Climbing Timp

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This is the view of Mt Timpanogos from my front yard. This picture looks a bit like The Eye of Sauron, so that adds to the badassness of Timp!

This last summer a few of us decided to hike Timp, which in its entirety is about 15.5 miles. I believe somewhere in the planning of this hike it was mentioned that the hike would take about 12 hours round trip. My brain has a tendency to hear what it wants to, not neccesarily what has been said. So the twelve-hour part didn’t really stick in my mind. I have this goal of one day meditating in the Himalayas overlooking beautiful peaks and mountain ranges. Hiking Timpanogos seemed like a good place to start working towards this goal. Let me tell you what I learned from this hike, and how it has changed the way I am approaching my goals and dreams.

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About three hours into this hike I was confused why we still hadn’t reached the top, I wanted to turn around, leave my group (and my dogs), and go wait in the car. This is when it was again mentioned to me the twelve-hour round trip part- and you guys- I panicked. I had already cried a few times, I was already sore, and apparently we weren’t even close to being halfway done! If I quit then and turned around I would have essentially completed half the hike, which is an accomplishment in itself. But I know I would sit in the car for those final six hours feeling regret. I didn’t realize how hard this hike would be, I didn’t realize the work it would take to actually reach the top. I was in the best shape of my life- literally. And yet my brain was telling me we couldn’t finish and to quit now. My brain does that. It’s really great at making excuses and talking me out of finishing things. This is a big part of why I stayed overweight and unhealthy for so many years, my brain is always my enemy when something is hard.

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Instead of watching me quit, my husband slowed his pace and walked behind me (which is why most of the pictures show me leading the way), our friends who were hiking with us, slowed their pace as well. At this point we were in this twelve hours of insanity together, and I was recommitted. Every now and then my head would start nagging me, telling me we needed to stop, we needed to turn around, and we should have been to the top by now! Each time, I would acknowledge the thought, yet continue what I was doing anyhow. As we hiked we would pass other hikers on their way down, who would encourage us in passing- it was like a small community on the trail. Eventually we reached  about the halfway point, which is actually a few miles below the summit. This is where the glacier and the lake are. The meadows are full of wildflowers and mountain goats. It was breathtaking, and incredibly satisfying to sit down and take it all in.

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Sitting there I realized how incredibly hard it had been to get to this point, the point where my brain chose to see some kind of progress, and accomplishment. The point where the task at hand isn’t really “work” anymore, but actually something I enjoy. And it hit me how much of my life is treated the same way. My crossfit/health journey was the same. It took me SO long to recognize the accomplishment of simply showing up each day. Many things I do in life are “tasks” until I recognize the accomplishment. This realization has helped me better surrender to the joy of the process, and recognize the joy in simply taking the first steps. This realization has also helped me understand the work that goes into truly fulfilling something I set out to do.

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I never reached the summit. My dog Whitley gave us a good scare when we though she had fallen off the side of a cliff. So I elected to keep the dogs while everyone else hit the summit. I was satisfied with my choice, and took the next hour or so to nap with my dogs in the sun.

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The hike down the mountain was equally as hard as the hike up. My knees hurt, my hips hurt, and my feet ached in a way I’m not sure I can describe- but my brain was silent. There was no attempt at self sabotage. There was no voice telling me I couldn’t succeed, no little voice telling me to quit. I had made it. I had set a goal and then smashed it, even though my head had told me to quit on that mountain, more than it told me we would succeed.

Many times in my life my brain tells me to quit. Many times my brain wins out long before I have even attempted something. You know the feeling of making a commitment to yourself, only to let yourself down a few weeks, or months later? This was a feeling I was very familiar with. It became so familiar I didn’t even realize the things I was missing out on because I had let myself down so many times before, and now I was afraid to even try.

After hiking Timp I finally understood that if I want to accomplish any of my goals in life I will have to take many “first steps” and a few leaps. Sure sometimes I will fall, sometimes my head will be an asshole, and sometimes I will cry throughout the hard parts- but I refuse to let myself down. Today I celebrate my ability to try something, even if I’m out of my comfort zone. Today I allow my head to be a part of the ride, but she is no longer driving. I am gentle with myself, knowing I wont be great at something the first time I try, and probably not even the thirtieth time either. I am honest with myself and feel into my decisions before I commit, lessening the chance of failure.

I recently decided to delve deeper into my ascension practice. I attended a weekend retreat with some phenomenal people and teachers. And while simple meditation is a regular thing for me. Daily ascension, done with intent and dedication is not. My head has found her voice again- speaking up and asking me to quit. Pointing out how awkward I feel, and how “we aren’t doing this correctly”. Encouraging me to stay in my comfort zone, because its pretty comfy here! But today I remember the lessons I learned on the mountain, and how if I ever want to meditate in The Himalayas I need to put in the daily work towards that goal. So today I won’t quit. I’ll carve out the time to ascend, and I will appreciate the fact that I have taken the first steps. My heart is full of gratitude, for the people in my life who walk this path with me. But more than anything I am grateful for myself and this new journey where I have faith in myself, even when the fear and doubt creeps in.

Thank you guys for showing up in my life, loving me like you do, and taking the time to read my words. I love you…

Belonging

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As I mentioned in my last blog I am pregnant. This last week after a whole lot of bleeding, two miscarriage scares, and a few emergency room visits, I was diagnosed with a sub-chorionic hemorrhage. Basically as my baby and placenta grow they cause bleeding in the outer wall of my uterus, if my body can’t clot the hemorrhage and stop the bleed I run the risk of miscarriage and possibly needing surgery. So my OB put me on modified bed rest, with strict instructions to not lift anything, and to keep my heart rate down!

You guys, I have three kids, four dogs, a business to run, and endless commitments, I was doubtful I could manage a week of bedrest, much less the 8-12 my body needed. So instead, I reached out, I told my friends and family what was going on, how I was feeling, and that I needed help and support. And the women in my life showed up for me. From everything like bringing dinner, and rotating my laundry, to making sure my daughter got picked up from school. I had the support I needed to stay off my feet and still manage my life. Many times throughout the week I was reminded just how loved I am, and just how great the people in my life really are. Many nights I fell asleep with a heart full of gratitude and love for the family I have created in my world, as well as the family who shares my DNA.

At different times throughout the week I realized I belonged. I belong with these people who love me and show up for me. I’m lucky enough to belong in such a way that it saves my life. Let me tell you about these families of mine, these communities I belong to.

A little over six years ago, in the midst of a horrific drug addiction, I hit rock bottom. Thankfully I found a community of people who had the things I wanted in life and who could love me until I loved myself. These people showed up for me in every way possible. They walked me through my new way of life -without drugs- and they showed me how to live. They showed me how to speak my truth, and how to live with integrity, they showed me how to own my side of every problem in my life, and how to walk through my experiences and emotions, again, without using drugs. And in turn I stayed clean, built a beautiful life, and chose to give back to the next generation of recovering addicts, the unconditional love and skills which have been freely given to me. Communities like these are built because there is value in transparency of stories and experience. There is value in knowing someone else understands our lives on the deepest level, because it has been their life too. There is value in these communities because on a cellular level we all need to belong, we all need to be accepted for who, and what we are.

When I first got clean I made the decision to live my life and tell my story with full transparency in order to be a beacon of hope for others, especially parents who may have lost children in the midst of their addiction. I wanted others to know a life worth living- after drug addiction was possible, and more so it was worth it- even if they had suffered great losses while using. And while some days it is hard to be a woman who chooses transparency because I am also a business owner in a small community, my commitment to letting others know they belong, and possibly saving a life is much more important. So I will continue to speak up and show others the way out- because after all we belong to one another….

A few years into my new way of life I hit a point where I was drowning in self loathing and shame. I was extremely overweight, and literally hated myself. We all know the feeling of looking in the mirror and not feeling good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, enough, enough, enough. I started wondering if I could get a prescription from my doctor, basically legal methamphetamine, to help curb my appetite so I could lose weight. I started fantasizing about how much better life would be once I was thinner. But a part of me knew I couldn’t take that route because I am an addict, and I have a tendency to abuse drugs, whether they are prescribed or not. And deep in my heart I knew the problem ran deeper than my weight, and no prescription could fix the underlying emotional issues. The problem was my inability to love myself just as I was, the problem was my inability to eat healthy, the problem was my sedentary life style. And so, I joined my local crossfit gym. I hadn’t lifted weights since highschool, and I probably hadn’t ran since the last time I had been running from cops! Long story short it had been years since I had lived any kind of active, healthy, lifestyle so I decided to jump in head first.

I started crossfit at 202 lbs with 47% body fat. I had to modify each workout, I had to lift using the lightest bars and the smallest weight, but the other members cheered me on and lifted with me anyhow. My time was always at the bottom of the score board, but that didn’t matter because I was showing up and making progress no matter what. Over time I started moving up in weights and hitting personal PR records. I started getting better score times, and being able to run more and walk less. I started cheering on the new people and lifting with them regardless of their weights or times on the scoreboard. Again, I belonged. When I hit my first 20 inch box jump my crossfit family cheered with me, when I hit my first 27 inch box jump they cried with me! My new friends taught me about preworkout, protein shakes, and BCAA’s. They taught me the importance of muscle mass versus body fat- and how the scale is a god damn liar. They taught me that strong is beautiful, and muscles are sexy. They showed me how to meal prep, and eat clean. They explained macros, and how to eat cookies without bingeing a whole box! When I tore my meniscus and had to modify my workouts, my friends understood my sadness and helped me stay on track. When I got pregnant with my youngest son my gym family supported me, loved me through my pregnancy and my postpartum recovery until I could be back full force in the gym. When I got my first “RX” and was able to do the workout on the board, ‘as prescribed’ with no modifications, my trainer took pictures with me and celebrated as hard as I did. These people had become another extension of my family, another layer of my support system and strength.

This past weekend while on modified bed rest a large majority of my gym family, including my husband, were competing in a crossfit competition. The night before the event my friend, who just so happens to be my trainer, reached out to me and told me our gym would have a sweet little base camp, and plenty of chairs in case I wanted to join them as a spectator. I was feeling fine and had been off my feet all week so I decided to go. Throughout the day my fellow gym members fed me, sat with me, and made sure I was taken care of. Throughout the day as I sat surrounded by other crossfitters from around the state I realized again that I belong to a worldwide community where our experiences transcend our race, religion, sexual identity, etc. Our mutual love for the sport and the gifts it brings to our lives brings us together as a community. Many times throughout the day I sat there humbled by the sheer determination and grit that was on display. At any given point I could look around me and see complete strangers in tears of joy and appreciation, celebrating their competitors achievements right along with them. An event that will forever stick in my mind was when a woman was in the middle of her timed deadlift ladder when she started to pee herself. You could see the horror and embarrassment on her face and in a split second her team partner jumped next to her and yelled out “its ok, we all do it, keep going”. And the woman kept lifting, she didn’t give up. In that moment she was surrounded by a community of people who understood. And her partner was right- which one us mothers can jump rope, sneeze, cough, lift heavy weights, or do much of anything without running the risk of peeing ourselves at some point?!

During my husbands deadlift ladder I was easily reminded why I love him like I do. My husband approaches his level of fitness the same way he approaches Every. Single. Aspect. Of. His. Life. – with great intensity, dedication, and integrity. As he lifted I looked around and realized the entire gym was watching and cheering along with him. Grown men were standing there with tears in their eyes, moved by Chases intensity, and their own love for the sport. A wave of appreciation came over me, I couldn’t have been blessed with a more amazing man to call my best friend. This past week had wreaked havoc on our sanity, and many times we had cried together wondering if this pregnancy would soon end in a miscarriage. And here he was pouring his heart into this competition.

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Watching my fellow gym members, and crossfit athletes compete with such unity, love, and appreciation for one another, was yet another reminder that I belong. It was a reminder that we all need to belong. Belonging is what feeds our soul and keeps us afloat when we are struggling. Belonging is what helps us live with courage in knowing we arent alone. Which brings me to my final realization.

We as humans, but especially as women, belong to one another. More than ever in todays society we need one another to stand up and say “this is my story, and you belong”. More than ever we need one another to offer grace and love in times of struggle. This morning as I scrolled through FB (in light if the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault stories) I saw many many friends with the status “me too”, to show they had also been victims of sexual assault. Some of these women, and men I would have never guessed had been victims of such atrocities, yet here they were full of courage on social media saying “heres my story, WE belong”. Because we still belong to one another, regardless of the circumstances, we belong.

Today I’ll commit to staying transparent in my life. I’ll commit to speaking up with courage, and showing others the way. I commit to living with integrity, even when it loses me friends. I commit to choosing love, and welcoming those who need a place to belong.

I love you guys, thanks for reading my words…