30 December 2010

Be the Change: Three Cups of Tea

About a year ago, a friend of mine threw down a challenge: start a non-profit by the time he was 35. He had some funding, but wanted me to come up with an idea and run with it.

This idea is somewhat paralyzing for me...there is so much I'd like to do, but I am not exactly sure in what way. Volunteering, paying it forward, etc. has always been a big part of my life; I started volunteering at about 16 and haven't really stopped, from joining the community service fraternity in college to being on the executive board of directors for a prominent local non-profit. While I have worked hard throughout my life, I know I was lucky to be born into the situation I was, and had excellent role models in my parents, who do a lot of good without ever asking for recognition or thanks -- it is very important for me to help give back and participate in making the world a better place.

To help inspire me more, my friend recommended that I read Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson. And I am so grateful he did, because this book is not only inspirational, it is has changed my perspective on life (which may sound melodramatic, but thems the truths).

Greg is one person who was able to help many. Through a truly grass roots effort, he worked tirelessly to fix a problem he saw. He lived in his car, using his money instead to rent time at the local copy shop to write letters, and buy postage to send them. When he finally hit pay dirt, he was able to use fairly minimal funds to build something that will make a huge difference to current and future generations.

One person. Being the change he wanted to see.

It makes me think, if every one of us did just one thing, once a week/month/year, to be that change... what could we accomplish. If we concentrated our efforts, what greatness we could achieve. To me, Three Cups of Tea is something we can all do, and is my rebuttal when people say to me, "well, that's nice that you do that, but I don't have time and don't really think my effort will make any difference to anyone*."

As I move into 2011, this has been weighing heavily on my mind. When something significant happens in your life, you tend to reevaluate things...am I on the right path? Am I doing what I enjoy and makes me feel like I am doing something relevant?

I am starting to wrap up my last year on the board of directors, and looking for my next focus. In my current role, I have helped make a difference in the lives of at least 6,000 high school girls, at least that's my hope, and I have loved (almost) every minute of it. I want to be able to continue this, maybe with a different demographic.

If this past year has taught me anything, it is that we don't know what is around the corner, so it is important to just DO, and not think too much. Hearing about so much of what my parents have done, things I didn't know about prior to my dad passing, is really inspirational to me...I always wondered where my brother & I got this bug, and now I know.

So there is my challenge, my resolution, my hope for 2011: to continue to make a difference, and continue to strive to be the change I'd like to see in this world. There is so much opportunity, and just one person can make a ginormous difference.

*caveat: I don't hear this from many, or any, of my friends. I have an AMAZING group of friends, many of whom are involved in their own associations, and all of whom make an effort to get to each others' fundraising events, volunteer days, etc. This is something for which I feel truly blessed.

12 December 2010

Brava! Brava!: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

So often, movies make a mockery of a good book. They try to cram too much into two hours, attempting to hit every plot point that the book presented, failing to make the movie very deep or interesting.

Last night I finally got around to watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I loved this book, so was pretty excited to watch the movie. Seeing as it's in Swedish, I had to be in the right frame of mind to sit and watch and read the subtitles. The book was a quick moving, plot-tastic piece of literature. It was really fun to read, but there was a lot packed into those 300 or so pages!

I must say...the movie hit all the right points. It didn't get everything in the book, but it didn't need to. As the movie unfolded, I was excited to see what they chose to follow, and what they chose to ignore. They chose to ignore some storylines that were pretty big in the book, but not pivotal to the main plot. I think there were a few things that made a little more sense since I read the book, but you definitely didn't need the background to get it.

I am not going to give away any big points, that wouldn't do the movie any justice or be fair, but it was pretty awesome. The look of the main character was pretty close to what was presented in the book...something that would be awfully hard to do, and something I think the American movie casting already got wrong (I just can't imagine the woman cast looking at all boyish, but I guess we'll see).

I am super interested in seeing the American movie now, because I wonder if it will choose to stay faithful to the book or the Swedish movie. If it's the book...we may be in trouble, as American movies tend to try to cram everything in (especially any sex), and that really isn't so much the point of this movie.