18 Oct 14

By Randy Pierce

“It is sometimes a mistake to climb; it is always a mistake never even to make the attempt. If you do not climb, you will not fall. This is true. But is it that bad to fail, that hard to fall?”
-Neil Gaiman

I am both excited and nervous for the opportunity to provide a TEDX talk on November 15 in Manchester, NH.

Split picture featuring Randy hanging from the monkey bars at the Tough Mudder next to a picture of Randy giving a presentation.

Randy seeks to achieve physical and mental heights, and now he takes on another challenge–a TEDx talk! 

I have presented hundreds of times at this point and strongly believe in the many messages which are comfortable and natural parts of my presentations. TED talks are the Superbowl of presentations and could provide a tremendous benefit to the largest audience yet as well as for our 2020 Vision Quest Charity. So while I know full well I could fall flat, I also know very well how high I might climb with this opportunity.

So perhaps you may help us in many ways by suggesting or sharing your favorite TED talks, by sharing the news of the event, and, presuming I do not fall entirely flat on my face!, share our TEDX video as far and wide as possible once it is available online.

What is a TED talk?
While their history began in 1984, they have really flourished tremendously in the last decade or so. Curator Chris Anderson holds to the TED mission, sustaining the inspired format, the breadth of content, and the commitment to seek out the most interesting people on Earth and let them communicate their passion with a worldwide audience.

There are several forms of the TED talk and TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” It supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community. Being nominated is a tremendous honor and being selected is both an opportunity and a responsibility. The theme of this TEDX event is “Connection,” which I believes resonates very well with the basics of our typical presentation theme: “Reaching Our Peak Potential” I have been and will remain hard at work tending the connections to our theme and building the roughly 12-minute journey for the audience. As part of that journey, I’m listening to many other presenters to feel their style and delivery as well as gaining the benefit their content delivers.

I entreat any and all to take some time and watch a TEDX or TED presentation. Perhaps share your favorite with all of us here that we may all benefit from the experience and to help build momentum as we work towards our opportunity on November 15. I then hope many of you will watch the live broadcast and as appropriate to your experience, share it with as many people and places as possible. In the meanwhile I’ll be turning to you for some encouragement on presentations you found worth sharing. Whether I reach new heights or not is yet to be seen, but I always believe in making the climb!

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11 Oct 14

By Randy Pierce

“I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.”

– John Hanc, running writer

They say fewer than 1% of all runners will ever run a marathon. I wonder how many fewer will ever run one totally blind? I know of a few and ran my own back on May 4, 2014 though admittedly with very poor preparation as retold in “Qualifying for Quinn.”

Randy and Thor crossing the finish line at the Cox Providence Marathon, May 2014

Randy and Thor crossing the finish line at the Cox Providence Marathon, May 2014

“If you feel bad at 10 miles, you’re in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you’re normal. If you don’t feel bad at 26 miles, you’re abnormal.”

– Rob de Castella, winner 1983 World Marathon Championships

At 8 a.m. on October 19, I will begin to run the Bay State marathon in Lowell, MA. This time with considerable attention to proper training and preparation thanks in large part to the knowledge, wisdom, experience, coaching, guiding, and friendship of Greg Hallerman. As hard as it was to run the last marathon, it was much more difficult to consistently attend to the many details necessary for successful training, particularly as a blind runner.

The vast majority of my run training needed to be outside and for that I needed enough people willing to sacrifice their time and effort to meet and run with me despite my transportation limitations. I was incredibly fortunate in so many runners undertaking this over the course of the past months. Thank you to: Greg H., Thor, Matt, Mary, Ron D., Andre, Kris, Christine, Robin, Laura, Greg N., Rob W., Meredith, Pete, Ron A., Nick, Scott, Chris, Austin, Rob C. and even Autumn for a little rail trail work.

This doesn’t include the hours of support on many fronts by my incredible wife Tracy who is in the midst of her own extensive training. Both Nashua’s Gate City Striders and the Greater Lowell Road Runners are running clubs who also lent support to the cause along with dozens of friends sharing information and helping ensure I could have enough guide opportunities.

I ran four days each week and as my training progress pace and distance became more tuned to my training and more difficult for finding guides. A guide needs to be strong enough to manage all the same work I’m trying to undertake while keeping enough mental concentration for us to be safe and of course there are often learning curves which bump and bruise the body along the way. I ran in snow, rain, heat, cold, darkness (hey, the guides do need to see!), hills, rural roads, traffic laden streets, rural areas, parks, rail trails, and virtually anything and everything possible. I occasionally defaulted to the “dreadmill” but very rarely due to the kindness and generosity of so many excellent people. I did interval work, hard pace runs, and race pace runs as speed and conditioning grew steadily. I practiced on the course I’ll run and I pushed myself to meet every challenge my coach and mentor suggested. Better still I pursued every opportunity he suggested to me as well.

Randy finishes the Hollis Fast 5k.

Randy finishes the Hollis Fast 5k.

I wore out a pair of running shoes and have three more pairs rotating for better longevity. I practiced with many types of equipment from fuel belts and camel backs through body glides and nutritional sources. Testing them on short runs first and again on long runs. I supplemented run training with a healthier weight goal, better dietary considerations overall, losing nearly 20 pounds. I strengthened my core with “Iso Abs” and even hot yoga classes!

A lot of time and effort went into this on my part and my life was changed significantly as a result of the commitment required–commitment I firmly believe will pay dividends in the Bay State marathon and beyond.

“The difference between the mile and the marathon is the difference between burning your fingers with a match and being slowly roasted over hot coals.”

–Hal Higdon, running writer and coach

We used a modified version of Hal Higdon’s marathon training program. October 19, I’ll run my first marathon with proper preparation but I’ll follow it with a trip to Sacramento, California on December 7 to run the California International Marathon. I’ll continue to enhance my training over the long New England winter to be ready for the crown jewel of my marathon goals, the 2015 Boston Marathon.

It will be my fourth marathon within a year and the work will become the foundation for many future running goals. I doubt many years will ever see as many marathons for me again but I do hope to continue with running as a significant part of my world. I’m competitive and driven in many ways and yet the key for me is to experience the rich depth of opportunities within our world. I hope to continually relish the experiences personally and perhaps to some extent demonstrate for all of us that the goals which are important to us are worth the grit and perseverance necessary to reach.

Randy and Quinn at the Boston Athletic Association 5k, April 2014.

Randy and Quinn at the Boston Athletic Association 5k, April 2014.

The most meaningful of all my experiences have always required the most determination and effort to achieve. There are rarely shortcuts around the hard work required but the essential steps are easy as ABC or perhaps by my backward ABC for any accomplishment important enough to any of us:

C – Conceive
B – Believe
A – Achieve

My initial goal was to run the Boston marathon in honor of the Mighty Quinn. There’s so much more to that story and some has already been expressed. Quinn helped me to walk, taught me to run, and showed me the way to reach some incredible heights. Bay State is just one step of many on the path of my pursuit of dreams and goals. Still it’s a powerful one and whether you are part of logging miles for the Mighty Quinn or simply a fellow believer in possibility, I hope you’ll spare a thought for my wonderful boy and for me as I put my trust in the tether and follow Ron and Meredith through the course and to a celebration of Ability Awareness for myself and for many others involved in making this reality.

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4 Oct 14

By Randy Pierce

I have a bias, I admit, but I was surprised that Quinn didn’t at least merit honorable mention in the ACE Awards for Canine Excellence. Though without question there are some great and worthy stories both atop the awards and on the nomination room floor. After all, which of us doesn’t believe our dog or pet is the greatest? I think in part we feel that way because they spend their lives treating us as if WE are the greatest and it is so very difficult to not feel similarly towards them.

Take a “gander” and see why Gander took the top honors at this year’s Service Dog Category for the AKC Award for Canine Excellence.

Or maybe you want to learn why Gander’s Facebook page has nearly a quarter of a million followers!

“Let me be the person my dog thinks I am” – Anonymous

The truth is that Gander, Boomer, Bruno, Xander, and many other listed pups certainly deserve their accolades and credit to the AKC for honoring them. I know Modi, Ostend, Quinn, and Autumn all deserve the highest accolades I could ever give each of them, guiltless for my well deserved bias. I also know some remarkable pups by story or meeting such as Brutus, Salty, Conan, Maggie, Lady, Kiri, and a near endless list of others who have touched the lives of their humans and beyond.

Many teach us some essential skills in managing our own lives as we tend to over-complicate what they masterfully keep simple. In honor of all the dogs who have lifted my spirits, taught me lessons, and/or done similarly in the lives of all of you, I encourage you all to share on our blog a line or two about a cherished pet and why they earned your appreciative accolade for their excellence. I’ll start it off and end this blog with my own:

Puppy: Yes, Puppy Dog was on the scene when I arrived. She tolerated all of my youth and most importantly to love a dog

Tippy: She was my first “my dog” as a kid and she showed me the magic of life with her puppy litters and the many playful moments of them and her. She trusted me with her pups and I marvel at that love and trust now.

Modi: My first adult dog who patiently guided me to learn how to be a deserving partner to his love, loyalty, and devotion.

Ostend: My first Dog Guide and the last sight I ever saw in this world. My graceful charmer who lifted me through my darkest hours.

Quinn: He gave me so very much. He taught me to walk again, to run, and to reach heights I’d never imagined. Unrivaled devotion, determination, and perseverance are not nearly enough to do justice to his legend.

Autumn: Boundless, joyful affection and an earnest eager start that is so full of promise…

How about it? Any of you care to share a line or two in honor of our furry companions?

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27 Sep 14

By Randy Pierce

Many people managing vision loss are uncomfortable with the word “blind.” Whether it’s a more horrific imagined final stop of their journey or some other reason, I’ve had enough conversations to understand the challenge some have in the term, far more than terminology of “visually impaired,” “sight-challenged,” or many others.

The reality for them is that change is difficult. I remember in my early transition how unsettling I found it to be labeled and to be different. I recall the many looks of pity from those who would part like the Red Sea as I tapped my cane along and learned to use the little vision I had to my best ability. I remember viewing (no pun intended) that as only “a little vision,” until I gradually came to have none left at all; my total blindness helped me realize how much perspective impacts our evaluation of everything. The truth is that it hurt to see reactions of others even as I was battling my own acceptance.

To my discredit, as soon as I’d learned to scan well enough with the limited vision I had before total blindness, I broke my white cane over my knee and threw it out. Why the emotional assault on the cane? It was a symbol of my feeling less than complete, inferior, and the warning sign for everyone else to see and realize that same notion. I’ve come a long way in acceptance and managing blindness with a bit more grace but I had a rough start and still have more bad moments than I wish.

So whether you are managing a transition yourself or know someone who is struggling with any facet of their life, please know it is hard and will often include some rougher moments. It can get better and everyone can have a hand in the improvement. For those in the midst of challenge, learn all you can about your challenge and how others before you may have succeeded. It’s a great way to begin the essential forward-moving work that’s at the heart of turning a challenge towards the positive.

For those wishing to better understand and help, do both of those things the best way possible. Consider the obvious and the subtle ways your interactions may impact someone. Treat them as close to your typical approach as possible and respect them as you ask what if anything you might do to help them. Well intended but unexpected help has walked me into a few doors, bumped a few heads, and made me feel I was thought of in a lesser way even when I knew the intent was so positive. Give encouragement, support, and accountability in equal measure but most of all give good exploration into truly understanding the reality of the challenge and the help which is wanted and necessary.

I strive to emphasize Ability Awareness and the notion we can solve problems to reach any destination that is important enough for us to be worth the perseverance required. In the midst of the challenge or transition, though, it is often hard to begin thinking of what we have ahead of us as we become tangled in how much we’ve lost. I have been there, will be there again I’m sure, and yet I know I can also come to an understanding and move forward again. Any of us may, though it helps if you are as well surrounded by people who are willing to share that approach and belief. This is true whether you are visually impaired, blind, or facing any of the multitude of challenges all of us will likely confront in our lives. The choice of how to respond is entirely up to you.

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20 Sep 14

By Randy Pierce

Autumn had previously climbed Mt. Agamenticus with students from S. Berwick Middle School, Pack Monadnock with a film crew for a documentary premiering in Maine this October, and Avalon, Field, and Tom with long-time friends. On this her fourth hike, she got to hike with Mom (Tracy!), John, Michelle, Kat, and of course that rather tall blind guy she kindly chooses to guide.

Perhaps of higher import to many of the team, Michelle’s dog Dina and John’s Guiding Eyes-released Frisco were also taking the journey with us. As the season of autumn draws ever closer, the mountains are already gifting cooler days which are ideal for hiking. The clouds were dramatic early while the weather only suggested a chance of rain showers later in the afternoon. We gathered a little later at the trailhead of Champney Falls and set to the gentle first miles of trail.

Autumn had been whining in excitement from the moment we stepped out of the car and had a bit too much eager determination to get into the woods. Putting the harness onto her calmed her down a bit, but not enough. A short but human-guided rock-stepping stream crossing started the trip and probably put her focus even a little further away, such that the first few hundred feet of work along the trail suggested she was tending her job but at a slightly more distracted level than is ideal.

I was making efforts to gain a better focus and enjoying that we were quickly traversing the easier footing when the first stumble arrived. She quickly was reminded that it was time to put her full attention on the job and aside from a few too tempting sniffs on the side she did this very well. Kat and Michelle had last seen my hiking when we finished our 48 on Mt. Liberty and Flume. Both quickly shared kind compliments on how far Autumn had come in such a short time. There’s no doubt that the learning and work done with Quinn enables me to be more aware of all the subtle aspects of possible Dog Guide communication through the harness. We glided nicely along for much of what many would struggle to believe is possible for a Dog Guide team. It does make me reflect in some appreciative humor on how many cues Quinn likely gave to me early which I was slow to learn. Despite this, Autumn doesn’t have it exactly easy as she not only fills big paw-prints but has some serious work.

Randy and Autumn at waterfall smilingThe cascading Champney Falls were a pretty side trail diversion which began the more challenging part of the route. Autumn’s confidence to guide forward no matter who is in front or behind paid some dividends as Tracy is freed to hike at her best comfort rather than needing to stay in front as Quinn effectively required.

A few stretches of trail were difficult enough and Autumn had worked hard enough that it made sense to give her a break and call upon a human Guide. Michelle undertook her first round of that leadership and adapted naturally to the many new perspectives and approaches required. I’ve become steadily more easy to guide as my understanding of trails and my own work grows but I’m always amazed by those willing to undertake the focus, effort, and attention to be a human Guide. Autumn was quite happy to resume her role and bring us ever closer to the summit.

The final half mile or so of the trail is up a moderately challenging summit cone and ensures all who travel get an appreciation for the work required. Here Autumn did some guiding and John did some guiding as we attempted to keep peak efficiency. Clouds were getting more dramatic and we wanted to enjoy the windy and cool summit prior to getting into tree cover for lunch. The summit was surprisingly crowded with hikers and dogs despite the trail having been lighter. Autumn’s distraction value was too high for safe work when combined with the realistic challenge we were facing. It was work to get her attention and a reminder why training is on-going in all facets of our work.

Group at summit

At the summit it was time to relax and appreciate the accomplishment, each of us in our own way. For Autumn it was a surprising indiscretion as she truly marked her territory in the ways of generations of the canine species!

For the generally more difficult descent, teamwork came in as three dogs were juggled on leash by Kat, Michelle, and Tracy while John helped me manage the most challenging of the down terrain. Lunch was a joyous celebration of food and pup interactions as we found a fairly private slab of stone to savor all that a mountain’s majesty inspires within us.

I attempted to work Autumn down the difficult dance of stopping for steps as I felt them out and then guided ahead. She did well for a bit but showed that mentally it was more demanding and she grew weary. John swooped in as the stunt double and Autumn was happy to be a bit of a dog as John’s skills at guiding enabled us to quickly traverse most trails. We kept up with the group for the most part and all had one of our strongest hikes.

When late on the trail rain began to pelt the tree canopy over us, we still kept sufficiently dry as to fully appreciate the day. Only as we cleared the final stream and reached our cars did the rain begin heavier and by then it was off to Flatbread Pizza Company and a guilt-free repast worthy of any hiker’s feast! Sometimes, it’s just about enjoying life and the friends with whom we share the trails.

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13 Sep 14

Randy sitting with Autumn curled at his feet.

Randy sitting with Autumn curled at his feet

By Randy Pierce

Today is Tuesday, September 9 – at least it is as I write this. After posting a couple of topic options on my Facebook feed the results quickly suggested people might prefer to get a glimpse into an ordinary day. While it’s not quite the Autumn day I suggest, in this house, every day is an Autumn day.

Still groggy from our late Monday night Hudson Lions Club meeting, the alarm tones at 5 a.m. since Tracy needs to be out early to avoid the traffic on her way to Duvine Bicycle Adventures in Somerville, MA. That’s all the signal Autumn needs to announce that her face licking, tail wagging energy will unleash upon me should I not begin the day with a trip outside for her needs and then her breakfast. This day, like many, will have a cup of coffee included as I sit by the computer and check messages to ensure the day is still on track. So why not join us for the day?

5:30 a.m.  Autumn relieved and fed first, then water, with banana and a quick breakfast for me at the PC. How many emails can I manage before the next tasks call?

6:00 a.m.  Dynamic warm-up and stretch in preparation for run training.

6:30 a.m.  5.45 mile run with Mary Guiding me and Autumn sulking at home.

7:30 a.m.  Shower and second breakfast for this calorie-counting (albeit tall) hobbit in training.

8:30 a.m.  Prioritize the To Do list which today includes:

  1. Response to Rick Stevenson on 2020 Vision Quest front page layout change in progress: School’s Back, Pet Tales E-book, Tuff Mudder, Corporate Presentation, TED Talk, UNH Award, Miles4Quinn and such!
  2. Response to Peak Potential auction donation.
  3. NHAB strategic planning update for Board of Directors.
  4. Sneak in a New England Patriot news update.
  5. Coordinate run training for rest of week.
  6. Finalize notes for Bank of NH keynote presentation scheduled for Thursday 9/11.
  7. Follow up on Kilimanjaro Preparations as team met on Mt. Monadnock last weekend and a few new members are being included. (Today is likely one year to the day from when we will summit Kilimanjaro, the tallest stand-alone mountain in the world. That’s pretty significant to me in many ways but a sign of just how every seemingly ordinary day can be connected to some very significant days as we choose to live our life in whatever experiences call to us.)
  8. Work with Sarah Toney via email to ensure 2020 Vision Quest social media plans are on track and she has the information she needs to best help our charity efforts online.
  9. Call Mom at her hospital room to coordinate her physical therapy plans and possibility of going home by end of week.
  10. Start draft of blog for Beth Foote and open up topic to Facebook.
  11. Check Status of Apple Watch in my search for a fully accessible wearable fitness device.
  12. Propose a new fundraising idea that has been on hold to a potential volunteer while giving an edit to a student’s note about what they believe we do as a 2020 Vision Quest team.
Autumn at play running with a toy.

Autumn at play.

11:00 a.m.  Hey, where is the day going? Start laundry, water and relieve Autumn who is impatient and deservedly so. Take a 2-mile walk to appease the girl, my legs and our practice time together as training with a Dog Guide is an every day opportunity to learn and grow as a team. Today’s challenge was wanting more time outside as the weather is beautiful. I suspect I’m not alone in this.

12:00 p.m.  Autumn follows the Quinn rules of “Playment plans!” This means after every bit of harness work we break out a toy and reward her with play. She is eager and energetic while I’m thinking about my own lunch (see hobbit comment from above!)

1:00 p.m.  Back to the computer for more work. I’ll spare you the details save that Apple’s info release is followed via Twitter feed on my iPhone. This makes my work a little distracted but 2020 Vision Quest usually involves 10 hours of work for me during the day. We interrupted to confirm the consult with Mom’s medical team and plan her return trip home on Friday afternoon.

4:00 p.m.  Feed, water and relieve the Autumn after a play session entirely intended to break me away from work mode. A burst of home chores to precede Tracy’s arrival and set the stage for our various discussions of the evening. While Tracy will have her own run training evening plans, I must research the weekend’s hike of Mt. Chocorua, a potential first-time yoga class on Friday, our “Iso-Abs” workout for tonight and the plan for our Peak Potential Dinner and Auction meeting on Sunday.

Autumn lies on top of Randy, pinning him to the floor.

Autumn shows Randy the price for lying down on the job!

Usually around 100 new emails will arrive during the day, requiring me to sort and respond as appropriate for the scheduling and planning of school and corporate presentations as well as general charity management. All this and it’s voting day here in our home city of Nashua, NH. Tired, well be careful lying down as there’s plenty ahead with an impending Autumn season… as well as an exuberant Dog Guide who needs to ensure I know the price of lying down on the job!

You want real updates on any of those topics? That would take an entire blog post for each and the days ahead will no doubt include such so stay connected to us in all the ways possible and thanks for coming along with me today!

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6 Sep 14

By Randy Pierce

“People will forget what you say and what you do long before they will forget how you made them feel”
– Maya Angelou

Randy and Autumn present at Interlakes High School.

Randy and Autumn present at Interlakes High School.

Our first school presentation of the new academic year was a pair of presentations at Interlakes High School. We began at 7:30 am with a presentation to the entire freshman class of 85 students as they explored concepts of goal setting, cooperation, community, and perseverance. Their attention was highly focused and intense with eager responses to questions and challenges provided to them.

After a brief break with some inspired sharing, the 300 students representing sophomores through seniors arrived for another hour-long presentation which used the challenges of goal setting and adversity management as a means for reaching each of their own individual peak potential. Once again rapt attention, thunderous applause and moving testimonials highlighted the experience–yet the underlying motivation was probably far more hidden to most.

These seniors had been given a presentation in the fall of 2011 and this was a repeat of the revised programs available on our For Educators. They had overwhelmingly reported how much the messages had resonated for them and how grateful they were to reconnect with the message and methods as they begin their final year of high school. It was a powerful reminder to me just how worthy an impact we may have on students’ lives.

Randy and Autumn with an Interlakes teacher.

Randy and Autumn with an Interlakes teacher.

As students file out of the auditorium after a presentation, it is not uncommon for a thank you, handshake, or testimonial to be shared. Sometimes those points are what motivate me to work harder, encourage the 2020 team to understand the value of our work, and to expand our outreach to bring more students to our message. It is uplifting to hear the emotionally laden appreciation from students and often some staff surprises.

Such was the case when a teacher shared with the entire student body that a hiking story I had told about whether we focus on our feet upon a trail or the entire experience around us led to some changes and insight for her own life. This had so much impact that she embraced a few personal challenges from that day forward on the trails and in her life.

One such challenge culminated in a challenge she made to her fellow teachers. She refused to accept her technological limitations as she sought how to bring the perfect means to unite all teachers in sharing daily a positive experience which would uplift all of them each day. She found a mobile app to accomplish this and launched the school-wide program the day before our arrival to a resounding success in the young school year. Meanwhile all the students were challenged to set goals for September which would be reviewed as they learned skills around “positive adversity” and aiso reviewing the rewards our talks present for understanding challenges in a different way.

When you know you are changing lives and people share this with your project, it becomes the most powerful motivation. The 2020 Vision Quest team does many wonderful acts of community service. All have equal value and measure to those who receive them. The people who are touched by our message and in turn choose to touch our lives give us the inspiration, motivation, and dedication to continue our work. Thank you Interlakes and many future schools for inspiring our efforts to continue!

Autumn takes a well-deserved rest after a job well-done.

Autumn takes a well-deserved rest after a job well-done.

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30 Aug 14

By Randy Pierce

T.E.A.M. – Together Everyone Achieves More

Randy poses with his team at the Tuff Mudder.

Randy poses with his team at the Tuff Mudder. Photo courtesy of Allan Mercier.

I hear many kind words about inspiration and accomplishment. It should be no surprise that the most dramatic of all of these moments usually involves an incredible team of support making the various accomplishments possible. Yet unfortunately all too often more credit is given to me than the team of which I am only one part. It gave me pause to consider my belief in how much more all of us may accomplish when we choose to be a part of the right team and dedicate ourselves to learning the best means to work together as a team.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” –Henry Ford

As Ford said well, the beginning is coming together. We have significant influence on the people with whom we surround ourselves in our life’s journey. I firmly believe the better we choose and the kind and careful tending of those choices is the first and most powerful step in our own appreciation and success in life.

Summit shot of the team's 48th 4,000-footer, August 2013.

Summit shot of the team’s 48th 4,000-footer, August 2013. Photo courtesy of Catherine Orza.

Whether undertaking a Tuff Mudder, perilous Peak or work like the 2020 Vision Quest charity, the communities of support and friendship we build are the foundation for all the success of the experience. I think it’s important to note that we should always be striving to give and to be all that we hope for in our teammates as well and that includes understanding the difference between when someone has understandably slipped as a partner and if someone simply isn’t the team player with whom we want our life surrounded.

Building the team is important, as is understanding the individual aspects of the entire team. Learn what communication works best for which people and try to provide them with that approach. Share openly with your team which methods work best for you and adapt where possible to fit their ability to provide with your needs. Check in with each other along the way to adjust as the team grows and learns so that encouragement and support combine with question and challenge to yield the strongest support for everyone’s goals. A team moving in unison towards common goals is a powerful force indeed.

My journey is filled with so many wonderful people who have helped enable me to achieve some incredible moments. It all falls so well inline with the very aptly named Peak Potential Annual Charity Dinner and Auction. It highlights the ultimate level of team rather nicely as well. On that night we will have our closest friends who support us and we’ll have the brief adventure experience teammates of the mountains and Tuff Mudders. In a larger sense, we’ll build a more vast community by our choices, and that greater community will help provide a means for perhaps the greatest accomplishments of our lives.

Thank you to all my closest friends, my many adventure partners, and especially to the vast network of friends and supporters who help me always strive to reach my own “peak potential” personally, professionally, and philanthropically!

Fairway Mortgage, Randy, Robbie, Sarah, and Quinn at Peak Potential 2013.

Peak Potential 2013. Photo courtesy of Kevin Green.

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22 Aug 14

By Randy Pierce

I’ve undoubtedly earned the reputation that’s at the source of this week’s post and yet I still find amusement in the three typical reactions to my August 23 undertaking:

  1. “Of course you would do a Tuff Mudder.”
  2. “Are you crazy?”
  3. “What in the world is a Tuff Mudder?”

The last is the easiest to answer: initially it was a 10-12 mile, intensely difficult obstacle course designed to test the metal of British Special Forces. As the competitive challenge was brought a bit more mainstream, it has been adapted as a fundraiser for projects such as the Wounded Warrior Program. The team approach eases the challenge somewhat, but for many it is the ultimate test of determination, perseverance, and perhaps sanity!

The Tuff Mudder youtube video will show you better than I could ever reasonably describe.

Greg, Randy, Peter, & Christine check out an obstacle

Greg, Randy, Peter, & Christine check out an obstacle

In my own defense, of sanity, I was entreated to undertake this by a couple of good friends who thought our teamwork to achieve this together would set the bar as high as any of my undertakings. I thought it was an ideal way to wreak havoc with my Marathon training. Of course I said yes, but only after being shown that at least one other blind person undertook, survived, and blogged about his experience.

Surprisingly, that made it easier to say yes because I knew I wasn’t doing it to achieve a first, but rather to support the goals of friends and attempt to take teamwork yet again to a very high level. For me that experience and demonstration is worth the challenge, struggles, and risks I’ll experience in the event.

As I write this blog, I have not yet undertaken the event but by the time of publishing it will have occurred. Whether I succeed, fail, or walk some form of middle ground to the above, I am confident we’ll have come together and given our very best attempt to do each challenge fully. Our team will come together in some incredible ways with me providing as much to the team as I’m certain to get from it. I hope to have more words for it when it’s complete but I reserve the below space for a few picture highlights of our team at work.

Up and over an obstacleRandy mugs for the camera with Greg on top of an obstacle

 

 

Randy works on monkey bars

 

I want to give special thanks (blame?) to the two people most responsible for getting me into this muddy mess: thank you Laura Mountain and Greg Naeult. In the follow up I have no doubt a full team of thanks will be owed as Pete, Christine, Tom 1, Tom 2, and a few others are sure to be essential to the rewards within our reach!

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14 Aug 14

By Randy Pierce

Lisa Berman is a college friend with whom I have been very fortunate to reconnect a “few” years since our UNH days. Along with her friendship has come a dedicated support of 2020 Vision Quest through our School programs and our Peak Potential Dinner Auction which she attends and to which she donates some of her incredible work. This year’s donation is a particularly amazing piece sure to capture the attention of our event guests! When I asked Lisa to share with me the story of her inspiration it was too good not to share with our community as this week’s inspiring Guest Blog. Thank you, Lisa!

The Promise of a New Day

By Lisa Berman

Sunrise on the shoreIn 2011, I set an intention to visit the beach every Saturday to photograph the sunrise. Of course it was winter with the sun rising around 7AM. Easy enough! I remember being burdened with work and family responsibilities. It was a challenging time for our family. It was a difficult time for me. As a mental health clinician and life coach, I knew changes were needed that would build in time for self-care, quiet time, me time, and moments of reflection. Saturday morning before the family was awake and the obligations of the day began seemed a perfect time for my new endeavor.

Every Saturday I bundled up and made my way to the beach. I braved the cold–some mornings were brutal! Some mornings the sky was heavy with clouds, and a sunrise seemed impossible. I was steadfast in my commitment to go to the water’s edge hoping that the sun would be there in all of its fullness at the distant horizon, before it rose to be hidden by the cloud cover. Sometimes I was greeted by rain and a barren beach. Other times the sun greeted the new day with pink, orange, and red against a gray sky, or the glimmer of red that shone through a heavy cloud cover. For me this confirmed that even in our darkest moments there is hope and the promise of a new day. Of course there were plenty of days where the sunrise was magnificent.

I was dedicated to the intention of a year of photographing sunrises and found peace and contentment in this time of solitude. It was a moment of reflection and an opportunity for gratitude.

Sunrise on the shoreThen summer was upon us and this early riser had to rise even earlier. Not an easy task! The beauty was I no longer needed to bundle up in layer upon layer of winter clothing, boots, and hand warmers. And when I arrived home to a still peaceful home, I could putter in the garden. The summer sun is bold and bright; it warms the day and warms the soul. It seemed that many a summer day there was no cloud cover to make for interesting skies. The beauty of these mornings was the sun’s reflection on the water and sand at low tide.

Before I even realized, a year had passed. I had followed the sun as it moved north along the coast and then back to where it began at the start of my journey. I had successfully navigated the seasons and all they had to offer. I came to recognize that it was the cloud cover and the bitter cold that made for some of the most impressive sunrises. As in life it is the darkness, the challenges that make the good time so much sweeter. As I reflected on the year I realized that in my efforts to reclaim my sense of peace and hope this intention set in motion a sunrise of a different sort. Life was less challenging. There was a new sense of hope and contentment. My desire and drive to continue my trips to the beach grew stronger.

Three and half years later I still venture to the beach on a weekly basis. I marvel at the changes in the shoreline. The sand and the rocks move and the landscape is different every day. The tide changes. Some days there is very little beach to roam on and other days the beach is vast with lots to explore. I am in awe at the way the colors play against one another. The pinks, oranges, and reds of the sunrise contrast with the blues, greens, and white of the water. I am still amazed by the beauty of a sunrise and grateful for its promise of the new day.

Please check out Saturday’s Sunrise on Facebook or www.saturdaysunrise.com

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