“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!

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?


15 Wed, 2010 § 3 Comments

I am completely fed up with American-style consumerism.  I am tired of constantly being assaulted within our “built environment” by the visual noise of clever marketers.  I recognize meaning cannot be bought [yes we can purchase things that make life nice, but not more meaningful].  I pledged years ago to rid myself of one item for every new item I brought home.

Yet, I have still accumulated a lot of stuff.

With the desire to live much more simply & make a pretty drastic life change, Dave & I had been toying with the idea of massively downsizing & seriously purging much of our stuff.  Nudged by the 100 Thing Challenge, we dove in, joining this worldwide grass-roots movement in which people are limiting their material possessions.  People who were once ‘stuck in stuff’ are empowered to live.

The purpose of Life is to provide Experience.  How restricted is our experience if it is overshadowed by all the “stuff” we accumulate?  If it is blurred by the mask of “things” that lay claim to our identities?  If it is stalled by fear of losing our “possessions”?

I am realizing how simply I can live.

Now, I am trying to shed material effects to free up space for this living.

As I sift through belongings, prioritizing everyday life is an obvious breakthrough.

“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. ”

~Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

What is consuming my time, energy & focus versus what truly brings me happiness through experience?  What may be required to continue pursing these?  There are some things to which I am utterly attached.

There are enjoyments & passions that enhance the experience of living.  Our “purge” is not about getting rid of it all.  It is about breaking free from restrictive consumerism habits, embracing non-attachment & creating space in our lives.

Some things fall easily to the bottom of the list: I can survive without an iPod [not that I am ready to give this up ;)], high heels, lip gloss, crazy kitchen gadgets, etc.; but what about the really meaningful things?  How do you throw out keepsakes or flowers from your wedding?

Often, letting go is addictively refreshing: Dave comes back exhilarated after a trip to the dumpster/recycling bin.  Other times, it is trying & heart-wrenching — maybe even guilt accompanied — to let go of an item associated with a cherished moment…though you will never use it again…though you often forget it is there.  I will set these aside to return to later  when I can focus completely on the item & why the attachment exists.

I know I  will never use these books again; but every time I see them, I think how sweet my mom is.  I remember a visit from her [which always stand out], when she spontaneously bought them for me from the college bookstore.  She thought they would help with my writing; she always believed in my writing.  It is about her visit, not so much the books.

In these instances, I have turned to a “Memory Journal”, meant for recounting & re-experiencing moments that made items special.

The sage can walk away from his burning possessions & not look back.

~an interpretation from the Tao Te Ching

Not only would we like to reach a state of non-attachment where we do not look back; but, our goal is to not have much to tempt a backward glance.

Minimize.  Prioritize.  Simplify.

My dream is to become mobile: to be able to pick up & go at will.  I often muse of living in a trailer & traveling without hindrance.  Yes, 😉  I aspire to becoming “trailer trash” — a gypsy — embracing ultimate simplicity.

Liberated, with only experience driving us forward.


Do you ever feel “stuck in your stuff“?

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?

My Lats Say Hello

12 Mon, 2010 § 4 Comments

9 a.m., I’m moving through Sun Salutations in one of my yoga classes.  I’m focusing my breath, my mind…I lengthen my arms to the sky & suddenly glance in the mirror as I begin to fold forward.

“Hey!” my Latissimus Dorsi shouts back.  For those of you wondering, this is the muscle that wings out on each side just under the arm.  It’s usually prominent on body builders, not women in yoga class.  This is confirmed as I quickly scan the room using the mirror.  No other Lats to be seen—only beautiful curves of the female form (no men today).  As we raise our arms, I check mine again.  Yep, the outline of my curve = Lats, not breasts.

I gently nudged the thought from my mind & returned focus to my breath.  Obviously, that thought never completely left.  It’s been lingering in my subconscious (& not-so-subconscious)…toying with my self worth.

My body is strong.  It is becoming stronger every day, which in turn, has made me start to truly love my body for the first time.  So what happened in yoga the other day?

My Ego.

It emerges by first planting seeds of doubt & insecurity; then, it judges others to build itself back up.  “Yeah, but I bet they can’t do a pull up.”  Whether this is the case or not, it has no relevance to me & my body.

When self worth is pursued by the ego, it breaks only to be pieced together again through comparison to others.  Seemingly whole, but ultimately fragile with cracks of external, superficial assurances.

How do we overcome the ego?

Let go.

Let go of comparisons & judgments.  Let go of personalizing.  Let go of external identifications.  Let go of reactions.  Let go of attachments.  Let go of excuses.

Be Here Now.

Don’t complicate things; stick with the facts.

My name is Allie.  I can do a pull up.  My “curves” are my Lats.

What insecurities have you learned to love about yourself?  Are learning to love?  Are going to start loving? 😉

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