I don't know if I can name a specific
instance when my concern for the environment took hold of my life.
In fact I'm certain this concern formed gradually yet definitively
over time. I've always had a simplistic view of life, save for a few
early years where Barbie took precedence.
I started out studying Biology in college,
then quickly moved into what was then the new Environmental Studies/Policy
Program. I enjoyed what I was learning and pursued my interests actively.
I enrolled in any and all electives related to the environment, including
Environmental Ethics, History and the Environment, as well as Environmental
Economics. The more I learned about the many facets of environmental
studies, the more questions I had. I think that is why I enjoyed studying
it so much. No matter how hard I looked there were (and remain) no
Dr. Stanton and I. He's
one of the main Docs who performed the
surgery on my face after the accident
As my college career came to an end I
found myself with two paths before me. I was either to thrive as a
member of the U.S. Women's Lacrosse Team or serve in the Peace Corps,
furthering my study of and feeding my desire for improving the environment.
I'd like to say that playing on the U.S. team wasn't as fulfilling
an experience as I had hoped for and therefore I chose the Peace Corps.
In reality, however, my decision was made for me after a truly humbling
experience at the US Lacrosse team tryouts.
The Peace Corps was a wonderful experience
for me. The people I lived and worked with taught me more than I ever
could have taught them. The vicious cycle I observed involving poverty,
corruption, and environmental destruction, just fueled my internal
fire to try and make it all better. I left the Peace Corps with a
sense of despair but I felt far from hopeless. The Peace Corps helped
me to realize I won't ever be able to solve the world's problems in
2 years, 1 bike trip, or even my entire life ~ but also just as importantly
that this harsh reality will never stop me from trying.
I returned from the Peace Corps without
a scratch, though perhaps a few residual symptoms from Typhoid Fever
and multiple bouts of amoebic dysentery, but with a grand plan to
bike from Alaska to Chile. As I settled into what I considered to
be a nice little living situation, a job in the city that focuses
on energy conservation, a house three miles from work so I can bike
to work each day, and a great loop for running and biking to train
for triathlons, I realized more fully how environmentally unconscious
people can be. With this realization, I started to work on my plan
for "The Bike Trip Campaign". My plan began with calculating how much
money I thought this trip would cost. After initial calculations I
started saving. Here was where my planning fell flat. I thought I
couldn't really do any serious planning until the time was closer.
I also began to realize how frightening planning a trip like this
truly was. I had to admit to myself that I was scared of failing,
not finishing, having an ineffective campaign, or simply dealing with
the danger of it all. Added to those insecurities, I wasn't getting
many feel good vibes from my family concerning the trip itself.
On October 9, 2002, a little incident
changed all of that negative thinking. As I was biking home from the
gym, less than 2 miles from my home, I was involved in a hit and run
accident. Unfortunately, I did not walk away fully in tact. My body
emerged unscathed, but my face was introduced to a trailer hitch.
My mom, a nurse case manager for AETNA US Healthcare, made some phone
calls and had the hospital's Oral and Maxillofacial department come
down and have a look at my X Rays, enter Dr. Stanton. It was then
that I learned that I had fractured my maxilla, zygomatic, nasal,
and cheekbones. All of the fractures rotated and crushed inwards to
my sinus cavity. I think they referred to this as an orbital blowout.
What took not even 1 second to wreak, took 8 months to recover from.
Click here to see a picture BUT beware,
Though the recovery process was
long and at times painful, I was very relieved that I hadn't broken
any bones in my body. The vanity of America would have more than taken
care of any cosmetic surgery had it been necessary and I could have
happily continued with my active lifestyle. If I had broken my hip
or knee or femur, however, that could have kept me from doing all
of the activities that make life so enjoyable for me.
This accident forced me ask myself whether
I was going to be afraid or smart. This event happened less than 2
miles from my home. I was in Honduras for over two years and played
it smart ~ nothing had happened. This isn't to say that nothing will
ever happen, despite how smart I am, but it is always better to be
adequately prepared. I know I am taking a risk with this bike trip,
but after looking into long term travel insurance, which I hadn't
budgeted for, I decided I wasn't going to be frightened by the prospect
of this bike trip. I began planning the proposed itinerary in earnest,
discussed ideas with friends concerning possible pamphlets for the
campaign, and seriously got to work turning my dream into a reality.
So here I am, ready to prove to anyone willing
to commit to my cause, what I have already proved to myself ~ that
believing in an ideal can affect a reality, whether personal or environmental.
My ideal and the purpose of this trip is to get people to think a
few levels deeper about their environmental imprint and hopefully
do something positive about it.
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