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Olivia Uribe: The ‘Other’ New Year’s Resolutions

Doing more for our community can be your greatest gift, to yourself and to others.

In the spirit of the new year, it is easy to buy into stock resolutions promoted by the media, suggesting that in 2008 we aspire to look like the skinnier version of Tyra Banks or the bulky Peyton Manning, and buy the latest sports car.{mosimage}

But there are life goals with a better payoff. When I ran my first half-marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society last year, I discovered three key ingredients for achieving anything worthwhile. Let me share them with you as 2008 begins.

Olivia Uribe
Passion: While training for the marathon, looking for inspiration when my will was flagging, I remembered a Cirque de Soleil performance I’d attended. The core of the beauty and success of the show was passion. I sensed the passion each performer felt for what he or she was doing. If each of us approached our lives with the same amount of passion as these performers, our world would be a very different place. Seeing the performance completely shifted my thinking. I had always felt that people needed to think more about certain issues, such as social justice or the environment. Now I feel they just need to care more! These performers’ passion inspired a new outlook on life, and although it didn’t change the global world, it changed my world. In order to effect positive change in the world in 2008, we need to care deeply about something worthwhile and put our passion to work.

Courage: To develop discipline where I most lacked it when training for the marathon, I focused on the tremendous courage shown by others under fire:  Benazir Bhutto’s dangerous return to Pakistan before she was assassinated; young Americans of my age fighting in Iraq; Southern California firefighters risking their lives on the fire line last fall; and survivors of all types of cancer.  These are just a few of the people whose abundant courage can teach us that there is always more to give, and a harder effort to put forth. Courage is what helps us meet a challenge; it is a virtue that we foster by embracing it. In 2008 we can become a catalyst for positive change, provided we have the courage to face opposition and challenges, and overcome them.

Vision: Why train for a long run? I don’t train to compete in the Olympics, I run because it makes me a better person and because achieving a personal challenge gives me a vision of life’s fuller possibilities. Today, we are called to be many things, but the call for each of us should be to be better today than yesterday. To be less immersed in the frivolous self, and more concerned with others — and in so doing, be more true to oneself.

My challenge to each of us is to find a way to do more for the community. In my own life, I’ve done this through working with an organization, SB CAN, that is making a difference in the areas of housing, open space and transportation. Others might find that counseling survivors of rape, or reading for the blind and dyslexic, or mentoring children at risk will be of most benefit. More than likely, there are organizations right around the corner that can benefit from your experience, knowledge, passion and courage.  And, of course, remarkable things can be accomplished on your own.

Best wishes for a safe holiday and for finding the personal challenge you will undertake in 2008 — to make you a better person, and Santa Barbara County a better community.

Olivia Uribe is associate director for the Santa Barbara County Action Network, SB CAN.

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