Monday, December 27, 2010

Some Superlatives (and Very Big Thank-you's) from 2010

One of my sister Katrinka's and brother in law Brian's many talents is that they are  phenomenal gift-givers.  Unlike me, they can shop with great focus and endurance, are highly imaginative, and  are always on the lookout for the perfect gift for specific people.  This year, though, they outdid themselves with their gift to me, which was themed on the 52 New Things.  It was a four part gift -- 52 individually-counted seeds to represent the many seeds I've planted in my own life with new activities; a necklace and bracelet made with 52 and 12 beads respectively, to represent last year and this year's new things; a $52 dollar gift certificate to the Outdoor Gear Exchange to further my rock climbing aspirations; and finally two framed collages with four collections featuring a photo from every one of last year's 52 New Things.  It is so fun to look at the collages and see reminders of all 52 activities all at once.
Wearing my 52-bead necklace, Tig and I talked about all the 52 adventures in the collages Katrinka and Brian made for me

Looking at the collages also reminds me of the last list I wanted to make to close out 2010 and get ready for 2011-- a thank you list to some of the many people who figured prominently in last year's project.  There were so many people who helped in so many ways that listing them all would make for an incredibly long post, so I've decided to make a list of superlatives instead and single out a few of the people from the many to whom I owe big debts of gratitude. 

So here is my list of "most's" from 2010:

Most helpful in the beginning: besides Leah and Siham, who helped come up with the idea in the first place, Matthew sent a list of possibilities,(as did Henry, Madison, Alexsis, Donna and Connor S.) and the idea of learning "I love you" in 52 languages.  Pat and Kathy generated all kinds of ideas at last year's Wigilia dinner and Pat sent me a list of translations for dozens of languages when I got stuck.  Cliff and Nicole invited me to Nepal, making my first trip possible, and Manish gave me my first in-person language translations. And very significantly, Julia showed me how to blog so I could get started.
Cliff, Nicole and Jai during a bit of souvenir shopping in Katmandu

Most supportive posters: Anyone who has ever kept a blog (or written anything for broader distribution) knows that feedback is the thing that writers crave.  I am so grateful to everyone who posted comments throughout the year, and especially to Siham and Lilly, who consistently checked in and offered their thoughts. Leah, Jamila and her younger sister Joy-Anne also regularly participated when they were in Burlington, and via posting when they weren't.
Although we haven't figured out a way to do a new thing together yet, my long-time friend Lilly has been a huge supporter all year long.  Here she is with her amazingly cute kids, Eli and Sophia.

Most spontaneous involvementChris came into the list fairly late in the process.  But on our first date we wound up doing yet another memorable Camel's Hump hike (memorable not least because we started it at 2:30 am!).  So, I wasn't surprised when he took a look at the list of what remained and offered to do the 24 hours without sleeping in New York City together as well. He's part of the reason that 2011 is going to need to be the Year of the Challenge, because his form of hiking and outdoors activities fall squarely into that category, and I've asked him to lead on some of them (like Hell Brook Trail) for the 2011 list.
Chris in another spontaneous activity -- dropping by to meet my niece Tigist and be part of her third birthday celebration during her October visit

Furthest travel to participateKatrinka and Brian came all the way from Tacoma to be part of the final Camel's Hump hike. Jamila came from Oxford to learn to change a car tire and set up a room in my place where I could display photos and souvenirs from my 52 things travel. And Angela flew from Twin Falls, Idaho to spend the weekend together in New York City when I went there to skate at Rockefeller Center.
Katrinka and Brian back at the trailhead after our October Camel's Hump hike

Most frequent instructors: Three people, all students or former students, showed up on the blog for multiple appearances as my teacher. Dan S. gave me lessons on cross country skiing, skate skiing, and rock climbing, inside and out. Nigel also gave me a skate skiing lesson, and taught me to change both a car and a bike tire.  And Josh H. taught me snow shoeing, rock climbing and pesto making.  All of them are great teachers, and taught me new things about both the specific activities we did together and the art of teaching.
Two of the greatest instructors the Saint Michael's College Wilderness Program ever produced -- to my great advantage -- Dan and Josh on the day they took me on my first climb outside.

Superathlete (and student) Nigel, the day he took me skate skiing.  Little did he know he'd be roped into doing bike and car tire changing lessons as well.
Most frequent  participants: I am so grateful to so many people for their suggestions, lessons and involvement.  But four in particular stand out for having been willing to do so many things on the list together.  They are Paul, Josh H., and of course, Leah and Siham

My colleague Paul started out teasing me a lot about my list, but pretty soon he started seeing it as a chance to do things he'd always wanted to try, knowing that he'd have a willing accomplice in me.  We've done some things that didn't make the list, like trying new classes at the Y together, and attending our first ice hockey game at Saint Mike's. We went to Montreal to see professional tennis and try poutine together, went to my first (and probably last) car race at Thunder Road, and tried out the roller derby. In 2011 we're going to, among other things, work on snow boarding, since we both tried it for the first time last year.
At the Roger's cup in Montreal Paul introduced me to that oh-so-tasty artery clogger from our neighbors to the North, poutine.

Josh not only gave me the three lessons mentioned above, he also took part in many of the other activities.  He is on the MDG book team, took part in the Washington DC trip, led our Saint Mike's group into the frigid waters of the Penguin Plunge, did the summer (night-time) Camel's Hump hike, tried paddle boarding together, and went rock climbing with me at the SMC wall, Petra Cliffs gym and my first climb outside at Bolton.
Josh, the renaissance student. He had offered to open up the SMC climbing wall for me to do a  lesson, but first rode his bike back from downtown Church Street from his internship in Senator Sander's offce and did the climbing with me in his office clothes.

Though it was a joint effort, Leah was the one who enlarged the idea of 2010 as a year of travel to 2010 as a year of new things.  She did the trips to Bar Harbor and Quebec City, the Rokeby Museum, suggested many of the things that made it onto my final list, and is a big part of the MDG book project.  Probably more than anyone else, Leah is always thinking outside the box for new things to really challenge us. She's going to be just as involved in 2011, starting with the trip to Alaska. And incredibly, though Leah was a star rock climbing instructor in the Saint Mike's Wilderness Program when she was a student, we still need to go climbing together.
Leah going through her list  near the top of Cadillac Mountain in Bar Harbor in February

Finally, Siham is the person who was the most involved in the activities on this list.  She was also part of the trips to Bar Harbor and Quebec City, but she also travelled with Connor and I to Jordan and Jerusalem (and translated Arabic brilliantly for us the whole while) and made our adventure at Petra possible. Besides that, she was on the "support team" for the Penguin Plunge, did the summer Camel's Hump hike, went hot air ballooning, and constantly offered ideas and comments on and off-line throughout the year.
Siham and Connor taking a  breather during our fabulous trip to Petra

I remember when I started the project of 52 New Things a little more than a year ago, a number of people wrote and suggested that I might want to scale it back.  It was too ambitious, they thought, and I'd probably just give it up after a few months.  What they didn't know (nor did I) was that the key to trying 52 new activities, places and adventures in a single year is to have a phenomenal set of family and friends, students and former students.  They are the ones that made it possible, and more importantly made every single experience great fun and special in its own way.  Something I didn't know till I did this is that trying new things can also create and reinforce our own personal communities, and remind us of the unique and wonderful talents and qualities of the people in our lives.  To everyone who was a part of the last year's project -- the people I mentioned here and the people I didn't--  I am grateful, and hope you will join me in creating and meeting the new challenges of 2011's list.


  1. THANK YOU TRISH. Some of my most memorable times of 2010 were going on all of these adventures with you! Okay, I am oign to read what's in store for next year now! and seriously, katrinka, brian, and tigist do give the best presents EVER.

  2. Happy year of 52 new things and Happy New Year! May 2011 bring you and all those in your supportive and engaged community good health and much happiness!
    Glad I could be a part of it...even if from afar!

  3. Dear Trish!

    Its amazing to look back on all the things you've accomplished in one year! You've given so many of us the example of how to live life fully! Thanks for the shout out in the post and So excited to follow your many adventures this year!

    Hopefully, I can join in on one of them sometime soon!

    love lots,