Challenge Day 20: Impeccable Word

As this month of challenges winds down, the challenges are ramping up.  I’ve been fascinated with The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book by don Miguel Ruiz for a few years now.  The next few days of challenges are directly related to gaining mastery in these four practices to dramatically change my life.

The Four Agreements:

1. Be Impeccable with your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Today’s challenge: For the next four days, work on mastery of each one of The Four Agreements.  Challenge yourself to each Agreement each day and practice them until the end of the month.  Take on the first one today.  Be impeccable with your word.  Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

This is can be a tough challenge for a sarcastic, self-effacing jokester such as myself.  For the rest of the month, I will pay attention to what comes out of my mouth.   I will use my words to ask for exactly what I want and build the kind of world I want to live in.  I’ll have to examine the place where my jokes fit in but in the meantime, I’m ready to live into the power of the words that slip out of my mouth.

Today’s victory: I finally realized how important it is to be in regular contact with my family that’s scattered across 3 continents.  I learned that compassion is healing when people are hurting .  Where there is pain all you can do is radiate love until the person crawls out into the light.

Gratitude: I am grateful for  my two brothers.  They have grown into incredible men.  I pray to marry a man as amazing as them.  My heart swells when I look and think about them.  They are mine forever and likewise.

On the horizon: The personal

Challenge Day 19: Ask for Help

On day 19, I’m challenging myself to something I rarely do.

Today’s challenge: Ask for help.  You know you need it.  Let people contribute to you.  Graciously allow people to give to you in the same way you love to give to others.  Give them the pleasure of making a difference for you.  Accept things.

More often than not, I work on challenges on my own.  Whether they’re 30 days of Bikram yoga or a month of challenges, accomplishing them is a solitary endeavor.   I realize, though, that it is far more enriching and productive to ask for help.

Community is key in building the life of my dreams.  Being accountable to a community of readers keeps me blogging daily.  Without them, I would have stopped writing weeks ago.

I rarely ask for help and when I do, I ask very few people.  I’m always ready to help wherever I can.  Stranger, friend foe–I will help you.  It’s another thing for me to ask for needed help and with this challenge.  I am going to allow people to help me achieve results more incredible than the ones I would have on my own.

Allowing people to give to me multiplies all our strength and power.  For the next few days, I will look for wherever I need support in and ask for it.  You can too.

Today’s victory: I answered a call to do excellent, additional work today.  It wasn’t requested but I knew it was necessary so, with passion, I knocked it out of the box.  Feels good.

Gratitude: I am grateful to live in one of the most incredible cities in the world.

On the horizon: Miracles

Challenge Day 18: Laugh it Out

Today was almost a bust for exquisite self-care since I did not sleep a wink last night.  I was on the phone until sunrise repairing a rift in a deep friendship with guffaws and love.   She was worth it.  Laughter brought us back together and brings us the challenge of the hour.

Today’s challenge: Find at least one moment each day to laugh without reservation. Let something tickle you and go all out with it.  BonusLaugh at yourself.

Often, we take ourselves and our lives so seriously that we spend more time worrying and grumbling than living. When everything is significant, how can we figure out what really counts?

It really pays to have a good, deep laugh daily.

Health Benefits of Laughter

  • Stress Hormone Reduction
  • Wards off Depression
  • Better Breathing
  • Muscle Relaxation
  • Immune System Enhancement
  • Pain Reduction
  • Cardiac Protection
  • Blood Pressure Reduction
  • Improves Stamina in Athletes

Read more about those benefits here.

With this challenge, I will find a moment each day left in this month of norm-jarring challenges to not take myself or my life and its trappings too seriously at all. Even more so, when I’m involved in a difficult interaction, I will ease up and find the laughter missing from the situation. Heartfelt laughter is healing and I will be getting at least one good dose a day.

Today’s victory: I allowed a conflict to resolve itself by letting it be instead of trying to fix. It worked out better than expected and I didn’t suffer through it.

Gratitude: I am grateful for friends who are as fanatic about things like Harry Potter as I.

On the horizon: Going with it

Challenge Day 17: Exquisite Revisited

I remember when I took on practicing an act of exquisite self-care every day back in June.  The idea of taking a stand to do something to really honor myself each day put a tremor in my heart then.  I could barely conceive doing something solely for me every day and I did my best to maintain that it month.  I did not quite make it through all those days and I did not track my experience here (to the chagrin of many who were anticipating the stories and victories after reading the challenge).  My apologies to you all.

Since I challenged myself to finish things this month, I think it’s time to revisit June’s challenge and tell you a little bit about how it went.  But before that, let’s lay out today’s challenge.

Today’s challenge: Practice an extraordinary act of self-care every day.

What this challenge entails is best expressed in what I wrote those months back:

What is exquisite self-care?  What isn’t?

Exquisite self-care calls for me to put myself in front of friends, family, work, love at least once a day and do something that makes me happy, has my heart singing, making me my own beloved…every day.  It involves doing the things I stopped doing for myself because they kept getting in the way of results.  Exquisite self-care isn’t about shirking responsibility or foregoing promises.  It is not being lazy and avoiding life and things.  It isn’t easy.  It is me finally going the distance to be my own hero and save the day for myself.

Here are some of the things I did and learned during my earlier foray into the world of exquisite self-care:

  • Because I work from home, the boundaries between work and personal time blur and I made a greater effort to delineate the two
  • I requested that my workday start at a particular time and no earlier
  • I made sure my workday ended at a set time and did not spill into my personal time
  • I made sure that I took care of all my needs before working: showering, eating, taking a moment to myself
  • I made sure that the people that I work with were completely taken care of when I sent them out on sales calls.  There was nothing they could desire.  It was an honor to provide for them, exquisitely
  • I realized that when I stood up for exquisite self-care for myself, I stood up for the same for others
  • Exquisite self-care arises in the strangest places and I need varying levels of gentleness and drive to carry it out each day
  • When people know what you stand for, taking care of yourself honorably and unequivocally, people give you space to make that happen and it is as if they are doing the same for themselves when they give you space
  • An exquisitely-cared-for-me is a delight to be around
  • An exquisitely-cared-for-me needs nothing from anyone–what a breath of fresh air!

Taking time just for me provides infinite benefits for me and others.  Imagine if everyone in the world took a moment each day to do something delightful for themselves for no reason.  Imagine what they would be able to do for others.

It is less daunting this time around as become expert in adding challenge after challenge.  Also since I attempted this already, I know it works and enhances my life.  It’s easier for me to commit to because these last few days of challenges have been a for of exquisite self-care in some way.

For the next 2 weeks, I will do something to honor and delight myself each and every day for no other reason than because I promised myself.  As always, please join me.

Today’s victory: I let a friend who requested space just be.  I didn’t make her wrong or condemn her to being denied my friendship when she reaches out again.  I trust that our friendship will withstand this bump.  Faith flows through me particularly in this situation–very different than I would have been in the past.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the wonderful men I have loved and what I have learned about life and myself from them.  Each one has taught me what I want and need.  Bless them!

On the horizon: That time thing

Challenge Day 16: Say it IS So

16 days in and I realize that every day I have to remind myself why I chose to embark on this month of challenges. I want something new–something beyond the status quo. This is the month I give my life a jolt.

I can’t keep shocking myself into transformation so, today, I began searching for what sustains change. One of the answers is today’s challenge.

Today’s challenge: Start every day with an affirmation that will give you wings through your day and pull you towards dreams. Look in the mirror and say it at least 3 times. Do the same thing every night, before bed.

Affirmations work, if you believe in them. Mind over matter. Say something enough times and watch it manifest. Be mindful of what and why you’re saying and go for it. They are what sustain and maintain the transformation you seek in your life by reminding you of what you’re reaching for.

Adding a practice of speaking the same affirmation 3 times at the beginning and end of my day enhances this challenge experience. It allows me to push for creation.

I really believe that what we say gives us our lives. I am mindful of the detrimental things that might spill out of my mouth these days and do my best to keep them at a minimum. Besides avoiding negative statements, I am committing to reshaping my world with words that feed my dreams, morning and night. With that, surely I cannot lose. Join me.

Today’s victory: My relationship with my brother has blossomed into something wonderful and loving that I previously could not conceive when we were breaking each other’s hearts and spirits with arguments. I have him back through challenging myself to this month’s practices of giving up being right and being peaceful. I’m glad. I missed him.

Gratitude: I am grateful for all my adventures and serendipity.

On the horizon: Contagious delight

Challenge Day 15: Take Time to Reflect

Today is officially the halfway point of my 30 days of challenges and a great time to contemplate about an appropriate challenge.  In the middle of this marathon, today’s challenge is right on time.

Today’s challenge: Take a step back at the end of each day and reflect. What worked? What didn’t? Tell the truth. Prune your goals and only do what you really want to do. Think about what will give you the fire to power through the next day. What is your reward? What are you proud of? Reflect.

The challenge for me is not falling in an exhausted heap into bed and praying that I can make it through another day.  In addition to taking time to meditate each day, I’m also carving out quiet time to think about what I’ve done so far and what’s in store.  During that time, I can really look at what I can celebrate and acknowledge what’s been working and what’s not working.  In this reflection, I get to breathe and fine tune.  This way, I’m not barreling blinding through each day, hoping I get something done.  Reflection time will help me pinpoint what is important and necessary to me, allowing me to focus on what really makes a difference in my life.  I’m looking forward to living life on purpose wherever I can.

Today’s victory: With this posting, this will be my 40th blog post and the culmination of 15 days straight of writing.  I don’t know how I did it but I said I would and it’s done.  Here’s to 15 more insightful, inspirational days!

Also, I took a bag of 76 pieces of clothing, shoes, etc. to the Salvation Army for donation, a victory in my commitment to clear the clutter from my home.  Yes!

Gratitude: I am grateful for unexpected delights that brighten each day.

On the horizon: Affirming and manifesting

Challenge Day 14: Empty Your Cup

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing a bit of finality and fatalism in the conversations that I’ve been hearing.  I kept hearing “nevers” and “it will never be the sames” and so on.  At first I wanted to dismantle the absurdity of such statements with a cool dose of “how do you know?”  Seriously, I thought, if you know so much about the future, can  you tell me about next week’s Mega Millions?

Then I realized that I do the same thing in conversations with myself and others: predicting fate with a certainty reserved for oracles.  How do I know?  Why must I always know?  The antidote for that is today’s challenge.

Today’s challenge: Adopt a beginner’s mind.  Give up the arrogance that you already know.  Give up your view that you know everything and that your view of life is the only way that it is.

When you already ready know, there really is no room for anything new.  If you want to create anything new, there needs to be space.  The following story illustrates this:

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”

Read more from Darren Henson on

Since I am committed to building a life unlike anything I have already seen, Beginner’s Mind helps.  This is simply giving up being right.  It takes rightness to a place of cluelessness–a place where knowledge can be developed and acquired, not assumed or dug up. Such thinking entails the ability to encounter fresh experiences with the innocence of first inquiry.  Here are some characteristics of Beginner’s Mind:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Wonder
  • Naïveté
  • Curiosity
  • Playfulness
  • Fascination

Beginner’s Mind is curious, flexible and more committed to questions than answers.  Its delight is in wondering and it is willing to try out new possibilities without being stuck.  Amazement, wonder and awe are the realm of Beginner’s Mind.  When we adopt a mind that doesn’t know, we are open to unlimited possibilities and we discover that

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be enjoyed.  — Unknown

A Beginner’s Mind creates a new twist in this journey for me.  Anything and everything is possible.

Today’s victory: I was doing great today and then I wasn’t.  I’d put ego aside and I was so wonderful and then something set me off.  All I need to throw a wrench in these days of challenges is a conversation or two with people.  It’s very easy to be gracious while sitting in front of my computer.  It’s another ballgame when I take those challenges and involve people and their opinions and button-pushing.  Today’s victory was simply doing everything in my power to remain committed to my challenges.  I did not give up on the conversation.  I was able to step back and observe my reactions, ask for a time out and jump back in and try again.  In the end, I was rewarded with peace and all is well.  Now that is the little victory that could.

Gratitude: I am grateful for each day I awake with the mistakes of the past solidly lodged in the past, facing a brand new blank canvas awaiting my creation.

On the horizon: Compassion

Challenge Day 13: Once More, with Passion

As I reach the arch of this month of challenges, I wonder how long will the momentum last.  When will I run out of steam?  Challenging myself to meditate every day is great way to center and refuel and, with today’s challenge, I’m injecting a much needed fuel enhancer into my month.

Today’s challenge: Find passion in all that you do.  Don’t just do it.  Do it with passion.  If you can’t find the passion, don’t do it or find a way to find your passion.  Live each day, moment with a dose of passion, big or small.

Going through the motions is sufficient for an adequate life.  It falls pretty short for the extraordinary, unrecognizable one that I’m aiming for this month.  I’m not going to do my challenges because I said so and don’t want to be disappointed if I don’t make it.  I’m doing these challenges because my life is at stake.  Without them, I’ll end up drowning in the numbing mediocre.

In choosing this month’s challenges, I’m working areas that are quite important to me.  Since my life depends on this, why not put my life’s energy into the rest of the challenge days?  If I cannot do a thing with passion then I won’t challenge myself to it.  Going even further, if something is not worth putting my whole self into it, I won’t do it.  Laundry gets done because clean clothes elevate me.  Writing is an honor I give myself.  The mundane, the extravagant, the minuscule–all of it will be done with passion.  It’s time for me to go with passion or go away.  I’m here to stay and feel and marvel at each moment while I’m at it.  How about you?

Today’s victory: I managed to haul 6 bags of sensitive documents to the Upper East Side Shred-a-thon as promised on Day 8.  My shreddables became a thing of the past when a lovely gentleman dumped the bags into a huge bin that his ProShred truck swallowed.

My knight-in-shredding-armor from ProShred

I watched my documents transform in this nifty monitor.

Papers go bye-bye hi-tech

The paper will be recycled into industrial paper.  New life for my clutter.  That feels good.

Gratitude: I am grateful for my uncanny good luck!

On the horizon: Making room for something new

Challenge Day 12: Concentrate, Meditate

Saying that the last few days have been hectic would be an understatement.  It takes a tremendous effort to shift in any one area of life and I’ve been challenging myself to shift in multiple areas by taking on a different practice and/or different level of practice of transformation every day this month.

I am not quite halfway through my challenge-month but I am clear that I will need to center myself if I want to continue successfully through this process.  That leads to today’s challenge.

Today’s challenge: Meditate at least 30 minutes every day.

For the next 19 days I will take 30 minutes to counter the general stresses of life and the added pressure of these daily challenges.  Here are some possible benefits of meditation:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved sleep
  • Pain relief
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced stress-related ailments
  • Improved sense of well-being
  • Improved overall health
  • Clarity of thought
  • Increased concentration
  • Increased creativity
  • So much more

I’m really looking forward to to tapping into my inner depths for healing and centering.  Namaste.

Great Resources:

  1. The Chopra Center’s 21-day Meditation Challenge –
  2. Benefits of Yoga on HealthandYoga.com

Today’s victory: Besides it being a gorgeous day today, I was able to set realistic goals for myself today.  Instead of forcing myself to do a million things today, I did a few things and they were done well.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the coming weekend and the space and time I am taking to nurture myself each day.

On the horizon: Writing and reflection

Challenge Day 11: Write On

There’s a whole lot of writing going on Tessism these days so it makes sense that the latest challenge has to do with writing.  20 days of writing, to be exact.

Today’s challenge: Dive, full force into NaNoWriMo aka National Novel Writing Month and write the first draft of a 50K word novel by midnight on November 30. Bonus–have fun along the way.

This challenge has me alternating between having my heart in my throat and being elated. I’m nervous that I won’t make it. I’m nervous that I will make it and the lengths it’ll take to make that happen. Regardless, I’m going to do it.

This challenge will break up the mystique of getting started. I’m learning from this month of challenges that it’s not always what you do, it’s that you do. Being in action is the victory. It is through that clear, deliberate movement that miracles happen. I’m ready.

Today’s victory: Learning that I am more unstoppable than I imagined. Nothing–no argument, no naysayer, no disappointment, no hurt feeling–will stop me.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the will to continue picking myself up every time.

On the horizon: My mind-state