The Bachelor Chronicles: Best Life! Level Up!

Today I woke up with another cervicogenic headache. It happens from time to time, though it’s been happening more frequently over the last couple of months. I think it has something to do with the way I sleep on my very deflated pillow.

Regardless, I still had a damn-near magical Sunday morning. I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm, started a playlist of Norse-Pagan-inspired folk music, opened my upstairs balcony door and did a 10-minute yoga flow while my coffee brewed downstairs. I spent a short amount of time in prayer with the gods while resting in Lotus Pose. I opened my eyes to the sun coming through the window, birds chirping all around, fresh coffee downstairs and a full heart in my chest.


An Australian trainer I follow sent out an email early this morning (my time) that hit pretty hard.

“There are some parts to this whole world lockdown I like.
For instance, FOMO doesn’t really exist right now, does it?
Hardly eyeing up someone else’s life in lockdown wishing you were there.
All year round people follow people on the gram wishing they had their physique and their lifestyle in lavish living, but it’s all stopped and we’re all just chilling.”

-James Smith

He goes on to try to sell his online training program because he’s an online trainer and that’s just how you do business but what a damn good observation.

It’s kind of a cool thing for me in this very strange time in my life. It’s killing me being newly single and not being able to go do any of the things I haven’t been able to or allowed to do for the last two years due to finance or relationship obligations … but it’s cool because nobody else seems to be doing those things either.

It’d be a different story if the concepts of social distancing and non-essential business closure weren’t our reality. If I were sitting at home looking at Instagram and seeing my friends going out, seeing shows, drinking beer or lazily passing the time at Target or Market Square while I sit at home doing nothing …

And I’m hesitant to think that very many people are obsessing over others who are quarantining better than they are … or trying to out-quarantine each other, though I’m sure it’s happening somewhere out there.

James would go on to say “Doesn’t matter if you’re a billionaire or a student, Netflix still has the same things to watch right now. YouTube is the same and a board game is the same. We’re all grounded to the same level …”

So even though I’m unable to take on all the projects and trips and social events I’d love to be taking on right now due to a worldwide pandemic, I’m also not being inundated with posts and stories about others who are going out and doing it. This allows me to focus entirely on my brand, if you will — what I want and why I want it. Where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. All with very little distraction or outside persuasion.

Years ago I discovered a site called NerdFitness that was started by a man named Steve Kamb. Steve developed a super unique concept that combines fitness and nutrition with nerd culture — particularly of the video game and RPG variety. His site details his concept of creating a Dungeons-and-Dragons-style character sheet for this fantastic version of yourself you envision.

For those who don’t know, when you create a character in Dungeons and Dragons, one of the first things you establish is your character’s class and race. Classes include Barbarians, Druids, Monks, Rangers, Paladins, Wizards and a variety of others; races include Tieflings, Elves, Dwarves, Dragonborns and more. Choosing your class and race will determine what baseline skills you have, what your ability modifiers will be and will greatly determine the storyline of your character as the game progresses.

A great thing about this is that these baseline characteristics are so dramatically different that each character is going to be unique — a Tiefling Druid and a Half-Orc Barbarian are going to have vastly different abilities, after all — very much like how your goals and abilities are drastically different from mine.

And so with Steve Kamb’s Level Up Your Life concept, our character sheets are all going to be vastly different from anyone else’s. He encourages everyone to create their own character sheet as well as a list of accomplishments we wish to pursue in our lives — specifically achievements that will raise our Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma scores.

Did I lose anyone yet?

Cool.

In his book named after his program concept — Level Up Your Life — Steve encourages the reader to develop their list of achievements and name it something meaningful. He then goes on to suggest some possible headlines for various achievement lists such as Physical Goals, Mental Goals, Fun Goals, etc.

I named my list Donuts on Valhalla’s Table and my headlines are:

  • Physical Donuts (things I want to achieve with my physical fitness)
  • Mental Donuts (things I want to learn)
  • Fun Donuts (things I want to try for fun)
  • Work Donuts (related to my jobs, this was broken down into two categories today)
  • Adventure Donuts (getting out and going places, taking risks, etc.)
  • Courage Donuts (Stepping outside of my comfort zone)
  • Freedom Donuts (Breaking the metaphorical chains that are holding me down in a variety of ways)
  • Master Donuts (Seemingly impossible goals that are always worth visualizing)
  • Gratitude Donuts (Ways I want to give back)
  • Legacy Donuts (Ways I want to make a name for myself)
  • Concert Donuts (Bands I want to see in concert)
  • Completed Donuts (Goals I’ve already achieved from this list)

I find it really important to revisit this list with some regularity and this morning I decided it was my time again. I moved some items down to the Completed section, removed items that were no longer relevant or wanted, then added a few extras that have come up since my last edit. My list is highly personal but I figured I’d share a few highlights below:

  • Physical Donuts > Get down to 12% body fat
  • Mental Donuts > Take piano lessons and play someone a song
  • Fun Donuts > Go Kayaking
  • Work Donuts (Regarding JTF Strong) > Launch the Viking Army Online
  • Work Donuts (Regarding TITLE) > Organize TITLE’s first-ever running club
  • Adventure Donuts > Have my photo made with two peace-sign-throwing girls in Japan
  • Courage Donuts > Take 5 portraits of strangers on the street
  • Freedom Donuts > Buy a house
  • Master Donuts > Start and operate a food truck called The Number of the Feast selling “Hella Good Burgers and Donuts”
  • Gratitude Donuts > Leave 3 $100 tips this year
  • Legacy Donuts > Finish my Paps memoirs
  • Concert Donuts > The Specials
  • Completed Donuts > Buy a Motorcycle

There are around 50 donuts total on my list, not counting the ones I’ve already achieved. And the list is always growing. Right now my favorite thing about this list is it’s all things I want to accomplish because of genuine curiosity and passion — not because I’m envying others living their “best lives” on Instagram.

If you ask me, I’m kind of living my best life as we speak. Even if I am mostly locked down.

Anyway — you know how I do. If Cooking was a D&D ability, my score would be close to the top by now. Tonight I took out a venison roast I had thawed out and cooked this delightful Nordic-Braised Venison Roast with Bacon-and-Goat-Cheese Potatoes.

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Level Up: Achieved.

Ever onward, fellow heathens.

-JTF

 

The Bachelor Chronicles Returns! (aka: Go Fast, Don’t Die)

Wakey, wakey, little boggy woggy.

You read it right — the Bachelor Chronicles are back after a nearly two-year hiatus. And it couldn’t come at a more chaotic, yet creatively fertile time. The dreaded COVID-19 virus has had me working from home for two weeks now — an arrangement that will likely last until mid-summer at least. The virus has also temporarily closed down normal operations at my beautiful gym, forcing us to move to streamed classes and social-media-only engagement, which is breaking my heart. Oh, and then there’s the obvious implication that comes from using the title Bachelor Chronicles.

It’s confusing, heartbreaking and downright scary to not be able to go to the office, to see my TITLE members or be in a relationship anymore, yet I find it’s something else that’s difficult to get my head around: while nothing is under control presently, I feel somehow as though I have more control over the future than ever before.

I’m very fortunate to have a full-time job that lets us work from home and continue to get paid for that work. I hate that not going to the office every day has disrupted my routine so violently but it’s also a great time to create new habits and practice new disciplines that can then become part of my normal once homeostasis is restored.

Not being able to see my clients and TITLE Members is truly crushing to my soul but I’m really taking to this online presence we’re being forced to run with. We’re keeping our members engaged, staying relevant in our community and building a new, stronger foundation for both our social media presence as well as our overall reputation in the industry.

And not being in a relationship anymore can for sure be heartbreaking and lonely but anyone who knows me knows that I’m extremely independent and self-sufficient. I also love having alone time — and believe me, I’m getting plenty of it with this damned quasi-quarantine going on. This has allowed me to focus more of my time and efforts onto the above initiatives, however. I’m already saving a great amount of money in such a short time and this will allow me to make bigger moves in the near future.

There’s a motorcycle lifestyle brand out there that’s been following me around on social for months now called Go Fast, Don’t Die. After the breakup, I did what I usually do during that time and treated myself to some things I wouldn’t have been able to afford previously — this included a shirt and hat from that brand.

Go Fast, Don't Die

Go Fast, Don’t Die

Now I didn’t purchase these items with philosophy in mind and I swear I don’t think I’m trying to force this connection but the more I’ve thought about it, the more Go Fast, Don’t Die seems like a great metaphor for this new chapter in my life. While the brand is referring to potentially reckless behavior on motorcycles, I like to think of it as my way of saying that I’m going to start taking more chances, pursuing my passions with more fervor and trying a lot of new things (going fast) while refocusing my workout and nutrition practices to achieve the success I want, all while prolonging my life (not dying).

Is that cheesy? Kind of, I guess.

Anyway, expect to see / hear a lot more about what I’m working on, wanting to work on, wish I had worked on a lot more frequently here since I have a lot more time to do so now. There are so many cool things I want to do and I’m more motivated than ever to do them.

Until then, here’s a photo of what I cooked for myself (no shame) for dinner last night — homemade chicken-fried venison steak over homemade garlic-and-goat-cheese mashed potatoes and a simple black-pepper gravy.

Ever onward fellow Heathens,

-JTF

 

Level Up: I Got a Motorcycle

Figured I’d revive the ol’ blog for the first time all year. Better be something good, yeah?

Well, it is.

Let’s talk.

We’ll go back to when I was but a wee lad. Dickerson street in the Model City. My dad had some kind of Suzuki motorcycle — a cruiser. I don’t remember a lot about it other than it was black and had a seat that was peeling apart. It stayed parked outside, uncovered, and he would often take me for rides on it. I was small enough to sit in front of him and lay my head down on the gas tank — it was THAT long ago.

He had a couple of cousins who each had Kawasaki Ninjas. I’d later learn these were crotch rockets and the muse of energy-drink-chugging, tribal-tatted bros who apparently enjoy being uncomfortable while operating a motor vehicle. While I’d later go on to hate these bikes, I thought they were the shit when I was a kid. Dad and I got to ride one of them in a parade in Hawkins County but I don’t remember why. I just remember it was early in the morning and our motorcycle was turquoise.

It wasn’t long after that my dad got rid of his bike and it was never spoken of again. I always thought they were cool but never had much interest in ever having one. When my dad and I had our falling out, my interest in motorcycles lessened even more — if he had one, I sure as hell didn’t want one. Ever.

As I got a little older, my opinion on the motorcycle didn’t change (yet) but my rule of “if dad did it, I’m not doing it” was broken because other things my dad did include:

  • Growing a beard
  • Wearing tanktops in public
  • Sometimes craving pinto-bean-and-mayo sandwiches

Bet you didn’t know that last part about me but it’s true.

Anyway, when I turned 30 it’s like some weird switch flipped in my mind and suddenly things changed. I yearned for a different lifestyle, a new look and, you guessed it, a motorcycle.

But being an adult is hard so saving up for a motorcycle wasn’t easy and I didn’t exactly have all the support in the world at home at the time.

Oh, boo-hoo.

Fast-forward to age 34. Life looks a lot different now, for better or worse. Things I wasn’t allowed to do for a long time — like owning a drumset or getting skull tattoos — are suddenly possible. So long as I had a plan and was responsible about it, anything was possible.

Fortunately for me, I like following through with plans and I’m a pretty responsible guy.

So on May 22, 2019, I registered for the New Rider Course at Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson. The course wasn’t scheduled until a month later but that would give me plenty of time to buy the necessary gear, research motorcycles and go ahead and stress myself out real well beforehand.

I want to take this time to give a big shoutout to the folks at Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson. I’ve been to several Harley shops around the southeast and most of the time I walk in, look around and walk out without anyone saying a word to me. Not so at Smoky Mountain. They proudly tout how they’re the #1 dealership in the world and they back it up 100% of the time. My main contact, Justin, was patient with me the first day I walked in and he talked to me about bikes, life and life on bikes while I tried out various sporters and Dynas. For 45 minutes he hung out with me, never once made me feel pressured to buy anything and never once made me feel like an idiot for being such a n00b.

When I told him I also wanted to look at gear for my class, he personally walked me over to the retail area, introduced me to one of the specialists who then stood by my side while I considered different jackets and tried on a variety of helmets. She hung out with me, assuring proper fit and reminding me of important things to consider when purchasing it. My custom-ordred helmet was delivered two days later and the dealership promptly alerted me that it was ready for pickup.

On June 24 I arrived at Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson where I was introduced to eight other people who had registered for our class as well as our head instructor, Maggie. Our first night was spent going over some basics, getting to know each other, doing some paperwork, getting a tour of the dealership and beginning our reading assignments. Over the next two days we saddled up on some Harley Street 500s to learn the basics of clutching, gear-shifting, braking, turning and all the other stuff that seems damn-near impossible if you have zero experience on a motorcycle.

By the end of the third day most of us had passed the riding test and written test. I say most because while 10 people had signed up, only nine showed, only eight made it through the riding exercises, only seven passed the riding test. It was like a weird Willy Wonka situation only no one got sucked into a chocolate river (that I’m aware of).

The survivors posed in front of the big fireplace at the dealership, exhausted from riding eight hours in the blazing summer sun but full of pride that we were on our way to becoming licensed motorcycle riders.

It took four attempts and an equal number of weeks at the DMV to get my motorcycle endorsement. By the time I got the endorsement, had my ID updated and had the new “Real ID” star put on my license, I had a collection of personal identification that included everything I’ve ever owned to identify myself save for my college photo IDs, though I’m surprised they didn’t require one of those.

Now a licensed rider, I needed to get a ride. Back to Smoky Mountain Harley!

With a little guidance from some friends and my HD bro Justin, I settled on this little beauty:

She’s a 2013 Harley Davidson XL 1200X Forty-Eight and she’s sexy. as. hell.

Possible names include Rhonda, Teeth Grinder and Adrian.

Shoutout to my Viking Queen Cara for the photos and for driving me to the dealership to pick it up … and for riding behind me to make sure I didn’t die on the way home :-)

Expect more posts this year that are mostly related to this little lady as well as a damn-near 100% Instagram takeover.