The bender. The hook. The Uncle Charlie. The hammer. The deuce. The curveball.
A batter has roughly half a second from the moment the ball leaves the grip of the pitcher’s hand to the point where it crosses the plate to decide whether or not to swing – to find the sweet spot and knock it out of the park. The mechanics of the curveball and its unpredictable nature are what make it so hard to hit. You don’t see it coming and you don’t know when it’s going to break. But it always does. Some hitters spend their entire career trying to perfect the art of hitting the curve. They learn to keep their eye on the ball, think fast and hopefully find the sweet spot.
Like in baseball, sometimes life throws you curveballs. No matter how prepared you think you might be, unexpected circumstances have a way of showing up. You’re caught off guard and have to think on your feet. Sometimes it works out and you hit a home run. Sometimes you swing and you miss. And sometimes you get hit by the pitch.
The past year offered me more than my fair share of curveballs. And I admit I swung and missed more often than I made contact. I started thinking about my priorities and my passions – what I really want out of life. The result: It’s time to test myself by stepping outside of my comfort zone. I learned the only way for a ballplayer to get better at hitting curveballs is to request a steady stream of them during batting practice. That’s what I’m doing this year. That’s how you prepare for the unexpected.
About a year ago, a friend of mine, Caroline Keating, began a project called The Caroline Challenge, https://sites.google.com/site/52carddraw/ inspired by Karen Gladstone’s www.karenondeck.com. They created a 52-week adventure made up of tasks or dares selected by people they’d encountered throughout their lives. They documented the fulfillment of said tasks through a blog. I have used these projects as inspiration for my own “challenge.”
Here’s how it works. I have sent blank notecards to people from all parts of my life that I believe will push me to my limits and test me both mentally and physically. These people have written a dare on their card and returned it to me. I will select one card each week for the next year, complete the challenge and post weekly updates on the lessons I’ve learned and things I’ve experienced.
1) Each challenge must be able to be completed within a week.
2) Each challenge must require me to test my abilities in some way. To grow, to learn, to risk, to love, to give, to try. To live.
3) Travel is permitted, but driving distance is essential in order to comply with rule #1.
4) Each challenge must be legal.
The cards are in and, I have to say, I’m in for one crazy year! I am truly looking forward to what lies in store for the next 52 weeks. I must express my gratitude for all those that have helped make this possible and contributed their ideas. I appreciate the time and thought put into each challenge and all of the support and well wishes that you’ve sent my way.
There will be laughter. There will be tears. There will be lessons. There will be adventure. Next time those curveballs come my way, I’ll be ready.