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Introducing a New Monthly Series: A Tangible Challenge

It’s been a while since we’ve had a weekly or monthly series on The Smile Project blog and after lots of reflections and conversations over the holidays, I’m thrilled to introduce a new idea. A few years ago, I won a gift certificate to several classes in New York City. I took a one-off class on cross stitch and book binding and a couple other random, tangible artforms. 


I have not bound a book or crossed a stitch since then. But for those lovely evenings, I got to go somewhere new and create something out of nothing. Each time, I allowed myself to be a beginner… to be bad at something… to not know what on Earth I was doing. 


That’s why this year, I’m putting a simple challenge out to myself. Can I go to a singular class each month—not a recurring course, just one simple class—and learn something new? 


I have a few simple ground rules. 


First, it must be in person. Part of this experiment is forcing myself out of my comfort zone. As someone who mostly works from home, it’s easy to stay cozy in pajamas. So virtual things don’t count. I want to be out and about with real people who can see more than just my floating head on a video screen.


Second, it must be something I know little to nothing about and it must not be related to my professional career. I love learning and I sincerely enjoy professional development opportunities. I’ll continue to pursue those, happy as a doodle, but that won’t count toward this monthly challenge. I want to go in knowing nothing and sit with the discomfort of being brand new. 


Third, it will, ideally, have me creating something tangible. I spend a lot of time on my computer doing computer related things. Writing, working, emailing, emailing, emailing. My goal is to craft something I can hold. Something that I can point to and say, “I made that.” I’m open to non-tangibles, but this feels like the higher priority. 


I hope you’ll join me on this adventure and I hope you’ll hold me accountable to reviewing these experiences to share with you all. And, most importantly, I hope this challenges you to step outside your comfort zone and try something totally new this year. 


Happy exploring!




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