What I've learned so far...

For Week 13, our challenge in The Great Wake Up was to reflect on the recent experiments: help a stranger every day; wake up an hour earlier to chase your dream; and indulge in a little forest bathing.

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When I first heard about The Great Wake Up I was so excited; I was ready for a change in my life and it seemed like the perfect way to address my two main challenges. I'd done my research and everything seemed to suggest that I needed to do unusual things to do to get me out of my rut and do things I enjoyed, which were both proving problematic. Once you get to a certain age, habits get pretty strong and it's really hard to think of something "crazy" to do because your brain gets trapped in familiar pathways. Even worse, if you're a particular, driven, kind of crazy, you even forget how to have the kinds of fun you used to enjoy.

Enter Chris, my guardian angel, who promised me a year of challenges fresh from someone else's brain to stretch my happiness and excitement muscles. No thought needed, just do what he said and see what happens. Brilliant!

The year is a quarter over now, and what I've found is that I knew myself better than I thought, I just wasn't listening or allowing time to be kind to myself. The last three challenges were a perfect microcosm of this journey.

In Week 10 the challenge was to do something kind for a stranger every day. This one really brought home the extent that I've isolated myself from "people" in my daily life, and that I was actually cheating myself out of hundreds of tiny opportunities for happiness. Yes, I am an introvert. Yes, I find extended interaction with lots of people exhausting, but smiling at someone when I pass them out walking, helping someone reach a tin on the top shelf, and letting someone out at a junction aren't exhausting. They are tiny gems of shared humanity that add sparkle to my day, and I'm grateful to Chris for helping me see this.

Week 11 was much more me - it was introvert heaven spending an hour working on a project that excited me. And it was so helpful because, on one level, I am working a lot on a project that excites me because I've started my own business. However (and this is a bit however), there is a lot more to starting a business than doing the thing that you love, especially at the beginning, and the grind of invoices, tax forms, filing and admin had pretty much taken the sparkle away for me and left me wondering why I was doing this anyway... Remembering how flow feels, and the energy that comes from passion, helped me re-prioritise my time, making sure that I spent some time on the exciting bits of the business each day as well as the admin. I may even look for a way to outsource some of those bits to someone (and these people do exist...) who likes detail and admin...

Then came my absolute favourite - Week 12. The only challenge here was spending only 10 minutes in nature, so I ignored that bit... I've picked up a walking habit since the start of the year, and the only tiny niggle with this is the voice in the back of my mind shouting "what took you so long!!!!" The funny thing is that this is technically exercise (which NEVER would have occurred to me as something to do) and it is something I'd forgotten I used to love as a child, just meandering in nature. It's an absolute joy to watch the progress of spring each day, and it's sparked an idea for a truly epic challenge. But more on that later...

For now, thank you, Chris! And bring it on!


cat lover, wife, designer, analyst (the spreadsheet kind...), friend, sister, daughter, writer, consultant, lover of beauty...


Go to the profile of Mark Cuddy
almost 6 years ago
It's great to hear such positivity in 'wake up' blogs like this because it feels like we are all growing. Reading blogs like this makes me feel better in myself! How weird is that? We're all from different backgrounds, all lead different lifestyles and all want different things from life and yet I always feel a strong connection to people when I read a blog like yours. And I truly give thanks for it. Thank you so much, Mark
Go to the profile of Vanessa
almost 6 years ago
Likewise, Mark! I love that I've found a community to share this experience and give me a fresh perspective.
Go to the profile of Chris Baréz-Brown
almost 6 years ago
Thank you Vanessa! Really. This all means so much to me and I am thrilled to be part of it with you all. C x