Adventures in Perseverance

Bucket List Adventures in Virtue Perserverance

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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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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Don’t Be a Ya, But…Person

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It takes me awhile to commit to something, whether that is a person, a friend, a job or an idea. I tend to think about it, dream about it and honestly, talk myself into it and out of it a dozen times or more before I take the plunge and commit. But when I do watch out then I turn into an obsessed woman. When I’m in, I’m all in. Good, bad, right or wrong. I’m in and you can count on me.

Take grad school for example, I’d thought about going back for my master’s degree for 20 years. It was just something I’d always wanted to do and I wasn’t even sure why. I thought about it immediately after undergraduate school but talked myself out of it then because I was sick of school. I didn’t want to take any more tests! I needed a break I just wanted to work and see how that went.

Soon I discovered working full time didn’t partner well with graduate school. Then we married and started our family. The idea got pushed farther and farther back in my mind. I wanted it yes, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of actually committing to it. I think it was because I knew once I made that commitment there was no way I wasn’t going to do it and it frankly scared me. How would I have the energy to get it all done and still work and raise my kids?

“I should have done this back when I had the chance right out of college” I thought to myself in a kind of mental conversation but in the end it didn’t change a thing.

Then one day I just decided enough was enough. It was time to make that commitment and jet get it done. I decided that I didn’t want to be a “Ya But…Person” You know the kind! The person you are talking to about all the great things they want to do with this life and they get all excited and you can tell they really do want to do all that cool stuff but then they roll out the self defeating fun sucker words “Ya, But…” and then they proceed to tell you all the silly reasons they can’t let themselves be amazing. “Ya, But…I just don’t have time, or money, or brains, or the drive… Ya, But…”

It was that simple. I woke up one day and decided I didn’t want to be a “Ya, But…Person.” It was time to get off my butt and make it happen.

Do you know what happened next? I succeeded. I found the school and program for me. I as accepted, I got a student loan and a baby sitter, I went to class and realized I was going to not only do this but do it well. I thrived when I realized I was doing this just for me. I was going to have to earn this but I had what it took to do it. All the reasons why I couldn’t do this disappeared and I was simply just doing it and enjoying it.

I traded my “Ya, But…” for a “I did it!” I still catch myself ya butting myself every now and then but deep down I know all I have to do is make that commitment. No matter how hard something is if I let myself succeed instead of running away from the challenge cool things can happen.

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

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Don’t Give Up

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It finally happened! I have been going on one crazy adventure after another for going on three years now and sharing each story lovingly with my friends at www.bucketlistblogger.com and on www.maxmusclecos.com, all with the goal of someday being able to say I am a published author. Well, I am here to tell you hard work and and old fashioned stubbornness pay off in the end. My story was selected, by the well respected Max Sports and Fitness magazine, to run in their July issue of 2013!

Getting published sounded like a lofty goal, it felt like that was what happened to the “real writers” or at least those with a lot more connections than I had, but true to my bucketlistblogger theme, it has always been on my list of things I “wished” I could do in my lifetime, and finally I can say I did it! It feels pretty good actually!

Having a dream, having the courage to follow the dream, and having the courage to tell the world about your dream are not easy things to do. Somewhere along the way in the past few years, I learned to embrace my wild side and just “go for it” and like the saying goes “you’ll never know unless you try!” Well this crazy lady tried and can say with pride now, you should read my article in Max Sports and Fitness Magazine, July 2013, I think you’ll enjoy it!

Click on this link to read the article! www.maxmusclecos.com
So my friend, if I can do it so can you! My friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Butterflies and Horse Shit

Butterflies and Horse Shit

Butterflies are delicate, beautiful creatures that effortlessly seem to float in the air dancing from wildflower to wildflower.

They seem perfect, dancing only in the wind with each other like the new found love between lovers.

Newlywed love is like this, it gathers attention where it goes, it wraps the lovers in a cloak of intimacy and makes the world seem shiny, new and beautiful.

Last week as we vacationed with great friends and celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in the Rocky Mountains we embarked on a hike to a waterfall and mountain stream. My love for wildflowers was indulged as I found myself on the trail winding slowly higher and lined with Columbines, Primrose and Chickweed. The farther from the road we ventured the more butterflies seemed to dance around us around each new bend.


The combination of fresh mountain air, tall Ponderosa Pines tickling my senses, majestic peaks, charming birds and flirty butterflies brought out my romantic side. The perfumed mountain valley lined with wildflowers was intoxicating. Caught up in the moment it was easy to feel the love of great friends, and a charming husband, in fact, it was perfect and felt like a scene in a movie “The Sound of Music” that is until I stepped in a big pile of horse shit unceremoniously dumped in the middle of the trail. Black flies hungrily circling like miniature vultures. I found the irony along the trail amusing to say the least!

“What the heck?” I thought as I jumped off the trail into the tall grass.

“Where did all this come from?” I questioned my friends. “How can this perfect scene be marred by something so stinky and smelly?”

That’s when it hit me – what a metaphor for married life! Life isn’t perfect – it can be beautiful one minute and then messy, stinky and even smelly the next!

Hopefully you’ll be blessed to fall in love and share your life with your best friend but take this advice, sometimes your path life will be smooth and breathtakingly, almost painfully beautiful, and sometimes, usually when you least expect it, life is nothing more than a pile of poo!

Surviving it together and still liking each other at the end of the day takes patience, courage and a good sense of humor, just remember to laugh along the way, stop and smell the flowers and watch where you are stepping!


Celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary was a great bucketlist adventure!

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

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Risky Business


Picture by Kyle Steiner

Risky Business

I will admit I am a late blooming unconventional adrenaline junkie. The funny part is that I had no idea how much I liked challenging the status quo until later in the season of my life. People ask me now “what’s next on your list?” and inquire as to the craziest thing I have ever done. They do so, like I am an expert at risk or something. What a concept.

My bucketlist is a bit slanted toward the adventurous and at first glance you might hypothysis that this is because I love the thrill of danger or can only find peace when faced with life or death situations. I would argue the contrary position in response. My bucketlist is about trying new things, getting out of my comfort zone, and most importantly, being able to look back on my life and say “I did that,” rather than “I wish I would have,” not about risk, for the sake of risk. I think it is about being willing to take a calculated chance.

Life happens fast. As a kid you think time will never pass. You count up on birthdays the minute you hit the six month mark and proudly proclaim that you are 8 ½ to anyone who will listen. Finally, you hit the big milestones, 16, 18, 21, but then something cruel starts to happen, and time starts to go by faster every year. Soon, ready or not, you hit 25, you hang onto 29, start to fear 35 and dread 40. Somewhere along the way you change your perspective. You stop and look back and think how did I blink and I go from a scared new mother to a veteran parent of teenagers?

Thinking about it like this puts some fuel in the tank for trying new things. If not now, when? Time to get moving, time to have an adventure!

Looking back at the choices of my life I can see threads of the risky business character, when as a young kid I was determined to learn to salom ski despite a profund lack of knowledge, training, and boat power. Stubbornness overcame common sense, and eventually, I figured it out.

Later, some thought I was nuts when I excitedly accepted my future husband’s marriage proposal at 22 years old. We were so naive about life, marriage and careers, but I was certain this was the love of my life and there was no way I was going to do anything but say yes. I’ve never been sorry.


Picture by Kyle Steiner

Even more thought we were nuts when we sold everything we had and moved across county with two babies so my husband could go to grad school and we could go into debt beyond our eyeballs!

We jumped into parenthood a few years before that, and somehow, managed to find our way to raising a couple of really cool young adults.

Our parents about had a heart attack when they found out we bought a home sight unseen in a small Adirondack town. “what the hell are they thinking?” they asked each other. We made some crazy sounding decisions along the way but in reality we never thought any of them were really risky. To us they were calculated choices.

In our minds, they were all carefully thought out, and they were calculated decisions, chances on a future that we were willing to bet on, because we believed we could handle the consequenses along the way.

In each situation, while to the rest of the world, we seemed to be dancing on the edge of disaster, we knew we were just taking the next step on our journey.


Picture by Kyle Steiner

Don’t think this was without it’s challenges or that we didn’t doubt ourseleves somewhere along the way. We did. We just looked at it like, we had no option, but to make it work, so we would continue to try things, assess, adjust, and reassess, until eventually things worked out.

Going into business for ourselves is really not any different. To the world this seems crazy, to us, it feels like a chance to fulfill our dreams. I am sure we will question our sanity more than once, but if I know us, we will just keep at it, until we make it happen. Stubborness has its advantages.

I fear that to many of our family, friends and neighbors our recent decisons again seem insane, risky and just plain nuts. Why would you put your house up for sale right now when prices are still down, why would you put your savings on the line, risk your future and buy into a business in a worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, why would the two of you be willing to work 7 days a week 16 hours a day week after week?

My answer is that this is a classic example of perspective. It’s all in how you look at it. It all comes down to this, is your glass half full or half empty? While others see dropping home prices, we see a turning market and buyers who have been sitting on the sidelines waiting to buy, especially now, with historically low interest rates. We see the opportunity to be our own bosses, to run our business passionately and the way see fit. We see it as a positive to bet our futures on each other. It has worked for us in the past. My bet is it will work in the future.


I have to tell you working this hard toward a common goal elicits a combination of feelings, exhaustion being at the top of the list, but it also is really fun and while the hours we are putting in are long the days have never gone faster.

My crazy ideas probably sound nuts to most of you but I think it is more fun to live life this way. I still don’t know what I am capable of and each new adventure and challenge that I face teaches me something new about myself. I call this creating the life I want. I call this my bucketlist.

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

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Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

Photographer Unknown

Restlessness
Recently, in a restless moment, I decided to dive into a challenging item on my Bucket list. Somehow restlessness = challenge in my line of thought. Maybe I just needed to have another one of those “let’s see what you are made of” adventures just to give me the courage to keep fighting the daily challenges of selling a house, parenting a middle school child, starting a new business and running a church! Believe me, each one of these is a major undertaking in itself, and lately, I feel like I am working my tail off, but not getting where I want to be. This is frustrating. Anyway, I think that’s why I decided it was time to hike the Incline in Colorado Springs.

Friendly Conversations
A week or so ago, I was chatting with co-workers and my boss and mentioned I wanted to do the Incline this summer. We left the conversation at that and moved on to more pressing matters like electrical pumps and finance committee reports and meetings, until Thursday around 4:00 pm when my boss walked in from meetings and asked “what are you doing at 7:00 am tomorrow?” Talk about a loaded question! I paused. “I don’t know, what do you want me to be doing?” I timidly threw back at him, trying to leave myself an out in case he was looking for “volunteers” for some kind of major spring cleaning activity around the church.

“How about hiking the Incline with Father Mark?” he asked.

“Whoa” I thought, “I didn’t see that one coming. Tomorrow at 7:00 am was only 15 hours away! Who is Father Mark? I have work to be doing! My daughter has no school what do I do with her? Can I really make it up to the top of the Incline? I hope this Father Mark guy is a patient kind of man!” All these thoughts raced across my mind in the next nanosecond.

“Hmmmmm, I don’t know, can I call you tonight and let you know.” I tired to leave the door just a tiny bit open in case I experienced a major panic attack.

I went home, conducted a detailed research of the Incline just to make sure I knew what I was getting into. I found some beautiful pictures online and a few really intimidating ones. My reaction was that you should almost be tied off with a rope to be on that kind of a slope, no safety net or belaying friend below to save your tail if you fell. I made my decision. I called my friend and begged her to join me in this misery fest!

Father Mark
Next came the awkward call to Father Mark. He has never met me or even seen a picture of me, he has no idea who I am, what kind of shape I am in, or how old and decrepit I am. Talk about a man of faith!

I gave him a call and started asking questions like what kind of shoes, is there snow at the top, what are the temps, how do you get down if you get to the top, do you haul water, where and when would we meet, the easy stuff. Then I tossed him the hand grenade of all questions. “How long do you think it will take a first-timer?” I realize how unfair of a question that was, I mean, he has no idea if I have ever hiked to my own mail box, much less done anything more challenging. “I would say at least an hour, more if you stop to rest,” he answered. (Heck yes, I am going to have to stop and rest, I thought) He said he has friends that he does the Incline with that are runners and they do it in 28 minutes. He however, admitted that it took him 45 minutes to do.

That was it; we struck a deal and made our arrangements. Now all I had to do was get some sleep.

Next morning Susan and I hit the road at 5:45 am and met Father Mark at the base of the trail. We grabbed our gear, Camelback, jacket, snack, toilet paper, camera, phone etc and off we went. It wasn’t until we got to the first set of steps that I realized Father Mark had hauled nothing. He was going very light. Hmmmmm. Fighting the urge to question him about his choices (I believe in the Boy Scout mantra of Always Be Prepared) we forged ahead.

As I stood at the base of the stairs and looked up, it was impossible not to be intimidated. The old cog railroad left an impressive scar on Pikes Peak Mountain from the base straight up as far as the eye could see. The top was currently cloaked in a light fog, so the stairs just sort of disappeared into the sky. It was striking. It was a Stairway to Heaven. (“Stairway to Heaven, Led Leppelin, 1971) How cool.

Next, I noticed the little bitty dots of moving people on the stairs. It was 7:00 am on a Friday morning, and I was amazed at the large number of other crazy people dreaming of overcoming the Incline.

Faced with only two choices at this time, either start going up or run for the parking lot. I took a deep breath, the last time I did so without my lungs being on fire, and put one foot in front of the other.

At this point, my dear friend Susan, mentioned to us that we would be going up 5000 steps, gaining 2000 feet elevation in just over one mile. The majority of the stairs are at a 40% incline, but there are very steep parts that hit 65%. Holy Guacamole!

Reality
As we walked on, my mind began to process my new reality. Yes, it was extremely pretty, the stairs were blanketed on each side by a veritable forest of Christmas trees. Tall Ponderosa Pines everywhere were stretching to the sky and gently swaying in the breeze. Huge boulders were randomly scatted on the hillside, adding to the amazing beauty of this place.

The people on this trail were interesting. They were all friendly and most seemed kind. Each was faced with their individual demons to face down on this journey to the sky, so most walked on in a determined, thoughtful, and consistent, paced manner. By nature of the steep percentage of grade, the people on the trail that day all had assumed the same posture. They leaned into the stairway, trying to get their equilibrium in balance with the slope of the mountain. They looked down at the trail immediately in front of them, intent on taking the next thoughtful step. The reality is that you had to do this. The steps were not created to be a nice, easy, winding stairway with beautiful curved banisters, that would allow you to stop and enjoy the sights along the way, and keep you safe at the same time.

No, this trail was engineered for a cog railroad supply train. It was created for function; it had a job to do. The steps were old, cut railroad ties, nailed into place with huge steel spikes. The amount of space between the steps was uneven at best, some required huge strides, and others equally unexpectedly short. Some of the steel spikes were uneven with the ties and presented a trip hazard. The trail was not nicely covered in cement or other smooth material; it was loose gravel and slipped easily under your feet. There were no benches on the side for peaceful meditation and reflection, offering a nice respite from the journey. The spring mountain snow melt had caused deep gouges of runoff that had seriously further scarred the trail. Volunteers had attempted to shore up the really vulnerable spots with pieces of leftover wood, but at the best it looked insecure, at the worst downright dangerous.

Anything at altitude is a challenge, and anyone who has hiked even the flattest trail can tell you it is different when the air is thin and your lungs have to work overtime to bring in and process the oxygen needed to breathe. I have even hiked a trail to the top of a 14,000 ft mountain, (we call them 14’ers) but that too, is different than the Incline. On the mountain trail, the path wanders in small S curves, picking its way through the challenges of the individual mountain terrain. This trail just went straight up.

As I slowly worked my way up the mountain, I quickly realized the ticket to success. Breathe, exhale, step, lean in to protect yourself from a fatal fall backwards, watch the step you are on, and the one coming up next. If necessary, lean down, to the point you are almost on hands and knees, use your hands to pick your way up. Don’t stand up and stop to review your progress. Your blood pools and you immediately feel as if standing upright is actually leaning back. Your balance is off, and it is really easy to loose your equilibrium. The same advice goes for standing up and looking upward. It messes with your brain and your equilibrium. You feel as if you have not made any progress at all, even though you know that you have been working hard, and putting one foot in front of the other.

Sometimes, the view from this angle is distorted anyway. It can look like you are almost there and when you experience this “fake top” it is really discouraging, as you climb over the crest, thinking you will be greeted with the beauty of the views of the summit, and instead, are faced with a second,, seemingly endless trail of stairs.

I am not trying to make this sound impossible. It isn’t impossible. I am also not trying to make it sound easy. It isn’t easy in any way.

I did not expect to be so struck by an almost surreal spiritualness on this journey. But time and time again, I was hit by the revelation that this adventure was a striking metaphor for my life as a Christian, trying to follow Jesus Christ. I am buying a Stairway to Heaven, like my favorite rock song of all time says. I don’t get to “buy” with money, my way into heaven, or anything else that truly matters, I have to earn it, all by myself, one step at a time. I am buying my stairway with thoughtful intention and the dedication I put into focusing my efforts on this path.

The Incline, to me, visually represents my own personal Stairway to Heaven. It is not impossible, but it is not easy. The journey is beautiful, but not paved in gold; it sparkles in a simple, real kind of way. I was experiencing God’s beauty and raw simplicity at the same time. In my view, free will sometimes makes it hard to follow God. God gives me the free will to make my own choices, but then I have to live with the consequences. If I had chosen to run back to the parking lot, when I first gazed up at the base of the stairway, I would never have had this experience, I would not have had this personal revelation, nor would I have experienced the knowledge, that I had traveled a difficult road and made it to the top.

Likewise, I would not have had the revelation that God does not promise a life of riches, or even a stairway made of pretty railings, and beautiful carpet beneath our feet. God promises a way to heaven. The reality, is that the way is challenging in ways we cannot expect, the progress is hard to see along the journey, there are false summits along the way. Just when you think you’ve made it God offers something a little more to overcome.

Continuing with the revelations I experienced that day, is that free will is dangerous. One of the most significant struggles I experienced was at the halfway point. The Barr trail is the safest and most logical way back down. The actual Incline is way to steep, narrow and slippery to retreat the way you came up. The problem, is that the Barr trail runs parallel to the Incline, and it only intersects at the midpoint and the summit. In other words, you can bail out at the midpoint, and go back down, knowing you had a vigorous and challenging hike, but you have only gone halfway. What you can’t do, is go on up the Incline past this point, and then give up. The only way down is up, once you’ve made the decision to keep going. That was a difficult point for me.

I struggled. I came to climb the Incline; it was harder than I thought, in ways, but easier, than I thought in others. At the midpoint, I was struggling, but I was doing it. I wanted to go to the top, but this was really hard. Maybe I should cut my losses and take the out at the mid –point? Maybe I should train for a few months, and come back and try it again when I was more prepared. Maybe, I didn’t really even want to get to the top. Did I really need to reach this summit? Maybe it wasn’t really all that important to me. Maybe I could find something easier. I seriously second-guessed myself. My mind and my heart waged an internal war. In the end, I made the commitment to continue to the top, no matter what it took, to get there. Having no other way out but to finish the goal you set for yourself is really scary.

Stairway to Heaven
At that point it was clear, I had no extra energy to continue this inner battle. If I was going to continue to the top, it was going to take every bit of physical, mental and spiritual strength I had. It was at this point, that I finally let go of all this other stuff. I only thought of the end goal, I certainly did not look back. I think this is often how life goes for me. I knew I did not have the luxury of going further and then saying “ah this was a bad idea, I need to get myself our of this situation.” Instead, I had to make the commitment to simply get to the top of my Stairway to Heaven.

Once I let go of all these doubts, I went on automatic pilot. I focused on the task at hand. I stopped trying to chat with my fellow hikers, I stopped letting my mind wander. The fact is, it was at this point the trail got really hard. It became consuming to carefully pick your way up. As I got lost in this section, I found myself surprised when I realized how far I had actually come, progress I had made with out all the internal doubt and noise. Very interesting.

In ways it was harder than I thought, but in ways it was easier. I had friends along the way, and Father Mark was very sweet. The higher we climbed the more he stayed by my side, quietly talking about this and that, keeping my mind off the struggle. He was there to place a hand behind my back, more than once, as if he was there to catch me if I fell. When I had to stop to breathe, he would provide a piece of history or other information so that I did not have to feel compelled to talk and recover at the same time.

It hit me as we finally neared the top, by breaking this journey down to single thoughtful steps, and by committing myself to this journey, I had found a peace and courage with my goals in life. One of the reasons I came on this adventure was because I was feeling restless, I had been working very hard in my everyday life, but was not feeling the success of all my efforts. I was starting to doubt myself and question myself. I was letting free will get in the way of my success. The Incline helped me get squared away mentally and spiritually, once again. It was just what I needed. I felt like it clarified, for me, why I was living my life the way I was, and God revealed to me in a very visual way that he is not only there right beside me on the journey, he is there to catch me if I fall, and if I just keep focused, on just what I have do to, at that time, I will in fact, achieve my goals.

I am confident this experience came to me on a beautiful Colorado April morning just when I needed it the most. God showed me I would always have just what I need; at the time I need it the most, on my journey.

I am glad I went. I am glad I climbed to the top of my Stairway to Heaven. It renewed my faith in my own spiritual journey.

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

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Fight Like a Girl

Girls are known for their cute smiles, their tender hearts and their bubbly personalities. Boys are known for their rough and tumble energy, rocks in their pockets, and roll around in the mud kind of spirit.

The old saying “you fight like a girl” is less than a compliment in most situations, but I can proudly say that I wish I could fight like a girl, specifically, my daughter and her friend Sarah, because they are beyond amazing. They are champions in their field of sport, Taekwondo, and they are at the Red Executive Belt level at the age of 11 years old. In case you don’t know about the sport of Taekwondo a Red Executive Belt means you are working on your Black Executive Belt and are within six months of competing for your Black Belt. Let that one sink in for just a minute. How many 11-year-old little girls do you know that are almost Black Belts? Hmmm. Not many.

Saturday I watched Maggie and Sarah do some serious competing at their school’s annual Poomse Competition. These girls were impressive. They were strong, they were tough and they were focused on their goals. Sarah impressively won first place for her age group in sparring. Sparring is not for wimps. These kids get geared up in protective pads, they respect their competitors but they want to win. They get into the sparring ring and start throwing punches and launching focused kicks. Competitors earn points based on where they land the punches. It sounds a but nasty but actually it is a disciplined and focused sport and it teaches these kids a ton about setting a challenging goal and then working long and hard hours to accomplish their goals. Maggie won first place in her forms with a near perfect performance. It was fun to watch these two young ladies s they competed with spirit but with respect and compassion for their opponents.

My bucketlist is about getting out of my comfort zone and growing as a person. My bucketlist is also about helping and encouraging my children making their goals and dreams come true. I am honored to be watching my youngest daughter as she challenges herself in a way that leaves me speechless. Almost.

When Maggie discovered Taekwondo almost 4 years ago she discovered a natural talent and she started growing up. At the tender age of 7 ½ years old she found something that she wanted to work for and she found discipline and the courage to go for it. She set a goal to earn her Black Belt before she became a teenager. My husband and I were impressed and we decided to support her in any way we could. For years now we have been making sure she got to class, practiced her forms, washed her uniform and managed to keep the tuition paid so she could follow her dream. We viewed it as an investment in her future and an investment in her character.

Master Han Lee teaches goal setting, hard work, focus and discipline. He expects a ton from his students. In fact, what impresses me the most about Master Han Lee is that he treats even his youngest students like people not young children. He tells them that he expects them to be on time, be prepared, be focused and be respectful. It is impressive when he gets a room of four and five year olds to stand still and “focus their mind and focus their body” and they do it. I guess the big lesson for all the adults in the room watching is that if you don’t set the expectation of excellence for your children they certainly will not surprise you. When you respect them as people, not just little kids you talk down to, it is impressive what they can and will do in return.

For the past four years I have been watching my daughter grow before my eyes. Saturday I watched her compete like a talented young athlete. I watched her and I was impressed. From now on, I think everyone should want to “fight like a girl” because Sarah and Maggie are girls and they are impressive.

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

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Just Keep Swimming

I believe in writing your own script in life. From my point of view, which you may agree with or not, that’s ok either way, why would I want to follow someone else’s definition of what my life should be. I do think a lot of people do this and I believe this is why there are so many unhappy people in this world. Happiness should be something we choose. To choose otherwise, means you are living according to someone else’s idea of what you should and should not do.

I think many people do this because it is easier than writing their own script. Think about it, no big decisions to be made, no unchartered waters to navigate, no skinned up knees or broken hearts and when it doesn’t work out then you can always blame someone else for your unhappiness!

It may be the road less traveled, it may or may not work out, but I have to do it my way. I have to live life on my own terms, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I do have to note that sometimes when you are writing your own script in life it all doesn’t go according to plan. “Character is what you do when no one is looking” What do you do when life throws you a curve ball and it doesn’t go according to plan? Well, I think you take care of yourself, and you keep working your plan. But first you have to have a plan. What I don’t think you can do is panic and switch directions. Like Dory says on Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming” sometimes the best thing you can do is just keep moving.

My life the past couple of weeks as been less than stellar. Less than fun, less than easy. I have had my moments, in fact, this morning I was curled up in the fetal position on the couch but in the end I have tried to suck it up and keep going in the direction I chose.

What’s is the problem? What’s gone wrong, what am I stressed out about?

Here is a sampling of my fears:

-business is open, we’ve been working toward this goal for months, we love it, it is fun and …. We don’t have enough traffic through the doors yet. What do we do? It’s easy to panic, look back at our choices and say to your self, “OMG what were we thinking, this was the worst decision ever, now we are doomed, what are we going to do, this is going to be a disaster…… The reality is that this was a good idea, we have made huge progress, we are passionate about what we are doing, we are working 14 hour days, we are establishing a presence in a new community, we are planting seeds and it takes time for seeds to grow. Now it the time to cheer each other on and keep planning seeds. Don’t look back. Don’t panic.

-house is back on the market….we’ve done this before, in fact we moved 7 times in the first 14 years of our marriage, we had the house on the market last summer but our timing was off. In fact, we put the house on the market right when everyone else did and right when the news from Euorpean markets sounded dismal. We listed it for 4 months, had excellent feedback, showed it 25 times and then finally said enough was enough. We are hearing now that the market is different, that inventory is down 40 percent and showings are up 30%. We need to relocate so we can minimize our commute and simplify our life. This week we cleaned it back up and put it back on the market. I am trying to motivate to o this again. I need it to sell.

Motherhood-I try to do it all. I try to be all the things a great mom should be, supportive, encouraging, loving, strict, forgiving, understanding, sympathetic, organized, lovable, encouraging, etc. etc. etc. I, like most mom’s I know, try to do this while also managing the rest of the family, the house, the schedules, the pets, the bills and work. Apparently, lately I have been fooling myself that I have got it all under control.

The other night my 11 year old brought me in this little note. Let me just say “From the Mouths of Babe’s” check it out yourself and tell me what you think she is trying to tell me? Funny but not funny. I tried to take notice, but how bad is it when your child puts it to you as directly as mine just did. Priorities! Too much on mom’s plate, child feeling left out, get your act together mom!

Job-too much to do and not enough time or staff to get it all done about sums it up. I feel like a typical day is one step forward and three steps backward. As soon as I get one crisis averted another one pops up on the radar. It is rewarding, I feel like I am where I am supposed to be but ………

Finances-there is always more month than paycheck. Need I say more….

Fitness-I am 8 weeks into my first 10 week challenge and starting to feel much stronger and I am steadily getting leaner which is really exciting. Unfortunately, the past two days I have been nursing an achy shoulder, the one I had surgery on 5 years ago. I am trying to step back and give it time to heal, I am trying not to “disasterize” which is my own word for my favorite hobby, jumping from one conclusion to another until the worst possible scenario has happened. In this case, I not dealing with a tweaked shoulder that is tired and sore from 8 weeks of 6 day a week kickboxing training, no I am dealing with Rotary Cuff surgery again, months of rehab, limited mobility, cronic pain…….. see what I mean.

Life isn’t always a bowl of cherry’s and just because I like to tell funny stories about my adventures doesn’t mean I too don’t face the same challenges as the rest of the world, it just means it is time for me to “just keep swimming”


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

The list goes on and on of what feel’s more out of control in my life right now rather than in control.

All I can do is just keep swimming, try to simplify where I can, keep my priorities straight and say a lot of prayers in the meantime.

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Lean Mean Fighting Machine

Kickboxing is an interesting sport, one I have never paid an ounce of attention to until now. I signed up for Ferrell’s Extreme Body Shaping Classes because I knew it was time to get off the couch and get back into they gym in some sort of fashion. I signed up because I liked the concept of 6 one hour classes per week combining cardio and strength training along with quality instruction and lots of motivation, the kickboxing part just came along with the package. I signed up to try something new and to help me meet my goal for the new year of leaning down, waaaaaayyyy down.

The first night of class we were all taught how to wrap our wrists, the idea being we would need extra support to protect our wrists when punching. I was pretty sure this was unnecessary since I have the upper body strength of a slug. It seemed the risk of real injury was fairly remote, at least in my mind.

Next, we put on our HUGE boxing gloves, suddenly I felt more like Mickey Mouse than Muhammad Ali, but if nothing else I am game to try something new so I too put on my massively over-sized gloves and stood alert waiting for my next set of instructions.

Our very fit instructor turned on loud music with a driving beat and started warming us up with a series of jabs, hooks and kicks. Within 30 seconds I felt like I was going to die. Hell, just holding my gigantic gloves up by my face seemed like a workout to me; within moments each glove started feeling heavier and heavier by the second.

In telling this little story, to describe my efforts as, awkward, is really being kind. I was taught to be a “little lady” and growing up with only a younger sister the need to defend myself from someone pulling rapid punches at my face was just not ever a problem.

I would start out ok, hands up, jabbing away, only to realize soon my tired arms had dropped and I had left my entire face exposed to the nearest bad guy willing to throw a punch. Then, talk about coordination, you are supposed to keep your feet moving constantly so you are not an easy target. Don’t you remember Muhammed Ali’s old saying “fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee?” Picture him or Mike Tyson bouncing back and forth on their feet, dancing away from his opponent all the while holding his gloves up to his face, always protecting and waiting for his opportunity to jab and cross, striking before his opponent even saw it coming.

Now that you have that image in mind, transpose this one, me dressed in my dusty workout pants and baggy t shirt standing in a gym with 40 other people, trying desperately to be invisible in the back of the room, and still peer out periodically around my associates to try and follow my deft moving instructor. Alternatively, I would forget to keep my hands up or forget to move my feet. My stance appeared more like a tree trunk rooted in soil than a dancing butterfly and my jab about as harmful as a wet noodle. Now, picture me breathing rapidly, sweating profusely and averaging 4 steps behind the group at any given point in time. Ya, I looked good.

Sensing I might be a natural at this sport, I continued my efforts to keep up.

Next the instructor had us move huge punching bags out into the center of the room. I realized what I was really up against when I pushed with all my might and it merely laughed at me. Seriously, I watched as my peers pushed, tilted and rolled their pads into the middle of the room. Trying again, I threw my entire weight against it hoping to knock it over and instead it bounced back at me like Bozo the Clown, nearly knocking me out on the rebound. At this point, a buff looking female classmate had mercy on me and quickly maneuvered the punching bag into proper position. Well, ok, time to move on.

Our instructor resumed his stance and proceeded to demonstrate a series of sidekicks and alternating punches. He outlined what he expected. Gloves up, I danced in place nodding my head that I was ready to go for it.

I threw my punch with all I had, danced back on my heels and brought my knee up for a menacing sidekick designed to disarm and disorient. The bag didn’t even move. Really, not even a tiny bit. I looked around the room, people were waylaying into their bags, loud smacks could be heard and bags teetered back and forth from the force of the kicks. Mine stood still staring back at me. Daring me to try it again.

After several exhausting minutes of this our instructor paired us with a partner. The plan was to have us stand on opposite side of the bags, alternating our punching and kicking. My partner was a stout man who had done this before. He nodded I could go first like a gentleman, so I grinned and threw the first of my punches, I hit with all I had, jab, jab, hook, upper cut, jab, side kick, side kick. I think I looked like I was having a seizure. The bag didn’t even twitch. Gasping for air I stepped back, impressed with my furry. I waited for my partner to go at it. Nothing happened. Finally, after a few seconds my partner peered around the bag, looked at me and said, “oh I guess you went already”. Then he proceeded to beat the living hell out of our bag and I soon found myself defending my face and head for fear the bag would fall over onto me, certain to kill me instantly. Seriously, he hadn’t even realized I had gone, what the hell!

Day one at Ferrell’s Extreme Body Shaping had me extremely whipped.

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