Challenge accepted

8 Aug

A couple weeks ago, a friend ended a series of helpful, sunny, often-funny FB posts with the following challenge statement:

Here’s hoping [that] Cristin Zeisler [is] up for the five day challenge. I love … your perspectives and think the world could use more of you!

To which I responded:

I am positive that you are CRAZY if you think I can start this (or do the task sufficient justice) before Friday. I’ve got Fletch Clavin’s comprehensive, short-answer/all recall essay Final exam on Thursday night. I’ll accept your Challenge if you accept my delayed start time. Also, I need a refresher on the rules.

Which OF COURSE meant: Challenge accepted. And I’ll start tonight.

And, sure enough, about 3.5 hours later I posted the following:

July 28, 11:58pm

OK, Alison, I accept your “Positivity Challenge” even though (or maybe even because) I am bogged down with studying for Finals this week, because:

1. It is an honor to be told that my voice matters. Thank you for that.
2. Jotting down 3 “positive” things per day seems WAY easier than writing a real blog post, and
3. Heck, maybe my 15 blurts/blurbs will cause next week’s blog post to write itself. Happiness abounds!

Awesome. Day 1 Positivity = Done, right? Or was that cheating?

At the time, I was mainly being a smart-ass, but now I realize that my statements had the power of prescience baked in to them. So I’m taking the hint offered by points 2 and 3 and regurgitating positivity into the blog-iverse that I previously unleashed on my FB nation (with apologies to those of you who inhabit both spaces). We’ll resume separate orbits after (and assuming) I survive my Family Reunion this weekend.

OK then: Positivity Challenge Re-Cap:

July 29, 3:42pm

Phrew. It’s a good thing I accepted Alison‘s “Positivity Challenge.” Today  offered a special positivity theme: Broken? Nah, just an opportunity to adapt. Positivity Challenge Day 2 – 3 offerings (with photos) in the Comments below: 

1. My fancy, auto-grind, auto-start Morning Happiness Machine (i.e. coffee maker) failed this morning. This could = catastrophe, especially for one who is eyeballs deep into Final exam prep. BUT! Last week I accidentally bought pre-ground coffee at Trader Joes AND I have an old-skool French press. Crisis averted. Problem solved. Positivity by the cupful!

Cristin Zeisler's photo.
2. I went out for my first mountain bike ride since the outing that rendered me bruised and battered 11 days ago. I didn’t wear my finger cage (never got a new one after I smashed it in the car door — feh). Turns out, my finger still doesn’t work very well — not as flexible or strong as one might like, particularly when punching it up scrambles or arching around hairpins. Rats. BUT! It was 11:30 am on a Tuesday and I wasn’t working or studying and I remembered that Matt D. managed to earn a Leadville Belt Buckle even though he has NO FUCKING HANDS, so I’m pretty sure that my woeful little ring finger has no significance at all. Yes! I enjoyed the heck out of today’s ride!
Cristin Zeisler's photo.

3. I came home from my ride. The cleaning crew had worked their magic. They even did the windows this week, which meant moving some furniture. In so doing, they managed to break a lovely hand painted Buddha plate that I got in Bhutan. S was teary eyed, devastated, and embarrassingly apologetic. What? No worries at all, my dear! During this weekend’s Obon fest I learned about the art of Kintsugi ( This is a PERFECT opportunity for me to learn that art. AWESOME! Thank you! Post-finals project now secured.

Cristin Zeisler's photo.

And then, as mentioned in last night’s post, about 10 minutes after I put those positivity nuggets up on my FB well, UCLA got positively flooded with approximately 20,000,000 gallons of water from a busted DWP pipeline. My FB comment section then got transformed into a place to bitch about the clusterfuck that is the U.S. infrastructure system and marvel about the relative “chill” approach that the local community adopted when confronted with this deluge, which submerged more than 300 cars in  some underground parking structures and turned our track filed and basketball stadium into swimming pools, and resulted in the cancellation of ALL classes that evening.  Meh.

July 30, 7:36pm

Alison’s Positivity Challenge, Day 3: Having your academic obligations unexpectedly extended by another week means:

1. You get to go to the Dodger game and eat as many hot dogs as you want (and drinks as many beers as you can) without stressing about “tomorrow’s” final because it’s next week instead!

2. You get 6 more days to etch info into your ‘Sketch brain.

3. You can turn next weekend’s family reunion into an even MORE EPICALLY AWESOME celebration.

Go, team!

Photo: Alison's Positivity Challenge, Day 3: Having your academic obligations unexpectedly extended by another week means: 1. You get to go to the Dodger game and eat as many hot dogs as you want (and drinks as many beers as you  can) without stressing about "tomorrow's" final because it's next week instead! 2. You get 6 more days to etch info into your 'Sketch brain. 3. You can turn next weekend's family reunion into an even MORE EPICALLY AWESOME celebration. Go, team!
Since I didn’t have to take my final on July 31 and I knew it would be fruitless to re-start my studying that day, I ruminated about what else I might do to plug in the small and unexpected gap in my schedule. Ah! The blog! I had totally ignored it (by design) all month. I should check out what transpired while I was away.  Turns out, the data planted a seed that grew into a rather unexpected beautiful blossom of positivity, to wit:
July 31, 6:59pm 
Alison’s Positivity Challenge-Day 4. Theme: Pee-ing.
1. One of my favorite ways to start the day is to be woken up at ~5am by the urgent need to pee and then go back to bed and enjoy ~2hours of what has got to be THE most glorious, deep, drool-inducing sleep ever. Pee-induced bonus sleep is AMAZING! #amiright?
2. My residual Type-A personality bits were anxious about the fact that I abandoned my blog ( for the entire month of July, BUT lo’ and behold, a new star has arisen from amongst the ashes of my archives: “How to Pee Like a Pro (lady cyclist style)” has been a constant and huge hit all month, attracting readers from 57 countries. My stats saw nary a blip and “How to Pee…” is just 50 clicks shy of reaching the JustAdventure’s all-time crowd-pleasing favorite, “The Gift of My Father’s Suicide.” So, my blog about bacon, bicycles, justice, and adventure thrives on suicide and pee. That. Is. Awesome.
3. Today I walked a Holocaust survivor client to the bathroom. She was in the stall for far longer than what one could consider normal so I asked, “M, are you ok?” and she said, “Well, no, Ms. Zeisler I am not. I can’t seem to get myself up.” Oh. Oh my. Do you want me to help you? I could crawl under the door… [long pause] “Could you, please?” And so I did. And then we went back to my office and finished up our paperwork like nothing happened and as she left, she said: “Ms. Zeisler, you’re different. I don’t think many attorneys could do what you do.” 
Yes, indeed, M, I am different…
This Positivity Challenge thing was starting to feel pretty awesome. I loved having the opportunity (nay, mandate!) to reflect on my life — the little things, the not-so-little things, and the big-bad-ugly things, and look for opportunities to find the good in them. The final day of the Challenge didn’t seem like it would offer much in the way of reflective opportunities, however, as I would spend ~7.5 hours simply driving along some of The Most Boring stretches of American Highways Ever (i.e., Route 99, because I am an idiot and missed the split-off that would have put me on to the equally, if not more, boring yet slightly more expedient I-5). Still … you never know what life might offer you when you’re looking for positivity:
August 1, 11:12pm
Alison’s Positivity Challenge Day 5: How cycling prepares you to drive into the center of the sun
1. As with any long, epic, grueling journey, careful hydration and solid nutrition are key. Thank you Osmo, Nuun, and Blue Diamond Salt-and-Vinegar almonds.
2. Having a cheering section (which may include regular text and/or cell-phone check-ins) helps keep you focused and motivated so that hen youreach your destination you already feel like a winner.
3. Post-journey beer, hot tub, pizza, beer, beer, peach pie, beer, and lots of love from your family makes visiting (or living in) the center of the sun a-ok. Bonus points when you throw in a slightly insane but big-hearted neighbor with a tractor and knowledge of local MTB trails.
Driving through a furnace can be fun (and is always memorable) when you approach it with positivity. And now I nominate Peyton Skelton and Margaret Laird to carry on the Positivity Challenge for the next 5 days. Three positive things every day– let’s see what you’ve got. 
Thanks for following along, Nation.
And thank YOU for following along, JustAdventure follower!
Peyton and Moogie, I’m still waiting for you to make good on your expressed intention to accept the Challenge and I’ll see you in a few hours, Moogie, so you’d better get crackin!

2 Responses to “Challenge accepted”

  1. Carissa Barker August 9, 2014 at 6:40 am #

    Please post a pic of the kintsugi’d plate. I love that idea so much I almost want to go break something!

    I’m inspired by your positivity challenge. I shall do the same, though privately.

    • justadventures August 9, 2014 at 10:49 am #

      I haven’t purchased the supplies yet, but when I do (and assuming it doesn’t turn out half-bad), I shall gleefully post/share.

      I liked the “positivity challenge” much more than the general gratitude concept — required deeper introspection and nuance. Go for it!

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