Did I get your attention? LOL Read on, you’ll see why Epic is my word of choice…

I’ve worked throughout the month of January to set up my big Challenges for the year and then scrapped them…

Here’s why… someone I care about passed away. It was unexpected and tragic.

I realized that I need to re-work my Challenges for the year.

Sure, there are things I want to learn, new skills, and there are things I want to do, and then there are things I want to change. LOTS of stuff to think about.

This isn’t about resolutions.

I don’t need to be more organized. I do need to lose my chemo weight gain. But that’s not what the Challenge list about.

This year I’ve created a “Focus” list and a “Challenge” list.

The Focus list is simple – 5 items that I need to pay attention to every day.

Here’s the Challenges list: 

  1. House – every month I want to make sure I work on my house. Strange focus item maybe, but when you consider that my house was neglected from the moment I purchased it 10 years ago it makes a little bit of sense. My ex wanted to spend money on EVERYthing else. And it needed work 10 years ago! So every month I attempt a project. Yes, for now, they are small. Disposable income needs to be budgeted carefully. In January I started with one room – the extra room. It will become my “studio”. It’s where I will do arty stuff and where I will have my instruments. Sort of a music and art mash up. There will be Minions… stay tuned.
  2. Website – it needs to be updated… but the focus is on the blog. I have neglected it. I have LOTS to say and it simply doesn’t get said. As I work on a new Kindle book, I figured it was time to give my blog attention. I have lots of stuff stuck in my brain and I need to share it.
  3. Classes – Learning to do what I do better is important. I especially need to work on my Photoshop skills, so making time for taking classes is an important focus for the year.
  4. Weight – I gained weight during chemotherapy – it might have been the Little Debbie snacks – and the post cancer drug is a weight-gain mechanism. Fighting cancer means keeping your weight down and your diet healthy – haven’t had Little Debbie snacks in 8 months. Cancer likes fat cells, so minimize those fat cells and decrease your risk.
  5. Exercise – Running. While I recognize that post-cancer I won’t feel the same or be the same physically, I still want to be as active as possible. To be sure, recovery is different for everyone. Everyone responds differently to treatment. Some women run a marathon months after, others spend the next few years unable to even work. It is a spectrum. I am grateful that I can run… WAY slower than before… but running nonetheless. I take 30-60 second walk breaks when necessary but there is NEVER shame in walking. I’m back up to 3 miles. My goal is to minimize walking breaks, decrease time to complete the 3 miles, enter a race before summer, and most importantly – be grateful for any progress I make towards those targets.

Now, for Challenges.

1. Anger. I simply can’t do it. When I stop to recognize that there are women, who also had Stage 3, aggressive cancer, who didn’t make it – well lordy… how can I be mad about anything? Want to question my knowledge, intelligence, capabilities – go for it, no worries. Want to cut me off in traffic – no problemo. Want to be rude – have at it.

I’ve long been an expert at compartmentalization, now I will practice it every single day. I simply will not spend any energy on being angry or mad. SURE I’m gonna complain when someone behaves badly but I refuse to attach any emotional energy to it.

The Challenge is remembering to flip into Ninja Calm mode, not just for confrontational situations, but whenever a negative emotion bubbles up. (Ninja Calm is discussed in depth in my Kindle book – What to Say, How to Say It.)

2. Family. Not that I’ve ever neglected my family. It’s just that I’ve simply ignored the fact that much of my extended family is always at a distance. No more.

Now to be clear, I don’t plan on going on a mission to find every cousin and make friends, LOL. But I do have family I really care about that I want to make more time for. Very simple, just make the effort.

3. Music. So I’m getting this room all set up and I really want to improve my guitar playing skills. For me that means getting my hands strong, getting my fingers calloused and stretched, and speeding up. All of that means practice. I’d like to make time to practice every day but I’m not sure that’s a good target, 4x per week might make more sense.

Improvement needs to be tracked, so I’ve purchased a book with some very good beginner exercises that I can use for practice and then I think recording my progress once a month might be the way to show how things are moving along.

4. Art. I’ve got two art challenges. The first is to get back to the paper quilling. My mom and I made Xmas ornaments – snowflakes and poinsettias. But we thought we’d try to tackle some bigger stuff – custom stuff. So we would have to make our own pattern and work from that. We also want to go a bit bigger, something that could be put on a wall. We both like flowers so I think this will be the basis of that project. Paper quilling is time consuming, so the challenge is to finish one of these pieces.

The second art piece for me is working on a few pastels and acrylics. I need to make time for them. That is the challenge. I want to finish some pieces that I will hang in the master bedroom. I have one piece started, it’s for my mom. I think the biggest part of this challenge is simply making time to do it.

5. Pistol. So the last pistol challenge did is what is called Practical Pistol. A series of shooting challenges is set up, you are timed as you move from challenge to challenge. Speed and accuracy. Sometimes the challenges are set several feet apart so you run from one spot to another.

For this year, I’m interested in trying Steel Challenge. For this event, 5 steel plates are set up. You are instructed to hit each one in a specific order. The last plate triggers the stop clock, so this one is also about speed and accuracy but you are standing in one spot. You pull from you holster, hit each target as fast as possible and re-holster. I figure to really give a go at this challenge I should enter at least 3. If I really like it, I’ll do more.

6. Mountain biking. I REALLY need to get back on my bike. So I’ve found a women’s only group that rides on Wednesdays after work. I think I need to join them. There’s also an all Women’s race in March. In order to enter a race… I need to get started now. I haven’t been on my bike in a few months, so my bum needs to get used to sitting in the saddle and I need to get my leg stamina up.

This one could morph as I have all year to complete all the challenges so I may skip the March race and look for something later in the year.

Get On With It!

This is a pretty small list. Party because my stamina and energy since chemo has been stunted. Although I get more energy every day, I want to make sure that my 2016 Challenge is not stressful or frustrating. I can always add stuff in at the 1/2 way mark.

The point in this Challenge thing is to keep improving.

Winning a first place medal in life isn’t the goal.

Without challenges and targets to keep us moving towards self-improvement, we have a tendency to get stagnate.

With all the research out there about brain plasticity, imagining that we can’t do something is a fallacy. If you feel like you simply can’t… read Mindset by Carol Dweck – then call me and we’ll talk.

The bigger benefit is keeping your brain active. It fights Alzheimers and dementia.

The physical challenges help maintain your health. While I’m not fanatical about preventing illness, a healthy body is a great defense against many things including cancer. And while we can’t prevent every illness, it’s certainly a good way to simply be happier.

Your Challenge

I’d really love to have everyone reading participate. Choose one challenge for yourself and commit to it. If we have enough responses we could even do a Facebook group for encouragement and support.

I can tell you from doing this over the past few years, it is a real confidence booster. It is surprising how much better you will feel about yourself and that my friends is what happiness is all about!

Please reach out in the comments, I’d love to hear from you, and I will keep you posted on my progress!


P.S.: See how I just did this post and tackled one of the items on my Challenge list… easy schmeasy! 🙂

Link to Carol Dweck’s Book:

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