Final Reverb 10 posts, and Adventure 40/52: Baking for my neighbors

Veggies: Last night's dinner of black bean burgers, sweet potato fries, and delicious cheeses from Findlay Market was a veggie-rific way to end the year.

Wine: Unsurprisingly, I drank champagne last night. Surprisingly, I didn't drink too much!
With the first post of 2011, I conclude the Reverb 10 challenge and the Year of 52 Adventures.

December 28Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today. (Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)

In 2011, I’d like to achieve genuine interest in greeting each new day, feeling excited and content about the opportunities that might arise. 10 things I can do to experience that feeling today:
-Laugh and smile more
-Make plans with DP and others for travel, social events, etc. that I can look forward to
-Make conversation with someone
-Practice yoga
-Continue organizing the house
-Get moving (rather than sit in front of this computer!)
-Compile a “to-try” list of intriguing recipes
-Get a massage
-Dance with abandon
December 29Defining Moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year. (Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)
After a tiring spring weekend spent writing recommendation letters for many students applying to the same national award (one of them won – hooray!), DP and I went through with our plans of attending one of Xavier’s final Ethics/Religion and Society lectures of the year: An informal conversation with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson and Gene Logsdon. (A podcast of the lecture is available, thanks to Citybeat … please do yourself a favor and listen.) Mr. Berry lamented the “TGIF” culture and encouraged us to find work that was also our leisure. He also joked about not liking screens—as in computer, phone, TV, or movie screens. However, he made one exception: screen doors are pretty okay.

I was so inspired by his ideas that I called in “well” that Monday morning so I could eat breakfast on my back deck while reflecting in my journal on how I might attempt to live according to those ideas. Although I’m still far from embodying a balanced existence, I have become more aware of when I’m feeling especially “TGIF”-ish and I have spent many additional hours since then reflecting on how I can realign my actions, priorities and attitude to live a more integrated and satisfying life.
December 30Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year? (Author: Holly Root)
While I do adore the Le Creuset Dutch oven that DP gave me this Christmas (it has a lifetime guarantee, he would like you all to know), I think my favorite gifts from this year have been intangible: people gifting me with their presence. As simple as DP agreeing to go on a walk with me, even when he has a ton of papers to grade; Mia and Krishna inviting me to tea at Essencha; my sister-in-law Amy inviting me to spend my birthday with her, followed by dinner with Marge and Marlene; Jaime being my yoga, surfing and Flying Pig training buddy; my parents welcoming us home for the holidays, with lots of meals over wine, walks with my Dad, and wall-paper removal; Carrie and Steve having us over for wine and great conversation on a late summer night; Colonel De schooling me on spices with great patience and joy  Those are the first few that come to mind; I know there are many more from this year, and I look forward to more gifts of time and presence in 2011.
December 31Core Story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.) (Author: Molly O’Neill)
Prior to completing Reverb 10, the script in my head was “2010 sucked. I spent a lot of it feeling unhappy, angry, and tired. Good riddance!” As I honestly contemplate my experiences and lessons learned, I realize that I am incredibly fortunate, blessed, and hopeful—even during a year that felt far from my best. My core story: My optimistic nature cannot be squelched.

And now, the last adventure of 2010….
Adventure 40/52: Baking for my neighbor.
This adventure required the most courage and motivation of any others I've completed this year. It's not coincidental that I fulfilled it during the final hours of 2010; without question, I was avoiding it. In fact, I was avoiding it so much that I couldn’t even mention it in the December 20 reverb prompt. Let’s just say that this adventure (or rather, the reason behind this adventure) forced me to acknowledge some hard-to-face truths about myself. So, with a pounding but open heart, I knocked on my neighbor’s door to deliver a plate of cookies and a loaf of cranberry bread. This is the first of many, many things I need to do to become a better neighbor and community member, but it’s a start. And, while DP was a great support to me, one of my students was the true inspiration. Without our conversation a few weeks ago, I’m certain that I would have continued to blow off this much-needed adventure. Thank you, MR, for giving me courage from afar when I needed it most.

The Year of 40 Adventures has a decent ring to it. Sure, I wish that I’d finished 52 so I could become a card-carrying member of the club, but to be honest, I completed about 37 more than I would have without inspiration from Kimberly Hula and the adventuring community she developed. My achievement comes not from the number I completed, but rather from the new, active role I’ve taken in creating a more interesting life for myself. This may be the official end of the Year of 52 Adventures, but it’s just the beginning of a lifetime of adventures for me.

Have a great start to 2011!


  1. Jen I love reading about your adventures! What a great way to turn around an ordinary day into something memorable!

  2. Thanks, Michelle! It's been a fun way to spend the year.

  3. I love what you wrote about the gift of time and presence. Those are truly the things that matter. The short visits I've had with you in 2010 have always left me feeling enriched in many ways. Thank YOU for your presence!


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