DOWN. NOT OUT.

I have had quite a few doctors in my life. The one I have now is so dang cool. In the past 4 years Ive been to her for strep throat, muscle spasms, tweaked back (from climbing), sinus infection, extreme fatigue, anxiety, IBS complications from Rheumatoid Arthritis, pap smears, physicals, cholesterol checks, and a plethora of other things. Crazily enough Im a very very healthy “sick” person. She knows what RA is. She knows my immune system is not exactly great. She knows my joints swell and Im in pain most of the time. She knows I don’t rest enough.

I show her pictures of me rock climbing, hiking mountains, doing Beachbody Extreme workouts, camping in the cold. I tell her about my anxiety stemming from fear of being in pain when I do these extreme things. She’s seen my neck muscle in such spasm I couldn’t leave the office to drive home. She watches my joints swell. She knows my history of miscarriage due to Autoimmune Disorder.
Here I am with an annoying fucking head cold again. Its so ridiculous that something so silly can knock you on your ass. Sore throat, cough, crap in my chest,  headache, stiff neck, fatigue, just feel poopy. Nothing life threatening just annoying as hell. My damn immune system is a bitch. More than sad Im just PISSED. I have a BIG, important hike to do next week. I have shit to do. I was planning to squeeze in climbing a 14er before Beachbody Summit and there’s a new crag I want to climb. I have goals to “lead climb” this summer. But my damn “colds” take twice as long to recover from than people with normal immune systems.
My friends and family tell me to rest. Slow down. I love you. I do. And Im trying. But on my last visit to my doctor we had this conversation…..
Me: I can’t move my neck, my body aches, Im tired, and I know I look like total ass right now but please don’t tell me I can’t do this shit anymore.
Her: You are who you are. Do not ever change that. Rest when you need to. Be careful. But climb, go, camp, run, do…as long as you can. Its who you are. Besides….even if I told you not to Im pretty sure you’d do it anyway. Go live your life. Then come here, Ill patch you up, and you can go again.
Like I said- she’s pretty bad ass.
Im tired. And sick. And feel yucky. But try to understand that since my Dad died I live by the motto that someday I’ll go down and wont get back up. So until then…I’ll keep getting back up. I may be slow, it may take more time, I may cuss my immune system, but while I CAN, I WILL. I don’t really see an alternative to that.
Im gonna go take a nap now. And swallow some cold medicine. And be grateful I know I will get up again soon and go, go, go. Because I can. Big hike SOON! Very grateful and excited for that.
I may push my body past the point she really needs to be pushed. But I’d rather cross a line and KNOW how far I can go than look at the line from behind and wonder if I could’ve…..
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YOU DO NOT HAVE TIME

If I could go back to the first week of August 2006 I would’ve stayed longer. I wouldn’t have rushed away because the kids were gripy. Of all the asinine things in the world I “had” to get to IKEA to look at some shit for the house. And I wanted to be back in time to get the kids to bed at a decent hour. So I didn’t hug him. I didn’t even look back. I said “bye” and that was it. I assumed I would see him after he got back from his trip to Colorado. Like I always did. He always rode that bike far away and always came back. Always. Only not this time.
If I could go back to 2002 I would’ve visited Dallas one more time from Tyler where we were living. Andy was an infant and I had a 2 year old and never slept and the world seemed to be feeding kids, giving baths changing diapers and griping about my lack of sleep. And so when Pawpa passed I couldn’t quite forgive myself for not going back one last time to see him. I never get to go back.
If I could go back to 1999 when I found out I was pregnant for the 4th time I wouldn’t have panicked. I would’ve taken a deep breath and soaked in the joy of that moment. After so many miscarriages I was unable to enjoy one moment of my pregnancy with Maddie. All I did was worry. And panic. And I can’t get those 9 months back.
If I could go back to November 1996…I would still say yes. And know that even though it may not end the way I thought it would…it would bring me 2 children and a world of memories I wouldn’t trade for anything.
If I could go back to 1989 I would GO to my grandparents lake house one more time. I was too cool by then. Too teen-agery. Too wrapped up in myself. Grandad would get Parkinson’s eventually. And I would spend many years looking at a man in a body that wasn’t the man that taught me to fish on that dock at that lake house. I’d fish longer. And one more time. With him.
When my kids walk out the door I hug them. Hard. And long. When I think about my sister I call her. When my house is dirty I still ask my friends in. When I get asked to sleep in a field to watch the total solar eclipse I say yes. When I get my grandmother’s inheritance I buy some land. And move to a mountain.
You THINK you have time. You think.
I am researching photographers to do Maddie’s senior pictures and setting up tour dates for college campuses for her. I just walked her down the hall to her first day of Kindergarten. Just now. Only it wasn’t just now. Time is this crazy amazing thing. This gift we are given. It can seem endless and dark and last forever when we are grieving. It flies like lightening when we are trying to slow it down.
There’s times Im REALLY tired. And I don’t want to sit up and watch BMX bike documentaries with Andy. I do anyway. There’s times I don’t really feel like going rock climbing. I do anyway. There’s times I’d rather nap than go to one of Maddie’s 4 million activities. I go anyway. And you know what? I’ve never ever ever ever regretted any of those things.
You get one shot. One trip around. One chance to be a parent. One chance to be a wife, a friend, a girlfriend, a teacher, a learner, a giver, a loner, a dreamer. One chance to be alive. Live it. Love it. Say yes. DO more. Be more. Be kind. Leap without looking. Take more pictures. Laugh more. Share more. Call your friend. Hug your kid. Buy the land…..because not a day goes by that I don’t regret not turning around in that driveway and saying “fuck it I’ll go to IKEA tomorrow”. And sitting in a lawn chair and having one more beer.
“I’ve had some time to think about you
And watch the sun sink like a stone
I’ve had some time to think about you
On the long ride home”
        Patty Griffin, ‘Long Ride Home’
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I JOINED A MENOPAUSE SUPPORT GROUP- AND OTHER WEIRD SHIT

Two months ago I went to the lady doctor for my yearly check up. I had been experiencing some symptoms so I told her about them. I had (obviously) googled the symptoms and self diagnosed myself with Ebola but I figured I should check with a professional just in case. This bitch looked at me and said “oh…you’ve entered menopause”. To which I said “uummmm WHAT” then turned around to see why she was speaking to my Mom who clearly wasn’t there (sorry Karen). I’d like to say I handled the news well. Id like to say I was mature about it. Id like to say I didn’t cuss at my doctor……I’d also like my little boobs to be 3 inches north of where they are now….but…..life aint all roses and rainbows.

Im about to tell you a story that is literally TMI. Turn away. Stop reading. If you ever wanted to look at me with dignity again please.
Ok when I was 13 years old at North Carrollton Junior High on Valentines Day of 1985 I started my period. In white pants. Yes. Im serious. I went to the nurse’s office and she started calling my Mom (who was in college classes at the time), my Dad (who was on the road as a truck driver), and then…..my Nanny (who was at work at the library). But guess who answered? Yep- my grandfather. He’d recently retired as an air traffic controller at DFW. He answered questions “affirmative” or “negative”. He had a bumper sticker that said “Burn the judges, save the flag”. He was ex military. And as I sat on that chair in someone else’s too big gym shorts (a donation to the clothing bin for kids who had “accidents”) I heard the nurse say “Ok Mr. Ellis we will see you soon.” And I felt my entire body crawl into a fetal position and just want to disappear. I hated my Mom for being in college at that moment. I hated my Dad for being on the road. I hated my Nanny for working. And I hated God for making me a girl.
Pawpa was amazing. He took me home. He asked very few questions. He told me to take aspirin and get a heating pad. And we never spoke of this again. EVER. Good man. Im sure he has some deep secret military secrets buried with him. None of those were as important as this one.
The second my doctor told me I was entering menopause I had a flashback to that day I started my period for the first time. It seems like a million years ago. A different lifetime. And yet it seems like yesterday. I finished having children at age 29. I have wanted my monthly cycle to go away ever since then. But like clockwork…every 25 days she showed up. Proving I was still female. Still able to get pregnant. Still fertile. Still bitchy. I’d done NOTHING but wish her away for years. And now my doctor tells me that time is coming. And Im sitting with that news. And not really sure how I feel.
Dont get me wrong- Im elated about the good side of this. No worries about planning vacations, cramps, packing Midol and lady products.
On the other hand- my memories on FB keep popping up and 2 years ago this week I was in INCREDIBLE shape. I was eating whatever the fuck I really wanted, working out a LOT and feeling great. My body does not look like that today. It was one of the first symptoms I noticed- weight gain. I was still working out a lot but my body wasn’t really responding the same. I can’t really sleep all night some weeks. I sweat…at night…a LOT! Im extremely moody (fuck off yes there’s a difference). I have these strange headaches I never had before. I have awful vertigo at times. And a list of other pretty unpleasant symptoms. But its not cancer. Its not Brain Rot. Its not anything severe. Its fucking menopause. I was 44 and looked good and felt good and slept well and had muscle definition and one day I woke up and didn’t.
I do have mixed feelings about all of this. The support group I joined has been amazing. You feel so “normal” when you realize other women are going through the same things. I miss my taught skin, my toned muscles, my lack of serial killer type mood swings, my ability to eat whatever the hell I want. But my tubes were tied 16 years ago. Ive known I couldn’t have kids anymore for a long time. So Im not really mourning the loss of that idea. Im not sure WHAT Im mourning. Or if Im mourning.
Honestly- today I feel like celebrating. The doctor told me menopause might last 5-8 years. Awesome. Im sure Dude is thrilled. Great timing there buddy. But there is just something about getting older I really like. Its not the wrinkly skin, age spots, cellulite, or vision loss. Its honestly nothing physical. Its truly a feeling. I feel so much more peaceful, settled, comfortable with my self, lack of caring what others think. I have less desire for things. In fact, I know less is more. I appreciate my kids as the people they are. Im learning to forgive myself ;). Im learning about love and happiness and letting go and being who I was meant to be and I wear my Nanny’s pearls with jeans and boots and I wear crazy leggings and I dont wash my hair for a week at a time and I don’t feel bad saying NO. All of that comes with age. There’s things I KNOW now that I couldn’t know at 25, 35 or even 40.
45 is technically a tad young to enter menopause according to statistics. But Ive never really been one to follow the rules anyway. Im sure there will be days I cry, feel old, look old, can’t workout as hard, and NOTICE this aging process. And thats ok. I look at this as just another reminder to LIVE. Buy the shoes, eat the cake, travel the world, climb the mountain, zipline the Gorge, write the book, and say YES. I reserve the right to change my mind about all of this tomorrow and HATE life, my body, my mood, my age, my weight gain, etc. But for today- I am happy. Im currently planning my summer trips which include but are not limited to camping/rock climbing/biking through Moab in May, Indianapolis and girls week in June, possibly a trek through Ouray, a backpacking trip through Wyoming and a ton of other little mini trips.
I am not the same girl I was on Valentine’s Day 1985. Im not the same girl I was on July 6, 2000 and March 7, 2002. Im not the same girl I was when I left Texas 5 years ago. Im not the same girl I was yesterday. I guess now I get to say “woman”. I think Ive earned that.
Grab the adventure by the testicles and GO. GO! And don’t stop. We all are very different in many many ways. But theres one thing we all have in common. You are older today than you were yesterday. And tomorrow is coming……fast. Time is a bitch man…she doesn’t discriminate. So buy the shoes, eat the cake, climb the mountain, backpack across the country, buy the land, build the house, pet the alpaca. And do it NOW.
I’ll CHOOSE to embrace this beautiful change in me. I’ll choose to celebrate that I GET to be a woman. That I GET to wake up each day. That I GET to do the things I want to do. And if that doesn’t pan out….I’ll eat an entire chocolate cake and start again tomorrow.
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Nanny’s Mirror

My Nanny made a lot of my clothes when I was young and continued to hem, alter and “fix” my dresses even through college. She was an amazing seamstress. She had a sewing room in her house with drawers full of material and old Simplicity patterns to make clothes. You know those brown crinkly papers that had lines on them and you just trace and cut the material out and then sew it together? Ya. Those. And right outside her sewing room was a full length mirror on a closet door where all of us stood MANY times to get “pinned”. She would stack 10-12 straight pins in her mouth then get down on the ground and start pinning the hems and waists and sleeves up to where they needed to be. Most often everything was too long and big for us Ellis girls. We are all short. I was so upset that no dress ever fit me off the rack…..I WAS.

So many many times I stood in front of that mirror and picked apart my body for every flaw. I hated being “too short” having “no boobs” and a long face and skinny arms. I would complain sometimes about it all. And Nanny would give my leg a “love tap” or say “oh don’t be silly you look great”. She never fed my ego. She wasn’t one to GUSH and be wordy. To her it was a fact. And she stated it as if it was. “Dont be ridiculous, you are perfect”. It’s as if it wasn’t an opinion when she said it. And you believed it. Of course I am perfect. Its the dress thats off. And Nanny will fix that. She’ll make the dress fit me perfectly. And she always did.
I didn’t realize what a gift she was giving me then. Too young. Too dumb. Too self absorbed. The gift of self esteem and love.
Today I went prom dress shopping with my almost 18 year old daughter. Its hard to even type that. All of those people who told me when they were 5 and 6 and 7 years old to just enjoy every second were right. I hated those people at the time. Messy house, play dough on the walls, refusing to sleep, teething, homework fights, lack of sleep, lack of a life, bags under my eyes, wishing time would pass. And then it did. And here I am. And here she is. She put that first dress on today and walked out to stand in front of the huge mirrors in the store and I had to catch my breath.  I know every Mom thinks their kid is gorgeous. But mine is gorgeous inside and out. And its pretty cool.
And the straps on the dress she chose have to be adjusted a little (Ellis short torso). So for one tiny brief mili-second I thought “Nanny can do it”. And she could. She could and she would. If she were here. I squatted down to look at the bottom of the dress and had about a million flashbacks of Nanny squatting to pin my dresses. And I just kept telling Maddie how beautiful she looked and remembering that Nanny told me that too. And that it MATTERED that she told me that. It MATTERED that she told me I was smart and capable and beautiful. It mattered a lot.
Maybe this is why I get upset when people insult kids or the younger generations. What are you DOING to them, TEACHING them, INSTILLING in them when you speak of their ignorance or inability? That’s on US. Its on US.
I am unbelievably grateful for Nanny, that mirror, and that none of the dresses I ever bought fit me right. Thank GOD they didn’t fit me right. Thank God.
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HAPPY AVERAGE WANDERER

When I was younger I had what you’d call “time restricted focus” (better known as “look squirrel syndrome”). I’d watch the Olympics and decide I was going to be a track star, or a gymnast. So Id commit hard core to running, training, eating well, tumbling class and stretching. For 3 solid weeks. Then I was going to be a Psychologist like Bob Hartley on the Bob Newhart Show so I majored in Psychology with big plans to open a high rise office in Manhattan. Until Psych Stats came along. Wasn’t so gung ho then. I was going to be a drummer- yep- no shit. I looked into drum lessons, became obsessed with Tommy Lee, watched videos and technique and planned on an all chick band. Until I saw something shinier. Accepting that you are a wanderer, not particularly interested in becoming #1 at anything is hard to admit.

Being around some world class climbing this past weekend and some AMAZINGLY talented and skilled rock climbers kind of stirred some emotions in me. I would sit and listen to them discuss how they spend 4 days a week in the climbing gym, do tons of yoga and trek to the mountains every single weekend to perfect, fine tune, and advance their climbing. Jesus, I thought….Im a fucking lazy ass unfocused scatter brain. I don’t know that Ive ever felt 100% passionate about one particular thing and perfecting it in my entire life. Does that mean Im “goal-less”, have no purpose, no end game, no destination? Shit. Im 45. I better figure this shit out.
I even talked to Dude about it on the long hike back to the car after all weekend climbing and camping. I started thinking about my weekends. I’ve been to many high school football games to watch my kid cheer on the sidelines. Ive sat on soccer field bleachers so many times watching Andy play I can’t count. I’ve hiked amazing mountains with my girlfriends. I’ve tried snow shoeing on a Saturday. I went to Punta Cana and Cabo and Vegas and New Orleans and Nashville with friends on weekends. I laid on my couch and watched a marathon of “Cops” on a Saturday. I stood front row at a Zac Brown concert on a Saturday. I took my daughter shopping for a Homecoming dress on several Saturdays. I rode bikes with my son in the mountains one Saturday. I went zip lining on a weekend. I spent a weekend backpacking through Wyoming once on a weekend. I snuck off to a little bar and watched Charlie Robison play and had more vodka than I should’ve on a Saturday.
Ive spent Saturdays and Sundays at car shows, hiking, brunching at The Broadmoor, watching football, at a gay pride parade, at cheer competitions, at Beachbody events, at bars, at beaches, in the mountains, canoeing, paddle boarding, horse back riding, rafting the Grand Canyon, climbing Pikes Peak, at jump world on a trampoline, shopping in a mall, visiting my grandmother, drinking a beer in a cemetery with Dad, playing board games with my kids, sitting in lawn chairs with my Dad, watching an eclipse in a field, riding a shovel behind a horse, at a few crawfish boils, dressed in a tutu eating donuts at a “race” with my girlfriends, petting alpacas, touring Aspen, watching movies and reading in a hammock. And I don’t fucking regret one single bit of it.
I have a list of a bazillion things I still wanna do. So many things. And at the age of 45 I know my gypsy heart enough to know its really really really ok to not be exceptional at ONE thing. To have wanderlust and crave new adventures and new scenery and new. New. New. New. Different. I may be just AVERAGE at all of the things I do….but God Dammit- I do a LOT of things. And THAT is everything.
It has never EVER been about the end game, the goal, the destination…..it has ALWAYS been about the journey…..ALWAYS. And you get one, ONE fucking journey….make the most of it!
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121 More Miles & A Year

On April 28, 2017 my dear friend lost her 11 year old son, Carson. He took his own life. And I’ll never forget the call she made to me to tell me. There is nothing anyone will ever say to convince me there is something worse than losing a child. Their pain was unspeakable. And my helplessness felt overwhelming. He was 11. 11. And I couldn’t quite grasp it all. So I hiked. Forest Gump style. I decided to start walking through the mountains and trails here in Colorado. I hiked 11 miles a day for 11 days in a row. 121 miles. And I didn’t really know why.

 

I needed to get someone’s attention maybe. Shout out that its not ok. Walk for his Mom metaphorically when she couldn’t. I needed to hurt a little. Physically. I needed to think about my own personal life at that time and MANY hours a day alone on a trail allows for a lot of thinking. It was VERY VERY VERY hard. I had horrific blisters, hip pain that made me cry, cramps in my legs and it rained on me several days. But NOTHING I went through compared to what April, Jason and their other two sons have endured this past year. And will endure forever.

 

That stupid year mark is coming up. I can’t help but think of April. My heart hurts. And hiking yesterday alone I had a thought…….last year I hiked just to hike. 121 miles just to honor Carson. What if those miles actually made a difference? You know- Im all “thoughts and prayers are great but don’t actually do anything…..lets get some action.” So maybe I should put my money where my mouth is. Literally. And so the dumbest, scariest, greatest idea came to me…..

 

April & Jason created a non profit organization in Carson’s name to help other families grieving in the days just following a tragic loss as well as helping with resources to continue dealing with the tragedy for the rest of their lives. That non profit is called Carson’s Village and I’ll add the link at the bottom of this blog. Its a great resource and site that I hope you will never need.

 

Maybe my walk could have a purpose? Maybe my miles could raise some money that will actually go directly to Carson’s Village and help fund resources, presentations, counselors, funeral arrangements, pictures of your loved one, and other things these grieving families need during a time that they shouldn’t and can’t think of doing anything but grieving.

 

My Rheumatoid Arthritis says no. My 45 year old hips say no. My severe neck pain says no. My brain says no. I literally had a devil and angel on my shoulder hiking yesterday arguing over me doing this hike again. So obviously I came straight home and got in touch with April. And asked some questions. Im just that rebel ass that you can say no to all day long and Ill still do it. So…..thinking, planning, deciding which friends to recruit, planning for weather, massages, pain meds, new hiking shoes, and perhaps a body double. LOL. Im scared shitless. Im worried I can’t. My body is not tip top right now. 121 miles is a long fucking way…..but not nearly as far as the journey April is traveling. If you pray- please do. If you send good vibes- I need them. If you wanna push some good Karma my way- Id appreciate it. Decisions to be made.

More to come.

carsonsvillage.org

 

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ANDY

Before I gave birth to Maddie I had SEVERAL miscarriages. Several. Some pretty early on at 11 or 12 weeks. Some VERY late term. One at 20 weeks. Infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss are pretty devastating. That’s an entirely different blog I guess. But when the doctors discovered I had a blood clotting disorder I was given blood thinners while pregnant with Maddie and had a healthy 7 pound 6 ounce baby girl. We thought we were done. Lucky enough to have a healthy baby I was content to have an only child. Blessed, grateful, relieved and happy to be a Mom.

Just after we celebrated Maddie’s 1st birthday I felt funny. I knew something was up. I took a pregnancy test and wow—pregnant! I sat in my bathroom floor and cried because I was tired. I wasn’t sleeping much with a 1 year old. And I knew that another miscarriage would do me in physically and emotionally. The doctor was great and started me on blood thinners immediately. I was pessimistic I have to admit. With my history I assumed another death would come and I’d mourn yet another child. Somehow 37 weeks passed and the doctor said “he’s a biggun’- we need to induce”. “WHAT?” I seriously could not believe I was going to have a second child. I had completely convinced myself you wouldn’t be born. That tragedy would come again.
Almost 20 hours of labor and trying my damnedest to get you out didn’t work. C-Section it was. And when I saw your big head and your 9 pound healthy body I knew a C-Section was the best decision. I also knew that sometimes we can plan and think we know how things will go and have a vision of what our life will look like and fate or God or whatever you believe in laughs and says “hold my beer”.
Andrew Ellis Nugent you were a HUGE surprise and blessing and have tested my patience, my wallet, my everything. You make me crazy at times. You taught me that we are not all round. We don’t all fit in the box. You can expect only the unexpected. And being your OWN person is a beautiful thing. You don’t do things the “normal” way. You are funny, creative, artistic, sarcastic, short tempered, opinionated and hard headed. You are smart. And you hug me. And that means a lot to me.
A lot of people told me to force you in regular school, punish you more, be stricter, medicate more, press harder……I knew. I knew in my heart what you really needed and what wouldn’t work. Im your Mom. And sometimes you don’t need to listen to all the crap. You need to listen to your heart. You are not your sister. Thank God. The world can’t handle two of her. She’s a hurricane with some sass and a lot of intelligence and so driven I don’t think a train could stop her. You are beautifully street smart and witty and quick. You have a heart thats HUGE. You are more quiet and unassuming (except for the sled down the stairs at school). And I love you.
You can do and be and create anything is this world that you want to. On your OWN time. In your OWN way. I hope Ive maybe taught you a few things. Maybe some of value and not just all the lyrics to “Straight Outta Compton”. But I know you have taught me more than I could’ve ever thought. That ride we took to the land recently, just you and me, it was cool. And the fact that you asked if you could bring your own music and play it made me happy. Then you played that music. And it was a newer rap artist of course. And he spoke of equality and fairness and mistreatment and how to overcome and you explained to me how you’d researched him and he had a tough childhood and had persevered and he fought against hatred and bigotry and prejudice with his words. And I cried. Under my sunglasses. Because there comes a point where a Mom who’s worried desperately for years and lost sleep because her “ADHD, misbehaved, aggressive kid” kept her wondering if he’d be ok, stops and realizes, on a back Colorado road, that he will be MORE than ok.
You are everything you need to be. You make me more proud than I can explain. Sprinting through school on the Honor Roll when you’re a brainiac who studies and has no obstacles is great, I guess. But compassion and kindness and street smarts and “getting it” in the face of some challenges and none of it coming easy….is absolutely beautiful. Happy 16th Andy. Im so lucky to have a son….and to be your Mom.
P.S. The sled prank was freaking hilarious 😉
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FENCES & BAD DAYS

When I was young my favorite tv show was “Little House on the Prairie”. The idea of a small house that was used only for sleeping and eating fascinated me. They spent most of their days outside. I wanted to be outside. And they didn’t have a fence. No fence. When you grow up in the middle class suburbs in the 1980s in Texas you have a fence. I don’t think Id ever seen a house without a fence. The very idea that you can just have your house OUT there…in the middle of a field with nothing separating it from the wild….what a concept.

Some fences serve a very good purpose. For animals. They keep livestock in place for their owners. They keep dogs from running away. They sometimes protect buildings from break ins. They surround prisons to keep bad people inside. I guess they are relevant in certain circumstances. I am claustrophobic. I don’t love feeling contained or trapped or kept. Its a physical thing…and an emotional thing. When I see birds in cages or tigers at the zoo all I can think of is how to open the door for them. I don’t like fences. They are there to keep people in. Or people out. And I don’t like that.
There’s some metaphorical bullshit here Im sure. The idea of a traditional marriage. A suburban house, 2.5 kids, a white picket fence and dog comes to mind. I tried. And the very best two things Ive ever done in my entire life, or ever WILL do, is those 2 kids I have. No comparison. Nothing I ever do will top having children. And I suppose along with having children I assumed the house, fence, dog, Sunday church, PTA and scrap booking came with it. Not that there’s a damn thing wrong with any of that. In fact- normal people are happy with these things. So when the thought of a fence and a mortgage and a craft day gives you hives——you start to wonder why you aren’t so normal.
My kids can deposit money in a bank. They can take a car to get its oil changed. They can order pizza and write a check and they are funny and smart and quick witted and could survive on their own with no problem. I wasn’t the best Mom. I didn’t do crafts. I didn’t bake a lot of cookies. I didn’t play Baby Einstein in a mini van. I listened to hard core gangster rap, cussed a lot, let them watch Fear Factor, pranked them with saran wrap on the toilet, stole their Halloween candy and took them to concerts. I taught them to jump fences, question authority, speak up, say NO to things, protect their bodies with a fierceness, love animals, do the right thing even when no one agrees with you and turn music up very loud. I didn’t do perfect. And somehow- these two people that came out of me turned out ok. Better than ok. Much better than ok. Much better than me. And THAT is everything. So take THAT traditional parenting.
This week has been a tad rough. Shit- the past 2 years have been a tad rough. And the guilt and shame and grief came to a head on Monday. I don’t need to share details. I need to say that shame and guilt SUCK. And we all feel it. And we all feel we’ve failed at certain things. Marriage, parenting, work, eyebrow sculpting, whatever the fuck. We’ve all done some days shitty. And some days great. And some day just meh. And Monday was the shittiest of the shittiest of the shitty. And I think I cried more tears than I have in a very long time. And maybe I needed to. Cleanse.
I am NOT a perfect Mom. Far from it. I am NOT a perfect friend. Far from it. I am NOT a perfect person. VERY far from it. And sometimes the guilt and shame and pain is overwhelming. Ive been through a lot. And I cringe as I write that because Im healthy and I have my kids and I don’t really have jack shit to complain about.
I am slowly, slowly, but surely accepting that I am who I am. I didn’t fit a mold I tried so hard to fit. And its really really really ok. I sucked at some things. I excelled at some things. I got some things very wrong. And I got some things VERY VERY right. I don’t want a house in the suburbs, or a mini van, or a mortgage, or a fancy couch, or a membership at a country club, or a need to ever wear a pantsuit. I want a quaint little place on a prairie in the mountains that has functional heat and furniture to sleep on and food to eat. I want to travel, and go, and see, and do. I want to climb things and sleep outside and have no cell service. I want to wake up and drink coffee on my porch and see no one for miles…except the bison. I want no schedule, no watch, no place to be. I want a hammock and a book and a ball cap on. And I want to be ok with allllllll of that………and I don’t ever, ever, ever, want a fence.

“I think that one of these days,” he said, “you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there. But immediately. You can’t afford to lose a minute. Not you.”

        J. D. Salinger, “The Catcher in the Rye”
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CHANGE STARTS WITH ME

I could go on some rant about my beliefs on gun control but honest to God-will that change your mind on anything? Nope. They are MY values. And Im sure you all know how I feel. If you’re over a certain age and grew up in the South its generally true that God and guns were a part of your upbringing. Kinda weird if you ask me but ok. I definitely do NOT have answers to the awful things happening now. Definitely don’t. So this wont be “that” kind of blog because how unbelievably disrespectful is it to scream about MY rights and MY beliefs when there are parents burying babies today. When your first thought is YOU after someone’s tragic death….theres a problem.

There’s some things I know….compromise no longer exists and that makes me very sad. Very sad. Although my daughter assures me her generation will do better. And I believe her. I truly do. Hypocrisy is at an all time high- and people don’t even realize how hypocritical they are being sometimes. Science is amazing. Try it. Its a field of study that has nothing to do with opinions or “your way”. It just IS. Its science. And its amazing. Name calling is sad. And immature. And we all need to stop it. Im sad. And tired of it all. And so glad I live where I live. I think because Colorado is so conducive to outdoor activities that we don’t spend our entire days in front of a computer yelling at people afar who don’t agree with us. Id much rather be outside climbing a rock or a mountain than yelling at Tim from 2nd grade that’s a racist. Time will take care of Tim. And the outside will take care of me.
I spent 8 hours outside yesterday climbing rocks. It was one of my better days. My physical body is healing and I felt good. My heart needed the mountain air. My climbing is becoming more technical and thought out and a little less “cuss and scream to the top in a panic”. Progress people. Garden of the Gods is a very public place and FULL of tourists constantly. So you REALLY have to stay in your bubble so as not to let the crowds’ words and noises interfere with your concentration. At one point I stopped mid climb to rest a second  and I couldn’t help but hear a kid in the large crowd ask his Dad as he watched me “Is she going to die, Daddy?” His Dad replied that I had the right safety equipment and helmet and ropes and people with knowledge around so I would be fine. And I thought “but I am going to die.” We all are, you know. And we don’t get to know when…most of us. Or how.
And you could spend your day in front of a computer name calling and screaming about YOUR rights and YOUR beliefs and how everyone should think YOUR way. Or you could walk away from the computer and go outside. And climb a rock. Or go for a walk. Or dance in your living room. Or say something KIND on Facebook. Or do a good deed today. I am completely guilty of getting wrapped up in Facebook debates. I admit it. But there is NOTHING you will ever say that will change the basic core values I hold. I cannot even tell you how many times I see people post “facts” and “stats” that are anything but.
My parents taught me to stand up for what I KNOW to be wrong. So I will never stop doing that. I will never stop fighting for what I know in my heart is the right thing to do. And I look at my daughter who is fiercely smart and KNOW that her generation will do better. Be better. I have to know that.
I will continue to support organizations that fight for things I believe in. That take action against injustice. But what I CANNOT do is partake in FB arguments or mindless name calling. I whole heartedly support your right to do so, though. I do believe my energy is better spent LIVING, LOVING, and helping people get physically and mentally healthy.
I hung on that rock yesterday and teared up. Some fear, some happiness, some sadness. I told Dude I wanted to come down and the crux was too hard to pass. He knew enough not speak (LOL). I hung there, regrouped, and decided “fuck it Im going all the way”. There’s some kids that will NEVER get to climb a rock. I made it over the hard part and to the top. But I definitely thought about quitting.  There’s ONE THING we all have in common. We are ALL going to die. No matter what security measures you take, what kind of healthy life you live, what helmet you wear, or what knowledgable people you surround yourself with. You cannot stop death. But what you CAN do…is LIVE every second of every day as beautifully and lovingly as you can. Are the words coming out of your mouth supportive and loving and helping someone? I need to check myself. Re center. And know that my purpose is to help others. Not berate them. Or their beliefs. If every word that came out of my mouth was the last that person would hear…..is it WHAT I wanted to say?
So I will climb rocks until I can’t. I will write. I will build a home and take care of my land and love my kids and love my life and my friends. I will explore every inch of the planet I can. I will do scary, hard things. I will pet alpacas and snow shoe and travel and laugh and cry and play very loud music and not have to justify any of it to anyone. Life is very short in the grand scheme of things. The Earth is 4.54 BILLION years old. You get about 80 of those years. Whatcha going to do with them?
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AND ALWAYS ONE MORE TIME

Valentine’s Day is kinda dumb. It sucks for some people. For those in relationships they feel some unneeded pressure to buy some extravagent gift for their significant other or make reservations at some fancy restaurant and get dressed up and go eat food with fancy creams. I’ve never really been big on fancy restaurants or big diamonds. In fact- my perfect date for ANY day on the calendar includes hiking shoes, hot dogs, staring at the stars and some damn good music playing. Just not one of “those girls” in that way I guess. Dont get me wrong- I like flowers and crap….but I’d rather be at a football game than a restaurant. I’d rather be on a mountain making out than a hotel or restaurant. I’d rather be in a t-shirt and jeans and a ball cap than a ball gown.

But any Holiday- as cheesy as it may be- that celebrates LOVE….cant be all that bad.

There’s all kinds of love. The love you have for your parents is probably the first you feel. And then there’s the first love. So much I could say about that….but we all know what it is. And there’s really nothing ever again just like it. There’s the love that breaks your heart in half and leaves it never ever the same. There’s the love for your children. There’s the love for your grandchildren. There’s the love you have for your best friends…thats a doozy! There’s the love you find (eventually) for yourself. I think perhaps that might be the most important love you ever have.
 I’d say I learned recently that loving myself was ok. More than ok. Im not SUPER traditional but I truly admire those couples that have been together for 50 years and are each others’ only loves. How wonderful and sweet and amazing. I can be sad that I wont have that 50th Anniversary. Or- I can look back and be so unbelievable grateful that I knew some GREAT loves that were incredibly special in my life. For the time that they occupied in my heart- I am thankful. I learned a lot from each one.
I have a pretty amazing Dude in my life now. He wrote me the most amazing card with beautiful WORDS….my favorite thing. He is almost 52. I am 45. That ship where you’re 23 and fall in love with your college sweetheart and get married and never separate and live happily ever after until your 95 in a rocking chair together……has long passed for both of us. We’ve both had some loves. And some relationships. And some lessons. But the coolest fucking thing happens when you start dating at our age. All the bullshit, the games, the jealousy, the silliness, the expectations of perfection….they are just gone. We’ve lived enough to know perfect doesn’t exist. And laughter is absolutely the most important thing there is. We don’t have time for the B.S. anymore. We know how fleeting time it. Besides- we are too busy climbing rocks, backpacking across Wyoming, camping in fields to watch an eclipse, snow shoeing,  ice climbing, and planning our next adventure to have time for nonsense. Life is short- get after it, man. How lucky I am to have someone next to me who “gets me”. Fate knew….
And for those without a “significant other” today. Screw it. Take a hot bath, put on a ton of makeup. Drink some wine. Go out with your girlfriends. Stay in and watch Netflix. Cuddle with your dog. Be grateful you don’t have to share a sink with someone (sorry Dave). Eat ice cream out of a bucket. Watch “Magic Mike”. And know that there aint no one ever that will love you the way you should love yourself. There’s people surrounded by people who feel completely alone. And there’s people alone who aren’t the least bit lonely. You do you.
You can’t fall in love too fast or too slow or too soon or too late or too old or with the wrong person. You just fall when you fall. Let it happen. Never ever be afraid to give love one more chance….and ALWAYS one more chance.
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