Challenge #159

I wrote this speech last semester for a public speaking class. I think the challenge is relatively obvious:

Today I want to talk about silent battles. Some are small—when you’ve crawled into bed only to realize you forgot to turn the light off, when your hand won’t fit into the Pringles can, when you’re in the shower and realize that you’ve forgotten a towel.  And some silent battles are big, like depression, loneliness, fear

I want to tell you a story about the struggles of a man that I know well. When this man was young, he had everything going for him. He was extremely intelligent; he was funny; he was attractive and well-liked. He was educated—on his way to a doctorate degree. He married a beautiful woman and had two beautiful children. Put simply, he had a charming life and what looked like a successful future ahead of him. But then he was in a car accident in which he fractured his neck. In the course of treatment, he was put on powerful narcotics—pain medication—and he became addicted.

His life spiraled out of control—drugs became his first priority. For fifteen years, he was in and out of prison for various drug-related crimes (mostly forging doctors’ signatures). He lost his job, his marriage deteriorated, his relationship with his children crumbled. His bright future was suddenly dark.

Now he is 62-years-old and he can’t get a real job regardless of his education, because of his criminal past. But he works as a janitor of sorts, at the reduced-rent dormitory in which he lives. He doesn’t have a driver’s license. He spends his days reading the news, walking to and from the grocery store, and drinking coffee at the Starbucks on the corner, where all the baristas know him by name and give him free coffee.

But he is five years clean. And throughout each day of his simple life, this man fights a silent and heavy battle. A drug addiction is not something you are miraculously ‘cured’ of—overcoming addiction is a decision made, every morning, to continue fighting. He fights the battle with each cup of coffee that he buys, with each walk to the store, with each day that he feels regret for losing his family, each day that he yearns for a future that he never had. Each day that he commits to this effort, he continues to triumph at one of the most difficult fights that exists. From the outside his life may looks simple, sad even; he may not have money, awards, a thrilling career or a thriving social life, but he has accomplished overcoming an addiction—something so difficult, so complex and demanding that he, at the least, deserves respect.

This man is not alone. Our world is full of people fighting silent battles. The small, trivial battles can be tough, like remembering to take the trashcan to the road on Tuesday mornings or those tricky password requirements that want a number, a symbol AND a capital letter. And the big battles—like the addiction, the depression, and the other powerful, voiceless enemies—those can be heartbreaking. These struggles are often invisible and tragic. But each morning, the fighters wake up and decide that they will make it, again, through the day. Awards aren’t given to people like the man in my story. Their successes are not marked by accolades or honors. But their perseverance, their resiliency, their strength in the face of overwhelming obstacles deserve—just like the man in my story—to be recognized.

  As Mary Anne Radmacher once said, ‘Courage doesn’t always roar.’ I think that perhaps silent courage is the most courageous of all. To continue fighting when the world hasn’t a clue, to maintain strength when you have no army behind you and no paradise ahead—that is bravery. And that is the courage with which the man in the story and all others like him fight.

Today I want to give my utmost respect to those fighting internal battles. To the man in the story, to others like him, to any one of you that may be struggling with difficult, silent enemies. I want to say: I admire your strength; I appreciate the endurance that it takes to face your voiceless demons; and I value the silent courage that you exude every single day. And I want to remind each of you to search for compassion when you see the homeless man on the corner of 24th, when you encounter a rude clerk at the coffee shop, and each time you meet someone new. They may be struggling, fighting a silent battle, and, just like you, they are doing the best that they know how to do. 

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Challenge #158

Challenge #158: Today, do something, anything, for the first time.

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Challenge #157

A few weeks ago, I was very upset about something unimportant (thought is was important to me at the time), and I called my mom to complain about it. She ended up laughing about something I said, and that deeply hurt my feelings. Admittedly, I was in some strange emotional state, and hugely overreacted. I hung up on her, and a bit later, received an apology text. By that time I realized that she certainly didn’t mean to hurt my feelings and that my reaction was not particularly warranted. Essentially, I was over it. I wasn’t mad or hurt anymore. But instead of replying letting her know that I forgave her, I sent a mean text back, telling her how much she had hurt my feelings. Even though I had forgiven her, some part of me didn’t want her to know that yet. I still wanted her to feel bad that she had made me upset. That was immature, selfish, mean–all things that I do not want to be. 

Challenge #157: Give yourself adequate time to overcome hurt feelings, but as soon as you do, let the person know that you forgive them. Knowing that you have hurt someone you love is such a horrible feeling, so if you are no longer hurt, tell them. You are not upset anymore, there is no reason for them to be. 

P.s…mom, if you read this and even remember this event, I’m sorry and I love you.

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Challenge #156

Challenge #156: Make a funny picture! I made these while writing a capstone paper about American foreign policy. I present Baroque Obama and Aberhamster Lincoln! 


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Challenge #155

Challenge #155: Remind yourself: This too, shall pass. This is something that my mom has told me many times in my life, and it is something that is important to remember. Whether thing are going great or terribly, you can know for certain that life will not stay stagnant. So appreciate the good things while you have them, and accept and learn from the bad until they are gone. 

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A new challenge! #154, I declare.

I am sitting in my bed right now, attempting to teach myself about oxidizing and reducing agents, as I’ve got an exam on this stuff at 8am. Unfortunately for me, my past self made a poor decision over and over and over to not attend my chemistry class for the last two and a half weeks. (In my defense, I was truly sick for one of those missed classes…) In fact, I haven’t been to class since I took the last exam. When 8am rolls around, my decision making skills are not quite up to par, and for some reason sleeping for an extra 45 minutes always seems like such a better idea than attending class. You may wonder, ‘why don’t you go to bed earlier?’ You see, I wonder the exact same thing! Fortunately, I’ve gotten A’s on all of my other exams for this class, and the professor is relatively easy–so I think I will survive. 

Challenge #154 (the logic behind this number is that I currently have 153 posts, so this is the 154th): Today, do something that will help you in the future. Don’t think about the burden it puts on you today, but rather about the burden that will be lifted from your shoulders tomorrow (or anytime in the future). If I had only attended class–something to help me in the future–the last three weeks, my Google search history would be full of neat things, like ‘Moving to Berlin’ and ‘Koala Bears’ instead of terribly boring things like ‘Electrochemical cells’ and ‘anodes and cathodes.’

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A new year, a new plan!

I haven’t abandoned this blog—at least I like to think I haven’t. But I have neglected it, at the very least. Once I had missed a few days it got muddled in my mind, as if returning was going to be more stressful than another day of neglect. And so I continued to neglect and neglect and neglect. I was unsuccessful in posting one challenge each day—but that is neither here nor there. But here is my new, revamped plan: Take the dates off each challenge, and continue this blog. But I will post challenges when they come to me, when I’m inspired, when I am in need of a challenge. My goal is to finish with 365 challenges. When that’s done, this blog will be done. I hope you all continue reading!

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I’m back! Challenge for day #323

It has been so long since I’ve posted, I didn’t even know how to start this. This blog is called “A Daily Challenge,” and in the weeks (months!?) since I’ve posted, almost every one of my days has had its own challenge, something for me to figure out, to get through, to remember, or to forget. And I suppose that is my excuse for having abandoned this for awhile. The universe has been tossing challenges at me left and right—I haven’t found time to make up any of my own. But excuses aside, I have missed this. So here I am—I hope to stick around for awhile.

When I want something in life (aside from monetary things), I usually get it. I wanted to go to college out of state, so I did. I wanted to play college soccer, so I did. I wanted to study abroad, so I did. In general, I know what I want (even when that want is as undefined as ‘something new’), and I find a way to get it. But right now, I do not have what I want. And I don’t think I am going to get it—not right now at least. This is a feeling I am very much not used to—and I very much don’t like it.

The reason I don’t have what I want is through no one’s fault but my own, and it has been absolutely distressing in the last few months. But about a week ago I had a dream. I was sitting in the backseat of a car, on the passenger’s side. My mom was in the driver’s seat. My mom was driving the car, but I also had a steering wheel in front of me. We were in a dark city with winding roads and torrential rain. I kept trying and trying and trying to steer, but I kept swerving and slipping and almost running into things. In addition to the rain, the headrest for the seat in front of me was blocking my view—I could hardly even see the road. How did I expect to be able to drive a car!? Luckily, my mom was there, in complete control, making sure the car stayed on the road.

[Weird side note: around the time I had this dream, my mom had a dream that she was driving a car and I started talking to her from the backseat, but she was unable to say anything back out of shock that I was there.]

I usually take a very…hands-on approach to life. I make opportunities for myself; I go after what I want. I control things. But I am not in control of the things that I want most in life right now, and that is so new (and frustrating!) for me. But this dream I had reminded me that even though I am not in control of everything, it does not mean that I am out of control or that my life is out of control. I tried and tried to steer the car, but I couldn’t make it go the directions I wanted—I couldn’t even see in front of me. But even so, I was safe. The car was being controlled even though I wasn’t the one controlling it. I think it is important for me right now, to try to let go of the need and the desire to control. I need to accept what is, and not distress over not having more. I need to enjoy the ride, so to speak, and let the universe drive me where it thinks I need to be. It is certainly easier to say than to do!

Challenge for day #323, November 19, 2011: Take a deep look into your life. What is making you unhappy? What are you lacking that you think would make you happier? Are these things controllable? If something is making you unhappy—look for a way to change it, and if there is none, look for a way to change the way it makes you feel. And in regards to what you think would make you happier—do it or get it if you can. And if you can’t—then stop letting the desire cause you distress. Try to forget it, stop wishing and instead appreciate the life you have right now. Let go of the drive for control, let the universe lead you where it thinks you need to be. 

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See you soon!

Hey All! I will be back by the end of this week with insights, challenges, and a few anecdotes. I miss this blog and all of you!

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(#263) Challenge #264

I am issuing this challenge to myself, primarily. If it happens to work with your current life status, then by all means, join me!

Challenge for day #264, September 22, 2011: As any follower of this blog knows, I love to move, to change scenery, to meet new people. When I stay in one place for long, I begin to wonder what I am missing out on—what else I could be experiencing. 

But I’ve learned that there are things you can’t do if you are constantly moving around, things that I want to do—i.e. finish a college degree. So recently, even though my feet are itching to run run run, I’ve been considering sticking around here for three (or maybe only two) more semesters, allowing me to graduate on-time, or even a semester early. If I decide to do this, I know that I will need to alter my thinking a little bit. Instead of always wondering what I am missing out on—I need to concentrate on the things that I can do while I am here, and especially on the things that I cannot do if I constantly roam. So my challenge to myself today is to make a list of the things that I could experience if I decide to stay in Montana until I finish my degree. I’ve got a small start to the list:

  1. Coach a soccer team.
  2. Explore Montana—a supposedly beautiful state, of which I’ve seen very little evidence so far.
  3. Get a college degree without going into too much debt.
  4. Pay off my car.
Feel free to alter this however it fits you. Make a list of things you want to do this weekend, this month, this year. Make a list of people you want to become closer to, or topics you want to learn more about. Find a way to apply this challenge to yourself and do it!
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