for the real scientific method, if for no other reason than to counteract the antiscience pull of my culture…but today, I give up.  



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