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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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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50 While 50 Doing it Our Way

50 While 50 Doing it Our Way

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As a self professed adrenaline junkie I have discovered the amazing fun that can be had by getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new and challenging. I also turned 50 late last summer, and am thus, feeling a bit of an added incentive to get going and make up lost time in my quest to forge new and exciting adventures. Now since I have not won the lottery this will take a little creative energy to fit it all into a budget but since it is early in the game I am temporarily full of confidence!

My husband and I also recently celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary and as the years roll by I get a kick out of reflecting how we each approach life in similar and yet very different manners. My husband is inclined to set really big, really ambitious, hit it out of the park home-run kind of goals. He believes in the “go big or go home” mentality. To him, anything less than a blow your mind, balls to the walls, kind of goal just isn’t worth the energy. For example, years ago he came to me one day out of the blue and announced he was going to compete in an Ironman Competition. I blinked a couple of times.

“Really?” was all I could conjure up for a reply. “You mean that crazy long triathlon thing they do in Hawaii?” I said as I frowned at him.

“Yes” he came back confidently.

“hmmm” I thought. Secretly, I thought he was nuts and this was never going to happen but I tried rather lamely to be the supportive wife.

“ok, don’t you need to work up to that, you know, do some short races?” I limply offered.

“hell no, I don’t want to do those short events. I want to do an Ironman. I am going to start training today for an Ironman.” he replied.

He did just that and has now completed 7 full distance Ironman Competitions. Granted it took him close to a year to train for it and he’s done the competitions over the past 7 years but he did it!

That was that. He was doing it his way. Go big or go home. To him it was simple and clear, if you want to do an Ironman, than do an Ironman, the rest of that stuff was just fluff. This is how he approaches life and while I agree it was ambitious and impressive, I am not to be outdone. In true Dan and Jackie fashion, we are each doing it our way, together. He prefers training hard for one massive, impressive, balls to the walls adventure marathon, I apparently don’t have the attention span of a hummingbird, so I came up with my own list of 50 different bucket list adventures and I plan to complete each and every one while I enjoy my 50’s!

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What’s Next on My List:

Meet someone famous
Visit Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings
Attend Sunrise Easter Service at The Royal Gorge
Visit the Hot Springs at Ouray
Sit on the porch and watch the sunset over the mountains
Hike Paint Mines
Drive around with the top off my Jeep
Hike the Incline with my son
Explore 4 wheel drive trails in Colorado in our Jeep
Climb Montezuma’s Tower in Garden of the Gods
Read six books a year just for fun
Tour a gold mine in the Rocky Mountains and pan for gold
Sleep out under the stars in Moab
Rock climb and Rappel in Utah with my sister
Hang out by the campfire
Operate a chain saw
Mountain bike the entire Katy Trail
Learn to Kayak
Do a Missouri river float trip
Tour the vineyards in Missouri
Do a Canopy Tree Climb
Explore a cave
Ride the rapids down the Grand Canyon
Fly Fish
Milk a cow
White Water Rafting Down the Royal Gorge
Visit The Abbey Vineyard in Canyon City Colorado
Get published
Hike Seven Falls at night under the lights
Try Zumba Dancing
Take a Concealed Weapon Course
Go 4 Wheeling in Great Sand Dune National Park
Take my daughter to a drive in movie theater
Mountain Bike Gold Camp Road and Canyon
Do a 2-minute plank
Do 50 sit-ups in 1 minute
Do 20 REAL pushups (on my toes)
Do 1 one-arm pushups (yes one arm)
Hike a another 14ner
Inspire someone
learn to sail
whale watching trip
Go to Hawaii
Take our friends to a Red Rocks Concert
Wrestle a gator at the alligator farm
Drive a race car or at least get a ride in one
Have a roller derby girl experience
Tour Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame
4 wheel drive Lost Dollar Highway from Telluride to Ourey
Rappel off an Arch in Arches National Park in Utah
Attend a mountain bike workshop for women
Mountain bike down Pikes Peak
Go to Alaska
Renew my spirit
Learn about photography
write a book
watch my kids become adults
Take a yoga class
Learn to make homemade pie crust
Snowmobile
Ice Climb Chicks with Picks in Ouray
Write a blog about all of these adventures

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I added a couple extra just for good measure and to honor the spirit of this project, besides you never know what else will come along that I just have to try!
I am looking forward to a few big years ahead of me and all the trouble I can possibly get into along the way.

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

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A Taste of Love

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I love this big ol crazy, nutty family. And everyone in this family has taught me something at some time or another. Aunt Mary taught me how to shop. Really.

Aunt Mary gave the best Christmas and birthday presents, no offense to all my other aunts and uncles. And of course the gifts always came from Uncle Dennis and Aunt Mary, but we all knew Uncle Dennis got the benefit of being married to the best gift giver ever and we well new where the gift had come from.

In fact, I think I was about 9 or 10 when I remember getting a birthday gift from Aunt Mary (and Uncle Dennis) that stood out from all the others. The year would have been 73 or 74 and my mom was still dressing me in little girl fashions but somehow Aunt Mary in her infinite shopping and motherly wisdom knew I was ready for more. She carefully picked out for me a bright yellow tube top type shirt and bell-bottom jeans! Oh my gosh! It screamed 1970’s and when I tried it on, for the first time in my life, I knew I had it going on! It was the most amazing outfit I had ever seen. It was smart, edgy, and swanky, and groovy and grown up and yet perfect for a little girl trying to be just a bit grown up.

See the lesson she taught me was not that shopping was the answer to problems or that gifts had to be expensive. The lesson I learned was that she loved me so much that she really put time and energy into thinking about the best possible gift for me at that time. It was the amount of love and thought that went into her gifts that made them a little magic.

Now I know she loved me but she did this for everyone with every gift they got.

I know this because you know exactly what I am talking about.

Like Forrest Gump said “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get” but when you got a gift from Aunt Mary (and Uncle Dennis) you never had to worry because your box of chocolates was going to contain the most mouth watering sweet milk chocolate covering decadent macadamia nuts from only one place in the world, Hawaii. Each box was hand selected and delivered with love to each and every one of us, every time. The only gift better than my bright yellow tube top and bell-bottom jeans was those boxes of chocolate macadamia nuts. Each bite was a little slice of heaven and I never felt so loved.

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Learn to Love Yourself- Wear a Funky Hat

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Fit is the new skinny. After 50 years I think I finally have it figured out-honestly. Self-confidence comes from within. It is not about how long and shiny your hair is, mine was always thin anyway, it is not about how long your legs are, I inherited short stout Cue family legs, and it is not about what the scale says. In fact, the scale can be deadly deceiving if you don’t know better. It isn’t about what size you wear, it’s about how you look in what you wear and it is about having a strong and healthy body but mostly it is about learning to love yourself.

I have decided that at this point in my life the only person I have to impress and please is myself. I don’t have to do anything to establish who I am other than to be myself. I just want to be healthy and have a body that will allow me to do all the fun stuff in life. I want to keep up with my kids, actually I want them to try and keep up with me!

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Society does a real number on us, especially as women. As young girls we just want to be grown up, we want long pretty hair and curves. As teenagers we want to be cool and popular, hoping others will see us as attractive. As soon as we become young women we want to be whatever we are not. We want to be in a relationship, or we want to be single, we want to have curly hair or long straight hair, we want a date to the dance and we all want to look like a model. Once we become mom’s it gets even worse, we now want to have a flat stomach and thinner thighs, we want the grey to go away and to be seen as sexy again and it is hard to do that with baby food carrots globing up your hair and a two year old wiping his runny nose on your pants. As we age a bit we find ourselves looking back longingly at pictures of us in our youth and find ourselves asking our friends “why didn’t I know I looked that good at 25?” or” I’d kill for that waist again.” Finally, it hits us. This is complete nonsense.

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For me this happened a few years ago when I found myself in a dark cramped dressing room trying on the newest style of skinny jeans and berating myself that when I looked in the long mirror under harsh lights I wasn’t thrilled with my reflection. I looked like a stuffed sausage complete with a muffin top spilling out from my tight waistband. Why don’t I look like I am supposed to? It was then that I realized what a fool I was being.

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No one looks good in skinny jeans; hell not even skinny 14-year-old pre-adolescent girls look good in them so why in the hell did I think I was supposed to? Because that’s what the magazines and TV shows told me what to think. In an act of defiance I peeled off the jeans and threw them down in disgust. This is not what I wanted and it sure as hell wasn’t healthy. Anything that makes me feel bad about myself is defiantly not healthy.

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I needed a new attitude and I needed it now. Heading back to the racks I searched until I found a modern cut pair of jeans, but ones that actually had a little fabric to them. I pulled them on and evaluated the look in the mirror. I decided then and there to focus on what looked good on me and to hell with the fashion hit of the day. This was a revelation for me. With a little research I realized I look good in A line dresses and skirts. I look nice in darker jeans. I like the look of a jacket with pants or jeans; it dresses things up a bit. I usually look better in shades of the same color; it makes me look taller somehow. I sure as hell don’t look good in base ball hats or in baggy sweats. I can however pull off a funky hat! Skintight dresses don’t do much for me either and I look downright sick in the color purple. It is important to figure these things out. Once you do I recommend sticking with it and to hell with what all these silly teenagers are wearing. Do what is right for you; a woman who knows she looks good is far more attractive than one who is trying too hard.

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So now what? Now I wear what I know looks good on me. I wear my hair in a style that compliments my face and personality. I stick to a few basic principles with my wardrobe and update it seasonally with funky accessories. I try to avoid looking older or younger than I really am. I wear things that work with my life. I do things. It’s who I am. I dream, I learn, I try new things. Some might call me nuts but I am out there hiking, biking, walking, skiing, dog sledding and rock climbing, face it. I am out there having fun. I am wearing funky hats.

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

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Empower Your Estrogen Moab, Utah Rock Climbing, Rappelling and More 2015!

Ladies! For Your Eyes ONLY

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Attention all ladies! Close your eyes and picture this! It’s midmorning, the sky is bright and sunny with not a cloud in the sky and yet you are about to make a surprise entrance intro a crowd of unsuspecting people in a way worthy of the introduction scene to a Mission Impossible movie! Imagine the feeling of rappelling off a 120-foot sheer rock down into a crowd of unsuspecting onlookers taking the easy way on a hike from the parking lot. As the crowd looks up with amazement suddenly a badass team of comrade’s rappel in, showing the rest of the world it’s a hell of a lot of fun to the take the unconventional route!

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Now, imagine that priceless feeling you only get when you have just really pushed yourself outside the normal limits of life and done something so amazing, exciting, daring and bold that even your mother would be impressed? On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t tell your mom! That’s the kind of feeling the girls who put these weekends together love! Our goal is to arrange the most adventure packed, giggle fest of a girls weekend that you have ever had and while we do that we are going to see new places, do new things and tap into our inner wild child just because most of us have long lost touch with that part of ourselves. Can you see the look of astonishment on the faces around you as you nonchalantly smile to the amazed strangers and give them that “ya, we just did that kind of satisfied rock rappeller look?”

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Picture you and a dozen of your 30ish-40ish-50ish suburban PTA soccer mom comrades on the adventure trip of a lifetime because you are part of the next Empower Your Estrogen Adventure! Spots are very limited and fill up very quickly so if you have made the New Year resolution to kick it up a notch in your life this is the opportunity of a lifetime and just what you have been waiting for.

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Empower Your Estrogen founders Jackie (Bucketlistblogger.com) and sister Vicki (IronGirl) have partnered with the worlds best and hunkiest guides at Front Range Climbing Co to offer this once in life time opportunity. The adventure will begin Thursday morning April 24 and continue through Sunday April 27. We will backcountry camp in the stunning Moab, Utah desert under the brightest starry nights you can imagine. We are going to Moab for a four day weekend of badasery big time, full of rappelling off Moab’s spectacular 120 foot arches, rock climbing the stunning bluffs, hiking, camping, bonding, and celebrating our womanhood while we recharge our batteries and make new life long friendships! Nightly campfire chats while we sip a celebratory glass of wine and indulge in a little chocolate treat while we crown the Tough Tiara winner of the day have proven to be one of the many highlights. It’s like a girls retreat and an adrenaline charged slumber party all wrapped up in one!

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Our guides at Front Range Climbing Co will take care of everything from transportation from Colorado Springs to Moab, Utah, provide all our food, and make all the special arrangements. We will be with professional guides every step of the way and they will provide all the climbing gear, ropes, and instruction that we need to make sure everyone on this adventure can participate in creating life long memories.

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Front Range Climbing Co will customize the trip to our exact needs and offer us adventures that everyone can participate in. You need no special knowledge or prior climbing experience to participate. On our own custom Tough Girl scale this adventure would come in at rating of a 6-7 so you have plenty of time to dust off your old hiking boots and get your spring zig back into your zag!

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The Empower Your Estrogen Moab, Utah Rock Climbing and Rappelling Adventure 2015 is offered at the staggeringly great deal of $379, includes transportation from Colorado Springs to and from Moab, Utah and all food, technical gear and instruction. You will need to provide your own basic backcountry gear such as a backpack, sleeping bag, small 2 man tent, hiking boots and comfortable outdoor clothing. That’s it! We make it really easy!

All you have to do is say “HELL Yeah and call today to register!”

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Call 719-632-5822 Front Range Climbing Co today to register! Remember, there are only 10 available spots on this trip offered at the blow out price of only $379 all-inclusive per person. I guarantee you because this is the coolest trip of a lifetime spots will fill up quickly and only the first 10 to register will get to attend!

As an added incentive if you register and pay in full before February 24, 2015 you get the discounted early bird price of $339! That’s a savings of $40!!!

If you register and pay in full before March 8, 2015 you get a discounted price of $359! That’s a savings of $20!

If you register and pay in full before March 8, 2015 you get a discounted price of $359! That’s a savings of $20!

DEADLINE to REGISTER MARCH 8, 2015!

What are you waiting for!!!!!! CALL Right now! 719-632-5822 and say these magic words “Hell Yea!”

Cancellation Policy:
Full refund available with no penalty prior to March 24. After March 24, 80% refund unless we can fill your spot.

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No Pain No Gain I want to Climb The FANG!

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No Pain, No Gain, I Want To Climb the FANG!!

I know you have heard this saying before; I think we all have at one time or another. The words do ring true, in more ways than one.

A few years ago I took a leap of faith and tried rock climbing as an impulse as a part of my bucketlist. It started innocently enough when I got a Groupon in my email and it caught my eye. My thought process went something like this; “Oh cool, look at that neat picture of the guy rock climbing in Garden of the Gods Park” “Wait look at that, they say anyone can do it?” “I wonder if that means I can do it?” “It looks really intense but I’d love to be able to say I had gone rock climbing.” “Hmmmm… OK, I am in” I literally called the guide company and described myself to them and made them confirm that yes I could do this.

While I was rock climbing my guide started telling me about ice climbing and as the unexpected adrenaline junkie that I am, my interest was piqued. This time the thought process went like this; “I really like this rock climbing thing, ice climbing sounds really extreme but pretty impressive” “Do you really think I could do that?”
“well, if he thinks I could do it than maybe I can” “ Hmmmmmm… OK, I am in” I asked him three times that day if I could really do this. He said yes.

Next thing I new I was ice climbing and loved it even more than rock climbing although in ways it is tougher, it really feels good when you have conquered a frozen waterfall with only your own strength and mental problem solving skills. While we were taming this waterfall I was thinking; “ Darn this was really cool. I can’t believe I did this. It was hard but in a good way. I was really challenged by this waterfall of ice.” “I am so glad I decided to give this a try!” He was right, I could do this!

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So, next thing I know I am facebook stalking my favorite guide and finding myself fascinated by his wickedly impressive array of ice climbing pictures when one ice wall caught my attention. I couldn’t pull my eyes away. The bottom line was that I was looking at the most impressive climbing picture I’ve ever seen. “OMG that is so cool. God I wish I could climb that one.” “Wow it looks hard, I am sure that one is way beyond my abilities.” “It would feel so good to know I climbed something that impressive.” “There is no way in hell I could get to the top of that monster. Look how tall it is, it must be several hundred feet high” “I wonder………” “Maybe……..”
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Fast forward to a facebook conversation with my buddy the ice climbing guide. “Hey Dan, you know that really cool picture you have of the tall skinny cascade ice. That is amazing. Ummm. How hard was it to climb. Oh ya…. Ummm. Do you think I could maybe climb that someday?” “REALLY?” “Are you sure, you do remember me right?” I thought maybe I should send him a picture of me just to be sure. I didn’t.

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That was it. The little seed was planted and suddenly it grew and grew. I certainly didn’t expect this one little seed to turn into something so impressive. In fact, when I planted this seed I kind of just haphazardly tossed it out there. I didn’t take care of it properly. I barely even covered it with a grain of dirt. I was sure this one wouldn’t take. I nurtured several other little seeds that I was much more certain would grow but they never really took off. Instead, this one little casually tossed, sadly neglected little seed started to take root. No matter what the odds were against it, this little seed kept getting stronger. That’s kind of what happened here. I mean, a year ago I would have bet every last penny I had that not only could I NOT handle the physical challenge of rock climbing, let alone ice climbing which I had never even heard of, I would have bet that it certainly wouldn’t be anything I actually liked. Will wonders never cease?

I tried it. I liked it. I went back for more. I recruited friends to try it with me. I think I even impressed my husband who knows me better than I know myself.

Now don’t make the mistake of assuming it was easy. This was far from easy. It was scary, it was intimidating, it was overwhelming, it was an adrenaline rush, it was physical, it was cold, it required real mental brainpower, it took perseverance, it didn’t always go the way it was supposed to, I got stuck, I thought about quitting, I questioned my sanity, I stuck with it and tried again and again when I couldn’t make the pick stick, I tried not to look down or really even look up because it was easy to freak out. I just kept trying and then all of a sudden I looked up and I had done it. I was at the top of the ice. I looked down at how far I had come and realized I had done this all by myself. I was hooked.

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It is hard to describe in words what it felt like to do something I really didn’t think I could do. Especially when that something required concurring with crampons on my boots and an ice pick in my hand. Who would have guessed!

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I guess it made me feel strong. Strong mentally and physically, I liked the rush I got when I finally reached my goal and stood on top. I liked the fact that I had done something really impressive all by myself.

Thinking about this as I soaked my tired sore bruised up body it dawned on me, it’s the stuff in life you have to work the hardest at that you really appreciate and feel good about. If it’s easy, anyone can do it.

Going out on a limb, I called my buddy up and spoke the words I had previously only dared to speak. “I want to climb that one, will you take me?” Guess what he said? Yes. Good Lord now I am going to really have to do it! While I haven’t had a chance to actually climb The Fang yet, it is high on my list of important things to do in life. I am hopeful when I get the chance my buddy and ice climbing guide Dan will be there to help me make this dream come true! I will keep you posted, I promise! One day I hope to conquer “The Fang” let’s see if I actually make good on this one, but for now the little seed is growing…

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

PHOTO Credits Matthew McKinley (thanks for the share!)

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Facing 50 Fearless Top 10 Tips

Facing 50 Fearless

I can’t believe how fast the years go by, in fact the older I get the faster they seem to go. At this point I find myself trying to hold onto time like Winnie the Pooh trying to hang onto Piglet in a brisk fall wind. It almost works but not quite. I decided that for my next 50 years I am going to try to do it a little differently. Here are my goals.

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1. Let Go and Let God! [Read more…]

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What the Hell am I Doing This For? Climbing to New Heights

What the Hell am I Doing This For?

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Several months ago, in an effort to stall the sands of time, I posted about a rather aggressive list of items I wanted to accomplish before my 50th birthday. My intent was to create a sense of urgency in my own life so I would quit making excuses and just “do it” like Nike so aptly tells us in their ads. Let’s face it, I’m already 49 and the list of things I haven’t done far outweighs the list of things I have done, so I figure I better get off the proverbial pot and get to work, err fun.

On this list was a couple of rather extreme sport minded accomplishments that had been swirling around in my head for a couple of years now, so in my bold attempt to stake claim to my youth and defy old age, I bravely put them high on “the list” so I would be sure to achieve my greatest goals.

I’ve wanted to climb Montezuma’s Tower in the Garden of the Gods now for three years. Before that I have to admit I didn’t even know it was there, much less have this insane idea to summit one of the highest pinnacles in this pristine park, but once I realized it was there and that it could be climbed, well it just started eating away at me until I just had to do it.

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I noticed it on one of my first rock climbing adventures with Front Range Climbing Co, and as I sat on the top of a much smaller summit I looked out over the park and my eyes rested on the biggest, baddest, most beautiful sandstone pinnacle I’d ever seen. When my tired eyes registered that the most ambitious of climbers were actually perched precariously on its cagey sides I knew that somehow, someday I had to conquer it.

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“I want to climb that one,” I eagerly pointed out to my trusty guide Daniel. As his gaze rested on my far off target I noticed a little twinkle in the corner of his eye, but he gamely replied, “Actually, that can be done, but it is a more advanced climb and it is what we call a double rope line because it is 150 feet high.”

I filed this nugget of information away in the back of my mind and continued with my beginner rock climbing lessons, eventually doing many of the different climbs in this park, on Flatirons and even on ice, but I never forgot my little dream to climb big someday.

Finally this past fall, I decided there was no time like the present and I called my buddy Isaac, at Front Range Climbing Co and asked him if he would help me make a dream come true and let me climb Montezuma’s Tower. Isaac knows me and he knows what I can and cannot do on the face of a rock, but he also has come to know me as someone just stubborn enough to push through the tough spots to achieve a dream and he agreed to take me to the top.

I recruited a friend and arranged my schedule so we could take advantage of the cooler October weather and soon the plans were in play.

In true Jackie form what I want to do and what I should probably should do don’t always match up, but I like to think that is part of what makes me so charming. Anyway, I announced to my loving husband what I was planning and asked if he would come along to take the pictures and videos of this grand adventure. He loves me so he said yes.

On the day of “the summit” Isaac, Lauren and I, along with my paparazzi crew (my husband, 13 year old daughter and Rowdy the Golden Retriever) walked deep into the park and set up at the base of Montezuma’s Tower. Isaac began explaining how this was all going to work and started setting up the ropes and gear accordingly.
As I craned my neck back as far as it would go and I looked up into the sky I realized just how tall this pinnacle really was. It seemed to loom straight up into the air, like the beanstalk in the old fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk, going straight as an arrow up into the clouds.

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Isaac, one of my all time favorite climbing guides has the patience of an angel and a wicked sense of humor. He is also very calm and matter of fact about rock climbing. He carefully went over all the safety components of climbing, checking our gear, triple checking each and every knot and carbine. Once he was sure everything checked out he calmly told us what he was going to do and then what we had to do. It was at this moment that I had my first “twinge” of doubt. Up to this point I was just excited and a bit naive about my actual role in this adventure.

See the thing is, on all my previous rock or ice climbing adventures the highest I had ever climbed was probably 60-70 feet up. In every one of these climbs I was not only with an expertly trained guide but I was always in direct sight of them. This means they could always see me and therefore make sure I was what I refer to in my mom life as “making good choices!” The guide could see where my feet were, where my hands were, what my next step was going to be, and that my gear was functioning properly and I was clipping on properly. All this direct and careful supervision gave me a bit of false confidence but now I realized I had to have my big girl panties on to summit Montezuma’s Tower because suddenly Isaac started talking about all these things “I was going to do.”

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“Wait a minute George,” I thought.

“You mean I am going to have to set the ropes right, clip on and off midway up and make sure the route up is safe for Lauren coming up behind me” I said in a whisper. “All without you being able to see what I am doing?”

“Oh Lord, help me” I started praying as fast as I could.

It was at this precise moment I realized I wanted to climb, I just didn’t want to actually be responsible for my safety or anyone else’s for that matter. The dawn of the bittersweet reality settled upon me. That was not how this was going to work.

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Isaac clearly, and calmly restated the “plan” to me. He was going up first as the lead climber and would set the line for me. Because the rock I had chosen was so tall we needed two ropes to reach the summit and therefore once he got over the first bulge in the rock he would no longer be able to see us. He would have to wait above us for us to climb up to him. Once we reached his midway point he would lead climb up the rest of the way to the summit and again we would have to climb up to him. Once Isaac started up we would no longer be able to see him. Lauren would belay me and we were going to be responsible for each other and ourselves. Just like real grownups. Crap.

Having not factored all this into my “big” plan it took me a few moments to regroup and gather my courage. “Ok, how hard can this be” I thought gamely to myself. “I have done several climbs, surely at this point I know what I am doing”. “Oh hell” I thought, raging doubt set in.

Lauren and I exchanged a brief but serious look. I could tell she shared my concerns.

Finally Lauren and I nodded in agreement and Isaac quickly started easily scaling the rock face until he disappeared completely from our view. In a few minutes he called down saying it was ok for me to start up. With Lauren belaying me below and my husband giving me a generous boost up over the first hurdle, I swallowed my pride and got to work, carefully climbing up and up.

When things are going well on the face of a rock, rock climbing is fun and relatively easy. You place your hands, push off on your feet and reach up until you find your next handhold. In this way you carefully pick you way up the wall but you feel empowered, a bit like Spiderman!

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However, when things are not going well on the face of a rock this is when your character is really tested. Unexpected things happen, like sometimes there is no place to put your hands and get any kind of a grip. Sometimes you have to reach, really far to get a grip. The same is true of where to place your feet. The farther you have to stretch the harder it is to pull your body along. On this particular rock we were very exposed and the wind came up making you feel even more vulnerable on the side of the rock.

For me the real test came when I got stuck midway up the rock face, far below where my instructor and trusty guide could actually see me and too far up for me to give up and go back down. I found myself unsure of what to do, how to solve the problem. Isaac calmly talked to me helping me work through my options and in the end helped me by leveraging the rope from above to give me a little boost when I was unable to pull myself up with raw strength. Back on track again I carefully made my way up but faced another serious challenge when I had to move the ropes and set the line for Lauren who could be coming behind me. I tried to remember what Isaac had told me to do but I was insecure about my abilities and my knowledge and worried that any error would put Lauren’s safety in jeopardy. Again, far outside my comfort zone I found myself having to yell up to Isaac to confirm what I was doing and how I was doing it. His calm and reassuring voice drifted down to me and eventually I had to let go of my fears and push onward and upward. Frankly, I just had to believe in myself and it was not easy.

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At the midway point I tied off so I was safely hooked to the rock face and tried to catch my breath while Lauren far below started climbing up to us. The wind was cold and bit into us because we were exposed and had no protection. When I looked down it was hard to not be intimidated by the imposing height. All I could think was “how the heck did I get here?” and even more importantly “why the hell did I want to do this?”

Once Lauren, Isaac and I were carefully at the mid-way point, Isaac once again gave us our newest set of instructions and then promptly disappeared above us. I had one more section to conquer,

By now I was close to 100 feet in the air, fatigued and cold and more than a bit freaked out about what I had yet to overcome before I could summit. Stuck again, unable to pull myself past a difficult part I paused and tried to suck it up. I wanted to reach the top, I wanted that feeling of empowerment you only get when you accomplish something you didn’t believe you could do, but at this point reality had fully sunk in and my mind, body and heart we engaged in a full on battle. It was really cold this far up on the rock because it was so high and exposed and the wind had unexpectedly come up bringing a cold front over the front range. The journey up was harder than I had anticipated and I was totally fatigued, my hands were trembling and I needed a break. Mentally I was frustrated with myself because I was struggling. I had to admit that I needed to work harder on building my physical strength if I wanted to pursue these kinds of intense activities. What I did know without a doubt was that I was safe and that the only way down at this point was up so if I wanted relief I had to get my big girl panties on and get to the top, however I had to do it.

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It was then that Isaac proved to me he is a truly gifted instructor. Sensing my fear and frustration he started singing the iconic Aerosmith song “Dream On” and I found myself teeth chattering in cold and fear but smiling in spite of myself. I gritted my teeth, yelled up that I was on the way up again just did what I had to do. Thankfully I had a good friend on the other end who gave me a little boost just when I needed it the most. I had of course totally forgotten I had my helmet cam recording my climb but in watching the footage you can hear me muttering under my breath that I am scared but going to do this anyway or I’m never getting off this rock”

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Thanks to good friends, a stubborn streak a mile long and an adventurous heart I sucked it up and made it to the top of Montezuma’s Tower that day. In the end, I did it. It wasn’t particularly pretty, I had to overcome some serious fears and insecurities but I found I was brave enough to try and stubborn enough to finish!

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She Did it Anyway

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

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A Lot Can Happen in a Year

A lot can happen in a year

What did you do last year that was exciting?

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-Got brave enough to launch an Empower Your Estrogen Adventure, or two, or three! I was really scared for some reason; I think I was uncertain others would think this adventure stuff was strange or that if I invited others to join I was somehow then responsible for their happiness and enjoyment on the trip. I was really wrong, others were most definitely interested and the women that came made it clear to me that they were there of their own accord and were singly responsible for their own happiness. Several reported that it was life-changing experience. I am so glad I let go of my fear long enough to give this a try. Last year my sister and I put together three trips, we went rock climbing in Moab, Utah, mountain biked down Pikes Peak, Colorado and went on a back country camping and yoga trip in Omaha, NE. WE have more fun adventures scheduled for 2015!

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-I persisted with a dream long enough to see it come true! I had been submitting articles to the editor of Max Sports and Fitness magazine for over a year and one of my articles was selected the year before but at the very end of 2013 she called and asked me if I would be interested in writing 9 feature stories as a contributing author! Again, a flash of doubt made me stop a question whether or not I could do it and then that bold inner child spoke up loud and strong and said yes! I am so glad I did! Nine feature stories turned into 22 feature stories in 2014 and a current set of assignments to kick off 2015! I can definitively say I am published!

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-Rock climbed to new heights in Moab, Utah and learned to rappel! Not only did I rappel I did it off awe inspiring 120 foot Aches!

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-Finally embraced mountain biking and not only went on adventures riding down Pikes Peak and Gold Camp Road and finally purchased a bike of my own.

-Got to see my son graduate from college! I am very proud of all of his hard work and it is a delight to visit with him about world issues and historical events, he has an impressive grasp of history and inspires me to learn more.

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-Turned 50! Holy Cow how did that happen? In my mind I feel about 25 full of ideas for my future and yet somehow I now have a veritable lifetime of experiences to go with all those dreams. I am trying to embrace the woman I am, and all my imperfections and learn to understand what I can and cannot do!

-Sold our business and bought a house. Launched into yet again another career journey!

-Finally completed a 3-minute plank, 50 sit-ups and 1 real pushup! Fitness is forever something I am working on and this was a new level of achievement for me.

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-Went 4 wheeling in my Jeep in the Rocky Mountains with a Jeep Group and got onto some very challenging trails requiring me to learn to embrace white knuckling some wild trails. It was nerve wracking to say the least especially when the Jeep tilted and I had a wheel in the air and the bottom of the Jeep was scraping the rocks below but I liked it!

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-It wasn’t an easy year by any means, in fact, it was downright scary and beyond stressful. A lot changed in our world in a year and it makes me wonder what’s in store for us next year!

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

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