Challenges

A lot of the blogs I read casually have these 30 days challenges. No spend, low spend, no sugar, lower carbs, eat more protein, saving more, paying down more debt, etc. The theory seems to be that since the challenge lasts for only a short period of time it should help raise awareness and pave way for adjusting existing habits or adopting new ones.

I mostly agree with the theory … for everyone else.

For me, either I am trying to alter something in my life or lifestyle or I am not; I tend to be pretty boring and black and white in that manner. If I were to participate in such a challenge, I would feel a real sense of failure the first time I fell off the challenge wagon. RD suggests I eat more protein so I am trying to do that in whatever modest, incremental steps to make it happen, become a habit, and stick with it. This is not a 30 day challenge for me, and doing so for 30 days would feel pointless in my bigger picture. However, J has been exploring vegan eating for a few weeks now and finds he likes a lot of it, but it’s not his intention to become a militant, save-the-animals plant eater exclusively forever. M is on a high mileage quest to position himself to be in much better shape for spring and summer trail running, but I seriously doubt he will be pursuing 15-mile runs daily for the duration. Those are my best examples of unofficial 30 day-like challenges.

I was thinking about this process during practice this morning, as I was going through 30 reps of various stretchy band exercises for 3 sets. At the time I was counting and wondering if timing was better than counting, or if trying to complete 30 seconds was somehow worse than counting to 30 reps. A challenge lasting 30 days seems like both an eternity and not much time at all, unless you are the one undertaking the challenge. It’s not my way, though, so I find it perplexing.

This challenge craze of late has had me wondering why, because it does not really work for me. Then again, goal setting does not work out all that well for me either, which is not to say I cannot see it’s benefits. My psychology setting goals is like asking for angst, meltdowns, tears, and funks. No thank you; my husband anyone else who spends any amount of time with me thanks you for not allowing me to set goals.

Skipping out on glute bridges this morning – shucky DARN on that! – I recognize that I enjoy need absolutely must have this level of flexibility and forgiveness in that I can decide that intensive immersion does not need to mean ever single stinking day … this week, anyway. Becoming better at them is the objective, but I am not going to put myself on a schedule to make it happen. Sometime this year is about as close as I get to goals.

I console myself I am doing okay without gazelle-intense focus on one aspect of something. It made the next go-round with the stretchies bearable, then home to my usual breakfast and packing my typical lunch.

I am truly a creature of evolving habits.

Different kind of challenge at work today, in a staff meeting about the state of the firm and what we are looking forward to in the next quarter. A lot more work. An injured paralegal weighing her options about returning to the workforce. Perhaps another new hire, which is always stressful for everyone. Despite needing the extra hands and help, the dynamic is pretty special in our firm, and I hope whoever they choose adds to that rather than stresses it or removes the good vibe quality.

Working with well educated professionals can be like walking through landmine if the personality mix cannot be balanced. Here there are plenty of egos to be considered when it comes to work, but in an office full of young up-and-comers with workaholic tendencies the partners have done an excellent job of targeting strengths and strengthening weaknesses. At the same time, they stress respect and yet an open communication environment, the likes of which I have rarely seen deployed so successfully. I genuinely like the entire staff here, which makes this a very nice place for me to land, put down some roots, and grow. I just don’t want them to hire a poorer fit that will upset my happy place.

And I’m borrowing trouble looking at it from that perspective. But once you have experience with the negative, nearly toxic work environment, you definitely never want to return to those kinds of trenches.

All of which is kind of a round about way of my returning to the conversation with TM yesterday. About progression, success, failure, how we define ourselves.

Feeling a if I am a relatively black-and-white thinker, I have always thought myself farther on the failing/failure side of life in so many areas. I did not complete college until nearly 50, yet I had and performed well in jobs that these days demand at least a 4-year degree. I’m relatively bright, though, and I found that much of what I actually formalized in college I already knew either through work experience, listening, reading/studying on my own. As a parent I succeeded in shepherding my kids into a successful adulthood, in that they are both now engaged in life’s pursuits as independent adults. M, their father, extended family all left their fingerprints on their upbringing and success.

I have been immersed in a life consisting of a lot of “shoulds” that truly have little to do with the life I lead. Staying away from social media as much as I have has been the best choice for my own nervous system, blogging from my own safe place, driving my own conversation and concerns, and NOT being drawn into discussions that only add anxiety and stress to my base level anxiety and stress. Blogging often feels weird to me, if I think about other people reading my blog, because talking endlessly about my own thinking is similar to the imaginary dog in my brain chasing its imaginary tail round and round.

But this is my little corner and my own blog. I get to chat about whatever I wish, no matter how awkward or awful it may sound in my own head or on the screen as the words appear.

Which is one of the other things TM and I discussed yesterday.

TM reads my blog. It’s not private, and there is nothing that I write here about anyone that I have not or would not say to them directly. But it’s weird sitting across from someone you discuss your bigger issues and stuff with and know he’s been following along with the minutia of your day-to-day life. I disclosed it to him in our first meeting this year, though, and invited him to peek in whenever he wished.

Anyway … he made the offhand comment that he enjoys reading it, which immediately makes me wonder what he else he is thinking, followed immediately by realizing how paranoid that sounds.

TM is good with and for me. He has helped me unravel gordian knots in my life that I never wanted to acknowledge existed, much less unravel and smooth them out as much as possible. This year’s project is difficult for different reasons. Training, eating, health issues – I want to be successful in these pursuits. I do not want to self-sabotage or set myself up for self-destruction because deep down inside I ultimately feel unworthy or undeserving of success.

While I have not addressed it here, some of the work we do relates to the kid I was, before forcibly removed from the my happy-go-lucky skipping along to being a normal little girl. I have little memory of what she was like, but I have been told she was happy, chatty, curious, and crazy for dogs. Maybe she had a better chance for a better life, had she not been led away from the path of growing up a normal kid.

The little girl was led away and not allowed to just be a little kid, and I have had a really tough time for a lot of years. But the big question TM posed to me posed to me before we parted last night – would I honestly say I have regrets about the life I have now? Unmolested me, what sort of choices might I have made and how could that have impacted the life I am leading right now?

Maybe I have done a few things right along the way. Maybe my damage and rage and pain was primarily internalized and not directed outwardly at the world at large?

And perhaps healing a little more and truly accepting that I earn my good fortune and successes require that I let go of more of the rage that remains. I did not deserve to be led astray, and I was far too young to have any say in the matter. But it happened and there is nothing I can do to change the past.

As an adult I understand that, from an intellectual point of view. The little girl that I was once … it is really hard to make that part of me understand that I don’t have to keep paying for being just a powerless kid.

I keep trying to make me understand, and looking across the fabric of my whole life, I am succeeding. I am apparently very good at trying. And when it really matters to me or I feel the alternatives are too costly, I can and do stick with it.

Being happy, being healthy, walking with an emotional limp, but upright and walking forward all the same … without hesitation, I know I deserve at least that much. And every single day, I earn the good things in my life and deserve to live and to enjoy my life.

3 thoughts on “Challenges

  1. You have truly earned and worked hard for everything you have. Like I tell you I strive to be like you. The mere fact that you survived everything you have shows your strength and your power to overcome even when it gets so frigging hard you don’t want to. If I have learned one important lesson from you its that giving up is not an option. I may not get exactly what I want but I may find that what I do get is so much better. You are one of the strongest people; man or woman that I have ever met and I am proud every day to call you my friend.

  2. Hi J,

    Can I say I heard your sermon…amen .. You go .. Your have articulated where your thoughts will take you And you have your intentions that you will carry through to a place of progression to the daily reality of living your life with no holds barred

    Take care

    Char

    • Char, thank you for the kind comment and encouraging words. Sometimes it takes some marinating time for me to cough up the thought hairball, but eventually it comes out. I AM making progress, but sometimes it feels a bit like twirling in place, only to stop for a moment and realize I’m not in the place where I started.

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