Inspiration

Kim Swims: A Documentary

I came across Kim’s story while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Wild Ideas Worth Living. The specific episode, FACING FEAR WITH KIM CHAMBERS has become one of my favorites. “If you want to do something that changes your life,” Kim states, “surround yourself with people who believe in you . . . normalize greatness.”

The documentary isn’t my favorite, but her story is. She’s pretty awesome.

Kim’s WILD journey

Kim Chambers was 30 years old, an athlete and a powerful executive, when she slipped and fell down a set of stairs. The injuries she sustained changed the course of her life. Not only did she prove doctors wrong about being able to be an athlete again, but she became one of the most accomplished marathon swimmers in the world, after never swimming competitively in her life before the injury.

In 2014, she became the sixth person (and third woman) to complete the Oceans Seven, which is the marathon swimming equivalent of climbing the Seven Summits, with each swim chosen for its treacherous conditions. Then, in 2015, Kim set a new world record when she became the first woman to swim thirty miles from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a swim that’s incredibly dangerous. It’s full of strong currents, extremely cold water temperatures, big waves, and a large population of great white sharks. But Kim didn’t let fear stop her.

Today, the accomplished swimmer uses her platform to inspire women (and men) of all ages to appreciate their bodies and to pursue their dreams even if they seem unrealistic. While she continues to set new records and battle more challenges herself, she remains a master at teaching people to face fear, even to say yes to it, and push through to achieve their goals (via).

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Real People  :  Podcasts

Get Out There : Normalize Greatness

51l+G4Yrv2L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I recently listened to a discussion with Kim Chambers on REI’s podcast, Wild Ideas Worth Living, and it kinda charged my life.

Kim Chambers was 30 years old, an athlete and a powerful executive, when she slipped and fell down a set of stairs. The injuries she sustained changed the course of her life. Not only did she prove doctors wrong about being able to be an athlete again, but she became one of the most accomplished marathon swimmers in the world, after never swimming competitively in her life before the injury (via)

She attributes her success, largely, to the company she kept. By inserting herself into a world of adventurers who were, at their core, just ordinary people who were doing amazing things, she found herself surrounded by a society who had normalized great achievements. Suddenly, doing great things wasn’t so impossible. It was ordinary, if not expected. “If you want to do something that changes your life,” she says in the interview, surround “yourself with people who believe in you.”

This idea, of normalizing great achievements, has inspired me. Encouraged me. And challenged me to get out and surround myself with people and stories of people who do amazing things. To get comfortable with living a bit more wild, and free, and different. To make thinking different the norm, rather than the exception.

To help get my mind and body kickstarted, I bought a few books (and a bike), and I’ve just recently finished the first, Out There: The Wildest Stories from Outside Magazine. Here are few of my favorite stories, in order of appearance:

  • They Call Me Groover Boy, by Kevin Fedarko, “What’s it like to be captain of the ‘poop boat’ and steering three weeks of human waste through some of America’s gnarliest whitewater? Read and find out.”
    (no video for this one:)

  • The Hell on Earth Fitness Plan, by Nick Heil, “In 2008, {Nick} heard about Gym Jones, a back-to-basics workout center with a (very) tough love ethos run by former climbing star Mark Twight. We’re still somewhat surprised Nick lived to tell the story.”

  • Open Your Mouth and You’re Dead, by James Nestor, “The freediving world championships occur at the outer limits of competitive risk. During the 2011 event, held off the coast of Greece, more than 130 athletes assembled to swim hundreds of fee straight down on a single breath - without (they hoped) passing out, freaking out, or drowning.”

  • Quoosiers, by Eric Hansen, “The Quidditch World Cup sounds dorky, and make no mistake: it is. But these sorcery-loving Harry Potter fans play pretty tough, as Eric Hansen found out when we sent him to captain a bad-news team of ex-athletes, ultimate Frisbee studs, slobs, drunks, and some people he knows from Iceland.”

  • The World’s Toughest Bike Race is not in France, by Jon Billman, “The rules are simple: Start pedaling at the Canadian border, and the first fat tire to hit Mexico wins.”

  • Reversal of Fortune (Lucky Chance), by Elizabeth Weil, “Maybe you’ve never heard of Lucky Chance - born Toby Benham - but the Australian climber, circus act, and all-around stunt monkey was testing the limits of BASE jumping in 2011 when he survived a horrible mountainside crash in France. What happens when a highflier falls to earth? He starts over.”

The book is broken into three parts: To Hell and Back, Let the Games Begin, and Consumed. The last section appropriately spends time reminding us that there are indeed lines to our extremes, and when we cross them, bad things happen. Sometimes really bad things.

I absolutely loved this book, especially the middle story, “The Hell on Earth Fitness Plan,” from which my (I think) a better title for the book comes: Prove you’re alive (pg 166). A few pages later, Heil writes, “Changing your body is just mechanics; it changing your mind that presents the real challenge. If the mind is not first trained to enjoy hard work, to relish suffering, to address the unknown, then no program, no amount of training can be effective . . . the muscle we are interested in training is inside the skull” (pg 171).

Damn. That’s good.

To find a group of people with a similar mindset, who believe hard work and simple sufferings are normal, then suddenly, great things are happening. Because that too is normal.

And if one cannot find a group, be the group.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Books : Reading Log : Inspiration

The Other Half of Stories : An interview with NatGeo photographer Ami Vitale

Photo by Ami Vitale

Photo by Ami Vitale

(From Wild Ideas Worth Living Podcast)

In war-torn Gaza, Ami Vitale was asked to “focus on the violence.” Then, one day, while her and all the other photo journalists were capturing kids throwing rocks and soldiers bullets, Ami heard music. She followed it. And found a wedding.

“Why aren’t we telling these stories too,” she thought, “the ones that allow us to relate to one another as human beings.” She suddenly realized she was telling a lie, because she was only telling half the story. “There were all these other stories around us. Stories that allowed us to relate to one another as human beings, {stories} that allowed us to connect” by reminding us that we “share the same things on this planet.”

“As a journalist,” she continues, “I was being asked to create more fear and polarization on this planet and see those people as other and different than us. The truth is, it was just a beautiful young couple wanting the same things that we all want in life. That was when I stopped and asked myself, ‘Why aren’t we telling these stories too?’”

From then on, Ami Vitale changed the way she tells stories. She still captures the hard and terrible ones because that is still very much a part of life, but she also seeks out the beautiful and hopeful, the ones that inspire and spark joy, because those too are a part of life. And Ami Vitale wants to provide a balance and reminder “of our connections”, that we are all human beings on this world, longing for the same things, eager to tell and share our stories.

Our world could use a lot more people like Ami Vitale.

You can listen to her full interview at Wild Ideas Podcast or watch her How to Photograph Hope presentation for NatGeo Storytellers Summit.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Humanity  : Podcasts : Inspiring Art

Loved By All: The Story of Apa Sherpa

The true beauty of Nepal isn’t the mountains, but the people who live in their shadows.

Every spring, Mount Everest draws in people from around the world to conquer its peak. Despite the riches surrounding the highest point on Earth, the Sherpa people who live in its shadow remain poor with few educational opportunities. One man hoping to change this reality is Apa Sherpa, a child of the Khumbu and world-record holder for summiting Everest. Like many before him, Apa Sherpa was pulled from home at the age of 12 to work on the mountain as a high-altitude porter. Now, the Apa Sherpa Foundation is working to create a different future for the children of Nepal. As Apa says, "without education we have no choice” (via).

There’s something truly great about this story. A man who has accomplished (21 times!) what others spend years training for, dreaming of, and then risking their live’s to conquer, looks at his life and believes there’s something bigger and better. That his days on top the world are not enough.

He then chooses to spend his life serving and caring for others, and is satisfied. Because The true beauty of Nepal isn’t the mountains, but the people who live in their shadows.

You can watch more “short documentary films from around the world selected by the National Geographic video team” (via).

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiring films about Humans  :  Inspiring Art  :  Documentaries 

Calvin and Hobbes head out on an adventure

The first of anything is difficult. Even, sometimes, if you’ve been doing it for a while. For me, the first post of the new year is completely nerve wracking. There’s something about the first post that seems to set the tone, and it always makes me incredibly nervous. Sometimes I just dive in, like I’m jumping into a cold pool and I just need to get it over with. Other times I take my time, waiting for the perfect idea to come along.

This year, it took just over two weeks. But the wait was worth it.

On December 31, 1995, Bill Watterson published the final 'Calvin & Hobbes' comic strip. Little did he probably know how his little cartoon would inspire, encourage, and entertain the world.

Or inspire the beginning of a new year.

DSefSJBX4AA_qIP.jpg

It’s a magical world, and I’m ready for another year of exploring all that it has to offer, are you?

How creativity comes from the unexpected

Love this video.  

Its easy to get lost in the art and lose his words, but listen carefully. His process of creating is inspiring, and encouraging.  

“I had no idea what this animation would be when I started, and that’s really my big tip. If you’re ever feeling stuck or blank creatively, take a step into the unknown and start doing something . . . until it starts your interest or sparks an idea, and then build on that.”

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  : Inspiration  : Art

Three (plus two) favorite quotes from You Are A Badass

51ypp1C+97L._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

“If you want to live a life you’ve never lived, you have to do things you’ve never done.”

I just finished this book a few weeks ago and, to be honest, it wasn’t earth shattering. But it was a good reminder - a great reminder even - that I am a badass, and so are you. We just need to get rid of the many obstacles that we set in our way.

To help (inspire and save you time, if you can’t read the book), here are a few write-em-on-a-notecard points of encouragement that you can post on your frig, your dash, your workspace, or anywhere else you find yourself thinking and procrastinating.

In no particular order:

  1. “If you wanna stay stuck in the same place and keep getting spanked with the same lessons over and over, be negative, resentful, and victimized. If you want to get over your issues and rock your life, be grateful, look for the good and learn . . . write your thank-you notes!” (pg 120).

  2. “Sometimes the road to freedom lies in deciding you’d rather be happy than right” (pg 125).

  3. “If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse” (pg 153).

Favorite quotes that were quoted:

  1. “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past” - Lily Tomlin

  2. “We tiptoe through life trying to safely make it to death” - unknown

For more favorite quotes click here.

For more on . . .

Reading Log 2017  :  Reading Log 2018

Going Fishing : A Stop Motion Animation by Guldies

Made in the desk in his bedroom, Going Fishing is composed of 2500 still pictures (4530 taken) played in 18 FPS. It was shot with a Canon EOS 600D, animated in Dragonframe, and edited in Photoshop and Sony Vegas. The sound effects recorded with a Blue Yeti with a few downloaded from freesound.org (via).

A lot of that I don’t understand, but sifting through 4530 pictures, editing and composing 2500 of those and then creating this masterpiece of a film I do understand, and I love it.

And I’m inspired by it.

As a (perhaps want-to-be) artist, these little adventures of creativity always stick with me because I’m so judgmental of myself. Who’s gonna read that? or Why does this even matter?

But then I watch Going Fishing and I’m reminded that people are drawn to people who have passion, to people who create rather than destroy, and to people who - no matter how - try to make the world a better place.

And that is an encouraging though.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  : Inspiration  : Stop Motion

Do something great

IMG_2059.JPG

My wife sent me this photo on the same morning I listened to this podcast, Do Meaningful Work and Change the World with Adam Braun, "the CEO & Co-Founder of MissionU, a debt-free college alternative for the 21st century that CNN called 'perfect for young people who are eager to launch their career'" (via), and I truly enjoyed it. 

One of the more inspiring, or challenging, portions of the podcast came at near the 30 minute mark. It's his last interview question to anyone wanting to work for him and his ideas. The question is, "What do you consider to be your single greatest success that is unrelated to your career or your family?"

I asked this question to a few friends of mine and, as intended, it engaged us in a lengthy personal conversation about life. Mainly because we disagreed with the question, "There isn't time or energy for much work outside of my career and family!" And maybe that's okay, because the point of the question is to get to know someone, beyond the job, and find their deeper purpose, their deeper self - not what they did. Because it gets to the question of character. 

So when we struggle to find an answer outside of teaching or parenting or husbanding, that's okay, because we're not bragging about what we've done - our simple accomplishments - but the moments of growth, of inspiration, and of where we've been able to see where our work, our ideas, and our presence has been able to change the world. 

What would your answer be?

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  On Living   Favorite Podcasts

How to Keep Going

image by Austin Kleon

image by Austin Kleon

I really appreciated this talk by Austin Kleon. Not only does it inspire and encourage any artist who struggles with endurance and purpose, it's also pretty poignant to life - as all good art should be. 

"What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?" How we answer this question is not only how we live our lives, it's our art.

But what I like most about the mindset of creativity within a Groundhog Day world is the insulation of pretending like there is no tomorrow. That there's no chance of success nor is there chance of failure, "there's just the day and what you can do with it." 

Damn. That's good.

I was also challenged by number three, "forget the noun, do the verb." 

Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title without doing the work. Forget about being a writer . . . 'follow the impulse to write.' Because if you let go of the thing you are trying to be . . . and you focus on the actual work you need to be doing . . . it will take you some place further and far more interesting. 

But really, the whole thing is pretty fantastic.

Here's a list of his 10 Ways to Keep Going

how-to-keep-going.jpg

"Everything you need to make extraordinary work can be found in your ordinary life. You just have to pay attention to it."

Here's a similarly inspiring chart, Successful VS Unsuccessful people, and the habits that define them.

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration  :  Embracing hardships