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Epic Quest 2015 – Week Four

23 November, 2014

I didn’t have a great week last week and didn’t make as much progress as I would have liked towards my goals, but I did make progress.

My points were as follows:
Parkrun – 10 points
Read a biography – A Walk With Jane Austen – 20 points
Went to the movies to see The Maze Runner – 30 points
Worked on Spanish with Duolingo – four times 5 points – 20 points
Read a non-fiction book, Simplify by Joshua Becker – 20 points

This week’s points – 100 points
For a grand total of 540 points (Level 2).

I didn’t make much progress towards my Walk to Mordor. I only did my 5km parkrun and because it was run naked week (more about that later but I ran without GPS tracking) it’s not counting in my app. I’ll see if I can fix that for next week.

I’m hoping the coming week is better!

A Tale of Two Fathers

22 November, 2014
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A warning – this post includes movie spoilers.

Recently, we sat down for a family movie night to watch How To Train Your Dragon 2. For those who haven’t been initiated into the world of Berk, it’s a small Scandinavian land where Stoick, the chief, rules and his son Hiccup and his friends taught the Berkians to respect not fear dragons.

**MAJOR SPOILER ALERT**

In the second movie, Hiccup is reunited with his mother, whom he hasn’t seen since he was a baby. Valka (Hiccup’s Mum) and Stoick have a touching reunion, where Valka agrees to return to Berk after 20 years away. However, tragedy strikes. While trying to save Hiccup, Stoick is killed.

There is a scene of a viking style funeral and then everyone gets back to it. Sure, there is fighting to do, but the remainder of the movie is about fighting and Hiccup embracing his role as the new chief. Grief doesn’t really have a place. No one acknowledges the tragedy of being reunited with his wife after 20years only to be killed soon after.

Now, I’m probably expecting too much to think a children’s movie can adequately address grief. However it simply reinforces the cultural and Hollywood belief that once the funeral is over then everyone just moves on. Grief is messy and we don’t know what we do with it, so we ignore it and hope it goes away.

The truth is that grief never really ends. Life moves on and the bereaved learn a new normal, but life is never the same again.

I’ve had an extended family member asked why she wasn’t “over” her husband’s death already, a mere six weeks after he had died. A friend of mine has had “friends” thinking she is after pity whenever she talks about her parent who passed away some years ago. Those who haven’t yet mourned the loss of a loved one are often afraid, because they would rather ignore death, preferring to believe that somehow death will never really touch their lives.

Today marks two years since Dad died. Our lives have settled into a new kind of normal, but there will always be a Dad-shaped hole. We will continue to miss him and notice his absence. There will continue to be milestones that he isn’t here to celebrate because our lives do go on. We will all remember him in our own ways.

If you take one thing from this post, let it be that grieving is normal. It is a hard and messy part of life but it is part of the human experience. Even if you are not grieving I guarantee there will be someone you know who is. Don’t expect them to be sad all the time but don’t expect them to never be sad, to never remember, to never just want to talk about a loved one they are missing. It’s messy to be there with them and for them but it’s worth it.

Why I run

20 November, 2014
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At 8am, just about every Saturday morning, you will find me at parkrun.  Every Saturday morning you will find me out for a run (well I’m still working on run-walk intervals).  It’s hard work.  I’ve run when it’s been 2 degrees celcius outside.  I’ve run when it’s been 35 degrees outside.  I’ve run in the rain, in the mist.  I’ve run on the road, the path, the grass and “cross country”.

I run because running makes me feel strong. It makes me feel fit.  When I’ve completed a run, I’m on a high.  I had a challenge before me and I tackled it.  Most weeks, I dread my run, either the night before or the morning of.  That’s not because I don’t love it, that’s because anxiety will always be a monkey on my back.  It’s because thinking about it too much is like contemplating the height of the mountain you are about to climb.  It seems daunting.

Every Saturday morning, when I choose a run over a sleep in, I win a small battle against my anxiety.  Every time I choose to lace up my shoes and get out there, I loosen anxiety’s grip on me.  Then, when I’ve conquered my run, it’s like I “power up” in the fight.

Before I even get to the physical benefits of running, I’ve already got enough reasons to get out of bed.  But the physical benefits are plenty.  There’s increased muscle tone, improved cardio-vascular fitness, extra vitamin D and a boost in metabolism.  Running helps me lose weight, or maintain the weight I currently am.  But I don’t run to lose weight, that’s just a fringe benefit.

Running also serves another purpose for me.  Running calms my overloaded sensory systems.  I have sensory processing disorder and that means that some sensory inputs are turned up to eleven, when for most people they are a comfortable “three”.  For other people, or other senses, things are dulled and my brain is underresponsive.  Running calms all that down.  It’s a soothing action.

You think I’m crazy?  Running is a repetitive action, it’s natural and your body repeats the same motion over and over, which soothes.  Babies suck their thumbs or dummies – a soothing repetitive action.  Some adults comfort eat, some smoke, some knit.  All are repetitive actions, that don’t require a lot of thought.  They soothe and calm our frazzled nerves.  So for me, running can be like that relaxing glass of wine at the end of a tough work week, or that massage when you’re tense and stressed.

I am never going to be fast.  My goal, at this point, is to run 5km in 30mins.  My current personal best is a touch over 38mins, and my normal 5km run is between 38-40mins. I have no plans to run a marathon, or even a half marathon.  At this point, my body can’t handle more than one or maybe two runs a week.  But I’m getting stronger – physically and mentally.

And I’m going to keep getting stronger.

Epic Quest 2015 – Why?

18 November, 2014
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I wanted to go a little into the “why” of my epic quest.

For me, it’s about lifelong learning and about looking after myself. As a parent of five children and a carer to one (maybe two) with an autism diagnosis, looking after myself and personally pursuing lifelong learning is just not going to happen on its own. I have to make this intentional and purposeful or I’ll just plod along and not get anywhere.

Personally, I’ve neglected myself for far too long. And when I’ve tried to “look after myself” it too often turns into punishing myself. Enforcing strict rules about what I will and won’t do. I will exercise every day. I will read three chapters of the bible every day. I won’t eat bread/dairy/carbs/chocolate/whatever the demon of the day is…

This is about me. About exploring our world. About learning new things and becoming a better version of myself. As the years go on my focus will shift or sharpen. My passions and interests will vary, but it’s something I need to do for me – something I cant “undo”. One of the most important thing for me is that it is not undoable. I can mess up “lose ten kg” by putting it all back on, but I can’t mess up “walk 500km”. Walking backwards, not walking for weeks on end, being ill, being busy, even eating poorly cannot take away the kms I have walked. It helps me to not get discouraged so easily. My psychologist has said to me that I need to have goals and aims to work towards, it’s just part of who I am and really makes a difference to my mental health. It is such a great feeling to achieve a goal or even know you’ve taken one small step towards a larger goal.

Epic Quest 2015 – Week Three

15 November, 2014
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Week three has been pretty busy and it shows in my points!

Firstly, I did a class/workshop and went to an arm balance (yoga) workshop, with Becki, my yoga instructor.  I managed to (very) briefly hold two different arm balances, so I’ve awarded myself some points for that.

We went to the cricket – an international T20 between Australia and South Africa.  I don’t get any points for it, sadly, but it was pretty epic.  Love a good cricket match.

I went to a book launch – Cook 4 a Cure by Kim McCosker – and took Rhiannon with me.

I took a Golden Opportunity this week and went to see The Minimalists on tour at Sydney Uni. I could attempt to write something about it but I can’t say it any better than Brooke already has.  It was a pretty great night and has reignited my enthusiasm for battling through the chaos to look for a simpler life and simpler home.

I’ve also done the usual reading, Spanish study etc and walked/jogged to get me to a total of 41.9km towards my 1000km goal.

Now for the points!

Couch to 5k workout – 10 points

Arm balance workshop – 40 points

Two arm balances held (briefly), 10 points each – 20 points

Laugh and Learn Spanish twice, 5 points each – 10 points

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY – Cook 4 a Cure Book Launch – 10 points

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY – The Minimalists – 50 points

DuoLingo, four times, 5 points each – 20 points

Rosetta Stone five times, 5 points each – 25 points

Read The Maze Runner – 20 points

Week Three Total – 205 points! An Epic Week!

Total Points – a Whopping 440 points, meaning I ****LEVEL UP****. Bring on the movie ticket (thanks FlyBuys points).

Epic Quest 2015 – Golden Opportunities

10 November, 2014

I am certain that, at some point in the next fourteen or so months before my challenge finishes, that I will come across opportunities I hadn’t even conceived of when I wrote my quest. Opportunities to challenge myself, to learn new things and to immerse myself in new experiences. Experiences that may require 20 Seconds of Courage. In gaming terms, they would be side quests, sometimes hidden ones, that only a particular sequence of choices can unlock.

But never matter the gaming analogy… The point is that there are going to be opportunities I didn’t imagine while laying out my quest, that are still opportunities to level up my life. So, I am giving myself a maximum of 1000 points, between now and 31st December, 2015, that can be used for Golden Opportunities. Each Golden Opportunity will be worth between 5 and 100 points, depending on the level of difficulty, time taken etc.

Keep your eyes peeled because the first Golden Opportunity is coming up very soon.

Epic Quest 2015 – Week 2

8 November, 2014

This week was productive and I started to get into the habit of regular Spanish practice.

I started the week with 21.2kms towards my 1000km goal, I’m on 32.6km meaning I’ve added another 11.4km this week.

This week’s points are made up of:
Couch to 5k (10 points)
parkrun (10 points)
Duolingo (5 points x 4 – 20 points)
Laugh and Learn Spanish (5 points x 3 – 15 points)
Rosetta Stone Spanish (5 points x 2 – 10 points)
Trip to the Australian Museum (for El Dia de Los Muertos) (30 points – not sure if it counts as a festival or a museum trip!)
Drunk Tank Pink and Destination: Simple – two non-fiction books (20 points x 2 – 40 points)

Total for the week: 135.
Total points so far: 235 points, well on my way to level two!!

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