"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." --Rainer Maria Rilke (©julenisse/Fotolia)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Okay, I'll join. But please don't ask me to sing Kumbaya any time soon.

I’m challenged.

Not sure what got into me, but I agreed to participate in not just one, but two separate challenges that have the potential to be very good for me.

You should know that I don’t ordinarily go in for these things.

First of all, I’m not much of a joiner. I’ve quit piano lessons, the Girl Scouts and the Junior League. Second of all, I don’t like to set myself up to fail. And by fail, I mean not finish. You see, I don’t always finish things--from diets, to decorating projects, to books I should read but can’t get through. (I know, it’s not good to should all over yourself.) Not finishing may have started back in my junior year of high school when I couldn’t get through Gulliver’s Travels. I also quit going to gym class so I could sit in the library mooning at a senior basketball player who barely knew I existed.

Not me. I wish my hair were that long.
So what am I thinking taking on two challenges, one for three weeks and another for a month? That it will be good for me both personally and professionally to commit to these challenges and claim victory when I complete them.  Aren’t you dying to know what they are?

One is a 30-Day Writing Challenge put forth by the force behind Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write. As ten of us sat around Vicki’s dining table for a workshop yesterday, she challenged us to write a minimum of five minutes a day for the next 30 days and, as an accountability measure, to post Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 etc., on Facebook.

For some of us, accountability is key to keeping on track—like having a curfew or, if you’re of the 12-step persuasion, a sponsor.  Yesterday I worked on the manuscript for a memoir I’ve been birthing for quite a while; I need to finish it. Satisfied with my effort, I went out on a limb last night and outed myself with a Facebook status update: “Day 1. 30-Day Writing Challenge underway!” We’ll see how long the optimistic exclamation point sticks around…

Not me. I wish I were that thin.
The second challenge is the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Challenge for Perfect Health. (Why they didn’t cash in on the rhyme scheme and call it Oprah & Chopra I’ll never understand.) Vicki mentioned she was doing this one, too, which just happened to start yesterday. I had no sooner clicked “Sign Me Up!” on Deepak’s website when I heard from one of my nearest and dearest, a heart friend and spiritual mentor, who texted that she’d just started the same 21-Day Challenge. Serendipity.

On the surface, this one’s easy because each morning you get an email with a link to the daily mediation. Still, the bigger challenge involves actually committing to the 16 minutes a day and, within that 16 minutes, quieting one’s mind to focus on the message and the mantra. Om.

For those of us who have rambunctious families of monkeys and meerkats bounding through our heads, and to-do lists a long as a $200 Whole Foods receipt, this meditation business is no easy task. I have a sense, though, that if I can just stick with it, the payoff will be great. Health. Serenity. Balance. Who doesn’t want that?

Maybe I’m more of a joiner than I thought, because it occurs to me that there's an added bonus to all of this challenge business. Even though both the writing and the meditation are done pretty much in isolation, these challenges provide a built-in sense of community. When you’re committed alongside others toward a common goal, whether it’s to finish writing a screenplay or to keep your anxiety at bay, there is comfort, encouragement and support in knowing you are not alone. Hmmm. That sounds like one of Oprah's "Aha! Moments." I think this challenge thing is working already.  


  1. Beautiful. Now, will you "join" me for date night soon?

  2. Anonymous9:40 PM

    It's all about community, Mary, as you so very eloquently pointed out. Have fun on that date!

  3. Sean McSean O'Sean FitzSean6:10 AM

    I seem to remember drilling a hole in your Girl Scout Manual for some reason and having to re-imburse you for the cost. I probably wouldn't have done that if I knew you were going to quit, so I respectfully request reimbursement -- with interest, that comes to $1,276.43.

    1. Uh oh. I must have been really traumatized by this because I have zero recall. Was this before or after you hit my bedroom door with a hammer? : )

  4. 30 Days of Writing, 21 Days of Mediation and a DATE?!?
    How do I sign for a #3?

    Thanks for the great column, Mary LOVE this. One feeds the other. Does that mean 1+2=3?

    1. Sounds like good math to me, Vicki! And then there's that certain thing Joanna wrote about yesterday... ; )

      Thank so much!

  5. Mary, if you weren't a joiner before...it sounds like you're becoming one. All great ways to get the creativity juices flowing. Love the Oprah and Chopra!

  6. Anonymous2:25 PM

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