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Challenge Yourself

woman reading against a stack of booksAs I begin this blog, Lee Ann Womack is singing “I Hope You Dance” on the radio in the background. As I listen, some questions pop into my mind. Am I honest about living my life fully? Am I blunt, candid and real with myself about my life, goals, relationships and ultimate happiness? Have I lapsed into laziness and indifference? If I’m tired of being tired, what can I change? There’s a lot that goes into being human, and honestly, sometimes, it’s exhausting.

Maybe I need to start today to make a small commitment to changing the little things … not all at once but gradually. Here are a few I think I can manage. What are yours?

1. Read books. If you’re a reader, read DIFFERENT books.
Instead of a bestseller or your favorite author, take a chance on a new author or genre. That way, you expand your world. I usually read nonfiction, but now I’m going to choose some fiction. Read something that challenges your thinking and reflect on the message.

2. Purge the closet.
My closet is a perfect example of the Pareto Principle: I tend to wear 20% of the clothes I own, 80% of the time. Last summer and again in January, I did an inventory of the contents. Each time, I amassed several bags to discard and donate because of size, condition and style. It brought me serenity and good vibes, as well as clothes I liked that fit well!

3. Explore the neighborhood.
I can just slip on my shoes and take a walk. Check out your neighborhood. Stop and chat with the neighbors and learn their names. It’s important to know the folks who live up and down the street. In times of crisis, being strong together makes a huge difference.

4. Get creative.
Whether I’m attempting to draw, paint, play music, build, bake or garden — I can lose myself in a project I enjoy or learn something new that’s fun to do. It’s a stress reducer and a memory improver.

5. Exercise, exercise, exercise.
For me, this provides perhaps the most immediate attitude-changing results. We’re designed to be outdoors, moving around, doing stuff with our bodies. Get out of the house! Team sports, individual activity, dancing and long walks in the fresh air are just a few options. Work mind and body together.

6. Make time for people.
Even if you aren’t really outgoing, you can do this. Make time for friends and family. Set a date for lunch or make a phone call and visit awhile. Combine this with moving more by meeting at the park for a bag lunch and sharing a walk. Staying in close touch is a great way to examine anxieties and concerns as well as explore new ideas.

7. Get out of your comfort zone.
When was the last time you tried something new for the first time? Expand your experiences and try DIFFERENT instead of the SAME OLD. It’s good to break with routine from time to time. Our brains respond differently to those things that stretch what we know and help us grow. Take a chance. Do something new to you!

8. Unplug.
Turn off your electronic communication devices for a day (or a weekend)! Overwhelming? Start small by leaving your phone in the car when shopping or out for the evening, or turning it off for meals, family functions and social gatherings. Engage with others in the here and now. Reduce the number of selfies and increase the number of mental images you record.

9. Find a mentor.
I get and seek inspiration from all corners. Everyone can teach me something if I’m willing to learn. Seek someone to help you learn and grow in some area of your life. A mentor can help you understand roadblocks and offer solutions for getting on the right path instead of throwing your hands up. Open yourself up to someone who’s been there for guidance.

From the song I was listening to when I began to write this blog, I share as a final reflection: “I hope you dance. Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along. Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone?”

I Care, Barb

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