You Can’t Fly If You Don’t Jump

So it is no longer a secret that we are moving.

Destination? We don’t know yet. That’s part of what makes it so exciting, but also part of what makes it scary. In a little over three weeks, we will be packing up our lives and taking a step in the general north-western direction.

Yesterday, I was talking to a portable storage unit company (I’m not writing a review yet, haha) and the woman I spoke to gave me the words of wisdom at the top of this post. She told me:

“You can’t fly if you don’t jump. You might fall a couple of times, but eventually you’ll fly.”

She told me her story and I told her mine, and at the end of that, I not only had booked my storage facility, but had a heart full of hope.

If you always wait until you are ready, you’ll never do it.

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Really all that I’m trying to say is that I am still nervous, and I am not ready, and I may never be. But we are going, probably sooner rather than later, now. And it is going to be great.

Before ending our call yesterday, she told me that I was brave.

And the brave ones always fly.

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Commit

So it’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been spending a lot of time at work, a lot of time on my bikes, and a lot of time at the climbing gym. My accomplishment of the month (so far) is that I can do two pull ups in a row now. But that isn’t what I wanted to write about.

You see, one of the biggest challenges that I am having with myself is that I am constantly afraid to commit. That big drop on the trail? I hesitate, clamping down hard on the brakes before I even get the chance to try. That last move on  the V2 boulder problem? I let go, dropping to the mat in defeat, even though my hand was basically already on the finish. Leaving the state of Florida? I said I was going to do it two years ago, then came back after not even six months.

It’s happening.

Not that there is anything wrong with Florida. It’s warm year round, there’s unique possibilities for recreation, and who can forget the beach!!! Not that people who actually live here go to the beach all that often. We have jobs, you know.

For me, the pull of the mountains has been the ultimate decision maker. The desire to be in the outdoors and facilitate recreation more directly than I have been these past few years (I sell and repair bikes, it’s related. Not to mention the events that I coordinated/ran) is finally tugging me in the direction that I want to go: WEST.

As of now, the destination is unknown. I am committing to this adventure 110%, no matter where it takes us.

I’m sure that I’ll have more to write about along the way as well. I am looking forward to that.

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Me strolling toward the future. It’s pretty bright, hence the shades.

November

It’s easy this time of year to jump right from Halloween into Christmas. In fact, there’s eggnog in the fridge right now (Q managed to resist until after Halloween this year).

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That being said, I do not plan on missing out on this season of thankfulness. I’ve been thinking a lot about writing this in the past week or two during my daily bike commutes, planning my wording and basically just musing over all of the ways that I am so lucky. Finally, I am taking the time to perch on this yoga ball and share it with you all. I won’t be listing all of them, just a few, to prevent this post from becoming an explosion of hand turkeys and all of the things that cross my mind during my yoga classes (always keeping that intention of gratitude).

  1. I am thankful for missing people. That wistful feeling that sprouts from loving someone who is thousands of miles away can be sad, but it means that I have been lucky enough to find a wonderful person in a wonderful place. Even though I can’t keep them and be roommates still, or live across the street, or even in the same country as them, these friendships are gifts that don’t stop giving. It also means that I have been lucky enough to call many different places home, and that is a gift in and of itself. My itchy feet have brought me to some spectacular destinations and I am sure that many more are in my future.

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    We found love right where we were, but now neither of us are there anymore.

  2. I am thankful for being bad at things. This reminds me that I am always learning.

    “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.”

    I am fortunate to be able to try so many different things and gain so many skills, and even more fortuitous to live and work in an environment where I can take a crack at just about anything. The continuous blessing of working on something that takes all of my effort and focus, leaving you weary at the end of the day, means that I am still growing. As long as I never stop trying, I will never be bored.

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    I am thankful that Q puts up with me being bad at things.

  3. I am thankful for having wonderful parents who made sure I always said “please” and “thank you,” along with a million billion trillion other things that made me who I am today. Even if they seemed sucky at the time, like cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn, they’ve turned me into the semi-successful semi-adult that I am right now. They also helped spark my love of exploration with our amazing annual family vacations when I was little. Heck, this could be an entire post on its own. I love and appreciate them beyond words.
  4. I am thankful for the things that scare me. Nervousness and fear both keep me safe, and allow me to push myself past them to experience something wondrous. Again with the always growing. Lead climbing and mountain biking both are two of my favorite things to do…they also scare the bejeezus out of me. The thrill and the skills required (see ‘being bad at things’) have me stronger than I’ve ever been so far.
  5. Lastly, I am thankful for those creature comforts that we so often take for granted. A warm bed, clean drinking water, a roof over my head, food to eat, and a pup to love on.
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He isn’t actually my dog, he’s our housemate’s, but that doesn’t stop me from loving him and being thankful that he exists, even though he chewed up my credit card.

I am beyond lucky for infinite reasons. Happy Thanksgiving.

On Mindfulness

I started thinking about mindfulness and living more presently a little bit more recently.

You see, my car, my beautiful Spaceship Adventure’s clutch literally exploded about a month ago. The entire transmission and flywheel were replaced and, since the Nissan parts are expensive and sometimes only come in kits with parts that don’t all need to be replaced together, I am left with a slightly rigged shift cable. Now I don’t drive often, but when I do, I now have to be very thoughtful about the pressure and rate at which I shift so that I don’t pop my shift cable bushings (…again) and have to pony up for the $600 part.

This has been leaking into other aspects of my life too. When I do ride to work, or hit the trails on my magnificent new mountain bike, I need to be present and aware of my surroundings.

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My lovely Trek Stache 

Being aware of my surroundings and the space that I occupy has never been my strong suit. I run into things a lot. I will spend an embarrassing amount of time looking for something that is right in front of me. I am easily distracted and still not perfect. It is nice, however, to have a small exercise in mindfulness each morning and each evening. I consider this a small victory, and something to work toward incorporating into my regular daily life.

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Oh, and speaking of working toward things…

After working toward it almost daily for the whole of the year 2016, I finally did a full, unassisted pull up!

Despite years of climbing and lifting, I was never able to, so after hurting my ankle in the beginning of the year, I made it my goal. After moving into a house and obtaining a pull up bar (via our new housemate), I was able to work toward it daily. So far it’s just been one, despite trying again after, but I am looking forward to many more.

Here’s to setting goals and to accomplishing them.

The High Adventure of a High Sprain

The past two months have granted me a wealth of new experiences. What I mean by that, is that I dislocated my ankle right before the new year and have spent the past two months having to come to terms with rest and recovery. Both of those are things that I have never been good at. The first bevy of sprains that I endured growing up (both ankles) were brushed off as soon as it was wrapped up. All of those were low (lateral) and pretty mild sprains, I think. This one began with the sight of my own fibula making a run for it, then being reined back in by my ligaments (WEIRD).  The first lesson of this injury came from that moment of “uh oh.” My natural tendency is to hop back up and keep going…not this time. The second lesson came a few weeks later, when, being me, I gave myself the okay to ditch the crutches. Soon after that, I (finally) made myself a follow up doctor’s appointment. A word of advice to anyone out there who is wondering about seeing someone about an injury…just do it. I’ve always been so anxious about making my own appointments and put them off until it is either unbearable or too late. Just do it. I had thought that I knew everything about sprains from my past experience, but I did not. Not even close.

It turns out that the ligament between my tibia and fibula had torn, so every time that I put my weight on that leg, the bones would stretch apart and the ligament would pull and be damaged yet again. Four more weeks of crutches and six weeks of physical therapy to make my talus, a bone that I just learned about, glide again.

This is where I would put my hipster ‘looking at my feet’ skelfie if the doctors would have given me it…. instead here is a fancy diagram.

Anyway, what my reason for writing this is not to just inform you about high ankle sprains, but to share what I’ve learned.

 

  1. It is okay to ask for help.
    • I am a strong lady and I have always prided myself on being self reliant. When I went back to work at the bike shop on crutches, I did my darnedest to maintain my independent womanhood. That being said, when you can’t put weight on one of your feet lest you be on crutches for another month, you are going to have a hard time moving bicycles around. My guys at the shop have been infinitely helpful, even if they are just taking a couple of seconds to wheel a bicycle to a stand for me.
  2. It is good to rest.
    • I have been struggling to keep up my fitness while being injured (I still gained like ten pounds but whatever. That’s less injury and more Girl Scout cookies…). I’ve been trying to lift and hangboard and stuff but there is a point where crutching is the only thing I can do for the day. Yoga has been a lifesaver but more so than that has been the Indian River and Netflix.
  3. To help others, you need to help yourself.
    • I have never been more motivated to share my skills when I can have them back. I’ve actually never been this disciplined about anything in my whole life and for that, I thank gravity and the crappy floor velcro in the boulder cave at the gym.

Here’s to three more weeks of one of the least convenient methods of transportation ever invented.

Crutching in sand is easily the most difficult way to crutch. Don’t.

Oh, and side note, physical therapy rules. Yes it is painful, but this morning I got a (uncomfortable) therapeutic foot rub from a good looking guy (my PT) and it ruled. Would do again.

Also my boss’ dog is TERRIFIED of my crutches and it is easily the hardest part of this shenanigan, besides walking.

 

Single Speed Living

It has been a while since I’ve written anything. This isn’t because nothing interesting has been happening. No, life certainly continues to be an every day adventure, despite my regular routine.

I work at a bike shop now, which has simultaneously increased and decreased the amount that I ride. I sleepily wake up an hour early on Saturdays to go on our shop road ride and hammer on the trainer once a week…or try to at least… but the more often I ride on the road, the more I want to get off it. I’ve played around with the idea of converting my road bike into a cross bike, but unless I get a second wheelset, I am giving up my speedy transportation machine. I’ve also put a lot of thought into a mountain bike, but my previous experience with the trails in Ohio on a freshly fractured ankle left a somewhat skeptical taste in my mouth. (It’s still probably the route I will take to get off of terrible-driver-infested roads and into the sugar sandy scrub trails of Florida). Lucky for me, though, I was granted a single speed beach cruiser by the job and it has changed my perspective a little bit.

Comparing a bike to a car has always been a no brainer to me. Two wheels are superior to four any day. And, anything that saves me money is a plus in my book. My road bike has always been my go to – the speed that it has just can’t be beat. I never thought I would ever own a beach cruiser. Now that I have one though, it is becoming my biggest form of transportation. It also cruises slow enough that I am okay with riding on the sidewalk – two of the reasons that Q would never ride with me. It’s slowed me down and let me cruise around and see a little more of the world and I love it.

 

Of Missing Things.

The thing about growing up in and living in one town for 20 years is that you get used to it. There are parts that you grow to dislike, especially growing up, but there are more parts that become a part of you. Despite that, getting out is never far from a young adults mind. Regardless, the friendships made in that time are ones that never go away.

The thing about living a nomadic existence is that even though you always have a friend, they aren’t always across the street.

Since leaving the state of Ohio, I have been to and lived in several incredible places and met so many incredible people. However, I have not been able to bring any of them with me. If I could have my way, the same friends that I only had to walk across the street to in Westerville and walk down the hall of the dorm to in Athens and get on a boat with in the Keys and climb up a rock to in California would all be in my room with me right now.

The thing about moving a lot is that I always have to miss someone. And the thing about right now is that I miss everyone more than I ever have before in my life.

I went 22 years of my life without being significantly homesick. I have always been able to distract myself by some incredible place or activity that I was privileged enough to do growing up. Since becoming an adult, I have grown to miss my home far more than I ever have before. Anything from a taste of ice cream or a view that reminds me of an old friend or a new person who reminds me of an old one can make me nostalgic for different times.

The thing about growing up, though, is that you learn that home is not a place. Home is all of the people who have impacted your heart and your decisions and your mind along the way. Home is what makes you who you are and is what brought you to where you stand in this moment, and home will always be where you make it. I am feeling homesick right now, I will admit that, but not for a place. For everyone I’ve ever called friend or family.

Here come the nostalgic photos…not sorry.

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Rock (climbing) and Roll(ing backwards because I’m bad at driving manual still), or On Being A Beginner.

This post is partially just me being excited about new things, and partially a deep expression about overcoming fear.

Heights have never been my thing. Since the first moment I stepped onto a challenge course, though, I’ve known that if I was going to make it as a recreation professional (or even through my challenge course programming class), I was going to have to face a lot of fears that I had. Many of my childhood fears were conquered quickly: bugs, talking to strangers, leaving my mom for an overnight trip. Others remained. A great fear of falling has affected my life and my ability to try new things. It has always been difficult for me to be a beginner. A lot of events between then and now have both been affected by and affected this fear itself. Mountain biking, cross country skiing, snowboarding, climbing, and surfing had all been tried and nearly abandoned due to my discomfort in being a beginner. Many encouraging words were said in all of these experiences, but the one that truly has stuck and continues to resonate in my mind was this: “If you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying hard enough.”

When I started climbing, it was because I had to. For my challenge course programming class, we were required to get belay certified at the university’s climbing wall. To do this, I needed a partner who would climb while I belayed and vice versa. That day was also the first day that I had been physically strong enough to make it to the top of a rock wall (on a 5.6 route, but that’s beside the point…) To earn the actual certification, we were required to belay on ten separate days. If I was going to belay, I might as well climb, right?

Fast forward to 2015. This job in California has perks that include a free membership to a local climbing gym. I began with top roping, as that was the type of climbing that I am the most comfortable with. There is equipment there to catch you when you fall. The bouldering section of any gym had always been one that I would avoid, due to its lack of equipment and farther distance to fall. Somehow, that discomfort made it my goal to become a better boulderer.

If you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying hard enough.

One day last weekend, I actually fell from the top of a bouldering route. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would have been, and since that moment, top roping has sunk to second on my list of favorites. Shredding my hands on natural rock at Joshua Tree this past weekend has only solidified that distinction. We are returning to Joshua Tree next weekend for more climbing and camping, and I am so excited. I hope that I fall. I hope that my hands bleed and I hope that I challenge my body and my mind, because if you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying hard enough.

I spent a fair amount of my childhood in fear, and I am psyched to live the rest of my life having fun.

Today I Dipped My Toe Into Adulthood

…and exited with a new (to me) vehicle!

I am very excited that this large step in planning Q’s and my Road Trip-aversary is over, and I am glad that I walked away with my new baby, The Spaceship Adventure. She’s a manual, which is new to me, and we made it up the mountain today which was also a very exciting and grown-up feeling thing. I’m stoked to blast off with her on some real adventures!

The Spaceship Adventure!

I am so stoked to be able to transport myself places, and to be able to take the next steps toward the epic coast to coast Road Trip-aversary.

New Challenges

Tomorrow begins the second official week of the spring season here in the mountains, my second week in cabin with the girls, and my first week teaching actual classes here. The biggest challenge of this is mental, I think, and once I have finished my first class which I hope I will be prepared enough for, I believe that the rest will go smoother. That being said, I am going to be teaching some topics that I never thought that I would teach. Outdoor skills and orienteering, I was ready for. For forest ecology I could not be more pumped. Leading dissections and physics classes though, will be a hefty mental hurdle that I am both nervous and excited for. Luckily, we had a long weekend to fill with studying!

I’m just kidding, we went surfing. It was worth the two hour drive to get to San Clemente and pick up boards and meet some of the nicest parents around and pick up boards and a pooch. The spot we went to was unlike any beach I have been to before, and the waves were pretty nice! We had to trek down a cliff with our boards, burritos, and wetties (as our Australian friend calls them, which I like way more than ‘wetsuit;) to  get to the water and my goodness was it gorgeous!

Another new experience and challenge occurred when I was stung by a sting ray! It was an experience for sure, and I can’t help but feel bad for the kids at base who forgot to shuffle and were slashed and went without proper treatment because we didn’t actually know what the wound was. I vividly remember a kid this past summer with a stab nearly twice the size of the one that I got this weekend, and I can’t even imagine the pain that he must have felt after walking on it without proper treatment for a full day. I went only three or so hours before I could soak it and my chacos barely fit by the end, Ouch.

Needless to say, as well, studying definitely happened almost all day today. Tomorrow I teach weather and owl pellet dissections and I am both nervous and excited. Here’s to influencing the city kids of Southern California!

ps: we are in a fairy tale forest with giant pine cones and it rules.