A Year of 21 Days: Minimalism (Day 12: Growth)

February 13, 2013

[Sorry that I’m late posting.  My commute kicked me in the backside a few times yesterday.]

If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

Really, if you think about it, even if you’re growing, you’re dying, but at least you’re also growing.  The point, however, is that unless you grow, you stagnate. 

Studies have shown that being sedentary, sitting all day, may have more of an effect on our health than smoking, drinking, or eating poorly.  Movement is what keeps us alive and healthy, physically.

Movement is also what keeps us alive and healthy mentally.  The best way to ward off memory loss and aging is to keep learning something, anything, new.

With that in mind, I want to keep growing, mentally, physically, spiritually, and relationally.  (If that wasn’t a word before, it is now.)

My goal today is to make a list of five concrete ways I want to grow and three steps each to get there.  Lucky you, you get to come along for the ride.

1. Do a triathlon- I’ve wanted to do a triathlon for a long time.  I’ve been a runner most of my life and I used to teach swimming, so it’s really the biking that has been holding me back.  I’m terrified of crashing into someone in that crush of people.  However, now that I’ve been riding my bike everyday in my commute and, oddly enough, now that I’ve had two good spills, I’m less afraid of that potential crash.  So this year, I plan to do a triathlon.

  • Step one: Find a triathlon.  I’ve already picked out the one I want to do.  If I’m going to swim in the ocean, might as well do it where it’s beautiful.  I plan to do the Malibu triathlon in September.  I still need to actually sign-up, but at least I’ve picked it out.
  • Step two: Get a plan.  I could probably go out today and finish a triathlon… and be sick and exhausted for weeks afterwards.  Instead, I’ve got a 28 week plan to get me not only to the finish line, but hopefully get me to the finish line with some fuel still in my tanks.
  • Step three: Follow through.  Now I need to start doing my regular workouts.  I need to practice some hardcore self-discipline.  This step will be a work in progress.

2. Read the entire Bible- I’ve done this once before in my life, but I did it out of order and over a two-year period.  I want to see the grand plan laid out step by step.

  • Step one: Find a plan.  I use YouVersion on my phone, so I always have my reading with me.  There are a lot of plans to choose from, so narrowing it down took some time.
  • Step two: Read daily.  I can catch-up on the Bible reading, but I’ve found that the further behind I am, the more likely I am to skim-read instead of really spend the time digging into what I’m reading.
  • Step three: Post about my reading on Facebook as a way to hold myself accountable… and be sure to finish what I started.

3. Get back to learning- I miss school.  I do tend to learn new things on my own, due to my love for the library, but I need to make a practice run at school to see if I want to go back and actually get another degree.

  • Step one: Find a course to ease into.  I chose the EdX free class from Harvard on Greek heroes.  I love Greek mythology; my kids currently love mythology thanks to the Percy Jackson books.  This is a good way to get started with no real pressure.
  • Step two: Figure out where I want to focus my attention.  I think I’d like to do something with either holistic medicine, nutrition, or personal training… but which do I choose?  I can’t do all three (which is what I would’ve chosen if I were twenty years younger).  I need a focus.  This one I’m still working on.
  • Step three: Get funding and find a school and get enrolled by fall.  Yipes… that’s not long when you consider that admissions is open for many schools and will close soon for many others.

4. Figure out what is best for my kids- I went through a pretty nasty divorce and my kids currently live with their dad.  I wish I thought this was the best thing for them; he certainly is better off financially than I am.  But he has three of them on medication that I believe they don’t need, seeing a therapist with no plans for getting them off therapy, and not interested in working with me to raise them.  Because of this, I’m strongly considering going back to court to fight for custody, even though I’d really like to stay out of court.

  • Step one: Talk to my ex one last time about working together.  If he’s willing to work with me, then take this as a sign not to go back to court, no matter how much I miss my kids’ daily lives.
  • Step two: Do the research.  Don’t go into court.  Get a different therapist to evaluate the kids.  Figure out the legal procedures before I ever take a step.
  • Step three: Follow through and go to court in a calm, rational manner.  Keep my focus on why I’m doing this, rather than the anger that will very likely be directed at me from my ex and his family.

5. Share myself- I don’t connect well with people initially and I tend to have a very small group of people I’m comfortable being intimate with (unless you count blogging).  I need to cultivate a few good friendships and consider whether or not I want to pursue dating.  Bleh.  Okay, I don’t want to pursue dating, but I do miss being in a committed relationship.

  • Step one: Evaluate the friends in my life right now.  Who should I be cultivating?
  • Step two: Stay open to new things and meeting new people.  Maybe someone out there is just waiting to be friends with me as well.
  • Step three: Don’t be afraid to make the first move.  Yes, rejection hurts, but maybe the pain (to paraphrase a Lady Antebellum song) isn’t as bad as the emptiness of being alone.

There it is.  Five areas to grow in and three concrete steps to get there for each one.  But, whatever happens with these, I need to not stress over them.  As it says in Matthew 6:19-33, my treasure is in heaven… so why worry about what is down here?

I’m grateful for having something more than just this earthly life to look forward to… no matter how bad things may get here, there is always good at the end of it.  I just need to remember that.

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