I watch the chalk dust, thick in the air, glitter and swirl around through the sunlight streaming through the windows. It looks a little like what I think fairy dust must look like.
This winter I’ve been climbing a lot in the gym. And I’ve been totally, unabashedly, loving it. I have to confess that it took me awhile to admit this to myself. As a climber and outdoor enthusiast, I wanted desperately to love climbing outside, and to embrace everything about it—even lead climbing—with bravery, courage, and passion.
Unfortunately, I just wasn’t feeling it.
Going to the gym is often seen as a last resort, especially in a climbing-centric town like Boulder, CO. Between the climbing opportunities down the canyon and local bouldering routes, we have excellent places to climb just a short hike from the center of town.
I was embarrassed when my friends would invite me climbing and I’d feel this unexplainable resistance. I thought something was wrong with me. Or worse: that perhaps I didn’t really like climbing. Was I a total fraud?
As the cold weather moved in, I moved indoors. It was there, among plastic holds, colored tape and fairy chalk dust, that I found my climbing stride.
I itched to go climbing (instead of dreading it). When I was there, I tried harder and harder routes. I led more often. I took more risks. I was having fun. I began projects. I fell. I felt accomplished at the end of a session.
In a word, I thrived.
Creating Space for Risk and Growth
In hindsight, I realize that this past fall was the first time in over three years I wasn’t traveling or injured. I had a home base. I was developing routines. My elbow tendonitis was only a faint twinge. I had dinners with friends. I joined a book club (and could consistently expect to make it each month).
The four years previous had been full of transitions and really big changes in my life. And when we have outside stresses, our risk tolerance goes down. When we’re overtired, overwhelmed, or when our energy is directed elsewhere (new family, job, etc.), our comfort zone expands as our tolerance to get outside of it shrinks.
The climbing gym stripped away the uncertainty of the steep, often exposed approaches to the local crags. The time spent getting to the crag, finding a route, and unpacking gear was whittled down to mere minutes inside.
I felt a particular freedom I hadn’t experienced in a long time. It turns out I had underestimated the energy I had been directing toward the traveling and constant decision-making; toward growing my business and settling into a new home.
But now? Now I’m feeling ready. Giving myself permission to hit the gym—and love it—has not only rekindled my passion for climbing, but it’s reminded me that appreciating and embracing where I am today is essential for my ultimate growth and ability to move forward toward bigger goals.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves when we want to get better at something, is to figure out exactly where we are right now, own it, and get ready for what’s coming next.
Get Ready and Bring It.
For me, that means I’m fully embracing my love for indoor climbing because I know it’s preparing me for this upcoming season — I am strengthening my body and honing my skills within my comfort zone and building the mental strength and endurance I need to take more risks outside my comfort zone—and at the crag.
So I say, “bring it.”
“Bring it” invites challenge. Even when we know it’ll be hard. “Bring it” expects and prepares for failure because we know that’s how we grow. “Bring it” invites enthusiasm and healthy competition—either with ourselves or within a supportive environment.
It’s about going all in.
Not being wishy-washy and indecisive. No excuses. No delays.
It means we’re ready for what this world has to offer. It means stepping into our full selves—embracing our imperfections and being proud of who we are and who we continue to become.
Adventure is always right around the corner. Life. Relationships. Sports. Business.
Let’s commit to step into our lives wholly and fully, from exactly where we are today. Appreciate all that has happened that has created the beautiful woman—on the inside and out—who looks back at us in the mirror.
Are you with me? This spring, let’s make the decision to bring it—because the time is now. And we’re ready.
Amy Christensen is a certified life coach with a passion for adventure and helping women discover and tap into their own adventurous spirits. Based in Boulder, CO, her company, Expand Outdoors, focuses on helping women get outside literally and metaphorically: to step outside their comfort zones, take more risks (the healthy kind) and live a richer, more fulfilling, active, adventurous life. Subscribe to Expand Outdoors and receive a free guide to the 10 essential elements of everyday adventure.