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Tag: CrossFit

Checking in… August 2020 Edition

Yeah, I know it’s nearly the middle of August, but I feel the need to take a step back and look at where I truly am after a few super stressful weeks. This has been a bizarre year with COVID-19 and all the changes that it forced upon the world, but it was the last four or five weeks that really pushed me in ways I wasn’t expecting.

I want to look at three different areas… Work, Moebius, and Health. And yes, this kind of crosses the streams a bit — but I am really trying to focus on being grateful for the good things (and even some of the bad ones) in my life to try and get back on track mentally and physically in these odd times.

Caution… this is a very long post. πŸ™‚

Work

First, let’s look at work. This year I was presented with a new challenge at Red Hat and I accepted it, splitting time between the type of work I’ve been doing for the better part of nearly 20 years now — and a new role. I wasn’t quite sure I could handle the new but took on to test my mettle because I needed the change.

The old work persisted, but the new work lingered. It felt like starting at Red Hat back in 2009 and being dropped in the deep end of the pool at times. Though I had meetings every couple of weeks and chatted with my manager about it repeatedly, it didn’t really come to a head until about five weeks ago when I was finally able to wrap my head around a complete scenario.

Finally, I thought, I was treading water again in the big pool. Silly me.

As soon as that happened, I was able to start working on slides and refining my demo. Every few days it felt like life was throwing boulders into the pool, knocking me back and forth like the Andrea Gail in The Perfect Storm. Some days the waters were calm. Other days, it might as well have been hurricane season.

We kept pushing off and pushing off the demo and presentation I was due to give our product leadership team. Over and over again we asked for a week here or two weeks there.

And then, we had slides, we had a repeatable demo, we had a somewhat stable system that I could rebuild as necessary if I had a couple of hours… and we set a date.

This week I gave the presentation. It was at 6am on a Monday morning. I didn’t sleep well the days leading up to it and hardly at all the night before. I set an alarm for 5am so I would be up in time to get some coffee and at least not look quite as haggard as I felt. And of course the alarm never went off because I was up well ahead of it.

Caffeine in hand, I headed down to verify that everything was set for my demo. Everything had been in good shape Friday, so I shouldn’t have to worry, right?

Ha. The universe had other plans. The online demo system timed out over the weekend at some point and I had a brief panick attack. As my mom said later that day, adrenaline is much better than caffeine. I figured out what was going on, restarted the darned thing, got my ducks in a row, and was as ready as I could be.

The demo went fine. I had kudos from my manager and his boss. And now we wait to see what happens next.

All the worry, preparation, panic, and planning paid off I guess.

Long story short, that chapter of this story is over and I am back working on some other things while we figure out what’s next.

Moebius Adventures

As far as Moebius goes, I’ve been trying to finish up our new game Tattered Magicks since May. Finally got the majority of text done, started playing with layout, coordinating art, editing, getting feedback, and so on.

Had a few hiccups here and there. A discovery in May led to having to choose new cover art. A discussion in July with my publishing partner had me nearly in tears, but we resolved it. And on July 21, we released it to the world.

When I say “released,” it is available if you know where to look — but it’s not on bookshelves yet due to some COVID-related printing delays. So it’s PDF-only for now.

Even as a PDF-only release, it’s managed to achieve “Copper Seller” status at DriveThruRPG in the first 15 days it was available. Simply put, that amounts to selling 50+ copies of a product. This is the first time in Moebius Adventures history we’ve hit that number that quickly. Even Aliens & Asteroids, which was produced after a barely successful Kickstarter, took a while to hit that number (about a month).

Considering that you can’t even buy a copy of the print version of the book yet — I’m still in shock we hit that number.

Copper Seller and Five 5-Star Reviews? What alternate universe do I live in?

Now, I’m awful at self-promotion, but I’ve done my bit and shared it out on the Interwebz far and wide. I even did a Q&A over at #randomworlds with Dan Davenport and crew for a couple of hours. (Here’s the transcript!) Dan asked some great questions and I think some of them may even lead to writing some blog posts or TinyZine articles for Gallant Knight Games at some point.

I also reached out to some reviewers, though we haven’t seen the fruits of that yet. I have another chat with Mildra the Monk (YouTube) scheduled in a few weeks to talk more about Tattered Magicks (we chatted a couple of months ago about A&A and other Moebius stuff). And I had some interest from a group helping out one of my other game making friends — Will Munn, who is getting ready to Kickstart his phenomenal Arium game (you should definitely check it out!).

Of Dice & Dames had been doing some sessions of Arium online that I had caught wind of, and Level 1 Geek, who was one of the folks GMing some of their actual play events, reached out via Twitter literally the day after TM was released and we started chatting about their group doing an online session playing through the sample adventure in the book.

Well, that led to a fantastic session I watched last night that live streamed on Facebook at the Of Dice & Dames site (and will be available on YouTube eventually). Tori (Level 1 Geek), Katie, Erika, Emily, and Chase went on a wild adventure featuring ghosties and goblins and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They had fun and that came through in spades.

And though that shouldn’t have, it validated a few things for me. I always doubt myself to an insane degree. Impostor Syndrome is a definite thing. Seeing that they a) picked up the rules quickly and even better b) figured out spellcasting so quickly made me happy I spent time cleaning up the rules and adding as many examples as I did!

Knowing that players who had not played A&A previously and just picked up the TM book could make things work made he supremely happy. Life is good. Maybe I’m doing something right on that front!

Health and Wellness

Lastly, let’s talk about some health and wellness bits…

First, I really let myself go at the end of March, all of April, and into May. It was enough that I got up, continued to work, and tried to function sometimes as an adult. It was the bare minimum as we rode out the changes that started at spring break, then through the “YEAR” of April, and started to peek our heads out into the world again in May.

I’ve started to get some things back under control — mostly food and drink. And getting back into the box has been a huge part of that.

But the other half of that is understanding that I’m not in the same shape I was when all this began. I’m not even in the same shape I was a year ago or two years ago. I fell off the routine and fell apart as a result.

225-230 pounds became 260 pounds over two months. I’m back down to about 245, but it’s definitely taking longer to come off than it did to pack it on.

The most fun I have is when I discover that I can still do something that I could do previously. Climb a rope? Lift heavy weight? Do a kipping pull-up? Yup. Can I do any of those things consistently? Nope. But they will get easier as the weight comes off and muscle (and muscle memory) is restored. Slowly.

But I have to share a recent discovery. Friction.

What’s that have to do with fitness or health? Bear with me.

Last week we did a workout that involved ring muscle-up progressions. To say the least, I can’t do a muscle-up whether on the rings or the rig, but MU transitions — I can do those. So I dove in with abandon, feeling the familiar burn as skin was abraded from the outside of my biceps as they rubbed against the strap for the rings.

Ouch. Friction hurts.

So this week when we did MORE ring MU progressions, I asked if there was a way to avoid doing what I’d done the week before. We figured out an angle that I could essentially do a progression at that was more like a ring row (at an angle) than directly beneath the rings (like a muscle-up). Great!

Unfortunately, the other part of the workout involved a heavy kettle bell — a 70# beast. I was doing Russian kettlebell swings with it — just to eye level (mine were higher, but not by much). Turned out that every time the back of my forearms were hitting my shorts, they were rubbing… See? More friction.

I’m really hoping that I can exit this high friction phase of my re-education before I burst into flame or get even more bloody. Geez.

Long story short, life is a work in progress. Some progress is prettier than others. And I’ve never been described as “pretty.” πŸ˜€

Staying Positive in a Whirlwind

Mid-life crisis or not, it doesn’t change the fact that my life is caught in a perpetual whirlwind of commitments. School events. Soccer. Street Petz. Work. Crossfit. And then I get whatever’s left, though there usually isn’t much left.

So how do I stay positive and cheerful in the midst of the howling tornado raging around me? Damn good question.

Here’s a few things I’m working on and a few others I want to do more frequently.

Gratitude. I’m working on getting a bit of gratitude practice into every day. Some days it works. Some days it doesn’t. Some days I forget. But focusing on the things that go right rather than the ones that don’t definitely helps a bit change the narrative from “today was a shitty day” to “this happened and it was a good thing.” A subtle shift, but an important one.

Endorphins. Honestly I think without the endorphins released during Crossfit workouts I’d be in a lot worse shape than I already am — literally and figuratively. I can tell on the days I don’t work out that something is missing. Pushing myself physically releases a great natural high that I have come to enjoy and depend on for a boost during my day. I just wish my body (and schedule) could handle working out daily vs. the 3-5 workouts I fit in already.

And yes, I’m aware that sounds a bit like an addiction. But isn’t a healthy addiction preferable to other ways to get a high?

Escape. I love reading a good book — especially what I term “bubblegum” fiction. Those are the stories that are just fun to read and don’t require a ton of extra thought to comprehend. I enjoy media in that same way, preferring stuff that entertains me and gives me that escape. Unfortunately I watch far too much TV (it’s an easy trap)Β and catch far too few movies (more difficult to squeak into the schedule). And I don’t spend enough time enjoying good music the way I used to.

Perhaps it’s time to adjust media consumption a bit more.

Creativity. Writing. Yes, you knew that had to come in here. I need to do more. Some is personal, like this drivel. πŸ™‚ Other bits are for games I’m working on. And I’d really like to get back to trying some fiction. I’m awful at it, but it only gets better with practice.

Same with drawing. At some point in my childhood I decided I was a crap artist and just… stopped. I want to start again to entertain that part of my soul again.

Music. That would also be good. My guitar is collecting dust. I thought by leaving it beside my desk it would get more use… Nope. Time to clean it up and warble along slightly out of tune again.

And games. Damn I forgot how much fun it is to play a role-playing game on a regular basis and guide the story. Doesn’t mean I know where it’s going to end up. This is collaborative storytelling, folks… A group of people enjoying a shared tale and seeing where it goes. Never tried it?Β  You should! Even crazy things like Cards Against Humanity can really liven up an evening and raise the laughter levels.

Do you notice how a lot of these activities are solo? That’s the introvert in me and why I’m so thankful for the ones that aren’t. When I lived alone, I spent a lot of my time lonely. Now I’m hardly ever lonely because I have a family and friends. But crossfit and gaming are not solo activities and have pulled me out of that realm. Sharing some of these other things may do the same.

So how do YOU stay positive and cheerful in the maelstrom of your lives? Curious people want to know (read: me!). Leave comments!

Positivity and a Negative Mind

There’s a weird dichotomy when I look at the world from my point of view. I’m not the most positive guy in the world, really, but I find myself trying to help others look at the bright side of things more often than not. And it seems that perhaps that approach has rewired my brain a bit over the last few years.

But what do I mean by that? Let’s start with a baseline.

A Few Things About Me

If you talk to my family, they’ll tell you a few things about me.

Change is Hard

First, I don’t like change. As a result, they often had to give me advance warning (at least 15-30 minutes) before it was time to go anywhere, especially when I was doing something like reading and lost in my own head. If you try and change plans at the last minute, I get very cranky.

Second, I don’t like confrontation and will go to ludicrous extremes to avoid it. I think this goes back to my issues with change.

That said, if you do something to harm my family or friends, I can be a bull in a china shop. I may avoid confrontation, but I will maul you like a bear if you do anything to mess with my family. And family goes much deeper than blood.

Third, I don’t like interacting with people I don’t know. Or people in general. I love interacting with individuals or even small groups, but crowds are exhausting. And even dealing with people on the phone is exhausting.

If I can text you, e-mail you, or send you a chat message via Facebook or some other site, I’m there. It gives me a chance to consider my words.

The Changes

Over the last 17 years, I’ve had one very large factor for change in my life. My wife. She’s a force of nature and very impulsive. My resistance to change has been worn down out of necessity. She’s been good for me in that respect.

Having children has also forced me to deal with most of those issues I deal with all the time. Sometimes I just have to get out of my comfort zone and deal with things I don’t want to. And that’s been good for me as well.

And then there’s CrossFit, which has given me a ton more confidence in my own abilities.

I still don’t like change, confrontation, or people, but I think overall I’ve improved by leaps and bounds over where I was before I was married and had kids.

It used to be that the world conspired against me and I’d get angry about it. I had a picture in my head of how things were going to go, and they rarely went that way, which would make me less and less willing to make plans in the future.

Now, if I have a little time to get my mind right, I can leave enough room for change to not throw me off as badly. I still have to prep for it, but if I know that we don’t have a set plan and we just figure things out as we go.

But where does the positivity come in?

Helping Others

I listen and I watch. Pretty much I’m a passive observer in much of my own life. And when people talk to me, sometimes I have advice. Sometimes I don’t and the mere act of listening is enough. But usually I can make a suggestion or relate something I’ve experienced, read, or heard, and I have hope that sometimes that makes things better. I try to help when I can, even if it’s just offering encouragement.

That said, with CrossFit I have begun working on myself. I feel like until I started CrossFit, I was locked into the physical awkwardness of a 12-year old boy. Over the last 4 years, I’ve at least progressed to maybe age 13 or 14. πŸ™‚ But I have plenty left to work on. It’s like relearning how to do the most basic things all over again, and it’s deeply humbling.

And I hope that my work ethic serves as an example to others. If I can do some of this stuff as an awkward, out of shape, 40 something, geek, then anybody can. I’m still amazed when I do simple things like kick up on the wall and do a handstand push-up. Who have I become? Or, better yet, who am I becoming?

Heck if I know, but I’m enjoying the ride — and that in and of itself is amazing to me.

Helping Myself

Beyond that, I find myself approaching the world with a cautious optimism and trying to accept things as they come. I can only control one thing – me. That has to be enough.

These days if I need something done, I try to take the time to do it while I’m thinking about it. That avoids any awkwardness with asking someone else to do it only to have them forget. Doing it gets it out of the way.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still procrastinate or put things off indefinitely. But that’s not on anybody else but me.

And because I’ve helped others, some of those folks are now helping me by offering encouragement and advice. Sometimes I even accept it. πŸ™‚

Conclusions?

Quite honestly, 2016 was a pretty good year for me and I hope that 2017 continues the trend.

It’s taken a long time to get to the point where I can try treating myself as well as I treat others. Accepting my faults is a big part of that because it means I can address them better.

Now we just work on everything a day at a time.

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