In the last few days of August, I had a friend post a challenge for the month of September…details coming soon, but it would take 15 seconds a day. I trusted that she wouldn’t come up with anything I would morally oppose or completely object to doing. Fifteen seconds a day seemed reasonable as well. I jumped in…and then waited for the challenge.
It was simple. The negative sticks so easily in our brains. Seeing the positive needs a little more intentionality. (Okay…a lot more). Her challenge was to take 15 seconds a day to be #DistractedByBeauty. Read the full challenge here.
I decided to daily take a picture and post it to Instagram with the tag #DistractedByBeauty. Something that struck me as beautiful. Anything. It didn’t take long, but the results were surprising.
It was fun. I love challenges and games. This became like a game. I was always looking for things that were beautiful. I didn’t want to miss something really good. I kept my eyes open and my camera ready.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was how this exercise pulled me to the present. It is so easy to get distracted. I can think about my to-do list. I am a natural at pulling up my list of things to worry about. I can replay events from the past. Many times I am thinking about good things, but totally oblivious to what is going on around me. This challenge caused me to focus on the present – the things right in front of my face.
I was amazed at how different my pictures were. This was not a month I would characterize as full of action and adventure. I’ve had months full of activity and travel. This September was not one of them. Yet, the pictures were not simply of flowers or my morning coffee. (I could have posted 30 unique pictures of my morning coffee…It’s beauty is definitely renewed every morning, but I decided to branch out and keep this an actual challenge.)
I had pictures of nature and food but also of ordinary items and places and games. I took pictures of things that were symbols of activities I have enjoyed. The variety of places where I found beauty surprised and delighted me.
I was humbled because September was not an easy month for me. September was a month that could have pulled me down and sucked me under. September was a month of sadness and of grieving what was lost and what could have been. In between the grief and the tears, God gave me these moments – moments of hope and joy and humor. I could see goodness and beauty.
I looked around and I saw so much more than I expected to see. The official challenge is coming to an end, but I’m hoping to find ways to continue the practice. Fifteen seconds a day of being #DistractedByBeauty is more than a monthly challenge. It is a habit I am planning on continuing. Most of those moments will never get on Instagram. Some of them will, because sometimes beautiful things need to be shared. Most of them, though, will simply be private reminders for me.