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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I Left it All on China Wall

China Wall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Red Solo Cup on a Wet Dog

Anticipation
We all piled into the Yukon, anxious to head to the lake to join my sister’s family for a weekend of camping, kayaking and dirt biking on this beautiful spring Mother’s Day weekend in Missouri. Loaded with coolers of drinks, sleeping bags, snacks and dirt biking gear, parents Dan and Jackie joined teenager Maggie and Golden Retriever Rowdy, ready for fun in the sun.

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“Oh my, it smells like wet dog in here,” said Dan as he buckled his seat belt and scanned over his shoulder to back the Yukon out of the driveway.

“It sure does!” Agreed Jackie turning to give the hyper excited Golden Retriever a grin.

Are We There Yet? Are We??
The subject of the always welcome attention, Rowdy, glanced from owner to owner, his floppy ears blowing back in the wind from the rolled down window. His actions seemed to say, “Where are we going? Where are we going? Are we there yet? Are we? Are we?” Huh?”

In a mere 20 minutes we reached the campground and found the other half of the crew already riding dirt bikes in the light drizzle of a spring rain. Vicki, Kurt and five of their six kids greeted us with muddy but happy faces.

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Mack, my sisters Yellow Lab, came bounding up to us as we pulled in. Soaked from head to toe but loving every minute of it, Mack wagged his tail like a windshield wiper on high, back and forth sending small spays of water here, there and everywhere.

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Mud, Mud and More Mud
The kids were determined to enjoy this rare opportunity to be turned loose on dirt bikes to play amongst the trees and even though the weather refused to cooperate they rode in the rain anyway, slipping, sliding, mud flying here and there. With the wet Missouri clay dirt soaking in more and more rain soon the dirt bike tires were caked with sticky gooey mud, clogging up everything from gears and chains to brakes and clutches.

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The boys, Ryan, 17 and Tommy, 15, channeled all their youthful energy into a dirt clot fight happily logging clumps of mud back and forth at each other while the girls, Ally and Beth, both 19 took their turn on the dirt bikes. Mom Vicki stood close by monitoring the innocent playfulness.

“Bombs Away”
“Bombs away!” yelled Ryan as he playfully tossed a clod Tommy’s way. Unfortunately, about then, Vicki, unaware of the incoming weaponry, turned her head to check on 10 year old Jay who was trying to drop rocks off the nearby benches into a small bucket far below. With her head turned the wrong direction Vicki had no idea what was about to happen next.

It’s Just a Flesh Wound
“AWWWWWWWW” she cried out as the perfectly launched dirt clod landed smartly on the left side of her head, instantly revealing a silver dollar sized knot covered in crimson colored red.

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“Honey are you ok?” yelled concerned hubby Kurt.

“What was that?” asked a dazed and confused mother Vicki.

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Kurt rushed to her side to examine the damage. The deep red showed dramatically against her medium blonde hair. “You got hit in the head with a dirt clod and I think it had a rock in it. Your head is bleeding! Are you ok?” he asked.

“I guess so” she replied rather unconvincingly. As I watched from my perch on the reclining lawn chair so my broken foot could be elevated I could literally see the stars circling her poor head just like in a Peanuts cartoon. I was pretty sure she wasn’t really as ok as she pretended to be.

As Vicki came and sat down by the camper to evaluate her status, the kids came in to rally around her. Poor Ryan, the guilty party, had certainly not injured Vicki on purpose and had no idea the dirt clod contained a rock, felt extremely remorseful, seemingly sheepish.

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Like most healthy and yet slightly dysfunctional red-blooded American families, soon everyone was teasing each other about the recent mishap.

“Gosh Ryan, way to go, injure Vicki on Mother’s Day!” I chimed in but added a mischievous wink directed at him so he knew I was just teasing!

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He grinned back at me. This kid felt bad but he also has a wicked sense of humor and that’s why I think he’s cool.

Wet Dog: Ummm Help ME!
About this point in the action, Rowdy walked back into the middle of the family mêlée completely soaked with rain, his normally pretty fur coat feathered but this time caked in dark tar like mud with his snout stuck in a red Solo cup. He entered the scene with perfect timing and his ever playful deep brown eyes looking up at us like “Ummm, excuse me, could someone help me with this? I have no idea how this cup got stuck on my snout but I can’t get it off!” The words to the song by Toby Keith suddenly started playing in my ears, “red solo cup, come fill me up, let’s have a party.”

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The entire Vandy bunch, 5 teenagers and two parents, and our little family of three erupted in hysterical laughter.

Families that Play Together Stay Together
Don’t let it be said that you can’t have fun when life doesn’t go according to plan. We had planned a nice sunny weekend of camping perfection, all the way down to picnic lunches on the trails, dirt biking through meadows of green grass and s’mores over a campfire under a starry night sky. What we got was overcast, dreary weekend of steady rain caking the clay dirt all around us until even walking was hazardous to your heath. Of the 4 dirt bikes only one was still working by the time the two day weekend was over and Kurt’s repair shop was dealing with flat tires, bent rims, broken starters, bent handle bars, broken hand brakes and more. Vicki most likely sustained a very slight concussion, Jay had a cut on his foot, Tommy ended up covered in an impressive case of road rash from the nightly game of Ghosts in the Graveyard, Ryan’s thumb was jammed and Jackie’s broken foot fit right in. However, it was the wet dogs, Mack and Rowdy who showed us that no matter what you can always have fun with a plain old red solo cup!

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The weekend was full of good life lessons:
1. Don’t throw a dirt clod at mom on Mother’s Day; it’s not cool if she starts bleeding from a head injury!
2. Hot dogs and burgers taste better over a campfire
3. If you eat all the marshmallows before campfire time you can’t make s’mores!
4. If you are going to go up a muddy hill on a dirt bike you have to make a commitment to it. Go, and go strong or don’t go at all!
5. Garbage bags around casts on broken bones work to keep the wind, rain and dirt off even if they aren’t very stylish.
6. Sometimes you have to go help rescue your sister, just grin and go do it.
7. Girls like to play in the dirt too.
8. Head wounds bleed-a lot!
9. Ball caps can cover camping hair, bandages and Neosporin
10. Learning to put oil on the chain of your dirt bike helps it run better
11. Always bring a spare pair of jeans and clean underwear when you go camping
12. Laugher is always the best medicine.

For ever more the smell of a wet dog will always conjure up memories of this sweet family camping trip, a perfect case study in Murphy’s Law whatever can go wrong will go wrong. The question is are you going to have fun anyway? We certainly did.

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

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BREAKING NEWS! Join us on the first ever Couples Adventure Empower Your Marriage Moab, Utah

BREAKING NEWS! Join us on the first ever Couples Adventure Empower Your Marriage Moab, Utah
The guys have been really feeling left out of all the fun so this time we have created an epic adventure and we are inviting our better halves! It’s called Empower Your Marriage Couples Adventure trip to Moab, Utah October 9-12, 2015 and this is a groundbreaking and exciting trip that you and your spouse do not want to miss! (Meet Friday afternoon in Moab, Utah, have adventures Saturday and Sunday and head home Monday October 12)

This adventure is for couples, comrades on the adventure of life but instead of mowing the lawn, running the kids here and there; this weekend it’s all about just the two of you and why you are together in the first place!

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Picture This!
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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Get out of your comfort zone as a couple
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, wild west 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?”

Spots are Limited
The Empower Your Marriage 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 relationship this is the opportunity of a lifetime and just what you have been waiting for.

Empower Your Adventure 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 Friday afternoon October 9 where we will meet in Moab, Utah and continue through Monday October 12. 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 power packed weekend of badasery big time, full of rappelling off Moab’s spectacular 120 foot arches, rock climbing the stunning bluffs, hiking, camping, bonding, while we recharge our batteries and make new life long friendships! Nightly campfire chats have proven to be one of the many highlights.

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Our Guides are the BEST!
Our guides at Front Range Climbing Co will take care of everything from, providing camp meals, permits, and finding the best adventures possible. 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.

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 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!

The Empower Your Marriage Moab, Utah Rock Climbing and Rappelling Adventure 2015 is offered at the staggeringly great deal of $485 if you register and pay in full by May 31. 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!

REGISTER TODAY ONLINE!
All you have to do is say “HELL Yeah and click the link below today to register!”

Click Here to REGISTER Today What are you waiting for!!!!!!

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8 Second Rule- Cowboy Up Girls!

8 Second Rule Cowboy Up Girls!

Mom’s Home
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My mother grew up in the Sandhills of the midwest on a small ranch during the 1940’s to the 1950’s. Her parents both came from modest means but of strong European roots. My grandfather, William was from Ireland and grandma, Francis, a transplant from Minnesota originally from Czechoslovakia. A chance meeting at a midwest barn dance brought these two very different people together, love kept them together.

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For my mother life on the ranch as one of five wasn’t always easy, but it was easy to develop a life long love of horses, cowboys and rodeos. Back in the day the local rodeo was the premier rodeo for aspiring professional cowboys aiming to win the big belt buckle and prize money. The late summer annual event would draw cowboys from all over the country rolling up in dusty trucks and trailers to compete at the competition to name the best all around cowboy.

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On the ranch the family shared memories, learned to read paperback westerns by kerosene on cold windy winter nights, and became experts at card games like Canasta to pass the time. William and Francis managed to teach these five children the value of family, instill a midwestern work ethic that would serve them well and most importantly, taught them what the meaning of unconditional love was. They did all of this despite hard economic times, rainy farm roads and no running water or electricity.

How do I know all this? Because as a child we would frequently visit the farm and somehow every time we passed the end of the county road and the neighbors family farm headed toward grandma and grandpa’s house something magical happened. It’s hard to describe, but I’m not the only one who felt it. Ask any of the other grandchildren or family friends who all seemed to line up to volunteer to accompany us on a weekend trip to the farm.

Time stood still at the old weathered white farmhouse. Others had telephones, electricity and running water with improvements such as indoor plumbing, while grandma and grandpa didn’t, but I have never been somewhere that felt so spiritual as their simple family farm.

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Picture this, the county road ends with its well-maintained lane, turning into a simple rut filled lane. The fields on either side are a deep green hue as the Alfalfa seasons rolled past through the hot weeks of summer.

The road ends in the neglected yard at the farmhouse. Their house is the last one at the end of a string of more prosperous family businesses but this is where the magic began and my words will not do it justice but I will try.

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The farmyard looked over and down a hill passing the barn and old house, which most recently served as home to the pigs! But beyond the weathered old buildings you could see the creek melting into the river, silver slices against the green fields and cedar trees!

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Screen Door Slapping in the Sun
In the house you entered through a weathered screen door that I can still hear slapping behind us kids a 1000 times a day, into the porch that had settled at a kilterend angle into the thick soil below. The kitchen was somehow the heart and soul of this simple home and as you entered you’d be wrapped in the warm aromas of cherry pie, cinnamon rolls or maybe roast, potatoes and carrots. The ancient cook stove in the corner radiated a glow to the entire room and pulled all who entered this home into the living chamber beyond.

The next room was the dining room but this is where grandpa sat in his old weathered leather rocking chair looking out the window at his land or at the TV in the corner. Old rabbit ears tentatively placed on top, to watch the nightly news or Lawrence Welk, the only two shows that ever seemed to come through the static.

The table was where grandma pulled us together in stitches of love through her meals. We ate together, we read together, we played and we prayed together right at this table, a circle of love for all times.

It’s hard to describe how such simple people, in their weathered farmhouse, could draw their family together like they did at this wooden table. Politics, history, crops and weather were discussed in detail, the world, while far removed from this place, was still very much a part of these lives. We read books by the dozen so even though exposure was limited we learned about the world through the words of many different authors.

This is where my mom grew up believing in family, love, education, faith and possibilities.

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Whenever we’d go to the rodeo with mom she’d tell stories of how as a young girl she wanted desperately to compete as a barrel racer, or as a rodeo queen. She even confessed on many an occasion to me that she’d also wanted to ride the bull and how she’d always had a thing for bull riding wild cowboys!

I lost my mom a few years ago and while I’m still learning to live without her I am figuring out what to do with the lessons she taught me. I believe. I dream. I hold the ones I love dear. I love an adventure. I have a thing for cowboys.

The anniversary of my mom’s passing is coming up again, and every time this happens I am flooded with memories and longing to just hear her voice again. This year my sister and I met up at a country western bar for a healthy dosage of good music and cowboys, but we also rode the mechanical bull in tribute to my mom and all the lessons she and grandma taught me.

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As I faced the bull I closed my eyes for just a moment and imagined my tiny mom secretly longing to face the biggest, nastiest rodeo bull. When it was my turn and I prepared to ride the mechanical bull I could see the bull in my mind and hear him snort as he sized me up. Once on the steel beast, I grabbed the rope and squeezed hard with my legs. Why do I think my mom wanted to ride the bull? I think it has more to do with her adventurous spirit and her willingness to face the uncertainties of life and just try to hang on, giving whatever the challenge her best effort. Mom’s life had it’s ups and downs, but no matter what she never gave up on the values she learned on the farm, she believed in family, love, education, faith and possibilities.

The bull my sister and I rode was far friendlier than the real version but still not easy to ride. In true western spirit we climbed on, held tight, threw our left hand in the air and rode with all our might, trying to make it past the 8-second rule.

Strong women love fearlessly. They dream big and they know how to “cowboy up” when life gets tough!

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Thanks mom for the lessons in life and the love.

Love you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Shit Happens Get Over It!

Shit Happens Get Over It!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Or dear Lord” was all I could think.

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

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

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

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

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

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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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