Welcoming Challenges in 2015

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

Sun setting over open water.

Another Day Another Challenge

Happy New Year! I wish you many challenges in life. No. I haven’t been drinking. In fact, I’m writing this post one week from the day you read it.

This past year has been full of challenges. It’s made me a better and wiser person. No matter how many self help books you read or conferences you attend in the future, the only way to fully gain inner strength and wisdom is by conquering challenges. 

Challenges are goals not obstacles. You should give yourself challenges. You should never give yourself obstacles.

So in 2015, I say “bring them on!”

Here are a few things I learned along the way.


#1 Challenges Require A Nudge

I was very excited with the progress I was making throughout the year. I guess you could say I was in my comfort zone. We’ve all been there at one time. You say to yourself, “Hey, I’m doing well.” Then an amazing and successful friend comes along and nudges you out of that complacent spot. That great friend doesn’t care if you’re disabled or not, that great friend only wants you to grow as a person.

Yeah, that’s what happened when Marc Ensign told me to come up with two audacious goals to complete by the end of the year. Without him, I wouldn’t have given myself these challenges. Without him, I wouldn’t have put myself through this agony. Without him, I wouldn’t know what I’m about to tell you. So thank your friends when they push you out of your comfort zone. Go ahead, thank them!

Thanks, Marc!

#2 Challenges Bring Out The Tiger In You

Have you ever given yourself a physical challenge? Yes, I know that being physically disabled is challenging enough. Yet, don’t you want to push the envelope a little bit more? See just how far your body can go? That’s what I wanted to do when I signed up for Miami’s Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.

My friend, Karen went on a rehearsal run with me at Zoo Miami. I found out that I was in really bad shape. At the rate I was pushing, Thanksgiving would come and go and I’d still be pushing in the freaking race.

But I trained and listened to Karen and my athletic sister, Tanya. I pushed my manual wheelchair after work even on days when I only wanted to go home and relax watching my man crush, Shemar Moore on Criminal Minds.

I couldn’t be a wimp. Wimps got nowhere. I had to be a tiger! Take charge! Go get them attitude! When I couldn’t push due to the weather, I worked out at home. I played EYE OF THE TIGER over and over. I thought I was Rocky!

Sometimes you have to do that. You have to put yourself in the mindset of someone who overcame challenges. You have to think like them, act like them. I did everything even the accent, YO ADRIANNE!

The day of the Turkey Trot, I was the last person to cross the line. I told my friends and my sister that if I asked them during the race if I’m the last one to lie to me. AND THEY DID! They kept saying I wasn’t the last one. So I kept going. Then when my arms couldn’t go anymore and the finish line was close by, I asked my sister to put a song on for me, THE EYE OF THE TIGER.

Believe me, you have to have the mindset of a tiger when the challenge is becoming too much for you. You have to know what you want and go for it. Convince yourself. Psyche yourself out. Believe your lies until they become your reality.

When I crossed the finish line, someone wanted me to put my arms up in victory but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even feel my arms. Now I know why people raised Rocky’s arms after his victory matches. Once it’s over, there’s no energy.

Your challenge doesn’t have to be physical, it can be anything that moves you out of your comfort zone.

Are you a shy person? Force yourself to speak to at least one stranger every day. Even if you don’t go out, use the internet. Maybe you’re a lurker. Comment on a topic instead of scrolling. Whatever it takes to get you out of your comfort zone.

#3 Challenges Give You A Reality Check

My second audacious goal was to raise $20,000 for Audacity Magazine. By the time you read this article, the challenge will be over but that doesn’t mean you can’t donate. You can always donate.

I could actually write an entire article on this and maybe I will but since I don’t know the end result I’m going to bite my tongue.

A fundraiser to help me pay $40 for each article written by writers with physical disabilities seems like a great idea, right?

Reality check! Not everyone thinks so. Nor does everyone agree on the way it was being raised. The people giving me “advice” didn’t even donate $5 to the fundraiser. It was getting ridiculous.

But guess what? I loved it! And you will too!

When you set up a challenge for yourself or when a challenge presents itself to you, hug it! Embrace it! You will gain so much from it. I can probably write a book on this.

You will learn about yourself, your morals, your values.

When you ask others to help you with a challenge, there will be people who will do everything to burst your bubble and there will be people who will do everything with their power to help you. How audacious is that? I love it!

#4 Challenges Make Your Mission in Life Clearer

When you’re focused on challenges that inspire you into action, ignite your passion and force you to focus, your mission in life becomes much clearer.

For example, I probably could’ve raised more than $20,000 if I did a few things which went against Audacity Magazine’s vision and my beliefs and morals.

People suggested that I write heart felt stories that pulled at the potential donor’s heart to invoke pity on the writers. Supposedly that will open the donors’ wallets. But that’s not right. That’s not audacious. That’s disgusting.

I was given examples of other non profit organizations who use this tactic to raise money for people with disabilities. My mission became clearer. I was going to raise this money my own way. I would look for people who shared my vision.

The goal was clear. Raise money to hire people with physical disabilities. The facts were clear. Disabled people are still the largest minority with the least amount of income and the smallest percentage in the work force. Either you wanted to be a part of this audacious goal or you didn’t.

This was the most difficult part of the challenge.

I had to accept that not everyone understood or shared my mission for Audacity Magazine. You will have to accept that not everyone will feel the same as you. Don’t worry. Move on. Keep them in your life if you want but gravitate more toward the people who support your goals.

The challenges you give yourself this year should help you clear away any distractions in your life.

I’ll let you know soon if we reached our goal or not. But no matter the outcome, I’m grateful for these challenges and look forward to giving myself many more in 2015!

Give yourself the best gift in 2015 and challenge yourself to leave out of your comfort zone. The results are audacious!

So now tell me, what ways can you challenge yourself? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know.