Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What's Next? 2011, the Year of the Challenge

When I decided that 2010 would be the Year of New Things it was because I had the germ of an idea (travel) and my friends Leah and Siham helped shape it into something much more ambitious and all-encompassing (52 New Things).  Since that decision in late fall of 2009, we've gotten together at least every couple of months (Siham lives in Boston, and Leah in New Bedford) to do something on all of our lists and think about what else we want to do.  This last weekend Siham and Leah were up to celebrate my birthday and the fact that I completed 52 New Things in a 52 weeks. I should have known they would, once again, take the germ of an idea (keep going) and help me think of it in a more ambitious way.  By the end of the weekend we were clear that 2011 will be the Year of the Challenge.

By the end of the weekend we also had the coffee table completely covered with Christmas cookies. Of, course I pressed everyone in the condo into service -- here are Drisk and Siham helping out.

All three of us are big believers in signs, and one of the signs came from the things that remained on all three of our lists of new things.  A lot of the stuff that's left is hard, and will require some pretty serious time commitments.  All three of us, for instance, want to learn a new language, and we're still planning our trip to Alaska by container ship in March, which is a bit more complicated than just hopping on a plane would be.

One of our many signs -- in Quebec City, Siham and Leah spotted a container ship -- a clear harbinger of an upcoming adventure.
But Siham and I had gotten another sign the week before when we were in Washington, DC and got to spend a little time with another friend and former student, Colleen. Colleen has decided that 2011 is the year to run the Burlington City Marathon -- not just her, but Siham and me as well.  Clearly, it was a sign.
Happy smiles -- Colleen had just wrangled a commitment from Siham and me about the marathon, and the gravity of what she had agreed to hadn't hit Siham yet.

So, now I'm in the position I was about a year ago (but this time thanks to Julia I already have a blog from which to write), asking friends and family for suggestions for challenging things for the coming year.  The plan is to try to continue to do new things on a regular basis (hopefully at least once a month), but also pick some things that take a serious commitment in order to improve or become even minimally competent.

Here's what my list is looking like right now:

  • The MDG book.  This one has already been started, obviously, but now we need to spend the next year seeing it through  It's simultaneously the most ambitious and most fun book project I've ever been part of, and it's going to be a front-burner effort in 2011.
  • Run a marathon.  I'm going to try to get Colleen, Siham and I all registered for the Burlington City Marathon (which will be May 21, 2011) before the new year so that we're all committed. 
  • The container ship trip to Alaska.  Still planning to do it over spring break, and need to set up the logistics when I'm in Tacoma at Christmastime.
  • Hike Hell Brook Trail with Chris.  This is the toughest trail up Mt. Mansfield, and full of big rocks which are usually wet. Incredibly, Chris does it on a weekly basis when the weather allows, and I am going to do it with him sometime in the coming year.

    I won't be smiling like this when we do Hell Brook
  • Learn to jump and spin on skates.  This was on my original new things list, but I was overoptimistic.  I was going great guns last winter, but then stopped skating altogether in May.  I need to commit to skating a couple days a week and hopefully doing some more lessons to get back into the game on this one.
  • Do nothing.  Sounds incredibly easy, but when I was preparing to do it (I wound up doing the far easier and more delicious option of going to Chris's mom's for Thanksgiving instead), I discovered it was actually going to be pretty tough.  But I will do it in 2011.
  • Mechanics, once again.  Despite Nigel's excellent tutelage on bike and car tire changing, I feel like I just didn't totally get it.  I think I need to take a full-fledged bike or auto maintenance course to really get a feel for how things work.
  • Skiing. Loved it last winter when Drisk took me, and bought a Bash Badge for Smugglers Notch for this winter so I can work on getting better.
  • Arabic. This language really intimidates me, probably because I don't even know the alphabet for it, and think it looks impossible to read.  But I want to give it a shot to at least learn some basics.

One more weekend Christmas cookie shot, just for the fun of it
It's a very incomplete list and I'm still thinking about what else should go on, so please, feel free to offer thoughts and suggestions.  I'll write the full list and plan sometime around the New Year, and I'm still going to do a post about the year I just finished.  But it's always fun to think about what might be on the horizon.  If anyone is interested in doing any of these challenges (or others you want to suggest) in tandem, please let me know as well.


  1. Holy cow on the Marathon :)
    It is incredible all you've done this year! and it has been so much fun. I LOVE the last picture of you and all the cookies!

  2. I like the prominent posistion of the bike, books, and cookies in the last picture. All very important things for living a happy life.

  3. hi trish - i'd be happy to do the skating with you! meg and kim and i had meg's boyfriend teaching us how to do hockey stops on sunday! we're trying to go every week and we're learning to skate backwards next week :O)

  4. OK here goes:
    1. MDG Book
    2. Learn Portuguese
    3. Learn to Ski (I tried it once and the instructor hadn't even let us put both skis on by noon, never mind get on the bunny slope, so I left)
    4. Run the New Bedford Half Marathon
    5. Give up HOG cold turkey. (I'm one week clean!)
    6. Go to Alaska via container ship
    7. Go on a train trip
    8. Get into Graduate School

  5. Trish, you're awesome! I love your blog; I'd been unofficially reading it, but today I noticed you had 51 followers and figured I'd make it official in order to be #52. Yay! Have you ever thrown pots on a wheel before? If not I'd love to teach you in 2011! Let me know.

  6. Fantastische Idee mit der fliegenden Schildgröte an der Wand. Kinder lieben Phantasie und Monsters, wie dieses zum Beispiel http://WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-6WHKQP von Max Ernst, was vielleicht für einige Kinder noch zu schrecklich ist. Aber dafür gibt es ja noch eine grosse Auswahl bei WahooArt.com wo sie zwischen soviel schönen Kindermotiven auswählen können. Und dann lassen Sie es sich einfach rund um den Globus liefern.