In my life I have signed up for challenges which have an end goal on a specific date. For example, I have trained for several marathon’s, or similar running events which involved me completing a period of training for a specific date.
One such challenge was the #100 happy days challenge; the challenge being to post a photo depicting each day’s happy occurrence for 100 consecutive days..
I participated in that challenge when I discovered that I would reach a monumental milestone in my life in exactly 100 days. And I thought that a marvellous way to count down to this milestone was to celebrate 100 happy days.
As well as the Landmark event, I was also going to be 50 during those 100 days, and I was training for a fifty-mile Ultra running event which may or may not happen, but nothing else planned. What I ended up doing was running the toughest race of my life, as training for the 50 mile Ultra; yes the training marathon was harder than the 50 mile run, I was offered a new full time job, which scared me but I had no option other than to take, and, I took my 3 sons to New York, where I celebrated my 50th birthday with a run in Central Park.
I had wanted to go on one last holiday with my 3 sons while they were still interested enough to be in my company, and possibly the renewed focus that the 100 happy days challenge gave me was inspiration for going to America. Also, I had been training to run the 50 Mile Ultra Marathon for most of the year, but I felt ready to quit the training at almost every training session. So, there was always an element of doubt as to whether it would happen or not. I learnt that a challenge was only worth doing it if it tested my metal. And the 50 mile-ultra certainly did that.
Now I find myself involved in a challenge to make 100 quilt blocks in 100 days. The quilt blocks are quite intricate at times and it has been a great learning curve. I am enjoying sharing the blocks I have made on social media, I have made new acquaintances in doing so, and I have improved some of my skills by degrees.
On joining this challenge, I knew from my previous 100-day challenge that 100 days is quite a long time for everything to change in quite unpredictable and unexpected ways. My main purpose was to raise my profile on social media because I need to promote my long-arm quilting business. Sharing our work on Social media was part of the challenge, so I felt I was excused for littering the internet with my efforts’.
Day 88 of this challenge was my wedding day. I loved that the challenge coincided with that.. I would have a quilt that would celebrate a very poignant way a happy period in my life.
Yet, 3 days before the challenge started, my relationship irretrievably broke down and the wedding was cancelled. Well, I certainly did not see that coming!
The one thing I had felt confident would happen was off the agenda. Instead, different things have happened that were unforeseen too. Change is a painful process, but one that can lead to positive outcomes as well as negative ones. What has happened instead of me getting married is; I have got myself a part time job to relieve financial concerns and help me to meet people, I have signed up on a writing course, I am still completing the 100 blocks challenge albeit I play catch up most of the time. The most important discovery was about an impending personal landmark that I was completely in the dark about.
Coming back to the Happy Days Challenge, I looked on the AA sobriety counter to count up how many days it was since I had stopped drinking. To my amazement I discovered that I was literally 100 days away from the 10,000th day of being sober.. I was utterly amazed that, quite by chance I had stumbled across the fact that I was literally 100 days away from being sober for 10,000 days. That was my inspiration for me to do the 100 happy days challenge. Living One Day At A Time is the mantra for recovering alcoholics, and so it seemed especially poignant to celebrate the last 100 days of my first 10,000 days by making the effort to find happiness even in the crappiest of days.
Just before the current 100-day challenge started, life as I knew it fell apart. I suppose now I have unintentionally got a journal of the first 100 days of the next phase of my life in the shape of a quilt. My resilience to the break-up of my relationship came from me realising I had to just get through one day, not the rest of my life.
You see, even after upwards of 10,000 days, not drinking takes effort. The working at it is like exercising muscle. If you do not exercise regularly, the resistance muscle becomes flabby and wastes away. It is a constant daily effort to deal with life with a level-headed approach so that you do not give in when the heat is on. Emotional pain is one of the toughest things to live through. Most people would have a G&T or a sherry, or a glass of wine or three. But that elixir is taboo to me and non-drinkers. I need to find more healthy means to get through the rough process of coping with emotional upset. And that can at times include reminding myself of how strong I have proven to myself I can be, and looking at what not drinking has given me, and what I could loose.
It was while I was trying to stay buoyant that I took a peek at the sobriety counter again and I discovered that on 9th September 2021, I would reach 12,500 days of not drinking..
Maybe it is because I do not celebrate or relax using alcohol that has made me try to find more meaningful ways to rejoice and make life special. Choosing not to celebrate by going out for a meal with friends or having a party or some other alcohol-fuelled gathering, I have made a point of doing something meaningful or memorable if I have something significant to acknowledge.
Most of my momentous occurrences in my life have been unplanned happy accidents; Spontaneity has always been key. I have provided the protagonist and set the scene to enable the story to unfold; The events have been unscripted, and more exciting for being so. Being unattached and open to any outcome, having no expectations, never fails to disappoint.
Maybe it is the realisation that nothing is forever, and everything will come to an end at some point is helped me copel with suddenly finding myself on my own again. I am sad. But I have behaved with integrity, which is vital to deal with these situations and make them as painless as possible. For the first 2 weeks, after my partner had gone, I woke up and reminded myself that all I had to do was get through the day. I couldn’t live the rest of my life in one day, but I could deal with one day . Some days, quite out of the blue painful emotions have arisen. Knowing I only have to cope with them for one day has really helped. I must move on to the next great chapter in my life. I am excited to see what the future holds for me just as I was the day before we broke up, and I was discussing the wedding and our honeymoon destination. Who knew how things could change.
My favourite band is The Fratellis. And one of my most favourite songs of theirs is called ‘Laughing Gas.’ One line in that song is:-
“This hell is only a story you tell”.
And another song of theirs a line goes
“The Right Move Is The One That Gets You Through”
That is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo true. We are the spin doctors of our own lives. And the spin I put on a situation can dramatically influence the effect an experience can have on me.