It’s My Birthday. Pick a Challenge.

35 was bipolar. 

I love my job but some weeks I’m ready to quit teaching.  I’m heartbroken by the lack of equity and justice in society and find hope in our youth & my community. I’ve focused on going with the flow while becoming more invested in vegetarianism, environmentalism and politics – none of which a  “going with the flow” attitude is productive. 

35 has been a year of discomfort and making decisions about what really matters. It’s been a slow progression, but ultimately some of my values & ideas have solidified, if not shifted.

My birthday normally makes me blush, but this is the year to make it a platform. As my birthday gift, pick a challenge to honor year 35 and welcome 36. It will be fun, challenging, or benefit the environment or others. So many perks, right? All six challenges are inspired by a year of political shifts, changing attitudes & new insight as to what’s important in life. 

  • Minimize – 35 has taught me that I care less than I thought about stuff. People, the environment, and animals matter more than things.  Pick something to minimize: your junk drawer, mug collection, hoards of shoes, medicine cabinet or whatever. Give your “unnecessaries” to someone who needs it or will love it more than you, then enjoy the feeling uncluttered space brings. 
  • Vegetize – When people find out I’m vegetarian their response is usually, “I couldn’t live without _____________,” but  most people don’t realize the negative impact meat consumption has on the environment and the level of cruelty involved in the meat and dairy industry (or they don’t care, which is an entirety different challenge). Admittedly my level of commitment to a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle has been a progression. Over the past six months I’ve been working to reduce my consumption of dairy products & eggs in addition to an already vegetarian diet. If everyone reduced their meat consumption by eating a vegetarian or vegan diet one day a week, we’d a have considerable impact on the environment AND reduce animal
    cruelty. It’s a low commitment win-win and that’s without addressing the potential health benefits. Can’t commit to a day? Start with one meal a week.
  • Raid Your Fridge – If you’re like us, it’s easy to waste food. Often we’re unintentional when it comes to food, but the reality is many of us live with excess while others live without. Eat your leftovers & only buy what you need. Go through your cabinets and donate food you don’t think you’ll eat before the expiration date. Over time intentional buying & eating practices have a positive impact on the environment & you’ll have fewer moldy containers to purge.
  • Make A New Habit a Habit – I’m intentional in a million ways, BUT there are some things I can’t seem to make habits: putting things back in the right place, flossing, writing (blog neglect), listening carefully, and going to bed on time, to name a few. Pick one thing to make a habit & focus on it. Last year mine was to become a better listener, which I am yet to master, but am much improved. This year I’m GOING to lift weights three days a week. Pick a habit & let’s do this!
  • Get Political – So many of us feel politically uninvested, but nothing will change or evolve unless we’re informed and vote. If you’re overwhelmed by politics (who isn’t?) pick something you care about, get educated about it, inform others and vote accordingly. For example, I focus on three E’s: education, equity & environment. These lenses make it easier to research, select candidates & vote. Even if you think our political system is broken, apathy won’t fix it – you’ve got to invest.
  • Go Play – It’s that simple. Last week I was elbow deep in a sink full of dishes when P asked if he could take me on an adventure. I felt like I should finish my to-do list. Instead I followed him through the neighborhood, around a gate, over a bridge and to the end of a road he’d explored the week before with his babysitter. I have no memory of finishing those chores, but I can give you a play-by-play of that entire adventure. No regrets here.

Good luck & cheers to another year! 

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