February 2016 Updates

February was a MUCH better month for me, in virtually every area.

I took a fundamentally different approach this month.  In January, I bit off more than I could chew, trying to do everything at the same time.  That just led to burnout.  In February, by contrast, I started small, just doing one thing, and then the next week I added another thing, and in this way I’m building sustainable habits.

More importantly, I feel the momentum on my side now.  Last week, for instance, I added chess training to do my daily habit list, and it went off incredibly.  A huge success, and it leaves me wanting to do even more.  This week, I’m adding a small morning meditation session.  I usually meditate anyway, but now I have a set time every day, which will keep me consistent and start every day the same.  It’s simple, it’s clear, it’s easy, and life is just rolling along right now.

Splits and Flexibility

I continue to do light stretching virtually every day plus two hard sessions each week, with one day off.  It feels like it’s working, even if I mostly look the same.  At the same time, at my current range of motion, a gain of an inch would be a massive improvement.  I mean, I’m only a few inches from the floor.

Feb 2016

Jan 2016

Hmm.  I think I was lower last month, even though, judging by my expression, I’m feeling much happier this month.  It doesn’t help that my webcam decided to become super blurry today for some reason.  My hands appear as talons, devoid of form.

Feb 2016

Jan 2016

Wow!  I’m square and much lower on this, my weaker side.  It’s amazing, because that hamstring felt very tight for this photo session.

Feb 2016

Jan 2016

Even better!  Just look at the desk chair in the background.  In January, the bottom of my neck was flush with the top of the chair, while today it’s past my chin.  It’s hard to tell because of the blurriness, the shadows and the dark-pants (I won’t wear those again for photos), but I look damn close to the full splits here.  Oh glorious day!  I’m progressing again!

Nutrition

Not bad, but not great.  I’m still eating healthy meals but drowning them down with unhealthy snacks.  I imagine in the near future I’ll just use my willpower again to stomp this out, but for now it’s par for the course.

Chess

I did it!  I got my rating over 2000!  That’s another one of my 2016 goals down!  Well, maybe not ‘another,’ as it’s technically my first one, but progressing in the splits felt like a goal.

This month I completed five games, winning all five.  One, though, was due to a timeout because my opponent got his account banned for cheating.  I invested time into that game, so I’m going to still count that for my chess countdown.  I want to finish 100 games this year, and that’s five down.

One game was against someone rated 2007, but when he resigned his rating dropped to 1992, meaning I still haven’t beat anyone over 2000 rating.  That’s slightly frustrating.  My own rating, though, is 2031 right now, and I have winning positions against two high rated opponents, so maybe in March!

Also, this month I’ve begun to study GM Smirnov‘s course Calculate Till Mate.  If you read my original chess plan, I said I’d study this course later, but I changed my mind.  Calculation is perhaps my biggest weakness, so let’s try to address that now.  It’s massive, and I expect it will take me months, not weeks, to get through all the practical exercises.  I’ll have a review after I see the results.

Writing and Blogging

Another month, another month of writing.  I felt better this month, and my output showed.  I beat last month’s word total despite having two fewer days.

Crossing off another milestone: I have accumulated over 400,000 words since I started writing every day.  That’s mind-boggling.  I read somewhere once that you need to write one million words to truly get competence as a writer, to go from beginner to professional.  It’s probably even more, to be honest, but it’s right there.  As it currently stands, I’m on pace to hit that mark in less than two years, and that’s not even counting any of my school or pre-blog writing.

My blog is rolling along because of this.  February was my highest visited month, beating out both January and December.  Granted, it was by a very slim margin, and all three months were very close, but considering I’m doing absolutely no advertising, I’m pretty happy with that.

In two months of 2016, my blog has already reached halfway to my total in all of 2015.  I’m going to crush that.  I also got two comments!  Holy cow!  They were in this post, about toilets, and this post, about my cat SmithyQ, the inspiration for my blog’s name.  Hey, that’s another goal!

Skills

I said at the beginning of the year I wanted to become a speed cuber.  Well, that appears to have just been a fad, because I haven’t even touched my cube in February.  I mean, I still might do it, but it’s not on the horizon.

Similarly, computer coding is way on the backburner.  In fact, it’s so far in the rearview mirror that it’s safe to say I’m just going to forget about that.

The flow arts, by contrast, are going great.  I spent every single day practicing, at least a little, and I feel it paying off.  My planes have better control and my transitions seem smoother.  My butterfly moves, in particular, I have far more confidence in, and I’m even exploring some behind-the-back stuff.  I still have a ways to go, but it’s nice.

I also took advantage of a sale to pick up two poi DVDs.  They are advanced … and they really mean it.  I won’t be trying any of that stuff for quite some time, but if nothing else, it’s inspiring to see what is possible with this art form.

Conclusions

I really liked February, despite some of the weather, and March promises to keep going in the same way.  My commitment to doing little habits each week and building them up has been a great success so far, and I’m excited to see where it will all lead.

On the whole, I’m perhaps not exactly where I want to be but I’m definitely heading in the right direction.  I feel I’m on the right path, and that’s everything.  Now I just need to take one step at a time.  Onwards to March!

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