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During my email exchange with Carrie the other night, we started talking about why it was important to have interests other than writing. Why it’s necessary to have interests that challenge us.

Knowing my obsession with table linens and tablescapes, Carrie suggested I enter a holiday tablescape contest.

I make a tablescape every holiday. I know no one in my family pays any attention to it. That’s okay because I do it for myself. It’s sort of like the satisfaction you get from reading an especially well-written passage…which you wrote.

I don’t care if my tablescape entry doesn’t win. I just want to see if I can pull it off.

If I didn’t write, my head would explode. But if I wrote 24/7, I’d end up in a rubber room. Writing is a huge challenge, but I need other things to test my mettle, things to stimulate my creativity. In turn, though I don’t know how, these projects help me with my writing.

Setting exercise goals for myself is a real challenge. I’m afraid of heights, so mountain climbing is out. Ditto for parachuting and paragliding. When I was younger, I played tennis and swam. Nowadays, my big challenge is increasing the mph and incline on the treadmill.

I’ve tried gardening with mixed results. The snails won the first couple of rounds. But being in the kitchen always relaxes me, unless I’ve got twenty-plus people coming for dinner. I enjoy trying new, time-consuming recipes. I’ll bake cakes and give them away. My need to know if I can make them exceeds my need to eat them. 

I’m not an expert at anything, rather average at most things. That’s okay. It’s more challenging that way.

So, what do you do to challenge yourself when you’re not tapping out your masterpiece?