The Finish Line and Carrying Momentum Forward

Thirty days ago, my friends Wes and Darlene casually posted on Facebook about a 30-day writing challenge they were taking on.

“Hey, that sounds like something I could use too! Can I join?” I asked.

What were they going to say? No. This is our challenge. Friends not allowed.  Of course not. They graciously welcomed me into the challenge and a few days later my friend, Anna Smith (with her newborn and plenty of wonderful multi-modal ideas, but so little time) jumped on board too.

And that was the start of something remarkable for me.

I have done a blogging challenge before, for 20-days, with a series of questions, posting on Twitter, to a community that I don’t really know.  But, this was different.  It was a more personal community of readers (shout out to my friend Yafa also, and a few other regular reader and commenting friends from Facebook); I chose my topic each day; I was part of a real team; I developed a regular schedule; I went beyond my comfort zone.

I proved to myself that with discipline and encouragement, I had more than enough to say for 30 days.

This 30-day challenge has been a lot like training for my first half marathon which, ironically, Wes and Darlene led as my team captains.  Similar to that experience, I wasn’t sure I could do it, but their encouragement and our regular “meet-ups” (virtually in this case), the gradual build-up, the discipline and the going beyond myself set me up for success.  I also didn’t expect much from myself that first time. I went into this challenge with low stress and a sense that I would just do the best I could too– sometimes rambling, sometimes profound, but always moving forward.

Yesterday, I finished a 10-mile long run, my longest training run in preparation for my 10th half marathon.  I was so grateful.  Three years ago, I was just beginning to train for my first half, and now I have run a half marathon under 2-hours and am ready to run my 10th.  Running for me has become a part of who I am.  It has been a joy and a discipline. It has made me stronger and calmer. It has brought me much needed solitude and community.

But what I’ve realized is that, in order to keep running, I need a “What’s next.” I love to run, but I am not the type of person who will run without a goal.  I always know the next race I’m preparing for so that I can always keep my eye on how much I need to train. I know how hard it is for me to pick up training again after I lose momentum.  Just one cold or flu and I can convince myself that I don’t need to get back out there unless I have a race to prepare for.

So, onto my next challenge.  From 30 days to 52 weeks of public writing.  I have a lot of other writing projects I need to work on so blogging everyday isn’t really workable or sustainable (yay for self-care and setting boundaries).  However, writing publicly (at least) once a week will give me the opportunity to write, engage and connect. It will give me the structure and goal that I need to keep my momentum going.  I hope my community will continue to support me as I take on this consistent public writing through this blog.  I’m excited for the start of this next journey and grateful for the finish line of this challenge I’ve just completed.

But most of all, I am grateful that I have rediscovered writing as a part of my best self.

Invisaligning My Life

My 12-year old, Nate, got Invisalign just before the new year.  In case you have perfect teeth or got your orthodontia prior to the existence of Invisalign, it’s akin to braces, but uses transparent trays to more gently move your teeth, week by week, towards their proper positioning.  The process is less painful than traditional braces and more discreet, but the goal is the same, to align your teeth.

We’re in the 10th day of a new year, one in which I outlined several goals to help me align my life to my values.  I’m actually doing pretty well on them, in general, but the change is a lot like Invisalign.  It’s not super noticeable to the outside world, although those closest to me can see the trays, but the change is beginning.

It’s also a multi-step process.

When my son and I went to the orthodontist, they called his teeth a “complicated” case (which meant multiple issues that would require multi-step orthodontia, brackets, retainers, Invisalign on top & bottom, maybe a tooth extraction).  I am a complicated case as well.  There are parts of my list of goals that I have been able to address right away, causing immediate change to my normal habits and slight discomfort. There are others that will take more time, and will likely be more painful.

What I’m doing better with:

  • Greater intentionality with my time and energy
  • Being more self-compassionate and taking better care of myself (more deliberately)
  • Reading, writing, reflecting and thinking more
  • Cooking more, eating more delicious food, exploring new places (and to some degree, helping my student experience new things)
  • Being open to change

What I’m still working on:

  • Praying more
  • Setting better boundaries and sticking to them (this one is going to be really, really hard for me)
  • Self-compassion –it’s on both lists because sometimes I’ve been better at it, but sometimes, I slip back into my old habits.

What I’m realizing is that it’s hard, but it’s also all good in this process.  I am growing. I am aligning. I am changing.  And that is uncomfortable.  If it was easy, everyone would do it.  It took me a long time to get to the degree of workaholism that I currently am at.  It’s going to take me awhile to get out of it too.

But, one family dinner at a time, one blog post at a time, one “no” at a time, I am taking steps towards change.

Hopefully at the end of the process, I’ll have the fuller life I’m looking for, and some straight teeth….oh wait, that’s actual Invisalign. Well, at least my kid will have straighter teeth after all is said and done. 🙂

Beginning a New Year

I’d like to read and write more this year — in quantity, time, genre, and frequency.

I’d like to be more intentional with my time and energy. I hope to be more present with those I love and more deliberate with my choices in relation to technology.  I hope to use my time wisely to support my goals and those I care about around me. I’d like to do more of the things that bring me joy, and fewer of the things that I feel obligated to do because I’m good at them. I’d like to act with conviction and certainty.

I’d like to be kinder to myself.  I’d like to make self-care a priority, and take the time and space that I need to do what I know works for my physical, mental and spiritual health. I’d like to feel less guilt and let go of that which I will inevitably feel more quickly.

I’d like to set better boundaries and stick to them.

I’d like to pray more, reflect more, think more.

I’d like to cook more, eat more delicious food, explore new places, help my children to experience new things, and be open to change.

Will you join me? I’m pretty sure I’ll need the accountability to transform these desires into realities.

No matter what you’d like to do in 2019, I hope that you bring all of your best intentions to fruition this year.