Today is the first day of Lent. The first year we were dating, my husband and I used Lent as an excuse to be mean to each other. He gave up eating pasta – which he loves – so I made sure to order pasta every time we went out. I had given up eating chocolate, so he bought me lots of chocolates. We bet on who would be the first to break. Unless, Pete ate pasta some time without me knowing about it, it was me who broke; scoffing down m&ms like there was no tomorrow.
The next year, about a week before Lent, I really didn’t want to be mean to each other this time. I mean…that’s not exactly what Lent’s about, right? And I suggested that instead of trying to beat each other, why not use the 40 days to try to become closer to one another?
I set up a private blog called “40 Days of Poetry”, and Pete and I agreed that both of us would post a poem every day during Lent. Pete was hesitant at first, but we both really enjoyed watching Slam Poetry, so we took it as a challenge to explore this creative aspect of ourselves.
It was kind of an experiment and we didn’t know where it would take us. The 40 days weren’t easy. Writing poems took time and energy. Reading the other’s poems, could require patience, and sometimes they were difficult to understand. But, we argued, made up, enquired about each other, and revealed our personalities to each other all through poetry. It was a beautiful and bonding experience that both of us will always hold dear.
The reason, I’m telling you about this is that it’s that time of the year again. These 40 days that are marked out as a time of challenge, soul-searching and growth, are just beginning for 2017 and I’m going to take on this challenge again. .
The other day, my grandmother asked when I’m going to make my blog posts and videos more community-focussed. She likes what I’m doing, but feels I encourage too much self-exploration and not enough other-awareness. She fears this could lead people to thinking selfishly. I understand her concerns; my grandmother’s work was much more community-focussed. With her team, she would take an over-view approach and try to help communities or organisations to function more harmoniously. I told her that I want to do something similar but I’m approaching it the other way around. I want to reach out to you individually, and encourage you to live your life with more self-awareness. This means, being more in touch with what’s important to you, and how you feel about things. Being more self-aware translates into being aware of the choices you make and how these decisions impact yourself and those around you. My belief is, if more people practice self-awareness, we will have a better community because people will behave with more intention.
As part of my wish to encourage a more aware community, I invite you to take on this 40 day challenge with me. Choose whatever form of challenge you like. I choose poetry because it enables me to be quiet, and to reflect in a light-hearted manner. But you can choose painting, writing in a journal, walking, doing yoga, praying or meditating… The intention is not to punish yourself or to refrain from partaking in something you enjoy. Instead, the purpose of this challenge is to enrich your life with an activity that brings you more in touch with yourself and the present moment.
I’d really love to hear if you are going to take on some form of challenge, so please leave a comment below, or post a picture on instagram or facebook using the hashtag 40days. Let’s share our challenges. And remember, this is not about perfection. This is about exploration, one day at a time.