Sunday, July 31, 2011

Finding Balance: Weeks 26, 27 & 28: Out Of Balance

For the past three weeks I have been at the rock climbing gym twice a week.  I made progress on my projects some days, and had terrible sessions other days.  I think am out of balance. While working a problem last week, this guy gave me some beta (for non-climbers: a tip on how to do the climb, or boulder problem) on my project.  He noticed that my climbing style was all 'legs and hips'; meaning that all of my power comes from there (versus my arms and shoulders, like most guys climb).

In the past, I have always thought that my style of climbing helped me... but now I think that I am relying on it too much, and inhibiting my progression.  I wrote a post a while back about 'accentuating the positive', and I still agree that focusing on your strengths is great, but I think that I have been doing a bit too much of that lately. Ignoring your weaknesses completely isn't the best option.

My lack of upper body strength is holding me back.  Period.  There is a hang board in the middle of our family room (the dreaded hang board) and I rarely use it.  I used to go upstairs to work out after my climbing sessions at the gym... but, no, I haven't been doing that either.  This week, I was having a terrible, Jupiter Gravity day at the rock climbing gym; so I went upstairs and spent the better part of an hour working my arms, shoulders and back.

There are things in life that we have to face, and we don't want to... my climbing story is just a small example. We all (I hope I am not the only one) have things that we need to deal with; things that we don't want to deal with because they are more challenging to deal with than ignore.  I hope that facing them will actually make life easier in the long run.

This makes me think about my parenting.  I have been wanting The Kid (aka My Wonderful Son) to begin to put his toys away.  This sounds great in theory, right?  Just teach him how to clean up.  The thing is that I am not very good at cleaning up.  If you know me, this won't be a surprise:  Martha Stewart would run screaming from my home.  I am not a very good house keeper and constantly wonder how the women before me did it all?.

How can I expect my son to do something unless I do it?  I can't.  So, I am working on something that I wish I could ignore because it is hard for me... I am trying to become more organized.  Yipes.  It is easy for me to show The Kid how to climb or create 'art' or play in the garden, those are my strengths; but I need to work on my weaknesses to find some balance.

Wish me luck... send good organization vibes my way, and motivation to get on that damn hang board.

PS... while I did not get on the hangboard, John put a roof up on our climbing woody, and I played on it all Saturday afternoon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 23, 24 & 25: A Numbers Game

In the past three weeks I made it into the Island Rock to boulder, but each week it felt as if it was all about the numbers.

When I got to the rock climbing gym on week 23, I found that all of the boulder problems had been assigned grades.  Prior to this, none of them had a rating to indicate the level of difficulty.  I really liked that;  I feel like climbing is purely for the enjoyment of climbing versus chasing grades, when there are no numbers assigned to them.  I don't want to know that this problem I just proudly sent is only V-easy when to me it was V-hard.  (**** Non-climbers:  boulder problems are rated on a scale of V0 to like V15.  Obviously V0 being the easiest; however a V0 boulder problem is still a rough equivalent to a moderately challenging rope climb.)

Week 24 was a numbers game for me personally...  I had a birthday.  I won't tell you which one, but, it sounds 'old' to me.  Anyway, despite what the calendar tells me, I have always felt young; and other than when John and I were trying to conceive, my age rarely crosses my mind.  However, I was perusing one of those (as I love to call them) trash celebrity magazines (that I love to read on airplanes, doctor's offices, or when John is away on business... and pretend that I am so uninterested in them), when an article caught my attention... something like 'celebrity beach bodies at every age' (you know what I mean).  So I get sucked in, and immediately fast forward to my age group to compare myself.

How ridiculous is that?  These women are being paid to look beautiful.  They have cooks, stylists, fitness gurus, and numerous other 'helpers' that I have never even imagined; and I am looking to see how I compare?  Does it really matter how my 'beach body' compares to anyone else?  It made me sad, and frustrated, that I fell into that trap of comparing myself to other women.  And, really, these other women don't truly exist in my world.  They may as well be cartoon characters, made up and drawn (or airbrushed)... I don't know them and never will... so why would I want to compare myself with them.... and why do any of us?

Ahhhh week 25... more numbers.  This time on the thermometer!  It is July in New York.  Even though I am close to the ocean, from time to time we get hot; and this week was one of those times.  Now, you should know that I love Island Rock... but... my biggest complaint is.... No Air-Conditioning.  Nope, none, nada.  Sigh.  The only day that worked for Brittany, The Kid, and myself was the hottest day of the week.  Sigh again.  For the non-climbers:  friction is very helpful when climbing... just imagine sweaty hands and trying to grasp  anything and pull your body up... it sucks.  Most of the climbers I know seem to take off the summers and just surf; well, I don't surf... yet.  Anyway, Thursday, the friction was awful, and I climbed awful too.   And, now that all of the boulder problems were graded... I knew exactly how awful I was climbing.

Those days when I don't do as well as I should, and not just in regards to rock climbing, are a let down.  I start to question myself.  Just like when I see that celebrity in a smashing bikini, who is around my age, and who looks amazing... I feel like I don't measure up.  Suddenly, all of the boulder problems have grades... and maybe I don't measure up if I feel like it is harder than everyone else thinks it is.

It seems like the same thing happens in life (with or without numbers assigned to them)... there are days when every parent I know seems to do a better job than me, everyone climbs harder than I do, everyone else has a neat, clean, organized home, and cooks fabulous dinners, and looks younger with way better clothes.

But guess what?  If I can just ignore the numbers (except for the temperature), and stop comparing myself... then I feel pretty good about myself.
Me, about one year old
My Great-Grandparents
Hard to believe I was ever this young!

PS - My blog posts have been few and far between lately.  It is summer and I am out playing!  I also don't use the computer when My Exuberant Son is awake; in the winter I stay inside (computer time) when The Kid naps... now not so much.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 22: Short and Sweet

This was just a simple week. 

I climbed at Island Rock twice this week; on Tuesday and Thursday.  It was nice to be back.  I started to build my circuit; a group of boulder problems that I could do easily as a warm up, or to pump out at the end of my climbing session. 

John taught a class on climbing anchors Thursday evening, and it was a wonderful surprise when he showed up before I left Thursday afternoon.  I showed him my projects... and couldn't use any of his beta.  His climbing style is currently so different from mine; he is all arms, and I am all feet.  However, he did find that my beta on one problem was easier than his; that 'give and take' is always nice, but it is so infrequent since he is a much stronger boulderer than I am.  

Things were simple.  I climbed.  I progressed.  No fireworks.  There are times when that is all we need... just to float with the flow of the stream.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 21: Just Me

The Kid and I went to the rock climbing gym on Tuesday afternoon, just before a gnarly heat spell hit New York.  It had been three weeks since I had climbed, and during that time the bouldering cave had been stripped, and reset.  So there were all new problems to play on.  None of the climbs were are marked with a grade (level of difficulty), which is cool with me.  There is Zen in climbing just for the movement of climbing; getting caught up in how hard you climb (or don't climb) can take away from the joy of the movement.  One of the reasons that I love rope climbing (versus bouldering) is that I am alone in my space, while I am climbing it is just me.

I went out running for the first time in over a year on Friday night; uh yeah, on a Friday night that is what I did... lame and boring, or not?  All week, before I went to sleep at night, I planned on an early morning run.  It never happened.  Friday night, Our Son was asleep early-ish, and John and I were hanging out.  I told him I really wanted to go for a run, but it was too late, already dark; he didn't think it was too late... so off I went.  I have never run at night.  Chili Peppers and Rob Zombie serenaded me while I ran.  I suck at running; I am terrible, but there is something that I love about it... even though I can't run fast or far.  I find myself in a simple, quiet space... except for the music that I always want super loud.  The other wonderful thing about running... is that it is only about me.  I have no clue how fast (or slow) I am compared to others, and no idea how far I run.  It is all about me, and what I do... not compared to anyone else.
Sunrise at our Island in Canada
August 2008

Lately, I have been thinking about how we seem to always compare ourselves to other people.  Sometimes this is a very good thing; when you see another accomplish something (big or small) and it motivates you in some way (big or small).  However, I think, that more often, comparing ourselves to other people makes us feel like we aren't quite good enough.  When I run at night, or climb un-graded boulder problems alone, there is no one to compare myself to... the experience is pure.  It is just the experience.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Weeks 18, 19 & 20: Time Passages

I have found myself pensive for the past three weeks.  The passage of time, and change, has been dominating my mind, for obvious and not so obvious reasons...

Two weeks ago, I climbed at the gym on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I finally sent one of my projects after several weeks of working it; it was the last two moves that kept shutting me down, but on Wednesday I sent it first burn.  Beyond that, I was still on a plateau.  I had bruised one of the tendons in my middle finger, and every time I grabbed a jug it sent a searing pain through my hand.  All of the joints in my hands had been hurting, and my elbow was flaring up again... so I was relieved (thought I hate to admit it) when Brittany (The Kid's sitter at Island Rock) was going to be away for a week and a half.  Taking a few weeks off from climbing would give my various aches and pains time to heal. 

The other night at home I was in the dining room listening to John get The Kid ready for bed.  He got out of the bath and John was asking him to get his pyjamas.  Suddenly, I realized:  that is the guy from the rock climbing gym.  This man chasing our son around to get dressed for bed: I met at him the climbing gym.... and here he is, in our house, and he is my husband, and we have a spectacular son.  That is that guy from the gym. We met when he was eating garlic pasta, and spouting climbing beta; somehow that meeting has brought us to the place we are now.  For some reason it struck me that evening.

John & Me
One of the first photos taken of us

Me, The Kid & John
We heard that one of the quintessential beach bouldering problems on Long Island was gone, two weeks ago.  Apparently someone built a fire under one our huge beach boulders on the North Shore, and the heat caused a large section of the rock to flake off and crash to the ground.  'Ride the Rail' is gone. Rocks seem so strong and impenetrable, but, over time they become fragile.  The family drove out on Monday (Memorial Day), and indeed the original climb is gone... forever.  This was the first outside boulder I ever climbed on; could it have really been eight years ago?

However, the most profound marker of the passage of time was the death of my grandfather, my Popop.  He was ninety-three, and lived an amazing life; but his body failed and he missed my Nana who passed away in November.  He was my last living grandparent, and it is the end of a security that I have had my entire life.  I was very fortunate that I made it to Pennsylvania to see him on Thursday; I got the chance to talk to him, and he was so excited to see The Kid.  He passed away on Friday around noon, and Tuesday would have been his 70th wedding anniversary... I believe my Nana and Popop spent their anniversary together... somewhere.
My Popop
Our Island in Canada

My Popop & The Kid (in his dragon suit)
November 2010

There are the changes of life... some profound and some so subtle that we don't even realize they occured until we look closely.  Taking a break when my body needs it, the course that a relationship takes, a tremendous rock crumbling, and a soul moving on to another dimension... all marking the passages of time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

On The Menu: Spaghetti with Shaved Asparagus

We belong to a wonderful CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture), The Hamlet Organic Garden, here on Long Island.  If you aren't familiar with CSA's... they are fabulous!  You purchase a share in a farm, and each week receive a portion of the farm's veggies.  Not only are you eating locally grown, fresh produce (which is healthy for you and the environment), supporting real family run farms, but also it forces you to expand your cooking repertoire.

To find a CSA in your area check out Local Harvest ...
"The best organic food is what's grown closest to you. Use our website to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies."
Last weekend I visited our CSA and picked up some fresh asparagus.  We love asparagus and normally we broil it with some olive oil, salt, pepper and tons of garlic, and a squeeze of lemon when it is finished; but this week I decided to make something a little different.

I got the recipe from the April 2009 issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.

Spaghetti with Shaved Asparagus

Course Salt and Ground Pepper
12 ounces of spaghetti
1 bunch (1 pound) of asparagus, tough ends removed, and shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 strips of lemon zest, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 Tablespoons of butter
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Add the asparagus and lemon zest to the pot; immediately drain the pasta mixture, and return to the pot.
Add the butter and lemon juice.
Season with salt and pepper, toss, adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce.
Top with parmesan.

My Changes:
I added garlic, of course, since I add garlic to almost everything.  How much?  I probably added three cloves, minced, when I added the butter and lemon juice.  You can add garlic to your taste.
I also substituted  2 Tablespoons of olive oil, for two of the four Tablespoons of butter (just because we like to use olive oil).

To make the asparagus, all you do it shave it with a vegetable peeler.  What worked best for me was to hold the asparagus down on the counter and shave off pieces (vs. turning the asparagus like you do when peeling a carrot).

I am hoping to post more recipes this spring and summer using the veggies as the come into season.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 17: A Glimpse Into Our Life

So, here is something a little different this week... in addition to the rock climbing updates, I am giving you a little glimpse into our lives.

This is what we did last Sunday, and in between working on the cottage and the gardens, this is fairly typical for a stay at home weekend day...

The Kid climbing on our wall at home (he is almost 21 months old)...

Since we moved into our home, nearly three years ago we have been renovating this cottage.  At one point, in it's history, it had been an apartment for someone; so there is running water and a fireplace.  When we bought the house, there were trees growing through the eves of the cottage, holes in the floor, no insulation, the running water didn't run, bad roof... basically it was a broken down shed with a garage bay.  We have slowly been restoring it, and now (while it is not completed) it is the home of our climbing wall, pottery and stained glass studio.

John climbing on our wall at home...

Me... not climbing, just being ridiculous with The Kid riding behind me.

So that is how things go down at our house.  Not everyday can be exciting... but most days can be fun.

  With all of this going on at home, I know you are asking (on the edge of your seat) "what about climbing this week?".  Well friends, I made it in to the gym three days.  The Kid and I went to Island Rock this week on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Again, this was another plateau week for me at the gym; I didn't send any new bouldering problems, and I didn't regress.  My 'rest days' of Thursday and Friday were very full of activity: mowing the lawn, building planter boxes, gardening, and replacing parts of our back deck... in other words, by Friday night when John got home I was physically exhausted.  Not surprising, when we went to the gym as a family on Saturday, I felt like I was climbing through molasses. 

Not everyday can be exciting.  You can't climb hard everyday.  Real life can be hard work.  When I go to bed every night with my family... I am happy, and grateful.

Hope you got a laugh from the videos.  I'd love to hear from you... yes, you.  Comment. Follow me.  Share my blog.