Saturday, May 29, 2010

What do Everest, a rattlesnake and the IRS have in common?

Yesterday while mountain biking, we almost ran over a rattlesnake sunning itself on the trail. Later on, we would come across another rattler, except this time, he was curled, hogging the singletrack, and in the perfect position to strike. We had to wait. We had to practice patience.

What a timely lesson since less than 24 hours ago we mailed our 501(c)(3) application to the IRS. Yes! We have taken yet another step to becoming official, or at least recognized by the federal government as a tax-exempt charitable organization. Of course, who knows how long it will take the IRS to send us that official letter of determination (could be months). The good news is we can operate as an official nonprofit organization and our tax-exempt status will retro to our born on date (April 15, 2010)!

The OM crew came together as a group to unite and inspire people affected by neurological challenges to LIVE BIG through a common passion for outdoor adventure. Now, everyone has the opportunity to support this incredible cause.As Jake (Leader of Organizational Development) says, “We are changing the face of diagnosis one outdoor adventure at a time.” That is the hope!

As we journey, we know we may encounter the rainy day, the rattlesnake or the false summit. These make the journey that much more interesting. We at Outdoor Mindset will be celebrating the baby steps and small successes…and practicing patience. This will get us over even the tallest of mountains. After all, as Jordan Romero, the 13-year-old who recently climbed Everest can attest, “I know it requires a lot of patience. I will remain patient.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Challenge and Optimism

Meeting challenges we set for ourselves can bring great satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. Some challenges we don't see coming, and hit us broadside without warning. Each of them have one thing in common, which is the choice of how we plan to approach them. I am continually amazed at the incredible individuals I meet, inspirational stories I hear, and the power of optimism amidst adversity and perceived limitation!

Outdoor Mindset celebrates optimism in meeting challenge. Their mission of uniting and inspiring folks to live big through a common passion for outdoor adventure poses a new way of looking at things. Pretty cool stuff!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Strength To The Body And Soul

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.” - John Muir

A common passion for the outdoors is a thriving element in the mind of the Outdoor Mindset folks. I know I can speak for all of us when I say that John Muir could not have been more spot on.

Last week, Outdoor Mindset held our second “official” board meeting in a local office boardroom downtown Boulder. The meeting kicked off with each of us sharing our most memorable outdoor experience. I don’t know about the rest of our group, but I had a pretty difficult time narrowing it down to just one story. Somehow, each of us managed to tell one of the amazing experiences we’ve had throughout our lives. As our stories circulated the room, I began to notice a similar theme in each. Whether it was my own personal story of hiking Yellowstone’s pristine backcountry, with 3 people I had met a week prior, and experiencing a full on charge from a grizzly; or Jake’s experience in the Wrangell-St. Elias Wilderness of Alaska for 12 days carving fresh telemark lines into the mountain every day, we each gained a sense of therapy, healing, or strength from the experience while connecting with relatives, friends, or people we had met only days earlier.

I wonder if John Muir could amend his quotes, he would mention the connection he also made with the individuals with whom he shared his experiences.

With three board members currently affected (or have been affected) by neurological challenges, each of us were able to see our mission of “uniting and inspiring individuals affected by neurological challenges to live big through a common passion for outdoor adventure” actually come to life. Our goal is to take individuals like these three, and match them with similar individuals where the same experiences can be shared. Our hope is while these individuals connect with the outdoors, they also have someone to connect with on the same neurological level….someone who’s been through or is going through a similar situation. As we’ve mentioned in prior posts, it’s great to have the love and support from family, but it would be nice to speak with someone who’s been there and done that….case in point, Jake and Diane Van Deren. This element of a similar diagnosis connection was missing from each story told last week, which in turn gives each of us more drive and determination to make OM a success for all affected by neurological challenges with a passion for the outdoors.

As summer begins to shed it’s light on The Rocky Mountains, the variety of outdoor activity only increases so stay tuned for more exciting news to come from the OM crew.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"You have to go on and be crazy" -Jimi Hendrix

Some people would call us crazy. We probably ARE crazy to start a nonprofit during the current economy. However, this group gets excited about challenges. Outdoor Mindset has developed because of the passion brought to the table for the mission, the talents of each board member and the willingness to do what it takes to get the organization off the ground (warning for friends and family – begging for donations may occur soon). My experience includes over fifteen years of volunteering and working in the nonprofit sector. What we have accomplished as a group in just six meetings blows me away - vision, mission, values, major services, committee work and a name. Okay, the name took a little longer than we thought and thank you marketing committee for getting us through our wall of sticky note brainstorms (see pic). I have to admit, I am somewhat of a process snob. I like process, but if it goes too slow I get antsy. Outdoor Mindset is keeping me on my feet. Stay tuned for what’s coming down the pike: an official logo, outreach events, party, partnerships and official 501(c)(3) status (IRS jargon for being a tax-exempt nonprofit). Join our craziness – follow us here, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Home From a Great Adventure

On April 23, seven of our OM crew (and three friends of OM) embarked on a great journey to New Zealand. Our goal was to explore one of the outdoor capitals of the world, and NZ exceeded all of our expectations. We started the trip by flying into Christchurch and immediately getting out of town to Lake Tekapo and Braemar Station where we enjoyed the serenity of staying on a sheep farm (in the sheep shearer's quarters), taking in views of Mt. Cook, and going for an icy morning dip in the lake. It was the perfect way for us to start the trip with a clear head and then jump in our 10-passenger van that took us safely through the South Island for two weeks and on countless adventures.

Next we headed to Queenstown to gather supplies for our first NZ "tramp" on the famous Routeburn Track. Unfortunately, we were greeted in QT by rainy weather and news that the Routeburn was closed until further notice due to flooding. We weighed many options (including jumping a flight to Fiji!) and decided that we came all the way to NZ to experience a "Great Walk" and wanted to stick with that mission. The Department of Conservation informed us that our only option would be the Kepler Track, 3 hours southwest of Queenstown. The track would be twice as long (and arguably twice as difficult) as the Routeburn, but we were up for it!

Along the Kepler Track we encountered lots of rain (a sustained downpour for most), lots of wind, lots of laughs, and a few tears. However, I think we would all agree that the tramp was one of the most challenging and rewarding things many of us had ever accomplished. After each day on the track (about 10 miles and 4-5 hours), we were rewarded with magnificent views from our huts, delicious backpacking meals, woodburning fireplaces, and much-needed mulled wine. Even some of our most trying times on the track made for some of our favorite memories... Seems like I don't even need to point out the obvious metaphor for life here.

After the tramp, we headed back to Queenstown for showers, beds, massages, and BUNGY JUMPING! Queenstown is home to the Nevis Bungy, the world's highest jump, and an amazing canyon swing that is no less harrowing. Six of us opted for the bungy and four of us the swing. Luckily, we were allowed to watch one another take the plunge and vicariously experience the thrill over and over again.

The next day, we headed out on a 14-hour road trip through Wanaka and all the way up to Abel Tasman National Park. Surprising to most, we had a blast in the car with some good music and plenty of snacks. Our next stop was a campsite on the beach to which we were taken by water taxi. A boat dropped us off on our own private beach where we had some beers, green curry, a campfire, and tent sleeping under the stars. When we woke up, we enjoyed coffee and yoga on the beach before taking another great hike to our boat pick-up location. Along this path, we made a slight mistake when we took the low tide track during high tide and ended up wading in chest-deep water. Again - most trying time = favorite memory.

We ended our trip with three days in a luxurious home that overlooks the marina of Picton. We did a wine tour, some trout fishing, a boat trip around the sounds, and cooked some great family-style meals.

When it was time to catch our flight home, we were sad to leave NZ but knew that we had definitely made the most of our time there. The trip surely meant different things to different people, but it was a shared experience we will never forget. Read more about our trip at