Today is the last day of Intel’s Sponsors of Tomorrow Campaign on Mighty Girl. I can hardly express how grateful I am to the Intel team, and how blessed I am to have all of you guys supporting me.
A quick recap of everything Intel has made possible in the last few months. Together, we:
Because the campaign let me make my life list a top priority, I even tackled a bunch of goals on my own. We took Hank camping, played with sparklers on the Fourth of July, and introduced him to ice cream cones. I did one of Miranda July’s projects. And I even got a few friends together to help me plan a retreat.
How Did this Happen?
A lot of you have asked me how I got Intel to sponsor my Mighty Life List, and the answer is I didn’t. These guys did.
That’s Paige Thomas, Jason Ratner, and David Veneski. Paige and Jason work for Federated Media — the company that helped make blogging my job. David works for Intel, the company that made my dreams my job.
I talk to Paige nearly every day, and about a year ago I asked her to tell the sales team about my list. Ideas like this can easily come across as “some blogger wants free stuff,” but Jason understood. He told David, and showed me some of the ads around Sponsors of Tomorrow. I thought the main ideas were in line with my values: Celebrating smart people, and embracing the future.
David eventually agreed to have Intel sponsor my life list, which was bold of him, I think. Intel is a huge company with a lot at stake, and most companies of that size want full approval over any text that goes out. That clearly would never work for Mighty Girl, so David decided to trust me, which must have been scary at first.
When we first started the campaign, Matt Jessell at FM sent me this Brady Bunch collage to pin on my board:
It cracked me up when I first got it, and it still does, but now it makes me a little sentimental too. This is the team behind the Sponsors of Tomorrow campaign — most of them have made their own life lists, some have become Twitter friends, and all of them played a part in changing the way I approach my life. I owe them my gratitude.
What Happens Next?
Y’all, I am going to sleep. I had no idea how much I was biting off, or how much emotion I’d feel through all of it.
It may sound cheesy, but these few months have been transformative, and change takes a lot of energy. Doing all this has helped me clarify what makes me happy, and reminded me to be more gentle with myself. I understand now that a list like this requires flexibility, and writing about all of it has shown me that I can be comically rigid. It honestly came as an epiphany that I could change my own list — add new things, delete the things that just didn’t seem appealing when I actually started tackling them.
I’ve also learned so much about all of you. That you want to travel, be role models, buy homes, start businesses. I love reading your lists, and I’m still thinking about a better way for us to work on them together.
While I sleep for a year or so, Paige will be building a succulent wall; Jason is figuring out how to found bed and breakfasts for snowboarders, cyclists and vinophiles; and David wants to write a book. I’ll let you know how they do.
In the meantime, thank you, everyone. For all of it.
I got so many bug bites in Puerto Rico that I asked Melissa to connect the dots for me. She used the edge of a magazine to draw the lines straight. Body constellations are the new braiding each others’ hair.
Despite appearances here, sporty stuff is not my jam. I read my way through childhood, and distant memories of dodgeball still make me feel a little sore. In my soul, I mean.
There are a few things that made my Mighty Life List because I’m afraid of them, and rolling a kayak is one of those. Bryan loves to go kayak camping, but the few times we’ve gone, all I can think about is the boat flipping. What if I can’t pull off the rubber skirt thingie and end up trapped? Upside down? Underwater?
I’ll tell you what happens, people. Death — with bona fide dying, and moving toward the light, and all the dead people you know slapping you on the back and offering you smokes.
This is Suki Waters, the patient and aptly named owner of WaterTreks Ecotours up in Jenner. She and her friend George met us at a little lodge in Guerneville that offered to let us use the pool for the day.
My goal was to learn how to roll so I could stop obsessing about tipping whenever I’m in a kayak — overcome my fears, spread my wings, today is the first day of the rest of your kayaking, and so forth. Suki told me it was possible I wouldn’t be able to flip in one lesson, but we’d give it a go.
As you might imagine, signing a contract with Intel has pushed me to do many things I otherwise could have put off perpetually. This, for example:
That’s me upside down in a kayak with no escape but my wits. Also the two people on either side of the boat waiting to flip me back over, but shut up. If that photo doesn’t make you anxious, your Xanax dosage is too high.
The first time I went over, I didn’t have a nose plug on, and the water went straight up into my brain. Lesson 1, if you want to flip a kayak, get an effing nose plug. It’s been a few days, and I can still feel water sloshing around when I think about anything complex.
The idea here is to avoid panicking when you go under so you can set up your paddle, sweep it across the top of the water, and use it to propel you back up. Naturally, every time I flipped over, my first order of business was panic. My brain stuck on Panic’s Greatest Hits — Claustrophobia! Aspirating Water! Drowning! And so much more!
We practiced for four hours, and I was feeling fairly grim for 3.5 of them. All I wanted to do was get my head out of the water, but if you sit up, your head drops you back down because it weighs about as much as a bowling ball. The human head makes an excellent kayak anchor.
I swept my paddle, swept it, swept it, and then thrashed around underwater, until Suki and George dragged me up. Rinse and repeat, literally.
Bryan and Hank played nearby in the pool while I moved from dread, to terror, to dismay, and eventually became familiar enough with my internal frenzy that it ceased to bother me.
We were about to call it a day, when suddenly everything came together. I swept my paddle and popped up so easily that I assumed a powerful outside force was at work. A wave, the hand of God, Oprah, something like that.
On our very last try, I did an entire roll. Over on one side, back up on the other. YES! Then I offered to bear Suki children if she would let me out of the boat.
As we left I was feeling profoundly accomplished, and I still do. That fear used to get in my way, and now it won’t anymore. My horizon just got a little bit wider because I took action on my anxiety. That’s a uniquely pleasant feeling, and one I don’t experience enough.
Bryan caught the whole thing on film and made a little movie of my previous attempts. So tune in tomorrow for the mildly agonizing but ultimately triumphant footage. Thanks to Suki Waters and George Zastrow for all the help and support. And as always, a huge thanks to the team at Intel for sponsoring my lifelist. I couldn’t (or rather, probably wouldn’t) have done it without you guys.
Margaret Stewart recorded the entire fight, including a mini-interview with me beforehand.
Tarps made matters scary slippery, so after some initial bailing, we all began to move like cream-covered zombies. Because slow and careful food fights make for good fun but sleepy viewing, may I suggest you forward to 4:35 when I finally realized that Margaret had been avoiding the mess by using her technology as a shield. Take that, Stewart.
You know Intel sponsored this, right? Yeah, I thought so.
None of these photos have been Photoshopped. Greece is that good.
Before you arrive in Greece, they hose it down, and repaint everything.
Then they station thousands of men at three-foot intervals. These men wait for you to pass so they can tell you how lovely you are. You! With the gelato! Gorgeous. You! Near the novelty olive oils! You are beautiful. Beautiful!
And you are, of course. Because they sequester you at airport security to airbrush away your imperfections before you can enter the country. Such are the indignities one suffers for vacation photos like this.
In short, Greece is fictional.
Be glad I don’t have access to a slide projector and your phone number, because I have enough sunset photos to put the entire Flickr team into a coma.
I know many, many of you have Greece on your Mighty Life Lists, so in the next few weeks I’ll be offering ideas and urging you to go sooner than you otherwise might. Like tomorrow. How’s tomorrow for you?
While you pack, we’ll talk about:
Places I recommend,
The super cute things I stuffed in my carry on,
What Laura and Aubrey packed (bonus),
Athens street art,
Foods I tried,
What you should taste while you’re there,
How to make a comfort kit for plane rides,
And how Laura Mayes and I were almost killed trying to watch the sun rise over the Aegean.
That last bit changed the way I think about my life goals. Profoundly, in fact. We’ll talk.
Here’s where I thank Intel, who funded my trip to Greece. It’s been a privilege to be part of the enthusiastic, helpful Intel team, many of whom have made their own Mighty Life Lists in solidarity — Dave Veneski wants to ride the three hardest mountain stages of the Tour de France, Bryan Rhoads wants to make wine in Spain. Their support has inspired lots of you to make lists too — Jennifer wants to feed a giraffe, Liza (who’s mini-list is on her old site) wants to buy glasses with colored frames.
If you’ve made your own list, please email me (maggie [at] mightygirl [dotcom]) with the subject header Mighty Life List. Eventually, I’d like to link to all of your lists on Mighty Girl, so we can start working on our lives together. With purpose! And community! And so forth! It will be rad.
In the meantime, I have about five more dreams to accomplish in the next month, so things will be looking fairly surreal over here. Won’t you join me? Please pick something accomplishable to do the next month and commit to it in comments. Yes. Do it! And keep us posted.
We hop into a pickup bed filled with sandy, damp life jackets, and they bump against our shins on the dirt road to the beach.
Melissa and I are headed to Mosquito Bay in Vieques, one of most dense bioluminescent bays in the world. It’s teeming with microscopic organisms that light up when they’re disturbed. There are only eleven “biobays” in the world, nine of which are in Puerto Rico.
Ricky, one of the guides, is riding in back with us. He says his job never gets old.
He tells us about raindrops that seem to spark as they hit the water, how schools of fish leave light streams in their wake. I imagine a giant, glowing shark silhouette swimming toward our tiny kayak. Hmm.
We arrive at the beach, and don our gritty life jackets.
The air is suddenly spiky. “What is that?” I ask Melissa. She points to a tiny grain of sand on my forearm. It bites me. We’re covered in vicious, biting mites. Does the guide have any insect repllant? He does, but we can’t use it if we want to swim, it kills the plankton. Baby oil is fine though, and it works great! Does he have any of that? No.
We wade into the water to escape while our guides ready the kayaks.
I’ve adventurously stuffed all my camera equipment into plastic trash bags inside my backpack. Climbing into the open-top kayak, I decide not to think about what might happen if we tip over, because we aren’t going to tip over. Right, Melissa? Melissa, has never been in a kayak before, but we’ll be fine. I’m certain we’ll be fine. Right, Melissa? Melissa avoids eye contact.
We paddle out to the bay and tie the kayaks together to wait for nightfall. Our guide tells us about the dinoflagellates we’ve come to see, single-cell organisms that have the ability to photosynthesize. They’re technically neither plant nor animal. Cool.
I ask the guide if he’ll take our photos when we get in the water, maybe a little video. He warns me that it’s nearly impossible to capture the glow on film. Now he tells me.
We climb out of the boat, and gradually a soft glow gathers around our limbs as we tread water. A few moments later there are sparks and glowing bubbles flying from our fingertips. It looks exactly as you’d imagine pixie dust would look if you were to encounter Tinkerbell in the wild. “I can fly!” I say. I can’t stop laughing. Melissa sweeps her arms through the water and whispers, “I’m a priiiiincess!” We make light saber sounds, hum dramatic overtures as we conduct under water. I lift my hands above the surface, and loose-diamonds tumble down my arms.
As it turns out, our guide was right about the photos. I lightened one so you could get an idea of what the glow looks like. I’m going to blow this up to wall-mural size and hang it above my bed:
I want so much to show you what it was like, but you have to see for yourself. It is amazing. Here’s a little video of us riding back in the truck:
If you can, you have to do this. Go find your swimsuit. Get in the truck.
(Our tour was through Vieques Tours. They were nice, and one of the guides bought the two of us popsicles while we waited for the cars to arrive. Aww. 787.447.4104)
Many thanks to the folks at Intel. They’re making my site more interesting by sponsoring my Mighty Life List over the next few months. They paid for this trip of a lifetime, and I can’t thank them enough.