So a few blogs back, I blogged about a woman who chose to live in her van… While discussing “No Impact Man” with a friend, this article came to mind that I came across a while back…

I don’t think I’d be able to rough it in a cave. I like my hot showers, cozy bed and friendships, but I do admire his understanding of life and the world. My favorite part of the article:

“Why is it sad that I die in the canyon and not in the geriatric ward well-insured? I have great faith in the power of natural selection. And one day, I will be selected out.” Until then, think of him like the raven, cleaning up the carcasses the rest of us leave behind.

Normally, I’m often really annoyed by people who reject society completely because, society is kind of cool. I’m inspired by the people I’m able to interact with on a daily basis. I don’t hate the concept of a job or earning a paycheck. In some sense, it makes us more appreciative for the things we do have/are able to afford. I’m also convinced that you can and should love your work to some degree. I could speak more negativel y about the people we choose to make important decisions or to be leaders but I won’t because it’s up to me to change that and I normally would say that living in a cave definetely isn’t going to fix the ills in this world but after thinking about it more, I’ve decided it’s easier to make external changes and make OTHER things change but it’s diffcult to change yourself. And maybe real change starts with changing yourself and that’s exactly what this man did.

I feel like I’ve said enough and would like you to visit Daniel’s blog at http://zerocurrency.blogspot.com/ and listen to a real man of wisdom!

I’ve never been a fan of the Kindle. I like real books. I like the smell of old pages, of new pages, I like to write in the margins, fold my corners and go back and read those excerpts again. I like giving away books and take pride in the weight of books I have to transport whenever I move, as if carrying around a heavy trophy of knowledge. Basically, I’m a nerd. So when contemplating my reading options when I go to Kazakhstan, I came to the conclusion that when I’m only limited to transporting 100 lbs, books aren’t the best investment .

I decided that the Kindle was a smart choice because it’s lightweight, I could preload books before I move and the environmental footprint that I was concerned about before would be offset since I wouldn’t have books shipped all the way to Kazakhstan.

While doing research for my job, I found that universities are testing pilots that distribute textbooks through the Kindle.

This makes a lot of sense considering:

– this would take out the printing costs, which means lower costs for students – it would save paper and unneeded weight in your backpack

– updates in textbooks wouldn’t mean thousands of books being disposed of or recycled

– no worries about being able to sell back your books for the fraction that you bought them for…or being stuck with a book you can’t sell back but don’t have the heart to dispose of (recycle)

While digging deeper, I found that the carbon emitted over the life of the device is offset after the first year of use. According to an article from the New York Times, “in 2008, the U.S. book and newspaper industries combined resulted in the harvesting of 125 million trees, not to mention wastewater that was produced or its massive carbon footprint.”

“The report asserts that printed books have the highest per-unit carbon footprint — which includes its raw materials, paper production, printing, shipping, and disposal — in the publishing sector. “In the case of a book bought at a bookstore,” Ms. Ritch said, Cleantech’s measurement “takes into account the fossil fuels necessary to deliver to the bookstore and the fact that 25-36 percent of those books are then returned to the publisher, burning more fossil fuels.”

After that, Ms. Ritch said, there are three common next steps: “The publisher then incinerates, throws away or recycles them,” she said.

When the Kindle came out, I was sad that books probably had the same fate as albums and cd’s when mp3s came out. Goodbye. But after reading about the footprint of the publishing industry, I have less sorrow. I also considered how authors would profit from e-books but if you’re taking out printing costs, that could mean more money for the actual creator. As far as bootlegging goes, I don’t see it any different than a public library. I would have to say I haven’t purchased the majority of the books I’ve read in my lifetime.

If anything, having books electronically provides greater exposure for authors. Instead of reading a review and putting it on your “to-read” or “to buy/check out” list, you can download it immediately and get started! Also, who needs a publisher with e-books and why should we let publishers decide what we would want to read?

It’s a new age and I surprised myself at how little consideration I gave the Kindle before. I completely ignored its environmental benefits because of my attachment to books and justifying it by using mostly used textbooks. It makes me understand other people that I sometimes judge because they refuse to change old habits that are terrible for the environment. Changing values is hard.

I will always enjoy the feel of an actual book but I don’t think the Kindle is going to take that away from me just yet. Besides, all of the good books have already been printed!

I post this with hesitance because I looked up other aspiration statements when I was told to write my own and felt that I couldn’t get away with what I thought it SHOULD look like. I eventually got past it and wrote it with heart, despite it not fitting the mold of some that I read. My advice: You signed up for this because you had some kind of passion or heart behind it…now just use it!! Seriously, I think the more of yourself that you give these people, the better your experience will be.

Here is what I wrote in my Aspiration Statement (it’s hard to conceive but the original was much longer so I edited a bit for this entry).

Aspirations:
I aspire to be remembered as someone who made a difference in a child’s life. I think everyone has that one teacher that really made an impact on his or her students and I’d like to be that sort of role model for the students that I am helping out. I also aspire to be an understanding and eager colleague for those that I work with.

Expectations:

I know to expect the worst and hope for the best! This means that I expect things to get hard but my goal is to stay positive and know that this is what I signed up for and hard work is usually always extremely rewarding in the end. I expect for things to be frustrating when I’m in a different climate, eating different food and being around people who speak another language that I’m still learning. I expect to sometimes feel that nothing is going right and that I’m not making enough progress. This challenging experience is a part of why I signed up for the Peace Corps. I know what I’m capable of and I want to push that limit. I feel that I was limited at home with how little Americans sometimes know about the world and how having a direct positive impact is difficult from the states but I can make a difference immediately if I want to.

Desired Outcomes:

I want to absorb as much culture as possible and truly use the opportunity to become a part of an entirely different culture than I’ve ever experienced. I’ve started to think about ways that I can do this. For example, I can learn a skill or craft that is popular among Kazakhs. Although the language barrier may be hard to overcome initially, there are still other ways to communicate with people and show who you are. I think taking up an interest that is shared among those around me would help build relationships and make learning a language much easier.

I’ve always envisioned the Peace Corps as a life determining experience. I will wholeheartedly accept a change in career plans if the Peace Corps leads me in a direction I never could have imagined before my arrival in Kazakhstan. I hope that my Peace Corps experience will always be a part of me. To ensure this, I hope to find at least one project that I can continue to work on after my service whether it’s simply keeping in touch with people from Kazakhstan, raising funds for a project for the next volunteer or whatever other opportunity arises to make this experience one that I can stay engaged with for years after my service so I will not lose touch with the lessons learned while abroad. Many volunteers say that it takes several months to a year to actually start being effective in Peace Corps service because the first year is learning the language and building relationships in the community you live in. I’d like to extend this experience by making sure I continue to serve the country in any way, big or small, that I can.

Professionally, I hope the Peace Corps leads me to a career that is more than just another paycheck but something I really am passionate about working for.

Socially, I’d like to share my cultural experiences with other Americans as well as be a good representation of the United States during my service. I also hope that the Peace Corps gives me the taste of the world that I’m looking for. I signed up for the Peace Corps because I wanted to be around people that are worse off financially than Americans are even in a recession but are still happy with their lives. I want to struggle with the people around me and realize my struggles of being uncomfortable, adjusting to new food, learning a new language are much less of a struggle than the people who do not have access to the bounty of resources I have at home.

I’ll remember the experience that I dreamed of that involved experiencing the world through more than just a news story or a textbook but by touching a new ground, tearing down cultural barriers that Americans sometimes build around them and hugging a person on the other side of the world and telling them I’m listening to them and have left the country of comfort to serve them and create a connection from a girl who turned the television off and dove into cultural realities experienced by few others that dare not get off of their couch, their comfort zones, to experience a different part of the world.

While browsing TED.com, I came across this video that seemed to relate really well with my last entry.

It brought a variety of emotions out of me including:

Fear- It’s scary what a risk taking an alternative life direction can be. This woman did something out of the norm and ended up depressed and rejected by society.

Bravery – In order to truly be open to life and appreciate the great things in life, we must also accept the things that make moments great: the lower points that allow a contrast. Horrible moments in life are in store but we have to accept them as a part of the journey. No one would choose for these things to happen beforehand but this woman is a better person because of the things she endured and I have a better understanding and comfort with the things that lie ahead because of her experience and it leading to this seven minute video!

Optimism – You CAN pick the path that brings the most happiness, despite its acceptance to society, its contribution to the economy. People ARE understanding the true value in life and I think she makes a great point about being open to those paths and she gives me hope that I can move forward and not be so afraid of the results and I can contribute to the happiness of others by taking the time to meet new people and try to understand those that I just walk by on a regular basis.

I was seriously really afraid and sad at the beginning of this but things turned around! One sweet victory over our enemies.

From GOOD collaborator Frank Chimero’s blog, http://blog.frankchimero.com/

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

From a speech to environmentalists in Missoula, Montana in 1978 and in Colorado, which was published in High Country News in the 1970s or early 1980s under the title “Joy, Shipmates, Joy.”, as quoted in Saving Nature’s Legacy : Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity (1994) by Reed F. Noss, Allen Y. Cooperrider, and Rodger Schlickeisen, p. 338.

This quote speaks to me when I think of what I want to do in the future, what I’m doing now, how i enjoy the things around me, how i interact with the people around me. I’m in a unique position where I have limited time in the place that I’m comfortable at, where the people speak the same language and where I’m familiar with most of the gems I’d like to uncover before I leave. It’s moments like this where I am able to look past what NEEDS to be done right now (bills, homework, planning) and realize that those things will be taken care of eventually but I still manage to become so entangled in that train of thought. Must. produce. results. Adventure calls! Where are we going?!

Failed attempt at a staged adventure (beautiful runs along the reservoir are highly recommended though!)

Taking a breather in nature's chair (don't get mad at me for posting this, Ms. C!)

924/1206 overall
68/102 in my age bracket
Time: 2:23:06.1
Average pace:10:55/M 

Considering the crazy hills I had to run (ok, WALK!) up, 
it wasn't too bad because my training pace is usually a 
10 min mile.

I'm satisfied! I'm sad I can't post a pic of me being 
exhausted or proudly holding up my medal but you get the idea! :-)

I’m running a half marathon this Sunday morning. It’s supposed to rain and although this isn’t a new finding that my training has been terrible, I will describe my training regiment.

Ladies and gentlemen, the top ten things NOT to do while training for a half marathon.

10. Decide six weeks before the half marathon, “Hey, I haven’t been out for a run in over six months. Maybe I should run 13 miles six weeks from today.” Step two: proceed to go online and sign up immediately. No looking back now!

9. Attempt to train for a marathon at the beginning of spring in Colorado, where winter shows up in random places, leaving snow and muddy trails everywhere. That training schedule you made? Gone! You just lost a week of running. Go not pass go. Do not collect $200. (instead, pay up $50!)

8. Attempt to train for a marathon while completely broke and unable to eat completely healthy. (although if you have some secrets or tips, do let me know!

7. Neglect keeping yourself hydrated on a daily basis, so when you’re running along the river, you half-way consider hunkering down and lapping up water like a puppy.

6. Refuse to map out your path beforehand because you like to discover new places and run to wherever feels right at the time…only to get lost on some random country road and end your ten mile run 2. 5 miles away from your home after dark because of your little detour. This feels greeaaat.

5. Neglect to buy a headlamp or some sort of clothing that identifies yourself running alongside the road or on a dark, empty trail so passerbys or drivers are surprised when you just suddenly pop up on the side of the road. RAWR!!

4. Run everywhere BUT the actual course because of your lack of planning to allow enough time to bike there, run and bike back. Running up the Foothills can’t be THAT much worse than running alongside the flat river, right?

3. Attend $0.25 drink night less than a week before your marathon. This night will take you two days of recovery.

2. Refuse to train during the same time of day that your actual run is. 8:30 a.m., 6:00 p.m. I’m SURE my energy level is the same during those two times anyway!

1. Write a blog that encourages other people that you can be a slacker and still run ridiculous races. It’s probably not the best information to share because you could seriously hurt yourself but some of the things I’ve done right:

  • Not running everyday. It’s important to give your body rest. My schedule looked like this (I went astray for a while but generally followed the schedule.) In miles:

Week 1: 3, 3, 3,
Week 2: 4, 4, 6
Week 3: 6, 4, 6
Week 4: 6, 6, 6
Week 5:8, 10, 8
Week 6: 10, 12(never ran this much) 10 (ran 6 miles instead)

It looks a little different than most schedules (many that I saw had a few shorter runs that built up to one long run at the end of the week) but I wanted to build up slowly to avoid injury. Well…I think that’s the only thing that I did right but I’ve been running 10 min miles and I’m generally a pretty active person so hopefully i won’t have a heart attack.

Wish me luck! Two days left!

The Course

The Fun!