A calendar where?

The post first appeared on my sister’s blog: https://intrepidgals.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/a-calendar-where/


Each year for the past few years, when I visit my grandfather, he hands me a stack of calendars telling me to pick a few to take with me. Often this visit is the last of a series of stops on my winter holiday tour around the USA. The calendars advertise more or less obviously a smorgasbord of humanitarian and non-profit organizations to which my grandfather donates. Since he is very generous, there is always a large stack, and only some of them are very appealing. Nevertheless every year, I take some back with me. Not wanting to broadcast an affiliation to most of these organizations, I am always left with the challenge of finding a home for each one of them. I quickly learned that giving a calendar full of wolf pictures to my Valaisan (a swiss canton will lots of sheep herders) colleagues would result in them bringing their guns to work, so I had to think outside the norm.

A calendar where?

A calendar where?

A few years back (2012?), I hung one in my bathroom, right next to the toilet. The consequences of this were far greater than anything I could have ever predicted. I started out just writing what sports activity I had done that day. Then I developed a very simple point system corresponding to my different activities, and keeping a weekly tally. For example a yoga class is a half point, biking to Lausanne (400 m climb) is a quarter point, a one hour run is one point, climbing after work is one point, a hike is one point, a swim workout is one point, but a lazy swim is only half a point, an all day ski tour is two points, and mountaineering is two points per day (or about one point per 1000 m elevation gain). I do not count my daily bike ride or walking up the stairs, since that has been part of my lifestyle for a long time, but one could.

imageMy weekly sums started out at about 3 points and as I began to aspire to getting in shape, I increased them to 4, 5, and even 8 points per week. My goal was always to hold my weekly sum for a few weeks and then go up one point. Although, when I reached 8 points, I noticed that I needed a day of rest. I started noting “R” for rest days, so that I wouldn’t feel guilty about missing a day (and even required it), “S” for sick days, and “T” for travel days. When I was in the throes of dissertation writing, I started noting “L” for working late as a way to reward myself for all the extra hours that I was putting into finishing. Now that it is for the most part in my past, and I’m trying to heal my body and soul from the  full-time computer-time lifestyle, I have returned to a purely sports calendar with a few side notes for other things going on in my life.

I realize that there is a multitude of apps and techniques out there to help you quantify and track everything, specifically sports in your life, but here are some reasons why this system works well for me:

1. It allows me to translate all of my diverse activities in a single “currency”. Cross training, if you want to call it that, is so much more fun for me and leaves me less injured and more motivated than single sport training.  However, it can be frustrating because it makes it harder to observe progress in any one sport.

2. Weekly sums and a monthly overview are good timescales for improvement. When I focused on daily goals, I was getting injured more frequently and  beating myself up for missing any single day.  Both of which were discouraging, and it did not lead to long-term lifestyle change. On the other hand, seasonal or yearly goals are hard for me to maintain as a priority.

3. Writing down what I did as opposed to what I plan to do is an important distinction.  While there is a place for both in my goal setting, I feel much more satisfaction looking at a sketch of the former than the latter.

4. I can flip back and track my change over the last years, which is the best motivator of all.

5. Putting the calendar by my toilet made it unavoidable.

Maybe this technique will inspire one of you! Good luck!

– Natalie “big sis” Ceperley.

I am 33 and work as an ecohydrologist in Lausanne, Switzerland. I enjoy most mountain sports, water sports, and “transportation” sports and have occasionally been known to dabble in “mat” sports (yoga and capoeira). However, in contrast to my “lil’ sis”, I am not a big fan of ball, field, and goal sports of most varieties. My next post will be something like “intrepid to whom? – extreme adventure is in the eye of the beholder”.


Vantage Point

This sounds like my trip to Vantage! Minus the sunshine on Sunday – we had bits of rain….


We drove through the snow to get to the desert.

Our destination was south of the 49th parallel, to the home of some of Washington state’s finest rock climbing, Vantage. The drive east from Seattle is a compressed lesson in geography. Leaving behind the moist, cloud catching city on the Pacific coast, the road quickly rises to thread the barrier of the Cascade mountain range. Snow drifts, and white peaks signal the temperature drop as our altitude increases. Descending on the eastern side of the range, the snow vanishes as quickly as it appeared, replaced by a dry, rocky expanse, shielded from the moisture to the west by its lofty neighbours.

IMG_6819_CR2_hdr_bw Landscape surrounding Vantage

We were a party of climbers from the University of British Columbia’s Varsity Outdoor Club (UBC VOC), with a plan to escape the inclement weather in Vancouver for a weekend. Having only decided to go the…

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Natalie Remember

A Poem to my new blog By Peter L., Stamford, CT


Auntie Camille thinks I don’t remember

malevolent plumes of smoke

reflecting against the oily linoleum tiles

every Monday night after Wheel of Fortune

Her shaking, almost paralyzed fingers

scrape against the windowsill and

drag the chipping paint away

as she struggles to grip the lock and

release the meandering smoke

into the buzzing Minneapolis streets

Little bits of mended porcelain fraught with gold fillings

clatter together as she stutters amidst

gulps and pants

“Go. Homework, Natalie”

Two years later and she stumbles into

my room, 145B

(tenacious perfume clings to her curved hips)

She is useless like the receding lifeline engraved in my left

palm, ambling smoke embedded in her tarnished, silvery hair

Cheekbones remind me of the Montclair cliffs we visited

Glistening tears dangle off of her cheeks

rainwater coursing through the rocky gaps

Nodding her head at the doctors,

slipping the IV in and I barely feel a thing

My eyes surge, greeted by foreign kaleidoscopes

Maybe I’ll become a French painter

capturing newlyweds as they share laughter-sprinkled crepes

at the Café Lune Avon in front of the Eiffel Tower

Maybe I’ll become a trapeze artist

and contort my body like the wisps of smoke that

ramble out of Auntie Camille’s bathroom window

Poems for my Grandmother, Ellen Axon Rodes Ceperley

1) Trees by Joyce Kilmer.

I THINK that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

2) Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

How do we know?

How do we know then the right time to talk is?

How do we know when we should be silent?

If I write it on my blog, who does it belong to?  Why write?  For whom?  What is the purpose?

I have a desire to tell a long story.  Where will this story go and who should read it?

Is it better as a blog, or should I save it for a book?  It is very personal.   But I think in sharing, it will heal many things.

Many stories to tell.  I no longer want to carry them with me.

Schisto in town

Although my professional path may seem roundabout to many, I see it, looking back, as continually growing and developing on a direct path from a liberal arts degree in biology to an environmental education peace corps service in Mauritania to a year in Benin to a master’s in environmental science at a forestry school, to my recently completed PhD in environmental and civil engineering in Switzerland. Now I am looking at how to come back to some of my holistic questions from before, I really like my life in Switzerland, I would like to move away from West Africa, I find myself working on waterborne diseases, and I feel a bit lost about the best next step. The hurdle immediately before me is publishing my PhD work while securing funding for my postdoc and starting to think about what comes next. It never seems as easy as it should!

Update: Eritreans hold giant human rights protest Geneva

Thinking of Geneva.


“Its unprecedented – we’ve never had a protest like this!”

By bus, train, plane and car, Eritreans from across Europe have come to Switzerland – determined to support the UN Commission of Inquiry into the gross human rights violations taking place back home.

Geneva demonstrationSome 5,000 people are on the march. “I can’t even see the end!” one jubilant member told me.

Disabled veterans of Eritrea’s fight for independence and its war with Ethiopia led the way. All proud to be there – to make their mark.

The UN Commission reported that the regime’s human rights abuses were so severe they could amount to “crimes against humanity.”

“Issias to the International Criminal Court” – one of the popular slogans on the march.

Here two demonstrators are showing the terrible forms of torture their countrymen have had to endure.

Geneva demonstration tortureEritrea demo Geneva

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