10,000 Hours

I finally  got around to reading Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.  It is a fascinating book looking at very successful people and shows that it is not just their individual skills and talent that got them where they are.  As Publisher’s Weekly states, “Gladwell tears down the myth of individual merit to explore how culture, circumstance, timing, birth and luck account for success—and how historical legacies can hold others back despite ample individual gifts.

That might sound discouraging to those of us looking for more success, it might make you think that you just aren’t lucky enough to be successful, however, that is not the message that I took away from the book.

Early in the book, the author states that people who are extremely successful at what they do, all have one certain thing in common. They  have spent a huge amount of time practicing their craft.  According to Gladwell, the magic number is 10,000 hours of practice.  Be it music (Mozart and the Beatles) or computer programming (Bill Gates), the supersuccessful spent had not just luck and favorable circumstances, but much more persistence than your average person.

What this tells me is that you really can accomplish quite a bit with hard work and persistence.  Those who see the opportunities that are available to them, who persist through difficulties and spend the time to master every aspect of what they do, are the ones who will be successful.

I find this encouraging.  It tells me that the “outliers” were not just born that way.  They may have started with just a small amount of talent, they may have gotten “lucky”, but ultimately  it was their hard work and persistance that brought them to success.  In other words, if they can do it I can do it!

So how long does it take to become a master?  Not just an expert, mind you, but a master?  You would need to practice 2 hours and 44 minutes, every day of the year, for 10 years to get to 10,000 hours.   That might seem like a long time, but is it really?  When you consider that those 10 years will go by anyway, wouldn’t you like to find yourself 10 years later with complete mastery of what you do?

So keep your eyes open for the opportunities that present themselves to you. Find your passion and work diligently towards your goals and you might just find that 10 years from now, you are the Outlier.

New Year, New Changes

Happy almost 2009 to everyone. With the new year I am going to be making some changes to this blog. Despite the fact that Google refuses to give it a page rank, and despite the fact that I don’t post enough here, this is still my favorite blog. While I will allow myself to write on whatever I feel like, in the coming year I will be focusing more on my outdoor adventures.

You see, it wasn’t that many years ago that I would have been too afraid to go whitewater rafting, rock climbing, or mountain bike riding. When I think about it, it even seems a little silly to me that a slightly overweight, late forties woman would suddenly think she is mountain woman and start doing all these outdoor things. But still, just last weekend, I rode my mountain bike 3 miles, and then hiked another 1/2 mile just to see a waterfall. In the rain, and mud. On a trail on the side of a cliff. Mud is very slippery, and the brakes on my bike don’t work well when they are wet. But the waterfall was beautiful, and I had a great time!

kpwaterfall

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t do any of these things well. In fact, I do them pretty poorly. On my bike ride I got my pants caught in my chain…twice! Fortunately I was going so slow I didn’t crash.

Hopefully, by sharing my adventures with you, maybe I can make you believe that you can be too overweight, and too old, and too out of shape, but you can still do all this cool stuff, and have fun. And by having fun, you find you are losing weight and getting in shape, and you don’t feel so old after all!

Get Paid To Blog

I like to blog. I also like to collect blogs. I have been telling myself “No More Blogs!” But today I started a new blog. (You can see it here.) The reason I started yet another blog, is that with this new one, I know I’ll earn some money. Money is good. It pays for hosting and domains. The new blog is with Today.com. You start a blog with them, and they promise to pay you $1 for every post you make for the first month. The post must have at least 100 words, and they only pay for one post per day. But I figure there is another 27 days in December, so I know I can earn $27. After the first month, your payout can go up or down, depending on the quality of your blog and how much traffic you are getting.

I gave some thought as to what I wanted the topic of my new blog to be. I decided to do free blog reviews. Bloggers like to have their blogs reviewed. I like to review blogs. Sounds like a match! So the new blog is Best Blog ReviewsReview Me Today. If you would like me to review your blog for free, just go over to my new blog and leave a comment. I’ll write your review and then you can show it off to all your friends!

Better yet, why don’t you start a new blog at Today by clicking on that flashing banner. That will make me happy, because, once you have a blog with Today, they have a pretty nice affiliate program! It will make you happy, because you know you will make some money! Then, once you have a few posts, get your blog reviewed by Best Blog Reviews Review Me Today! You will get more traffic, which will help you earn more money.

If you start a new blog with today, leave a comment here and let me know the URL. I’ll make sure to visit your blog and leave a comment with you.

Grand Canyon Day 2 and Beyond

I have decided that if I go into great detail on every day of the trip, I will end up writing a book! Plus there are many other things going on that I would like to write about. For this post I am going to summarize the trip, and then as I get time and ambition I’ll write more about the highlights.

I and all the other guests quickly adapt to life on the river.  A typical day starts with the blowing of the conch shell announcing a fabulous breakfast. During our week on the river we are treated to eggs cooked to order, bagels and lox, and pancakes and sausage. Plus always, cold cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, hot chocolate, tea, and coffee. I am pleased to find I am in no danger of going hungry.

After breakfast is cleaned up we load the boats, clean the beach (making sure we leave only footprints), and after a last groover call, it is back on the water for more serene floats and wild rapids, surrounded by the everchanging geology of the canyon cliffs.

Almost every day includes a hike, and almost every hike includes rock scrambling. I’ve never done rock scrambling before. This is where, using only hands and feet, you climb up and down cliffs that before I would have thought were impassable.  When you look closely you find there are small places where you can put a foot, or get a grip with your hand.  Often the rocks are hot! Once I grabbed a cactus instead of a rock. Ouch!  The guides are great.  They are patient and give me plenty of time to find my own way, and only offer advice when I ask. We hike to see amazing waterfalls, rock formations, fossilized shells, and wildlife.  Hiking up a narrow creek we walk just a few feet past a young Eagle.  Our guides think it is a young golden eagle, but I think it may be a bald eagle.  It is holding its wing out, like some birds do when tired, but It does not seem injured and I don’t know why it didn’t fly away.  Maybe because the passage was narrow.  Maybe because he was just as surprised to see us as we were to see him!

Young Eagle In the Grand Canyon
Young Eagle In the Grand Canyon

Even though it is mid September, the days are very hot.  The water looks inviting, although it is very cold, around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  On the second day, I get to ride in the paddle boat. And I get to go swimming.

The Paddle Boat Flips in Tiger Wash Rapids
The Paddle Boat Flips in Tiger Wash Rapids

You can’t see me in this picture. I was sitting in the right front of the raft, and was pushed quite far under the water.  It took forever to come up!  And when I did, the current had carried me far away from the raft. Later I will write a full post about swimming in the Colorado River.  For now, lets just say that that the paddle boat was quickly righted, everyone eventually got pulled out of the water, and the only thing that was lost was my hat.

On the fourth day of our trip, Kent, our trip leader, announces an advanced hike. Only for the truly hard core hiker, it is an all day, 10 mile hike up one side canyon to the rim and back down another side canyon. Some of the guides will stay behind and move the boats.  It promises spectacular views and  challenging rock scrambling.  It also promises to be very long, hard, and hot. At one point he calls the hike a death march.  Not being a hard core hiker or rock scrambler, I choose to stay behind with the guides that will be moving the boats.  I am surprised to find I am the only one.  I have the most amazing day. While the guides are busy with  the boats, I find myself all alone on a beautiful beach deep in the Grand Canyon. With plenty of privacy I get a good bath in.  Careful not to sunburn the delicate parts, I wash in the very cold river water, than warm up on the sandy beach. Then back to the river, then the beach, you get the idea.   That evening I help the guides prepare dinner and greet the intrepid adventurers as they return, hot and tired and dirty, just as the sun is going down. They all had a wonderful time, but now I am the only one without blisters!

Day 6, our last full day in the canyon, we get to stop and visit a working archeological site. We are very lucky to get to see this.  It took the group years to get the logistics figured out, and they are only digging for eight days. We arrive when they are almost done. They will remove the artifacts that they find, and then cover the site and return it to it’s natural state. When they are gone you won’t be able to tell they were ever there.  Most sites in the Grand Canyon are not excavated.  Only when the artifacts are at risk of being lost or damaged, like this site which is subject to flash flooding, do they excavate and remove artifacts.

Archeology Site in Grand Canyon
Archeology Site in Grand Canyon

Day 7 is our very last day. And it is a day I have been dreading.  Because we are not doing a full canyon trip, we need to hike out of the Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail.  I know I did not prepare well enough for the hike.  Although I really don’t have a choice, I am not sure I will be able to carry my backpack, loaded with my clothes and lots of water,  and hike the 7.5 miles from Pipe Creek to the South Rim. Needless to say I do hike out.  It takes 7 hours and I am exhausted when I reach the top.  It is great to walk out of the canyon and see the changing perspectives on the cliffs.  I see more wildlife, including an endangered condor.  When I finally reach the South Rim I look back and I can’t even see the river.  It feels strange to be around so many people. And they are all so clean!  I can’t imagine what they think of me.  A few ask how far I have hiked and most are stunned that I have come from the river. (I carry a few extra pounds and certainly don’t look the type!)

This picture of the Bright Angel Trail is from Gene Hanson’s website.  He has a marvelous “virtual hike” down the South Kaibab trail and up the Bright Angel Trail.  He is a maniac and did it in one day. He also took hundreds of pictures. It is worth a look!

A View of Part of the Bright Angel Trail
A View of Part of the Bright Angel Trail (used with permission)

Back in our hotel that night, hubby and I are tired and sore.  The shower feels great!   We each order a big dinner and desert from room service.  I am pretty sure this is one day I don’t have to worry about how many calories I eat!

I can’t wait to go back to the Grand Canyon.  Next time I will do the full river trip. I am looking forward to rafting Crystal Rapid, the largest rapid in the canyon. Hopefully I will be able to stay in the boat!

Mini Vacation in Santa Cruz, CA

Orca Whale Near Santa Cruz, CA

My daughter and I just got back from a little mini vacation in Santa Cruz, CA. I had no idea there were so many things to do. One of the highlights of our trip was the whale watching trip. I was smart and took some motion sickness medicine which worked wonderfully. We saw so many whales! Including this guy. Officially an Orca Whale, but I always call them killer whales. He was traveling with 3 other whales and we managed to get a good look at them all. In addition to the killer whales we also saw humpback whales and a minke whale.

We also spent some time on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I got up my nerve and went on the Classic wooden roller coaster, The Big Dipper, twice! It was a lot of fun. I did not buy the picture of me looking like an idiot screaming on the roller coaster!  I did buy fish and chips for the two of us and we ate on the beach while watching Chinese acrobats.  The contortionist made my back hurt!

In three short days we also managed to get in a little beachwalking, we looked at tidepools, and a lighthouse, and we visited the redwood forest.

A good time was had by all, and I am happy to be home!