Thursday, December 30, 2010

The List for 2011: The Year of the Challenge

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.  -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

At this point I had planned to be back in Vermont cleaning out the enormous teetering stacks of papers that had engulfed my office during the last weeks of the semester. But as the saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, talk about your plans. The snow storm that shut down East Coast airports for several days has given me an extra few days on the West Coast with my sister and her family, and some more time out of the office to think about the plan for 2011.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Leah, Siham and I have decided to follow up the Year of New Things with a Year of Challenges.  One of the things I've like best about 2010 is that it has turned new things into a habit for me.  I used to shy away from the unfamiliar and now I find myself constantly looking for new things to try, or new ways to try old things.  So, I'd definitely still like to keep going with new things, but I also want the challenge of really tackling some things that I'm not good at, or haven't mastered, and getting better.

So here's my formula for 2011: 12 new (and challenging) things, and 12 challenges based on things I''ve already started, including two "super-challenges" picked from the life list that Leah, Siham and I also started compiling last year. Something else I learned from last year is that it's a useful thing to be flexible in list-making: new opportunities come up, and friends suggest ideas that hadn't crossed my mind.

With the caveat that the list is intentionally incomplete, and subject to change, the plan for 2011 is:

12 New Things including:
  • Visit the Snowflake Bentley Museum in Jericho, VT.  This one and the next were suggested by my friend and Dominican Republic service teammate, Ashley.   One thing I loved about last year's list was the chance to discover new things in my own backyard.  This is one of them.

  • Volunteer as a dog walker at the Greyhound Rescue in Saint Albans.  I think greyhounds are great, and so are the people who work to give them a life after they've been chewed up by the racing industry.  Don't know why this one never occurred to me, but glad Ashley suggested we do it.

    Ashley getting paper towels for our Dominican Republic group at our Vermonster-eating session last spring. Now that she's done with student teaching, she's got time to do some new things together.
  • Do nothing.  Former student and fellow AIDS activist Madison suggested this one almost a year ago, Tom warned that it is much harder than it seems, and after a year of putting it off, I've decided he's right. But I really want to try, so it's being written in to this year's list.

  • Try sled hockey. My super athlete philosophy colleague Patrick suggested that I could try this at his team practice last year, but it was near the end of the season, so I didn't get to it.  But I'm intrigued, I'm hoping to do this one sometime in the first month of the new year.
  • Leah, the Tall Ship Expert, is dying to show off her expertise to Siham and I on a New Bedford expedition
  • Explore New Bedford. I think Leah should work for the New Bedford Chamber of Commerce.  She's got a whole  itinerary planned, from exploring the Ernestina tall ship to the New Bedford Whaling Museum to the fabulous indoor climbing gym, we're set to go for a weekend of being tourists.

  •  Go to a shooting range.  My friend and student Alexsis suggested this one. She's willing to go with me.  I hate guns, but I agree that it makes sense to at least learn how they work.

  • Try using a pottery wheel.  Julia B suggested this one in a comment to a recent post, and offered to teach me.  Kate B. and Lauren have both become amateur potters in the last year as well, and really encouraged me to try it. I've always been intimidated by the thought of a pottery wheel but think it's time to get over it.

  • Go dog sledding.  When Siham, Leah and I were on our trip to Quebec City, we discovered a number of places that offer one-day dog sledding experiences.  Now I really want to go back and try it.

12 New Challenges (the two off the Lifetime List are marked with an *)
  • Become a better rock climber.  Anyone who's ever glanced at this blog for more than five seconds had to know that one was coming, right? Can't wait to get done with my three-week doctor-imposed hiatus of exercise to get started.
  • With coaches like  Conor and Dan S. how could I help but love this activity?  Now I just have to actually get good at it.
  • Write a book with my students* Already started, and with a 28-person team of students and alumni spread around the US and in four different countries, it's an interesting challenge.  Luckily, it's a Dream Team of students and alumni to work with, and it's a LOT of fun.
  • Matt and Alexsis will be incorporating some of their work on MDG Goal 8 into the independent study course the three of us will be doing together spring semester. In this picture from our  November writers' meeting they're setting up a google group to communicate with all the Goal 8 team.
  • Become a better skier and/or snowboarder.  Loved trying both of these last year.  I bought a Bash Badge to give me incentive to go to Smuggler's Notch this year, and have a great ski instructor, Drisk as a housemate.  Plus, Paul also just started snowboarding, too, so I'll be tagging along with him at Bolton, I think.

  • Run a marathon* I always swore I'd never do this, though at least one friend, Gary, insisted differently, and I put it off indefinitely by assigning it to my life list.  But Colleen caught Siham and me at a weak moment in Washington, DC and somehow convinced us that we wanted to.  I just signed up for a class at the Y to help me get serious about the training for the Burlington City Marathon.

  • Become a better ice skater. Failed at sticking with this one last year, but this year will be different.  Ali is now working at the Ice Barn in Milton and between her and Michelle, I am bound and determined to get back into a skating routine and learn to jump and spin.

  • Become a better cook. Between the cooking new things I learned last year (souffle, fresh mozzarella, pesto and Indian food) plus my December baking spree, I've realized that I really want to become a versatile and good cook.  I am still going to get Dean to give me the croissant lesson, Katrinka is teaching me stuffed grade leaves here in Tacoma, I still want to learn to make homemade yogurt and Claire is all set to do some cooking in early January.  I think the plan will be to try a new recipe or food per week, with emphasis on different ethnic foods I like.

    First baby step on my challenge to become a better cook: learning to make stuffed grape leaves in Tacoma
  • Become a better hiker. I loved the hiking I did last year, and feel like I'm ready to stretch a little into some new and more challenging trails.  The one I'm most intimidated about is attempting to follow Chris up Hell Brook Trail, but I'm game to try it.  Plus, Ashley and Luke have both offered to do  a peak in the Adirondacks, and I still really want to get out in New Hampshire and climb Mt Washington and some of the other Presidentials with Chris and/or Kate.

  • Get comfortable with mechanics. Despite Nigel's excellent lessons, I still feel like I'm just not there.  I think I need a full-fledged, multiple-session class in beginning auto or bike maintenance to feel like I understand it.  Laurie, Kate and Nicole have all offered to do it together, and Chris has offered to give me some more instruction to try to nail this one down this year.

  • Visit Alaska via container ship.  Leah, Siham and I all feel like we're ready ta tackle this one.  The plan is to leave from the Port of Tacoma and sail to Anchorage, and then return via car or plane.  We're all pretty psyched, and now just waiting to find out if the March timing we had selected can work or if we have to wait till later in the year.

  • Study Arabic. Hanging out in foreign countries with Siham, who is fluent in both French and Arabic is very humbling. Jordan is one of the most wonderful places I could ever imagine and I definitely plan to go back. So, it's time for me to bite the bullet and try to learn the language a bit, even though I think it seems much harder than French or Kiswahili, the two languages I've struggled with in the past.   
Listening to Khaled and Siham go back and forth effortlessly between Arabic, Friench and English during our Petra adventure made me wish I could as well

 So, that's the plan.  As always, I'm looking for teachers, people who want to do these things together, and new ideas, so please let me know if you're interested in any of these things.   Here's to a 2011 filled with all kinds of great challenges!


  1. Where do I begin! this is all very exciting:

    1- I am excited about New bedford (it will have to be a boston trip too, please)
    2- Rock-climbing, skiing, next time in VT.
    3- Marathon, I think I've reached my peak at 4 miles :)
    4- I promise a Moroccan food lesson(it might be best to have it on one of your non-vegetarian days)
    5- A hiking trip to the adirondacks sounds GREAT. I've never been and it's on my list to visit a new mountain range. Can I tag along?
    6- ALASKA. Enough said. we are driving back, I am looking into this....
    7- I'll trade you Arabic for Kiswahili :). We'll get you ready before your return to Jordan!

    Soo many amazing things! Happy new year Miss Trish!

  2. Happy New Year Trish! I've been doing many new things since heading out west in the fall, but I am going to try to be more intentional about it in 2011 and might try blogging-you're inspiring! Had an epiphany the other day that Sea-Tac was short for Seattle-Tacoma...I always thought it had something to do with being near the ocean. Hope you make it back East! Looking forward to hearing about your new challenges.

  3. How about adding a wild and exciting trip to Milwaukee to your list!?!?!? And I am going to try to tackle some thai cooking this year, if you want to give it a shot --we can pick out some recipes and try them out in our respective kitchens and compare what worked and what didn't, even if we are some miles apart, we might be able to cook "virtually."
    I am impressed with your list!

  4. Happy New Year, 2011 has just started and it's already going as planned. Ideally I'd be jumping in the Atlantic with YOU tomorrow but I guess I'll have to go it alone.

    Thank you for posting the ernie pic, I'm so psyched to show you around town!

  5. LOVE the new list and am glad that I am in the plans so I can make up for my hiatus in 2010. 2011 will certainly be the year of challenges for me too- mainly graduating? But let's not forget I owe you a rock climbing date.

    Also, I think part of your do nothing day should be technology free. Ben and I agreed to do it on Wednesday. Our plans include reading, cooking, and taking a long walk.