projects and writings of Tracy Burkholder
I’m not the kind of person to read a self-help book and follow through on the suggested activities, reflections, etc. I don’t want to keep a gratitude journal. I don’t want to write a letter to my future self or a thank you note to my inner child. I don’t want to make a dream board. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but for me, they fail to spark even the smallest amount of engagement or inspiration.
I’m also not the kind of person who can simply strive in some general and abstract way towards being a better person. For a long time I thought I was that kind of person and that some vague awareness of how I lived my life compared to how I wanted to live my life was sufficiently motivating. It was not. The rut had its grip on me and because it was a largely happy rut, doing anything that might cause an actual change rarely seemed worthwhile.
And so, these yearly projects were born. First the project of walking to and photographing Mt. Tabor every day and then this blog about doing a new thing every week which started the week of my birthday in 2013. And now it’s 2015 and my intention to continue doing new things on a monthly rather than weekly basis felt kind of pathetic. Was that really all I could muster?
No. My mustering powers are better than that. If last year, my framework was made of weeks, this year it will be made of days. I’ve decided to embark on a string of 30-day challenges and to post here about my successes and failures.
The activity I most want to make a lifetime habit out of is yoga and so that seemed like a good place to start. There was one week last year where I thought I was starting something by doing yoga daily for nearly a solid week, but it didn’t stick. Tendonitis in my elbow flared up and threw me off my game for many months. And then, over the summer, a pretty serious hamstring injury really knocked me off my asanas. It’s only now that I’m feeling good enough, in bone and muscle and breath, to return to my practice with real dedication.
The other half of the challenge is to not drink for the month of February. It will tell you something about my drinking habits to know that I was pretty happy when I realized, after the fact, that I’d chosen the shortest month to be booze-free. I’ve never been a heavy drinker and can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve been really hung over. I don’t enjoy being drunk. But I do like a taste. I was raised in the proper WASP tradition of a cocktail before dinner and a glass of wine with your meal. Every night. While I don’t follow the traditional formula, I’ve been drinking consistently, if not heavily, ever since I came of age. It seemed a good test of my willpower and a necessary challenge to my status quo to try and go without.
So that is the framework. I will post more later, as the month continues. In the meantime, I’m taking suggestions for other 30-day challenges you think I could try or ones you’d like to do yourself. Of course, if anyone wants to jump in and join me, I’ll happily support all allies. It’s a little harder but a lot more rewarding than collaging some magazine pictures onto posterboard.