O2X - Turn it UP, or Turn it OFF
By Betsy Dickey
Betsy is a writer, athlete, mother of four, and the founder of Ready for Reading, a non-profit based in Eastern Rwanda that seeks to empower through literacy, technology and economic opportunities for both personal and community growth. In this guest blog post Betsy writes about listening to the voice in your head that pushes you to take on new endeavors; she discusses parallels between her work in Africa over the last decade (mainly, her decision to make a leap of faith and take on a new challenge!), progress made in the Ready for Reading community, and most recently, completing her first O2X Summit Challenge at Loon Mountain!
It all starts with the firing of an impulse. A split second thought that comes but doesn’t quite go - the challenge, the maybe, the possibility, the improbability? That impulse sticks like a song that won’t stop playing in your head. And you can choose to either turn it up or turn it off.
That’s what the O2X Loon Mountain Summit Challenge was for me - a song playing on repeat in my head. The race felt beyond my reach and I wondered, what if I failed to finish? But instead of allowing fear of the unknown to rule my thoughts (Turn it off!), I trusted in myself, embraced the challenge, and registered for Loon. (Turn it up! ). On October 3rd, 2015 I toed the start line in New Hampshire and embarked on a memorable journey up a mountain. With each step, I grew stronger and more sure of myself - what a feeling of accomplishment to make it up the torturous quad-burning final quarter mile!
The same song that encouraged me to register for Loon had played in my head 10 years ago when I said yes to an opportunity to travel to Rwanda, Africa on a humanitarian trip (Turn it up!), pushing myself out of my comfort zone of carpools, playdates and predictability. The following year, I said yes again to go back on a second trip and lead a writing workshop at a primary school. Each step from there took me further and deeper into uncharted territory to follow through on a promise to the Rwinkwavu community, to build a Community Library/Learning Center in this remote underprivileged rural area in Eastern Rwanda.
Illiterate adults in Rwinkwavu have heard the same song and chosen to turn it up. By overcoming embarrassment and fear of failure, they have taken bold steps in turning their lives around by enrolling in literacy classes and learning to read and write for the first time. Rather than allowing their circumstances to define them entirely, members of the community summoned the courage to go out on a limb and take on a new challenge. And the results of their hard work include not only widespread literacy, job opportunities and the ability to support their families, but also an increased sense of their own ability to grow, learn, trust and push their limits.
Looking down from the summit, both at Loon Mountain and in life at large, I can see how I got here - every step, scramble, stumble, and wrong turn led me to exactly where I am today. So listen to the song playing in your head that nudges you to push yourself and dive into the unknown. Lace up your running shoes and say yes! Respond to the call to action and your life will open up in ways you could never have imagined…. Rise Higher!
[For additional info on Ready for Reading visit www.readyforreading.org]