“Psychotic Girl”

6 Wed, 2010 § 4 Comments

Dear 200-pound gorilla or jerk pulling on the rock right after it rains,

Stop breaking holds off of my projects! as I am not of strong enough character to shrug it off or simply laugh as I fall on my butt [over & over & over] attempting previously “mastered” moves.

Sincerely & gratefully yours,



If you happened across me climbing on certain days, you might stop & ask why I climb at all.  You would first have to bring me out of my cursing stupor, & you may have to wait for the tears to subside before you would get an answer.  You thought I loved climbing; but this is clearly not someone doing something she loves.

Sunday, I was consumed by the fact some idiot had broken a hold had broken off of my project, making it at least one entire grade more difficult & altering the sequence — even if only slighty — stoutly.  This was more than a little frustrating, because I was ready for this climb.  As I walked up to it, I knew it was in the bag.  I would send it today, & it would mark my hardest problem sent to date.

Immediately something felt off: This isn’t how it starts, is it?  Had I really weakened this much?!  Several grunts, exasperated huffs & withheld screeches later, we spotted the broken slab of rock that used to be the starting hold & eventual key foot.

Well 1. that explains it; 2. now I cannot do it; 3. & it is all someone’s fault who is not me.  [Man, my ego is good at this.]

Too often, my frustration results in tantrum throwing & blame shifting rather than accepting & seeing something for what it is.

The hold broke.  Period.


No, it is gone.  That is it.


Nothing short of a miracle will cause its re-materialization, so no more useless tears.  Stop wasting energy cursing, complaining & making excuses.  It is what it is.  Just climb.

My most enjoyed climbing experiences are embraced playfully.  It is quite impossible to imagine this cursing girl before you sometimes laughs when she falls or as she is experimenting with unsure movements on the rock.  Though this is the approach I would love to adopt exclusively, sadly, it is currently the less common.

The level or grade of the climb or limit of my abilities has nothing to do with whether or not I will embrace it more joyfully.  My attitude & frame of mind only determine this.

Black Keys’ Psychotic Girl played over the iPod at one point in the day.  Though I have no clue what most of the lyrics say, the title felt painfully pointed.  I needed to get over my insanity & face reality.

When the day is just not going quite like you planned, take a break & reassess.

Food is always a nice distraction.

On really active days — like climbing trips when we need fuel but do not want to waste a lot of time/energy digesting — whole, light foods are ideal, like this French Lentil & Honeycrisp Salad with a splash of bragg’s Raw Apple-Cider Vinegar.

Or these cute little…tomatoes?

Nope.  Plums from Farmer’s Market.  Delicious & fun as they “pop” in your mouth.

During your “break”, keep in mind that even if you did not realize you woke up on the wrong side of the bed but later in the day realize you are totally on the wrong side,

Start Over.

It is absolutely okay to call a redo; actually it is encouraged — especially by all who have had to deal with you up to this point in the day.

After a short, midday siesta, I was revived & ready for my redo.

First, by encouraging Dave’s attempts on his project.

Then back to face mine, with hopefully clearer perspective & attitude.  Absolved of pre-conceived notions of failure & ready to simply see it for what it was, I could only send, right?

Not exactly, but I did work out the “new” sequence until my skin & fingers cried No More!  More importantly, I finally allowed myself to enjoy the climb.  What is life but this moment?  If I cannot embrace & enjoy now — what is — then there is nothing else.

There are few things as rewarding as giving your all…then willing just a little bit more…leaving the crag raw, bloody & completely spent…defeated not by my mind or ego…but simply my body’s [pain ;)] threshold…& the magnitude of the rock.

Oh, I guess there was one more reward:

~Sweet Potato Pie~

& a moment to enjoy the openness of the salt pan.


An epiphany I once realized “on-the-mat” was establishing my intention for the day, activity, etc before beginning.  This is an idea I am still processing & determining how to incorporate into climbing.  It seems uncomplicated enough: I simply need to take a moment before climbing & establish my mood & the tone for the experience.

Has anyone ever integrated a similar approach?  Please share!

Zen Breathing & BOO in a Jar

25 Sat, 2010 § 2 Comments

I could be 40 feet up.  I could be 100 feet.  I could be just 5 feet.

My movements on the rock suddenly become desperate rather then fluid & controlled.  My muscles are surrendering.  My body is tired, & I have met the crux.  My relaxed, confident grasp morphs into the death grip, draining my muscles quickly.  Panic breathing strikes, depleting my muscles further.  I have lost it.  I fall — or worse — let go.  Give up.

Perhaps my endurance failed.  Perhaps my mind failed.  Whichever the case, overcoming The Panic sets extraordinary athletes apart from the rest.

I was introduced to one method of overcoming this at the beginning of the year & am reincorporating it into my training again.  Apart from training the aerobic system & increasing endurance in a gym setting, Breathing Ladders teach breath & mind control as well.

To execute a Breathing Ladder, pick a weight & movement,  then set a timer & do one rep followed by one breath, then do two reps followed by two breaths, three reps followed by three breaths, etc. Breathe as much as you want while working; breathe only the specified number of “reps” while resting.  Build your “pyramid” by starting with 1 rep, building to 10 — or even 20 or somewhere in between — then come back down to one.  The idea is to draw the exercise out, making it last as long as possible.  Generally, athletes with an efficient O2 utilization system can make a 1:20:1 pyramid Breathing Ladder last about 45 minutes; some can draw it out an hour or more!

The movement must be “big”, incorporating full-body demand.  I like Kettlebell Swings [we do not have a kettlebell, so I used a 12-lb medicine ball which could have been heavier].  The point is oxygen consumption & efficiency: big movements cause a great oxygen demand.  Pull-ups do not work because the muscle mass is too small to create significant O2 demand before muscle acidity & fatigue cause work to cease.

The ideal is to use the perfect combination of movement/load/reps to keep yourself in the zone where “total panic is a single mistake away & Zen-like calm is the prize for those who can reach it.”

[Breathing Ladder source: Gym Jones]


Food is generally a good motivator for me while working out — not during Breathing Ladders though.  Because I wanted these to last as long as possible, I had to constantly brush the image of my awaiting meal from my mind to keep from rushing through.  😛  After 25:47 minutes of 1:10:1 Breathing Ladders, Thursday morning, all I could think was BREAKFAST.

I have had Buckwheat on the brain ever since my friend, Dina, shared a slice of her homemade raw[dehydrated] bread with me.

The light, airy crunch took me by complete surprise — I was expecting a much harder texture — & the deep nutty flavor of the grain won me over immediately.  I. Am. Hooked.

Buckwheat groats are technically not a “grain”, but a fruit seed related to rhubarb & sorrel, making it gluten-free.  A complete protein, rich in vitamins, it is also a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus & potassium.  It is also thought to lower cholesterol.

I wanted to get the benefit of soaking & sprouting these quickies — they only take 1-2 days — & include them in my morning VOO.  Generally partial to parfaits [thanks to Angela, whose overnight oats & parfaits are always out-of-this-world beautiful & delicious!]; but lately I have been leaning toward basic VOOs, simply accenting a key ingredient like end-of-summer peaches.  B-groats would be just the thing to mix it up a bit…but not the only thing…

No, I did not eat sunflower seed butter from the jar for breakfast…not to say this has never happened before… 😛

I have seen a few bloggers rave about cooking oats in an empty nut butter jar to get that last bit out & enhance the flavor of the oats.  Because I do not use a microwave [or eat a lot of cooked oats], I have not tried it yet.  As I scraped the last bit of sunbutter from this guy though, I knew right away he would be the medium for my next soakage.

BOO [Buckwheat Overnight Oats]

  • ~½ C Buckwheat Groats, sprouted
  • ~½ C Oats
  • 1-2 T Chia seeds
  • substantial sprinkle of Cinnamon
  • dash Sea Salt
  • Rice milk to just cover
  • Combine & whisk in an empty nut butter container.
  • Store in refrigerator overnight.
  • Next day stir ins: that delicious side of chopped, fresh, local peach & a scoop of Hemp Protein Powder.

*I used all the oats [just over ½ C] & groats [just under ½ C] I had on hand; so about 1:1.  I enjoy the groats so much I will probably increase the amount of groats & decrease the oats next time.

*This was closer to two servings for me, which I had intended to save for a couple mornings.  I mixed it all up while making dinner & “tested” a couple spoonfuls while watching Man vs Wild later on.  WARNING: If you make your VOO too early in the evening, it will likely disappear before the next morning.  Fortunately, there was still plenty to refuel me after my breathing ladders.

*Also, while the texture of BOO differed subtly from VOO & was rather delicious, I enjoy the soft crunch of b-groats which is missing after soaking them.  To recapture this texture, I will dehydrate them after they sprout next time & add them as a stir-in rather than soaking with the oats.


I am super excited to experiment with B-Groats — raw granola, snack bars, crackers!  Any great original recipes out there?


Do you ever incorporate “mental” training into your workouts?

Spiritual Cooking

23 Thu, 2010 § Leave a comment

Food is magical: I cannot tell you exactly how it works, but it brings people together.

At the heart of most holidays & special occasions lies an aromatic table of thoughtfully prepared delectables.  Often the most cherished bonding occurs in the kitchen.  It brings together family & friends in labor filled with love & often laughter.

Even as one of the most used, loved & crucial rooms in the home, situations in the kitchen can quickly become intense.  Sometimes quarters can feel tight in even the largest spaces & timing is always of the essence.  The perfectionist in me surfaces, stressing over pleasing everyone, fearing a new or creative spin on a recipe will flop & frustrating over the reality that Dave is not a mind reader. 😉

Others may be tired from a long day or sense the impatient tummies of hungry little ones.  Too often, the love intended to be infused into the meal vanishes in a haze of anxiety.  Other times, it becomes less about nourishing, & the intention turns toward impacting.

Obviously, I am passionate about food & cooking.  I could easily — & have guiltily been known to — spend all day planning meals, browsing recipes, wandering the grocery store or farmer’s market in search of inspiration, experimenting in the kitchen & enjoying the results.

Pursuance of healthy living was the initiator of this passion.  Feeling plain lousy — even though I ate “healthily” — is what began my journey toward truly evaluating what I was putting in my body & then listening to my body’s response.  It truly is a journey — transitioning subtly, ever evolving — as I learn more & more about food, its source & impact & continue to listen to my body.

When my search for healthy eating habits guided me toward more & more whole foods, I realized the joy of cooking slowly & simply.  Food became fun again & not a constant ordeal over micro-nutrient composition & obsessive calorie counting.  The answer was simple: eat real food & make most of it myself.

It completely altered how I perceived food & created a ritual of planning meals, shopping for food, preparing it & appreciating its journey.  Cooking with love & without ego is an intention that has enhanced my passion for food; it is also a point I need to revisit & strive to embrace more.

My ego has weaseled its way back into my kitchen as I am stressing over the outcome rather than enjoying the process.  As I flex my “culinary prowess” ;), I worry about impacting or impressing those that eat it more so than nourishing them.

This has been a longstanding struggle for me: to let go of the outcome & embrace Seva, the practice of serving others with no expectation of reward or recognition.  Even with this reminder I wrote years ago, hanging in our kitchen, I still “forget”.

Essence of Seva:

Let the Ego Fall Away,

Leaving only Peace.

Though difficult, it is liberating to let go of my attachment to the outcome.  Rather than a display of culinary prowess, cooking can be an offering of love.

*Plan meals that are physically supportive & nourishing, considering the season — even the day — moods, activities, energy levels, etc of those who will partake.

*Bring awareness to the kitchen.  Completely be in the task at hand whether washing an apple or slicing carrots julienne.  Check in with my body & how it feels.  Am I tensing?  Do I need to rest my feet?  Where is my mind — my thoughts?  Perhaps even incorporate an Asana practice before or during meal preparation.

*Carry this awareness into dining.  How often do we simply inhale a meal that has been painstakingly prepared?  Savor each bite.  Eat slowly & meditatively, observing the flavors.  Take a moment & pause before eating; really think about the journey of the food on my plate, from birth or seed to death or harvest.  This silent prayer or offering of gratitude enlightened & enhanced my personal concept of ethical eating more than anything else.

*Reconnect with the underlying joy of the experience & learn to stay compassionate, centered & loving.  [I tend to lose my cool in the kitchen sometimes, if you know what I mean.]

Rather than shooting for culinary brilliance, I am coaxing myself to reach for more humble aspirations: Love First, then Serve, Feed, Nourish.


When you let go of the outcome: all that is left is Love…& the best kind of food.


What is the tone of your kitchen?  What are your thoughts on spiritual cooking?

Cliff Jumping

3 Fri, 2010 § 1 Comment

Sometimes in life, you come to the edge of a cliff;  you continue wandering along the rim, staying just far enough away to remain “safe”…toying with the idea of stepping closer…leaning occasionally for a better look…straining to capture a glimpse of pure happiness [sometimes in the form of ice cold water] that is ever fading farther into the distance though you have not moved — because you have not moved.  You desperately want to shake things up…pursue your bliss…obtain something beyond contentment…


How often do excuses hold us back from pursuing happiness & the measure of our design?  If I were younger, older…if I had more money, more time…if I did not have this job, this bill, this deadline…

On the beach, I rattled off my own excuses: if it were not cold; if my bathing suit was not all the way in the car; if I did not have to catch a plane later.  I was already cold; the car was not that far away & our plane did not leave for hours [plenty of time to dry before then].

In that moment, any longing that existed deserved to be fulfilled — what would I lose by pursuing it?  What risks were at stake?  Yes, “dangers” existed.  I considered these.  The cliff was only about 30 feet high, & I was not going to attempt any crazy aerial assaults against the water — just a straight vertical leap.  The cold?  I had a towel & dry clothes.

What is more mortifying than to feel you’ve missed the Plum for want of courage to shake the Tree?

~Logan Pearsall Smith

I did kick a rock as I swam to shore 😦 but nothing more than a nick :).  Within the most fulfilling endeavors in life lie possible risks.  The most daunting & demoralizing of these risks?  I might fail. To win you have to be willing to lose.  Kathryn Budig, one of the yoga instructors I admire most, talks about fear being a huge issue in our society.  It keeps people locked in habits & inhibits our ability to grow.

One method of overcoming this fear: when faced with a chance you desperately want to take — a dream you desperately want to follow — ask yourself, what is the absolute worst-case-scenario? It is likely not as horrific as you imagine.  If you play through the “What Ifs? Then This” in your mind, you will realize even if the worst outcome possible does happen, you will live.  You will be ok.

I would rather pursue bliss & fail than put my dreams on a shelf for fear of failure.

What do we have to gain from jumping?

🙂 Bliss. 🙂

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily.  To not dare is to lose oneself. ”

~Soren Kierkegaard

Dave & I are at our own metaphorical cliff.  The easier choice is to stay with the familiar, which feels less risky.  Considering the implications of that choice means risking a life not lived.  What is a “life not lived”?  That is up to each to determine.  I beg you to consider what living means to you rather than simply letting others decide as you wander along the edge among the lemmings.

Jump.  Live.

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves — in finding themselves.

~André Gide

Just the Rock

24 Tue, 2010 § 2 Comments

Fading away in dejection, two weeks had passed; I was still depressed, lacking appetite & the desire for human interaction.  Shut the door.  Block out the world, a part of me taunted.  Curl into yourself & sleep.

Instead, I succumbed to another part urging me to get over it: I reached for the door knob; twisting it, I entered the world again.  I had to get out.  I had to live.



I had only attempted it a few times & it had been weeks — maybe even a month — since my last go.  As I stepped through the doors of the climbing gym, I knew my melancholy had made me weak but I bouldered anyway.  I could not hide but still needed to get away & think — no, clear my head — be alone.

Just be.

That day, I only saw the plastic.  I only felt my hands grasping, reaching to the next hold.  I keyed into my foot pointing, toeing solidly into the wall.  I felt gravity but was more aware of my body —  my muscles contracting; my breath moving in rhythm.  Falling never crossed my mind.  I simply climbed.  My heart felt happy.  In that moment, only I existed.

I have found few things with which I can connect, fold myself into & become completely present.  Every time I touch the rock, I am seeking the presence I found that day at the gym.  Unfortunately, too often, that experience is not recaptured.  I am constantly distracted by & at war with my ego. When I do find presence, I climb harder & often — though not always — with a sense of ease.  More than that though, I appreciate what it offers & enjoy climbing most during these moments.  It is when I do not limit myself with assumptions about the route, the grade, my own expectations…when my ego fades & I do not compare myself to other climbers…& when fear is overcome…I can simply be.

Only the rock & my body exist.  I simply climb.  So tuned in, it is only my subconscious reacting.   Releasing my mind, I let my body connect with the rock.  When there is more, I fall.  When I let distractions in, I fall.

Falling is not a bad thing if you are pushing your limits.  In fact, falling is even good for the ego; but when it is because of the ego, more than just falling is at stake.  It taints our experiences, leading to frustration & obsession with external concerns.

I miss climbing.  I miss tuning into my body…connecting with the nature of the rock & working with it rather than fighting against it.  I miss finding presence through this moving meditation, taking what I learn & practicing it off the rock as well as on.  I miss giving my ego a bit of a beating. 😉

It is time to get back on the rock & recapture what I have lost: to see only the rock — to see, feel & concern myself with this moment only — to gently urge myself,

Be Here Now.


What have you lost to the world?  Are you ready to recapture it?

Letting the Wind Go

30 Fri, 2010 § 6 Comments

“Love flowers best in openness & freedom.”

~Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

There is something austere & beautiful about the sparseness & simplicity of the desert.  A stillness exists here unmatched by any place I have yet visited; the life that triumphs the desert’s harshness stands out bold & defiant.  I always learn something about myself among this resilience.  Sometimes – often – it is something I do not like admitting & deeply wish to change.


We have just begun preparing dinner.  There is a welcome, even if only subtle, breeze.  The slight relief it has offered from the scorching heat of the day abruptly ceases.  Suddenly, a huge opposing gust rages through camp.  The one-up digs in for a losing battle as I rush to grab a pole begging to be torn from the dirt.  It lifts like a kite…& I watch twenty-two pages of collected yoga practices scatter in every direction.  Dave rushes to my aid, & we quickly disassemble the one-up & take chase.

The wind is continuously shifting; just as I have a page in sight & determine its path, it immediately vanishes.  I run after them like a child chasing butterflies.  Uh, lie.  I chase these gems of wisdom & self-discovery…these corridors to fleeting nirvana…with tears lining my eyes & a pitiful whine,  “but they make me happy”, being carried off by the wind along with my pages…all the while cursing the wind.  What purpose does it even serve anyway?  Honestly, amidst my frustration, I could not credit the wind one redeeming act — I had completely forgotten the relief it offered only minutes earlier.

Why the tears?  Why over these pages?

Yoga has become a place where I can escape – I can curl into its warmth, stretch into its expansion – my inadequacy does not exist here.  Not because I “excel”, but because it is something I have learned – am still learning – to embrace playfully without judgment.  But playfully without attachment?  Without ownership?  Apparently not.  Why did I feel I needed these pages to embrace my practice?  Was it my own insecurities?  Was I letting my sense of inadequacy creep in?  A need for identity?  While knowledgeable guidance is fundamentally valuable, do I need someone else to define my practice?  Do I need to define my practice?

We managed to gather a handful.  Of course my favorites were without their mate or still missing completely.

Broken.  Defeated.  I accepted my losses…bitterly…still clinging to a twinge of naive hope we would see Play Leads the Way [which includes a favorite pose, Lord of the Dance, I hope to master someday] waving frantically from a net of sage the next morning.

Dave & I collected other items the wind had thrown: plates, books, chairs, sunglasses, hats, etc.  Eisley insisted on helping scour for chips – we could not keep her away – she was even looking the next day. 😀  Dave finally had to crush them.  We took down what didn’t stand a chance against the furry & tethered the rest.  We looked at each other through furious, indecisive gusts of wind, smirked & asked “now what?”

We gave in.  We could not stop the wind.  It had claimed what it would have.  So we walked.  I teased about my absurd attachment to these papers, we toyed again with the idea of packing up, but instead, we simply walked.

Dave took photos at the overlook as I flowed through a favorite playful practice.  We embraced what the moment still offered, enhanced by the charm of the sun setting.  The wind was still a rye, but we were enjoying ourselves; & I had let go.

During the walk back to camp, we recovered four more pages, completing all but two sequences [most of which were found by Dave].  His final find that evening?  He smiled at me as he read “Play Leads the Way”.

“When we are established in non-attachment, the nature & purpose of existence are understood.”

~The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

By letting go, the entire tone & mood of our evening changed.  It is useless to cling — there are very few things we have ultimate control over — yet we have a choice regarding the attitude we embrace.  “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me & 90% how I react to it” [Charles R. Swindoll].

Life in the desert is met by some of the harshest obstacles acting against it, yet the cactus does not whine, make excuses, cling to illusions of becoming a fern nor grow bitter.  It accepts the moment, uses whatever resources it is given, embraces the freedom of its sparse surroundings & blossoms into what it is meant to be.

Mind your mind; let everything else follow.


As we made our final departure the next morning, Dave asked me to please adjust the side mirror.  As I reached out the window for the corner of the mirror, a sheet of white waved from the brush just beyond.


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