Everybody Was Tai Chi … well, not fightin’ … more exercisin’ and relievin’ stress slowly … Whoa whoa oh-oh

​https://youtu.be/z99bc-K2ppE

Okay, so day 2 at the Wellness Center went as well as day 1 (archery).

Monday, I tried Tai Chi, which I’d been wanting to try for several years. 

I’ve dabbled in martial arts several times, but what intrigues me about Tai Chi is how many elderly people perform its forms every day, and how those forms keep them strong and flexible.

When I was younger, I was always over interested in the self defense side of any martial art I took. 

But now I have a different enemies list: osteoporosis, heart disease, lack of flexibility, inability to get down on the floor and play with.my daughter, hip fractures and other immobilizing injuries, etc.

None of these have struck me yet, but I’m only 42, and all of them loom.

So I’m excited to learn an art that can carry me into my seventies or eighties … or even beyond.

And just in case anybody didn’t get the title:

 https://youtu.be/jhUkGIsKvn0

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Bullseye! Exercise Part 1: Archery Class

One of my goals this year is to become more active, so I joined our Wellness Center.

That gave me the opportunity to do something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid: learn archery.

I remember reading a book my great-grandfather had, a version of the Robin Hood story. I don’t recall its title or author (Grandpa passed away when I was 8 years old, in 1983) or much else except its ending:

Maid Marian had died some time before, and Robin was dying (from age or a wound or a broken heart I can’t recall) too. He told his friends, “bury me where my arrow lands,” and fired an arrow into the sky.

The arrow landed in the ground right beside Marian’s grave.

That was simultaneously the greatest shot and the most romantic thing I had ever seen, heard, or read.

I think that’s when I started wanting to learn the bow. 

Then, of course, I saw this gem:


… and I was even more hooked.

Anyway, that’s really my bullseye up there in the picture. It’s the only one out of probably 60 shots (and we won’t talk about how many missed the target altogether), but I’m proud of it. 

I’m more proud of the way my shots improved over the course of the session. I’m learning! 

Also, everybody in the class is super friendly and supportive. Thanks to Sarah for taking and emailing me the picture. I’d left my phone in my car.

And archery is a great workout for a beginner like me. Sure, I’m a bit sore from pulling back that bowstring so many times, but it’s nothing painful. It’s more like a reminder of the fun I had in archery class.

Jumping into something like Zumba or even yoga always made me feel ragged, discouraged, and occasionally even hurt. This, I think, was a much wiser choice. And besides:

August So Far: Sleep, Exercise, and Rekindling a Creative Spark


I’ve outlined some writing goals and life goals for August.  I’m writing this on August 7, so I thought I’d report  on how the first week went. 

I’m still struggling with sleep, but I have determined that 7 hours a night is not enough for me.  My next test will be to see whether I need 7 1/2 or 8 hours. 

I did manage to exercise three times the first week. I swam twice,  I did chair squats once,  and we took a walk the park once.  At this rate,  I won’t be ready for the 2020 Olympics,  but it’s a good start. 

As far as writing fiction goes, I’m beginning to wonder whether planning plots is really the best move at this point.

After I finished my dissertation, I immediately started writing what I thought would be a novel or novella,  but ended up being alongish short story. 

It’s rubbish, of course,  and by the end I just wanted it to be over. I only finished it at all because giving up so close to the ends would have been a self-sabotaging defeat. 

And I’m still stuck right there, in a mess of my own making. 

I get enough sleep to do well at work, but not enough to have any energy or clarity left after we’ve put the little one to bed. 

Honestly,  I don’t have any desire to write our do anything else after we put Daughter to bed. Most of my experimental cooking is on the weekends, even.

 and I’m not getting to bed early enough to get up an hour early to write or do  whatever before work. 

Still I’m simplifying my goalsfor August:  Forget everything else.  Sleep matters. 

As for my creative side, I’ll be taking some concrete steps to refill the old gas tank,  beyond just getting more sleep,  but I’ll talk about those in an upcoming post. 

August Life Goals

Yesterday, I shared my progress on my July writing goals and announced my August writing goals.  Today,  I’m setting out my August life goals.

  • Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep each night.
  • Get to bed early enough to write,  read, pray, exercise, or otherwise greet the day
  • Exercise 3 days a week, rain or shine
  • Continue eating a plant-based diet
  • Try to do something actively helpful for someone (family can be included,  but ideally this should reach beyond them)  each day
  • Listen to music, go outside,  and do other things to rejuvenate myself

Well,  that’s more than enough to do for one month. I will  let you know how I did at the end of the month. 

Resistance

Every time I’ve tried to get my stuff together, I’ve always faced resistance. 

When I started exercising,  I would soon get sick or hurt. 

When I started trying to go to bed earlier, 1,000 things would come up to keep me up (a student distraction each night,  it seems).

And when I do get to bed earlier, I always feel worse at first, moody, as if sleep deprivation were an emotional anesthetic. 

When I started writing consistently,  life seemed to explode with physically and/or emotionally draining mini-crises, until I was so ragged I could hardly even think straight. 

Resistance.

It’s why we don’t succeed, why we let our dreams remain dreams instead of bringing them to life. 

Resistance. If I am really going to get my act together before this year is out, I’m going to have to learn to resist back. 

Steven Pressman literally wrote the book on overcoming resistance – two books,  actually: The War of Art and Do the Work.

Kicking Darkness, Bleeding Light  


I have been feeling a little depressed lately,  for a number of reasons. 

It’s nothing clinical or health –  threatening,  but is unpleasant,  and it makes me just not want to talk to anyone.

As a part of getting my stuff together (In case you haven’t heard, 2016 is The Year Tim Gets His Stuff Together), I’ve been going through the houses in our storage room, or at least my boxes. 

And tonight, I found a scrap of paper, probably a decade old or more, a scrawled note from a novel that never really came to fruition.

And it was just what I needed to hear. 

“Sorrow lasts for the night,  but the dawn will break.  You can choose to live under the night,  become a part of it, turn your back on the hope the sunrise brings.  And then when the dawn comes, where are you?”

“I’m sure you’ll tell me,” Ashe said, glancing over his shoulder at Jack. 

“If you don’t fight the darkness,  don’t allow yourself to suffer,  you can lose your love for the light.  And then dawn finds you crawling deeper into the shadows,  huddled I’m fear of the joy you once longed for.”

Okay,  so it’s a bit unsubtle,  but I think i needed to hear it. 

This has been a rough summer,  all around. I need to admit that,  and not start resenting a job I genuinely like 90% of the time. 

Time has been right, but mostly, I just haven’t felt up to calling and starting better touch with my friends.  This is a vicious circle,  because it is a symptom of feeling down and a major cause of it.

I have gotten hurt and sick a couple of times this summer, and that has put me off of exercise,  which is always a struggle for me. It is so much easier to just let it slide.

And with the later hours and earlier mornings, of course I haven’t been getting enough sleep.

But as I said yesterday, I am drawing the line on that.  

The only way out of anything like this is through.

As Bruce Cockburn sang, you’ve “got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight.”

It Felt Like a Feast (Wrestling with Joy, Pleasure, and the Distractions of Modern Life)

people doing kettlebells exercises

I tried my first kettlebell swing workout tonight. My body gently aches from the back of my neck, across my shoulders and arms, down to my thighs and calves. Not two hours after I did the set, I found myself standing straighter, taller.

Maybe I really am 6’7”, and I’ve just been slouching.

But how did it feel? When I think back on my first, unimpressively weak (20 pound weight), slightly awkward experience with the kettlebell, what washes over me?

It felt like a feast.

Not just a buffet, or a coincidentally large meal. A feast, full of foods I really wanted, foods I only taste a few times a year. It felt like Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Exercise has hardly ever felt like this before. Usually it’s drudgery in progress and pain and soreness following. But this felt like a feast. I’m beginning to understand people who love exercise.

Even putting aside sex totally, our bodies are meant to feel pleasure. Our bodies are meant to desire it.

But it seems like in my sedentary postmodern life, that sense is somewhat lost. Too much is buried in the screens: the gray of the office computer, the distracting static of the television, the infinite insignificance of the web, all exacerbated by long commutes and short nights.

The very technology and modernity that allows so many of us to live so comfortably, when in the past we might have died in the cradle, stands between us and the experience of joy.

We develop a disconnect with our bodies. We no longer stop and feel the rain, as we did in our youth. We no longer run for the joy of running, as we did as children. We no longer stop to let the wind rush over us.

Our pleasures are limited to our sex lives, the manufactured adrenaline of our media, and our food. And too often, that gets us into trouble. Because just as the media we consume is manipulated and processed to provide the fastest bang, the most addictive return on investment, so is our food.

And sometimes, this artificial intensity even spills over into our sex lives, in various forms of objectification. But that’s a topic for a different post.

Our bodies are meant to desire pleasure. Not manufactured, processed, white-sugar-buzz pleasure, with its dizzy intensity, inevitable crash, and empty hunger for more.

We are meant for spontaneous, genuine delight, like a child chasing leaves in an autumn wind. Like a young man running to meet the train that brings his beloved back to him. Like the sheer joy of feeling your body push its limits just far enough that it doesn’t verge into pain and damage.

It’s strange that a simple kettlebell swing reminded me of this. And stranger still that I went to a computer screen to share it. But such is the age we live in.

Time doesn’t run backward. Turning back the clock just breaks your hands. But who we are hasn’t changed, and the genuine joy we need is still available. Just look beyond the static.