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Remember when I said this is The Year of Living Give-A-Shitly? It’s still hit and miss, but I do have some successes.

In May I did theĀ 30-Day Ab Challenge and, sure, I had to substitute almost all crunches for the situps because my chiropractor assures me that the best thing to come of me doing sit-ups is that he will be able to make payments on a new pickup truck. Point taken, man. But I really did do 20 sit-ups, 305 crunches, 65 leg raises and 120 seconds of plank in the last exercise session. It was amazingly possible. And, yes, I did feel pretty awesome. Pretty exhausted by Day 30, but awesome, and I had a four-out-of-the-six pack — a huge step up from the pony keg I had been sporting for a while.

June was going to be the month of the 30-Day Booty Challenge, but by Day 12 my thigh muscles had bulked up so much they’d grown out of two pairs of pants. That was bad. Bad, bad, bad. I quit and spent my time doing outside work … and then spent a few weeks of July rehabbing my back, but that’s another story for a day when we’re talking about things other than success. Note to self, though: Just because a full tank of gas in the riding lawn mower lasts three hours, that doesn’t mean I should mow for three straight hours. Weird, right?

Despite the days of handicap, I’ve gotten boat-loads of spraying, mowing and weed-eating done. I’m still behind. We don’t have a functioning tractor this summer and that significantly ups the weed total, and my frustration level. I slog on … whilst trying not to do things in a way that will injure myself, which means, no hyper-focusing allowed. That’s not frustrating at all … ahem, but not all bad things came of the little stint of stupid back rehabbing.

The gist of that story is:

I was standing out in the yard one day, admiring the view, with hands on hips, elbows and shoulders out wide and feet braced shoulder-width apart. Suddenly, I was very aware of my body and I thought this: How long has it been since I stood around in this Wonder Woman pose?

I’m profound like that sometimes.

And, too, it’s actually a really good posture for my back. The posture not only keeps me from slouching, but it also puts me in a very balanced position with my shoulders back and spine stretched erect. I stood like that a lot about a hundred years ago in the days after I first injured my back. It felt good. I don’t know why I stopped doing it so much, other than that I started working indoors more, with lots of people around, and you get bumped a lot when you take up lots of space like that. People just don’t respect the Wonder Woman like they should.

Two days after my profound thought, the universe — through the unlikely conduit of Netflix’s automatically generated suggestion list — recommended I watch a TEDTalk video of a presentation by social psychologist Ann Cuddy on her research into the real value of what she calls the power pose. It’s 21 minutes long, but worth every minute of your time whether you’re a man or woman … or both … or neither. No one’s excluded.

My take away is to stand like Wonder Woman for two minutes every day for a while. We’ll see what comes of it, though if nothing else, my back will appreciate it.

I feel awesomer already at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

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Be careful what you Give-A-Shit for, you might end up with sore muscles, that then have to be used to shovel more and heavier snow.

I did crunches and pushups last night and then went for a walk this morning, but then this high-wind thing happened today. And I don’t care what anyone thinks, shoveling snow is officially going on the organized-exercise list. I did a bunch of shoveling over the weekend and again today. This weekend’s work was nothing compared to today’s, though. The wind is howling and packing the drifted snow tightly, and the above-freezing temps are making it all the more heavy.

I grunted, a lot. And whined to myself, a lot.

The pain is going to be so much worse tomorrow. So is the whining in my head. As is the wheedling little voice that will be trying to bargain my way out of doing exercise.

Fortunately, none of that will matter because I still have lots of shoveling to do, so the exercising will happen, come hell or high drifts —

which are kind of the same thing some days at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

Well, I’m not avoiding you for your own sake. It’s for mine.

I don’t want to have to declare my next Give-A Shit project. Don’t make me say it. Don’t make me make it a reality … .

Exercise every day.

AAAaaaw, hellfire, it’s out there. Gaaah!

Now, I gotta do it. I’m doomed! DOOMED.

I was going to do something food-related because I’ve been anticipating doing so since around Thanksgiving, thus I have conducted myself accordingly since then: eating constantly as if I will not have another meal. Ever. Because the loud irrational voice in my head keeps declaring that I’m going to give up eating altogether, and that sends the rest of my brain into a must-eat tizzy.

But, no, I’m writing more, sitting at the computer more, it’s winter, I’m lazy, yada yada yada, so I think I need to pay attention to the needs of my back first. That means exercise and stretching.

I’ve been whining in my head about this for a few days now. Anticipating my hatred of this prospect, despite the fact that, if done right, it will eventually make me feel better. (Or so the infamous “they” say.)

I have to keep the goal tentative and vague because I don’t know when the weather will allow walking, which seems to be the only exercise I can do without causing more damage. Unfortunately, if I can’t walk that leaves indoor exercising, which history and tradition have proven is just a perfectly awesome way for me to over-do things and hurt myself. Badly enough to require medical assistance. Whatever.

Therefore, in the interest of not damaging myself, finally, maybe, this year, I’m shooting for 15 minutes a day. Don’t laugh at me. I can walk a mile in deep snow, bundled for winter in that time. I can do three or four sets of crunches and pushups (yes, wimpy crunches, but I do full pushups so I’m not all puss), plus a few stretches. I can do my tai chi warm up and the 24-position routine. If I’ve been out shovelling or performing other heinous and strenuous activity, I can do three sets of my back stretches.

I’m just sayin’, I have options. Options that I might survive intact.

I’m not a believer in exercising every day, but I’m pretty sure that if I set my goal at five days a week I’ll be hunting ways to put it off for another day, tell myself I’ll make up days next week and do other stupid things to cheat myself. So every day. 15 minutes. Don’t be a wimp. It’s only 15 stupid, friggin’ minutes.

In the words of the Greek god Nike, “Just do it!” I think that’s written on a Greek tablet somewhere,

Yeah, I’m pretty sure at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

The trouble with drinking lots of water is the constant peeing.

I used to make three stops, maybe four, in a day. But now? 64 ounces a day now? It’s just me making tracks to the nearest bathroom. And you would think that having to get up in the middle of the night — every night — would be the worst part.

But no.

I have to pee at work every day now. Sometimes twice. That’s the worst part. The women’s bathroom at work, I’m certain, does not meet OSHA standards and is in violation of some kind of human rights laws.

Sure, it’s clean, but that’s not the only standard by which a bathroom should be judged. It’s also a little, unheated closet-thing that is right there off the big, open room where editorial staff has their cubicles, not too far from my very own desk in fact. The little closet has tiled floors and one painted cement block which is also the exterior wall to the building that is opposite the door which is one of those cheesy hollow-core doors like you see in cheap-ass old trailer houses, such as the one I live, so I know whereof I speak.

Here’s the problem, you go in to pee and the little tinkly (or big gushy) noise you make doing your beeswax echoes off the tile and the cement wall and out through the thin door to be heard by everyone in the freakin’ room. Of all the things I really don’t care about and will hang out there for the world, this is not one. I am, in fact, a little hinky about public bathrooms. If we’re buds, you and I, no problem. We walk into adjoining stalls and piddle away without a break in conversation.

However, I don’t want to share some things with coworkers.

Back when I couldn’t make it till I went home only maybe once every week or two, I used to just suck it up, tell myself that everybody pees and go in there. Not make a big deal out of it … except, yeah, I’d make sure I started pulling TP off that noisy holder right away to cover up the initial rush of noise. Then one day this week I realized I was getting a little psycho about that, really yanking on the TP end to make that thing rattle and squeak, then turning it back to squeak and rattle a few squares of paper back onto the roll, then squeaking it back off. It seemed a little excessive, and slightly, y’know, more than quirky, maybe obsessive. Whatever.

I had to start being mature about it.

Now I wait until someone has turned on the defective fan in the men’s bathroom — that sound rattles through the whole building, and someone would have to be standing there with their ear to a cup against the door to hear any sound in the bathroom. Problem solved.

What? You think I’m going to turn on the fan in the women’s bathroom? Voluntarily? Then they’ll think I’m in there farting!!

Hydration is complicated at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

John suffers from character spectrum disorder like the rest of us, possessing the gamut of qualities from awful to awesome, some qualities more than others. And he does his best to try to improve himself, sometimes harder than others. Just like the rest of us.

One of the things he does that I am very fascinated by is taking on huge tasks, that require an inordinate amount of time to complete. He just keeps chipping away on them until the end.

For example, he built an airplane. For those of you who don’t know, he has only one arm. He built an airplane despite that. And it wasn’t an assemble-it-yourself box of parts (which I always imagine coming in a wooden crate from the Acme airplane company, like in a Wyle E. Coyote cartoon). It was a home-built ariplane from a set of drawings and a pile of materials. It took six years, and he got maybe a few hundred hours of help total from me and a few other people. The rest? All him.

As impressive as that is, I’m actually more impressed by other times he shows this amazing stick-to-it-iveness. The mundane times. If you stay focused on the airplane project, at the end you get to fly this really cool sporty airplane all over, woohoo! But the 40’x70′ shop we bought with the land came with the floor coated in roughly 1/4″ of caked-on, baked-on, dirt-infused grease; soot and grease covered parts and tools and walls and equipment and, well, everything; along with the accumulated clutter of decades — some of it old, some of broken, bent or otherwise hinky, and some of it useable, but most of that at least in need of tuning. Think Pig Pen only with black grease instead of dirt. Every week John just chips away at cleaning, decluttering and repairing.

Sure, at the end he’ll have a clean shop so we won’t get black just walking in the door and we’ll have more storage for our things, but none of that seems to be worth the effort it will take to clean, repair and make safer all that needs be done in there. On top of it all, it’s always needing cleaning just from daily use.

Some days I think we should have an “accidental” oil spill next to an open flame, right after we’ve taken the good stuff outside to “give it some air.” (My luck, we’ll have an accidental fire now, and the insurance company won’t pay up because I said that, but I’ll leave it in — flirt with danger.)

The thing is the cleaning, repairing, etc. is the right thing to do. It’s functional as is, but it’s not right, so forgets the size of the entire task and he just chips away at it.

He explains it like this: It’s like eating an elephant. You can’t sit down and eat a whole elephant for lunch. You just have to keep taking bites out of the elephant and, eventually, it’s gone. You’ve done it.

Once I get past the fact that the imagery is gross (I always have to imagine that the elephant is cut up and wrapped in neat white packages labelled “burger” or “steak,” and it’s all kept in a giant walk-in freezer to prevent bloating and spoilage) and I disregard the fact that John hates leftovers as if he grew up privileged (one of the annoying characteristics he’s changing for my sake — and because I repeatedly tell him “Supper is leftovers or whatever you want to cook”), I really admire his method of keeping himself motivated.

Some days he’ll walk into the house and declare, “I took another bite out of the elephant!” and he sounds proud and happy … and not overwhelmed.

That’s a good thing.

It’s the inspiration for the plan behind the Year of Living Give-A-Shitly. In fact, I was going to call it the Year of the Elephant, but I kept forgetting the name (message me privately if you need that joke explained).

To be honest, he’s been blamed for worse at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com