I’m years into my recovery as a reformed perfectionist; nevertheless, if I plan something, I want to follow through and finish, no matter what. Training for a race. Completing some writing challenge. I’m still learning to readjust my expectations and give myself grace.
When I committed to the #1000wordsofsummer challenge, I permitted myself some room in case life intervened. I didn’t want to write solely to fulfill a challenge; rather, I wanted to write because it was something meaningful and worthwhile.
During those days (6/15-6/29), I wrote 16 flash fiction pieces, a draft of keynote talk for a conference, a partial draft of a memoir essay, and assorted other brief nonfiction pieces. But here’s the thing: I didn’t “complete” the challenge.
The days fell mostly during my vacation, and by Day 11, I was sapped from driving 6 hours. As I lay in the darkened hotel room in Duluth, Minnesota, waiting for my children to fall asleep, I was nodding off. It was 8:15, but I hadn’t written yet.
My body needed sleep, and instead of “powering through” and typing 1,000 forgettable words, I listened to my body and prepared for bed. It was so freeing to go to sleep, to let my body recharge.
I didn’t finish the remainder of the challenge. Days 11-15 coincided with the one week a year we spend visiting my parents. I didn’t want to complete the challenge to the detriment of my time with my family, to the detriment of my energy level and personal wellness. I reminded myself of these two truths that I am attempting to live out:
People are more important than words.
Relationships are more important than pages.
If I hadn’t gone to sleep early on Day 11, I wouldn’t have been able to run along the shore of Lake Superior the next morning (Day 12) with my 8-year-old son. We had already planned to run that morning; however, for whatever reason, we both woke up around 5:15. I asked him if he wanted to go for our run although it was early. He agreed, enthusiastically.
I don’t remember many of the 10,000-plus words I wrote last month, yet looking back at all the writing I did, I know I was successful. And I do remember the wind off of Lake Superior, the sun rising over the white-capped water, my son running beside me.