The Mailing Ruth Project

Several months ago I got into the habit of writing my 95 year-old grandma hand-written letters and it was awesome. Very quickly we became pen pals and every week or so I would send out a new letter to her and in return I would get one right back. It’s an old school way to do things, but it’s how she was used to doing it (she doesn’t use email) and it was always cool to get something in the mail besides bills and junk pre-approved credit card offers.

My grandma and I did this for a few months or so, but I broke the commitment when Stephanie and I went on our mission trip to the Congo. Fast forward about six months later and even though I would love to start writing more letters to grandma I haven’t found a way to make it happen. Sad, I know, but it’s the truth. It’s something that I’ve thought about doing quite a bit, but I’ve never pulled the trigger on actually sitting down and writing another letter.

The Mailing Ruth Project Idea

But, a couple of weeks ago an idea hit me. If I had liked sending letters back and forth to grandma I bet that the rest of the family would enjoy it, too. Not to mention that if grandma loved getting letters from me I bet that she would be ecstatic to get some from the rest of the 80+ family members that are listed under her on the family tree. This idea of creating a way for the rest of the family to send letters to grandma got my wheels turning and quickly I came up with a way that I thought I could make it happen.

I named the project “Mailing Ruth” (that’s my grandma’s real name that I never call her by) and decided the goal would be to create a way for me and the rest of my family to send grandma something every, single day until the end of the year (without telling her we were doing it — surprise!). If I could help make sure that there would be something new in her mailbox everyday from now until New Years I would be happy and I knew that grandma would be, too. It’s also worth noting that she’s not getting out as much as she used to these days so finding something from her family in her mailbox each day would mean ever more to her.

The Details To Make It Happen

I wanted to keep this project as simple as possible and since I needed all of my family to participate it needed to be quick to join and easy to understand. I decided to set up a spreadsheet in Google Docs that included two columns — 1. Date and 2. Mail Sender. The dates extended until the end of the year (which was about 150 days) and the instructions were simple:

1. Choose 4-5 dates when you can send grandma something in the mail.
2. Add your name next to those days.
3. Mark the days you choose on your calendar and don’t forget to send out something to grandma on those days.

Here’s what the spreadsheet looked like after being filled in by a few family members:

Socializing The Idea And Getting Early Adopters

I added my name to the spreadsheet 5 times and then chatted with my sister to tell her about the idea to see what she thought and to also get her involved. She instantly loved the idea and quickly went and added her names to the list, too. This was an important moment as I had scored my first contributor with little effort which made me hopeful about getting the rest of the family to join in, too.

Next I called my mom and told her about the idea and although she didn’t instantly add her names to the list she seemed to like what I was trying to do and gave me some ideas on how to reach the rest of the family. I sent her an email with some instructions on how to pick her dates and she ended up filling it out within the next 24 hours after I followed up with her a few times to make sure that she knew what she needed to do.

Spreading The Idea To Influencers And Beyond

After my mom added herself to the list and now that I had a few spots filled out it was time to reach out the rest of my family so that they could join in. This meant that I needed to come up with an email that could be forwarded around the rest of my family so they not only understood what I was trying to do with the project, but that also got them all excited enough to join in and participate (and get other family members that I didn’t know how to reach involved, too). I needed the email to be short and sweet, but it also needed to clearly explain what I was trying to do with the Mailing Ruth Project and why they should participate.

Here’s the email I sent:

———-

I wanted to send you a message real quick about a new idea that I’m working on called Mailing Ruth. It’s basically a way for grandma Honnold to get a new letter or card from one of her family members until the end of the calendar year. Of course, it will also be a really cool surprise for her that she’ll enjoy (be sure not to tell grandma anything about this, it’s a family secret!). It’s a pretty simple idea and it actually got kicked off today by Angie (she sent off the first letter to grandma this morning) — all I need now is the rest of the able members of the Honnold family tree to join in the fun, too (this means you, of course).

Here’s what I need you to do:

1. Add your name to the Mailing Ruth list under MAIL SENDER 4-5 times, which you can do over in this spreadsheet: https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Avsar8uugozCdGJfdmtpQV (please list yourself individually and not as a couple/family so that we can have as many people involved as possible)

2. Be sure to mark the specific days on your calendar so that you can mail out your letter or card to grandma when you’re supposed to (it’s very important to send them out on time)

3. Send this message to the as many other members of the Honnold family so that they can add their names to the list, too.

4. Send the cards and letters and help give grandma Honnold an awesome surprise!

If you have any questions about this please feel free to email me back at ryan.hupfer@gmail.com or call me.

Thanks for playing along and I can’t wait to hear all about this from grandma – she’s going to love it! 

———-

After mailing that out to a few of my more communicative family members (the family influencers, if you will) the spreadsheet started to fill up before my very eyes. Family members of all ages and from all across the nation added their names to the list and picked out the 4-5 days that they were dedicated to sending grandma something in the mail. Of course I had to follow-up with some of the emails to make sure that people were following through with adding themselves to the list, but as the spreadsheet filled out more and more it became more appealing to the rest of the family since they didn’t want to miss out on participating.

Mailing Ruth Project Update

As of now, we’re 10 days from the first date on the spreadsheet (which is when I sent out the first mail to grandma) and we only have 35 spots left to fill out of the original 151. Now that most of the family is involved it’s going to be easy to get a few more so that all of the dates are filled. I know of a few family members who want to join, but who haven’t added their names, so what I’m going to do is make it easy on them by adding their names myself and emailing them the days that they’re responsible for. I’m more than happy to do this and doing the work for the last few people is all part of getting a project like this 100% completed.

I can’t wait to talk to my grandma to see how she’s been and to hear about what’s new. For some reason I feel like she’s going to have some news to share about getting mail from the family. That’s going to be really fun to hear about.

 

I told myself that I would write something before I went to bed

If I tell myself that I’m going to do something, then I need to stick to it (just like Jason says). I don’t care if that’s finish a run, get up early or keep my clothes on — I need to stick with what I promise myself and you should, too.

Is this the best blog post, ever? Most likely not (although it just keeps on getting better). I’m tired and have a sleeping Pug next to me, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t  follow through enough to keep myself conscious of the importance of making the things I tell myself I’m going to do actually happen. Wow, that last sentence was long and most likely grammatically incorrect. Gangsta’.

Now that I’m done with that…good night.

 

Pins and Needles

I can’t be the only person who has been affected this way due to the unlimited supply of mobile entertainment on our smart phones, iPads or whatever other personal electronic device is your drug of choice. It’s sad, but true — my once fairly brief rendezvous in the bathroom has now become an opportunity to view all of the top videos on YouTube and to see what’s hot on Reddit.

The result? A slightly uncomfortable experience for a few minutes once the blood starts rushing back to my lower extremities. I also get a slightly shameful feeling once I realize that I’m going to do the same exact thing again the next time I go to the bathroom because I need to do a number two. It’s a vicious cycle and not exactly something I’m proud of, but there’s still no way that I would ever go back to reading shampoo bottles. That’s just weird.

 

Living the Single Bachelor Life for a Month

My wife is a preschool teacher, which  means that:

1. She changes a lot of diapers

2. She gets a Summer vacation

Not that changing a 3 year-old’s diaper isn’t exciting (I get to hear about a lot of good stories), but I’m going to focus on the Summer vacation for now. Just last weekend my wife flew out of SFO excited to be getting a break from the kids she teaches and some time away from our day-to-day life. She left behind me and the Pug (Frank) and we’re currently in single bachelor mode for thirty days, give or take.

It’s actually funny what happens when it’s just Frank and I hanging out together. Surprisingly some of my new married habits that I’ve come to learn and have somehow miraculously stuck around. I’m still making my bed every morning, doing the dishes before they pile up and I’ve even kept our entry way in the apartment clutter-free. These are all things that only a couple of years ago would have never happened and it’s both good and interesting to see that I’m sticking with them even when my wife isn’t keeping me in check. Yay for me, I’m so awesome.

With all of that being said, I’ve also slipped on a few things. I’m a weak, weak man when it comes to maintaining some habits and no matter how marriage conditioned I get I will still revert to the time when it was just me, myself and I. For instance, the first two nights that I was wife-free I didn’t even make it to my bed before I fell asleep. Instead I got comfy with Frank on the couch in my living room and dozed off with reruns and late night infomercials still blaring on the TV in the background. When this happens I usually wake up around 2-3 a.m. wondering where I’m at and why I haven’t brushed my teeth yet. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but it’s what happens when I’m left in our apartment all alone.

Other things that happen when the wife ditches me for a while:

1. I stay up way later

2. I skip a lot of meals

3. I don’t ever cook anything

4. I stay at work way later (I also get into work later, too)

5. I hog the entire bed (as long as Frank isn’t already hogging it)

6. I don’t watch any TV, but I watch more movies

So far I’m surviving, but I still have a long way to go. A month is a lot of single bachelor mode, but I think I can make it. More updates soon.

 

The Truth Revolution: It’s Time To Keep It Real

A lot has been on my mind lately and to be honest it’s been a bit of a struggle for me. Normally I would just keep most of it inside and deal with it in the context of private conversations either in my head or with my wife, but I think it’s about time for me to get a little more real when I write. One thing that I really admire is a person’s ability to open up honestly and gracefully about their good, bad and ugly to the world without letting pride get in the way of communicating it (which is something that I have never been very good at). Call it being radically transparent or call it openly complaining — whatever you think it is I see it as being truthful, honest and real with who they are. Truth can be nasty and it’s sometimes hard to hear it and to tell it, but in the end truth is pretty much the most awesome thing ever and it’s something that should be a bigger part of my
life.

While most of us are great at writing status updates and tweets about all of the great things that are happening in our lives we tend to leave out the things that aren’t going so well or that we need to get off our chest. We tend to leave out the truth. We keep it inside, all locked up in our own heads and instead choose to post a few things that make us look cool instead of vulnerable or trendy instead of transparent. I not only understand why this happens, but I’ve done much more than my fair share of it. In fact, I would say that I’m the king of showing off my good side online and leaving out a lot of the truth. For some reason I’ve just never felt like I needed to share my problems or honest feelings with other people, so I just kept them to myself and made sure that they never made it out into the open. Instead,  I come up with what I think people want to hear (which I’m really good at) and tend to leave out what’s real. It’s kinda sad, but it’s true and it happens more than I’m sure most people like to admit.

But, that’s going to start to change for me because today I’m starting what I like to call my “Truth Revolution”. What this means is that from here on out I’m going to stop writing only about the things that I’m eager to share like a new idea or a fun experience and I’m going to start including other feelings, thoughts and issues that I’m dealing with. Simply put, I’m going to start including more truth in what I write. I’m sure that this will be an ongoing work-in-progress, but I hope that through my writing I can become more truthful in my life and help others to inject more truth into theirs.

Where did all of this Truth Revolution stuff come from? Great question and something that I’ve been asking myself about a lot, too. The only thing that I can point to is that lately God has made it more and more apparent to me how important truth really is and has been making me face it head-on by putting me into situations where it’s the only way out. Living in the truth hasn’t been easy and it’s been a lesson long time coming, but it’s here now and I don’t think that it’s going away anytime soon. If you’re currently not living in the truth I would suggest that you take some time to think about it. Avoiding it is almost always the easiest way out, but believe me when I say that it’s not the choice you want to make. If you want to have your own Truth Revolution, go for it — there’s no better time for it than right now.

 

Inquisitive Pug

Last week I took some funny pics of my Pug, Frank and I though that I should do something with them. They really cracked me up and when I looked at them I thought that Frank looked like he was asking me something very important. What’s important for a Pug to ask? That’s a great question and I don’t have a good answer for it, but I’ve been playing around with a few options and wanted to post them up on here so that I could have some record of my progress.

I think some of the final images are pretty funny and I’ve even started personalizing them for some of my friends on Facebook. I don’t have much time during the week to work in this kind of stuff, but hopefully I can figure out exactly what I want to do with what I’m calling the Inquisitive Pug. I even made a Facebook fan page for it, but who knows what I’m going to do with it.

Here are a few to check out:

 

 

Here’s one I made for my wife (who loves to memorize rap songs):

Being Intentional (and how making your bed every day can help)


photo credit: warrengreport.com

I’m sure there’s been a time in your life when you wanted to make a change. Maybe it was a huge change like losing some weight and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Or, maybe it’ s less personal and more professional like getting more visibility in your company or being able to handle more responsibility so that you get more respect at your job.

Let’s go much simpler — maybe you just want to be able to talk to people easier and not feel so nervous all of the time.

No matter what your hopes and desires may be for your life I think that we can all agree on a couple of things:

  1. There is always something that we would like to improve/change in our lives
  2. We usually suck at actually making any of these things that we want actually happen (although we’re great at talking about them all the time)

Although I can’t say that I’m even close to having all of the right answers when it comes to making change, I have found one simple (but hard) thing that has definitely pushed me in the right direction: Being Intentional.

What Does Being Intentional Mean?

If you’re being intentional you’re moving around in your life with purpose, forethought and focus. You are making certain decisions on purpose, you’re not only taking what it coming to you on a daily basis and you’re actively thinking about where you’re at, what you’re doing and why. This sounds like it’s a lot of work and a little over the top, but honestly it’s not that hard once you figure out (and it’s actually kind of fun once you get used to it).

I know that examples are a lot better than definitions, so let me tell you a story about how I have become more intentional in my life. This is a very simple example, but you’d be surprised how this small act of being intentional has spilled over into other parts of my life that I would have never thought possible.

Making The Bed

Do you make your bed? I’m guessing that you don’t, but if you do then you deserve a high-five for taking care of business. Back in the day I never used to make my bed. EVER. I mean, what was the point? I never had the time to deal with it and even if I did I was just going to get back into that bed the very same night and mess it all up again. Then why, I ask you, would I take the time to make it look all pretty every single day? Seemed kind of stupid to me.

Fast forward to just a few months ago and I have a whole new perspective. A made bed looks nice, it’s a great first step to getting other things done and it makes me feel good to know that I can consistently keep up at least one (simple) process on a daily basis. One of the main challenges in making a change in your life is the feeling of not knowing where to start. I took this feeling head on by choosing to do something that I knew I could make time for every day as long as I stuck with it. Making my bed every day isn’t a complex task and it’s not something that I have to physically prepare for, which is why it’s a great goal to start with. It’s all about making time for it and making it a priority, which makes it easy to take on but still requires requires effort and attention to complete.

Also, after looking around the web for some more info on making the bed I found this great post from Gretchen Rubin (who is best-selling of  The Happiness Project) about how making your bed every day can lead to being a happier person. Here’s what she says:

…sticking to any resolution – no matter what it is – brings satisfaction. You’ve decided to make some change, and you’ve stuck to it. Because making my bed is one of the first things I do in the morning, I start the day feeling efficient, productive, and disciplined.

I would have to say that I agree.

What Else Does Being Intentional Mean?

Being intentional goes way beyond making a bed. It’s being present in what you are doing, knowing what you want an outcome to be (or at least making a decision either way) and then taking the steps and making the effort to see it through. Being intentional means not just shrugging something off because it’s going to take time and focus to get something done. Being intentional is making the time for the things you really want to have in your life. Being intentional is not just floating around throughout your day hoping that things are going to happen the way that you want them to. Being intentional is a constant reminder of who you are, what situation you’re in and how you would like the situation to play out. Being intentional is hard work and just like with anything else that’s meaningful and worthwhile, it takes time.

What Now?

If you’re someone who feels like you want to achieve something you’ve always wanted, but never did or if you have something you’ve always wanted to change, but have never been able to do it then being a little more intentional with your day to day life can help you get there. To be honest, it’s something that I’m just now learning to do and I am far from an expert, but I do know one thing — being more intentional doesn’t just happen It’s a long-term process that needs to start off somewhere small and work it’s way into your life. I started with making my bed and that got me started in the right direction. What’s going to get you headed to where you need to go?

#RyanParty T-Shirt + Sign Design

A couple of months ago I met a fellow tall Ryan at a little get together and he mentioned that some of his other friends named Ryan were going to put together a party that was just for all of the Ryans who live in the Bay Area. He said that they would, of course, allow people with other names to show up, but the night was going to be all about being a Ryan and nothing more. Oh, and maybe your name is Bryan or Brian, the close cousin of Ryan? Well, you can come too, but you have to wear a Ryan name tag for the entire night. You don’t have to like it, but you still have to wear it. It’s our night.

Admittedly me and the Ryan who I was talking to at the time had put away a few beers together at this point, so I wasn’t completely sold if this was ever really going to happen. I mean, I wished that it would and I wanted to believe that the Ryan Party was going to come true, but for some reason it just didn’t sound possible. It was like it was just too good to be true.

Man, was I wrong. The #RyanParty is on and it’s on big. I’m heading there tonight with a fellow Ryan and we’re going to be rocking the design you see below on t-shirts that we just had printed today. For all of you other Ryans out there (and fans of Ryans) I put it online so that you can download a PDF version of it.

See you at the party.

 

Consistency And Persistence

The guy you see in the photo is Robert. He’s retired and from noon-1pm every Thursday for the past 8 years he has stood in front of the Federal Building in San Francisco at the corner of Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street in what he calls a Peace Vigil against the wars that United States are currently involved in. The Peace Vigil actually started right after the attacks on 9/11, so there were others who had been standing there every week even longer than he has. When I saw Robert standing on the corner holding his sign I felt like I had to go talk to him about what he was up to. He was a super nice guy and we ended up chatting for about ten minutes or so while he waved his sign around in the air at both locals and tourists who would roll by on double-decker sightseeing buses.

When I asked him whether or not he felt like his weekly protest was working or not, he said something that I thought was interesting. “You know, there is still a lot of war going on so I’m not sure how much of an effect we’ve had on all that, but personally it helps me feel better knowing that I’m actually out here doing something about it. No matter what, I know that I’m going to be out here every Thursday (he even puts it on his calendar) and making the effort to do something about an issue I care about is important to me. It’s important to me and all of these other people who are out here together.” At the time, there were probably another twenty-five to thirty other people who were also holding signs and letting San Francisco know how they feel about the wars that the United States in currently in.

Here’s how one of the protesters describes why all of the different types of people stand out there in front of the Federal Building on every Thursday:

As some of us have done every week since 2001, we stand here in witness to another way forward: a way of listening, mutual respect and understanding, of reflection, repentance and reconciliation. As people of many organized faiths and none, and as people of the United States, we take this time to focus on our own responsibility and on what we can do to address our complicity in the violent and soul-denying policies our government pursues at home and throughout the world. For some of us it is an opportunity to pray, to examine our lives for the seeds of war and to begin the work of removing them…

Just like Robert said, who knows how much of an impact they’ve had directly on the people who are making decisions in the Federal Building they stand in front of every week. What they’re doing is more of a statement to the people of San Francisco who have seen them every Thursday for the past 10 years over and over again. It shows people that they care about what they’re protesting enough to stick around and to continue to show up. They’re not doing a one-time flash mob and never doing anything about it again. These people care strongly about what they’re protesting and the persistence and consistency that they’ve displayed over the years proves it. I can definitely respect that.

Just being there, showing up, being consistent and persistent — it sounds simple, but it’s really hard to follow-through with. Robert had made it a priority and that’s the only reason it’s worked. I know I need to make a few things more of a priority in my life if I want them to be consistent, what about you?

 

My First 400/30 Post: Bike Polo

[box type=”info”]I wasn’t really sure what to write about today and I didn’t have a whole lot of time, so I came up with an idea to research and write about a topic I was curious about using two constraints: 1. it has to be under 400 words and 2. researched and posted under 30 minutes. I call it a 400/30 post.[/box]

I ran into this bike polo website the other day and was intrigued with the idea of the sport even though I had no idea what it was. I ended up watching this video of some woman getting their bike polo on and after doing a quick browse of the web I thought that it was worth 400 words and 30 minutes of my time to explain it all to you. Pay attention, I don’t have a lot of time here.

The History of Bike Polo

The original bike polo was invented in Ireland in 1891 by a retired cyclist named Richard J. Mecredy. The sport was first played on grass just like the traditional polo game, but instead of horses they used bikes. In 1908 bike polo was a demonstration sport in the London Olympics, which saw Ireland beating Germany for the gold medal. Nice work, Irishmen!


The man, Richard J. Mecredy. (photo credit)


The winners of the 1908 Olympic demonstration. (photo credit)

During the 1930s France and Great Britain were known for having some pretty hardcore bike polo matches and they used to have several international championships. Sadly World War II completely wiped the sport out of Great Britain, but France kept the sport alive and still has league championships on a regular basis.

In the 1980s bike polo became really popular in both India and the United States, which lead to the first world championships in 1996. They were held in the US, but the gold medal went to India. Man, those guys were good.

The Arrival of Hardcourt Bike Polo

An updated, grass-free version of the sport called hardcourt bike polo started in Seattle in the early 2000s and started spreading across the United States like something that spreads really, really fast. Regional US tournaments have been going on since 2004 and the first European and North American hardcourt bike polo championships were both held in 2009 and the winners qualified for the world championship, which was help in Philadelphia. A team from Seattle named Team Smile won the world title with a Canadian and New York team coming in second and third place, respectively.


photo credit

Since then the sport continues to grow more and more and is popping up in cities everywhere.  If you need evidence of this growth I just saw that there was a Midwest championship last month in Indiana (which is where I’m from), so yeah — it’s now officially everywhere.

If you’re wanting to dig into some more bike polo goodness, check these links out:

  1. An awesome timeline of bike polo
  2. A couple of guys playing bike polo in the early 1940s
  3. New York Times article written about hardcourt bike polo in 2007
  4. The original hardcourt bike polo blog