I need a new challenge.
No, seriously, I do. And not a mild sort of challenge, either…
Not a predictable, normal, everyone-does-this-for-a-season kind of challenge (like a juice fast or a slight change of direction career-wise).
No… I want a huge, scary, poo-in-the-pants, leap into the deep-end kind of challenge. Because I am waaaaaay too comfortable right now. And for me…comfortable is a disastrous place to be.
- I start getting miserable when things are too comfortable.
- I start engaging in self-destructive behaviours like hair-pulling and bingeing.
- I start getting very self-critical.
- I start over-thinking… everything… and my emotions start tarzan’ing between gleeful-glee… and gloomy depression.
I am the person who loves a challenge… and, for a good portion of my life, I’ve managed to keep myself significantly busy with various challenges.
I’ve written about just a few of those challenges (and other scary things) here.
And then, after my bathtub moment, I launched Beautiful Life Project… which was (partly) about self-esteem and self-discovery workshops for women and girls. I ended up giving a number of talks and hosting interactive workshops at schools, conferences and camps.
It was fun, it was challenging… and I felt alive.
Here’s a photo of the girls at one of the camps:
Beautiful Life Project kept me busy and (very) challenged for 2007 and 2008.
Then, in 2009, I launched Tapestry of Dreams with a friend.
It was a short-term project that lasted for almost a year – and to this day, I can tell you that it was possibly the most stressful… challenging… terrifying… frustrating… period of personal growth. I still can’t actually believe that we did what we did… with zero budget (I cried many tears during that project. Many, many tears… for many, many reasons).
Here’s a photo… (these fabulous 10 ladies were “Role Models” from the rural communities of Kwa-Zulu Natal – you’ll have to watch the little doccie for the full story)…
And here they are – all dressed up in the outfits that were created for them by local and international designers:
Here’s the documentary video …
Once Tapestry of Dreams was over… (and after I had spent about 3 months recovering)… I launched myself off into all kinds of mini-projects and ideas… which finally culminated in VENT! – another (HUGE!!!) project… (except this time I had a decent budget and could thus afford to pay a team!!!).
What a challenge VENT! was… (but that’s what made it exhilarating and it expanded my understanding in more ways that I can count).
Here’s a photo of the VENT! participants… their mentors… and me…
Here’s the documentary video of VENT!:
And straight after VENT!… I threw myself into launching a non-profit called WOODO (Women who DO!).
In 2 months from launch, we had secured a factory – bursting with donations, clothes and a gazillion other things.
I burned out badly on WOODO…
As in deep-depression-and-complete-loss-of-interest-in-anything-for-6-months kind of bad-burnout.
As in: “I-am-a-complete-loser-and-I-may-as-well-dig-myself-a-small-hole-and-live-there-forever” kind of burnout.
But… eventually, I picked myself up… redirected my focus… and was ready for the next challenge.
(the recurring theme of my life)…
And the NEW challenge started in Easter 2012 when Nick and I decided that we wanted to completely change the trajectory of our lives.
- ditched the TV and cancelled our cable subscription
- slowly got rid of our debt…
- brought our monthly expenses down to the bare minimum…
- purged about 80% of our “stuff”…
- rented out our home…
- took the kids out of school…
- and launched ourselves into a nomadic lifestyle (beginning with a 2-month road-trip around the USA)…
But now – those challenges have been fulfilled. I can tick those boxes.
And now, we’re living the life we’ve chosen… and are happily ensconced in a lovely rented, furnished apartment…. a few metres from the sea… in Noordhoek, Cape Town – after returning from a 2 month road-trip around the USA. Future plans for the year could take us as close as the Karoo… and as far as Guatemala.
Life is pretty idyllic and we enjoy not being anchored down to one place.
We wake up to waves crashing on the shore. We have art lessons under the oak trees at Cafe Roux with fresh carrot cake and great coffee. Our kids are happy. We are happy. It’s so nice. It’s all so lovely.
But… I’m feeling antsy. And frustrated.
I need a challenge. A big, fat, crazy, scary challenge. The kind of challenge that makes people doubt my sanity (I really thrive on those, tee-hee!)… something that will completely stress me out – but will grow me and challenge me and mature me and teach me… and hoof me right OUT of this blasted comfort zone (read: personal stagnation).
I need a big, fat, ridiculously crazy-and-scary CHALLENGE.
Because this comfy-comfort-zone thing is going to result in me being carted off to the padded room by the men in white coats.
Some of you may be thinking about how ungrateful I am.
I mean, sheesh, when is it going to be “enough”…? Will I ever be satisfied with my lot in life? Grateful for what I have?
But trust me, I’m not ungrateful. I am filled with gratitude. Every single day, I wake up and give thanks for my family… for my marriage… for my life… my talents… the opportunities we have…. and the beautiful sea views that greet me every morning. Every single day I give thanks. I do NOT take what I have for granted.
But – it is precisely for that reason – that I don’t take life for granted – that I want to live it to it’s fullest!
Because life is short… and precious… and my time is running out.
I want to… no, I need to do MORE than just take happy beach walks with my family. I want be more than… Heather-the-Mom and/or Heather-the-Wife. Obviously – those are both enormous chunks of who I am… and they will always remain my top priority in life… but… there is more.
Apart from the quality time that I spend with my family (which I deeply cherish and jealously guard)… there are other things I want to do… and accomplish. Other things that make me come alive. Other things that make me feel as though I have more to offer this world… to contribute.
I want to contribute.
I NEED to contribute.
I want to do more than “be”… I want to “do”.
Some of my deepest, most enriching moments came during seasons of my life when I was doing… when I was contributing…
Right now – I’m stagnating.
Not in a stinky swamp, obviously. But, in a pretty jacuzzi with nice-smelling bubbles and rose petals and a lovely view.
But I’m still stagnating. And my body and mind are turning soft and raisin-like. And it’s time to move on. It’s time to DO.
PS: I think I now understand WHY the likes of Richard Branson (and other super-wealthy people who have gazillions of dollars in the bank) don’t just spend their remaining days chilling on their private islands. They could certainly afford to just… relax… and do nothing but sip cocktails, read novels and waterski for the rest of their lives. But there is more that drives them.
The new challenge is always there – calling their names.
And it calls mine too.