For most of us, life comes with enough challenges all on its' own. We’re going to get plenty of hard stuff thrown at us to deal with, without our wanting it or having to go looking for it. Yeah, yeah, I know...we grow through the tough stuff. And there seems to be no shortage of opportunities for growth in life.
So, trying to figure out exactly why people find the idea of making up their own challenges to be enticing...well, it's always just plain baffled me.
Sit up challenges, squats challenges, blah, blah, blah. I like the idea of being fit, but I have enough trouble remembering to walk the dog.
Elsewhere in life, who cares if a kid wants to wear a superhero cape to the store or mismatched socks to class or even have blue hair? Is it really necessary to challenge it?
No one has ever been able to explain to me why on earth a person would choose to wash dishes by hand when there is a perfectly good dishwasher right there under the counter? Is there not enough housework?
And don’t even get me started on a manual transmission. Why? Just why?
Some things are simply way more work than they need to be. And I for one don’t feel like I need any more work.
When life makes you watch people you love get sick and die, and other people just walk away, and when you have to start over and figure out a whole new way in the world, well, in the midst of stuff like this, who in the heck needs another round of difficulties?
But, I’ve started to realize that once in awhile, there are times when it makes sense to choose a challenge for yourself. There’s a power that can come with stepping up on purpose rather than just because life threw you into a storm, and it’s kind of nice to have some directional input on your personal growth.
And sometimes, it can even be fun.
This past weekend, I had the chance to take on some marvelous challenges~ I was an adult leader for a group of 27 teens for an adventure weekend at Mother Lode River Center. And what an adventure it was.
Our day started with team building and trust activities before we could move on to the high flying adrenaline stuff. Some of the teens were anxious to get to straight to the zipline, but for me, the challenges started right there when the facilitators suggested that we adults keep quiet and not offer suggestions, ideas or reminders but rather just let the kids work out everything on their own. In other words, we were supposed to just keep our traps shut. For me, not talking was much harder than scaling 40 feet up a tree and jumping off of a platform.
For the most part, I managed to keep my trap shut, and I’ll admit that it was pretty cool to watch the kids work together, try different strategies, find leadership amongst themselves and ultimately come up with their own solutions.
Interestingly, one problem solving activity resulted in me literally dropping the ball solely because I was looking ahead and behind me to see what the others were doing rather than watching what I was doing. I’m always seeing metaphors in life, so that was one that really made me think “hmmmmmmm” in a not so flattering, albeit enlightening way. Perhaps I need to be a little more in the moment and pay attention to my role in things instead of worrying about everyone else?
Before we could go on to the big fun, I also got to be a part of a trust fall with a little 12 year old who weighed about half as much as me. I was slightly terrified that I would crush her, but she held her ground, and we both made it out without injury. It was tricky because I didn’t want her feel like I didn’t trust her, but seriously, I could’ve flattened her if she hadn’t paid attention.
The first real action came in the form of hoisting each other over a 10 foot straight wall with no hand or footholds~ just people working together to push, pull and shove their friends over, and standing by to catch them in case the attempts failed. One of our youngest kids almost had a panic attack, but then, when he was ready, stepped up and scaled it like a ninja. I actually got teary eyed with all the cheering from the group and his smile of accomplishment.
That little scared guy was the first one to run to head of the line for the big stuff. This included:
* a catwalk consisting of a log strung about 20 feet off the ground~ all about finding balance
* a tightrope style contraption that required 2 people to work together to get across~ teamwork is totally necessary on this because you cannot do it alone
* a climbing wall~ this one is totally independent~ you gotta find your own strength and people can offer suggestions, but no one is helping you
* a zipline~ just plain crazy fun. My happy screams may have shattered a few car windows in the area.
* and the biggest of all was the Leap of Faith.
Now, this fit perfectly with the metaphors that seem to reflect my life these days, especially since I’m working on Learning to Leap and all.
This involved climbing up stakes in a tree to a little bitty platform 40 feet above the ground, and jumping out, attempting to catch a trapeze. In my case, I took a breath, closed my eyes, and leaped. It felt awesome to just jump, even if I couldn’t see where I was going.
I would love to do it again sometime, and this time with my eyes wide open, but for the time being, I’m just happy I leapt, because that was the lesson I needed~ to jump blindly and trust.
The kids all seemed to grow, and bond, to push their own personal limits, and most of all to support and encourage each other through it all. It was an amazing thing to witness, and I know they all had a heck of a lotta fun in the process. And I’m pretty sure I got just as much out of the deal as they did.
So, what do you think of self imposed challenges? Do you try to steer your growth, or just roll what life throws? I'd love to hear what has worked and what didn't work for you in the comments below.
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Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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