Exciting news! I finally got the ball rolling with a project idea I’ve had quietly brewing in my head for several months. What is this mysterious project? Well, since I just bought the domain name about five minutes ago and I of course can trust you all to not snatch my idea, I suppose it’s safe to share. 30 Days with RA: What Is It?
As the name suggests, the project will involve time periods of 30 days and people whose lives are touched by RA. For the time period of a month, participants will commit to change or form a habit, do an activity, or maybe even start (or restart) a new hobby. Participants can then document their success/frustrations by writing/journaling and include photos (if they want) during those 30 days.
We all have bad habits we’d like to break or new healthy habits we want to start. Food and diet and weight loss are big ones, and are things I personally struggle with. Being part of a project or challenge can help keep you on task with your goals and prevent you from veering off into the dark, sticky abyss of donuts and cupcakes.
Getting more or better exercise is another habit many people find difficult to establish and sustain. Maybe you could make a commitment to do yoga for a month, or light weight-lifting. Since summer is now upon us, right now is a great time to drag your stiff, creaky body outside to get some fresh air and try fun activities.
Exercise, fun? I know, it sounds like a cruel trick, but even cranky me will admit that yes, exercise can be fun and feel good–even with arthritis. Examples: relaxing walks outside in lovely nature, a quick energizing run each morning (some people actually enjoy this), swimming laps or just bouncing around in a cool pool on a scorching summer day, or being able to explore new things in your community with daily bike rides.
Why 30 Days?
Speaking of bike rides, my main inspiration for this project comes from the annual “30 Days of Biking” challenge that I was proud to be part of in April 2016. For the challenge, I pledged to ride my bike every day in April, thankfully with no restrictions or rules about time or distance. All I had to do was get my butt on my bike every day and start pedaling.
I remember I was nervous about attempting this because I wasn’t sure if I could do it and survive all 30 days. I also couldn’t remember biking 30 days in a row since I was an RA-free kid, which seems like a million years ago. But, in the frigid Minnesota weather (temps in the single digits some evenings!), even in April, I bundled up in bulky layers of shirts and socks with scarves wrapped around my face and head like a mummy, and I rode off on my bike every day.
With the arctic air slapping me in the face (despite mummy scarf) and penetrating my puffy down jacket, I was determined to do this thing. Why? I made the pledge. Other people were cheering me on. I was cheering myself on. It was a fun, challenging way to spend the month of April while also benefiting from the exercise. And who knows, maybe it would become a habit lasting longer than the 30 days.
Thirty days also has significance in that it supposedly takes 30 days to form or break a habit. This is according to…scientists? Psychologists? I’m not totally sure its origin but this “30 days thing” seems to be everywhere now, from the Internet to self-help books and on social media.
A Huffington Post article I just found argues that it takes more than a month to establish or change a habit. Hmm, OK. I admit I’m no expert on this. I can barely make myself stick to anything for 30 days, whether it’s reading a book, staying on top of emails, or making my bed.
Whatever the truth may be, you can’t deny that 30 days is a nice, neat number, conveniently organized into months. It’s a good number to start with, I think. Plus 30 days of, say, walking your dog is better than zero days of walking your dog. Right?
Here’s a little list I started when I was trying to brainstorm ideas of things to do for a month:
-Diet/nutrition (ex: giving up dairy/gluten/meat/etc.)
-Exercise (biking, yoga, weights, running, walking, swimming)
–Relaxation (meditation, yoga, self-care)
-Art/hobbies (painting, drawing, photography, knitting, crafting, writing)
-Letters/cards/postcards (write one real pen and paper letter/card a day to a different friend)
-Join a club/class
-Unplug (giving up TV/social media/smartphone/tablet)
So here’s an important question: Will anybody be interested in doing this project with me?
I hope so! I’m excited about its potential: the good things that can come from it, and seeing others’ creativity emerge. I think it will be fascinating to see what things people choose to do and how they go about documenting them. Can lives benefit and possibly even be changed from this little project? I hope and believe so.
Here’s one final thought for now: I know that I could give up gluten on my own, try meditation silently, or ride my bike without telling anyone. However, where’s the fun in that? We who suffer from the physical and mental pain of RA on a daily basis have extra challenges that often make it difficult to attempt doing new things, even if we want to. But if we have a meaningful purpose, such as spreading arthritis awareness or maybe touching the life of just one person through our experiences and stories–that makes it easier and more rewarding to do these things.
Human beings are not meant to be alone, trudging through the days numbly and silently and misunderstood. We need the connection, interaction, and inspiration of others in order to thrive. I’m excited and ready to thrive! I hope you are too and that you’ll join me and make this project a success.