January 2013 Archives

Stand up on it

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I suppose I could say it started with a story. It probably started with Chaz Villette, Daphne Worth, and Elizabeth Bear, all three of whom were friends of mine on LJ. (Two out of those three were fictional characters, but that hardly matters for this context.) All three were climbers, two starting out fairly new to the sport.

From the comfort of the internet, I watched as Elizabeth and Daphne pushed themselves and became better climbers. I watched as the bonds of friendship were strengthened over the shared activity, the trust, and the adrenaline. Saw the problem solving and determination honed on the rocks come into play when grappling with life. And I thought, gee, that looks like fun. Too bad I'm scared of heights.

That thought simmered from the summer of 2008 until the fall of 2011, when I decided that I wasn't going to let my brain push me around, recruited a friend, and headed to the local climbing gym on "newbies get in for half off" day.

It. Was. Terrifying. Sweaty palms, dizzy head, why-am-I-doing-this terrifying. But I got to the top of the first easy wall and then the second. I wasn't following any routes. Simply making it to the ceiling of the warehouse in which the gym lived was a feat. And I was hooked. Hooked enough to give myself tendonitis in my elbow during my first month of climbing, because I didn't know when to say when.

The tendonitis put me on a forced rest from Christmas to June. It was hard, and I kicked myself for being so stupid in my enthusiasm. I read up on stretches, visited a PT, and vowed to pay attention to my body in the future.

When my arm was ready, I slowly and cautiously headed back to the gym. It was nice. There was still the feeling of "I hate this? Why am I doing this?!" partway up the first wall. There was still the several minutes at the top when I forced myself to relax, let go of the wall, lean back, and let my climbing partner lower me. And I still climbed the "rainbow route."

Part of that changed when I took a late summer climbing class. Once we were belaying with our partners, the instructors encouraged us to start trying the routes. I stuck to the 5.6s and the occasional rainbow. It worked for me.

Lately I've been climbing a lot at a tiny gym with four ropes on an autobelay. I can stop in on my way home from work, do a quick climb, and continue on towards supper. The autobelay means you don't require a partner, but it also means that it will start to drop you as soon as you put your weight on it. The size of the gym pushed me to start doing routes just to give myself a challenge. The autobelay pushed me to get comfortable letting go and dropping without coaxing and hesitation.

In the past couple of months, I went from 5.6 routes to 5.7 and recently to 5.8. Each time went in fits and starts. Climbing makes me push my own boundaries, but it is also an area in which I give myself permission to quit. I listen to my arms and know when to say, "not this, not today." I don't beat myself up for giving up halfway up if my arms weren't up for it anymore, because I know that the problem I am trying to solve will likely still be there next time. At the same time, having permission to fail and to quit can also prompt me to go just a bit higher and farther, because why not?

Lately, I've been inching my way up a 5.8. Even just a month ago, I couldn't even get started on this route. Each time I've tried it, I've gotten a little higher and farther before I dropped. Each day I added at least one new handhold to my list. The last time I was at it, I was within one handhold of sending the route when I tried to push up and pushed back instead, yet I'd almost given up entirely a little earlier. I'd made it past a particularly thorny bit and had thought, "well, my arms are jelly, time to go back down," when part of rebelled. "No," I thought, "push on to the next one. So what if you go for it and fall? That's what the rope is for."

So I tried for that next, distant handhold, and soon found myself pushing for the next and the next. I made it about three more moves before the accidental drop. I saw my limit and I pushed past it this time. I stood up on it. It was then that I realized how much I want to make it to a 5.10 and beyond someday. It also made me realized that there were other areas in my life where I need to stand up on it and muscle past my limits. Maybe I'll fall, but my life is not without ropes to catch me. The important part is to go for the next thing.

Stand up on it.



And having said that...

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...I just sent off a slightly scary to write photography-related email. Maybe nothing will come of it, but the worst case scenario is simply a no. So why not, right?

Photography, plans, and dreams

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I have no intention of turning this into a wedding planning blog, but having just attended the big winter wedding show in town, I had the opportunity to meet quite a few wedding photographers. It was both exciting and intimidating.

It was exciting because I was able to add so many new photo blogs to my personal reading list and see page after page of amazing images.

It was intimidating because I've never really even tried to make the leap into professional photography. I think about it and then I talk myself out of it. Too risky. Not good enough. Don't have/can't afford the right equipment. Not enough time. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Since then, I have been thinking about my life list and about bravery. I would really value many of the things that come with being self-employed, but I never feel quite ready to make the leap. I don't think I am quite ready to add "become self-employed" to my life list, but I am going to spend a great deal of time examining the notion: what, when, how, where, and why. I would need a plan and a back-up plan.

Meanwhile, I am also faced with the task of picking a wedding photographer. I narrowed my choices down to nine, all of them really, really good. I think I would be happy to work with any of them, though I think it would be good to speak to each of them on a more in-depth basis, to make sure we can work together. As a photographer, I know how important trust and chemistry is between a photographer and a subject. Then I will also have to factor in how soon I can put together the money for a deposit and who will still be available for my date at that time. The field might narrow a bit just based on the fact that June is a popular month, and other people are also starting to plan for next year.

But wow. Regardless of who I end up going with, I may very well do some blog linkage around here soon, because these are excellent photographers, excellent artists, and they are local small businesses: all things that I love to support.



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I am feeling a little ridiculous over how excited this makes me, but one of my life list goals (achieved) got name-checked by Maggie Mason on Mighty Girl.

Dude, you guys!

Life List: Progress and Additions.

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At the beginning of November, 2011, I sat down and wrote up my life list. Since then, I have been able to tick a few items off, have started work on others, and added some more. (I have also signed up for Go Mighty, as a way of helping visualize my goals.)

Let's see where how things stand:

• Own my own home
• Take voice lessons
• Swim at a beach with warm, crystal clear ocean water
• Take a train trip coast to coast (and back?)
• Own a dog (or two?)
• Revisit NYC
• Visit San Francisco
• Visit Seattle
• Visit New Orleans
• Visit Savannah
• Pass the Madison Parks and Beaches swim test and get out to the diving platform at B.B. Clarke Beach
• Go canoe camping on the Wisconsin River
• Get belay certified
• Throw an event/party for at least 100 people
     (Having gotten engaged this past November, I am now in the process of planning a wedding. Not sure how many people it will include, but it may be the thing that knocks this off the list.)
• Have my art for sale in a brick and mortar business
• Take part in (and finish) a bike ride of at least 100 miles
     (This past summer I did a ride that was around 30 miles. Still a ways to go, but getting ready.)
• Have an entire outfit that is tailor made for me
     (This is another one that might happen simply due to the wedding.)
• Learn how to go underwater without having to plug my nose
     (Working on it. This is still something I haven't gotten the hang of.)
• Take the car ferry across Lake Michigan
• Spend some time in Door County
• Spend some time in the Apostle Islands
• Learn to ballroom dance without tripping over my own feet
• Learn to contra dance without tripping over my own feet
• Healthy 125
• Learn to use a chef's knife like a pro
     (I've taken a one-hour class on knife skills, and would like to take more. In the meantime, practice, practice, practice.)
• Revisit Cape Breton
• Revisit Montreal
• Set foot in every continent (except Antarctica...no way)
• Go to a session and play at least 50% of the songs
• Busk
• Stay with friends at Camp Lake Resort (Fairyland!) for at least a long weekend
• Raise chickens
• Go to grad school
• Act in a play
• Get my CPR and First Aid re-certification
• Go to Comic-Con with my brother
• Take the Union sailing course
• Learn to whistle
     (I can do a couple of little whisting noises, but nothing too impressive. I can't reliably whistle a tune, nor can I whistle for attention.)
• Obtain a Hoofers keelboat rating (crew and/or skipper)
• Send a 5.10 route at the climbing gym
• Climb at Devils Lake
• Take my nephew to a water park
     (Planning it in the works for a winter trip to an indoor park.)
• Visit the Somerville Museum of Modern Renaissance

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2012 is the previous archive.

February 2013 is the next archive.

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