52 To Do – Top 10

January 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

When I tell people about my blog they always ask what my favorite week has been. It’s always hard to pick a favorite but I can name my top 10. If you’re looking for some fun, interesting things to try out for 2012, here were my favorites from this past year in no particular order:

1. Learning to roast coffee – If you claim to love or live on coffee, this is something you have to try. Unfortunately for those who live in apartments where it’s hard to get outside this may not be ideal for you (there’s smoke). Sweet Maria’s has a great starter kit for $45.

It will seriously become your favorite cup of coffee. Ever.

2. Ice fishing (or something that seems completely out of your range of possibility) – We spent the day with friends trying something none of us had ever tried before. While we didn’t catch any fish, we did arguably have the best laugh of 2011.

Getting out and doing things I’d never done before to embrace winter made a huge difference living here in Boulder.

3. Researching my ancestry – I definitely looked at my life differently after understanding more about where I came from. Plus it is a great thing to do with your family. I spent the week with my family going through old pictures and hearing old stories, many I had not heard before. It was a nice way to spend time together.

It was good to get my parents to talk about what they remember. I only wish my grandparents were still around. I have so many questions for them.

4. Churn homemade ice cream with friends – I bought a hand churn ice cream maker (White Mountain 4 qt. hand crank) and this proved to be a fun summer activity with friends. If you do get the hand churn one, you pretty much need the extra help since it isn’t easy!

My friend Jess (who also accompanied me on lots of blog adventures) gave me a great ice cream recipe book that did us right. It was a toss up between the goat cheese ice cream and the roasted coffee ice cream (we of course used fresh home roasted coffee for that) as to which was the best.

5. Learning about wine – I owe a huge thanks to my friends at Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder. James Beard award winner, Bobby Stuckey, welcomed my project early on letting me shadow his amazing crew of sommeliers on what it’s like to live for wine. I’ve made lots of new wine buddies through Frasca and the Boulder Wine Merchant. With more Master Sommeliers per capita than any city in the U.S. Boulder is a good place to be to learn about wine.

6. Hike a 14er – In 2011 I officially became a Coloradan by climbing my first 14,000 foot mountain with my friend Alicia (another partner in crime with many blog projects).

You likely won’t have mountains like that around but maybe there’s another physical feat to try that makes you equally feel a part of where you’re living. Boston marathon? Rowing the Thames? Surfing in Santa Monica?

7. Learning how to knit – This was a favorite for multiple reasons. I gained a new skill that is incredibly relaxing. I made some beautiful cowls that served as well-received holiday presents and to top it off I made a new friend in the process.

I also found a gem of a local store (Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins) where I will continue going for yarn and pearls of wisdom from the fantastic crew of ladies that work there.

8. Shooting a gun – I will likely never own a gun but I am glad I learned how to shoot one this year (target range only). It is an experience you could never understand without actually doing it. I now know just how powerful and dangerous they are.

It was something totally foreign to me and outside of my comfort zone, but I felt like it was something I should try once in my lifetime. Plus it was a great way to spend the afternoon with my husband and his twin brothers in Portland.

9. Pasta making – Pasta is one of those staples around the house and making it yourself is not only easy but worth the little bit of effort. The difference in taste is amazing.

I’ve continued along with it and for New Year’s Day dinner tonight I’ll be making some homemade orchiette I learned to make from Brian, another Frasca friend.

10. Reading about philosophy and religion – One of the best outcomes of the year was learning to think for myself again. It was a great exercise to dust off some books on philosophy and religion and to challenge my thinking in that regard a bit again.

It’s easy to get caught up in day to day issues and worries and can be enlightening to realize we’re just a blip on the radar when it comes to humanity. We are trying to answer many of the same questions people have been trying to answer for centuries.

defy gravity

May 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

I’ve learned a lot about the history of philosophy this week but I thought I would end the week thinking about my own philosophy.

Glee is one of those uniquely spectacular shows that reminds you there is still quality TV out there. In my favorite episode, Kurt & Rachel compete for a solo from the musical “Wicked” called “Defying Gravity”. It’s a beautiful song and a great episode about overcoming limitations. I’m not going to lie; it brought a few tears to my eyes.

Studying philosophy this week I think a lot of it boils down to us trying to make sense of our possibilities and our limitations. Where do we fall between those two things?

As a kid I started earning the nickname “Darcie Don’t” because I tended to get into things. My grandmother worried I’d never want to do anything with my life, so she started calling me “Darcie Do” instead which luckily won out in the end. It became a good identity to foster into adulthood that lead me to a lot of great adventures.

4 years ago I went through a very painful divorce and something changed. That experience was followed by an incredibly demanding job where I didn’t have much opportunity for levity. I lost my ability to see things the way I used to & even though I tried to hide it I became a fragile person living with a lot more fear, depression and doubt.

This year has been inspiring in so many ways, but there has been one experience in particular that has helped remind me that I’m not the kind of person to define myself by limitations. I started working with an organization called Paradox Sports and met Malcolm Daly who is an incredibly inspiring person to work with. As an organization they literally defy gravity, taking injured veterans and others with disabilities to places most people never see to do things like scaling huge walls of ice. Their events aren’t about helping disabled people feel “normal” but about reminding people of how amazing they are despite what’s happened to them or limitations they may live with.

Every time I meet with Mal for coffee we end up looking out at the flatirons and he nudges me that he wants to teach me how to climb and get over my fear of heights. In honor of my new personal philosophy to “defy gravity” I guess this is me officially saying there will be a climbing week.

i will take anxiety over boredom any day

May 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

When I decided to learn more about philosophy this week I found a great book, The Philosophy Book, that gives a quick & interesting background on many of the ideas we’ve all heard but may not have known where they come from. It’s a great book to get an overview on.

One of the ideas that struck me the most was from Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher considered the father of existentialism who wrote “anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”.

He uses an analogy I can relate well to (given my extreme fear of heights) of a person standing on a cliff or a tall building looking down. He says that person will experience two distinct types of fear. One fear is of falling while the other is fear brought on by the impulse to throw himself off the edge. It’s the second type, anxiety, that comes from the realization he or she has absolute freedom to choose whether to jump or not.

Kierkegaard argues people feel the same “dizzying” feeling in their lives when they realize they have complete freedom to make their own decisions. It can be terrifying to know what to do with your life sometimes. I’ve had many moments of anxiety over the past year as I’ve transitioned from working all the time to exploring other things. There’s something that feels safe and secure about having the routine of a full time job. It’s scary not to know what I “should” be doing with my time and feeling uncertain about my next paycheck.

Kierkegaard goes on to say that while having so much choice can induce a bit of despair, it also shakes us from our unthinking responses by making us more aware of the available choices. As a result we are more self-aware by opening ourselves up to what else might be out there.

I know so many people who feel stuck in what they’re doing sometimes and are afraid to re-invent themselves because it’s an unknown. I also know a lot of people who, by choice or circumstances, have embraced the “dizziness of freedom” to see what else they might like to do. I really can’t think of a single case where that person wasn’t happier or at least closer to doing what made them happy.

I guess you just have to tell yourself it’s not like you’re jumping off a cliff or anything.

know myself

May 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today I went to Delphi to the Temple of Apollo and the site of the most famous oracle. It’s not only a fascinating piece of history but it’s a really beautiful spot in the mountains. I think I picked the perfect time to visit in Spring with all of the wildflowers blooming among the ruins.

In thinking about philosophy, Delphi is another extremely important institution because people would travel from all over not only Greece but the rest of Europe and Asia as well to “find answers” ranging from personal questions to political advice to whether to declare war. I suppose the only equivalent nowadays would be tuning into Oprah.

Although I couldn’t find it there today (surprising I don’t read ancient greek),on the entrance to the temple the words “Know Thyself” are inscribed there. I believe I had that on the wall of my college dorm at some point. Those words are odd for a place you have to travel hundreds of miles to in order to get advice from someone else. I guess in the end the oracle was more of a validation of sorts. According to a 10th century encyclopedia of knowledge “the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are and that “know thyself” is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude. It was sort of an “oh snap” to all of those 5th century BC people who thought they knew everything but really didn’t even know much about themselves. Those people were annoying even then.

Even well after the ancient greeks were grappling with annoying know-it-alls, Benjamin Franklin wrote: “There are three things extremely hard, steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” I would agree. There have been so many times I’ve thought I understood something pretty clearly about myself only to find myself completely questioning how I could have seen myself that way. Time, circumstances and maturity seem to do that.

I suppose knowing oneself and acting upon things that happen in the world can be two different things and the important thing is to try to be true to who you are at each step. At least that’s my interpretation having made the long journey to Delphi.

I wonder what Oprah would say.

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