Monday, April 29, 2013

The Year of What Now?

Hey there, sportsfans! Long time, no talk, right? I've been itching to get back here, but have been buried under work and writing (for pay! what what!) and doing some really fun stuff. I can't complain, and I won't. I'm tired, but I love writing here and hearing your stories. Please keep sharing them!

Many of you are now familiar with our 2013 motto: The Year of Why Not? We're four months in, and are experiencing all kinds of new and exciting/terrifying things. I tag some of my Facebook and Twitter posts with #TheYearofWhyNot?, and I've started getting some questions about what it means.

For those who haven't yet, you can read more about the birth of The Year of Why Not? here. The short version is, at the start of 2012, I decided fear, discomfort, self-consciousness and/or self-doubt are terrible excuses to avoid trying something new. I resolved to start asking myself why not? when presented with an opportunity for a new experience, instead of going with my instinct toward isolation and comfort. Surprisingly (only to me, probably), I had a great year, and by the end of 2012, I decided to extend my why not? attitude into 2013. I wanted to live my life as if I were doing it on purpose. For entirely too long, I reacted to life and hid from the things that would make me feel weak. The Year of Why Not? is showing me how to run head-on toward the things I'm afraid of or at which I don't think I would excel. In general, my life has been really safe. I wanted some challenge. I wanted to pump some adrenaline back into my veins.

It started more than a year ago, and it's led me and my husband to a really crazy place. All bets are off for us. We definitely don't say yes to everything. That would be unwise and incredibly exhausting. Sometimes, the answer to why not? is because we feel drained and tired and need to spend a weekend watching movies and holding hands. And that's OK and absolutely necessary at times. Most of the time, though, the answers we come up with are pretty lame and aren't nearly good enough to pass up an opportunity to try something new, so we give it a shot. We haven't loved everything, but I can't think of one thing we regret trying. Click here to see some of the stories from our year so far.

Life feels like an adventure again. My marriage is better. The depression that plagued me for years has felt so much smaller. I am dreaming and planning and believing we could do anything if we really wanted to. We're not trapped or living a life we have to live. None of us are. We're choosing it, and there's so much freedom in that. Saying yes is good for my soul. Giving myself freedom to find out what makes my heart soar and blood pump quick and hot has been even better.

Side note: I've also had a lot of friends and family join in with us and make 2013 their Year of Why Not? That has been the coolest, and a completely unexpected result. I've loved hearing your stories and hope you'll share more in the comments to encourage others to do the same! Your year doesn't have to look like mine, and vice versa. There are so many ways to live fully alive. For some, it may be taking off on that trip you always wanted to take but felt guilty to miss so much work; or finally retiring and becoming a volunteer for your favorite organization, instead of fretting about saving that ever-elusive and mounting number that's "enough." For others, it might be saying yes to the whimsy of your children and letting them explore and create without fear. For me, it's been about changing the way I see the present, and looking for ways to enjoy where we are today, rather than pining for the future. Life is here and now. Some of our Why Not? moments are big, like our backpacking trip in Arkansas, hiking part of the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, or dance lessons. But most of the things we say yes to are small, everyday things like getting to know new friends (not easy for me), getting out of the house to enjoy the cool air, learning new games instead of vegging in front of the television, finding good books to read, and investing in things that really matter. The point is to live purposefully, and that happens one little choice at a time.

Aside from the major benefits I listed above, as if those weren't enough, the greatest affect this year has had on me personally (so far) is a more confident belief in myself. I've done things in the last several months that, frankly, I didn't think I could do. Coming out on the other side having done what I thought was impossible is life-changing. I don't use that phrase lightly. The box I put myself in suddenly isn't crushingly small. It's roomy and fresh, and I can see the world outside.

This weekend, we had another Why Not? event. I signed us up for a 5k mudrun: 5 kilometers of running, stopping, climbing over and through and under military-style obstacles requiring upper- AND lower-body strength (what the what?!), being covered to our necks in mud, army-crawling through mud, wading through muddy water, and then more and more running and more and more mud. Two weeks ago, I almost backed out. I was afraid my heart condition would make it completely miserable, if not impossible. I was worried I would finish last; that I would get stuck at the top of the rope wall too tired to go on; or that I would have to quit early and not finish at all because it was too painful and strenuous for my heart to take. I was afraid I would look and feel weak.

But then I remembered all the times this year and last that I did something I didn't think I could do. They had seemed every bit as impossible, but I came out on the other side alive and well and stronger. So I said yes and finished the race. I did get stuck at the top of a rope wall, but it was actually my fear of heights, not my heart, that was the issue. I'm working on that, too. I eventually made it down and went on to run at least half of the 5 kilometers - WAY more than I thought I could. We walked the rest, but I didn't care. We didn't finish last, but I don't think I would have cared if we had. The places I succeeded meant so much more. As I was jogging longer than I have in YEARS, in pain but doing it, I even looked at Rob and said, "I think we're witnessing a miracle right now!"

(It actually was more like, "I think *wheeze* we're *huuugh* witnessing *heehhh* a miracle *gasp* right now! *cough*" ... but still!)

I think I must have said that a dozen times this year so far.

So, up next is a white-water rafting trip in Tennessee in July. I'm terrified. I hate being in water that's moving faster than a slow trickle. It makes me sweaty and scared, and I start thinking too much about what it would be like to drown. But, for me, that fear isn't a good enough reason not to get in the raft. If this year is any indication, I'll likely end up loving it. But if I don't, that's OK too. At least I'll be able to say I tried.

What have you said Why Not? to this year? In what areas of your life do you want to say yes? (If there's something holding you back from doing it, is your reason good enough for you?)

2 comments:

  1. I have to say...I read this, and smiled the whole time I read...even chortled...yes chortled a few times (that's a word right?). That why not attitude sometimes gets swallowed up by bureaucracy at a school, but that's why I'm known as a pain in the posterior. Hey, tenure's got to have it's benefits right?

    You guys are after my own heart, but I still wanna raft the GRAND CANYON...that's my bucket list trip...so PCT and Grand Canyon rafting trip...oh and walking across a glacier...and watching the Aurora Borealis in person...dang I'm getting old too fast!

    Thanks for putting a smile back on my face...

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  2. Your year of why not inspired your Dad and I to do what we are doing this year. And it has been an extraordinary blessing for us. The young teach the old... and we are better for it. Thank you. Adventure on! ♥

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