April 30 Day Challenges

March has passed, and with it another collection of challenges. It was a fairly successful month, and I was able to work on all four of my challenges with various levels of success.

Once again, the most successful challenge was my creative challenge, the one-second-video project, which I have decided to continue throughout the year. Often, people having their phones out indicates that they aren’t living in the moment, but living in some future time when they think they will look at their picture or video again, but probably will not.

However, looking for moments to film made me be a bit more present, as I was always watching what was happening with the idea of filming something interesting. I saw things with fresh eyes, so to speak.

Here is my March one-second-video.

I will also continue my March spiritual challenge in April, as it is connected to the Christian season of Lent, which ends in the middle of the month with Easter.

I felt challenged this month to listen to a different voice about spiritual matters, and so I chose a devotional called “Give Up Worry For Lent” by Gary Zimak, who is a Catholic writer. The book has been an encouragement, but I’ve struggled a bit reading something about worry that was written before the Pandemic and before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These two events made things seem real to me in a way that things hadn’t necessary seemed before.

That said, the author makes some points that are true no matter what is going on in my life or in the world. And I do believe it has helped me to handle worry a bit better by focusing on Christ. I would recommend the book for a future Lent, or just as a daily devotional for anyone who is prone to worry. I will be continuing this practice until Easter.

And a final thought on this… having given up things for Lent in the past, I really enjoy the idea of giving up something like worry, because it’s not something I would crave like coffee or sugar. I’m happy to get it out of my life.

For my health challenge, I challenged myself to walk 100 miles over the course of the month. I really enjoyed this challenge, especially since March in western North Carolina is a lovely time, and the weather was perfect. I didn’t make it to 100 miles, but I did make it to 70.6 miles, which averages to about 2.3 miles a day, which isn’t bad. While I’m not going to shoot for 100 miles in April, I will continue to push myself to walk as much as I can.

Finally, for my financial challenge, I found a Trello page that gave a general daily challenge. Having already done financial challenges in both January and February, I found this to be fairly repetitive, but still helpful to keep my mind on personal finances. That said, it did encourage me to find a new high-yield savings account and to shop around for a new CD. But for April, I think I’ll be ready to try a different sort of financial challenge.

Speaking of April, here are my new challenges.

Creative Challenge

Considering that the challenge that I’ve done the most consistently throughout the years has been the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) in November, I was excited to remember that in April, Nanowrimo sponsors Camp Nano, which is a more relaxed version of what happens in November. Rather than writing the first draft of a 50,000 word novel, Camp Nano encourages you to write whatever you want. The point is to get you writing.

So, for my month of writing, I’m going to try and write short comedic stories, maybe one every two days, at around 250-300 words each. I’ve not written comedy before, so I’m excited to stretch myself and see how my comedic voice can sound.

Health Challenge

For my health challenge, I’m going to use a pdf I found that has simple exercises each day, called Move More April. I’m going to try and work up to doing more strenuous workouts, but since I’ve mostly just been walking up to this point, it’ll be good get there at a reasonable pace. Oh, and as I said before, I’m also going to continue walking as much as I can.

Financial Challenge

My financial challenge this time is not like the other times. I want to spend the month of April understanding crypto currency. I understand the basics – that it is digital currency and such – but I don’t understand mining, or how the system works. So, April is my month for educating myself on this new(ish) technology.

Spiritual Challenge

As I said before, I’ll be continuing my Lent readings until Easter, which is in the middle of the month. Alongside this challenge, I have downloaded the Calm App, and I’ll try some of their meditation offerings. I’ve never used Calm before, and I’m going to be doing their free seven day trial and then I’ll cancel. After that, I’ll just use whatever free offerings they have.

The most exciting thing about where this challenge has taken me is that I’ve discovered things that I want to keep doing, that aren’t incredibly intrusive, and aren’t so difficult to make into habits. In fact, they stand to make my life much better, and for that I’m grateful.

365 Days of 30 Day Challenges… And So It Begins…

I really don’t know how I decided to do this.

I vaguely remember the idea occurring to me when I was sitting and having a cup of coffee. Or maybe I was walking the path at our local park. Or, it might have been when I was taking a shower.

Like most things over the last couple years, it’s fairly hazy.

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I do know it started with National Novel Writing Month, a writing challenge in November in which I’ve participated for several years. My son, who is an artist, had also participated in Inktober, and one day while I was sipping a coffee or walking the trail or rinsing some suds, I thought – would it be crazy to do Inktober in October then follow that up with Nanowrimo in November?

What 30 day challenges are in December? What about January?

Then, it just snowballed.

And now I find myself on December 31, 2021, preparing to attempt to spend the next twelve months participating in several monthly challenges each month.

To be honest, I think something may have snapped in me because of the pandemic, but I figure it’s better to do something like this as a result of the snapping rather than being videotaped yelling at a stranger in public, as so many snapped people have done.

I can imagine what some people might think of this idea… that it is just another attempt to make resolutions, and everyone knows that resolutions typically fail, and this one is destined to fail spectacularly.

But don’t most resolutions fail because they’re so open-ended?

“In 2022, I want to lose weight.”
“I want to learn to play the violin.”
“I want to do 20 pushups a day.”

Doing something for only 30 days is imminently possible. And maybe along the way I will find something I want to do for more than 30 days. Or maybe some aspect of my life will improve because I took the time to try.

I think it’s worth the shot.

So, here’s the challenge I’m proposing for myself.

Each month, I’m going to pick four(ish) challenges. I will do my best to pick months that are chosen specifically for the month (like Inktober or Nanowrimo), but they may not always be. I’m also going to try to focus on four areas each month… health, finances, creativity, and spirituality. Then I’m going to write about how the 30 days are going on this newly formed blog as some kind of public accountability.

For example, during the month of January, I’ve chosen to observe Dry January for my health (as I said, the last two years have been rough), a thirty day challenge for finances, expressing my creativity by drawing a new creature each day during Creatuanary, and observing 31 Days of Mindfulness for my spirit.

Y’all, I do realize how insane this sounds. It’s hard enough to do one extra thing a day for a month, let alone four. But we’ll see how it goes. Honestly? Maybe I’ll burn out by April and be done with the whole project. Maybe by March I’ll realize that I bit off too much and take it down to one challenge a month. Or, maybe I’ll find my life improving in some ways as a result of this insane sounding idea, and I’ll actually do it for the full 365.

Time will tell. But, I invite you to join me in this ride by subscribing to this blog and following my year. And if you know of any good free monthly challenges for the upcoming months, let me know, because I’ve started assembling a database of monthly challenges, and I’ll be looking for interesting things to do for 30 days. This includes fund-raising challenges. It would be cool if this project could help raise some money for some good causes, too.

Finally, if you’d like to join me on any of my challenges, let me know. I’d love some company! I’ll do my best to post them about a week before the following month begins so folks can prepare.

So, I’ve got one more day until the challenges begin. Wish me luck, and here’s hoping The Rescues are right about next year.