This isn’t the first challenge of the summer. In June my friend Kathy and I signed on after hearing a guy at Mile High TEDx talk about how challenges are changing his life. We were less interested in changing our lives than in believing we had one takeaway from an otherwise mediocre conference. So Kathy took a photograph every day. I wrote morning pages and meditated. More or less.
Thirty-day challenges are pretty much elongated versions of deals I make with myself all the time. If you get that brochure written by end of day Thursday, you can hike on Friday. If that job from a new client comes in, work on it over the weekend and earn a day of personal writing. Bike the errands that bore you to death and call it an urban adventure. Work like a dog for three weeks and escape with friends to Aspen for four days of hiking and biking. Is this everyone’s craziness, or just freedom-hungry, over-functioning baby boomers who never figured out how to play without working first?
At challenge midpoint, I’ve learned again what I already knew. Writing makes me crazy. Writing brings me joy. The possibilities for distraction are infinite. The hardest thing is getting started. Writing about a client’s business is easier than writing about life. The loudest voice is the judge who has threatened, criticized, cajoled, manipulated and otherwise had her way with me since I got out of diapers. Ignoring her takes work. Writing is the answer to a dream and the makings of a nightmare. It does not help to read Seth Godin, Anna Quindlen or Anne Lamott. Their words roll onto the page like show tunes spilling from a player piano filled with quarters while mine make the arduous journey from some deep, half-hidden hole whose contents take forever to uncover and then only reluctantly climb onto the screen. Surely I am right about this. I know I am.
I’ve missed one day in the first fifteen. Halfway home to a life forever changed by doing something every day for a month. That’s the theory, anyway. What’s your 30-day challenge? If you haven’t tried one lately, go for it. Summer is waning.
PS, a nod to Mom who moved to the other side a few minutes after three, ten years ago this afternoon. Missing you.