Archive for January, 2011
It’s that time for New Year’s Resolutions. Here are a couple of ideas. Just the other day I received an email from a friend who said that she started a new tradition last year, opening the back door at midnight to let the old year out and then the front door to let the New Year in. On New Year’s night I ushered out 2010 and welcomed 2011 by opening the back and front doors. I’ll let you know how it works.
The second idea has caused me much thought. This past fall in the midst of my Nametags tour on the East Coast, I had a good conversation with a longtime buddy, who has started taking a lot of early morning photos. With his black lab Isabelle, who is to apple cores what French pigs are to truffles, Bill shoots what catches his eye on their walks around Upper Lake at Mount Holyoke College. Then he does fifteen minutes of Tai Chi.
I couldn’t resist asking how he chose Tai Chi. He said that each year he likes to create a good habit. When he turned forty, sixteen years ago, he wanted to maintain a lifestyle of skiing, mountain biking and general fitness. Tai Chi was a good way to maintain flexibility and concentration. His eyes light up when he says some days he gets closer and closer to transforming the series of movements into a continuous one.
When I told my mother about my conversation with Bill she captured it in red ink on a post-it, which she promptly stuck on the wall above the calendar in her kitchen. I looked at it soon after, noticing that she had written, “Create a new habit each year.” She’d forgotten the “good habit,” like so many of us do. I like the way that it reads now, a sort of hierarchical reminder, with good floating above the rest of the rest of the words. Create a good habit. Make it part of who we are. Take a series of movements and turn them into a continuous flow.
As we approach the end of the year I’m full of optimism: our film on the Kilimanjaro climb is nearing completion, our educational program, Nametags, is established and beginning to flourish, and I have an interested, talented, and motivated board of directors. We’ve cut 200+ hours of footage down to a film that captures many of our intended themes: how ordinary people achieve extraordinary feats, how we learn from the journeys we set for ourselves, and how having a goal bigger than ourselves can push us to the greatest heights.
In September and October I did a five state tour of our educational tour. We visited 32 schools in Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania and presented to 15,000 students. Nametags asks the students to look beyond our reasons to be separate and to see the budding genius in all of us. In our common journey inspiration is where we choose to find it. We have so much to learn from each other. One principal said, “Each child left the presentation an inch taller.” Another said, “Every student in the country needs to hear this message.” We will bring the message to as many as possible. In the fall, if we can secure corporate sponsorship, we will tour Nametags and the film throughout the country.
As much as we’ve achieved, 2010 has been a scramble. We’ve pared our One Revolution numbers to essentially two, Amanda on the film side, and me on the foundation side, though we’ve had support along the way particularly from Ryan Gass with film editing. Worries of how to keep moving forward, how to pay the bills at the end of the month, how to stay true to our dream have persisted. It’s been a daily struggle—a personal struggle that challenged me and Amanda more than Kilimanjaro ever could. The challenge forced us to prioritize our efforts and pare our lives to the bare essentials, but I’m optimistic. Due in large part to the board’s support, expertise, and guidance, we’re turning a corner.
While we started with an effort to gain equality for people with disabilities, our strength has been our universal approach. Instead of bringing one group up, we want to bring all groups together. We call ourselves One Revolution, but the aim is really a Revolution of One a Revolution of All—without any of the Marxist implications—but with a wink toward Aristotle and Buddhist tradition in creating a community that allows us to flourish.
Hopes for the New Year include a greater voice through relationships and support with corporate America and major foundations, and through more partnerships with a wide array of organizations. This blog started with the idea of saying goodbye to 2010, ushering in 2011, and creating a new good habit. While it’s been a busy year, I feel soft in mind and body. Both become stronger with use. With a nod to the Greeks version of health, I’d like to create a mind body habit to the written word and a daily heart rate rise. Twice a month I will produce some thoughts for the blog even if they are not completely formed. I worry that this thought is still not completely formed, but I will resist the temptation to wait until it is. Throughout 2010 I wrote numerous blogs that I didn’t publish because I didn’t think they were ready. In 2011 I will create a habit to finish thoughts enough that I can build on them with the next thought.
I just returned from a nose hair shattering cross-country ski, and it was great. When I retired from competitive sport I said that I would train to play and make my play training. My maxim proved easier in theory than practice, as there was always something else to do, some reason not to sweat. The specter of guilt hung heavy in my mind because I’d made the pursuit of physical fitness my career for so long. I envisioned that growing up I should have more responsible pursuits, but the ultimate goal is to be healthy and happy. In the New Year I want to create the habit of sweating, of raising my heart rate, of pursuing fitness, at least once a day.
Happy New Year.1 comment