A head-fake into gratitude

This Thanksgiving, I believe we should not only give thanks, but we should recognize that sometimes it’s damned hard to give thanks. Some of us may be unemployed. People are occupying squares around the world to vent anything but their gratitude. Some of our loved ones may be deployed in a war zone. We ourselves, or our loved ones may be hurting with illness that may or may not go away. Maybe nothing’s really wrong, but we’re just stubbornly holding onto that thing that’s not going the way we want. Yes, I know that today is not supposed to be the day where we count the number of ways that the we are or our world is broken. But what if that’s all you can do?

Cat sneaking up on something

Sometimes, you just need to sneak up on it.

Well, if gratitude eludes you, you sneak up on it, of course.

The first head-fake into gratitude is to try the opposite. If gratitude eludes you, try longing. Continue reading

Vienna Waits For You

Sometimes, someone comes at us with something we can’t really understand. There’s a word or concept that’s new to our vernacular. There are a number of possible responses. Maybe we cast a furrowed, skeptical brow in their direction. Maybe we nod, as if we want to seem knowledgeable, when we really have no idea. Maybe we take it on board, like tapping our feet to the rhythm of a song to which we don’t know how to dance. Maybe we even recite it back, like poetry whose meaning escapes us, but we like the sound of the words. Perhaps we discount or ignore it, even if it perks our interest just a bit. We’re busy, so what’s your point?

"Does Not Work"

Does Not Work by CarbonNYC, on Flickr

Eventually, we’ll hear it again. Continue reading

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….

Continue reading

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

Bracing for the cold – and a comfort zone expansion

Be of Good Cheer

Just a bunch of pansies. (They are actually quite a hardy plant, so why the pejorative?)
Photo by KitAy on Flickr

I’m a bit of a cold pansy, I admit it.  Actually, pansies are tougher than I am in the cold. So when it snows in October, on the weekend of my New River Gorge Climbing and Yoga retreat, you can imagine my distress.

Don’t panic, I tell myself. Perhaps I’ve just never been properly dressed for the cold. (I’m new at this badass lifestyle, remember.) I stop by North Face and Patagonia to get an education on layering. Two and a half hours later, armed with a Capilene base layer and PrimaLoft synthetic down jacket, I barely escape DC’s Friday rush hour traffic and HOV restrictions. Continue reading

Catching the Run-off

It was a while ago that a friend and I discussed an email going around called 40 Tips for a Better Life.  It’s a hodge-podge list of small obtainable goals that, although they promise to enrich our lives, are easy to shrug off.  One of them says “Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.”  Another encourages “Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.”

Drops

This same friend introduced me to Washington DC’s River Safe Homes program.  (Yes, I know this seems like a non sequitor, but hang with me. You want to see where this is going.)  Continue reading

From a place of joy

– She doesn’t get eaten by the eel at this time.

– WHAT!?

– I’m explaining to you because you look nervous.

– I’m not nervous. Well, maybe I was a bit…concerned but that’s not the same thing.

– The Princess Bride

Before we continue with Part 2 of our story about self-trust, I want to set you at ease.  The journey to renew your enthusiasm isn’t all crazy head work.  Sometimes you have these ridiculously sublime unguarded moments. 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