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Playful Self-Discipline – Welcoming New Challenges

It’s June now, a month to welcome the first day of summer, spend more time outdoors and plan something great for Father’s Day. For me, June is often a month that also approaches something of a mania as we get closer and closer to the summer solstice. I feel that things must be sorted out very urgently, and I have a lot of energy to put towards my work when that urgency arises. So, to harness this seasonal flow, during the month of June I’m going to be playfully welcoming new challenges in my life.


Not my actual bird house! Image Credit: donjd2 on Flickr.

It is so easy to slip into doing the same things every day, week after week. With young children growing up beside me, I tend to focus on how they are changing every day and presenting new challenges every month. Tackling my own challenges slides off the priority to-do list. It’s so much easier to stick with the things I know I can do well when everything else seems like it’s changing all around me.

But if I never do the difficult things, how will I build up my skills? How will I pursue my own dreams?

Each week a friend and I get together to build things with wood. Our current project is a birdhouse, which features a hole in the front of the house to allow the bird to go in and out. Instructions say to drill a 1 ¼ inch diameter hole in the front piece and ta-da! A lovely bird-sized front door. Sounds easy, right? Let’s just say that my inexperience with specialized equipment such as a wing bit led to a very unfortunate outcome for the bird’s entryway. Instead of a 1 ¼ inch wide circular opening, I ended up with a large, irregular gash with a somewhat triangular opening. I bet a picture would have been great here, but really, it was almost too awful to photograph.

My dream of having a lovely, handmade birdhouse was looking uncertain. I thought I might just leave it the way it was, or try to hack it into shape with some kind of sandpaper-dowel contraption. But after further examination of the hole, the wing bit and the wing bit’s instructions, I decided to make another attempt next week using a different technique and a fresh piece of lumber.

My point? Challenges often come with failure. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as I can pick myself up and try again in a more informed, more experienced way.

This June I want to apply these same ideas to welcoming challenges in my writing career, in my personal life, in the way I interact with my kids. I want to use challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.

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