My View from the Ramparts: Reintroducing this blog

As you can see from the history, this blog has languished for a while. Well, it will no more.

What prompted the absence and the change?

It started with the fact that I got really sick two and a half years ago–in fact, so sick I almost died–and I’ve spent the time since recovering. I’m now recovered enough that I am am able to get back into what my wife, Keba, and I set out to do with our farm, Innisfree on the Stillwater.

Further, beyond my work on the farm, I am also working to develop myself as a freelance writer, and it turns out having a solid portfolio is an important part of that process. It seems to me that writing about what I am doing is a great way to populate that portfolio, so here we are.

My goal is to post here at least once a week, or more often if some subject spurs me to write more. I hope you’ll join me for the journey.

DLH

Read more at my My View from the Ramparts site...

Readiness: Get ready now

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve gotten comfortable recently and slacked of my own readiness plans, but we had multiple tornadoes touch down in our area last night, and it reminded me that disaster can strike anyone at any time. Being ready is a must.

This isn’t a statement of paranoia. It’s an acknowledgement that that having a kit in my closet or my car can mean the difference between needing help and being able to help. If I choose, I can buy a premade kit, or I can put one together for  not a lot of money. The internet is full of good resources, and I have a few of them listed on this site.

The moral of the story is this: be ready.

DLH

Read more at my Readiness site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Take a break

To say that I am motivated to lose weight and increase my overall fitness is an understatement. My overall health is directly tied to those two variables, and moving them in my favor promises a whole host of benefits.

I’m here to say it’s possible to want it too much.

Over the past four and a half months I have pushed myself, occasionally to the point of breaking and renewed illness, only to jump back into it again the moment I was able. I’ve increased my average daily steps from 4,800 a day in January to 11,000 right now. I’ve increased my average hours of movement from 2ish to 4ish. I’ve lost and kept off 25 pounds since the first of the year.

And I’m exhausted.

Now, that’s to be expected, given the ramp up in activity I’ve inflicted on myself, but it’s also unsustainable. Over the past few weeks, I’ve begun to suffer a series of chronic warning signs the outcome of me ignoring them I know too well. I’ve reached the edge of my envelope, and it’s time to back off.

I’m telling you all about this as both a warning and an encouragement. Every single thing we do has a long term effect, even if we don’t realize the correlation when that effect occurs. It could be a good effect. It could be bad. But it will be there.

What we have to be aware of is the fact that, if we burn it all up now, there may not be anything left for later. It’s okay to take breaks. It’s okay to back off for a bit. Backing off now may well be the way you push yourself harder down the road.

So, for the moment, I’m taking a break. I’m ramping down my steps for the rest of the month and transferring that effort into more natural movement pursuits and, for the next week or so, getting my sleep sorted out again. Once I have, I’ll be back at it, stronger and more motivated than ever.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Creativecraft: There is no such thing as “good enough”

One of the things more likely to break my heart than anything else is hearing someone say they don’t do something because they’re “not good enough”. I hear this more often about the arts than any other thing, but the sentiment applies to almost anything.

I’m here to tell you there is no such thing as, “good enough”. In fact, there is simply a continuum of skill between none developed yet and as much as one is ever likely to develop. Yes, some people have more natural talent that may put them further along this continuum than others or make it easier for them to develop, but talent undeveloped is no better than skill undeveloped.

The simple fact is that you should do something because you have it in your heart to try. No, I am no pandering to some kind of “pursue your dreams” mentality. Yes, the bills still need paid. Yes, our obligations still need met. Nevertheless, you should still try because it suits you.

I would argue that the only thing “not good enough” is not trying. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It doesn’t matter how “good” anyone else is. If you love it and it completes you, do it.

That, my friend, is good enough.

DLH

Read more at my Creativecraft site...

Posted in Uncategorized

Wordcraft by Dennis L Hitzeman: On writing and needing a gimmick to write

I’ve discovered recently that I need gimmicks to write. At some level, it offends me that I need to have some trick to convince myself to do what I know I want to do, but the fact is that it’s a valuable bit of psychology that actually works.

For example, I’ve struggled to meet my self-imposed word counts for the first three months of the year, missing March’s altogether. In March, I decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo in April, and even though it’s only one day down, I’m already feeling more invigorated about writing than I have since November and NaNoWriMo last year.

What I’ve come to realize is that both NaNoWriMo and its camp version represent a form of accountability, so very tenuous yet necessary so that I am not lying to myself about the progress I’m making. Needing to write 1667 words a day and knowing others, even if they’re people I only know online, are watching is enough to motivate me to move forward.

Realizing this, I plan to seek out more challenges and the like to make this a year-around motivation instead of April, July, and November. Hopefully, having that motivation will help me move forward on what I want to be doing that much faster.

Hooray for psychological tricks.

DLH

Read more at my Wordcraft by Dennis L Hitzeman site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Work or work out?

Ages ago, I developed a hypothesis that I wanted my work to be my work out. At the time, it was a wrongheaded attempt to ignore the fact I was doing neither, but it turns out I also wasn’t completely wrong about the notion.

As part of my effort to improve my health, I have been researching, learning about, and engaging in the idea of natural movement, especially as it pertains to the fact that, even when we work out, we’re often incredibly sedentary in the intervening time, effectively undermining some of the best benefits of our work outs.

Now, I grant, it’s nearly impossible for us moderns to return to our hunter-gatherer roots, but I think we can make specific changes to how we approach physical activity that allow us to utilize some of their genetics we inevitably carry.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made pursuing that goal is to make sure I eat after I engage in physical activity. In short, I work out first, then I eat. It turns out, that’s the pattern our bodies are designed to follow rather than the bell schedule three meals a day. In fact, that’s where exercise “hangry” comes from, and we would do well to listen to it.

The second thing I have changed is how I exercise. I walk a lot, but I have made my walking less structured and more free-form. I sometimes carry awkward things. I have the benefit of having a 185 acre farm with few dedicated paths, so I force myself to walk in the unimproved areas to get the benefit of climbing and having to work my way through.

The result of these changes is that I am working my body more the way it expects to be worked, thereby increasing my overall fitness.

My goal from here is to increase the amount of manual labor I do on the farm, meaning that I intend to forgo the use of labor saving tools when it is possible and safe in favor of doing the work by hand. This labor follows the same pattern as the rest, and I expect it to magnify the results I am already achieving.

In the end, the answer of work or work out is yes, do both. Do as much as you can. Get up and move around often. Lift and carry heavy things. Eat when your body says it’s hungry. Sleep when it says it’s tired. The benefit is there. Pursue it.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Food: Food and food making

I started this particular blog years ago with the idea I was going to capture my journey into eating better by showcasing recipes and ideas I encountered along the way.

What I actually encountered along the way is that, while I can cook and go through spates where I do, in general I tend to cook as an afterthought, which is to say, not at all when I have something going on. That becomes problematic because my spouse has a similar view of cooking, meaning we spend an awful lot of time staring at each other and asking what the other one wants to eat until one of us dies.

Jokes aside, the fact is I got fat by just-in-time eating of convenience foods because I always felt like I had other things to do. I still feel that way, and that has made me realize I have to rethink how I approach the whole idea of food and eating and cooking if I’m not going to be fat or starve to death.

My main realization in trying to figure this all out is that, most of the time, my food needs are simple and straightforward. I don’t tend to eat meals most of the time. Instead, I “graze” and if I have nutritious, grazing compatible foods around, I can eat those for quite a while before the desire for variety overwhelms me.

The first realization factors into the second one that I’ve been doing intermittent fasting (a combination of 16/8 and 5/2) for about a year now, and in embracing that change to my eating habits, I also need less complicated food nearly all the time.

So, where does that leave this blog? I don’t know yet to be honest. I would still like it to be a place where I catalog recipes and ideas I encounter along the way,  but more than that, I think I want this to be a place where I document my changing relationship with food and, frankly, with our cultural presumptions about eating. We’ll see.

Stay tuned. More will follow.

DLH

Read more at my Food site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Movement vs Exercise

A long time ago, I started getting fat and it started getting me in trouble with my job in the Air Force (Air National Guard). At the time, I adopted an exercise routine that, despite what some people believed, was quite focused and rigorous. There was a point where I was walking several miles a day for months. During that time, I lost maybe five pounds but ended up gaining dozes over the long run.

Now, I will be the first to tell you that adopting a sleeping habit that actually fits me and adjusting my diet to fit my metabolism and nutrition needs has paid huge dividends, but one of the most important changes I have made is to stop exercising and start moving.

What do I mean by that? Well, I still walk a lot, but what I’ve discovered is that the things I am doing that I can feel almost every time I do them are not exercise in the classical sense. I do body weight squats, modified push-ups, simple getting up and down off the floor, Tai Chi, and Yoga, and I am convinced that these activities help me as much as all the walking I do put together.

And the fact is that the science supports that it is our lack of general movement over aerobic calorie burning that has gotten us all into trouble. One of the reasons that exercise programs like CrossFit end up being so effective is because they so often focus on movement over other kinds of things.

So, my challenge to you is to just get up and move. Don’t worry about duration so much as frequency, and make it movements you don’t already do. Try it for a couple of weeks, and see how you feel. I’m convinced you’ll thank me for it.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Brickcraft: Excuses, excuses…

Read more at my Brickcraft site...

Posted in Uncategorized