40 for 40: A Year Of Smallish Challenges

Hi friends!

In my previous post I mentioned recently beginning to practice yoga.  I’m doing it twice a week at night after my son gets to bed.  Three other nights I do some sort of strength training.  I’m especially trying to execute REAL push-ups, not the ones on my knees that I’ve been doing my whole life, but the ones on my toes.  Considerably more challenging! But I am happy to say that I’ve seen a little progress already in the month or so that I’ve been doing this.  I am more slightly more flexible and I feel like my posture is truly improved, and the yoga leaves me feeling refreshed and mentally clearer.

Why am I telling you this?

keep-calm-its-my-40th-birthday-4Because I’m turning the big 4-0 later this year.  And it’s kind of freaking me out a little.  I know age is just a number, or a state of mind, or something.  But there’s something about approaching what could be the halfway point of one’s life (if you’re lucky) to make you start thinking about how quickly time passes.  I’m assessing my goals, dreams, hopes, aspirations, wild longings.  And I feel a renewed sense of energy about accomplishing things.

To that end, I’ve embarked on a series of weekly mini-challenges that I’m calling 40 for 40 (I know, not terribly original, but I needed something to call it!)  Here’s what I’ve achieved so far:

  1. Drank 64 ounces of water daily for a week.  (I’ve kept this up!)
  2. Did not get on Facebook or Twitter after 6 pm daily for a week.  (Sadly, I have NOT kept this up.)
  3. Memorized a poem.  (The Summer Day by Mary Oliver.)
  4. Tried the 30 Minute Fitness area of my gym for the first time (weight machines and steps.)

I have to say that so far I’ve really been having fun with my challenges.  It’s added a much-needed sense of freshness and purpose to my daily routine. Some of my other ideas for this year include:

  • Hike with my Dad (an avid hiker) in the Great Smoky Mountains.
  • Ride a bike to the bridge not far from my house (this will mean I actually have to PURCHASE a bike!  I’ve not ridden one since high school, but we have all these great greenways in my county and I need to make use of them!)
  •  Get my passport renewed.
  • Travel to Toronto this fall and meet my cousin for the first time!
  • Spend a day volunteering for an organization, maybe a neighborhood clean-up.

parnassus-blog1Of course, I have some reading challenges on my list too!

  • Read a classic book that has intimidated me
  • Read something that my husband picks out for me
  • Visit Parnassus Books (Ann Patchett’s bookstore) in Nashville

This is where you come in, bookish friends.  I have space on my list for eight more challenges.  I’d love to hear any suggestions you may have for me!  I’ll tell you that I won’t bungee jump or jump out of an airplane, but I’m open to almost anything else.  So what have you got?  Have you ever done something like this yourself?

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36 thoughts on “40 for 40: A Year Of Smallish Challenges

  1. I’m about to go to Hawaii (I know, how lucky am I?) and go snorkeling. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. I mean snorkeling although of course I mean Hawaii, too. This visit is to Oahu, but I’ve been to Kauai, Maui, and the big island on other trips.

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    1. Awesome, Jeanne! I saw an Anthony Bourdain episode on Hawaii and it looked amazing. I’d love to go someday. Probably not this year, but someday! As for snorkeling, I’ve never done it. I’m not a great swimmer, and there’s that whole wearing glasses thing. But maybe!

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  2. Oooh! Happy 4 0! And what a way to celebrate! Kudos to you!

    I’ve been going to the gym for the last six months, and I’ve been amazed to find how much I enjoy it. And, AMAZED at how much progress consistency engenders! (I work out for about an hour once or at max twice a week but have been doing it consistently for some time now, and can see an increase in my endurance, strength, stamina, etc.)

    (I also deleted my FB account appx. 2 yrs ago, and my twitter account last Nov, and find it helps me immensely in maintaining my sanity).

    Other Suggestions: have you tried meditating? does it appeal to you? you could give that a shot!

    and since you mentioned passport, does seeing the northern lights appeal to you? or maybe swimming with wild dolphins/whales?

    whatever you decide, wishing you tonnes of fun, and hours of pleasure!

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    1. I agree, being consistent in workouts really does provide results! I’ve been working out consistently three times a week for a few months and my energy and stamina are so much improved. Kudos to you!!

      I considered deleting Twitter, but I still find it such a good way to find out about news. So I’m torn. I’m just trying to limit it but we’ll see, I may not be able to.

      meditating – funny you say that! That’s this week’s goal! I’m meditating ten minutes daily this week. it’s harder than it sounds! but i think I will try to keep this one up too, if I can. I REALLY need the mental clarity and rest.
      Thanks, Juhi!

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  3. What a wonderful idea! I don’t think I have the discipline set weekly challenges for myself, haha. At least not yet. Perhaps I will when I’m 40. 🙂
    I can’t think of any challenges at the moment, but do wish you luck with them all!

    Your post reminded me that I haven’t ridden a bike in a couple of years now ;( I don’t own one anymore and my neighborhood isn’t very bike friendly. I used to write my bike everywhere when I was younger. Now I ride my car everywhere. :/ Maybe I’ll get one this spring. I don’t like riding in the cold.

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    1. Naz, I do think that I wouldn’t have been successful with this at a younger age. Maybe, but i don’t know. There’s something about getting older, for me, that has really made me want to reset my priorities and made me very aware of how quickly time is passing.

      Yeah, I’m waiting till spring to try my biking challenge. I’ve got to get the bike! I’m excited but also kinda scared about it. My husband is going to bike with me, so it’s nice that I’ll have a buddy initially. Maybe by this time next year I’ll be biking all over the greenways in our county! I hope you get to bike again soon, if that is something that calls to you.

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  4. Wow!! I’m also reaching 40 this year! (actually in less than 2 weeks). I love your idea of mini challenges. This year I have decided to increase the number of meat-less meals. For the big 4-0, we are going to London! Perhaps you could consider trying to visit a new place in your town every month, trying new foods (recipes or in restaurants), take a class in something fun (art, cooking, anything)

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    1. Birthday buddies (sort of!) Meatless meals is a good goal. A trip to London sounds divine! I like your ideas – cooking and baking something I’ve never tried before, those are both on my list. A cooking class would be super fun, I think I’ll try to put that on my list! Thanks!

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  5. I like your challenges. I think staying away from Twitter etc is the hardest fir me at the moment. I particularly like learning a poem a week. I used to do that and thought recently I want to do it again. I found all the big birthdays challenging so far.

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    1. Thank you, Caroline. Yes, right now there is SO MUCH happening in the world and Twitter is a good way to keep updated. But for me it is also a good way to have a panic attack! Hence, the limiting. I’m trying!

      I may try to memorize another poem later this year. I keep reciting this one out loud to my husband so I can keep it fresh! I like having a poem in my pocket, so to speak.

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  6. This is a nice idea for your 40th year! Getting a new bike and riding it is a good one. I started riding quite a lot again once the kids were old enough to ride their own bikes (weather permitting, of course), and I love it more than I thought I would.
    What about camping? Or polar dipping? My mother-in-law has gone polar dipping every winter since her 55th birthday (15 years ago)! Maybe when I’m 55 I’ll like it, too, but for now, I really don’t. 🙂
    Keep us posted!

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    1. Naomi, camping overnight is on my list. I never camp. I’m not very outdoorsy, so this will be a challenge for me.

      Polar dipping – is that swimming in icy cold water? I’m not sure we have much frigid water around here, though, ha ha. 🙂 Good for your mother-in-law!

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  7. Ah, 40 isn’t so bad. It was the start of a really great decade for me that isn’t over yet! I completely endorse the purchase of a bicycle! Riding to the bridge nearby is great, but plan an adventure and it doesn’t have to be a long distance. Ride somewhere you would usually drive and plan something at the destination – a picnic, a garden, an ice cream sundae. It’s amazing how different the world looks on two wheels 🙂

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  8. What a great idea! As someone who passed the big 4-0 quite some time ago, I have to tell you it’s a great period of life – all the insecurities of youth fading and the horrors of ageing still some way off! A great time to try out new things. Hmm… let’s see. Try a new sport – tennis? Or, do you craft? Learn to knit or sew? Write a short story and publish it on your blog? Whatever you do, I hope you have fun doing it! 🙂

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    1. Thank you, FictionFan! I think tennis is an excellent suggestion. My husband played in high school and he could give me some pointers – I’ll put it down on the list! I already have learning to knit. I’ve wanted to do that for a while now. Great ideas!

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  9. I tried Yoga for the first time this past week and really enjoyed it. What a wonderful stress reliever! I go to the gym 4-5 times a week and never really take the time to stretch like I should. Happy early birthday! I am turning 30 in April, and I have been in denial about it lol

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  10. I’m of a similar mind, wanting to make sure I’m putting good habits in place now, while still active and eager and curious and (relatively) energetic. I shifted my yoga from 3 days/week (which was always easy to skip somehow) to daily this year and it’s made a huge difference in so many ways.

    Is there a creative practice that interests you? Journalling or sketching or something? I thought Lynda Barry’s drawing journals looked neat, something I’d prefer to Julia Cameron’s morning pages which I know appeal to a lot of people.

    If your cousin here in Toronto isn’t bookish, I will share my bookish haunts with you! 🙂

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  11. This is a really clever idea, Laila! I commend you on your dedication. It seems like you’ve gotten a ton of great ideas, too. I love the idea of camping and cooking something new, meditating and travel.

    I would encourage you to try taking a moment each day for gratitude. I have an app called The Five Minute Journal on my phone. I take 5 minutes in the morning to document what I’m grateful for, what I will do to make today great, and make a daily affirmation (I am AWESOME!). Then, in the evening I log a photo from the day (if there is one), 3 amazing things which happened today, and how I could have improved my day. In the end, I find it’s easier to be positive and let things go. I encourage you to try something like that!

    Also, look for something you never would have considered doing. For me, it was fishing and going to a circus gymnasium (I learned how to use a trapeze!). Perhaps there is some local music venue you’ve never tried, or a sporting facility (paintball? ice skating?)– there are so many options!

    Please keep us updated with your progress! I’d love to hear about this journey as you experience it.

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    1. Jackie, your ideas a great. I think fishing would be fun and definitely something out of the ordinary for me. I haven’t heard of that app but I like the sound of it! I try to journal on paper but the daily app would make it easier. Thanks! I’ll be sure to write up some updates periodically!

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  12. How did I miss this post 😦 How are you doing so far with the challenges? I like the yoga/fitness one since I have been terrible with that one. I got weighed in February and was asked to loose 10kgs. I have not been able to do anything towards that goal so far. How are you doing with that challenge?

    I like the social media and the cooking one. Sorry, I know I am supposed to giving you ideas and not stealing yours haha but I like the challenges that you have set for yourself so I will borrow a few. All the best and have fun with it ❤

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    1. I am doing okay with the challenges, Diana. I’ve been thinking about doing an update soon. There are several that are sort of ongoing challenges that will take longer than a week. And I just need to quit procrastinating on some of them! But I’m still excited about the project. Please feel free to borrow any of them! 🙂 Thanks!

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