Some bloggers will set a personal goal or challenge. They enlist other bloggers or their readers to participate in their challenges. I like some of these. I have done Loobylu’s Wednesday What’s Hot and What’s Not. I have morphed that into Thankful Thursday. Today I did my first 8 Things with Magpie Girl. Someone new I have been following has just completed a personal promise to post every single day of July. I appreciate that, because I enjoy climbing into other peoples’ heads and listening to their processing. I have decided to take my own personal challenge.
August is the month of my birth. In fact, the last day of this month is my 44th birthday. I figure, barring mutation or random catastrophe, I have longevity on my side genetically and will live easily into my 80’s or beyond. My mother is in her early 70’s and is fit and able and a tough little cookie. Mentally and cognitively, she is still solid, too. My people don’t get addle minded or have dementia. They have sub-arachnoid hemorrhages or breast cancer in their 80’s or commit suicide. My genetics do not harbor the coronary disease, hypertension, diabetes trifecta. No one blood related has had their chest pried open. So, that being said, I may place a small wager I am about halfway. Now, I know we are not guaranteed a single minute. I could step off a curb tomorrow and get slammed by a bus. I understand the tremendous gift we are given everyday. I wake thankful even on the days I want to stay in bed curled in a ball. Alive and struggling is better than the alternative. And while I have faith in my salvation, I am certain I am not supposed to live a tepid, safe, riskless life. Life….my life…. is designed to be lived. LIVED.
And so I make these promises to myself for the next 31 days. Every single day I will do these things:
1. Give thanks and if I am particularly thankful for a particular person, I am going to tell them. Words of praise and affection are squandered and nullified by Hallmark. There is great power in the handwritten missive to a friend, as sister, a lover, an esteemed colleague and even an adversary.I want those to whom I am connected to know I desire the connection I have with them. I want them to know how I feel for them, how they make me feel and what their presence in my life has meant to mine.
2. Be kind especially to myself. If I save my spirit a small quantity of angst each day by holding the harsh word…or even the harsh thought….I am kind to myself. And I believe it is a rarity that I cannot find something nice to say. The old adage, “If you cannot say something nice, say nothing at all” is the lowest denominator. There is always something nice to be said or thought about another person. In concrete ways, I will be kind to my body, mind and spirit. I will take my vitamins daily. I will sleep my required 6 hours, less is unfair and puts me at a disadvantage. I will permit myself a bit of vanity and luxury. I will eat healthier and fresher. I will exercise daily. DAILY. I have been going every other day, but 31 days of exercise is not a ridiculous expectation. These healthier choices are GOOD things and not punitive. I should rejoice in the commitment to be healthier and more attentive to myself. There should be no guilt in this space. In fact, it should be a high priority.
3. I will write. I am disciplined about the blog. I will be more disciplined about my fiction and my practice website.
4. I will start daily meditation. I have been dedicated to the Rosary for years but have used it mostly as a tool to combat anxiety and fear. It is an easy prayer ritual for me. It centers me and helps ground me. I will either pray my rosary or sit in focused meditation every day. I think 31 days of attentive prayer and meditation will serve me well. I will clear my mind, open my heart and welcome new options that may present themselves. In this space I will be welcoming.
5. I have a few conditioned responses. I respond to certain people. I respond to particular words or tones of voice. My responses are Pavlovian and automatic. I am determined to see these patterns clearly and shirk them off like a threadbare coat. I can be different. I know that in the last two years I have changed so much. I am agile and limber and have great faith I can change. I have made a decision to change the literal mechanics of my daily life. I found the courage to seize the day and forge a new path. I can also find the strength to change the patterns of my heart and mind, too.
It sounds esoteric and nebulous. I promise myself that it is far more concrete and substantive. I will do real things everyday for the next 31 days as a gift to myself. And on my birthday, I will celebrate. And all those I have included in my month long celebration will rejoice with me.