Well, the twenty-one days are up. The end result is not exactly what I expected.
Let me break this down for you.
While I do feel this challenge was worth my time and energy, my brain hasn't exactly been retrained. There are still clouds of negativity obscuring the sunshine from time-to-time. I never really considered myself a negative person, but it seems as though I am, indeed, a glass half-empty kind of girl.
I know where this pesky idiosyncrasy comes from, and I do try to kybosh it, but I have my bad days. On those days I can be a right Bitchy Betty, or a Sappy Sally, it all depends on how I roll out of bed. I tell myself the bad days exist in order for me to appreciate the good ones. And it isn't so much that I am pessimistic, but realistic, and I worry. I do. I'm a worrier. This is a hard trait to break.
In the end, I fear it will take a 365 day challenge for me to get over this deep-seated (and entirely annoying) characteristic. I am fully aware if I were a character in a book, this is the trait I would despise about myself. And yet, even now, as I write this, I am stressing about money and cigarettes. Don't ask. It will take far too long for me to explain.
The highlight of the 21 Day Challenge, and the five tasks, was, without a doubt, the exercise. Does that shock you? It's true. I felt like it was something I HAD to do, but I also WANTED to do it.
Back when I lived on the mainland, I used to workout every day at the gym. Breaking a sweat made me feel alive. Those endorphins are hard to ignore. They tease and taunt me. And being inactive, sedentary, is not fun. In fact, it sucks a lot. Everyday I didn't work out, I felt worse about not being active. A vicious cycle. One that's hard to break. Sometimes we need a push.
I decided to get up early in the mornings and sneak a walk in with the dog. To most, that doesn't sound like much exercise. A stroll around the neighbourhood with a hound padding softly at my heels. Ha ha ha. I wish. When I go for a walk, I run, climb and try to wrangle a eighty pound woofer who is stubborn as all hell. It's kind of a full body work out. The village I live in is riddled with these mountain trails and I love to get lost in them. By the end, I'm sweaty and there's usually a dull ache in my butt or thighs. Sometimes both.
This exercise isn't enough for me. I wish I could go hiking for six hours a day. But I have to work and all I have is the hour before work to do it in. This is something I am going to keep on doing. Being outdoors, in nature, using my body, makes me feel refreshed. And happy. Besides, what's an hour on the grand scale of things? It's a television program or a long soak in the tub. Exercise is more important than the latest Dexter or being clean. Maybe.
I would also recommend the writing challenges for everyone to do. Think of three things you are grateful for a day, write them down, along with a positive experience you have had. These truly did work for me. It opened my eyes to things I didn't really even realize I was seeing. It simplified my life. I was grateful for a lot of free, everyday events, people and objects. Things I see, touch, hear and smell every single day stood out to me. And stand out for me. Because even now, I see at last three things I am grateful for. Sunshine. Gumballs. And vintage thrift store finds.
It's funny because until I wrote these items down, I kind of took them for granted. Or didn't think about them. Now when I take a look around, I see things a bit differently. I imagine if I continued to do these two very simply tasks, I'd see the world completely different one day. That is an exciting idea.
Lastly, I suck at meditation.
I am actually thinking about giving up on this. In the last couple years, I have tried so hard to meditate. I've selected my mantra. Cleared my head. Closed my eyes. And...nothing. I focus on my breathing. Inhale. Exhale. And...nothing. I am still there. Listening to the world around me. Maybe this whole meditation Zen thing simply isn't for me. I am guessing I simply haven't figured out MY way of getting there. I would like to say I am hopeful and it will come to me, but I have my doubts. Until then, I will just try not to fall asleep.
The truth is, I think, the outcome of these sort of challenges vary. Maybe some people only need 21 days to retrain their brain, but maybe some of us need longer. Because maybe we have more damage or issues to work through.
So, the challenge was interesting. Totally worthwhile, but I'm just not there yet. It could have been because a massive monkey wrench was thrown in the works at the beginning of this endeavour. Learning to forgive AND retraining my brain might have been a lofty goal. But I stuck with it, so there's that, and I think a little pat on the back is warranted. Still, there is work to be done. Lots and lots of work.
Hot & Sweaty On Our Walk