Saturday, March 9, 2013

2013: the Year of the Second Chance

So, I've been meaning to write this post for a couple of months now, but it just wasn't coming together in my mind.  My plan for this year is a little different than in previous years, and I've been struggling with how to think about it.  And then it hit me yesterday.  For me, 2013 is the Year of the Second Chance. (Actually, even the fact that I am writing this post on March 7 rather than January 1 tends to point in that direction).

So, why "Second Chance"? The plan for this year is to focus on five big goals.  All of them were begun previously, some in the previous years of New Things (2010) and The Challenge (2011), and some even earlier than that.  But all required a level of commitment that I just haven't been able to muster to see them through, and so they are back, like bad pennies, waiting for a real plan to get them to completion.  Here's the list of goals and why to me they represent Second Chances:

1.  Become a Better Rock Climber. When I was in high school and college (in southern Idaho and northern Utah respectively) I had barely heard of the whole idea and definitely knew it had nothing to do with me.  But during the year of 52 New Things, from the first time I tried it (in a climbing gym in Nepal, of all places) I was suprised at all much fun I thought it was, and now I'd actually like to work on getting better at it.  The amazing Saint Michael's College Wilderness Program gave me my big Second Chance on this one, and on Saturday I'm headed back to Utah to have the spring break I never did when I was an undergrad at Utah State University.

I have lots and lots of people to thank for taking me climbing and giving me lessons, but probably the biggest thank you goes to Amanda, who graduated in 2011 but has stuck around Burlington to do outstanding work in combating gender-based violence and also coach her former professor on rock climbing.

2.  Run a Marathon. I imagine this one's on lots of people's life lists, and I had big plans to do it during the Year of the Challenge in 2011. But a mishap on an ill-advised run well above my pay grade at Mad River Glen that year put an end to it when I ended up on crutches.  This year, the gods smiled on me again, first by having one of my best friends and fellow New Thing/Challengista, Siham, decide that this was the year we must do a marathon.  Though it's now an open question whether she's still going to be able to complete the training with everything else on her plate, I also lucked out in finding the best possible personal coach in my boyfriend, Jon.  He's a lifelong runner and veteran of several marathons and even a 50 mile trail race, and a font of wisdom in all things running-related.  So, this is the year.  I'm signed up for the Burlington City Marathon, following Jon's  training schedule with a minimum of whining, and hoping and praying that I can finish 26.2 miles.
Jon's a good multi-tasker.  He's my boyfriend and my get-me-through-my-first marathon coach. Here he is showing me how far he expects me to run on our last day in of our recent quick trip to Puerto Rico.
 3.  Become a Better Ice Skater. When we were in elementary school in Michigan we skated on our pond and I loved it.  On and off over the years I've taken a few lessons, but something always seems to come up just when I'm starting to get a few more advanced skills.  This is the year I want to stop making excuses and make the transition to actually stringing some of those things I've learned into a sequence I can do all at once. 

4.  Finish a draft of the Millennium Development Goals Book. This is another project begun in the year of the Challenge that I managed to grind to a halt when I headed out to Jordan for the year.  Right now I'm doing an independent study with four students, one of whom was on the original student team, and we're getting a few chapters, as well as the case studies into draft form.  After that we'll be seeing if any of the other original writers can come back in for some more writing work. 

5.  Learn to Speak and Read French. I took French in 9th and 10th grades in high school, for two semesters in college, and as an audited course at Saint Mike's.  I seem to be permanently in an Intermediate French class cycle, but my hope is to use summer and fall as a time to focus more academically on goals 4 and 5.  Though Siham doesn't know it, she is part of the plan, because she is going to agree to correspond with me in Facebook in French as part of my regular practice.

When I picked these goals for 2013, the plan was to work on them all simultaneously, but in a matter of weeks I learned that was basically impossible.  So, the current working plan is to try to keep them all at least minimally in play, but focus on different ones at different times.  The order of the goals above is roughly in line with the new chronology. Each goal has some kind of built-in deadline or event to test my progress, beginning next week (March 9-16), when I head to southern Utah for a week of outdoor rock climbing with the Saint Michael's College Wilderness Program.  After that, the Burlington City Marathon is May 26.  There is a built-in deadline for a draft of the Millennium Development Goal book in that I am teaching the course that will be using it in the fall, so it has to be completed so we can use it as a text and also critique it.  French will be a focus in the fall, and will culminate in a week or weekend in a French-speaking place.  I'd like to reach my figure-skating goal in December, but still need to figure out exactly what form that would take (figure skating friends, I'm open to suggestions!).

The plan for the newest incarnation of the blog is to help keep me accountable and on-track with these goals.  I plan to write a post at least twice a month, with a focus on one or two of the goals and at least a brief statement on where the others are at.  I've talked to a lot of people who helped me out in the original Year of New Things and Year of the Challenge, and many of them have goals of their own that they're working on this year.  So, I'd like to make a request that if people have their own goals, that they write in on this post and list them, and also use the blog (or their own) as a way to keep track of their own progress.  And of course, anyone who is sharing one or more of the specific goals listed above, by all means, let me know so we can figure out how to do some work on them together.

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