365 Days, and a Tree: Day One, Year Three
Ever wanted to accomplish something, but felt like it was too far out there? Maybe it's the length of time necessary to acquire it, or perhaps it's the amount of work required to achieve the goal? Whatever it is, have you ever wanted something so much that you get instantly excited about it, but the goal just seems... unbelievable or unattainable?
Ya - me, too.
Three years, eight months, and roughly ten days ago, I thought it was impossible to live any semblance of a life. But I made a discovery... it was possible. It was work, but it was possible, if I did it in chunks; and my recovery proved it so. This realization of a possible-impossibility sparked a desire in me to self-improve more than I already had at the time. To improve things I had long ago given up on. Things as basic as physical health, mental health, emotional health, and just flat-out basic happiness. I began to realize that, with the right mindset, I could change who I had come to believe I was, into something I knew I was and what I truly wanted to be.
So two years ago, on June 1, 2015, I announced a project I created that was geared towards self-improvement. A project that could help me achieve the "unbelievable." I approached it as if I were first learning to run. To make this super simple, let me break it down like this:
Firstly, I'm not a runner, I just didn't know how else to approach this problem at the time. But let's say I had a goal, and I wanted to run... oh, maybe... ten miles. Once I had a long term goal, I knew that it was going to take time. A long time. And that seemed too distant to be attainable, so I was already getting discouraged. But, I shifted my mindset and began to look at it like I had my recovery: Let's not do this one year at a time, lets do this one day at a time... for a year.
Now, that may not make sense because it is still a years worth of days, but it is exactly the same as the "eating an elephant one bite at a time" concept. At the time, I hadn't heard of the elephant, so this was how I chose to relate it, so to this day, I continue to do so.
Now it didn't seem so bad. Little, attainable goals, many times over, until I reached a year. That's a doable goal, I just had to stick with it.
But, I know me. I know that once I get going , I'll grow weary and begin to question myself and my goals. So I made yet another decision: I'm going to run this virtual path, and when I get super tired and I just want to quit, I'm going to strike a deal with myself. "When I get to the next tree, the one over there, then I can rest a minute and decide to quit, but not until then. For now, just get to that tree, right over there." And once I got to the next tree, I would realize, "That wasn't all that bad, let's get to the next one... right over there." And so on. As I continued this process, it got easier to run to the very next tree, just a little further down my path. And then the next, and the next. Before long, I'd been running for a day. Then two days. A week, a month... and a year. 365 days and all those trees later, I had achieved the one thing I didn't think was going to be possible... I was more than one-hundred pounds lighter.
That first year for me was a simple goal; to become more active and to lose some weight. I had lost way more wight than I had expected to by simply paying attention to what I ate, getting "active" (which meant walking, getting out of the house, and simply doing something), and not hiding my goals.
So I began to wonder, "What would happen if I took this same project for a second year, but rather than focus on my weight, I focused on my ability to interact with other people?" This really got me to thinking, and as nervous as I was, I decided to dedicate Year Number-Two to working on socializing, getting out to meet people, and actually listening... to myself and to others.
And so I grew. As Drunkless was hitting six months old, I was faced with many challenges, but there was one in particular that being directly handed to me by my close friend, our very own Tami Harper Winn: "Walk into a store and strike up a conversation with anyone -- a shopper, the teller, any stranger -- and see how their day went." It was yet another Tree on my path to fulfill my Second-Year challenge, and it was an important Tree for me to get to. Today, I find myself naturally asking how other people are doing rather than wondering why they aren't asking me how my day has been. It's a place I'd always wanted to be, but didn't realize I needed the lesson; and I now realize that I will learn many lessons on the way to my goals.
So here we stand, Day Number-One on Year Number-Three of our 365 Days and a Tree challenge. What project is in it for me this year? Always self-improvement. Always. Hell, that's what the entire thing is about. So this year, I'm going to continue my focus on social interactions, meeting with people, and reaching out for assistance. But I have noticed that I've gained some weight back from Year Number-Two, so I'm going to refocus a bit on that. I'm going to include more exercise and focus more on the things I need to focus on, like my eating habits.
But, that's not going to be my primary focus. I was recently told that I don't focus enough on myself, the things I like to do, the things I want to do, the things I used to do. Like drawing. Playing on the piano. Photography. Camping. Building things. And then I was challenged rather directly:
"When are you going to make YOU a project, Scott? You. Not the necessities, not the have-tos, or the assisting of others (all good things, true), but what YOU want to do, because you like them and you want them?"
This hit me pretty hard. As much as I want to be healthier and to grow, it has been quite some time since I've actually played the piano. Or drawn a picture from a set of photographs that I've taken. Or built something. Hmm...
So I think I'm going to begin looking more at the things I used to enjoy, perhaps building something, maybe a tear drop trailer, or a camper for my truck... who knows? I just know that this year, I was challenged with one huge project that I have somehow overlooked for so many years. So I'm taking up that challenge, and i'm going to begin 365 Days and a Tree by working on an entirely new project:
So Welcome to 365 Days and a Tree, Project M.E., where I find what I like to do, do it when I want to do it, and begin to strengthen myself because I think I'm worth getting strong, healthy, and happy for.
Now, what about you?
Have you got a goal that seems impossible at best? What Trees will you run to on your path to your desired goal? What project are you going to take on to improve your life? What is YOUR project in this next 365 Days and a Tree?