Monday, August 31, 2015

August Review

I got a big assist in August from Juanna's Power 30 challenge, in which I mostly re-established my self-care routine and that's certainly not nothing. Though it's not quite ...something, you know? I would actually like to start doing something with my life, when does that start?

August's picks:


1. Clean kitchen? Please?

Kitchen cleaning HAS BEGUN. In no way did I think I would get it all done in a day, so far I sorted through and mostly threw out the stack of things I was saving by the refrigerator, including two really cool styrofoam coolers that the Omaha steaks I get from my BIL for Christmas came in. Regret! But, no regrets. And then I sorted through and threw out a lot from the stack of gear crates by the sink, and actually swept under and behind them for the first time in years, and washed the floor in that general area.

That said, the sweetie man simultaneously closed out his storage unit; so the kitchen and the front room are looking like the warehouse at the end of Indiana Jones. Sigh.


I didn't pick anything for this, but somehow picked up two new clients and also hired an accountant?



Blog posts seem to have been the by- or possibly waste products of doing Power 30. It's not really where I want to be with the blog, but the gears are turning again at least.


The beginning of the month was terrible with CSI, which doing Power 30 right away helped to control.


We didn't see any movies this month, but it's been a pretty social month, starting with Biggie's bachelorette pary, rehearsal dinner, and wedding and reception. I had brunches with Ernest and Killjoy and also with meine frau, a red lipstick date with Biggie, and last but not least Fury weekend.

September Picks

1. Clean kitchen to finish? Depends on how the sweetie man's project shapes up...

2. Draft budget/business plan, how about that. Or maybe write up where I am with sun salutations, that's been a real bright spot for me.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Set Up For Sleep SuMTuWThFSa

Last but most definitely not least, I'm tackling sleep for the last week of Power 30. "Tackling" doesn't seem quite respectful enough, it's more like I'm making a little bower and dancing a little mating dance for sleep. Nothing new here, I've written about sleep before; actually, I can update how I'm doing on those sleep habits:

how i'm doing on those sleep habits

As you can see, the other four ur-habits all support sleep. And, vice versa. I keep meaning to write a series where we look at each ur-habit as the top point of the star, and how the other four support it. Maybe soon. Right now we can look at sleep as the top point, why not. In all this depression the worst is when I haven't been able to sleep. Sleep is the alpha and the omega for me right now, everything I've been doing for Power 30 has been to support sleep, so that sleep can support everything right back.


Hydration is really on point for me right now, I'm going by this newish rule to drink half your body weight in fluid ounces of water daily. I start with the 12 oz when I first wake up, then I just take it from there: 16 oz with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and lately I've been downing another 16 oz in the afternoon. So that's what, 76 fl oz, and I weigh 136 lbs divided by two is 68 fl oz I'm supposedly supposed to be drinking, done and done.


Nutrition has also been on point, I have a good food plan in that it works for me: protein and vegetable required for breakfast (subbing fruit for summer), lunch, and dinner, starchy vegetable or whole grains allowed for dinner, nuts allowed for afternoon or evening snack, and alcohol, sugar, and starch allowed 3-4x/week. I'm not drinking at all anymore and it's to the point that I don't even really enjoy too much starch, my poison is ice cream for the most part. Oh and, potstickers from Mon Lung, love those. I'm allowed my indulgences but the better I eat, the more I want to eat better—boring, but true.


For movement I finally settled on walk 3x/week, yoga 2x/week, and bike 2x/week before 9:00 AM, getting up at least 4x morning, afternoon, and evening, and stretch every night after 9:00 PM. I'd like to do more, but this is where I am right now and I'm getting surprisingly a lot from sun salutations. I'm still not doing full sun salutations, mine are modded down until I get stronger at chatarunga and also until my ankle heals and I can jump my feet between my hands.


Meditation is happening every day now, I look forward to it.

Apart from the above, the major change in my life is: no more derby. So first of all, bedtime is not midnight, lol. Bedtime now is more like 9:30 PM, asleep by 10:30 PM. So that means stop caffeinating by 4:30 PM—I'm so highly motivated to sleep, I generally don't have caffeine after noon; stop eating by 7:00 PM, sure, I'm a lot less hungry at this activity level, I pretty much eat dinner and I'm done; stop exercising by 7:00 PM, well, I train until 8:30 PM sometimes, but I'm going to interpret "exercising" as moderate- or high-intensity movement, which I am currently doing none of, so, check.

That leaves the actual sleep habits, which I'm focusing on this week:

Actually be in bed eight hours before you have to be up, right?

Really my problem right now is not getting into bed right after dinner. Or who am I kidding, for dinner, on nights that I don't train. So for now how about not eating dinner in bed, and do something with yourself in the evening to earn your sleep.

Straighten sheets

Easy enough, I sleep so much better if the sheets are straight and smooth.

Turn down temp

Windows open if it's a cool night, AC on if it's hot.

Turn down lights

I.e., my computer. When I did that sleep study, the doctor said dimming the screen to two clicks was low enough, so that's good enough for me. I also put blue tape over the power light, which helps a lot. I know, how about not having my laptop in the bedroom... I'm not ready for that...

Turn down brain

...there's the rub. My worst habit is that I fall asleep watching TV on my laptop. I mean, I watch procedurals on the theory that they're formulaic and not super engaging, and sometimes this works like a charm and sometimes it really, really doesn't and I'm up all night, either half-awake or fully awake, it doesn't matter which, it's just awful.

I've been bargaining about having my laptop in the bedroom for years, I've slept with my laptop in the bedroom for years and years. In fact before the sweetie man moved in, I used to sleep with my laptop in the bed. It's my security blanket. I'm not giving it up if I can watch one episode of whatever to wind down and then go the fuck to sleep. Which I could do when I was playing derby, because exhausted. The issue then was not wanting to wake up. That part is good now, I like waking up at 6:30 and drinking my water and doing my words. I just need to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep. I don't feel like my actual sleep is under my control, though. I only control my sleep habits; once I'm adhering to those habits, I can assess the results I'm getting from them. If the results aren't good, then I have to change my habits. So pretty much I'm trying to get all my other ducks nicely in a row and hopefully, result! So I can still watch TV before bed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rescuing Sympathy

I love the meaning of this video, but I have a little bone to pick with its definitions:

I'm in complete agreement that it's disconnecting to respond to somebody's pain with problem-solving ("You want a sandwich?") or silver-lining ("At least...") and that what makes something better is connection. I mean, I think that's really deeply true and worth spreading the word about. I'm just not sure why sympathy has to be defined as the former, why can't that be called, you know, sucking, which is more what it is.

Sympathy's too good a word to be ruined like that, if you ask me. For what it's worth, sympathy to me is with + feeling. So to me, sympathy has a kind of side-by-sideness, which doesn't seem like a bad thing to me. You feel something the same as somebody else feels, that's lovely and not lonely at all. Like when you're on a good sports team, you have that side-by-side feeling; it's really one of the great feelings and one of the top reasons to play derby. There was that scrimmage where it was just me, Mah, Beaux, and Kate, so we played with the Manics and went in every third as a Fury squad and killed it, we all just knew what we all were doing at any given moment; honestly I think that night was the high point in my derby career, and I've had a bunch of them.

Empathy, on the other hand, is in + feeling: there's an I'm-going-in-ness to empathy. So I guess I can see why she assigned these terms as she did. Sympathy is often a happy coincidence, but maybe more often than not doesn't happen like that. Enter empathy, you don't feel something the same as somebody else so you enter what they feel or you take what they feel into yourself. I do think that's a higher order thing than coincidentally already feeling what that person feels, I'll give you that. Maybe you access something in yourself that did feel the same at a different point, but maybe you never felt that at any point and access it anyway.

Big ups for empathy, for sure. Big ups for Brene Brown, I love Brene Brown. But a hand up for sympathy, too. We can use all the good feeling that we can get.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Forty Eight!

red lipstick date

Red lipstick date! Actually 8/25/15.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Meditate SaSu

I put "try to fit in meditation" for Saturday and Sunday on the Power 30 spreadsheet, where I was going to get my little check mark if I even gave a little thought at some point to maybe mediating now?

Which Saturday, I did think that. And then I thought, nah. I was laying in bed watching TV and the sweetie man was next to me taking a nap, and that seemed like a fine way to spend the rest of the afternoon. Which I'm not saying it wasn't or that I regretted it, just that I spend kind of a lot of time in bed lately and I sort of imagined I'd have a little more to show for my life than a really better than average track record at guessing who the killer is on CSI.

So then Sunday was already enough, I mean in the way that you're supposed to think of yourself as enough. Sunday I drank my water, did my 750 words, got out of bed and washed up and got on my bike at 11 to have brunch with TS. My birthday is tomorrow so this was my birthday brunch. TS had said that her Sunday was pretty full, so I had it in my head that we'd have brunch and then I'd head back home to do Sunday things. But after brunch she said that she still had a bit of time and we could hang out, so we walked our bikes to the park and sat on a bench to talk. Where we remained until, like, five. This is what is so great about TS, I don't hang out with her a ton and maybe because this is what always happens. It was great to talk to her and great to be in the sun, really just what I needed. Though by the end what I really needed was to pee. So we walked our bikes out of the park and I dropped her off at her corner and then I rode home. That was enough. It didn't need to be made better.

Still when I got home, well, first I peed, and then I thought, maybe meditate now? (Check!) And then I thought something like


The resistance was really incredible. I told you that resistance is a little bit of a red flag for me, right? I'm really not in the business of forcing myself to do things that I don't want to do, but I think resistance is sometimes undermind's way of saying I NEED THIS. So I thought I'd give it a try, and then I could watch TV. Though the thought of putting my legs up the headboard made me feel like kicking and screaming, so I said, fine, we can do it in corpse pose. So I started my timer and had a little savasana... is that what savasana means? Corpse?? What did you think it meant, naptime?

The first thought that popped into my mind was, remember how you wrote to yourself in your 750 words this morning not to forget to email Nora about her appointment Tuesday?


And also don't forget to bring your tax returns to work tomorrow so you can scan them and send them to your NEW! accountant.

Which is how meditation goes, until the timer goes off.

Now TV?

I can at least manage to boil some eggs for lunches. Boy the day that you can't manage to make seven-minute eggs, you need to give Wellbutrin a chance, that's all I'm saying, seriously, it's seven minutes.

Okay but, I'm making a smoothie for dinner.

That's fine. You need half an avocado for your salad kit, though. If you make a rice bowl right now, you can have half an avocado for that and the other half for your kit. I assume you want salad. I mean, you're already making the eggs.

Salad kit is a quart-size takealong container that has a handful of cherry tomatoes, half an avocado, and lately I've been doing half a zucchini, plus two hardboiled eggs, which I take to work and make into a salad for lunch, sprinkled with lemon juice and salt. Rice bowl is what I eat for dinner, the most bare bones version is rice with a bit of meat, half an avocado, and kimchee. Actually there's an even more bare bones version, just rice, tofu, and kimchee, but though nutritionally sound that's edging towards tasting like sadness so I try not to go there too much. Avocado and kimchee as a combo is the bomb. When I was better, I was making more veggies and those bowls were soo many flavors.

I'm sure you can manage to cook up this broccoli, right?

Okay but, just the broccoli. Not the kale.

My super easy recipe for broccoli is: trim, cut up, and wash broccoli, heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large skillet over high heat, throw in the broccoli, cover, and cook for five minutes, then uncover and cook for five more minutes. I'm in super sad shape, but even I can manage this. And it's super good, the broccoli gets charred a bit and smells great. Sometimes I add a little bit of crushed red pepper.

So easy and so good, you know, if you just wash the kale and massage it a bit, you can cook it right in that same pan and all your veggies are done, awesome rice bowls all week.

Okay but, it's just going to be plain kale, can you live with that?

Sure, sounds good.

Really though it wouldn't be any trouble to crush a clove of garlic in the garlic press. Right?

So I had rice, a little bit of leftover orange chicken pieces, broccoli, garlicky kale, kimchee and avocado in my bowl tonight.

It doesn't always work like this, but sometimes this is how meditation works.

It would be easy enough to write all this up in a blog post, wouldn't it?

Then can I watch TV??

Then you can watch TV.

Don't forget to brush your teeth, though.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Meditate MTuWThF

What's my next Power 30 goal going to be? I was going in order: sleep (save for last), hydration, hygiene, nutrition (skip for now), movement, and that brings me to meditation. Okay.

I've been practicing meditation for maybe fifteen years, I was going to say "practicing meditation on and off" but decided not to say "on and off" because that's redundant. But then decided to say "decided not to say 'on and off' because that's redundant" because that seemed necessary. It's necessary to show how the sausage is made, I think. I don't want to give an impression of myself as a delicious sausage springing from the forehead of Zeus (but I may have just given you an image of a delicious sausage springing from the forehead of Zeus that you may not have wanted, I apologize for that.) Honestly I think that's what we're working against, we're bombarded with images of delicious sausages and it's considered distasteful to show how they're made. I'm not even saying so much that we're lacking in instructions for how to make sausage, I'm just saying that it would feel less lonely if there were more images of people up to their armpits in sausage fixins. Possibly I would feel like less of a freak, not that writing this paragraph is helping me out with that. Whatever, I'm a freak, so what.

Meditation. Is by nature an on and off thing. Meditation is for mediating our on and off natures. So when I say that I've been practicing meditation for maybe fifteen years, I'm telling you that I ain't no Buddha. But I am fifteen years past where I started, which ain't nothing. I like to remind folks now and again that this blog isn't for me telling you what to do, it's just me telling you how I do. Though I acknowledge the potential for interpretation that the me telling you what to do is silent, so every now and again I like to say I ain't telling you what to do out loud. I also acknowledge that perhaps you might take my how I do into your how you do, so every now and again I like to say go you and you do you and in this case, keep in mind the fifteen years.

I think the last time I wrote about how I meditate, I was hiding in the stairwell at work. I don't do that anymore, instead I've been doing it after I get home from work MWF. So my week three Power 30 goal is add it back into the other days of the week, starting with Tuesday and Thursday.

This is how I've been doing MWF:

Really all I have to do to get this into TuThu is to set my intention to meditate before I go to the gym for clients, and do everything else the same all the way through getting my dinner and then go to the gym. And if I want to get this into SatSun, figure out how to set my intention for that.

Last but not at all least, I said before:

the crazy thing is how it turns into so much more than just fifteen minutes counting your breaths. I guess it's because basically you're practicing calmly bringing yourself back to the task at hand, over and over just in the fifteen minutes, then day in and day out, then week by week and so forth. That is a lot of practice, a ton of repetitions. You know what it is, it's WAX ON WAX OFF. You wax on, wax off for fifteen minutes every day, and then somebody tries to sweep your leg and WAX ON comes out of nowhere! Except not nowhere, it came out of those fifteen minutes.
Except Ska told me that if I actually tried wax on against sweep the leg, I would find myself flat on my back. You know what I mean though, right? Because I'm telling you that if you ever find yourself being loaded into a CT scan with the left side of your body disabled, which I truly hope you never do, you'll be glad that you have a bunch of nice, calming breath counting under your belt.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Do Sun Salutations SuTuSa

Or walk to the train MWF, or bike to therapy Thursday. Just a little bit of movement to start every day. So my morning stack so far is:

# drink water
/ do 750 words
// do sun salutations or walk or bike

Then breakfast, if you're curious; in summer it's nut butter fruit smoothies like I'm on almond butter cherry right now.

So tomorrow starts week two of this Power 30 challenge, and I've been thinking about this. My backstated goal is to re-establish my self-care routine: sleep, hydration, hygiene, nutrition, movement, and meditation. I started with hydration because it's easy, remember EMILY's list? Early Money Is Like Yeast, it makes the bread rise? So, hydration: early in the challenge and early in the day, get two birds started with one stone. Now what? Sleep, hydration, hygiene, nutrition, movement, and meditation is written roughly in the order that I encounter them in the day, obviously circularly. I didn't start this challenge with sleep, sleep to me is the hardest and most important. I'm working on it all the time. I'm working on it now. I mean, not right this minute. Though I sort of am—everything that you do all day contributes to how you sleep at night. Anyway, I've written about it before. I guess I'm counting words as mental hygiene, and otherwise I'm all right with hygiene. I'm depressed, but I do still shower. So next would be nutrition? I hestitate to say this, because every time I say something like I'm falling apart but dagnabbit I've got [fill in the blank] together, that's fill in the blank's cue to burst into flames. But ::throws salt over shoulder:: nutrition is actually on point, has been for months. So next would be movement, which might be where all this trouble started.

I was super great about joyfully resting and healing after I got out of the hospital, and I thought I was starting small, very small, with putting movement back in. Not small enough, apparently. Or maybe small enough, aggrieving my undermind at how small like when I first realized the tiny cube that 1 oz of cheese is. It'll get better, I don't even really like cheese anymore! Or maybe not social enough, after all my physical self has been my social self for eight years. Whatever it was, I was getting sick hand over fist for like a month straight and then I got depressed.

Now when I say "social" I mean a tiny drop of social like those butterflies that drink the tears of turtles. I don't have social anxiety. I like being social, just in microscopic amounts. Pretty much the way I used to drink, which I don't at all anymore because being drunk is too much like having a stroke, not that I have PTSD about that, just that I don't want to be having a stroke and be like, nah it's just that thimble of wine I drank at dinner. So Saturday was Biggie's wedding and it wiped me out. The only reason I didn't stay in bed all day Sunday was to get brunch with Shanna who was in town from Atlanta. We had brunch at Stax Cafe and then we walked a bit on the Bloomingdale Trail until it was time for her to go to the airport, before which she did me a solid and confirmed that she also has no signal in my apartment on her T-Mobile phone--that might be a future goal, tackle this business of switching my cell service and upgrading to a smartphone. I'm mostly excited about Instagram! So then I got back in bed and stayed there for the rest of Sunday, watching CSI. Monday was horrible, but I knew to expect that and then it's not as bad, then after work I get to lay on the bed and meditate, and then I'm supposed to tidy the kitchen but the sweetie man came home and said he was going to do the kitchen so who was I to stop him. I ice bucketed my ankle instead, while doodling in my notebook what my next Power 30 goal could be.

Finally I figured out that I'm certainly not going to solve my whole movement problem this week. I just need a little thing that I can do, a little thing that represents movement the way drinking 12 oz of water represents hydration (and I suppose 750 words represent mental health, lol). I do hydrate like a champ for the rest of the day. Or actually, I guess I've been blogging again since I started the 750 words. So I decided that after the water and the words, every day should start with just a little bit of movement. On work days, that's actually already covered with walking to the train to work—so that's like the free square you get in Bingo, well three free squares. Though I haven't been running the stairs like I always do, obviously. For the past, what, five years I've had this commute, I'm often tired and often think to myself on the platform, is today an escalator day? And my inner mom says, Are you injured? And finally last Friday I answered back, I sure as shit am! And I rode that escalator like the Queen of England, waving at people and shit (in my mind). I mean, that only takes out one of flight of stairs, there's still three others. Boy that Friday I was crutching down the stairs and somebody bumped me from behind and I twisted around with my face full of rage, but it was a blind woman with a dog. So it was okay, she didn't see my rage face. So MWF walk and eventually get back to myself on those stairs, Thursdays bike, and NEW! SuTuSa is going to be a little bit of yoga, a little sun salutation:

  1. Google "sun salutation"
  2. Pick a sun salutation. Yoga Journal was near the top, I like Yoga Journal.
  3. Actually Yoga Journal had like six sun salutations to choose from, I picked Sun Salutation A
  4. Which weirdly is by Kelly McGonigal, the identical twin sister of Jane McGonigal who does the SuperBetter site that I was talking about earlier.

yoga is like sausage, it looks good but nobody hardly shows you how it's made. but i do.

Yoga is beautiful, yoginis are beautiful, so much love and light and all that. If you were looking for a yoga video that's all dark and I have to keep checking WTF I'm supposed to be doing next because you have to start somewhere, look no further because I'm your gal.

ETA: Sun salutations are actually making me sore! So, Tuesday and Saturday only.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Drink Water, Do 750 Words

Is my Power 30 goal for this week, just that, every day this week. I am the queen of baby steps. I am also the queen of process-oriented goals, which is a little different than the prevailing wisdom of results-oriented SMART goals. I wish I could think of a metric that starts with H, because then I could get famous for being the person who came up with STAHP goals. Specific, timely, achievable, H, process-oriented. What. STAHP seems negative, right? STAHP and smell the roses? Ah well. Anyway, I rarely have a specific result in mind. Always a specific process and see what happens, the result flowers from the process. If I like the result, I keep the process. Important: IF I like the process! Wait, I feel a table coming on:

 like processdislike process
like resultkeep processtweak process
dislike resulttweak resultdump process

Like I'm never going to subsist on chicken breast and do cardio seven times a week so that I can get ripped abs, I hate chicken breast. So dry. I have the abs that you get from eating chicken thighs. So I'm going to gently interrogate myself about how I feel about abs, maybe adjust that? Yes? No? Maybe gently interrogate myself about how I feel about chicken breast, maybe try them again? Back and forth like that. I mean, not in regards to chicken breast. I'm pretty decided about that.

ANYWAY. Overall I'm trying to snap all the pieces of my self-care routine back into place: sleep, hydration, hygiene, nutrition, movement, and meditation. Hydration is as good a place to start as any: drink a glass of water when I wake up every day, I will write about that later. Right now I'm going to write about doing 750 words, which is sort of hors the above list. I suppose it's sort of mental hygiene, or it's meditation of a sort. Whatever. Words is words. Words is pretty much the same as morning pages, and what I use for them is 750 Words.

Which has a lot of bells and whistles that are just for funsies, he even says that they're just for fun. I find them distracting and just ignore them. I further ignore some of the parts that might be considered fundamental to the practice--e.g., writing every single day, and keeping a streak going. In the past I've done just Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday because how much sleep I needed because of derby, and that was fine. I've also done long streaks when words were really helping me, punctuated by long breaks when they really weren't. I may not be sure about captaining a big ship with a lot of souls, but I'm darn sure that I'm the captain of my own little boat with my one little soul. I sail how I want! I use 750 Words for its very basics: a white page, a keyboard (agree, typing is my most free-flowing writing), and a counter and a little green flag that pops up when I've hit my 750 words.

750 words

As for what I use it for, it depends what I need it for. I'm not writing a novel or anything. Probably 80% of the time I'm narrating my life to myself, talking myself through getting through the day. First you drink the water and then you do the words and then you tidy the bedroom because they say that making the bed every morning gives you a little brain cookie to get you started and then you tidy the kitchen and then you fix your breakfast... it's horrifying, really, day in and day out. But that is pretty much why I picked this as my first Power 30 goal: if I want to rebuild my self-care routine, then I'll need to talk myself through it and it's better than buttonholing somebody on the bus.

But also there was an idea like what A-Bomb posted:

The moment after you wake up is one of the most vulnerable times in your whole day. Start it off by thinking about yourself. You can’t make a difference in anyone else’s world unless you take care of you. So focus on you for a moment, not what other people are doing on social media (because we know it’s all a lie anyway). And don’t think about what other people are thinking about you. YOU think about YOU.
I'm not so down on social media, though; that might be a blessing of not having a smartphone. I don't think it's all a lie, either. Anyway I haven't been starting my day thinking about what other people are thinking about me, I've been starting my day solving murders (CSI), Claire wrote this thing a while back about watching TV at bedtime just because you can't stand your own thoughts, that, only lately like every waking moment, so like twelve hours of CSI a day. I could start that job today. Except, stomach contents. But I haven't been watching CSI since I started doing my words again! Good thing, because I seriously am about to run out of police procedurals. Do you know how many of those there are? Law and Order, CSI, Criminal Minds, NCIS? I have watched. Almost. All of Them. So, words. Starting the day by looking at myself: I feel like crap I slept terrible I dreamed that horrible dream, sure, I do that too. And then also sometimes I'll just write what needs to be written that day, which I could launch Blogger and write my post, it's the same white screen, it's the same activity. But Blogger doesn't count my words for me. So I write it all in here, cut and paste to Blogger, and hey, I have a blog post for the first time in six months. And hey now, TWO blog posts.

(See? Do 750 words is the process, two blog posts is the result. Also now I only watch CSI when I'm ice bucketing my ankle.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Friends With Lifeboats

So I'm told that depression is a pretty common stroke—or major illness in general—aftereffect, I accept this. However, this only started I'd say three months after? If anything for the first three months after the stroke, I was euphoric. So I've been thinking, why was I happy then and why am I not happy now? (Actually I'm feeling better, you can tell because I'm moving my lips—or what serves as lips on the internet, fingers.)

By the way I figured out how I can cobble the SuperBetter site into my self-help cobbler, one of the things that was stressing me out about SuperBetter was the thought of having to keep up with three power ups, three quests, and one battle every day. But, it's not like that. I think it's more like you do one set of those at a time; so basically whenever you log in, it shows you wherever you are with the current set and it doesn't scold you. I like the quests. Not all of them, I throw out the ones I don't like. Though in my experience the ones that I instantly think aren't applicable to me or that I instantly take a dislike to are the ones that I need to work on the most, so I give everything a little try. If I'm still not feeling it, I trust my judgment and toss. So I think what I'll do is dip into SuperBetter for quests now and again.

One of the first things that SuperBetter encourages you to do is find allies, I'm down with that. I want my own friends as allies though, and in our own space. You know how I work for a Chicago office and a Boston office? I finally figured out what the Boston office does, they consult on platforms. Facebook is a platform. A big thing for platforms is ignition, when the platform takes off. Like how Ello isn't taking off, womp womp. Ignition is tricky. I wouldn't say that the platform itself is not important, because the damn thing has to work the way you want. But really platforms are about the people on the platform, or the platform and the people together.

Which brings us to lifeboats. I have a couple friends who are absolutely brilliant at lifeboats. Problem's pushup challenge that I did in May and June: brilliant lifeboat. Her pushup challenge was essentially a mini-platform that achieved ignition. First of all, she built it on an existing platform, Facebook, which was a) very serviceable from a technical standpoint, and b) already populated, but most importantly c) with Problem and her friends. Problem is, in tipping point terms, a connector, which not everybody is. I am not a connector. I am a maven. Then also the "platform" of the challenge itself was perfectly designed. The task: five pushups a day, not too hard and not too easy, and who cares if it's too easy, an easy five pushups a day never hurt anybody. If you did the task, you got an instant reward: you could see your video, visual evidence that you did the task that could be seen by you and by others. I actually learned how to shoot and post video for this challenge, so that was an extra achievement unlocked for me, and let me tell you, as a trainer, video is the achievement that keeps on giving.

If you're interested, here was my progress with the pushups. I really started with pushups way back in the day of this blog, when Busty and I were doing the tiny tricep pushups. Then Travis and I did a pushup competition, in which I did some stupid number of not very good pushups and actually hurt myself. I wasn't hopeless at pushups when Problem's challenge started, but I'd been doing them pretty half-assed up to that point:

go home pushups, you're drunk

Go home pushups, you're drunk.

What's going on here is I have no sense of solid plank form, which pushups depend on. What it feels like to me is that I don't have sufficient arm strength, but no amount of crappy repetitions is going to solve this problem. Well, I take that back a little bit—no exercise is wasted, I very well may gain arm strength. But if I keep practicing crappy pushups, I will always do crappy pushups.



This is actually a pretty bright idea, even though it's coming from the wrong place (still thinking the problem is arm strength). My only issue with bodyweight exercises is people tend to think their bodyweight is their minimum starting point. There's no moral imperative to start at your body weight! It's okay to ask for help, in this case from a rubberbanditz band. The band takes up a little of your weight so that you can work up to it, which you totally would do with any other weights.

eta: oic


Then the sweetie man helps me out with my plank form by holding a PVC pipe to my back and I finally get like Helen Keller what a proper plank feels like. This video is not the Helen Kelen moment, this is Teacher patiently pumping water over my hand.

even better

Even better.

Here's an alternate way to do assisted pushups that I adapted from Kelly Starret's Supple Leopard. I like them both ways, but this way you don't need a pullup bar. Also the way the band is, you have no choice but to keep your elbows in.

i got no strings

I got no strings!

And finally, unassisted. There's still a little curl to my plank, but I fixed that by the end.

Then even more rewards, I don't think Problem ever failed to like a video that was uploaded. So you got a thumbs up from Problem, minimum, and then more thumbs up and words of encouragement from other people in the challenge and even other friends who were not in the challenge. So much validation from one little task! So much connection. So much dopamine or serotonin or whatever. All of which breeds the ability to do more tasks--more pushups, and more tasks that are not pushups. Hinc illa euphoria--plus doing my ProSource quizzes, another excellent setup.

This blog post is in fact edited from an email that I wrote to Problem, who suggested that perhaps I could captain my own lifeboat. Which I'm trying to balance between being confident in how well I know myself and being open-minded about how that's working out for me and maybe thinking a little different. My experience, though, is that it doesn't tend to work out when I'm at the helm of such endeavors. Ugh, remember 60 Small Ways? Or recently, the indie film club? I don't want to analyze right now why those flopped. Because it's okay that they flopped. It's okay if that's not my thing, I'm not unaware that I'm awesome at other things. And because I have friends who are really awesome at this, which is really awesome for me. It's kind of awesome of me to have friends like I do.

Which brings us to Juanna, the mother of lifeboats. Like you know that really giant lifeboat, the SS Windy City Rollers. Juanna has just launched a Power 30 lifeboat that I'm going to help row for now. Maybe I'll see how I feel about launching my own boat 30 days from now.