Tagged: 2013

Ready? Set? Let’s get out there and GO!

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. image002 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. image003 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. image001 ------ 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.

Bring It

No matter where or what the occasion is, we all BRING something unique. Let us know what your favorite things are to bring when you bring it. missy_musings-SU13  

Mountain Biking: A Love Story

If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. Or in this case, take a moment to pause, gain some new perspective and most importantly, give yourself some credit! Thanks again to Amy of Expand Outdoors for beautiful insight to tackling new challenges, and patting ourselves on the back.  amybiking4“I’m slow” had been a mantra for me ever since I got into outdoor activities. I would be painfully aware that I was bringing up the rear, the slowest person on the trail (or in the pool, or on the road). I constantly feared I was holding my friends and companions back, so developed a habit of apologizing for being so slow. And worse, an excuse to not get out there at all in an effort to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of embarrassment and incompetence. The first time I rode a mountain bike on a single track trail, I felt like a toddler constantly running and playing “catch-up” with an older brother. Or brothers. I was with a group of male friends—all very experienced—who would take turns waiting for me at various intervals along the trail. Their kindness was totally appreciated, but also humbling. Despite moments of frustration and impatience, I had fun on that ride. And their encouragement and stoke watching me get out there and have fun was contagious. Still, I was self-conscious and sensitive to my in-expertise. Winter arrived soon after, and I didn’t ride again for a couple of years. Mostly because I didn’t have a mountain bike, but also because I was avoiding my fears and self-consciousness. I wanted to ride. I wanted to love it. And I’d glimpsed some magic moments when I felt the rush of enthusiasm and pure joy of riding. amybiking2 The seeds had been planted on that first ride, but I had allowed my fears to get in the way, nurturing those seeds very haphazardly (and not very effectively). When one of the friends on that first ride became my husband, we decided to convert a van and live on the road for a year (we called it the adVANture). We planned to visit a number of well-known mountain biking trails and communities during our travels (think the Pacific Northwest), and I decided it would be the perfect time to get back on the bike and ride. I wanted a bike I was comfortable on, so we sold my road and tri bikes and shopped around for a mountain bike. At the time, I was (sporadically) riding a hand-me-down, but it was bulky, heavy and a lot of bike for my novice handling skills. I felt clumsy trying to manage what felt to me like a huge hunk of metal under me. I wanted something smaller and lighter that I could grow into as my skills developed. As we shopped, I was thrown into a world of new terminologies and complex engineering. Luckily my husband is quite knowledgeable and patient, so between his expertise on various builds, components and brands, and my instincts for what felt good as I test rode the options, I found a bike I was excited about. When I got it home, I couldn't wait to go for a ride. If I wasn't in love with the sport yet, I certainly was beginning to feel some affection for this new hunk of metal. Which is what it felt like underneath me. Not as clunky and heavy and my husband's old bike, but definitely bulky and separate from me. I loved the idea of her, but riding was an entirely different story. For my first ride on the new bike, a gentle trail outside of Boulder seemed perfect. It was short, not too many corners and had minimal elevation gain. I fell on my first switchback. While I’d love to say that I got up laughing and in good spirits, that was decidedly not the case. I cried. I finished out the ride, stiff and worried about falling again, cursing myself, the clipless pedals, and most of all, my inexperience and lack of skill. After numerous excuses, I finally went out again. But something was still holding me back. I wasn’t trying new things. Frustration, fear, tentativeness, hesitancy: I was experiencing all these emotions without a lot of the joy, freedom, and elation I used to get—or imagined I should have. I was worried about our upcoming adventure. Would my bike gather dust in the back of the van? It sucked. And it sucked for my husband, too. I felt like a terrible riding partner. I cried more times than I smiled on the trail. He was patient, but just didn't know how to help me. I didn't know how to help me. amybiking3 I was determined to love it, yet still resisting and avoiding. Something needed to change. A few things happened that began to help me shift from fear to fun. I did two things immediately, and one was an unexpected bonus. The first thing I did was switch to flat pedals. I’d been hesitant to take any risks with my feet locked in, but as soon as I began running flats, the world of mountain biking started opening up again. I took more risks and began to see progress in my skills. The second thing I did was begin to embrace and accept where I was skill-wise. I realized my expectations were pretty high (and frankly, unrealistic), I often judged myself for not having more of the skills experienced riders had, and my Inner Critic was getting pretty loud. Letting all that go wasn’t easy, but simply setting the intention was helpful. Riding with my husband became a lot more fun. He's a wonderful teacher and quite patient. But he's also an expert mountain biker. Having grown up on a BMX bike, he is what you’d call a “natural,” easily making hurtling down a steep trail look graceful. And easy. amy biking1 My assessment of my riding skills was that I was slow, cautious and always the last in the group. I didn’t necessarily mind it, knowing I was a beginner and recognizing that most riders were way more experienced than me. “I’m slow,” and “I’m a beginner” became subconscious mantras in my head. I had no other frame of reference. I didn’t know any other riders like me. And they were certainly hard to find as we traveled. Until Prescott, Arizona. There, we stumbled upon the biking community and were instantly welcomed into a warm and inviting group of enthusiastic riders. My husband got to experience some serious technical downhills (that he’d never have found without guides), and i was invited to join a women’s ride one evening. As we got started, I let them know that “I’m slow” and that “I’m a beginner.” So of course I’ll be at the back of the pack. Because this was my reality. As the waning sunlight cast a soft glow over the trail in Prescott, it became clear that I had misjudged myself. I wasn’t all that slow. And I didn’t feel like a beginner. I felt normal. Average. Competent. What a revelation! I realized my perspective had been wildly skewed. It no longer mattered to me how fast or slow I was, or how experienced or inexperienced I was. I was able to completely let go of my self-judgements and allowed myself to sink into my own experience and measure my progress and gains against the only person that really mattered—me. AMy bikingWhen we got to the Pacific Northwest, I pushed myself. I had fun learning. And I realized there, as I was working up to a new skill at a local bike park, that I’d finally fallen in love with mountain biking. Sure, there’s still a lot of skill-building to be done, but I no longer judge myself so harshly. Instead, I concentrate on having fun and enjoying where I am at any given moment. Some days I go faster on the downhills than others. Some days I feel inspired to try riding raised wooden trails at the bike park. Others I very consciously ride around them. But mostly? I go out and have fun, comfortable and happy to be out there, doing my thing. And if that’s not being successful in a sport, I’m not sure what is. What’s your love story? ------ About Amy Amy Christensen is a certified life coach with a passion for adventure and helping women tap into their own adventurous spirits. Based in Boulder, CO, her company, Expand Outdoors, focuses on creating healthy, sustainable, and fun lifestyle changes. She most recently launched 31 Winter Adventures, an email series delivering daily adventures to your inbox for 31 days in celebration of the winter season.



Bring on the season. Bring on the challenge. Bring on the new year. Whatever it is, we're ready. What are you ready for? Do you see yourself taking less time for preparation and just getting out there, getting it done? Being the first to hit the trail while everyone else decides which socks to wear? Throwing on that dress right out of the dryer, tossing on some boots and heading out the door while someone else can't decide which stockings are the cutest? Be light, be easy and you'll astound yourself with what you can accomplish.

Are you ready?