It’s easy to think about beginning again at the start of the New Year, a landmark birthday, or after consuming an entire box of Thin Mints.
It’s not so easy on a Tuesday when the temperatures are still below zero, a month’s worth of receipts are reckoning to be reconciled, and at least a half hour on the treadmill is required before my Fitbit will grace me with an ‘atta girl vibration.
Never mind that I’ve exceeded more quotas in the past seven days than I have in the last seven months in regards to blogging and possibly exercising. Every day is up for negotiation. If I consider compromising at this stage of the game, it’s all over.
With that in mind I pick up my favorite stone, feel the words “Begin Again” etched in its otherwise smooth surface, and focus on the task at hand. In doing so I think about the people I know who choose to do things that are challenging every day.
I think of the students I advise who decide to go back to school while holding down a full time job and raising a couple of kids. I think of my co-worker Rachel who gets up at 5 am to go to exercise bootcamp three times a week before getting her two little ones ready and opening our doors at 7:30am. Or my friend Karin who is the bravest example of being her brother’s keeper I know. Or my friend Susan who looks after her 93 year old mother with the utmost care and respect. Or my friend Linda who works two, sometimes three jobs and gives her all at every one.
The list goes on and on. I could say something spectacular about all my friends because each of them inspire me in specific ways, with grace and good humor. Just ask my friend Ann, aka Scooter Girl, who shared a disco roller skating Happy Birthday video I made for her on Jibjab with her Facebook friends.
The truth is life is hard and unpredictable and beautiful and heartbreaking. We all have our own way of taking on the challenges unique to our situation. The way I make sense of life and marvel at both the miraculous and mundane is to write about it.
Here’s the thing I’ve recently learned about challenges. Meaningful challenges energize me. They help me focus by prioritizing my time and actions. Just like falling in love, these kind of challenges help me remember what’s worthy and funny and freeing and fabulous about being me.
Meaningless or annoying challenges imposed on me by outside forces have the opposite effect. Just like losing my religion, they remind me how cynical, limiting, shut down, and despondent I can become in a very short time.
David Whyte suggests in What to Remember When Waking that the antidote to burnout is not to drop out but to engaged wholeheartedly. Brene Brown would agree.
I know what I really want is to be firing on all cylinders as many days as possible. Having said all that, in order begin again and fire away tomorrow, my challenge tonight is to get some sleep.
Let’s continue the journey tomorrow then, shall we?