Do What Makes You Happy

How often do we really put our foot down and only do what makes us happy?  I think not very often.  We have more people on medication and in therapy then ever before.  People are routinely miserable at work and they carry into the world.  I confess I’ve been known as the negative and miserable person.  I am a people pleaser (I think this shocks people who don’t really know me because I have a pretty tough outer shell) and confrontation terrifies me.  I have tried to fit myself into the round hole and I’ve tried to do what I know I should do.  I’ve done what makes sense on paper and then I revert back into that negative and not happy person.

My friend called me on it the other day and it stung.  Who wants to be known as that person?  So I quit my job serving.  It does pay well and I LOVED the people I work with, but it was very stressful for me.  I always knew if I served I wanted to be a barista so that I could share a passion with people.  Serving itself wasn’t the answer for me, it was taking 5 days to feel normal after a shift.  I cried before and after.  No one wants to live like that.  I’m putting all of my energy into the yoga studio and tea shop now.  I’m working at Moosejaw which I actually look forward to going to work there!

Guys, I encourage you to find what makes you a better person.  If you are not in love with your life and your job then make a plan to get out.  It won’t be easy and you will have to make sacrifices.  My possessions can pretty much fit in my North Face duffle bag and the gear in my car with room for me to sleep . Most of my clothes are hand me downs from my mom, I haven’t bought that many things of my own in years.   I let my roots grow LONG past when I should because I don’t always have the money.  If sacrificing isn’t your jam and those things are important to you then find a company you align your values with while doing a job you maybe aren’t in love with.  Working a job you don’t love isn’t always the wrong answer, but you have to soul search to determine if that’s what you really want.

I’m on a journey to be a better person and happier. Life has truly sucked the last few years, but  that doesn’t mean my mindset has to.  Life won’t ever be easy, but hey when has the easy trail ever led to anywhere worth going?  You can totally vent, but let it go quick because that summit is coming.  That summit is usually worth all the suck that went into getting there.

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Happy 100th NPS!

Since this weekend celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, I thought I would write how it introduced me into the outdoors! Also this will bring you to tears to read all the newbie mistakes made!

A few years ago a guy I was dating offered to take me camping and hiking in Colorado.  I grew up in a family where going somewhere without a hair dryer was roughing it so I quickly jumped on board.  I was an ultra runner and new climber, camping seemed like the next logical step and with mountains!

We drove all night to Rocky Mountain with the car loaded down, I’m still shocked we thought we needed all of that stuff!  We arrived at dawn and decided to take a quick nap up by Long Peak trailhead, we even saw a moose on the drive up!  After our quick nap we decided to head up to Chasm Lake.  This is a hilariously bad choice since it was early June and if you’ve been in mountains then you know there is still snow up there at this point!  We had a backpacking backpack loaded up with I don’t even know what, again I don’t know why anyone needed as much gear as he brought!  We got to a section of trail with a snow bridge and we didn’t have snow gear so we got turned around.  Oh yes, we headed up to Chasm in June without snowshoes, poles, spikes or anything but trail shoes and a camera.  Oh and food because I never leave home with the fridge!  We turned around and got lost because again snow so the trail is hidden.  We finally made it down exhausted but happy.

 

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Please notice the bulky clothing as well which just adds weight when hiking!

 

We set up our giant tent and full size air mattress (seriously who camps this way?! I’ve slept on the ground in a 2 man tent on a tree root since then and it was much preferred!) in RMNP so that we could enjoy cooking our gourmet meal  (now I live on burritos so much easier!) with mountain views.  We continued to hike around RMNP all weekend playing tourists, and we went back again later that summer.  I had fallen in love with adventure and mountains if not with the guy.

I had fallen in love with sitting by mountain lakes far beyond the time it’s reasonable,  I had fallen in love with beautiful sunsets and camping.  I had fallen in love with camping and not coming in till well past dark.  RMNP you may be overcrowded, but you showed me what was out there.  It launched my wanderlust and it probably ruined any chance I had at a normal adult life.  Since then I’ve also visited Zion where I learned just how strong I am.  I have had some of my best memories climbing, hiking and running in the National Park system.  Thank you guys for all that you do and for empowering people to get outdoors.  Sometimes it doesn’t stick and people don’t truly appreciate it, but sometimes you do change someone’s life.

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All The Happy Things

Wow, it’s hard to write sometimes when things are so blissfully happy!

Number one thing I’m grateful for? I still have mom, she was involved in a serious car crash and somehow walked away with only bruises.  It really reminds you how short life and how we should always say I love you.  We fight constantly, but at the end of the day she’s my best friend. Absolutely terrifying to get that phone call, but everyone is OK and we are moving forward with more gratitude!

 

Less serious, but still seriously awesome things going on.

 

I currently work at Moosejaw.  This means access to ALL the gear!!!!  The first day I was there my manager told me POLICY is the dirty word in the store.  Um can we get an Amen? I think I may love it there, I get to get my gear nerd on and hang out with rad people.  I’m also encouraged to run, climb and generally do crazy awesome things because that’s the brand.  I know I would really love a career with them so hoping I can take this sales associate role into a bigger role in the future!  So if you see an excessive amount of new gear show up in my feed/on my blog please know it’s because I had to get it to try for customers 😉

 

I get to be an influencer with  Ibex Clothing this fall season! I’m super excited to wear their clothing when send season starts.  I plan on really enjoying Fall and now I will have the clothes to do it!  Merino wool has quickly become my material of choice with athletic clothing and I’m excited to put it to the test even further.  I think this will be a great partnership and I can’t wait to begin it with them!

 

I am also finally training and loving it!  I have a great training partner willing to work through all my workouts with me which I’m learning I need or I get distracted.  It’s so much more fun to play then to do a workout right?  Also I love Power Company Climbing, I’m using their Boulder Better plan and I feel already making improvements.  They focus on a climb more to get strong approach versus a strength training heavy plan.  This makes me mentally happier and it gives me some freedom so that I’m not going crazy with rigidity.  I am already pulling moves I couldn’t a week ago when I started phase 2 so I am super pleased with it and am anxious to see how it translates outdoors!

 

So these are the happy things in my life! I’m also speaking with someone in the tea industry today that I admire so much, I’m super excited to pick her brain.  Life is maybe starting to come together even if it looks nothing like I thought it should have!

 

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Stability and Adventuring

I was recently listening to a Dirtbag Diaries podcast called Start Saying Yes.  It opened with them saying how they craved the stability of  a job and financial security.  They wanted a career.  It went on to interview someone that had exactly that and walked away from it to guide on a boat in the Arctic.  I want to be more like the second, but I do have some need for stability.  I think everyone does, that’s why adventurers have a partner, a van, a best friend or something that gives them stability.

I don’t crave the career stability or the house stability.  If I have enough money to afford food and gas to the next adventure I am perfectly happy.  I also fully believe this is why I’m single, I don’t fit into a white picket fence mode.  I don’t need a place to be home, but the things that my heart aches for when I’ve been adventuring too long are people.  I think this is why I keep ending up back in my hometown, I love the stability of my people.  I love having someone with me that knows what makes me tick and knows my crazy, yet loves me anyway. I could happily live on the road most of the year, but I have learned I can’t do it alone.  I need a partner in crime, someone that knows that donuts are maybe the only thing I will get up in the morning for.  Sunrises are great, but I still need the donut.  Someone that knows I will fixate on a problem when climbing until it’s past the point of healthy and will pull me away saying take a break.

Someone that knows when I’m feeling down about my abilities so will hang back with me and mostly someone to share the views with.  I was talking to a friend and we both agreed that sharing the experience so beats going it alone.  I am in awe of those that can adventure alone (often with a dog so similar principle) because I just couldn’t do it.  I desperately need that connection with a tribe.

I think everyone needs some sort of stability whether it’s your dream van home or a person.  Stability is starting to morph into something that is completely different in our generation.  It is necessarily tied to a place or a job.  The dirtbag lifestyle is becoming romanticized and people are flocking to it with reckless abandon.  Many are freelancers with income that varies and they are often living in older vehicles that break down frequently.  So we are starting to seek stability in  the form of the community we then enter into.  Other van lifers become our stability or other runners.  Anything that gives us a tie to something when we feel adrift.  Rarely are we ever without some kind of stability.  Even van lifers stay in one place for a while when they find a stable community.

There is a study from Duke that says the two things people need are community and the ability to breathe.  We know getting out in nature helps with the second, but as we increasingly become a more mobile society we need to form new ways to create the second.  The meet ups and banding around similar missions are helping, but I think adventuring with someone is just as admirable as those going solo.  Those going solo are having to work harder and harder to form community and I think they often end up in places with people in the community in order to find that stability/community.

Stability can mean many different things and there is no wrong way to have it, the outdoor industry is seeking to find it in policy, community and other avenues.  This banding together can only be good for everyone involved.  I am still looking for my adventure partner to hit the road with and until then I will get out of here to meet up with as many of you as I can!

What is your idea of stability and community?

How are you finding it while still adventuring?

 

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Prescription for Sleep

Yup, adrenal fatigue as suspected.  I knew it was coming, but I was really hoping for something easier to cure.  Something with a magical pill that would get me back to the person I was within a week, but that apparently isn’t happening. I think most ultra runners have had this happen, especially females.  I suspect that we have more demands on our bodies then the men.  I’ve talked to a few people that have had the same diagnosis and the consensus is don’t run very much if at all.  I haven’t been really anyway, but it’s disappointing to realize that what would help me stress less also will likely prohibit quick healing!

I’m taking Gaia Adrenal Health supplement as well, the naturopath recommended something non-vegan and controversial while my friends have all recommended this.  I like the more holistic approach of the Gaia herbal supplement so will report back when I know how this help.

I am sleeping more, I think Saturday I took 3-4 hours worth of naps.  I’m just giving in to the exhaustion when I can, if my body needs rest then it will get it.  I am also eating when hungry versus when it’s easy to do so.  I’m trying to keep it better quality then a pint of ice-cream for dinner as well.  When you’re exhausted it’s so easy to turn to sugar, but again it prohibits healing.

I am also going to take more off days throughout the week.  I think I can still train for climbing as hard as I want using a Power Company Climbing plan (it is has more rest days then most plans), but I won’t be running on my off days as previously thought.  I may only run (hike) one or two days a week. Climbing doesn’t seem to exhaust me like running does.

I need to do more yoga as well.  Sometimes getting that intimate with what is going on in my head is hard!  I need to do this for my climbing ability (flexibility is key bouldering!) and for my mental health as well.  I need to quit suppressing my emotions, but instead working through them.  I really struggle with this so if anyone wants to do a yoga challenge for accountability I would love that!

 

So that’s kind of my plan for adrenal fatigue nonsense.  I will keep ya updated on my healing journey, but for now it’s another case of someone trying to do too much too soon.  And another case of someone trying to be Type A when they are really Type Z.  Stay true to yourself my friends, it’s way less stress!

 

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Today I Felt Nothing…And It Was Great

I’ve always chased something, someone or someplace, blindly grasping at whatever may bring a fleeting image of happiness and success. I chased the successful job, the climber dream of Colorado, I chased grades, I chased distance and none of it brought me happiness.  Ghosts were always haunting me, the people in the past that fed this need to validate myself.  I had read all the articles on live in the moment to find peace, but ya know what’s hard?  Actually doing it!  I co-own a yoga studio and I confess I struggle with inner contentment.  I’m a practicing yogi, but I don’t have it all figured out at all.  I’ve apologized for my perceived weaknesses for so long that it’s become automatic.  I’m sorry I’m so slow, I must be a miserable person for you to have to run with, I’m sorry I’m so weak, you must want a better climbing partner.  Have I ever thought this of anyone else?  No!  So why did I feel like I had to berate myself in a way I wouldn’t anyone else.

This summer found me again being surrounded by people that didn’t make me feel worthy and I asked myself why.  Why was I surrounding myself with these people?  They didn’t know me and they certainly didn’t understand me.  They didn’t deserve to have me around as a friend, a coworker or anything else.  They didn’t deserve my energy or headspace.  They didn’t deserve to be another ghost that haunted me because I have enough of those.

I was tempted with the corporate job today, ya know the one that would provide me with all the money to live a comfortable existence and be desirable by society.  I turned it down to serve/host at a brewery and work at Moosejaw for FAR less money.  Why?  Because I knew that it wouldn’t bring me happiness, I am not driven by money.  I’m driven by friends, I’m driven by love and I’m driven by passion.  You can throw me millions of dollars, but the minute you stipulate it means I have to dress up to represent corporate I lose my soul.  At the end of the day the job wasn’t going to validate I was worthy anyway, I have to validate myself.  I need to find happiness with myself and continually putting me in situations that won’t make me happy isn’t the way to do it. I’ve always struggled with this concept, but when my health began to deteriorate (post for another day!) and I lost ultra running, I lost that happiness.  I didn’t know what to do when all the things I was good at ended, I wanted to be as good in climbing immediately to make up for it.  I pushed too hard running because I needed to be the best.

Today, I finally found contentment.  I shook the ghosts that have been haunting the hell out of me.  I haven’t sport climbed a day without the voices in my head saying push harder, be better and why the hell can’t you just get over the fear already?  Trust me, they didn’t whisper, they screamed.  I top roped a 12a and only led the easier stuff.   I am fully capable of leading a 12a and in the past I would have done it to prove I could.  Or I would have tried, shook with fear and cried because I was so mad at myself for not being able to just get the hell over the fear.  I led nothing over a 10b and I felt so smooth.  I didn’t feel the fear, I didn’t feel anything.  Most of all I didn’t feel pressure.  I was just climbing and totally having fun with a newer friend.  I apologized once or twice, but not much.  Mostly, we just climbed.  Both of us could have climbed harder, but it wasn’t about that.  It was about climbing, just climbing.

Living in Colorado I felt the pressure every day to be better, but Kansas City climbing is a whole different feeling.  No one chases grades, I mean we all have goals because why do anything without them, but no one cares what you’re working.  You will see the gym owner in there encouraging you on a 5.8 when he can climb 5.12 plus.  Most people are there to have fun with people, laugh hard and just climb.  Some of us want to make climbing a bigger piece of our lives, but mostly just so we can experience more things.  The number doesn’t matter, we are still at the New or in Arkansas regardless of the grade we are climbing.  We can still experience the beauty and achieving our own goals.  I also left the gym that made me feel inferior.  I have realized I want validation that I am not worthy because that’s how I feel about myself.  I can’t break that feeling about myself when I am putting myself in situations that support those feelings.

So today I took a giant step forward in finding some grace, some clarity and maybe some happiness.  Maybe I will get my strong sport climbing head back and maybe I won’t, but I know I can still have fun climbing the easy stuff while enjoying being with friends.  I am not saying I won’t still have bad days, but today I had a good one.  That’s worth celebrating!

 

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P/C Jake Schell

I Miss Ultras

If you’ve ever ran an Ultra then you are very familiar with this feeling of invincibility that comes after one.  If you can run 50 miles then you can do EVERYTHING!  Or that’s how it feels, but what happens when you can’t do it anymore?

I’m there right now where I want to come back, I have for almost 4 years I think now.  I won Hawk 50 and haven’t been able to race again.  I tore something in my hip or strained it, I’m not entirely sure, but it still hurts to this day.  I think I have it mostly manageable, but then my body just tanked out.  I sleep most of the day and working is hard when you live your life in a fog.  It’s been like this off and on for a few years, it’s hard to tell if life stress has caused it or this is contributing to the life stress.

Thankfully, I think I may have someone that can help!  A customer of ours visited an alternative doctor and got a full blood work up, she found answers that western medicine had denied her for a fraction of the cost.  I’m hopeful this person can do the same for me, I go Tuesday and am hoping to get the fatigue under control.  I am ready for days in the mountains and in the boulder fields, not merely hours broken by a possible crash pad nap. I would also like to lose a little weight and not feel like I’m starving all the time!

I know this hasn’t been a happy blog yet, but I’m back storying my journey here.  I’m hopeful this can help other people who feel like they are going crazy because they don’t feel well.  I’m also hopeful that it will eventually give myself and others hope that you can find your way back to yourself.  I know if I could train hard again that my anxiety/depression would become more manageable.  It’s hard to feel happy when you don’t feel like you are ever fully awake!

Here’s to finding answers medically so I can begin to find answers to life questions on the road!

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