Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!
Recently, I've gotten some new readers from all over the world. I can't thank all of you enough in Egypt and the Middle East for the huge outpouring of support. Egypt is DEFINITELY on the travel list. I’m curious: where did you hear about our story? Make sure you like the facebook page if you haven't already and sign up for the email subscription.
Which brings me to my next point: I’m overdue on providing on an update on my plans. I'm still working towards my education goal, but it's going to take years to complete. I'm really excited (having just taken the GRE,) to start applying to graduate programs and get the ball rolling. Meghan always loved school. She and her mom often told me, how, in high school, Meghan would get home from class in the afternoon and park herself at the dining room table until bedtime. Doing endless hours of homework in order to do well in high school and get in to a good university of her choice.
I wish I had a similar experience in high school. I was lazy. I fought against any kind of work. I argued with my parents until they threatened to take away my prized stereo (every angsty teenager's refuge in high school). Determined to prove that homework didn't matter, I didn't cave, and my parents took the stereo away! The point is, early on in her life, Meghan saw the value of working hard for something without an immediate payoff. I knew that I wouldn't get in trouble the next day at school if I didn't do my homework, so I didn't do it. I didn't see that developing a strong work ethic and an ability to do things well, even if you find them useless or tedious, will pay off much later. Now, I realize that the sense of accomplishment you receive from achieving a long-term goal gives you confidence; confidence to try something further from your comfort zone, but with a bigger payoff. That’s why Meghan worked so hard when she was alive, and why I work hard now.
In the past two and a half years I have done ten things on Meghan's list that I never would have previously dreamed of, and some additional goals of my own. After college, I NEVER wanted to go back to school. I didn't want to do the work, so after the first degree, I checked that box on the “list of things you're supposed to do” and moved on. But I learned something along the way, especially through my travels. I love learning about human communication. And I want to learn more. Through exploring Meghan's PhD goal, I figured out what I want to study. I've worked for and received a second bachelor's degree in Linguistics in two semesters (my first bachelor’s degree took more than five years).
As for the half-marathon, I walked (I would've run, but I hated running,) quickly in the opposite direction any time anyone mentioned running. Meghan always wanted to complete a half marathon and often made me go running with her at her family’s cottage every summer. So, it was really meaningful for me to tackle this goal right away. But as I’m learning with the road to PhD, training for a race is about consistently showing up, day after day, month after month. I trained throughout spring 2011 in order to run the 13.1 miles on Meghan’s birthday (July) at her family's cottage. Let me tell you, 13.1 miles (21.1 km for everyone else in the world that uses a logical counting system) is a long way to go by foot. But I did it. And I didn't stop. Now, I love running; I love the high I get from finishing a run, the clarity that comes on a long run, and I love how my body feels traveling long distances without any help. After Meghan's half marathon I went on to run a full marathon (26.2 miles/ 42.2km) in October 2011. For myself. It remains one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I am still working hard for Meghan's goals but also working hard for my own. One of mine is to stay ahead of my age in countries visited: I'm 31 and currently at 32 countries, with another planned for the end of the year. As I go about achieving Meghan’s goals, I definitely insert things I want to do, things I care about. Meghan would want me to pursue my interests. The point is to keep working hard. Don't seek immediate payoff, but when the payoff does come, aim higher and start all over again.