Over a year ago I began a project to paint 100 portraits. The reason? At the time I had only been painting landscapes as part of my new watercolor hobby, and thus faces felt really difficult. I figured that if I painted a hundred of them, I was bound to get better.
In the fall I painted portraits of my 5-person Rocky Mountain Youth Corps crew, which were portraits #41–45 of the project.
While in Texas at the end of November I noticed my Google Drive was above 85% full, so I began a digital spring winter cleaning. I organized documents and files in My Drive, deleted all my old work emails from university, and whittled my 100+ Feedly subscriptions down to just 23.
Many emails were easy to delete, while others made me pause. What if you’re writing a piece or a memoir one day and need to know who said what at this period in time?, I asked myself. If you delete these emails, you’re erasing the past irreversibly.
It all began in high school. A bagel and cream cheese had been my Saturday breakfast routine for years, until one day freshman year when it really upset my stomach. This happened repeatedly, so my mom suggested I might be becoming lactose intolerant. I did some Googling, learned that it's common for adults to become lactose intolerant, and then started decreasing my dairy intake and also added Lactaid tablets into the mix.
When I had a yearly physical and mentioned this concern to my doctor, he simply printed out a two-page informational sheet about lactose intolerance—information I'd already found online—and…
“Smile on three: One, two— stop leaning Rebecca,” said my cousin.
It was Homecoming of my freshman year in high school, and I was having my first of many pictures taken in my black dress.
“I’m not leaning,” I replied.
“Then why is your hip sticking out?” she asked.
What was she talking about? I looked in a mirror.
From September 15, 2016 to January 9, 2017 I made one hundred mind maps, as a #The100DayProject project. All mind maps can be viewed here.
On August 15, 2016 I wrote on my blog “I’m pretty convinced that it would be really good for me to do a 100-day project. Meaning I want to do a 100-day project, but I haven’t yet committed to a start date nor what I would do.”
I never would have thought an email from a college Teaching Assistant (TA) would stick with me for nearly a decade. But one has, and remains memorable to this day.
Nine Easters ago, in 2008, I was in the second semester of my freshman year at UW-Madison. College was a huge breath of fresh air after some difficult teen years coming out as an atheist to my very Catholic family.
I was grateful to join the campus's student organization AHA (Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics) and to finally have Sunday mornings free. …
In the fall of 2014, I spent about a month walking the Camino de Santiago 500 miles across Spain.
To set the scene a bit, I had two outfits: one inside my backpack and the other on my body. After each day's 6–8 hours of walking, I'd shower and hand wash that day's clothing, such that it would hopefully be dry before the sun went down. I'd eat and then sleep each night among fellow pilgrims in a room full of bunk beds.
The walking was quite meditative, and I soon began to keep a running list in my head…
It can be surprising what you can do when you're expected to meet a challenge or are assigned a project with a due date.
So what if there were an assignment that would give you a result you're proud of, teach you new skills, gift you with more pleasure in your days, or help you to grow as a human being?
Good news: There is—but it's not going to come knocking on your door.
As an adult, I like to call such assignments "projects" or "challenges," depending on the nature of the undertaking. (Note: I've split them into two categories…