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challenges, part II

As threatened, challenges. I’ve been thinking about that. What counts as a challenge is, of course, widely different from person to person, and not only that, it can also be different for one person at different stages in life. So I’ve been trying to determine what counts as challenging for me at the moment and I’ve come up with a frightening number of things:

Going out. Social interaction away from the computer, not counting my family. Reading something new. Watching a movie that is too emotional and/or thought-provoking. Staying up to date with news and what’s going on in the world. Writing on a daily (or any other kind of regular) basis. Sports (as in the healthy, weight-loss, general-health-improving way). Thinking about the future. Taking steps to learn any of the things I want to learn/improve (guitar, photography, …. a score of things). Working towards any of the million of ideas I have of what I what to do in my life.

Damn, this is a frustrating and terrible list. I hope you haven’t lost all respect for me now. I’m really not as pathetic as this makes me sound. That is… I’m not underneath. On the surface, however, I seem to be quite as pathetic at that, at the moment at least, and thinking about this, I’ve realized that I’ve been merely coasting on the surface for quite a long while now. And that explains why there are so many things that I see as challenging at the moment – apparently I’ve shut myself off from anything that has any depth or that connects with anything deep inside me.

And that’s about to change! 🙂

I’m proposing three levels of challenges: a short-term one that will cover 1 day to 1 week maximum. A medium-term one that will cover one month. And one or two ongoing ones. I’ll stick them to the side of the blog in a neat little widget, together with the time frame. The crucial part is that I really need to be afraid or ashamed of not reaching the goal, so that I push through. That’s where I need you guys. You gotta hold me accountable.

(btw – y’all made me glow and smile and all-over-happy with your comments on the last post! Big hugs to all of you!)

So, feel free to threaten horrible guilt from time to time, or if you have an idea for a good punishment, I’d welcome that, too! I’ve been thinking that maybe I could make some kind of financial agreement with myself to set aside a certain amount of money for every challenge that I failed and then give that money to some good cause? Does that sound sensible or plain stupid? It’s just an idea at the moment… (Although the danger is, of course, that I won’t mind not making the challenge… hm… difficult…)

Aaaaand, if anyone wants to join in with any of them at any time, I’d so love that, too! Mutual encouragement works just as well as fear of shame. 🙂

First round of challenges then:

short-term: I will go into town and sit in a café (extra points if I go to one of the new ones that I don’t know!) for at least one hour, either reading or writing, but NOT on the computer.

(this may not sound particularly challenging to you, and it wouldn’t have sounded so to me a year ago, but at the moment my heart is fluttering just thinking about it…)

mid-term: I will go running at least twice a week for the whole of December, each run lasting a minimum of thirty minutes.

(I can do that. I can definitely do that.)

on-going: I will take part in an “official” writing/blogging challenge once a week (the exact challenge yet to be determined).

(this one is making my palms sweat!)

Oh, and the promised cookies for reading the last post!!! I almost forgot. If you follow this link, you’ll be taken to a download location (via wetransfer) where I put three pdfs for you to download – the recipes of the cookies we made last week. Enjoy! 🙂



I had a blog before this one. It was similar in look, I guess, and similar in content. I started it when I went abroad to do another university degree and it was meant as a sort of mass e-mail, to stay in touch with people. Necessarily, therefore, it was a lot more personal. And after a few months, I stopped it in disgust because it was meandering, pointless (= no thread) and most of all, I hated that it had started to sound negative and complaining and vulnerable and whiny and annoying and a lot of other things that I can’t quite remember now, but that were bad. BAD. Like drunk-dialing or something. I vowed never to blog again. I couldn’t trust myself.

Then after a while I got over it and started again, with a new name, a new idea and an actual purpose – to get my voice, my writing, out there and see if it resonated with anyone or if it was all just in my mind. “It” being the notion that I wasn’t too bad at putting words together. At the same time, I promised myself that I wouldn’t post anything if I didn’t feel good and that even if I was going to write about not-so-good things, I’d better make damn sure it was funny!

And then today I got an e-mail from a friend, casually saying that he’s been reading the blog and thinks I sound depressed. And that was a shock. Admittedly, this friend is like a soul brother, so he probably picked up some stray radiation from reading my mind, as he’s wont to do, but still…!

It’s been bugging me all day, and I can’t stop thinking about it, so I want to clear the air about some stuff:

1. If I ever sound complaining, whiny, or annoying, please, PLEASE, kick me in the (digital) butt! I mean that.

2. I’m not depressed. Really.

3. I know what depressed is like, and while it’s true that I’ve been happier, chirpier, more focused and more positive in my life than I am at this point in time, I’m not depressed.

4. No, I’m not protesting too much.

5. I’m actually not very happy at the moment, and the problem is motivation, or lack thereof. Or rather, the strength to see things through and to be who I want to be. I’m not going to bore you with this stuff, just wanted to mention it, because it relates to:

6. I’ve been on the point of asking my friends for help in checking up on me at semi-regular intervals and using the naming-and-shaming technique to get me to accomplish things, but I dismissed that thought again, because that’s also whiny and pathetic, and it’d be a lot of trouble and some people would worry unnecessarily and so…

7. … I’ve decided to set myself challenges, and because it’s too easy to find excuses for myself (I’m such a sucker for a good excuse from myself), I’m going to set the challenges publicly and let the internet do the naming-and-shaming. And by internet, I mean of course you, the wonderful readers of this blog. Which brings me to this:

8. From this moment on, expect challenges. Not quite sure what that’ll look like, but be prepared for them.

9. If you’ve managed to read this far without falling asleep, you’re awesome and you get a cookie. Or some home-made gingerbread.


10. I’m done talking now, but ten is a much neater number to finish on than nine, so you get a point ten … *silence* … Anybody know any jokes? …

will I ever

I have to warn you: This is not a happy post. Nor a funny one. Nor a helpful one. Nor a pretty one. Proceed at your own discretion. You have been warned.

What I want to say today is the following: Will I ever grow up?

Maybe you are one of those people who believe that growing up is very much overrated and your first reaction right now is to say: ‘Girl, why would you want to? Be glad you’re not grown up!’

Or maybe you are one of those who never had to think about it because your growing up just happened and you’re thinking right now: ‘What are you talking about woman? You’re thirty years old, of course you’re grown up.’ (Okay, maybe you didn’t know my age, but let’s assume you did.)

I used to think that all grown-ups knew what they wanted and had sound reasons for the things that they did. I’m still not fully over the shock of discovering, somewhere in the middle of adolescence, that grown-ups had no clue themselves. They were only figuring things out as they went along themselves, and often they went along blindly. Sometimes I still wish that realization had never happened.

Let’s take a quick look at what being grown up means. Of course, what that really means is that I am looking at what it means to me. And there are two sides to it. There is the emotional, inner side. On that side it means taking responsibility for yourself. Knowing what you want and having a goal. Knowing how to go about achieving it. Knowing yourself. Being secure in your identity. Knowing what are your passions, what are your weaknesses and how to keep each in balance.

Then there is the factual, outer side. On that side it means having a place to live. Paying taxes. Dealing with bureaucracy. Saving money. Taking care of retirement. Having financial stability. Owning furniture, a car, a computer or TV. Having stability. Having a plan.

(I’m leaving out anything relationship-related, like a partner or kids or friends, because that relies on other people as well as yourself.)

I’m afraid of the outer part. I long for the inner part.

Unfortunately, I can’t really get around paying taxes and dealing with bureaucracy, but I can refuse to own furniture or a car or thinking of and planning for retirement – and I do – but I really can’t imagine being without a computer. Half-half, I guess.

As to the inner part… I used to have no idea who I was. I made it up as I went along. I’ve become much better at being honest with myself, listening to my own voice, getting to know myself. Especially the last two years have done wonders for me in that area. I still have problems with knowing what I want, and even more, with knowing how to go about achieving what I want. Or how to be able to stick with it.

Today, more than on any other day recently, I feel like my mind is just a big swarm of flies. Thoughts buzz around, settling again and again on the same spots, only to take flight as soon as I approach. It’s a buzzing, shifting mess and I cannot sort it out. I have new ideas, I have old ideas refusing to die down, and all the while my stomach is fluttering from nerves and the back of my neck is prickling. It feels like I have forgotten something very important. Like I’m about to miss the one and only chance I have. Like I have to step onto the stage and perform and I have no idea what.

I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m very busy all day, but when I look at what I’ve done, there is nothing I can show for it.

So my question is: Will I ever grow up?

Or, if you want me to re-phrase it: Will I ever know what I want? Will I ever have a clue? Will I ever wake up and just KNOW?

Camp report no. 2 – Hiking

I love hiking. The freedom of just going where you want to go and at your own speed, without being dependent on anything but your own body… it’s glorious. Relying only on yourself and what you can do is the most intense experience of self. Plus, you usually get to see beautiful landscapes and interesting nature, and I’m always up for that.

You may ask yourself why I’m rambling about hiking in a post that is supposed to be about writing. Be patient, it’ll be clear very soon! You see, today is the third day of Camp NaNo. And I’ve had a lousy day. I’ve been in a bad temper, I’ve been sleepy (for me, always a sign of being overwhelmed), I’ve been feeling like curling up in bed and not getting up again until June’s over, I’ve been over-eating and the absolute low point was reached when I started to seriously think about if I have been on the wrong path all these years I dreamed about being an author.

When you go on a hike of several days, the first day will always be great. You’re excited. You see new things. You’re well rested and healthy and feel you can do anything and will probably overdo it. On the second day, you will start feeling the strain and maybe some of the enchantment will have worn off, but you still think you can do it, although you go about things more slowly. The third day, however… The third day is when you have to put that backpack on a back that is sore and pulled, when you walk on feet that might have developed blisters, when you will feel either too hot or too cold, when you question your sanity in setting out on this adventure in the first place and cannot imagine ever being able to finish the trek. You’re not able to appreciate the beautiful nature around you, and the first time anyone tries to make you see reason or is kind to you, you feel like throwing something at their heads.

In short, the third day is the day where you loose sight of the bigger picture. The enchantment’s gone, the perks of the adventure can go stuff themselves and you loose all faith in your ability to finish what you set out to do. So how do you deal with it? Very simply by being aware of it. Expect it to happen and treat yourself kindly. Don’t be harsh on yourself. Try your best at staying your course, and if you cannot, then that’s okay as well. Just keep in mind that it’s the third day and that you cannot make a sensible decision at this point. Because you cannot see the whole picture when you are at a low point. You can only see the valley of your own misery or pain or disappointment.

So I’m taking my own advice: I’ll close the computer in a minute and allow myself to feel okay about the only four-hundred-odd words I wrote. I’ll forgive myself for thinking that I should just give up. Deep down, I know I’m good enough, even if my mind is telling me I will never finish anyway. But this is the third day, and I cannot see the whole picture, so I’m trying to be patient. I’ll have a hot shower and tend my wounds and crawl into my tent, and tomorrow will be a new day.

Any other campers suffering from third-day-syndrome today?

Camp NaNo

Okay, here goes. This is the post in which I allow you to make fun of me. And not only that, I’ll even give you a reason: I’ve signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, after having miserably failed NaNo in November at a meager 5000 words.

You have no idea what I’m going on about? Well. NaNoWriMo is the somewhat mystic-sounding (really. imagine the vowels drawn out really long, resounding from the steep walls of a rocky valley high up in the mountains… ) short form of National Novel Writing Month, an initiative originally started as a way to get more people writing, which has snowballed into a very popular global online community. So each November, this great event takes place, in which thousands of people around the world try to write a novel of (at least) 50,000 words in one month. Which I took part in last year, and, as mentioned above, gave up at 5000 words.

Since this event is so popular, they have started to introduce the summer camp version of the original November NaNo some years ago, Camp NaNoWriMo. And that’s what I have signed up for. And the reason why I feel slightly ridiculous? The question that’s running through my mind of ‘why the blazes do you imagine you can do it now when you failed miserably before?’.

The answer that I give myself is the following: this time, I’m planning. I’ve never planned a story full out before. I might have planned the characters, and the beginning and, very vaguely, the end. But never the different steps that take the characters from the beginning to the end, with all the obstacles, dangers, tests, wrong turnings and so on in between. But this time, I am. I’ve spent much of the last two weeks doing extensive outlines and brainstorming ideas and developing backgrounds and am now putting down the actual steps that my heroine has to go through to reach the end I have in mind for her.

Phew…. It’s a lot of work, and actually, it’s also a lot of fun, which I never expected. It also takes A LOT of concentration. Even though I’m not nearly done, I’m starting to look forward to writing out my sketches and outlines in full and giving voice to the characters. It’ll start on June 1st and yes, I’ll share some of my experiences here.

This time, I won’t give up. I owe it to myself to see it through. It’s a matter of personal honour. 🙂