Sunday, August 31, 2014

Taking Control of the Game

For the past couple of months, Tony, Mandy and I have been playing D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) with some friends every weekend. D&D is something that I have been playing off and on for the past 10 years. It helps me use my creativity and indulge in my dork side. And just to make something clear - we are Christians who do not try to cast fireballs on the local coffee shop when our order is messed up. So, now that that's out of the way, on with the story.
   Tony went on vacation a week and a half ago. So, we did not play D&D last weekend. But, we did play this weekend without his presence. You see, Tony is the DM (Dungeon Master). He controls and narrates the story. So, for the first time ever, I stepped in to the role of DM for our friends. I did not do any planning beforehand. Tony gave me a few tips over the phone before the game started.
   1) Keep it entertaining. Do not let the players get bored.
   2) Keep the players guessing. Throw in unexpected things.
   3) Use a lot of detail. Paint the environment for them.
   4) Do not worry if you do not have a planned story or quest. Winging it can sometimes be the best thing.
   With those pieces of advice, I sat down with my cup of espresso, surrounded by a variety of books and dice and proceeded to lead the rest of the players. I was a little nervous. While I am a fiction writer, it is one thing to sit down and think about the story you are creating. It is quite another thing to make the story up on the fly and then tell people that story.
   Also, players usually ask the DM numerous questions. Specifically, if they can roll for certain actions - searching for treasure, creating things, negotiating with characters, etc. And that's outside of combat, which I found to be simpler. So, I had to draw on my memory of past games and determine how to answer those questions. I had to determine what treasure would be found, what monsters would be fought, what the weather would be like, what the general environment would look like. And I tried to throw in some humor.
   Some laughs were shared around the table and I was told I did not do a bad job. For that being my first time, I will take that response. We are going to game again tonight, with me being the DM once more. I was asked if a separate campaign could be started, in addition to Tony's campaign, with me as the DM. While that is flattering, I do not know how much time I can devote to DMing a campaign, in addition to playing in Tony's.
   But, I was happy to take on that role and express myself in a new way when it comes to D&D. So, do not be afraid to take on roles that you have never done before. Whether it be in a game situation, a career, a family, with a friend. You might get some positive response from others around you and surprise yourself in the process.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Work Out - Doing P90X to Get Our Sexy Back

Those of you with cable should have seen commercials for P90X. If not, I will fill you in. P90X is an intense series of exercise videos by Tony Horton (who is really funny!) Each video focuses on different groups of muscles or overall cardiovascular workings - there's Shoulders and Arms, Plyometrics, Yoga, Ab Ripper - you get the idea. For one hour - you work on those targeted areas. It is not easy . . . and Tony and I decided to do it. Mandy joined in later.
   First and foremost. P90X is not for the faint of heart and if you have knee issues, you might want to take it easy on the Plyometrics. I never felt old until the first two weeks of P90X. My left knee was sore. My damaged shoulder got injured, which spread down to my elbow. But, I modified a lot of the exercises and continued on, nursing my boo-boos until they did not hurt as much. I still have to baby them, but not as much.
   Now, in combination with the juicing (which I wrote about in a previous post), I have not lost much weight, but I have lost inches. Tony said my mommy apron (ladies who have had babies know what I am talking about) is not hanging as low. And my neighbor said my side effects were visibly smaller. WOOHOO! Go me! Now, the challenge is to stick with it.
   That is my test - sticking with it. I have struggled with my weight since 8th grade. And I've been yo-yo dieting ever since. The only thing is - I never reached my goal. The minute I saw a little bit of a result, I would resort back to my diet of pizza and cheeseburgers. So, I am determined to stick with it and the overall health benefits have been awesome! I am taking less insulin for my Type 1 diabetes, my knee is feeling better, I have more energy and I don't feel as tired when I wake up in the morning.
   If you can dedicate 90 days of your life and you want to get in shape, give P90X a try. Seriously. It will be hard at first, but if you stick with it, you will be amazed at the results. And at least you can say you tried it!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Different Things To Do In South Dakota

I know what you're probably thinking - South Dakota? BORING! But, I promise there is fun to be had. I know. I grew up there. :)
   So, I compiled a list for those who live in South Dakota, or those who might make their way to the great state.

1) Sturgis Bike Rally. This is the ultimate party in the state! Concerts, Playboy Bunnies, tattoos, drinks, food, races and of course - motorcycles. This party is not for the faint of heart. And definitely not for children. It's loud, sweaty, dirty and oh-so-fun! But, if you plan on going to the Rally, book a place to stay a year in advance. Hotels and camp sites are generally booked - from Sturgis to Custer and everywhere in between and farther out. This annual event takes place during the beginning of August.

2) Pheasant hunting. If you have never eaten pheasant, you are missing out! The state bird of South Dakota is oh-so-delicious! The season typically beings in October. Make sure you get your hunting license. Then, it's just a matter of finding a location to hunt. Which is not all that difficult, but the prime locations can be found East River (the state on the eastern side of the Missouri River).

3) Cosmos Mystery Area. My parents took me here when I was a kid and it blew my mind! Located in the Black Hills, the balls roll uphill and people stand at angles. I know there are other places like this elsewhere, but I have not been to them. This is the only one I have seen and I would go back again!

4) Days of 1910. This is small town partying at its best! The Days of 1910 is an annual celebration in the tiny town of Timber Lake - where I went to high school. There's rodeos, demolition derbys, livestock shows, crafts shows, Indian tacos (which is an experience in itself) and dances under a huge tent on Main Street. The dances feature good, old fashioned party songs such as "Summer of 69" and Mony Mony."

5) Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup. Imagine the ground rumbling beneath your feet and knowing it's not an
earthquake, but a huge herd of buffalo. You can witness the annual gathering of a herd of more than 1,000 buffalo in Custer State Park free of charge. It is a sight to behold.

6) SDSU vs USD. For the sports fanatics out there, this is one rivalry you DO NOT want to miss - particularly during football season. I attended USD and I only went to one game during the entire time I was there, because college sports bore me. But, I went to a football game between SDSU and USD. The intensity of the crowds were astounding! This rivalry dates back more than 100 years! A game is not to be missed.

7) Terry Redlin Art Center. This is a wonderful museum in Watertown for anyone who appreciates good art. Granted, the art is all done by one man - Terry Redlin - but it is beautiful! And, it is free.

8) Mt. Rushmore. You can't be in South Dakota and not go to Mt. Rushmore - a symbol of American patriotism! Nestled in the Black Hills, if you can be there on the Fourth of July, you are in for one treat of a display! Expect to park quite a distance away. Especially if you go during the summer. While it is free, it's not exactly the most exciting thing you can do, but at least you can say you've been there.

9) Spearfish Canyon. This is where you want to go to experience the breathtaking beauty that nature provides! Go for a drive or just walk it. Stunning cliffs, beautiful trees, waterfalls. It's located near Spearfish in the Black Hills and if you venture on the right path at the right time of year, you might pick some of those wild raspberries I wrote about in a previous post. Also, keep your eyes on the sky. You might just see a bald eagle.

10) Powwow. The Dakota call South Dakota home. The Black Hills are sacred to them, as well as Bear Butte outside of Sturgis. You can see their culture and heritage at one of the many powwows that are held throughout the state. Fancy dancers, jingle dancers, traditional dancers of all ages fill an arena with brightly colored costumes. The drums pound and the stunning footwork begins.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Juicing Our Way To Health

In the month of July, Mandy and I watched the documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead." If you haven't watched it, I recommend it. The basis of the film - a guy from Australia is fat and sick and he goes on a quest to use nutrition to get
healthy and lose weight. How does he do it? Through juicing and nothing but juicing.
   If you don't know what juicing is, it is putting vegetables and fruits into a juicer machine and then drinking said juice. All of the pulp is deposited into a receptacle and you are left with all of the nutrients and flavor in a cup. The resulting nutrients are more easily absorbed by your body, as there is not much to break down. So, it is extremely healthy for you. As long as you juice the right things. For example, you don't do a ham. You might not feel your left arm afterward. But all fruits and vegetables are on the table. And the results can be quite tasty.
   Some results - not so much. Cherries, lemon, carrots and a cucumber is pretty gross. Mandy made a strawberry, watermelon, carrot concoction that tasted like cucumber to me.
   Now, what we are doing is called a Reboot and the goal is to have nothing other than juice for 10 days and see what results we come up with. So far, my weight loss plateau has been busted. I've been the same weight for months. I've lost 40 pounds of baby weight, but I still have some more weight to lose - around 60 pounds. So, when I got on the scale and found that I was finally less, I did a little victory dance. In the meantime, Mandy has discovered her wedding ring is a little looser. And this is only after a few days.
   But, far more important than weight loss is discovering whether or not this improves our overall health. In the documentary, the gentleman had a rare autoimmune disease which caused his immune system to overreact to the smallest things - like mosquito bites. After he Rebooted for 60 days, he was able to give up his medication. He also had increased energy. A woman who did not do a full-fledged Reboot, but started juicing - her migraines went away. I know this will not cure my Type 1 diabetes, but I know it will cause me to take less insulin.
   There are concerns that juicing will cause a person to either starve or be malnourished. Let me assure you, you are still "eating" and your body is getting the nutrients it needs. Of course, the Reboot is not something you should do permanently. The main goal of the Reboot is to reset your body systems. I can see how juicing permanently could lead to an anorexic look, but this is not a permanent diet for us.
   If you care to try it, get a juicer and do a Reboot for at least 10 days. At the end of the 10 days, see how you feel. If you feel like you have had enough, stop. If you feel like you can do more, go for it.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Experience You Don't Need: Cheaters

Trust me on this one. The experience of being cheated on sucks. Badly. I, unfortunately, have experienced this more than once and each time was horrible.

   If you haven't gone through this before, good for you! You have made wise choices in significant others! But, let me break it down for you: You discover your significant other is cheating or has cheated. First, some disbelief hits you, followed immediately by feeling someone kicked you in the gut while your heart smashes into the floor at your feet. Tears may or may not start to roll down your face as the humiliation sets in. That is followed by a combination of hurt feelings and anger. You then have a decision to make: try to make it work or let it go.
   If you try to make it work, it will require a lot of it. And, based on my experience, the cheater will do less work than what you do. Because your trust in that person has been destroyed. You will always have a nagging voice in your mind telling you that he or she will do it again. And chances are, that person will. Because you have shown that you are willing to put up with cheating. So, the cheater will show model behavior for a few months, at best, before he or she gives in to lust once again when you are not around.
   The best thing to do is let it go. Because you do not need to experience that all over again. If you decide to stay in that relationship, you have no one to blame but yourself. Kick the cheater to the curb! The trust is damaged beyond repair. It can never be repaired to what it was before.
   People told me this in two previous relationships in which I was cheated on. And I decided to try to make it work. The relationships were never the same. If I thought they were bad before, they were even worse, because my distrust in that person was significant. Why did I do it? To put it bluntly, I was dumb.  There is no other explanation. But, I wish I would have listened to those people and said my permanent good-byes after the first cheating incidents.
   Now, if you honestly believe that the cheater can change, you have more faith than I do. And I might be wrong, but there is a thrill cheaters get from their one-night stands and affairs. It is something forbidden and it gives them a rush, which is something that they desire. But, it could be that maybe a terrible mistake was made and the cheater is one of the rare ones who realize how awful that is to do to another human being.
   If a small part of you thinks that last statement does not apply to your cheater, get rid of him or her. You are worth more! And there are plenty of fish in the sea who will treat you right. And think of how much fun you will have being single again! After the grieving period is over, get out there with your bad self and start fishing! You don't have to fish for "the one" either. You can fish for someone to have a good time with - whatever that good time might entail. Call your friends and tell them that you are free whatever night for whatever plan! Do what you want, because you won't have a cheater holding you back!