If you have ever read me before, then you have probably discovered that I love creating annual challenges. In 2013, I challenged myself to take and post a picture OF MY FACE every single day for 365 days.
I did it because I realized I had gained a lot of weight in the seven years since I graduated law school. I had a ton of pictures on facebook, but very few of me and almost none of me with my dearest friends, because my self-esteem was so low.
Enter the selfie.
It was through this process of looking, truly looking, at my own face every day, often 10 or 15 times, captured in time, for a year, that I began to develop my true adult sense of self and self-esteem.
Several months later I began the yoga practice that continues (to my great soreness), to this day. I started riding horses again. I bought a horse. I changed jobs and got to work for the lawyer I admired more than any other (who is hopefully not reading this and thinking I’m a suck up), lost about 100 pounds, gained amazing physical and emotional strength, and set myself on a higher arc of self-evolution.
I have challenged myself with “everyday, baby,” as a way to ensure that I work out every day I travel, usually discovering local yoga joints or hiking paths or city walks, to ensure I eat and drink clean on the road, to communicate with my friends.
I routinely challenge myself with fasts and cleanses, nourishing my body with more kale than is probably sane, largely replacing coffee with tea, and eliminating all but the occasional alcohol (but sometimes, a girl just needs bubbles, agree?).
At the same time, I try to challenge my mind. On my other writing site, I often create writing challenges when I get stuck. Write the rainbow, write the alphabet, write the seasons, write the gods.
But perhaps my favorite challenge is my annual reading challenge on Goodreads.com. Goodreads is easily my favorite social media site. The place where I have made so many wonderful friends, the place where I connect with strangers and my oldest pals over my most beloved passion. Books.
I do not understand people who inevitably say ” … I love to read but I never have time.” I have no sympathy. If you have time to eat, drink, and breathe, you have time to read. (Now, if you don’t love to read, then go do what makes you happy. We all have our passions).
But as a horse-owning workaholic who reads and writes for a living, I haven’t gone a day without reading for at least 30 minutes in … maybe a few times in high school. But by age 19, I committed to a daily practice of reading. As I said in law school, when I would astonish my friends by reading something of my own during finals, I do not feel like I am me, unless I am reading something of my own choosing.
My tastes are eclectic, strange, varied, and nerdy. My Goodreads
I read a lot of YA and I read a lot of science. I am passionate about literature, and addicted to girl-lit mysteries. I read economics and graphic novels. Business books and Vampire Academy series. I read in 3 formats: Paper books, audible, and the kindle app on my ipad.
And since I joined Goodreads in 2007 and got my iPad in 2010, I have amassed a to-read list of almost 750 books. Anthony Trollope, Ruth Reichel, So. Much. Churchill, the remaining Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton books I saved for my forties, and a literal ton of cheap or free e-books written by friends and strangers.
My reading goal this year was 100 books. I changed it to 150 in July when I knew I would meet it, and will finish the year with about 2010 books.
So for 2018, I am going to set my reading goal at 150 again. But here, in the quiet sanctuary of my blog that no one reads, I have my real challenge. 100 of those books must come from my goodreads to-read list or from the pile amassed on kindle and iBook. Obviously I have to leave 50 books for new discoveries, books on pre-order, last minute dash into Hudson’s at DFW because I NEED A BOOK, books.
But 2018 will be the year of Anthony Trollope and Ruth Reichel and the 652 books on my to-read list. With a (likely brief) review of each here.
I still need a couple more challenges (NOT resolutions) for 2018. But for now I need to finish the books in my current stack and get read to explore those books I decided in 2007 that I just had to read.