Category Archives: Readings

Kate Peterson

The Human Experience

Guest Post by Kate Peterson

This is the second guest post by my good friend Kate Peterson. Kate and her friend Melissa recently travelled Europe, after previously working in medicine in Nepal and Colorado. She is a running fanatic and has ran several marathons across the world. She writes far better than I do and I loved her posts during her trip.  Post trip she wrote these two special pieces entitled Adventure and The Human Experience, both which are now featured on this site. Enjoy

The Human Experience – Kate Peterson

“Traveling allows for meditation and introspection. It broadens your world view and alters how you see yourself and others. It provides answers but creates many, many more questions. It is a unique and challenging experience. As I was living the dream of backpacking across Europe, I kept wondering why I felt that something was missing. I think part of the answer can be found in recalling our visit to the Red Cross Museum. I had anticipated a visit full of despair as the human experience was marred by suffering, natural disasters and war. Instead, it was encouraging. Yes, there is and has been since the fall of man, suffering, natural disasters and war. However, we caught a glimpse of beauty in the pain. People, through the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, were responding to the human experience. During the 10 weeks we spent traveling, I experienced so much. I met tons of people. I saw new sights, heard new sounds, smelled and tasted new wonders. My sensory system was on overload. There was so much to take in. But I felt that something was lacking. I was so busy absorbing and traveling that I did not have an opportunity to respond. I could react, but that is not the same as responding. I am incredibly blessed to have a job that I love that allows me to respond to the human experience in a very tangible way. As a nurse, I am able to help others navigate the turbulent waters of illness and injury. To be sure, it is a difficult element of the human experience. But it is an honor and a privilege to respond. Through our responses, we can fully realize our humanity.”

Kate Peterson

Adventure

Guest Post by Kate Peterson

This is a guest post by my good friend Kate Peterson. Kate and her friend Melissa recently travelled Europe, after previously working in medicine in Nepal and Colorado. She is a running fanatic and has ran several marathons across the world. She writes far better than I do and I loved her posts during her trip.  Post trip she wrote two special pieces entitled Adventure and The Human Experience, both which are now featured on this site. Enjoy

Adventure – Kate Peterson

“Adventure. I love that word. It connotates wonder, excitement and opportunity. Possibilities abound in the word itself. But what does adventure mean? Each person may have their own definition. Alastair Humphreys, a Brit who biked around the world in four years, has a clear picture of adventure in his mind. I met a pharmacist prior to the marathon in Flanders Field who thought running 100 miles through the Sahara Desert was adventure. The frail, elderly lady may see going to the grocery store as an adventure. I believe adventure is anything that gets you out of your comfort zone, that challenges how you think and how you perceive the world. Adventures push the limits of capabilities. Adventures lead to discoveries like self-awareness, awareness of others, personal character aspects and new abilities and/or limits. You meet people, learn and gain new perspective, which allows a more full human experience. Living with a spirit of adventures allows you to vanquish three of my most dreaded fears; stagnation, apathy and complacency. Adventures allow you to capture unrealized potential. Adventures are freeing (notice I did not say free, although they can be). Often times, we get caught up thinking, “I couldn’t possibly go off on an adventure. I don’t have the money or the time.” I like the idea of mini-adventures. Colorado is great because it offers heaps of mini adventures. It may be a new hike or a camping trip or something entirely different. Before we left, Melissa started a list of adventures. It included things she had never done before like quitting her job, backpacking across Europe, playing an open mic night, dancing lessons, a week where everything she ate, including condiments, was homemade, paragliding, brewing kambucha, a day without electricity, a week without using her car, shooting a gun, and many others. One of the things that I love and respect so much about Melissa is her commitment to self-improvement and becoming a more well-rounded person.

One of the wonderful things about traveling is that you meet fantastic people. Three years ago, I met Lewis in Nepal. We have kept in touch and I have learned quite a bit through our friendship. Lewis introduced me to “The Do” Lectures. These are seminars motivating people to experience life, to do. Lewis created a website entitled, Statements of Intent. The blog focuses on inspiration and travel. It features videos, quotes and reading excerpts to promote an attitude of adventure and living a life of purpose. I have included the link. I definitely recommend checking it out and taking time to listen to Alastair Humphreys.

Regardless of your definition of what constitutes an adventure, embrace it. By approaching each day as adventure, the scales of the mundane, predictability and apathy will be torn off.”

Jenn Vargas from 101in365

Interview with Jenn Vargas founder of 101in365

Our previous post about how to make a more awesome you we talked about the 101in365 challenge. 101in365 is a great website to get you motivated to go out and achieve your goals by helping you define and track 101 goals to complete in a year. The idea being small steps to make a big change in you. Today we have an interview with Jenn Vargas founder of 101in365 about how the site came about and her own 101in365 goals.

SOI: What gave you the idea for 101in365?
JV: The idea for 101in365 started when my college roommate and I were trying to decide what to do about new years resolutions. We decided we would each make a list of 101 things we wanted to accomplish in the next 365 days. We both tracked our lists on our blogs but it was pretty labor-intensive. A few years later I decided I wanted to try to automate some of it. So I did! And a weekend project just sort of evolved into what it is today!

SOI: What people have inspired you to do achieve your goals?
JV: I’m inspired by a pretty broad range of people for all different reasons. I try to learn from everyone (and vice versa!) I meet and just continually try to improve myself!

SOI: Are there any other videos / websites that help motivate you?
JV:
It really depends on the goals I’m trying to pursue at any given moment. I actually really enjoy reading through the Explore page on 101in365 or just browsing around to random lists to see what other people want to achieve. It inspires me to go beyond my own list and to motivate others to keep going with theirs!

SOI: What are some of the things on your 101in365 list?
JV:
One of my main goals for this year is to start my own company. My other goals range from “just because” type goals (“Start watching I Love Lucy from the very beginning”) to habits I want to develop (“Be more eco-friendly at home”) to pretty typical things (“Lose 15lbs”) to cool aspirational goals like “Meet and have a conversation with one of my heroes”.
My list is here if you’re curious! http://101in365.com/jenn

SOI: Thanks a lot Jenn.

Jenn Vargas is the founder of the inspirational website 101in365.com

How to Make a More Awesome You – 101 in 365 challenge

Many people will tell you that to achieve any goal in life it is about breaking the goal down into small defined steps. I am a great believer in this, if you have a goal however “ridiculous” you think it maybe then to achieve it all you have to do is work out what you need to get it, and break down the steps of how to reach this.

Take the 100 push up challenge. At the beginning it sounds ridiculous to be able to do this if you can only do 10 push ups or less. But with the challenge you build up and make it all the way to 100 using small incremental steps that make you better.

Randy Grayson talks about this concept as “Kaizen”. He talks about an American basketball coach called John Wooden.

Randy says, “If you’re no fan of basketball, you have no idea who this is, but all you need to know is that he was exceedingly successful using the principle of Kaizen.  If you would like to know more, check out this website:  http://www.hoophall.com/halloffamers/Wooden.htm.  Here’s a little quote for you, “The John Wooden-coached UCLA teams scaled unprecedented heights that no future organization in any sport is likely to approach. Under the masterful guidance of Wooden, the Bruins set all-time records with four perfect 30-0 seasons, 88 consecutive victories, 38 straight NCAA tournament victories, 20 PAC 10 championships, and 10 national championships, including seven in a row.”

When asked what his incredible success was due to, he once replied, “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur.  When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning.  Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made.  Don’t look for the big, quick improvement.  Seek the small improvement one day at a time.  That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.”

Breaking things down to improve something about yourself can be a very powerful tool in helping motivate yourself to achieve your goals. In this vein is the superb website 101in365. It is a website created by Jenn Vargas, a self confessed compulsive list writer, with the idea of making a “More Awesome You” by defining 101 steps, small or large to complete in 365 days. It is a great challenge and one which will give you a great sense of accomplishment when stuck to.

UPDATE: See our interview with Jenn Vargas here

The aim of 101in365 is to help you develop, track, and accomplish your goals in 365 days or less. You also have the huge support of the community on the site, which as anyone knows having others to egg you on and being around inspiring people helps inspire and motivate you. So it is time to apply some Kaizen and achieve what you want in life this year, starting today.

8 Tiny Ways to Improve Your Life – A lesson from Alastair Humphreys

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Many of the regular readers know of Alastair Humphreys. Motivational speaker and the man who cycled around the world for four years, he has also written some great articles. One of which I will like to share with you today, as I thought it was fantastic. In it he talks about the idea of small steps giving you big changes in your life and your outlook of it. In the same way that you can get the same out of a microadventure as you can a full on around the world expedition.

In that same vein, interior designers always say start with your bedroom in redecorating, as it is the first thing you see and the last thing at night and because of this can have a huge effect on how you feel as you go to bed and wake up.

Here is an extract from Alastair’s post “8 tiny ways in which I’m improving my life” (original here). Additional bolding of words added:

First the list, then the explanations:

Time
TV
Shower
Photo
Run
Read
Press ups
Pause

1. Time. If you get up a mere 10 minutes earlier each day, and go to bed 10 minutes later you will have created for yourself 5 extra days per year. That’s almost one extra year, gratis, in a lifetime. How much would you give for 5 extra days each year? You don’t need to pay: this is time for free. Time to be used. Free time!

2. Turn off your TV. Give this a try: do not turn on your TV for a day. Come home from work and use those evening hours to do something different, something creative. Once you’ve mastered a day without TV, try a week…

3. Have a shower. Sound advice indeed! But take a cold shower every day. It will save the planet, save you cash, and it feels great too! It sounds unpleasant, and the first step is pretty daunting. But once you’re in you realise it’s not so bad. And you feel so good once you have finished. Apart from being a great metaphor for much of what I try to do in life, a cold shower also sets you up well for the day. If you can endure something bad just moments after leaving your warm, cozy bed then the rest of the day will be a breeze in comparison! I’ve been doing this for a month or two now and reckon I have mastered it. I’ve now moved to showering outside under the hosepipe as my way of ramping up the challenge a bit, but I can appreciate that that may make me sound like a bit of a weirdo! Whether that will last into the winter remains to be seen…

4. Take a Photograph Everyday for a Year. I began doing this as my New Year’s Resolution for 2009. I started it to improve my photography skills. But I have come to value the challenge for the daily dollop of self-discipline it requires and because it forces me, however dull my day, to look around for something positive or interesting or beautiful. There is always something.

5. Run. Go for a run before breakfast. If you hate running go for a walk, or a bike ride. I find this a bit like the cold shower: when I wake up I don’t want to get out of my nice bed and go running. But I never ever regret it once I’ve done it. It doesn’t need to be long, just long enough to stir the blood, blow away the cobwebs, freshen you up, and remind you that you are alive and need to get on with life! If you don’t have time then just get off the Tube or bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way to work.

6. Read. Use the time you’ve saved by getting up 10 minutes earlier and by turning off your TV to read more. Most of us want to read more books. But by setting myself a quantifiable target (to read one book of fiction and one book of non-fiction every month) I have become more focused about getting stuck into all those books I want to read. Need some ideas of books to read? Try the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of all time for starters. Or one of my books!

7. Press ups. Another metaphor for my lessons from the road (think big, start small): if you do two press ups today, then three tomorrow (and so on), then eventually you’ll be able to do 100 consecutive press-ups… Sound interesting?

8. Pause. When I boil the kettle I used to do what most normal people do: see how many press ups I could do before the kettle clicked. (Waiting for toast to pop I would do sit ups, and I can do ten chin ups on my kitchen bar in the time the espresso machine takes to make a cup of coffee.)
But now I have a different tactic. Now when I am waiting for the kettle I take a seat, close my eyes, sit very still and just pause. I spend so much of my time rushing around that, to my surprise, I have come to really value these brief pinpricks of calm in my day. I try to empty my mind, but of course it continues racing on. Yet in the couple of minutes of quiet I feel my mind really starting to settle and to sift through the maelstrom for the good ideas, the important thoughts for the day.

If you like to read more from Alastair Humphreys, check out these other posts and his blog.

Alastair Humphreys – Do Lecture – 4 Years Around the World on a Bike

Alastair Humphreys – The Why of Adventure

Books by Alastair on Amazon: