Earlier this year, Jon Acuff challenged his readers (community? tribe?) to spend 15 minutes a day working on a particular skill. Fifteen minutes of each summer day. And I decided to do it. Even though I’m horrible at challenges, rarely finish them, and am horrible. (I said horrible twice, because I am fiercely lacking challenge completion skills.)
I chose finger-spelling. Because I am fast with the alphabet, but slow with words on the fly. Since we don’t know if Adelaide will ever communicate through spoken word, we have been learning American Sign Language for 3+ years. One of Adelaide’s favorite songs finger-spells indigo and violet. I couldn’t do it fast enough when I was singing to her, so I decided to practice that skill.
I started finger-spelling my way through C.S. Lewis’ Out Of The Silent Planet. I just finger-spelled while reading to myself. Every single word. On the first day, I spelled about 1/3 of a page with several errors. By the end of the challenge, I could spell more than a page in 15 minutes. With either hand. 1-3 errors.
When I finger-spelled ‘indigo’ and ‘violet’ in Adelaide’s rainbow song for the first time, she squealed, grabbed my face, and signed ‘more’…and every second of those 1350 minutes was worth it.
A few weeks into summer, I added strength training. My back was hurting from carrying Adelaide. Really hurting. Her physical therapist took me on as a project and started training me.
I went from zero push-ups to 25. On my knees, but still more than I thought possible. After just a couple weeks of training, I could load and unload her 55 lb. wheelchair from the van without even breaking a sweat. After only one week of learning to lift Adelaide correctly using a half-kneeling lunge, my pain was gone. I learned to do burpees. (I hate them, but I can do them.) I can properly lunge, squat, push-up, and lift/transport my child. I spent 1000 minutes strength training over the summer. That time was invaluable.
I am maintaining both skill sets through fall and into winter, but want to add a self-care goal. I honestly don’t spend 15 minutes a day just taking care of myself. Specifically my brain. Not acceptable.
A few months back, I made sure I was taking at least 15 minutes every other day to read/write/rest. But let’s be honest…it ended up being about 12 minutes. Which is the length of my kids’ favorite cartoons. Starting next week, I’m aiming for 12 minutes every day.
15 minutes practicing my signing, 15 minutes on my strength training, and 12 minutes stepping out of my mom role to focus on my much-neglected intellectual side. And eyebrow tweezing. My unibrow is also on the list of things that fell by the wayside when I started growing humans.
Tweezed them this week for Christmas. Because Baby Jesus is worth it.