Tag Archives: New year resolution

Practicing MAXIMUM ENTHUSIASM

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THIS IS EPIC

This weekend I practiced MAXIMUM ENTHUSIASM with great success. My 10 year-old step-daughter, Evelyn, wanted to hike the King on Saturday, and then again on Sunday. Her enthusiasm was infectious and reminded me of my New Year’s Resolution to be more enthusiastic.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how good we have it. When we’re wearing the glass slipper, we hardly remember that at midnight we just might turn into a pumpkin. The key to happiness is to be aware of our good fortune. When life is good, we must celebrate it.

So when my step-daughter decided she wanted to tackle the King, I was enthusiastic. She asked how long I thought it would take. “An hour probably,” I told her. “But we can bring snacks and take as long as you want.”

She was game. After a hearty lunch of grilled cheese with a chocolate brownie back, we hit the trail. Even while we hiked up the steep trail she kept up her usual banter. “This is awesome,” she reminded me.

I looked around and remembered that she was right. This was pretty awesome. The ice cream scoop of Mt. Rainier, just 14 miles away, looked close enough to lick. Mt. Adams, a little further still, looked like one of those self-help posters you see at the chiropractor’s office, reminding you that no matter how hard the climb, the view is always worth the hike.

Steady, steady we climbed. While normally I’d be lost in my own breath, yesterday I listened to Evelyn. THIS IS EPIC, she said. Then, about half-way up the climb, when most people start to wonder why they ever decided to hike the King, she told me something amazing. She said, “This is the best day of my entire life.”

Top of the King with my two favorite people

You know something? She was right. It was the best day of my entire life too. Just look at where we were. Her father is alive and healthy; she’s growing older and smarter and faster; I get to spend my days in this place.

Sometimes the enthusiasm of a girl is infectious. Sometimes we must be willing to accept our muse where we find her. It took us 35 minutes to hike to the top of the King. That’s not a bad time by anyone’s standards. Pretty soon I won’t be able to keep up with Evelyn. For now, I’m relishing these moments with great enthusiasm.

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Creating Awesome: Why no one ever posts unflattering photos of themselves on Facebook

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Photographic Evidence

photo by Chris Morin

I have a friend who, when she came skiing with me last year, wanted an action photo of herself. For her Facebook page. She’d seen a photo of me skiing powder, the snow billowing around my shoulders and over my head. She wanted one like that.

Thing is, she’d never really skied powder. And she was on rental skis.

On the wall in the rental shop was a photo of a woman schussing impressively, snow flying off her sparkling skis, her arms flying across the rugged landscape. This was an adventure, and she was living it fully. My friend wanted a photo of herself to show that she, too, had enjoyed an adventurous day on the mountain.

What my friend didn’t realize, most likely, was that the woman in the photo had probably skied the same exact turn several times now because the photographer hadn’t gotten the light quite right yet. After spending many days at Crystal Mountain with photographers and videographers, I’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to get the right shot. Let’s just say this:  it’s not as exciting as it looks. Except for the shot Chris took of me above. That one was fun.

The Fire-stoking Nature of Instant Gratification

Stoking the Fire

Thanks to Facebook, we’ve all become a little more awesome. Just check those status updates and mobile uploads. Gone are the days when we hardly even remembered to take photos of ourselves, and when we did we barely ever had time to get the film developed. By the time we did get the envelope of photos back, we’d forgotten who was winning when we took that photo on the 50 yard line, and we couldn’t, for the life of us remember which hike last summer we’d stopped to take the photo of that waterfall. Those moments lost a little of their awesomeness when the commemoration lacked the ability to stoke the fire.

But now, we can take a photo of ourselves doing awesome things and bam!, all our friends get to see them too. Instantly. Check me out. I’m skiing powder. This is a great moment. Look at how white my teeth are in this photo.

The Beauty of Modern Life

This is an innate human drive dating back to caveman times when all our “friends” shared the same cave and all we had to do was roar or bring home a woolly mammoth to remind them how badass we were. But back then they also got to glimpse our more selfish moments. Like when we grabbed the woolly mammoth drumstick and scarfed it down before anyone else got a piece.

That’s the beauty of modern life. We can hide those negative flaws. No one ever posts unflattering pictures of themselves on Facebook. Not unless it’s a photo of their face half-eaten by a shark while they were saving a baby whale ensnared in a fishing net. Instead we roar our greatness to the world–like the time we climbed a mountain, or read an intelligent news story or our kids did something incredibly cute and potentially embarrassing someday. It’s all fodder for our Facebook profile.

Finding Awesome

Aha moment

So when my friend needed a new profile picture, I was happy to oblige. I brought along my Canon D90, readied the lens and watched as she traversed across the slope above me. She wasn’t bad. Her turns were actually pretty good. But this wasn’t going to be poster material. Maybe not even profile photo status.

My friend also has a photo of her “scuba diving” in a swimming pool in Vegas. And another one “hiking” in her backyard in Seattle. With just the right light and background, anything is possible. That’s what I love about my friend. She doesn’t need a grand landscape to enjoy the little moments. All she needs is a camera and the right outfit.

Finding Humility

Our online lives are full of awesomeness. Just check our status updates. Yesterday, I talked about my New Year’s Resolution: finding MAXIMUM ENTHUSIASM. And perhaps that’s exactly what Facebook and other social media allows us to do. We can recreate our experiences in the retelling. The story we tell about our lives becomes the new reality.

Just so long as we occasionally share a little vulnerability, it kind of works. No one really wants to be friends with a perfect person. That only makes you feel bad about yourself. Instead, we can share our photos and awesome moments with more enthusiasm and less ego.

As I continue on with my New Year’s resolution, I also plan on finding a little humility. Maybe I will share a less-flattering photo or two. Because even the moments that are less than amazing, when my physical feats sag a little and my teeth aren’t quite so white, are still AWESOME.

Weekly High-Five Report: Choosing a New Year’s Resolution

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Are New Year’s Resolutions a Gimmick?

I LOVE MY JOB!!

I’ve never been good at New Year’s Resolutions. They’re a gimmick, like 5-hour Energy or Bloody Marys, meant to get you out of bed with a hangover from the party of the year. A New Year’s Resolution almost feels like an obligation after all the holiday festivities. Oh yes, we declare to the world. Contrary to my behavior of the past two weeks, in fact I’m an uber-hydrated hard-body on her way to climbing Everest. Or at least committed to shedding those extra pounds I gained eating all those yummy chocolates everyone kept forcing me to eat at gunpoint.

I’m diabetic people. Waving a delicious dark chocolate covered caramel in front of me is just cruel.

So here we are, the first Tuesday after the New Year, the first day back to work for many, and it’s time to get on the Resolution bandwagon. I’ve already seen numerous skiers skinning up in the morning and evenings to burn calories and kick-start that exercise resolution. I imagine that in the city, reflector-wearing runners are lining the sidewalks, determined to stick to their new goal.

Finding a Different Kind of Resolution

SKIING POWDER IS AWESOME!!!

I’m looking for a new kind of resolution. I don’t need to resolve to get more exercise–my job already does that for me. The chocolates are gone now, and my blood sugars have evened out, so I’m safe from the pushers at least until Valentine’s Day.

What I need is a new perspective.

I’m not sure if it’s entirely kosher to just copy someone else’s resolution, but I found one over at www.semi-rad.com and it seemed to fit. Brendan Leonard calls it The Year of Maximum Enthusiasm, and it’s pretty rad (not just semi-rad).

In a nutshell, Brendan wants us to notice the awesomeness already in our lives. He quotes Kurt Vonnegut who said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”

The Story We Tell

This is brilliant. The story we tell about our experience actually shapes the experience. We are natural meaning-makers always wanting to explain the minutiae of our life (which, if I really think about it, is probably the single biggest drive for continuing this blog).

The more we remind ourselves that this moment right here, right now is awesome, the better it actually becomes. I’m healthy, my husband is alive, the trees and slopes are covered in snow. Life is good.

This IS the Good Stuff

AMAZING!!

So, next time I find myself skiing powder or flying in the floatplane or listening to a kid tell me a story of any kind, I will take note. I will pay attention. Then, and this is the important part, I will declare it. I’ll go right ahead and say, “this is really cool.” I’ll do a fist-pump, high-five someone, and speak in ALL CAPS. I won’t be stoic. I won’t smile into my collar. Instead, I’ll have MAXIMUM ENTHUSIASM. Because this is as good as it gets.

Bravo all you resolution-starters. High-five Brendan Leonard for the brilliant idea for MAXIMUM ENTHUSIASM. Way to go anyone you refuses to join the nay-sayers and haters. It’s easy to let your life suck. It’s much harder to take responsibility for your own happiness. Even if that means you have to add exclamation points and smiley faces to all your correspondences.

Hey, whatever it takes.