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

 

A Conversation with Toby

I’ve been pumped all day. I had a great class this morning, hung out at the gym for a while and then headed back to the Cottage in South Knox. I was going to rest up a little bit, shower, get dressed and then head into town to see one of my favorite bands, Mutoid Man. I’ve been pumped about it all day.

All day.

I pulled on one of my new t-shirts and started scrolling through Instagram and saw Mutoid Man posted a concert photo talking about how tonight they were playing in Durham, NC.

I nearly posted “Don’t you mean Knoxville?” but decided to dig my ticket out first. There in black and white: Mutoid Man opening for BORIS at the Concourse in Knoxville on Sunday, November 5.

That’s tomorrow.

So Heavy Metal Concert Night quickly turned into Heavy Metal Laundry Night at the Cottage. I thought I’d make the most of things and I drove over to Milano Pizza and Mediterranean. The restaurant is on the edge of a shopping center that also includes a laundromat, a nail salon, a smoke shop and a Chinese takeout joint. Their corner of the building was dark and there was a small group of weirdos hanging out near the bus stop. This place was shady and potentially threatening.

I was way into it.

Inside, the place was hot. A fan on the counter. I’m pretty confident they had zero orders they were working on despite it being a Saturday night with a UT football game about to start. The gentleman working there took my order. I wanted a large double-mushroom pizza. He repeated “large” and “double-mushroom” before sneaking to the side door to the kitchen to call out my order.

“Double mushroom!” he called out. “Doub..Doub…DOUBLE MUSHROOM!”

He closed the door and came over to take my payment. $9 for a large pizza, so I was pretty happy so far. He froze before taking my card and went back to the door. He cracked it open, looked at me and said “Double mushrooms? You want…Mushrooms under the cheese? Or on top of the cheese?”

Honestly, nobody has ever asked me that. I assumed highly trained pizza chefs were qualified to make that call on their own and I’ve never been disappointed. I don’t know that I’ve ever even noticed. I said “On top…” partially because I wanted to see the mushrooms but mostly because “I don’t give a shit…” would’ve been inappropriate. And this guy was too nice to be mean to.

“15 minutes,” he said.

“Cool.”

So I went to the smoke shop because I don’t know why. I successfully burned through about 90 seconds in there. I had 810 more seconds before my pizza would be ready so I just went back to my car.

With 30 seconds to spare, I started to climb out of my car but immediately regretted that decision when I saw a man walking down the sidewalk. He’d just been talking to another guy at the corner and you could just tell by the way he was looking around that he was dying to find someone else to speak to. He looked right at me when I opened my door. I’d been busted.

He mumbled something at me so I pretended to not hear him. But then he exclaimed “It’s a small world, man!”

You’re right. It totally is, I admitted. He stopped.

Let me just tell you, man. I just met — JUST met — a family member from Blount county. And the hell of it is…He’s black! Black! Blew my fucking mind! Now listen, man…You have a good night, alright?

I reached for the door. You, too, man.

He stopped again and reached his fist out hoping for a bump. Said fist was also holding a bag of chips. Hey, man. My name is Toby.

Toby, my name is Firefly. It was great meeting you and I completed the fist bump.

Yeah, man, great to meet you. Now hey, I used to run with Collective Soul if you can believe that!

Collective Soul, yeah? Wow! I was wearing a Dead Kennedys shirt.

Yeah, man! We’ll see ya! and he turned and left.

A little boy was seated behind the counter in the restaurant. No sign of the man who took my order. Two women were in the back, one was boxing up my pizza. When the boy saw me, he jumped up and sprinted to the back screaming Someone is here! Someone is here, you fools!

An older woman wearing a hijab walked around the corner with my pizza. She smiled as she handed it to me and I thanked her. She then looked worried. “Double mushrooms?” she whispered almost like she was afraid she’d gotten it wrong.

I smiled again and said “Yep, double mushrooms!”

She smiled and gave me a thumbs up as I backed out of the restaurant. Toby was in the parking lot near the laundromat and I saw him violently throw his bag of chips up against the wall and storm off.

I have a feeling his mind had been blown for the second time in one night.

I love you, South Knoxville.