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Clint McManaman

Two Months of Strenuous Living

Another month has passed, another four weeks in the Strenuous Life (2020 is rolling on like a blur).

February was one of the heaviest, most hectic months in a long while for me. Personal and family struggles have both weighed in on everyday life in new ways these past four weeks. I found myself struggling daily with just the normal day-to-day life, let alone to get through the weekly agons and daily challenges of TSL. I was able to complete them, but found it hard to muster the willpower to start, to push myself through them, find the time, move forward. And then, every time I did, I was happier for it on the other side.

This is the lesson of TSL, to "Do Hard Things", despite how you're feeling in the current, despite what hits life may bring. So, with that, here's a quick recap of the past four weeks in the Strenuous Life, challenges met, badges earned, things learned.

Badges Earned

I picked up two badges this month, Infosec and Community Service.


17 requirements to protect yourself online

In today’s world, a man can’t just be concerned about protecting his physical stuff. He needs to be concerned about protecting abstract information about himself too. Whether you want to protect yourself from criminal hackers and scammers or regain a bit of privacy from the government and corporations, the InfoSec Badge will help you do so. —

The challenge required reading a couple books on cyber security, I read through "The Art of Intrusion" and "The Art of Deception", both by Kevin Mitnick. Both are a little dated in their examples and language, but brought about some good insights. Additional requirements include things like; setting up encryption on your devices, installing malware and tracker blocking services, performing a security audit of your online profiles and some analog practices like buying a paper shredder to properly dispose of security sensitive paper docs you may have around the house.

I'm planning on a future blog post with a detailed look at all of the things I'm currently doing to try and protect myself and my family online.

Community Service

30 hours of community service

The service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth. It is obvious that man is himself a traveler; that the purpose of this world is not ‘to have and to hold’ but ‘to give and serve.’ There can be no other meaning.” –Sir Wilfred Grenfell

Our recent role as foster parents met the requirements for this badge and brought with it a little boost of encouragement from a couple of my TSL classmates. This comes at a time when we've needed it the most as the foster care life has brought about some tumultuous days and nights, wearing on all of us in new ways. More on that later.

Weekly Agons

Week 5 - the WildMan Challenge

This agon had me out in the woods (my local park) climbing trees, crawling on my belly in the dirt, walking a barefoot mile and more. The Agon was created and written by Danny Clark, the Performance Director for MovNat (Natural Movement) — a system of skillful physical movement designed to get the body moving more naturally, efficiently, effectively, and “primally.”

Week 6 - The 24 hr Tech Sabbath

Impossible to do during the week, but easy on the weekend. I knocked this one out from a saturday to sunday night, finishing up a couple books I had started earlier in the week. This brought about me implementing a weekend internet limit for myself to promote disconnecting.

Week 7 - Push-Ups

Man, I hate push-ups. This agon required you to do as many push-ups as you can in a single set as soon as you get out of bed each morning. Man, I hate mornings.

“When thou hast trouble in getting up, say to thyself: I awake to do the work of a man; why then should I grieve for having to do the things for which I was sent into the world? Was I born to remain warmly in bed under my covers? But it is so pleasant. Wert thou born for pleasure, then? Was it not for action, for work?” –Marcus Aurelius

I started off at 20 push-ups with the goal of hitting 30 by week's end. I hit 35 at the end and have continued to do this daily agon in the mornings. I still hate push-ups, I still hate mornings.

Week 8 - Memorize

There isn’t much necessity for memorization in the modern age. If we want to read something, find a phone number, or get the answer to a question, we just Google it.

While this reliance on an external brain, and the resulting atrophying of the memorization capacity of our own, may seem innocuous, it has some detrimental effects. For one, we become unable to perform some skills, or find the words we wish to say, if we don’t have a phone handy.

More philosophically, when we don’t memorize the words which encapsulate our ideals, they don’t sink as deep into the marrow of our bones. They don’t become as much of an intrinsic part of us, and we don’t have as immediate access to what could be a valuable source of inspiration.

For this agon I chose Teddy Roosevelt's "The Man in the Arena".

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

The Last Four

Revisiting last month's goals...

• Connect irl with some of my dotcomrades in Class 045.
Missed this goal, but plan to make good on it this month with a meetup.

• Set new personal goals in my daily exercising.
Working on this one, trying to up my running pace.

• Bridge the Strenuous Life into my role as a husband and father.
This has happened in quite a few ways, one with big benefits is tied to a badge I'm currently working toward where I lead a weekly family meeting and marriage meeting. This intentional carving out of time for my family has led to some good discussions, new challenges for my family (we're currently going through Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues) and healthy rhythms for focused connection.

• Pick up a few new skills and earn some badges along the way.
All of the agons and badges I'm working on have brought about new skills this month as listed above.

The Next Four

• Connect irl with some dotocomrades in Class 045.
• Transition 30 of my 60 min daily exercising from running/biking to swimming.
• Pick up a few new skills and earn some badges along the way.

Cheers to Living Strenuously,

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