Friday, January 23, 2015

Shane McConkey, conquering fears, and living our fullest potential

I am proud to say that Shane McConkey and I have a few things in common...we both lived in Boulder, and in Vail, we love fresh powder, we follow our dreams, no matter how unrealistic they seem, and working a 9-5 desk job is our worst nightmare.

I don't really watch TV (except The Voice and The Bachelor…of all shows, right?!) and the occasional movie when I really feel like veggin-out.  My friend Mac Attack mentioned to me that Netflix just released McConkey.  This was great news for us riding fools! The film is a playful biography of the late Shane McConkey's life.  If you aren't familar with this extreme-athelete and air-seeker, he pretty much pioneered popular free-skiing, creating the first powder skis and eventually moved towards BASE jumping and wing-suiting. If you are into extreme sports or simply like feeling inspired, this movie is definitely worth watching.  I was so touched by McConkey's love of living the life he truly desired.  He spent all his energy doing what he loved; pulling gainers off cliffs, buildings, antennas, bridges, airplanes... He was fueled by fear and excitement that adrenaline junkies crave.  Even though he couldn't make a living out of this at first, his passion eventually led him to developing a unique and fulfilling career. I am in awe of him because I constantly need to push myself and take risks, and for him it came naturally.

It was ironic that my friend Mac told me to watch this film, 'cause she is one badass chick who will push me to my limits.  The two of us went on a backpacking trip last summer through the Maroon Bells in Aspen.  We had planned for a three day, two night loop, based on our schedules.  The sun hid behind the clouds and the rain soon followed the evening of our first night.  We had just enough time to set up our tent, eat, and hang our packs far from a bear's reach before the rain came thundering down.  The next morning, we had a later start then we planned, as the rain hadn't let up all night.  It was an adventure!

The following morning I was feeling damp, thirsty, and fearful of how I would fare through the rest of our trek.  Because Mac is such a good friend, we ended up turning back.  I let my doubt stop us, when in my head I knew we could've continued the journey.  What about all the people who completed this hike before us?  Or all the people who have successfully hiked the PCT or AT?  All the pioneers and nomads who lived hundreds of  years before us, spending months at a time hiking?  They did it! Without wool hiking socks, freeze-dried food and Jetboils.  If wish I had known that challenges help us grow by testing our strength, our courage.  My fear of the unknown consumed my thoughts, preventing us from achieving that 27-mile accomplishment.  I told her she never has to hike with me again, but I hope we will finish the hike we started last summer ;).

It's hard to admit that I just recently started to figure out this whole "fear" mentality.  Every day I will strive to be a little more like Shane.  I don't know if I will ever attempt a BASE jump, but I am going to use fear as fuel and not let it hold me back.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Be at peace with where you're at this year

photo by Katie Ring
"Wherever you are, be all there." -Jim Elliot  
Saw that perfect quote today and it reminded me to stay grounded (and to stop texting and driving…it's my worst habit!!) I apologize for being totally M.I.A. these past few weeks.  My start to the new year has been a whirlwind, but in the best way ever.  I unfortunately haven't had much time to sit down and reflect.  With a new year comes new pursuits, a changed mindset, and an "I can" attitude.  Even though I attempt to check in with myself on a regular basis, January is a great time to reconnect with what drives us or what we want to accomplish in the upcoming months and year.

I spoke with my cousin Barbara a couple weeks ago.  She is an acupuncturist, professor at Maryland University of Integrative Medicine and Zen student.  Towards the end of December, I was feeling slightly defeated, like my efforts were not being recognized.  She reminded me that winter is a time of hibernation.  As in nature, we put our energy into toughing it out through the cold weather. Instead of acting impulsively, it's important to be gentle with ourselves.  This was exactly what I needed to hear.  I have been trying to find answers to questions, "What am I looking for? Where do I want to move? Will I find a job in this new place? Should I move for a job?  Should I go back to school?" She said that in Chinese tradition, change often occurs in the spring, when we feel energized by winter's end and are ready for growth.  I felt inspired by our conversation and for once, at peace with where I'm at right now. I love San Francisco and being able to take a sunny hike in the middle of January. I love my jobs, and the comfort that comes with living with living at home. The answers will come, we just need to be open to receiving them.

This month has been truly special.  I kicked off 2015 in Cabo with one of my best friends, Jamie, and her family.  This last weekend I celebrated the marriage of two of my best friends- Megan and Tyler.  The icy Minnesota wedding felt more like a 6-year college-reunion with a bunch of our best friends partying together for a long weekend. Can this happen every year?! Working, traveling, taking care of myself, and catching up with family and friends during the celebrations. Life is moving full force in the right direction.  Living in these beautiful moments has given me greater appreciation for what truly matters to me: connecting.  I couldn't take these trips if it weren't for my job responsibilities that allow it (and I can honestly say I love where I work), however I don't live for "work"…I live for these beautiful moments where I embrace the beauty and love surrounding me. To anyone who is interested: be open to accepting the things that resonate most strongly with you.  Hold onto those magical moments; they are what make life wonderful! Share the love.

J and family in Cabo

Sven and me
Morgan, Megan and me at the rehearsal