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Just Try!

Here I am on the last day of my 366 Somedays and what have I learned?

I have learned not all “Somedays” are meant to be.  Once attention was finally given to some, they just didn’t fulfill the expectations.  The activity was not as fun as anticipated or the amount of work to accomplish the “Someday” was beyond what I was willing to expend.  Speaking Italian fell into this category.  I’ll still dream of living in Italy and conversing fluently with my neighbors, but the reality is I’ll never live in Italy and I’ll never speak Italian – fluently or otherwise.

I have learned goals can be achieved with steady and persistent effort.  My “Someday” to complete the physical challenge of walking or running 1200 miles in a year required me to focus on getting in miles almost daily.  There were times I would have preferred to sit out a workout due to rain, snow, heat, or just plain laziness, but I didn’t – I kept at it for twelve months and I achieved my goal.

I have learned that tackling some “Somedays” leads to the accomplishment of other “mini-Somedays”.  This month, as I’ve been working on restoring my carousel horse (no pictures yet – it isn’t done), I’ve also been painting (with the same paint) a decorative mirror which I’d planned on putting in a specific spot in our home, but which has been sitting in a garage closet for the last two years waiting to be painted and antiqued.

I have learned most “Somedays” cannot be completed within a month.  My very first “Someday” of writing a book in a month was way too ambitious!  The book still isn’t done and the reality is, that may not be the book I end up finishing.  I’ll still write and, eventually, a book will be completed, but it would be disheartening to chastise myself for not finishing in one month.  This has been the hardest lesson to accept.  So many of my “Somedays” aren’t finished and, at first, that bothered me, but all of the “Somedays” I tackled are started and that, in my opinion, is a win.

I have learned some “Somedays” resonate more than others and that is joyous.  Yoga, a “Someday” not chosen, but which I probably would not have attempted if I weren’t going through this journey, has quickly become part of my daily routine and I wonder why I didn’t open myself to it years ago.  Knitting also brings me joy and, while I don’t sit for hours and knit, when I do pick up my needles, I feel a calm wash over me.

So, with successes (1200 mile challenge), failures (speaking Italian), postponements (gardening – the space is finally ready and I’ll try planting this spring), and continuations (writing a book, restoring my carousel horse), perhaps the biggest lesson of this year has been that it’s okay to fail, to not enjoy, to set aside, but it isn’t okay to not even try.

Going for the Joy

Last month’s “Someday” of getting my website up and running is still in progress.  I hit technical difficulties that derailed me, but I haven’t given up.  Once again, that “Someday” was harder to accomplish than I anticipated.  So, that work will stay in the background and now it’s time to tackle my final month’s “Someday” as the 366 days come to an end.

I had been planning to have this month’s “Someday” be to learn to swim so I could complete a mini-triathlon later this year.  Completing a triathlon has long been a goal of mine.  I can run, I can bike, but I cannot swim well enough to complete the swim portion, so my “Someday” was going to be taking swim lessons and learning to swim.  However, as the beginning of the month approached, I was more and more agitated about the idea.  The reality is, I don’t like to swim.  I don’t like getting my hair wet every day.  I don’t like the idea of swimming back and forth in a pool as a type of exercise.  I haven’t enjoyed swimming since my junior high days when the activity wasn’t so much swimming as jumping around in a pool with friends on a hot summer day.

I’ve learned throughout this year there are some “Somedays” I no longer want to pursue, i.e. speaking Italian.  I’ve also realized lately many of the “Somedays” aren’t providing me with joy.  Even though I thought they were something I wanted to do, doing them doesn’t give me the happiness I thought they would – this is the category in which I’d put swimming.  I want to complete a mini-triathlon, but the idea of swimming fills me with dread, not happy anticipation.  So why do it?  Why subject myself to a regular practice that doesn’t offer me something positive?  Maybe one of the lessons from this project is it’s okay to not do everything.  It’s okay, when given the choice, to choose joy and happiness over some nebulous idea of what I should be doing.  Do I really want to complete a triathlon?  Maybe, but if I don’t want to do it strongly enough to eagerly anticipate the accomplishment of learning to swim, then maybe a triathlon shouldn’t be on my To-Do list.

Something else I’ve learned this year is I like creative activities.  With that in mind, I’ve chosen my final month’s “Someday”.  I’ll unveil it tomorrow.

Hello Inspiration!

You’re off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So, get on your way.
                                    --Dr. Seuss
Starting today I’m choosing to climb a mountain (or twelve)
rather than skate along on flat land.

A couple weeks ago, as I was driving from Toad Hall (our primary residence) to the Boathouse (our “other” home), I was hit by a streak of inspiration.  Recently I had gotten back to healthier eating habits and had dropped 15 pounds.  I felt like I finally had this “food” thing figured out.  As I drove with the music turned up loud, I drummed along on the steering wheel, wondering what to do with the extra time and energy I had previously given to food and eating.  As I drummed, the thought ran through my mind that I really do want to learn to play the drums.  That’s when inspiration hit me!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about lifestyle, dreams, goals, etc.  I started with Dr. Christiane Northrup’s new book, Goddesses Never Age.  That lead me to other “joy” and “goddess” books and articles and, somewhere along the line, I stumbled on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, which deals with the creative process.  In this book, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about “magic” or creativity occasionally knocking on our doors and suggests a person has to be ready to answer that knock.

As I drove along thinking about learning to play the drums and feeling full of joy (music, beautiful scenery, road trip…), I realized creativity was indeed knocking on my door and I let out a gasp as I realized I was ready to answer.  Thus, the hit of inspiration:  I would make a yearlong plan to learn and do twelve things I have always wanted to do – and I would write about the process.

This is not a “bucket list”.  I think of bucket lists as being those big events and activities one wants to do before they die.  Instead, the things on my list are more immediate.  They are the things I’ve always thought I might enjoy, might want to pursue someday – if only I had the time.

As I started to plan what ideas I might want to include, my energy and enthusiasm skyrocketed.  I felt I was running headlong toward something wonderful, life-changing, and terribly scary (in a good way).  As I neared the Boathouse, Vonda Shepard’s song Searchin’ My Soul began to play:

There’s a side of my life where I’ve been blind and so… 
I’ve been searchin’ my soul tonight 
I know there’s so much more to life 
Now I know I can shine a light 
Everything gonna be alright 
I’ve been searchin’ my soul tonight

Tomorrow:  Month 1 – Write a Book