Thursday, April 28, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 14: The Zen of Rock Climbing, Parenting and Life

The Zen of Rock Climbing
Rock climbing can be like planning a beach day. 
You plan all week, the day arrives, it rains, and you are out of luck.  It rains and there is nothing you can do about it.  You can, however, make the best of your day.  You can decide on the next best thing, and go for it... a walk in the rain, go to the climbing gym, watch a marathon of Star Wars, or look for rainbows.  You don't have control over the weather, it just happens, so why not make the best of it?

The Zen of Parenting
A child can be like the weather.
You can plan that you are going to put your kid down for a nap at ten o'clock, but if he isn't ready, it isn't happening.  You can plan that you are going out for pizza at noon, but if there is a diaper crisis that turns into a nap emergency, it isn't happening either.  With a child, sometimes this is hard; often I decide that I am going to do something fabulous, only to find out that I don't have buy in from The Kid (and I am not talking about him 'not wanting' to do something, more about the uncontrollable issues like sleep, hunger, diapers, or a fall that really hurts).  And just like the rain, there is nothing you can do about it.

The Zen of Parenting has been much easier for me to grasp, than the Zen of Rock Climbing.  When The Kid was an infant, the realization that I couldn't control the eat, sleep, diaper patterns of this little being was a relief.  While I have a rhythm and direction to our day, I also have found that letting go of rigid expectations allows me to find the joy in the unplanned, unexpected moments.

The Zen of Life
The Kid and I made it into the rock climbing gym on Wednesday, and it was an uneventful session, as far as climbing goes.  However, lately The Kid needs to check in with me a lot more.  Before the past few weeks, I had to search him out after my session, but not anymore.  He checks in with me frequently, sometimes every ten minutes, and often gets teary watching me climb.  But like the rain on my climbing plans, I can either get frustrated, or I can go with it.  It was nice to plug into my iPod for two hours and boulder without further interruptions, but it is also pretty damn wonderful that my Kid loves me and wants to check in with me.  He won't always want to do that, so I pick him up, give him smoochy kisses, chat with Brittany, and then climb some more.

The Zen of Rock Climbing and the Zen of Parenting have collided... The Zen of Life has been realized.  With everything in life, you can be miserable when things aren't going as you have planned... or you can focus on the positive and find unexpected joy in the experience.

John and I have been spending more days out on the climbing wall in the cottage, since the weather is warm; I climbed at home last Sunday and this Saturday.  (I can't get the workout that I need, not yet anyway... cement floor, not enough pads to cover the area, the holds on the roof line don't ensure that I won't blow a move and crash down to the cement... but I can still get some climbing in, especially if John is there to spot me.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Knitting, My Nana, and Contentment

During the cooler months I really enjoy knitting.  There is something cozy about knitting... it just feels like a fall/winter/early spring thing to me.  My knitting always seems to drop off as the weather warms.

My Nana taught me to knit.  I was about eight.  She was knitting and I wanted to learn.  We were at our family camp in Ontario; no roads, no electricity, no running water, no phone, and you bring in all of your food, supplies, etc with you when you fly in via seaplane.  It is a one room log cabin, and no, the bathroom is not included in that one room... there is an outhouse about 30 feet from the cabin.  The island is probably my favorite place in the world.
Our family camp in Canada
Back to our story... After gathering two sticks, she whittled a point on the end of each.  She wound a little ball of yarn up for me, and my Nana taught me to knit.  I can't remember the color of the yarn, or if I even made anything, but I do remember thinking how cool it was that she made the knitting needles, out of nothing, and she was going to teach me to do something that she did.  The experience has always stuck with me, and it was a story I shared with our family at her funeral last November.
My Nana

I am an OK knitter.  I am getting much better the more I work at it... just like everything else in life, we get better when we work at it. Fancy stitches are super challenging for me; I can't seem to remember to count, and loose my place (honestly, I have a hard time focusing for that long, but I hate admitting it).

I think one of the cornerstones of a happy life is being happy where you are, and with what you have.  Being Content.  Knitting is like that for me... often I would rather be at the pottery studio, or in our glass studio, or upstairs creating jewelry pieces, like I did B.K. (before Kid)... however, those things don't fit so easily into my life right now, but knitting does.  I can bring my knitting outside and watch The Kid play.  He gets his own little balls of yarn that he throws around, and for a little bit of time, I am able to create... something.  It may not be what I most want to create, but I am thankful for the moment.  I am content in that moment, and what I am doing, instead of focusing on what I wish I was doing.

Knitting also reminds me of my Nana... which is lovely.
My Popop, Me, My Nana, and The Kid

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 13: Reminiscing About Yosemite

 The first time I visited Yosemite was in 2006, when John and I went to climb...

John & Me, 2006, classic Yosemite scenic view.
From my climbing journal:

April 2006 (I didn't date the entry more than that)

Tuesday morning I am in the bathroom at camp (we camped in one of the pines campground the first year, before we started sleeping in Camp 4), and it is really freakin' cold.  The water in the bathroom faucet can only be one degree above freezing, any colder and it would freeze.  So, I am finishing washing my face, hands and teeth - when in walks this girl, about ten or eleven years old.  She is wearing this footy-type tie dye pajama get-up.  She starts to wash her hands in the near freezing water, and I ask her how she slept last night.  She said, "fine, but I have to wear my mom's shoes".

So, I look.  There she is... this tie dyed girl with these huge grey running sneakers sticking off her feet. She looked mortified; not about the tie dyed jumpsuit ensemble (which she probably chose and thought looked great), but about 'mom's' shoes (which she didn't choose).

"Well, sometimes that happens, and it is better than your socks getting filthy."  I really didn't know what else to say... maybe I should have told her that 'they were like the coolest sneaks ever, and I can't believe your mom loaned them to you'?  Yeah, that would have way been better, wish I had said that.

As I am writing this I am actually remembering how it felt to be so self-conscious that you think a stranger (a climbing dirt-bag stranger who hadn't showered in days), in a bathroom, at the crack of dawn, is noticing your shoes.

When I think about that exerience now, and how that girl felt, it makes me think about how it feels being a parent. Sometimes I feel like everyone notices every little thing about how we raise the Kid, and I feel self-conscious and insecure.  Parenting is almost like being a teenager all over again; awkward, confusing and insecure.  However, just like that teenager stage, as parents we make it to the other side... again.

This week's "getting back to climbing" update...
The Kid and I made it to the rock climbing gym twice this week, Monday and Wednesday.  Monday was a Jupiter gravity day, and everything I touched felt like V-Impossible.  But, then Wednesday came around... and the gravitational pull of the Earth changed to that of Mercury.  I sent one of my projects; one of the over-hanging, big move boulder problems I have been working for months.  Even the new projects I was working felt good.  Everything just flowed... and I am beginning to think that I have made it 'back to climbing' and may need to change the name of these posts.

On Saturday, John, the Kid, and I watched some of our old climbing videos from 2004.  That was fun, and I may have to put some up here, so you can get a good laugh.  So check back, follow this blog, and see where we take you.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 12: Finding Yourself

As I have said before, although I talk about my experiences getting back into rock climbing as a mom, this isn't only about rock climbing.  You could be a surfer, runner, yoga person; just replace the rock climbing with your 'thing' and replace the particular details with those of your 'thing'.  This is about remembering who you were before you became a parent, and finding the space and balance to be that person again.  Oh, and, no... it is not selfish.  Having time to decompress as an adult, and to have your child hear you talk about your passions, and watch you find flow, is good for them.

I was thinking this week about finding myself... the first time.

It took about 30 years for me to grow into my body.  Growing up I was super tall, super (painfully) thin, and super uncoordinated.  To say that I was a terrible athlete is a rose-colored-glasses understatement.  I tried to play softball; my coach used to throw 'pop fly' balls to me, over and over, and I couldn't catch them, so they would hit me in the face.  I played soccer forever; when I quit in high school, my coach told me he was surprised I stayed with it as long as I did (ouch).  I liked to run; but I couldn't sprint, and I wasn't good enough to run long distances.
Me, about 15, on the soccer field.

In my twenty's I was around a lot of surfers, and lived near good waves... I wanted to learn to surf, but after such athletic failure as a kid, I did not want to humiliate myself by even trying.  I also hung out with people who played softball ever Sunday, just for fun; I imagined myself getting out on the field too, and I never did for the same reasons.  Riding a bike was enough of a coordination challenge for me!

So, you are asking, "then how did you start rock climbing?".  In my early 30's, I was in graduate school, and as an assignment we had to 'learn something new'.  My new thing was skateboarding, which ended with a gnarly crash in my driveway.  I had a professor (neuro-anatomy I think) who was a rock climber, and she asked if anyone wanted to join her at the gym for their 'learn something new' project.  Well, I still had visions of me cruising down the street on my board, but I thought I would try rock climbing anyway.  Why not?

That was it.  I found myself.  And I knew it.  When I left the gym that night, I knew that I could be a good climber (why climbing worked for me, when nothing else had, is another post all it's own).  By the next week, I had a harness, chalk bag, gym membership and 5.10 purple shoes.  I was hooked.  About a month later I met John, and a month after that we had our first date.  Now it is almost eight years later...

Me, almost 25 years later, on Big Moe, Joshua Tree, California

We find ourselves many times throughout our lives, and we loose parts of ourselves just as often.  The pieces that make us whole... we need to make sure we find them when they get lost.  Especially as a parent.

I made it to the gym once this week.  Yes, sad to say, only once; but I did play on the monkey bars with the Kid at the park today, so that should really count for something.  I climbed well, and I am finally beginning to find the meditation in climbing that I used to have.  Flow.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Adventures of The Family Bed: Part 1

So, something new happened last night in the family bed.  The Kid woke up for about two hours.  This never has happened.  I am not saying that he 'sleeps through the night', far from it; he only wakes to nurse then goes right back to dreamland.  Did I mention that he laughs in his sleep?  No, well it is not pertinent to the story, but really super cool...  Anyway, last night he was UP!

If you know me in real life, you know that I have always been a sleeper, and very grouchy if you woke me up.  This has certainly been tamed post-Kid, but I am still not wide-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning, or at night when something wakes me up.  Well, last night the Kid wakes up, probably around 12:30 (we don't have a clock in the bedroom so this is just a guess); he wiggles around, sings to himself, and hangs out for about an hour.  Somehow this didn't irritate me.

Yeah, I know!  What is going on?  You've got this wiggly kid, singing, wedged between you and John in the middle of the night, and awake during prime sleeping time.  Why wasn't I pissy?

Not only was I not pissy, but I was PROUD of the Kid.  He was trying to self-soothe.  For about an hour, he tried to put himself back to sleep.  No crying.  No trying to wake Mom and Da.  No getting out of bed.  Just laying there, learning to self-soothe.

If you are a 'cry it out' person, you are cringing... 'the Kid should have been sleeping in his own bed and should have already learned to self-soothe by a month old... blah blah blah".  So if you are a CIO (cry it outer) you can just stop reading because we just won't see eye to eye, and I won't change your mind and you will never change mine on this issue.  Infants cannot learn to self-soothe by being left alone, in a dark room, in a cage, crying for help.  It causes increases in stress hormones which in turn can damage their developing brain.  Infant mammals do not sleep alone naturally; human or animal.
Dangers of Crying it Out
Crying it out causes brain damage

Back to the original topic... I was proud of the Kid!  He was learning to do what we all do when we can't sleep.  You wait it out and try to get comfortable.  He is 19 months old.  He was safe in bed, not scared, he just couldn't sleep.  When, Daddy got up to go to the bathroom, it was the beginning of the end... the Kid was up, wobbly following Daddy.  They had some water, some snuggles, and after a little longer, we all fell back asleep until the morning.  It is a bit of a milestone, and as I said before... I was proud of the Kid.

All that said... I really hope he doesn't plan on an encore tonight.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Getting Back to Climbing, Week 11: Accentuate the Positive

Accentuate the Positive.  Eliminate the Negative... train the negative but don't always focus on it.

There must have been some cosmic alignment that altered the Earth's gravitional pull this week... very low gravity week. 
Tuesday afternoon I went into the gym with the Kid.  I was feeling crummy; like a cold was arriving, and I had zero motivation.  I went in anyway, figuring that if I was climbing really bad, I could always go upstairs and work out with the weights.

Surprise, surprise.  After the sporadic, and almost non-existent, climbing I did over the past few weeks... I climbed great!  I didn't climb a lot, but what I climbed was great.  I finally sent one of my bouldering projects, after months of attempting to link the top and bottom moves.  It wasn't a particularly hard problem, but it had all of the components that I struggle with... overhanging, big moves and a throw, up and around a corner.  I always have found big moves to be a challenge, and after so much time off (and a c-section) the overhanging boulder problems are ... well, a problem for me.  Anyway, I finally sent it.  Yipeee. 

Friday mid-day and I found myself back at the gym with the Kid.  I stacked the pads and jumped on one of my other boulder projects; a higher, more technical climb, with a very nice section where you need to cross-over then unwind.  As I said it was a low gravity week, and I sent it first burn.  This made me very, very happy.

Here's the thing: the second project was about two grades harder than the first boulder problem, and I worked it for maybe 15 minutes during three sessions (versus the first problem which I worked for months).  It was a better fit for my strengths and style of climbing.

It Accentuated my Positive!  And, sending that boulder problem made me feel really good about myself and my climbing.  Often in life we focus on all the Negatives, and bring ourselves down.  I am not saying that we shouldn't address our weaknesses and mistakes, I think that we need to work on eliminating them everyday, but feeling good about yourself is powerful.  Accentuating your positives (strengths or attributes) is healthy, and leads to more successes.

This goes for all areas of life... who wants to hang out with, hire, or love the negative person?  It grows old real fast.  Just to be clear, I am not saying to be a big show off, self centered, jerk who lives in a fairy tale land!  I am saying that feeling good about yourself for the things you do well, and celebrating them, is a great way to travel through life.

Accentuate your positives and let your star shine.  And if you really want to shine... accentuate other people's positives too.

"Accentuate the Positive.  Eliminate the Negative."  This happens to be one of my Dad's many, many favorite sayings.  Thanks Dad!!!!