Hard things are fun.

So, we are officially into August (AKA birthday month)…yes I am one of those people (but hey, if you are turning 30 during a time when you have the entire month off work, this is the time to milk it, amiright?). And, as of last Saturday, the celebrations have started.

I was thinking about turning 30, and all of the things I’ll be doing to celebrate (some of which are still a surprise). While a lot of the things I’m looking forward to (Ice cream. Drinks. Dinners with friends and family) are the typical celebratory things that normal people do on special occasions, two of the big ones are a little less conventional.

While age is just a number, and really, 30 doesn’t need to be any more or less special than any other year; it is regarded as somewhat of a milestone, so I wanted to mark it accordingly. I wanted to make it memorable, and do something (or things) that I wouldn’t forget. So I came up with two ideas (I told you I’d let you in on them): 1 was to memorize 30 verses of the Bible and 2 was to hike 30 km.

One of the beautiful waterfalls from last weekend’s 30 km hike.

While both of these challenges had elements of fun to them, and both have proved rewarding (hike happened last weekend, mostly for scheduling purposes. Verses are still a work in progress); they were both a lot of hard work. So why would I choose to celebrate that way? Why not just eat, drink and be merry like normal people? A) I’m not normal (those who know me would be quick to agree). B) I love hard work. I love a grind. And the rewards and memories that come from working hard can’t be beat (not even by all the ice cream in the world. By now you know how much I love ice cream, so that’s saying something).

If you want to hear more about the ins and outs about how and why I decided to memorize 30 verses of the Bible, check out this guest post I wrote for my church’s blog. Short version: memorizing Bible verses has been part of my life for almost as long as I can remember, and my faith is central to my life. However, most of the passages I’ve memorized have been way shorter (1-5 verses). Since I’m blessed with all this time off, I decided that 30 verses would be a cool challenge.

Progress-wise, I’m a little over two thirds in. And like I said, it’s been rewarding to work hard and accomplish something. But it definitely is hard. I don’t always want to sit down and review my verses. It requires real discipline. Despite your feelings about the Bible, church or Christianity; you can’t deny the benefits of a mental workout like memorizing a long passage of literature of some sort. Anyone can build discipline. And as we age, working out mental muscles is just as important as the physical.

And speaking of physical exercise, why the 30 k hike? I will say that I was inspired/ripped off the idea from someone from church who did FIFTY km for his fiftieth birthday. I thought the idea was cool, and if he was 20 years older and could do twenty more km, I could surely do 30. I’m also fortunate enough to have a cool crossfit best friend who I knew would say yes if I asked her to take up the challenge.

Just like my faith, fitness is also pretty central to my life right now (although it came a bit later in life). I knew that hiking 30 km was doable, given my base level of fitness, and also would be something I’d always remember and be proud of (although my chronic flat feet meant I was hobbling a bit for a few days after).

Last Saturday was a great day. I got to spend it outside, experiencing beautiful trails and waterfalls, with one of my best friends. But it was hard. It was really really hot (add to that my own foolishness in not bringing enough water. Oops). My feet got sore (the following day I discovered blisters on 3 toes), and for at least the last 5 km, I would say every step was painful.

But there’s something about tackling a big challenge. Something that might seem a little crazy or out of the ordinary. Something that feels, at least at some point, like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Something about it that I love.

I love pushing myself to the point where I want to give up (I think that’s why I enjoy CrossFit so much). It didn’t get too dark on that hike, and I didn’t say it out loud, but quitting did cross my mind. And I’ve definitely had moments this summer when I’m just not feeling another memory session when I find myself asking “why did I do this again? There’s nothing that says you have to do this. You could quit.”

There’s something about doing something you don’t always want to do. About persevering when you want to throw in the towel. About working hard, even if it’s not exactly the sane, rational thing to do. Quitting may seem like an attractive option at the time, but when you gut it out and finish and look back; the feeling of pride and accomplishment is unmatchable.

So while it may not be “normal,” I decided that tackling a couple of tough challenges in honour of the big 3-0 would be more memorable than all the cake and champagne I can eat and drink (but don’t worry, I’ll do that too….the hike concluded with ice cream and THEN dinner and sangria, FYI).

But you don’t have to be celebrating a milestone birthday to tackle something this big. I encourage you to look for ways, both big and small, to push yourself in your every day. Stick with it, grind it out, don’t walk away. Rise to the occasion, and I think you might just surprise yourself with how awesome you feel. Sure, it might not be “normal” to enjoy hard work so much. But really, who wants to be normal anyway…?


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