But Doctor, I have THINGS TO DO!

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Oh what a year! This time of year I start to get a bit nostalgic, reminiscing on the nearly 365 days of 2015; what went well, what didn’t go so well, what did I accomplish and what’s still to do!

This reflection can come in many forms but for this purpose I am focusing on my bucket list only. The theme of this year was how the hell did I get here? I pondered this question from my living room couch for the better part of 6 months as I worked through the frustrations of one health challenge (not crisis thank God) after another.

Being the health conscious mom that I am, I dutifully got my flu shot last December but managed to come down with influenza the day after Christmas while we were traveling out of state to visit family. I trudged through the weekend after Christmas feeling like a freight train was dragging me down the tracks only to discover that four days later, by the time we got home and I got to the doctor, I had developed bronchitis. Ok, not good but not the end of the world. Except, everything I do I managed to do it BIG and within four more days my influenza had triggered an acute appendicitis and I found myself being wheeled in for surgery at 7:30 pm on Saturday night Jan. 2, not what I had been hoping for to ring in the new year!

Again, not the end of the world, but really? Should have bought a lottery ticket, I mean who gets an appendicitis from influenza? Well, the sad saga wasn’t over just yet. After surgery I came home to rest and recover when things took yet another turn for the worse, soon I was dealing with an uncontrollable cough that felt like it was ripping my insides out and tearing my fresh appendix stitches apart. On that magic number, four days later, I was back at the doctor in tears when he explained I now had pneumonia. Yup, I was four for four and it was only days into the new year. At this point I started really wondering “how the hell did I get here?”

It took a lot longer to recover than I cared to commit too or admit but eventually by mid-March I was pretty much feeling like myself with enough energy to have a normal day. I started making plans! I had much to do!

Life was great until April 13, when another series of unfortunate events lead to yet another “how the hell did I get here” moment when I broke my foot late one night. I can’t even pretend it was dramatic or exciting or that I was off on some grand adventure when faced with my misfortune. No, I can only confess to the lamest story of the year. I managed to break my foot getting out of bed to go to the bathroom. I realize that makes me sound like I am 100 years old but if you want the truth there it is. I am big on transparency. I tried making up some more exciting tales and posted a few as a joke on Facebook but the cold hard truth is pretty bland.

At the ER I was convinced it was just a bad sprain and tried to argue to the white-haired physician who came back to report to me. He said, “well, it is broken, in fact, I would have to use the words “shattered” to describe it actually.”

I blinked back at him in total disbelief. I said, “You have got to be joking” when at last I could actually form words. How the hell could I shatter my foot getting out of bed to go to the bathroom?

No, he wasn’t joking. Two weeks with my foot in a boot elevated on the couch while I waited for the swelling to go down, then surgery to stabilize with a plate and screws, another two weeks in the boot elevated on the couch while I let the incision heal enough for a cast. Six weeks in cast with zero weight bearing, elevated etc. Then, two weeks back in a boot, nonweight-bearing before I finally got to two weeks in the boot with weight bearing. It felt like an eternity and the entire time I sat here thinking the same thought, “How the hell did I get here?”

I try to learn a lesson about myself with each new adventure, the lesson I learned throughout all of this is that I am a terrible patient. When I was sick, I was so sick I didn’t care about what was or wasn’t going on around me, but when I was recovering from my broken foot I felt fine, I just couldn’t do anything and it was extremely humbling. I have an entire new respect for the value of my feet!

When I first met my orthopedic surgeon in April I asked him about hiking to the top of a Colorado mountain the end of July. I wanted to make sure he knew I had big plans and that I needed him to get on board so he had me all healed up in time for my Empower Your Estrogen Adventure scheduled for the last weekend in July. He looked at me for a second trying to access if I was actually serious. Then he said “no.” In fact, he actually said “no way.”

If nothing else, I guess I am stubborn because I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. I tried again and explained the urgency of this. I had this trip all planned and there was no way to delay it. I tried bargaining with him, “what if I was the best patient you have ever had?” I pleaded.

At first he stuck with his no, but after weeks of proving to him I really was a good patient, I eventually proved him wrong and the impossible finally became possible. I still can’t believe I managed to do it, but July 7 I got his ok to take the boot off and try actually walking on my foot. Three weeks later, with his approval, I hiked 7 miles round trip up a mountain to 13,500 elevation for the sweetest hike ever. In full disclosure, yes, it hurt, yes, it was swollen like a football, and yes, I was in total couch potato shape so I was ridiculously slow, but I did it, and to me that was all that mattered.

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This was never on the list of things to do in life bucket list style, but in reflection, it was a pretty monumental adventure all around and I am proud that I recovered 100%, now have total clearance to do whatever I want on my foot I am thrilled I was able to hike that darn mountain in July!

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Getting the Hang of Hanging out in a Tree

Getting the Hang of Hanging out in a Tree

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Last year I had the misfortune to break my foot and I spent a long, depressing and lonely 3 months sitting in my Lazy Boy with my leg elevated in a cast trying to heal. When my young Orthopedic Surgeon first told me I was going to have to keep my leg elevated in order to heal, I remember looking at him in disbelief and asking him, in all sincerity, I must add, “well, what CAN I do?” and his earnest answer delivered with just the slightest hint of a smirk, “well, you can do anything you want as long as your leg is elevated.” Ya, right, junior. The fact is, you can’t do much of anything in that position other than read, watch TV and research grand bucket list adventures on the Internet. Guess which one held my attention the best for the next 12 long weeks?

Yes, you guessed correctly. I researched and researched away. My fingers clicking furiously over the keys of my trusty but old laptop computer, and boy did I find some cool but obscure stuff out there!

I stumbled upon a website called Vertical Voyages and discovered that right here in my great state an outfitter existed that taught you how to climb vertically up into the branches of a mature and stately live old tree. The technique sounded a lot like rock climbing and upon further research I learned the owner was in fact, originally a science teacher and rock-climbing guide who had branched out, pardon the pun, into climbing trees. He now had a successful business teaching people how to do this using a rope technique he had designed and modified. In one of his adventure classes, he could get you up 50-70 feet in a mature tree suspended from one of the tree branches.

I was hooked and totally intrigued. I needed to try this! This had to go on my bucket list!

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After months of waiting and healing and physical therapy and exercise I was ready to take this adventure on.

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The process of climbing was awkward at first, but not really physically demanding. You were outfitted with a seat harness or saddle and secured in carefully in a harness. Then you had to master the art of tree climbing with ropes, a system where you sat in the saddle, lifted one leg up maybe chest high and put it in a looped rope and then stood up on that foot. Then you pushed a special knot up as far as your hands would reach and sat back down in the saddle and repeated the process, basically inching your way up the tree in this fashion. It was awkward at first and you felt like you expended a lot of energy and got nowhere, but after a few minutes the process seemed to smooth out and you realized you actually were making progress.

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My first thoughts were that this was going to take forever to get way up in the tree but part of the experience of having new adventures is practicing the art of patience. After several more minutes of attempting to climb, I paused for a rest and surveyed my progress. I was about 12-15 feet up and had, in fact, actually made pretty good progress, although my view didn’t feel all that impressive yet, it dawned on me I was getting the hang of hanging out in the tree!

Back to work, I dug deep and worked to improve my technique, remembering to breathe along the way and hold my core strong, this helped tremendously and 20 minutes or so later I was a solid 50 feet up in the canopy of this really cool old White Oak tree.

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Others around me were in various stages of progress, some were as far up as their rope would allow them to go. Others had been able to reach over to one of the huge branches and were perched there like a Robin taking in the sights, others still were already on their way down ready to conquer another tree. Me? Well I discovered that for me being up in the canopy of a beautiful old tree had magical qualities to it. I just wanted to hang there and well, kind of speak to the tree. I know, that sounds a bit corny and more than a little bit quirky, but honestly, that’s how I felt. It was like the tree was alive and talking quietly to me. My senses were ultra alert. I could smell the earthiness of the tree. The leaves sashaying in the slight breeze almost sounded like they were playing a soft instrument, mapping out a calming tune that I just couldn’t quite match with my own breath.

I just sat there in my saddle and harness and hung out, it’s that simple. I felt very at home and at peace. I wondered if this is what it felt like to be a bird or a monkey. Suddenly I envied Tarzan and yearned for a tree house where I could sleep and watch the stars twinkling between the leaves singing me to sleep.

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When it was finally time to descend and return back to earth I looked up at the spot where I had been and I realized I liked the view from up above far more than the view from below. Now, everywhere I go I notice huge old mature trees and I see a quiet beauty in them that I never took the time to notice before. This adventure taught me more about myself than many more adrenaline filled things I have done before, but it will forever hold a special place in my heart.

If you ever get the chance to join a Vertical Voyages Tree Canopy Climb you simply must do it. I am blessed that I had a broken foot that forced me to slow life down, and in the process I found a treasure of an adventure that changed me a little bit the day I finally hung out in a tree.

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Rootn’, Tootn’ Gun Shootn’ Good Time

Rootn’, Tootn’ Gun Shootn’ Good Time
Empower Your Estrogen Adventure

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Calling all Ladies! Beat the winter blues by joining the Empower Your Estrogen girls for a wintertime girlfriend adventure right here in Nebraska!

We are calling this one “A Rootn’, Tootn’ Gun Shootn’ Good Time” with a weekend of shooting, yes real guns, and snowshoeing, sledding and more!! We are going to have a rootn’, tootn’ gun shootn’ good time and we want you to join us!

Where:

Ashland, NE at Mahoney State Park where we have rented a adorable cabin complete with a cozy fireplace, and guess what, you don’t even have to pee in the woods on this adventure!

When:

January 29-30-31, 2016
We will meet at the cabin at 6:00 pm Friday January 29 to kick off the event and Check out is 11:00 am Sunday January 31st.

What:
How does this sound? We have a full weekend scheduled to ensure it’s full of fun, laughter, adventure and getting you out of your comfort zone! The list of activities includes: yoga, snowshoeing, sledding, gun shooting, games, and all the Empower Your Estrogen fun you can handle! On Saturday we will participate in an instructor led full day NRA Ladies Handgun class!

Cost:
The cost of the adventure is $275 per person and includes all activities, gun and snowshoe gear rental and instruction, food, beverages, and lodging. (Note: the cabin sleeps 8 but we will be bunking together in some rooms, you can bring a cot if you like) You just need to handle travel expense to get there!

What to bring:

Warm winter clothes for outdoor hikes, snowshoeing and sledding, toiletries and your favorite book to share with others. We will have the snowshoes and sleds for you. Guns, ammo and shooting instruction will be provided at the gun range. Bring your bright smile and a great attitude willing to try new things, make new friends and renew old friendships, we will handle all the rest!

For Fun: Bring the funkiest hat you can find for our funky hat snowshoeing group picture and a cowboy hat for the group gun shooting picture!

Sign up today and reserve your place! Spots are limited so don’t set this aside to think about it. Give yourself the gift of this weekend and come home refreshed and recharged!

Registration is only open from today through December 15 and is on a first come first served bases. We need payment in full at the time of registration, if you live in the Omaha area please give Vicki a check or cash. Because of our upfront costs on this one your registration is not accepted and a spot held for you until payment is received. If for some reason we don’t get enough registrations to fill this event we will cancel and offer a refund on Dec. 15 but we fully expect to fill up and to fill up quickly! Space is really limited so register as soon as you get this!!!!

If you have any questions please feel free to give us a call. Jackie can be reached at 720-260-1660 or Vicki at 402-980-0262.

This is going to be so fun!!!!

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Budweiser Might Be the King of Beers but Duke was King of the Clydesdales

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My favorite part of the whole New Year celebration thing is not ringing in the actual midnight hour, I am usually fast asleep long before that time arrives. No, my favorite way to celebrate the New Year is by anxiously awaiting the newest Budweiser Beer Clydesdale Super Bowl commercial. Seriously, I love these commercials and I can’t wait to see what they come up with every year.
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This fall we finally got the chance to go visit one of the few places you can actually see these magnificent animals up close and personal, Warm Springs Ranch in Missouri. The ranch is hard to get a tour at; in fact I tried for a fall weekend and was told in August that the weekend tours were already booked until the end of the year! Not one to be told no, I am glad to say I persevered and was able to score reservations for two for a beautiful non weekend day in September when my daughter had a day off from school. It was a perfect day for a ranch visit.

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It looks just like you imagine it would, 14 miles of white fence surrounding the pristine rolling hills and pasture of Warm Springs Ranch. The red barn sits high on the hill with ten separate pastures full of happy, contented and extremely well cared for Clydesdales. We stopped to say hi to several on the long winding road in,\ and were greeted with enthusiasm by these gentle giants, all of them anxious for some loving attention. I felt like a paparazzi as I ran from photo op to photo op while the celebrity horses pranced and patiently waited for me to get all the pictures my heart desired.

The barn had to be the cleanest barn I have ever seen, each section well marked showing all phases of horse care including where they are bred, exercised, trained and cared for by loving staff.

This grand experience was shared with my daughter and certainly makes the top ten things I’d recommend to anyone looking for a Missouri highlight.

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For me the high point of the tour was when we were introduced to Duke, a massive Clydesdale of 13 years who had retired from being a team hitch member and was promoted to official greeter. Duke was a towering example of the best of the Budweiser Clydesdales. Every inch of this 18-hand horse was groomed, every hair on this animal was clean and brushed. All I could think of when I first layed eyes on him whas how much my mother would have loved this place!

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Like the celebrity he was, Duke knew he looked good too! His eyes sparkled as he pranced around and I swear every time someone pointed a camera at him he held his head up high and turned his head to his good side! He was a good sport too, because he was patient and kind and let everyone from the oldest and frailest guest in a wheelchair down to the 10 month old little girl pet him and love on him. He even posed for a selfie with my daughter and I swear I saw him look longingly at the cold glasses of Budweiser the guests had in their hands, I am sure he was wondering where his beer was too!

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I am even more in love with these gorgeous animals now that I had a little chance to spend time with them. Three more months until the New Year and the next round of Budweiser Clydesdale commercials and I can hardly wait.

So glad this was on my bucket list and we made time for an afternoon of warm September sunshine and a little Budweiser!

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So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”
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Great Balls of Fire: A Guest Blog

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I am a great believer in the “Plan your Work and Work your Plan” methodology. I have followed these words most of my life, being an engineer, and most importantly during my training for an Ironman. I often see people who plan 75% and wing-it the other 25% of the time. This rarely works out well.
This holds true for those who are embarking on an exercise plan to get into better shape. They know what they want, they know what they need to do, however, they are just not disciplined enough to follow through to maximize their goals and reach their full potential.

Now, I must confess, I have wondered off the path of sticking to a plan and have been met with less than spectacular results. Let me share a story with you.
It was 2009 and I was training to run the St. George Marathon in St. George, UT. It was a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and I was set to qualify with a 3:20. They shipped us 26.2 miles out of town for the start of the race where large bonfires kept us warm in the cold morning air.

As the race was to begin, I lined up with the 3:20 pace runner. The gun went off and we all started to surge forward. Now the marathon is mostly downhill which you would think is a good thing. The problem is this will pound your quads.

Through mile 17, I was keeping up with the pace runner and feeling good about life. My IT Bands were starting to tighten, but not badly. I knew that I would have to stretch them out to continue at this pace.

Then it happened. At mile 18, there was an aid station with drinks, food and a medical tent. Outside the medical tent were several people with plastic gloves on rubbing a Ben-Gay type product on peoples legs. That was the ticket to help my IT Bands. I had never done this before, usually I just stretched a bit and ran through the mild pain. They rubbed the magical crème on my thighs and off I went. I felt great.

However, my running shorts were rubbing on my thighs. Soon, I noticed that not only were my thighs feeling that “hot” sensation, but so was my crotch. That was my “Great Balls of Fire” moment. The Ben-Gay had wicked its way up my thighs to my crotch via my running shorts.

Boy, did that sting. Luckily, I still had an extra shirt on. I stopped at a porta-potty, folded it in 1/3’s and put it inside my running shorts. It alleviated the pain somewhat, but my race was over. Bye, Bye Boston. I finished at a little over 4 hours and was glad to be done. I got my medal and ice cream bar and sat down in the park by the finish line. My pain had subsided, but running the last 8 miles with my crotch on fire was no bueno.
The moral of my story is, make your plan and stick to it.

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I Left it All on China Wall

China Wall

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Being a Jeep lover and an adrenaline junkie it should come as no surprise my eyes lit up when I heard our Jeep dealership sponsored Jeep Trail Rides periodically throughout the year. They would pick the trail, send the invite and lead the rally to the 4 wheeling adventure of the day. The best part was they would then carefully lead you through the steps of breaking in your Jeep on a real deal jaw breaking 4-wheel drive trail Colorado Style. White knuckling was considered just part of the initiation process for me.

China Wall is one of those trails that if you are a newbie can seem fairly intimidating and depending on the amount of snow received in the previous winter or the power of the spring run offs, the rocky, rutted and steeply angled trail can leave the more faint at heart trembling. The day we tackled it was rougher than normal according to a few Jeep veterans, but by then we were committed because the trail is so narrow once you start you can’t really go back until you have done the scary stuff.

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There must have been 30 Jeeps that day all creeping along the trail like an army of ants dutifully following a leader. One by one we took a deep breath and putting the game for anything Wrangler in 4 wheel drive Low I excitedly pushed the gas pedal and took my turn. This was it, now I was committed, like it or not, now I had to push on no matter what came next.

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Anticipation can be a good thing and a bad thing. That day it was a bit of both for me! This was what I’d always wanted to do, and this was a perfect way to test the waters so to speak, but like anything else that you have never done before, I had a case of the nervous jitters anyway. I had recruited my youngest daughter as my adventure co-pilot that day, she was torn between admitting she was excited, maintaining her teenager life- is-so-boring stance, and a tad of fear that she was with her mother instead of her father for this particular adventure. When I took one last look at her before we started the steep assent up China Wall I thought I could see fear in her eyes, I grinned and faked a round of rousing confidence and said, “Here goes nothing!”

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I don’t think I convinced her I had things under control exactly. Nevertheless, onward we drove. Up, up, and up.

On the right the trail dropped very suddenly into a deep gully. The trail was only one vehicle wide, very rocky and with a Jeep Wrangler suspension we bounced up and down, right and left and everything in-between. Rowdy, the Golden Retriever hung out in the back and seemed to be enjoying the rib, rattling ride up more than anyone else, but then again, he’s a Golden Retriever and is game for anything!

The steeper it went the rougher it got. With no idea what to expect next and knowing I was totally committed to following through, if only because there was no earthly way to turn around and go back at this point, I was like a fighter pilot on full alert, half scared to death, and half excited like a kid waiting for Santa!

At the top of the first stretch things calmed down a bit, the trail wound around the Aspens and Ponderosa Pines, but at least here you could see more than the spare tire of the Jeep in front of you so you could get some perspective.

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I relaxed and took it all in including a deep breath of fresh mountain air. Feeling instantly more confident, it was about at this point in the adventure I started feeling pretty proud of myself for jumping into something I’d always wanted to do, but had never gotten around to actually doing! Even more pleased with myself because I was doing this one on my own with out having the comfort of my very capable husband by my side. Under normal circumstances, he’d be here and he’d be driving, which would allow me to just sit back and enjoy the ride and not worry about all those pesky details like not leaving the bottom of the Wrangler on the trail or God forbid roll the thing and crush the life out of my child and myself! But reality was wicked and he was out of state working a new job and if I was going to do this I was going to have to pull out those dusty big girl panties and just do it myself. With confidence oozing out of every pore by now, I felt good! “Life was good! Would you just look at me and what I am doing,” I thought.

About then things took a dramatic turn for real. Suddenly, the cute little caravan of Jeep Wranglers came to a quick stop. There were big boulders on all sides of us and the trail had been snaking up and around for quite awhile. I waited. Soon curiosity got the better of me and I jumped out and snapped a few cool pictures to prove I really did this badass trail. As the curiosity started to take over I wandered up the trail, passing a half dozen or more Jeeps all waiting patiently for whatever came next.

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Then I saw it. Right there in front of me the trail took a sharp ninety-degree turn to the right and then just dropped. Before my wondering eyes I could see a dozen of the Jeep dealership staff all standing around on various sides of the trail helping guide and direct the poor sap whose turn it was, as he tried to navigate the simultaneous turn and drop of the trail. To complicate matters, there had been a lot of run off that spring and the trail was deeply washed away and rutted, leaving huge rocks exposed right in the middle of the road.

Each driver had to carefully position their vehicle at the start in just the right spot so that when they inched forward the vehicle could both clear the nasty rock below them and still be in a spot so that when the Jeep rocked forward it did not fall into the next series of rocks. The men on the side would squat down and watch the Jeep as it inched it forward bit by bit until it finally cleared one hurdle and pushed on to make it past the next one.

“Holy crap!” I apologize for the language but that is honestly all I could think at this point. Suddenly, my big idea to go 4-wheeling in the mountains seemed about the stupidest thing I had ever come up with. Desperately I looked around for a way out.

There was none. Jeeps were lined up before mine as far as I could see and as far behind as I could see. I scanned the crowd for a sympathetic face. Maybe someone would do this for me? Mostly I saw my own fear reflected back at me in the other drivers, but a couple of the more seasoned drivers just grinned an ornery grin back at me and one even laughed and told me everything would be just fine, ya right!

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I watched in horror as the six Jeeps before me all inched their way past the obstacle. Some did better than others, many of them sounded like they were leaving thousands of dollars of variously important Jeep parts behind as they scraped along the rock. I swear one even looked like it was going to roll over because the driver got too far to the right side.

The moment came, I had no choice to but to assume my position in the drivers seat and pull forward. My daughter was speechless as reality set in for her, hell even the dog layed down, as if he couldn’t bear to see what was coming next.

When my beautiful black Wrangler with only 25,000 miles on it took the lead spot I was pretty sure there would be nothing left of it by the time this day ended. Motherhood responsibilities took over and I kicked my daughter out and made her stand on the sidelines, presumably to take the pictures, but honestly, I viewed it as my last show of love for a child who would soon be motherless! At least I would save my baby!

I stuck my head out the window and did a hasty confession to the Jeep staffer charged with motivating me to push the accelerator and launch my own death fall.

“Um, hi, I um, have no idea what the HELL I am doing! Are you sure I have to go this way? “ I uttered as fast as I could.

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“You will be just fine. Just follow my signals and only watch me,” he answered. I looked around. I could suddenly see a potential problem. A dozen men stood all around me ready to offer helpful advice. “Just watch him,” I repeated to my self.

Deep breath, ok, I tentatively pushed the gas. Nothing happened because the tires were up against rocks and I had not given the vehicle enough juice to go up and get on the first rock. I tried again, still very fearful to give it too much gas and launch myself like a rocket to a surefire death.

It took about a half dozen tries with my eyes locked into whomever he was standing beside me waving me on. Finally, the Jeep lurched up and forward and I instantly hit the breaks.

“Turn the wheels all the way this way,” he said. I complied.

“Now go forward until I say stop” he said. I complied.

Then my stomach hit the floor, I think Rowdy passed out, and I threw up a little in my mouth, because all of a sudden the Jeep rocked forward and to the right. My right wheel had dropped into the vast hole between the big boulders. As this happened, my back rear tire went airborne. I was certain this was it. My husband was going to kill me once he found out what I was doing. Then it dawned on me it wouldn’t matter because I was already going to be dead!

“It’s ok,” mister whoever he was said from behind me.

I am sure the look on my face was priceless about now because I could not figure out how in the HELL things were ok right now! Eyes as wide as saucers I stared at him, ready to bolt like a scared deer, if I could only figure out what way to go.

“You just need to give it gas now. You might here a scraping sound, but I will tell you if you need to stop. OK?” Mystery man directed me.

With no other option in sight I complied, but to say I might hear a scraping sound is putting it mildly. I heard only ear shattering, this must be expensive as hell scrapping sounds for what seemed like hours as my Jeep crept forward.

Finally after what seemed a lifetime I heard what’s his name say enthusiastically “You did it!”

“I did? Really? Are you sure? Did I mess anything up on my Jeep?” I asked.

“No you are good, I swear!” He grinned back at me!

Wave after wave of relief washed over me! I searched the crowd for my daughter and found her riveted to the sidelines. I am pretty sure she will never admit it but I hope secretly she was even just a tiny bit impressed at what she witnessed me do that day because I was scared to death and I did it anyway!

Another bucket list adventure for the books for me, but the lesson learned is that no great thing ever came from my comfort zone. I was the only female that day driving and I realized just how scary life could be when you can’t see what’s ahead in life, but maybe that’s the way it is supposed to be. When I think back on this day, if I had known what I had to do to get past that part of the trail, I know darn well I would have chickened out. Because the trail and life don’t work that way though, once I made the commitment and get on the trail in the drivers seat, I had to keep going even through the unknown parts where I had butterflies in my stomach and even when I could finally see the biggest fear I had to face. Just commit and do it.

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So my friend, what’s next on your list?

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Do You Look Like a Hooker Too?

One day as I was wandering the quant little town in the Midwest full of mysterious antique shops, bed and breakfast inns and other little shops I strolled into one called the White Horse Antique shop. As I pulled open the old wooden door I was met with the crisp clean smells of handmade candles mingled with a strange spicy older smell, one of sage, old oak and wool. Interesting combination. The cheerful silver haired proprietor smiled an award-winning grin and greeted me with a welcoming “are you a hooker?”

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“Say what?” I thought, a bit taken aback.

“Well, no.” was my reply.

“Oh you look like you’d be one of my hookers!” she quipped in a friendly way.

Not sure if I should laugh, deny it adamantly, or maybe run for the door, I hesitated for just a second.

“I teach primitive rug hooking and have a group of several hundred women who shop here for their rug hooking supplies. You looked like you might be a hooker!” She explained, as if that made perfect sense.

By now I was more than a little amused and intrigued and took my time wandering the tiny old rooms of the vintage Victorian cottage turned into antique shop and rug hooking supply business. As I entered the back room I had to side step around Samuel, the resident mutt who was sunning himself in the afternoon sunlight taking a nap in front of the register counter. He wagged his tail at me, but other than that didn’t bother to move until he made eye contact with me and could sense I too was a dog lover. Then he jumped to his feet making his 12 years appear more like 1 or 2 with his enthusiasm. I petted him for several minutes as I took in the assortment of silver jewelry, colorful scarf’s, primitive rungs, unique primitive antiques and shelves of beautifully colored wool.

Taken in by the charm of the place instantly, and the warm smile of the owner and teacher, I too, signed up for the next class. I had no idea I wanted to be a hooker until I strolled into her store and was instantly beguiled by the wondrous items covering the walls.

A couple months later I returned for my afternoon class and was delighted when after meeting at the shop to select my rug kit I was escorted back to her private residence half a block away for my actual lesson. Samuel the mutt strolled along with us to the house. The house was as charming as the shop, also full of antiques and beautifully done rugs. We set up class in a small but sun kissed sunroom converted to a dining room and over the next 3 hours I was patiently taught how to work the burlap with my hooking tool and pull the wool through the small openings creating a loop and slowly filling in the blanks of my first rug. At break time we were even treated to an intoxicatingly delicious homemade cherry pie a la mode.

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It was a delightful afternoon and I have discovered while I might not be a natural hooker I do enjoy spending my evenings working on my new craft!

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Look in the mirror; do you look like a hooker too?

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So I ask my friend, what’s next on your list?

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Simple is Better

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My Quest
Lately I am on a quest to simplify my family’s life. I can’t tell you how or why it happened but somehow each and every one of us took on too much and the end result is that we’ve lost our focus and our sanity at the same time.

Everything we are doing is good when you look at it separately it’s just when you apply the laws of mathematics cumulatively we have too much on our plate.

What is the price to pay we pay for this? Stress levels are elevated, sleep patterns are disturbed, weight gain has increased, fitness levels decreased, and we’ve lost the simple joy of being able to hang out and relax together.

As mom, it’s my job to pull us together, keep us organized and make the day-to-day stuff happen. When I see my family unhappy, eating badly, not sleeping well and just all around cranky, it’s my job to step in as the referee and blow the whistle.

Time to reevaluate, eliminate all excess clutter in our world and get us back to the basics.

In a society where more is always better kids are encouraged and actually barraged with invitations to try new things. Birthday parties now have to be bigger and better than last years party was, kids are in multiple sports, and then take on dance lessons and band. Between school, sports, dance, cheerleading, soccer etc the list of possibilities goes on and on.

Parents are no better, we take on extra projects at work, stay late at the office to impress the boss or go in early trying to not to be the employee that gets laid off.

I see how this happens. To me the challenge is how to use our role as mom’s to center our families, reestablish some basic boundaries, manage the chaos and reclaim family time.

This mom’s plan of attack:

It may sound radical but the past year this is what I have done.

Declutter

I led the war on clutter in my home. It was like leading the war on drugs or terrorism! I had to get serious! We’ve cleaned, sorted, purged, sold and donated all but the most foundational items. It was a painful project that took an enormous amount of time and effort but was surprisingly enlightening and empowering.

I actually found boxes that haven’t been opened for 15 years in my garage, even an unopened wedding gift from 28 years ago and a 9-year-old box of discarded junk mail! Why did I have all of that stuff? Because we collect this and then develop a fear of letting go. That or we just get overwhelmed with piles of stuff and put off sorting though it.

We get caught up in the crazy thought process, some family member gave this to me therefore I have to keep it or maybe I will need it someday.

I forced my little tribe to step back and get some perspective. It’s just stuff.

Downsize:

Trying to keep up with bigger and better is exhausting. Bigger houses, more bathrooms, bigger yards, multi car garages and excess toys all require physical and emotional support as well has a drain on your pocketbook.

Granted I took downsizing to an extreme recently but I think it is a healthy topic to at least consider. We sold the big house and downsized because we are almost empty nesting and just don’t need that much space right now. We took it pretty far by going from a large suburban house to a much smaller home but you know what? We love it!

Look at it this way, it takes me only a couple hours to clean now and with less stuff we actually know where to find the things we actually want and need! Wow!!

It was scary at first but I’m very glad we did it although it is a constant battle.


Eliminate Distractions

I took my quest even farther when I started to see positive results of a happier family. In fact, I was so radical I cleaned out the refrigerator and pantry and got rid of all the junk food that had accumulated over time. Yes, I said it, no more Cheetos, Duritos or sodas. Instead I stocked us up with vast amounts of lean meats, fresh and frozen veggies and colorful fruits! Insane, I know!

But wait there’s more! I did something else that few have had the courage to do- I turned off the tv and disconnected the house phone! While I have recently relented and we’ve restored tv, we are trying to keep a lid on it so it doesn’t get out of control again. Egad, you say!

I have watched my teen complain bitterly, crab and moan actually, but she feels better, is sleeping soundly, and has been reading more. Additionally, she is teaching herself to draw cartoon figures with a book she got at the library and is working on teaching the dog new tricks! She is learning to cook, spends a lot of time playing tennis and bike riding and has even discovered she likes beef jerky and fruit!

What’s next on my crazed quest to simplify? All organic cotton or tofu only meals? I probably will not go to those extremes but I do plan to try Gluten free menu plan for a month and see if that helps with some lingering health issues.

My point is simple

As moms we have to be willing to fight back against negative influences and we have to be able to help our families when they need it.

The fight goes on in my quest to simplify life. I believe the less bogged down with day to day life the more opportunity we have to explore our world around us and try new things and make new memories!

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Empower Your Estrogen Gets Rocky Mountain High and Wet and Wild in 2015

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Ladies! Are you ready to get Rocky Mountain high and then mix it up with a little wet and wild?

Got your attention? Good! The girls behind Empower Your Estrogen are planning an epic summer mountain experience that you will not want to miss! Trust us!

We just wanted to get your attention, it won’t be THAT kind of a trip! This isn’t a party girl trip it’s a Rocky Mountain adventure girl trip!

This is your chance to summit a mountain, yodel at the top in your superhero costume with the Bucketlistblogger and Irongirl and then soak in the breathtaking mountain vistas that surround you on Friday July 31, 2015. But that’s not all! On Saturday morning, August 1, we will get wet and wild while we go white water rafting down the spectacular Royal Gorge, Colorado’s own version of the Grand Canyon! After a day of thrilling excitement on the rapids we will spend the afternoon at The Abbey Vineyard in Canyon City for some rest, relaxation and refreshments and retreat to our secret mountain back country camping spot among the Ponderosa Pines for a second fun filled evening of campfire and chocolate! Mountain summits and white water rafting all in one trip! Add a little campfire fun, a Tough Tiara Challenge or two and a stop at The Abby Vineyard and you have an epic adventure!

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We have worked with our favorite guides at Front Range Climbing Co and made all the arrangements for you. We will meet Thursday evening and set up camp in the spectacular Rocky Mountains and enjoy a quiet campfire night. Friday we will rise early and hit the trailhead at the crack of dawn so we can enjoy the challenging alpine hike to one of the most beautiful summits in the state. This will be a mountain hike on a rocky trail only (no ropes and harnesses needed) after the hike we will return to camp for laughter, stories and our famous Tough Tiara Crowning!

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On Saturday we will white water raft down The Royal Gorge on Class IV and V white water rapids past the 1200 foot cliff walls and over Sunshine Falls, Sledgehammer & the Narrows! This will be wet, wild and very exciting! Experience two of the most breathtaking outdoor treats Colorado offers all in one girl power weekend!

You will need basic backcountry camping gear such as a small two-person tent, sleeping bag, good hiking boots and appropriate jackets for the colder Colorado temperatures at the summit. According to our custom rating scale this adventure promises to be a 6 on the Tough Girl Scale. You will need strong legs and big lungs! Our hike will be approximately 7-9 miles round trip!

Not sure if you are in shape to handle a mountain hike? No problem, For an extra $25 Coach Vicki, the Irongirl will create a 4 month long training plan custom designed for this advenutre for you so that you can start walking and hiking now and be ready for the challenge of summiting a mountian! Time to put some zing in your zap!

Our hunky guides with Front Range Climbing Co will take are of all the transportation from Colorado Springs and food, keep us on the trail, show us the best alpine hikes in the state, ensure we are having a great time and hand deliver us to the best white water rafting guides in the state for the thrill of a lifetime on Saturday!

This trip is going to be epic and full of great stories all for the amazing package price of only $299. This trip will be limited to 15 brave and crazy ladies and it’s a steal so don’t miss out! Email Isaac@frontrangeclimbingco.com or call 719-632-5822 today to book your spot!

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Shit Happens Get Over It!

Shit Happens Get Over It!

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It happens to everyone, nature calls. The question I had to ask is what exactly happens when I am enjoying the great outdoors and nature calls? I don’t want to seem look a goody too shoes here and I understand the basic mechanics but the question begs to be answered.

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Now I agree I had bigger problems that I should have been worried about like where would we sleep in the great outdoors? What kind of critters lived out there and how many of them might be interested in a toasty warm sleeping bag and excellent cuddlier? How difficult were the trails and would I get blisters on my feet? Would I be able to keep pace with the group? All these were relevant questions but the one that nagged me the most was where was I going to poop?

Suburban soccer mom’s are not supposed to worry about these things, at least according to convention, that is if we stay in the safety zone of PTA meetings, football and soccer practice, bible study, grocery shopping, work, dishes and general family nurturing the quandary of where and how to poop and pee in the wild would simply not come up. However, I am a self-professed adrenaline junkie, and as my husband describes me, at best a complicated woman.

See, I just can’t color between the lines. I want the best of both words so I flip back and forth between the world of my adventures and momville. Because of this I have to ask the questions no one else seems to want to ask.

When I interview a guide for a potential bucket list adventure I tend to be direct and cut to the chase pretty quickly. Let’s get to the meat of the situation, “where am I going to go potty and what conditions do I need to be able to handle?” I timidly toss out there.

Once I get the facts I can then begin to process the situation. Usually the unknown is worse than the reality. I like a good adventure, just not a bodily function surprise. It causes me stress, because I am a 50-year-old mother of three, I have the bladder of a pea and the minute you tell me I can’t go, face it, I have to go! The more I try to forget how bad I have to go the worse it gets so I figure I might as well put it on the table and let these young guides know what they are dealing with, heck it only seems fair.

On a recent epic adventure to Utah which would entail four days and three nights of back country camping in the desert I had to face the reality that I would be peeing behind a lot of rocks and at some point in time I was going to have to do the decidedly unladylike duty of pooping in the wild.

“Or dear Lord” was all I could think.

When I finally got the courage up to ask my guide and share my concerns with him we bonded instantly as he kindly and yet directly outlined the options. What won me over however was the sweet way he took my concerns, and those of the other women joining the adventure, to heart and came up with most enchanting solution ever!

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On the first day of the trip as we set up camp he presented us with a homemade Homer bucket complete with a toilet seat, garbage bag liners, kitty litter, zip lock bags, hand sanitizer and even a toilet paper holder! Then just like a hero on a white horse he headed into the bluffs and located the perfect three-sided shelter of rocks and proceed to set up our throne worthy of a queen! He had thought of everything!

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When I invited women to join on the backcountry adventure several had turned me down because of “other” things, obstacles like work, family, travel time, expense, back aches and more were listed as why they couldn’t join the fun. It wasn’t until I probed a little deeper did I get an honest answer here and there. The honest truth was they couldn’t imagine pooping in the wild but I have to say it really wasn’t that bad and with the improvised system created by our ingenious and intrepid guide it was practically the Taj Mahal!

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Don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you from the adventure of a lifetime. Face it everyone poops, and shit happens! Get over it, deal with it and move on! Time is wasting!!

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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