I’ve been quietly cataloging the proliferation of things like 30day challenges that I see floating around everywhere from Instagram to Pinterest to Facebook. I love the idea of having a smorgasbord of options from which to choose how to improve oneself, but I think we are getting overloaded. Organize your house, tone your abs, be assertive, find forgiveness, love generously, work efficiently…we spend so much time gathering ways to improve, that I don’t think we actually give ourselves the chance to do much improving.

I use Pinterest to talk to myself in ways that I can actually use. I know that for every 100 great ideas I find to quell my working mom guilt and use for awesome projects with the girls, I will try 3 and fail at 2. I will confess, I am in the midst of a 30day squat challenge. It first drew my attention because there have been some shitty things going on in my life lately and the word squat has been synonymous with going to the bathroom since we introduced the girls to camping. The title made me think about crap, moving on, and endurance. And, just maybe, about my backside and the rapid approach of boat weather. This is all to say that I think we should take the challenges with a big, old grain of salt and see ourselves as the real opportunity for change, because the secret isn’t in the gorgeous girl representing the 10 minutes a day that will make you leaner. That girl, that secret: it’s you. Seriously, forget the 22 year old in the picture and have a talk with the whatever-year-old in the mirror.

There is no pin, no pic, no magic list of things that is going to change you. The thing that will get you closer to these things that we all seem to covet, is making a pact with yourself that you will. My squat challenge? It was my attempt to crack through (bwahahaha) a really dark time and to do so in a way that would not leave room for failure. I know that I can slip away unnoticed for 10 minutes to do a set number of squats in my bedroom or the bathroom without needing to schedule it. No gym, no equipment, nothing but a promise to myself that before the day is done I will have squatted. Clearly for me there is also humor in this particular challenge, it speaks to me on various levels and as I am doing it/them, I focus on moving ahead.

Now, as I embark on this particular challenge and I leave the others alone, I also don’t kid myself into thinking that I will miraculously get calves that can fit into the kicky capris and skinny jeans that seem to become all the rage each summer. My legs, despite any number of sure thing workouts, will always be shaped in such a way that either the fabric is so taut at the calf that it does not touch the back of my knees or the waist sits permanently at my hips giving me a modified MC Hammer pant situation. I will not pursue anything that promises otherwise. I also know that there are some things that I can forgive quite happily and move on, there are others that, while I can appreciate the value of forgiveness, I am going to keep. For me keeping a tiny scorch mark that I can see, keeps me from making certain mistakes twice.

We don’t have stay away from Pinterest or quick fixes, but we do need to give consideration to an every day challenge:

Can we agree to assign realistic goals and keep our promises to ourselves on a daily basis?