I flirted with Madefor a good many months before seriously considering the 10-month commitment to a bit of a mysterious program. Then the world was at the start of a pandemic without any sense of how successful we'd all be at converting our ‘normal’ lives to a new normal. I was on the road about 75% of my workweek, so being tethered to my home office was a change; however, I was very happy to have a job. Despite my gratitude, I was still worried about how all of these changes would affect my physical and mental health. The first month or so of the pandemic left in its wake an unplayed ukulele, multiple stretched canvases without paint, a new sedentary lifestyle during work hours, a new dent in my couch during non-work hours, and I was now in a slump that started to upset everything else in my life. I decided I would stop flirting with Madefor and commit.
I looked at the membership fee and contemplated joining even though I was a little uncertain about the future of anything, especially income, given the nature of things at the time. I stumbled upon the Scholarship page and decided that I would apply for the scholarship, wait to see if I received it, and if not, I would just join the program on my own. If I won the scholarship, I just had to do a few calls to give my feedback on the program – easy peasy! I applied and pretty shortly after received a wonderful, very personal email welcoming me to the program. Warm fuzzies ensued.
The Gift of Grace
By the end of the first month, I realized my approach to self-improvement was glaringly negative. I can without a doubt say the biggest gift Madefor gave me was one not listed on their website – treating myself with grace. I've struggled with my looks and weight for most of my life (I'm the only one, right?) and I have always taken approaches that are intense and rely on reinforcement styles which one might use in these areas that are not, let's say, gentle to the body, mind, and soul. I take these same approaches to all areas of my life as it pertains to me. I had grace and softness for others, I just couldn't do it for myself.
The Madefor program taught me that I could miss a day, miss a week, or just put the challenge away for a minute and not be ‘failing’ at it. Occasional emails and texts sent by the Team put the challenge back on my mind if I wasn’t giving it the focus I had planned. They were gentle and kind. I didn't have to respond, but I could if I wanted to. My class (the other people who started Month 1 at the same time I did) also offered support, shared how they were doing, and lifted others up on the Madefor social platform, reminding others we didn’t need to judge how we were doing, merely observe. There was no punishment, no fear I let someone down, or that I was failing the program. The only commitment I needed to make was to try and be gentle with myself.
The only difficult part about sharing my experience is I can’t say too much about the details, strategies, and toys that support each monthly challenge, so forgive me for any vagueness. I believe that some of the sheer power of the program comes from how each habit is introduced. I admit, upon starting, my Type A brain was frustrated. I didn’t know what we were doing three months out, what we’d be getting, etc., ad nauseam. But that changed fast. From Month Three on, I'd get a rush of anticipation that lasted until the package arrived on my porch in its familiar box. Madefor encouraged a ritual for the box opening and I found it was something I looked forward to. By Month Four, I wouldn’t even sneak a peek of what was in the box until my little monthly ritual began. All of this created an element of play, that pure and free feeling of simple enjoyment, that I missed. The tools (I call them toys) that support each month’s habit were always so well-matched and the aesthetic is more than appealing. I now have a Madefor shelf in my office that holds all of my challenge toys; however, you can also find them strewn about my house as many have become fixtures in my everyday life. I also wear a reminder of my challenges most days which keeps me in a positive, playful mindset.
The monthly ritual was something I started to genuinely look forward to, so I took that same energy and applied it to other areas of my life. I started transforming my old "routines" into rituals. I was finally ready to get out of my slump and back to business. I re-read the mini-book for each month on occasion or get on one of the regularly scheduled (or recorded) video calls with Pat and Dr. Huberman (and sometimes a guest) to refill my cup as they say. I'd come back inspired and ready to continue my evolution.
The Underestimated Power of Intention and Reflection
I don’t think I am giving much away when I say the program starts with an intention. I look back on my initial intention now (it had no less than six parts, of course) and it makes me giggle a bit. If you'd like to see what a Type A brain looks like, my intention would be Exhibit A. Sitting here now, looking through my journal, I see a transformation. In the beginning, it was a bunch of "I failed…ergh!” and “I WILL BE BETTER!!!!” Later months replaced my Ricky-Bobby-esque, "If you're not first, you're last" mantra," with things like "I could've done more, but I did some and that's a win in my book" and "Crazy week…I'm coming for you next week, sleep!" Everything became playful and soft, instead of shaming and aggressive. My handwriting even changed. Reflection also gave me nice little doses of reality, which I experienced right away in the Hydration Challenge. You'll find quite a bit of Madefor in the way I live my life, in the daily stuff and on a larger scale too.
I tell everyone about the Madefor Program and the Scholarship opportunity. I joined the program to "lockdown" (old me terminology) ten habits. While I did put a few in stone, there are some I am still working on. However, getting grace and revisiting intention and reflection during an uncertain time saved me, mentally and physically. I am profoundly grateful for the experience.