I recently returned from a climbing trip with my husband, two good friends, and our (combined) four dogs. None of us had climbed at Wild Iris before (gasp!) so we figured it was about time. Here are some photos of the area--it is beautiful. Wyoming has so much space, and the climbing is predominantly limestone with neat fossils, pockets for sticking a toe into, and aspen trees for chasing shade.
After five days of daily climbing, we were in major need of rest days and work was calling, so it was time to come home. Usually as a trip comes to a close, I'm ready to come home to the life I've crafted here- I am a lucky lady. But this time, I struggled. I was emotional and didn't want to leave the part of myself I had rediscovered. Not to mention, the climbing was fantastic...
Upon further reflection, I began to realize why it was so hard for me to leave. These climbing trips connect us to ourselves, to nature, and to each other in unique ways. We car camp, limited to bringing only what is needed and maybe a few "luxury" items (basically food, water, shelter, climbing gear, dog stuff, chocolate!). During the day, we let our curiosity and desire to challenge ourselves guide us as we select routes to try. I've always thought climbing is a great metaphor for life--and sometimes there are strong, solid days, and sometimes there are weak days that make me feel defeated. Regardless, a day of climbing is always worth it, and after a satisfying day by the rocks, we walk back to camp, and talk and laugh around a campfire (hoping Waffles the grizzly bear doesn't join). When our bodies tell us it's time for sleep, we make our way into our Subaru with seats folded down, then wake up with the sun and do it all over again. At the crag, we meet other climbers who gift us with beta, good stories, and the sharing of gear (the climbing community is, more often than not, very embracing!). A final note, there was no reliable cell phone service, so my phone stayed off or in airplane mode. There's a simplicity to all of this that is deeply fulfilling.
Now that I am home, I'm trying to remember the lessons our trip to Wild Iris taught me, and reminding myself that there is a season for play, a season for work, and a season for rest days. Nature shows us this all year long!
I just finished reading Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames (available at all major bookstores, but being frugal, I borrowed it from the library... of course!). This woman speaks my language. I honestly wasn't aware just how important frugality was to me until reading this. Through major portions of the book, I felt like she was reading my mind. This book is not really about spending less money: It's about living congruently. (Often, once we tap into that, we realize we don't need to spend as much money!). As a counselor and on a personal level, congruent living is a foundational belief.
Essentially, "Mrs. Frugalwoods" or "Mrs. FW" (as she refers to herself on her blog) and her husband worked in the city in cubicle-type jobs for several years before realizing it wasn't for them. It didn't represent their values. They started saving and upping their frugalness until they could purchase a homestead in rural Vermont, living off the land as much as possible, and eventually not needing to work but doing so because they enjoy it (my dream!). Mrs. FW is very open about her privilege--and I would like to acknowledge that, too. We aren't all born with the same deck of cards, and she is incredibly lucky, as am I. However, regardless of our deck of cards, there are many important lessons to be found in her words, with just as many tie-ins to mental health and overall wellness.
For me, I know I am happiest when I am connected to nature, to myself, and to loved ones. When I have community. When rock climbing. When I'm with my bees. When I'm lucky enough to accompany clients into deep healing. When I see myself clearly and see that my self is truly reflected in the way I live my life. It isn't when I'm spending lots of money, selling myself short, discounting my worth, or spending precious time on something I don't value.
Of course, this varies for each person, but I'm going to go ahead and state that most people spend money on things that don't really align with our values and goals on a shockingly regular basis--and our mental health and wellness would probably greatly benefit from some reflections on this, whether done alone, with friends, or with a counselor (like me!).
Here are a few questions to ponder:
A little self-disclosure: This book reminded me that I spend too much time on social media (can anyone relate?!) and not enough time writing and doing yoga. It also added fuel to the fire that I really want to invest into our one-acre piece of land so it becomes more of an ecotherapy paradise for humans and a sanctuary for my bees.
I will end with one of my favorite quotes from the book:
"In the city, our lives were divorced from the natural world. It didn't matter if it was snowing, or 95 degrees, or if blackberries were ripe somewhere--we were in our offices all day long, no matter what. Now we base our days around seasonality. Each month, each day, even, blesses us with the minutiae of seasonal imperatives." -Elizabeth Willard Thames
Regardless of if you have a "city job" or one that allows you work more seasonally, I think we can all work on tuning into nature more! (Or whatever values you want to see more of in your life--though my personal belief is that nature is something we all need... and science backs that up too.)
Happy reading, everyone!
Body image seems to be a theme for me--professionally and personally-- lately. Here is why.
Last month, I registered for a half-day continuing education presentation on body image. As a therapist working with quite a few women of all ages, I knew I'd benefit from more training on this pervasive topic.
Then, a few days before the presentation, my engaged friend informed me that I'd need to be professionally measured so my bridesmaid dress could be ordered and fitted. I got on it right away and was surprised to learn that there is quite a difference between the size of my waist and the size of my hips. This may seem silly, but I hadn't ever had an objective measure of this. Having it in writing with exact numbers was... interesting. I love my body--it allows me to do amazing things, like experience the smell of rain during deep breaths of meditation and contemplation, or reach the top of a rock climb or a tall mountain peak. For the most part, I feel very grounded in and connected to this body of mine, regardless of my measurements. So, I reported these measurements to the bridal company, and forgot about it--for a couple of days, at least.
A day later was the presentation on body image, put on by the Center for Change (and the presentation was fantastic, by the way). I thought I was fairly informed about the ways in which our culture, the media, and advertising seem to make it hard for women (and men too) to feel good about our bodies. But this presentation blew my mind with tidbits like...
I fought back tears on several occasions during this presentation. How is it that so many capable, intelligent, compassionate, successful women are so unhappy with how they look? (As if that's the ultimate measure.) Why do we struggle so much to have self-compassion and self-acceptance? (I have a few ideas...)
Now to return to my bridesmaid dress adventure: A received a phone call, the day after the body image training, from the bridal company. The woman there informed me that my three measurements matched up with three different sizes, with a six dress-size spread. She said this with a sassy edge, and I almost felt shamed for having a body that doesn't fit into one dress size. The funny (and sad) thing is, my body is not strange. No body is. Yet so many of us, with perfectly healthy bodies, are having a hard time "fitting" into the body image ideal. Not only that, but another woman was delivering this message to me. It seems that women have internalized some ideas that are doing us harm.
At this point, I am feeling especially grateful to have developed a positive relationship with my body--and to have formed relationships with some others who feel similarly about their bodies. I also want to acknowledge that I've seen some progress! But... we have a long way to go. I recognize that this is a huge task, but I feel that it is critical that we tackle body image issues--together.
I don't want you, or me, to spend another minute of our lives wishing we looked differently when there are so many other meaningful, wonderful ways we could be spending our energy. Shame and self-hatred are not motivators. They keep us down. That's no way to be.
I don't have any answers here, but I have a few ideas.
What do you think? Personally, I plan on continuing to enjoy the way my body defies gravity while rock climbing and all of the other ways my body enhances my life. And I plan to wear my bridesmaid dress proudly.
In closing, I invite you to watch this video and imagine some of your own creative answers that are more like the ones towards the end. :)
To celebrate the winter solstice, I asked a couple of friends to hike Cervidae Peak with me. It's notoriously steep and it's also one of four peaks in the "grand slam" group that Tom Lopez came up with to help train for Idaho's 12ers. It's been on my list for a while so I was eager to give it a try. It took us several hours but that includes a 45 minute detour because my friend's dog ran after a deer and didn't want to come back (I found her eventually!).
Anyway, here are some pictures. It was beautiful and it's a great way to stretch your legs, pretty close to town. Just remember... it is steep!
Although I still have so much to learn, I do feel like I'm not quite brand new at this anymore, which is exciting. I've learned a lot of practical things (like how to move around them so they--and I--stay calm and what various types of bees look like) but what has been even more fun to me is to discover some little (and big) life lessons from these busy bees that now (lucky for me) call my backyard their home.
How can you work on integrating these little lessons from bees into your daily life?
The Summer Solstice happens officially (MST) at 10:24pm tonight (June 20th). Today is the longest day of the year (and shortest night of the year). Solstice can be translated to "stillness"--a time of transition and pause. With the high amount of energy that comes with the longest day of the year and the most light, it is also an invigorating day of celebration, and fun.
Here are some ideas to celebrate the summer solstice:
Happy Summer Solstice!
If you live in Boise too, this spring equinox just might be a little more appreciated than normal. We had quite the record-breaking winter and there were days it felt it would never end! But just as the sun rises each day, spring is here again.
The first day of spring marks an important turning point. Today, we will have equal day and equal night (the meaning of equinox)… perfect balance. Today is a day to think about balance in our lives, to reflect on that which we would like to grow, and cleanse our lives of things we want to leave behind.
Here are some points of reflection to consider as we enter a new season (write about these or discuss with a trusted friend):
And here are some traditional ideas to celebrate today:
Happy Spring, everyone!
I Am Me, by Virginia Satir
In all the world,
there is no one else exactly like me -
everything that comes out of me is authentically mine,
because I alone choose it - I own everything about me - my body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions,
whether they be to others or to myself -
I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears -
I own all my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes.
Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me - by so doing I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts -
I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me,
and other aspects that I do not know -
but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself,
I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and for ways to find out more about me -
However I look and sound, whatever I say and do,
and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me -
If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought and felt turned out to be unfitting, I can discard that which I feel is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded -
I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do.
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive,
and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me -
I own me, and therefore I can engineer me -
I am me & I AM OKAY.
This is one of the easiest breathing techniques that helps balance and calm us. Don't worry if your breath isn't equal when you begin. You can use this technique anytime. I sometimes tell students/clients to draw a little box if they're in class or in a meeting, and do some square breathing with the visualization of a box. It's simple:
1. Inhale & count to 4 counts (you set the pace to what feels right for you)
2. Hold for 4 counts (remember to work up to this, or shorten it, if it doesn't feel right for you)
3. Exhale for 4 counts
4. Hold for 4 counts (again, remember to adjust so it feels good for you)
The important thing is to try to get your inhales and exhales to be the same length. This will calm and balance your nervous system.
I am a skier and a snow lover, so all of this snow that Boise has seen has made me really happy. I think it’s beautiful! It has made me contemplate what we can learn from the snow. Here are some things I came up with:
What else can we learn from the snow?