7 Day Challenge…that promotes change more than any squat, ab, push-up or plank challenge.

Jessica photo for The JourneyI think that today I am really just thinking…contemplating…and analyzing.

All this started with a simple question.  A question that I thought would have some amazing answers.  In my head I just thought that this would be an easy answer for people to give…would get them talking and also bring some small talk and positivity into the class I was teaching.

I was wrong.  On all of the above.

I always ask my classes “are you doing anything fun this weekend?” or the other variety “what did you do this past weekend?”.  It gets people talking.  Gets them a little bit more comfortable and eases up a bit and their mind off of the number of squats that they may be performing soon.  It also makes me not just “the instructor” but hopefully brings some personalization to the person standing and talking in front of them.  Those are the reasons why I ask questions.  The question I picked this week was just a little different.

Q.  What was the last thing that someone did for you that was nice…or maybe you even were on the positive side of a pay it forward type of thing?

Silence.  Not a single person could tell me something in the 7 days since I saw them last where someone did something nice for them.

That is just plain sad, groupies. I know not everyone out there is happy go-lucky and has sunshine coming out of their butts (trust me, I’ve had my share of moments where I’m not the happy one and where others aren’t happy towards me)…but there are a lot of nice people in this world and the 11 people in front of me last week had no happy memory of a person that was nice to them in the last 7 days.  None. Zip. Zero!

Why is it that we aren’t willing to help others or lend a smile to those that pass us by?  I’m not saying this just to write words…I am really serious.  WHY!?

livestrongThe Journey isn’t here just for fitness stuff…it is a big part of my life but there are so many other things as well that I am pretty passionate about.  I cant’ hide that about me cause it pretty much oozes out.  I am currently in the works to be part of the LiveSTRONG team that will be working with cancer patients and their support system.  I don’t get paid much and it is not an easy job and we have hours and hours of training that has already started…but this will help so many different people…and that is going to be amazing to watch unfold.

I am truly excited but also a little bit on the scared side to help with this new project.  The group of us that are leading as instructors had a chance to introduce ourselves yesterday and some of us were in tears…because the reasons we are helping are not because we have had a life full of rainbows…our lives have been changed because of cancer.  I was sharing my life (all in about a 3 minute time span) to strangers and they in return…and it meant more than any e-mail or comment that I received on my Facebook feed yesterday.

I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t know the stories of every single person and what is truly going on in the lives of all in the world.  I get that.  What I don’t get though is why more people aren’t stepping up to help others in some way that is more personal.  It is very obvious through the impromptu survey that I did and just by turning on the news or reading the news feed online that there is a lot of sadness and hurt people out there.

The recent splurge in the pouring of ice over our heads (which several of us at The Journey have participated in) was a challenge.  Put yourself on video…poor water over your head…donate or don’t donate money.  Simple.  Most people do not have a problem with performing this.  In fact…this has raised more awareness and money for ALS than it has ever had.  You have to agree…that right there is pretty amazing.  It inspired me, my hubby and both my boys to complete the challenge…and they were excited!  Here is my video…in case you missed it:  Jessica’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

We will pour freezing water over our heads and make a fool out of ourselves on camera but yet when the stranger walked by you today…there was no smile given and/or received.  We will take a video of us soaking wet and have it plastered all over the social media world but we won’t give the guy on the corner holding up a sign the chance to have a conversation…ask why he is there…ask his story and what he might need help with.  In fact, most of us won’t even look him in the eyes as we are sitting on the corner waiting for the light to change from red to green.  Gulp.

The ice bucket challenge for ALS is easy.  I’m not saying that ALS is something to talk about lightheartedly…a friend from high school was actually diagnosed today with this terrible disease.  ALS is around and not going away anytime soon and we need to have compassion and knowledge about this illness and the people who are fighting it daily.  But…are you truly getting uncomfortable and changing as a result of pouring that ice?

I’ll be honest and say…no.  I can write a check and I won’t notice that I did that.  I can pour water on my head with ice chunks and then grab a towel and change my clothes.  What would make a difference for me…truly…would be to sit next to a person and talk with them about how ALS has impacted their life, their story…their journey.  I would learn more and gain more if I had that experience.  That would last with me a lot longer…cause truthfully…the ice has already melted.

Continue on with the challenge…I have no beef with those wanting to do the challenge and I have no opinion with those who are deciding not to participate.  You all have your reasons and I am not here to argue those with you.  I am here to challenge you even further.


YOUR 7 DAY CHALLENGE:  Pick one, do all…that choice really is up to you.  You have 7 days to complete this challenge (or donate $100 to The Journey…ok, not really…just throwing that one in there in case you are all “in the moment” and feel inspired.  😉  Write in the comments what you did for the challenge and share this all over the social media world by tagging another person to join you.  Let’s make this a movement…because if we all did at least one of these things each week…lives would change.

Here are the options for the challenge…what one will you pick?

  • Take the extra step and find the story of someone with ALS you are personally helping.  Get that connection, learn about the person and have a chat with them, give them a smile and just be there for a few hours and chat.
  • smileSmile at every single person you meet today or walk by.  See what happens.  Do they smile back?  Do they even notice you?  Do they stare at you like you are some strange alien?  😉  Are they on their phone?
  • Think of one person that has impacted your life in some way and write them a note…on paper…and put one of those squarish stickers in the corner of an envelope and mail it to them.  E-mails and Facebook posts are not allowed.  You must use more than 140 characters as well…so no tweets.
  • Call up someone that you’ve said “we should hang out sometime” and invite them to come over to your house and…actually hang out.  It might feel kindof weird and odd…but just talk.  Don’t turn a movie on…or the tv…and put your phone away.
  • Bake something…anything that you would like to eat…and take it to your neighbor that you only nod at or say graceful conversations with that are simple conversations.  It is time to be that neighbor, the one who brings food over for no reason…and leave by saying, “How about you coming over this weekend and we can grill out?”  *need a few recipes?  We have some here at The Journey for you!*
  • If you are really looking to step into that uncomfortable zone and get all “I can’t believe she is saying this” zone…go talk to that guy on the corner or find someone that you know needs a new pair of shoes, or shirt or socks.  Ask them their name.  Ask them how they are doing today.  Smile at them and look them in the eyes.  Learn who they are as a person…not what the statistics have determined for you.  You are looking at a person…who is REAL and is breathing the same air as you.  They just happen to be on a corner and you are not.

You have 7 days to accept this challenge.  Are you in…or will you just ignore this post?  Only one of those options helps others…and will also change you for the better.

I will be asking my class again this week the same question…and maybe, just maybe…you will be the one person that will make a positive impact on their life in the next 7 days.

I’ll be posting a few videos in the next week that personally inspire me…to give a little bit more…smile a little more often at strangers…talk a little bit longer (even when my calendar might say I need to be somewhere else).  Check back or hit that “follow” button…cause more is a comin’!  😉  *now go smile at a stranger!*

– Jessica

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