The End of the Challenge

Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?
The battle’s done,
And we kind of won
So we sound our victory cheer

-Once More With Feeling: The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Music Where Do We Go From Here

Beginnings are much easier than endings.  I cannot tell you how many short stories I have started, only to get a few pages in…and stop.  I can start anything.  Ending it, though…its hard to have a good ending.  You want people to walk away feeling satisfied, having learned something, found the lesson…gotten their happy end.

I set out September 1 with a goal of trying to bring focus back into my life.  To do so, I set aside some challenges for myself…some serious…some not so serious.  For the last month I have made my bed every day (I do not get this…but I made it without thinking about it this morning…so who knows?  Maybe its not so much that you feel good, but you just manage to develop a good habit.) I’ve cleaned and packed more boxes, been more conscious about exercise (lost 5 lbs, still can’t spell “exercise”), set aside a little more money in savings…all in all…I followed the rules of the challenge, if not to the letter, true to the spirit in which it was sent.

These things did not make me happy.

They didn’t make me function better.

They made for a cleaner house and a more organized life…so…I suppose it did make things easier…

What really worked, though, what was most necessary, and, perhaps, the change I needed to make…is two fold.

First, I need to write every day.  It has been too long since I sat down and poured my heart out into writing.  This space is my confessional, my fantasies, my thoughts, my dreams…all in one spot.  Writing things down here, gets them out of my head and helps me not to dwell on something.  It also has served to show me that, even if I say nothing is wrong, if I use the dreaded word “Fine.” to describe how I’m feeling…I can’t really lie to myself.  And I can’t lie here.  My own words, my own pain, confronts me and it says “Being unhappy is ok, but at least be honest.”

Secondly, a month of anything isn’t going to fix every problem you have.  Things are still difficult.  We still haven’t even had a nibble on our house, problems seem to keep piling up around us.  I’m still more depressed and unfocused than I’ve ever been.

This all sounds really down…but it isn’t…because I learned a lot this month.

I learned to speak up when something hurt.

I learned that making your bed for a month seems like a futile action, but the dog will sure appreciate laying on your nice sheets.

I learned that weddings are the happiest and saddest events you’ll ever attend.

I learned you can be there for someone, without actually physically being there.

I learned that every crisis is not my own crisis.

I learned that just because you get older, doesn’t mean you grow up, doesn’t mean you have all the answers, or that you can fix everyone’s problems.

I learned that, even if you think pushing someone away is the right idea, you should probably try to keep them close…even if its hard.

I learned that you can still miss someone like it was yesterday, even if its been a decade.

I learned that paleo egg cups are delicious and I should make them more often.

And I learned that there are some friends who, when they see you suffering through challenges…

they decide to make their bed every morning, too.

They decide to do healthy lunches with you.

They decide to be your cheerleaders.

They read your blog every day.  And call you and check on you, and ask how you’re doing.

I have spent much of this month being wrapped up in my own pain.  Sometimes, it was like a dark cloud hanging over my head…and reading things about lost loves, and longings, and trials…it hurt my heart too much to even read them.

So.  This challenge is over.  I set out what I meant to accomplish, and I accomplished it.  Not for any pints of ice cream, not for any physical prize (though, if anyone wants to send me a prize for making my bed every day, I will quite happily accept.), but because I set out to do something, and I did it.

That is accomplishment enough.

And I’m going to keep writing.  That’s where I go from here.  I’ll write more things that hurt, more things that challenge me, more things that make me happy and more things that make me sad.

But I’m going to be honest.  That’s where the best stuff comes from.

To you, my friends, who read this every day for the challenge, I thank you.  You don’t know what it means to me to know you care.  And I’ll try and be a better friend.

One of my friends reminded me of something I said earlier this month “You talked about how its easy to say you’d make some grand gesture of friendship or love or sacrifice…and you said how its easy to say that you’d do that…but there’s no room for grand gestures in this world any more.  Instead…you make the small gestures…and in that…I guess you’re a hero.

I will be a hero of small gestures.  I’ll be a hero of little words and actions.  And the first thing a hero faces…after leaving home on the journey…is their fears.

So as we head into October, I will talk about scary things…and funny things.  Horror and comedy are sides of the same coin, you know.  I’ll tell funny stories of moments where I was afraid…and scary stories…and things that frighten you in the night…and why I’ve overcome them.  And why I’m still afraid.

Stock up on apple cider, make sure your cobwebs are artfully arranged in the dark and dusky corners of your home.  Scour your brain for all those secret fears.  We’ll talk about them here and in the night…perhaps we’ll find there’s less to be afraid of than we thought before.



“When we hold each other, in the darkness, it doesn’t make the darkness go away. The bad things are still out there. The nightmares still walking. When we hold each other we feel not safe, but better. “It’s all right” we whisper, “I’m here, I love you.” and we lie: “I’ll never leave you.” For just a moment or two the darkness doesn’t seem so bad.” 

― Neil Gaiman


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