Help me Bike to end MS

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Hello dear friends. This summer, I’ve decided to pedal for a cause. Biking makes me feel good and helping others makes me feel good. That’s why I registered for Bike MS and why I’m asking you to consider doing one of three things:

Your donation will support cutting-edge research and programs and services for everyone impacted by multiple sclerosis. Ending MS means no one will receive an MS diagnosis again. It’s a lofty goal, but I like being a part of large efforts knowing that every pedal rotation is a push in the right direction.

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Every dollar helps.  Every person makes a difference. I will be blogging about my experience biking with a large group (new territory for me!) and biking for a cause. I am grateful for my own health and grateful for so many people who support my goals each year. Thank you!

A Guide to Bragging about Your Ambitious New Year

Oh my god. The NewYearNewYou posts. The internet just wreaks of them. As the French-Canadian hipsters say: “you cannot swing a cat-video around the internet without hitting a New-Year-self-help post.” The anguish of aspiration, the kilowatt hours worth of positive thinking, it’s exhausting.

Calm Down. You’re not even really eating that apple

This is not to say that a strong dose of inner-self inspections is no good. Reflection helps us learn and self-assessment encourages us to be honest and make changes. I’m sorry to say that this, too, will be a self-help post. However, in this self help post, my aim is not to help you help yourself, nor is it to brag about the many varied and superior ways that I will refine my 2014. All I want is for you to be able to speak eloquently and with precision about your 2014 aims. 

oops. too late for you!

oops. too late for you!

By the end of this post, you should be able to correctly identify and make resolutions, plans, and predictions. Often these terms are confused and a prediction is declared but it’s really just a sloppily dressed plan or a plan is made vague and sent out into the world as a resolution. Here is my quick guide to bragging about your ambitious new year accurately:

Prediction: A predictions is a guess about the future, usually one that is outside of our control.  By making a prediction, we anticipate that we will one day give a darn about the past. My family is crazy about predictions. Every year we write down about 100–personal predictions for the year ahead, predictions about politics, movie stars, gas prices, and the weather. Then we look back at our year-old predictions and see how well we guessed; we have about a 50% accuracy rate (We did not forsee Miley Cyrus). These predictions remind us where we were a year ago, what was important to us, who was in our lives and on the news. They are a useful snapshot of the day the predictions were made.

prediction's are anticipations of us caring about a past

predictions anticipate that we will care about a past

Plan: It’s not enough to predict a stellar future. If you want something to happen, make a plan. If you want to learn to knit or compete in a triathlon or memorize the military alphabet, make a plan.

There’s often confusion between plans and predictions. If you know the house needs repainting this year or that it’s time to start repaying school loans–don’t waste my time by “predicting” that you’ll repaint the house or that your budget will be tight. Those events  won’t be happenstance. A plan is something you have control over (I plan to make it to the Garfield Park Conservatory this year). A prediction should be reserved for events that you have less control over (I predict that my parents will visit Chicago for a long weekend). Plans are the most important part of any aggressive new-year-new-you attempt.

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2013.dreamed.planned.executed.

Resolution: Some say “make plans, not resolutions,” and they aren’t wrong. A resolution is an amoeba floating somewhere just above your head and out of your peripheral vision (ex: I will make healthy choices). Resolutions are easily misplaced and they’re not all that useful on their own. A plan anchors the whimsy of resolutions to the ground (ex: I will eat fruit at every meal so that I can be healthier). The plan is concrete, it has action steps.

The fruit eating. The healthy being.

eat. the. fruit.

However, my friend and colleague Rachel “please sir, can I have some torque” Maliniak often says that we aren’t human doings, we’re human beings. Resolutions are reflections on our state of being–how do you want to be this year? While a resolution may not have a clear cut plan of attack, they have their place in the new-you. If you really want to change your state of being–maybe you’ve resolve to be kinder, more patient, or more frugal–you have to practice by making those choices ALL THE TIME.

Rachel being Rachely

Rachel being Rachely

I want to be patient–and I practiced that yesterday by slowing myself down instead of elbowing in front of a fellow traveler at a CTA turnstile. The ventra-card bottle-neck wasn’t something I could plan for, but when the choice arose, I tried to be my resolution–I let the older gentlemen step ahead. It’s truly exhausting to make patient choices over and over again when it’s not my natural state of being.  However, I won’t be more patient if I don’t reflect and resolve myself in that direction. Owing to the olympian exertion that resolutions take, I try and limit my yearly intake of resolve.

Over Resoluted

Over Resoluted

You should definitely yes make resolutions, plans, and predictions. If you call each aim by its rightful name, I believe you’ll be better equipped  to hold yourself accountable. But do you really want a new you?

The old you is fairly passable. Look how well it did you last year. Don’t discard it entirely! If you’re overly ambitious you may lose your new-self entirely and then  that old you will come slinking back around by Thanksgiving– just looking for a warm, sympathetic someone to coddle it and tell it everything will be okay.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!