Monthly Archives: January 2018

MORE THAN STRINGS & A PIECE OF WOOD

The day I closed on my land was my Grandad’s Birthday. He passed a few years ago from Parkinson’s Disease. I loved him. I miss him. He taught me to fish. He taught me about Jesus. He was the most unbelievably patient, loving, kind man I ever knew. People may think Im so far from my Southern Baptist, “conservative” Texas upbringing. But Im not, really. Its the base of who I am. What I am.

My Grandad was more Christian than any person Ive ever known in my life. Gentle, kind, giving, loving, forgiving. I wish I could be half the person he was. He was a simple man from Arkansas who left home at 15. He never graduated high school. He married my Granny who was the love of his life and raised 3 children. My Mom the oldest. He worked HARD to provide. He loved Jesus. He’d give the shirt off of his back to ANYONE who asked. He wouldn’t question their need, their reasons, their job history, their drug use, their motives. He’d just give. Then give some more. Happily and lovingly and Jesus-like.
He loved his grandchildren so much. Sooooo much. There’s nothing like the love of a grandparent.
Sometimes with today’s current conversation I grow weary of the hearts of others and of myself. Not sure how we got to the point of speaking so unkindly about each other. I’ve certainly been guilty of that. I am ashamed of that. I “walked away” from Christianity and all religion because I didn’t want to be associated with the ugliness and bigotry of it. I think I forgot the beautiful parts of it. The “Grandad” parts of it. Shame on me for that. I like God. I don’t do religion. But I stood on that piece of land Saturday on my Grandad’s birthday, knowing my Grandmother got me there and had a feeling things could change. And I don’t mean just in the world…I mean in me.
And isn’t that where it should begin, anyway.
I love you Grandad. I value the lessons you taught me. I miss your sweet laugh and peaceful demeanor and kindness and your boat and swimming at the lake house and your unending patience. You were more “God-like” than anyone knew, I think. More than I knew. I wish I’d seen it more. I wish Id’ve appreciated it more when you were on Earth.
It might’ve taken 45 years and some change for your lessons to resonate…but I see them now. I love you. Hope the ponds are stocked where you are. I think I get it now.
   “The best thing you’ll ever own is a piece of land”
            ‘A Bible and a 44″
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FOR MADDIE & ANDY: GROWN UP

There are so very very very many things I don’t know. The older you get the more you realize you don’t know a lot. There’s also some things I DO know. And I can tell you them. But truthfully you will not believe them all now. You have to live a life, go through some shit, get old and see some things to find your own truths. So I share these with you. But I know you….YOU will know your truths when you know them.
THINGS I KNOW-
I know I love you two more than anything on this planet. The love a mother has for her children is immeasurable. I know I’ll love you no matter what. There is absolutely nothing you can ever do to change that. I know Im far from perfect. I know things are never as important as experiences. I know love sometimes ISN’T enough to fix everything. Pain is a part of life. You cannot avoid it. Period. Accept that it will come. Soak it in, cry, move forward. Dogs are God’s way of apologizing for shitty people. Always try to have a dog. When you have to choose between new carpet and a vacation….go on the vacation. I know june bugs taste like crap. Dont eat them.
Grandparents are the most precious gift. I was lucky enough to have all 4 of mine well into my 30s. I am sorry you haven’t. Cherish the ones you still have. When they tell a story….LISTEN. Brussel sprouts are not necessary to live. You do not have to try them. You do not have to eat them. Ever. Dont make your kids. Dont be in such a hurry. All the things you are rushing towards will be there when you get there. And if they are not….they were not meant for you. Black coffee is for rockstars. I am no rockstar. I prefer cream. But if you can do strong coffee- you are a rockstar! Go outside. Outside is infinitely better than inside. Always. Beaches cleanse your soul. So do mountains. Find them. Often.
Good friends are rare. If you are lucky you find a few. HOLD on to them. Trust me- you will need them.  Music is LIFE. Play a lot of it. All the time. All the music. Not just the style or genre you like. Listen to it all and don’t be a music snob. Justin Bieber can speak to you just as well as Bob Dylan. Dont let a jackass tell you differently. That boy/girl across the street that you think doesn’t love you as much as you love him/her…….he does. He does. Let that be enough. The knowing. When you get the chance to see elephants- SEE them.
Eat ramen noodles in college. And malt o meal. Pay your rent on time. Dont make your bed everyday. Write. Write it all down. You’ll be glad someday. If you’re scared to do something- do it anyway. Except ice climbing- DONT DO THAT!
Forgive. A lot. Then forgive some more. Forgive yourself. Forgive the ones who hurt you. Forgive your past. FORGIVE. Then forgive again even when you don’t want to. Trust me. The peace it will bring will grow your heart. Family is a word that can mean anything. Friends can be family. Two Dads. Two Moms. One Mom. One Dad. Divorced. Blended. SOCIETY doesn’t define what family is to you. Religion doesn’t either. Love is love. Period. Anyone who tries to tell you how to live your life or who to love is inconsequential. You do YOU.
I know heartbreak hurts. A lot. I know the plans we make for our lives don’t always work out. I know sunshine equals happiness. I know trails less traveled are better. I know religion is not for me. Maybe it will be for you. YOU decide that. The God thing had me all twisted up for years. Im glad I let all of that go. There are some very opinionated people. Im one of them. People always think “their way” is the right way. They are WRONG. I know now- YOUR way is the right way. Put junior mints on your popcorn. Dont eat popcorn plain- its boring. Take a lot of walks. They help. With EVERYTHING surprisingly. Buy the nice shoes. Buy cheaper clothes if you need to but ALWAYS buy the shoes. ALWAYS. Give stuff to people. Share. When you are fortunate to have…GIVE. Then give some more. Until it feels uncomfortable. Then keep giving.
LISTEN. Dont listen to argue your point….just LISTEN. Know that life is VERY VERY gray. There’s a few things that are black and white. Dont hurt others. Dont steal. Dont be mean. Otherwise…..theres a lot of gray. Dont look in mirrors so much. They don’t show you your insides so they are kind of pointless. Dont wash your hair everyday. Its a waste of time. Wear a cute hat. Go to concerts. Live music is church!
When your Grandmother talks to you about a farm she lost as a kid. When she tells you stories about her family and picking cotton and loving the land and her history…LISTEN. So that MANY years later when she passes away and leaves you a little bit of money….you ‘ll know EXACTLY what to do with it. There is a piece of land. That barring no issues I will own by this Friday. When I sign that paperwork you should know what it means. It means I have a home to pass on to you. It means a girl from Dallas who some thought was a dingy blonde cheerleader owns some Earth. On a mountain. It means I can take care of me. It means SHE gets her land back. It means a lot more than I can put into words.
Dance when you can. Even if there’s no music. Save your pennies. They add up. God likes you. Trust me. Just the way you are. If you don’t believe in all of that its really ok. I promise. Love big! Love hard. Trust more. I have issues with trust and it sucks. Just trust.  And if you get hurt….you get hurt. The big ball keeps rotating. Life does not revolve around you. The universe is not rotating to please you. Grab every chance and opportunity you are given. Wait tables- it grows character. Mow a lawn…at least once. Fresh cut grass is pretty fucking cool. Use your “nice” dishes”. Camp. Sleep outside. Stand on the side of the Grand Canyon. Go white water rafting. Say yes to the date – even if you’re not in love with his/her looks. Looks are awesome. A beautiful soul is even better. Trust me on this one. Love each other. Be honest. Be fair.
I loved my Nanny with all my heart and there is no way Ill ever be able to express my gratitude to her for what she gave me. This land can continue to give. To you. To YOUR kids. To THEIR kids. My Dad would be beside himself with how cool it is that Im buying land with money his Mother left me. I talked yesterday of how he’d visit me on his motorcycle if he was here. And we’d ride through those curvy mountain roads. He’d love it. Colorado…finally. And the irony of all of that is that if my Dad was still alive….I wouldn’t have the money to buy the land. I’d trade all the money, all the land, all the plans, all of it….just to have them here. So everyday I will wake up there and see the sunrise, watch the sunset, have friends over, sit on the porch and enjoy the mountains…they will be with me. Dear M & A, ……when in doubt…..HEAD WEST. I’ll always be there.
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FALLING

I don’t think I ever thought I’d write a blog about actually falling on a blog with “Falling” in the title. I fell a lot this past year. I fell a lot. But damn if Im not still standing.

I fell out of a marriage. I fell onto a beach in Punta Cana. I fell on a trail on my 121 mile hiking journey. I fell into a little inheritance from my Nanny that has changed the direction of my life. I fell in rank in my Beachbody gig. I fell into a rental home that symbolizes a lot. I fell in love. I fell out of a cheer coach job I loved. And last Wednesday I fell while rock climbing.
It was what you call a pendulum swing fall. Its just like what it sounds like. I fell but my belayer was not directly below me. He was quite a ways off to my left. So I swung. Like a pendulum. For what felt like 487 miles but Im guessing it was 20 feet. I rolled and bounced off of the face of the rock. The back of my head (helmet) hit the rock a few times. If I hadn’t been wearing the helmet I’d have a nasty bump, possibly a concussion now. As if on auto pilot I straightened my body out once I had my bearings and yelled up to the Dude (who was on top of the rock above me) “Ok what do I do?” I could tell he was a little concerned as to whether I’d continue climbing or say “bring me the fuck down now.” All of this was happening at Garden of the Gods with about 498 million visitors watching me. OK maybe 30 but same thing.
I’d like to say its a common fall. This particular route is prone to falls at this point. Its not the easiest climb. And for CLIMBERS what happened was common, not a big deal, a simple pendulum swing. For me- it was anything but. It scared the ever-loving shit out of me. Once I righted myself I climbed the route. All the way to the top. I knew that if I didn’t I might not climb again for awhile. I knew if I thought too much I’d stop and not be able to finish. So I climbed on. And didn’t say much about it that night.
Two days later I woke up stiff and sore and a little shaky. We were climbing that day. At a place known for tough climbs. I was so tense my neck hurt like Id been stabbed. My shoulders were sore, my head hurt, and I was scared. Not in an outward way. No one really knew. But my insides and my body were in FLIGHT mode. I climbed anyway.
I woke up yesterday so physically spent it felt like I’d been in a car wreck. And I cried and cried and cried. Its funny. When you hang around climbers you begin to think this is a normal sport. That its something everyone does all the time. That climbing 100 feet in the air and hanging by a rope over rock is routine behavior. It is NOT. 1% of the population climbs. There is nothing “normal” about this sport. Its fucking scary as fuck. Its dangerous if you aren’t careful. Its mental for sure. And physical and emotional and frustrating and can get in your head. Its also amazing and cathartic and satisfying and the scenery is unknown to anyone else and its beautiful and every time I touch an anchor I tear up.
Of course that fall was no big deal to some seasoned rock climbers. They’ve been climbing for 6, 7, 8 or more years. I’ve been climbing 6 months. I felt so ashamed of how scared and shaken I was by this event. For a day. Now I don’t. It is NOT normal to be 50 feet up on a rock swinging by a rope and banging into the side of it. Its not. And its ok for me to be spent- emotionally and physically. And its ok that it scared the fuck out of me. Its ok that I cried. And honestly- it would be ok if I chose to NEVER ever climb again……but I wont.
When my marriage ended I thought Id never give love another chance. When I fell on that 121 mile hike I wanted to quit. When I had the opportunity to move up to a mountain I almost chickened out…..because its hard. Its all hard and scary and exhausting and falling hurts. Falling hurts a lot. It hurts your body and soul and heart.
But I’ve chosen to love again. Ive chosen to chase a dream into the mountains. Ive chosen to keep hiking. Ive chosen to keep climbing. Because getting to the end of your life scar-less, with no bruises or bumps, no wrinkles, no pain….also means getting to the end of your life with no life. And that is not ok. Always give love one more chance….and always one more. Keep hiking, keep climbing, keep falling…..and keep getting up. Because it aint at all about the fall….and it feels good to know that.
Thank you 2017.
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