What to do when enthusiasm leaks out a torn back muscle…

When I came up with the framework for What Makes You Come Alive, I was looking forward to an autumn filled with rock climbing and connecting with old friends. And then…my back, which had been sore for the entire summer, got worse. I stopped climbing, and tried a light jog. Only to wake up the next morning with sharp jabbing back pain as I tried to put on my pants. The diagnosis – a torn muscle. Not horrible or completely debilitating. But I’m out of rock climbing for six weeks, my three-day weekend road-trip became impossible, and work started picking up. Without my outlet for creative mind-body expression, without my social circle of friends from climbing, with pain in my back, with fatigue from several busy work-weeks in a row, I feel old and tired. Not alive. But cranky.

I found a kindred spirit in innovation writer Scott Berkun, when he wrote about what he learned from losing a leg (for a while), while recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon:

My mind follows my body. I’m a productive writer because I have a healthy body. I go to the gym nearly every day to clear my mind and let my subconscious work on problems for me. I haven’t been to the gym in almost a month. I’m still struggling to find a new way to balance stress and find physical relaxation.

Mind-map focusing in on the mind-body connection of the "what makes you come alive" framework

Mine is broken. This connection is broken.

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Frustration is hazardous

One day, four of us were hiking to a climbing spot when I heard a rumble. “Was that a motorcycle of in the distance“, I asked my partner, “or was that what I think it was?” The thunder rumbled again. Now might be a good time to note that I am petrified of being outside during a thunderstorm. Our other two friends caught up with us. We discussed whether to make the last bit to the top of the mountain, or start heading down. ”Start heading down! Start heading down!” my neuroses cried out. The two guys wanted to finish the short distance to the top. With a slightly louder rumble and a widening of the whites of my eyes, my friend Z said that she would go down with me. One should never go alone, she said.

Copyright: iStockphoto / clintspencer

©: iStockphoto / clintspencer

Thank god. Soon, the heavens opened up. A sprinkle turned into a torrential downpour, and the thunder rumbled with increasing frequency. I started to run-walk. “Slow down,” Z urged. “Don’t panic. You’re going to fall and break an ankle, and then where would you be?Continue reading

Head Fake from Bikram – Staying in the Room

So far, I’ve blogged a fair bit about my passion for climbing and what it’s taught me. However, one of my first real head-fake lessons came from Bikram yoga. Bikram is a series of 26 yoga postures and 2 breathing exercises done in a 105 degree heated room. Yeah, that’s hot. (No, not that kind of hot – if you think about doing yoga to catch the eye of that cutie, Continue reading

How to Breathe – What I Learned at the Yoga and Climbing Retreat

25 - August - 2009 -- Breathe

Breathe, by reway2007, on Flickr

In my earlier entry, Catching the Run-off, I mentioned small, obtainable goals, such as the ones listed in 40 Tips for a Better Life. My problem appears to be that I set big hairy goals, which in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s when I get so impatient with my progress that the frustration and discouragement sets in – that’s the bad thing. I frequently discount small bits of progress as insignificant. Take learning how to breathe for example….

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Letting “It” Pass You By

The Beauty of Bouldering Gestures

The Beauty of Bouldering Gestures, by liquene, on Flickr

What’s the problem?” Tracy asks.

I can’t feel my hands.

Well, take a rest. Warm them up.

I furiously rub my hands on the little pocket warmers in the pockets of my new, shiny, PrimaLoft jacket. It’s 43 degrees. The snow had mostly melted and the sun teased us through the clouds. We were climbing the Rico Suave Buttress at New River Gorge – a section of rock covered by a huge overhang roof that kept the route dry and enabled our snowy and wet Yoga and Climbing Retreat to uphold the climbing part of the deal. Continue reading

Self-trust – Part 1

“Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that inner string…Self trust is the first secret of success.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Climbing has about as many layers as an onion.  And if you’ve been as wound up as tightly as I had been, it can make you cry as much, too.  At least until you realize the problem is inside you.  Your inability to trust yourself.

Climbing is about 1/3 technical, 1/3 physical and 1/3 mental.  There’s also the equipment, rope systems, knot-tying, physics and other elements that were previously thought to be beyond the capacity of this liberal arts major to understand.  What jazzes me most is the movement, the technique.  What has impacted me the most is the mental training. Continue reading