30 Day Travel Series: "The Secret"

But with each passing day, we got more and more nervous because we hadn't bought our tickets to Uganda yet and it started to look like we might not have enough money to do so.

I guess we were using some variation of “The Secret” method when it came to fundraising for the Million Person Project. Neither of us had ever read “The Secret,” but from what we gathered, we both seemed to understand that if you want something to appear in your life, you start acting as though you already have it. The famous example is if you really want a Corvette and you put a photo of it on your mirror and start acting like you have a Corvette, while not thinking a single negative thought, the Corvette will be yours!

Certainly there are tons of flaws in the logic, but I do believe in the power of positive thinking and, honestly, we just needed to believe there was something out there helping us because we didn't have enough waking hours to accomplish all of the necessary tasks to launch the project. We had not raised all the money we needed before we left so we were just trying to “Secret” our way into financial security from the road. We went forth with our plans, contacted change makers and scheduled workshops as though we had all the funding in the world. So far, one-and-a-half months in, it had worked.

But one morning when we were in Cape Town we looked up and realized we hadn't received a single donation in twenty days. We had had our heads down during the United Nations Climate Negotiations, we had done 12 workshops in 17 days plus Julian had led a massive walk out the last day of the talks. It was all so exciting, but when we looked up on the other end we were both really scared of how close our bank account was to zero. But negative thoughts are the only sure way to cancel out the power of “The Secret,” so instead of thinking bad thoughts we decided that for the next seven days each of us would send one to three fundraising emails a day and just keep believing that the money was on its way.

But with each passing day, we got more and more nervous because we hadn't bought our tickets to Uganda yet and it started to look like we might not have enough money to do so. Well, we had the money to get there, but we needed to secure at least $5,000 more to ensure we had enough money to carry out a full program once we made it to Uganda.

When we woke up on day six of our “fundraising drive” we were pretty much panicked; we sat quietly on our bed in a hostel.

Julian said, “We're going to Uganda, Heather, don't worry. Let's go start scheduling our workshops.”

I rolled my eyes. I wasn't in the mood for the secret that day.

Julian left to go check his email and I opened up my computer to finish my Huffington Post article. He was gone for a really long time and I started to wonder where he was. I stepped outside the room and saw him running towards me; he leapt down five stairs with a huge grin on his face. When he reached me he corralled me back to the room. “What are you doing?” I asked.

He closed the door, grabbed my shoulders, smiled and said, “$5,000 donation!” He jumped back, shot an imaginary basketball and yelled, “Three points!!” He left his hand in the air and started to strut around the room. I plopped into a chair and started to cry. I was so happy about the donation and so freaking pissed at “The Secret” because it doesn't take away the stress of worrying.

This is one of 30 untold stories of launching a global project (with my boyfriend, Julian) about love, story telling and connecting change makers.

Read all 30 days here: http://www.smithmag.net/community/people.php/HBOX

Throughout Vietnam, South Africa, and Uganda, we engaged with 650 everyday people working to make the world a better place to share their stories. Inevitably, there were parts of our adventures we couldn’t tell while on the road, because we were a start up trying to prove our merits as a serious social change project or because of nervous families monitoring our journey. But the truth is while we worked passionately to bring our dream project to life we also had an adventure of a lifetime. Here are the stories behind the stories of the Million Person Project: http://www.millionpersonproject.org.


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