Category Archives: Blog

Give it your ALL – whether that’s IN or OUT

Some of my most satisfying and rewarding experiences in life have come from my can-do, make-it-happen, no-matter-what mentality –  topped off with a heaping dose of refusal to quit.

What some people like to refer to as “stubbornness” –  but I’d prefer to call “tenacity” –  has allowed me to finish marathons, ultra-marathons and triathlons. Compete in multi-day adventure races. Most recently, to become a finalist in a national body transformation challenge. Start my own advertising and communications company at the age of twenty-four. Start a new company (The Adventuresome Life) twenty years later. And to raise my son almost entirely on my own, as a single mother – having endured and survived the thirty-six hours of labor required to give birth to him in the first place.

In all of these instances I was what I like to call ALL IN.

What do I mean by ALL IN?

Being ALL IN requires commitment. It involves a plan, prioritization and laser focus. It’s a deep need or want to do whatever it takes. It’s fueled by a passion burning inside of you.

ALL IN can be about anything in life. It’s not just about physical accomplishments. It can apply to relationships, health, service, career, creativity, monetary gain, home, family, travel, entertainment.

Whatever the category, I’ve found the most amount of fun, excitement, joy and satisfaction when I’m ALL IN.

ALL IN is ALL GOOD – pretty much – if you know where and how you want to be ALL IN.

But that’s where things can get wonky – where the tug-of-war battle gets ugly.

When we want to have an ALL IN experience with everything in life. We want the perfect body. To be the perfect mom. To cook the perfect meals. On-time. To have the perfect family. Wear the perfect clothes. Have the perfect job. Make the perfect amount of money. Say all the right things. Do even better things. And we want it to be easy and to feel happy about it all – all of the time!

When you’re constantly beating yourself up or feeling dissatisfied for not having this, accomplishing that, feeling good enough, spending enough time here when you need to be over there – it’s time to ask yourself when, where and with whom you can be ALL IN – really.

To make it easier, it’s important to remember:

 

Tip #1 – If you’re trying to be ALL IN – you’re probably not really ALL IN.

If it doesn’t feel easy on some level – like a no-brainer – then accept whatever it is for exactly what it is. Something you make room for in your life but isn’t something that fuels you and therefore can’t have your ALL IN attention.

When I’ve been truly ALL IN in life – there wasn’t much thought or effort required in deciding to be ALL IN.

In other words, I didn’t need to be convinced.

A good rule of thumb is a quote I attribute to Marie Forleo:  “If it ain’t a HELL YEAH, then it’s a HELL NO!”

Conversely, when I’ve been ALL IN and I’ve hit bumps in the road, or things got difficult, I may have wavered or needed to recharge – but I knew I would never quit.

 

Tip #2 – Don’t expect ALL IN outcomes, when you’re only partially in.

For example, I didn’t become a finalist in a national body transformation competition by eating whatever I wanted and working out every once in a while.

It was a 90-day unwavering commitment.

I cut sugar, alcohol, and most carbs COMPLETELY. I counted every calorie, gram of fat, protein, and carb that entered my mouth. And I worked out every day – without fail. Specific workouts designed to burn fat and build muscle – sometimes two to three times per day. And I invested in the expertise of a trainer and a nutritionist to guide my efforts.

Now the challenge is over. And my health and fitness is still a huge priority for me. But my new ALL IN looks a little different now. I’m not nearly as regimented and restricted. But I do have a new plan and discipline that feels good to me, is feasible for me to implement now, and keeps me healthy and fit.

 

Tip #3 – Being ALL IN in one area of your life REQUIRES being ALL OUT in other areas.

Growing up, I was a multi-passionate kid.

I remember telling my dad one day in high school that I was frustrated. I was in dance, played basketball, ran track and cross country and was a decent student. I felt like I was OK at most things, but I wasn’t the best at anything.

At that time in my life I thought it was about competition or proving something.

But looking back now I realize it was about passion. I wasn’t giving my ALL to any one thing. I was spread out all over the place – keeping a lot of balls in the air.

There’s nothing wrong with multi-tasking and enjoying many different things. In fact, most of us – women in particular – take great pride in our ability to manage so many things at once.

But for me, I generally feel better when I have something, at any given moment, that is my ALL IN focus. It’s just a matter of deciding what that is – and therefore not allowing everything else to interrupt or overshadow it.

For instance, Michael Phelps didn’t become the decorated Olympic Champion swimmer that he is by spending a lot of time and energy playing golf. It’s not to say that he doesn’t have a unique talent, but I guarantee you he earned those gold medals with unprecedented commitment, focus, hard work and passion.

 

Tip #4 – Recognize areas where you can be ALL OUT, so that you can be ALL IN when and where you choose. Here are some helpful hints:

  • You’re choosing it out of fear rather than desire and passion.
  • It doesn’t bring you joy.
  • It doesn’t make being ALL IN easier for you.
  • It interferes with what you really want to accomplish.
  • It feels demanding and uncompromising.
  • It distracts you and you use it as an excuse to procrastinate.
  • It puts you down or reminds you that you can’t do what you really want.
  • It presents constant challenges that don’t seem necessary, supportive or purposeful.

 

It’s important to remember that being ALL IN doesn’t mean you need to have it all figured out.

And being ALL OUT doesn’t mean you have to give other things up entirely.

It just means you choose strategically and thoughtfully – the people, places, things and actions that bring you closer to what you really want.

Do you have something you’ve been putting off? Denying yourself? Half-ass attempting to accomplish? Sort of getting around to?

You ready to be ALL IN?

Me too!

For me, it’s building and growing The Adventuresome Life. My biggest dreams, desires and passions are in this company – and I’m currently only creating and sharing about ten percent of what I envision it to be.

You ready to end this game of tug-of-war?

Let’s get ALL OUT together, so we can be ALL IN exactly where we want to be.

Where can you be ALL OUT? And where are you going to apply that new found energy, time and focus to be ALL IN?

It feels sooooo good to declare it…and you just may help somebody else in the process.

From the Golden Arches to the Golden Ticket

Last week I watched the move “Founder” about Ray Kroc, the man who founded McDonald’s.

“Founded”. Kind of like the phrase “Finders keepers, losers weepers,” you may have heard or repeated on your elementary school playground – as tears welled up in at least one child’s eyes.

Ouch!

The story shares how one man “improved upon” and arguably stole the brainchild and established business of the McDonald brothers in 1954 – ultimately turning it into a multi-billion dollar business.

Ray Kroc, a salesman, saw an opportunity and was willing to take big risks for big rewards. He had the know-how, the guts – some might argue, the audacity – and eventually the finances to turn the McDonald brothers’ ideas and inventions into something bigger than the original thought generators could envision or even wanted.

Despite the McDonald brothers’ resistance, Ray Kroc eventually took control of the company right out from underneath them. He wrote them a check – taking the golden arches, all of their locations and original ideas for what made McDonald’s so appealing in the first place with him.

The McDonald brothers agreed – not because they wanted to, but because they realized they could take what they could get or nothing at all.

The brothers negotiated 1% of all future earnings of the company. They never saw a dime of that money.

Their only other request was to be allowed to keep their original store in San Bernardino, California to which Kroc agreed – eventually forcing them to remove their family name from the location and later putting a McDonald’s right across the street, driving them out of business.

Many people would define this story as unfair, criminal, despicable, unjust and downright slimey.

Others might argue it’s a prime example of modern day capitalism. David and Goliath. As not only fair, but perfectly legal. Darwinism exemplified. It was proposed to me as, “It’s just the way it is”.

I can see points from all sides of the argument.

However, I personally identify more with the idea that Kroc – the man who would make billions off of the Golden Arches – could have used a healthy dose of the Golden Rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Seems simple enough, right?

Then why is the Golden Rule such a difficult one to follow?

First, many people – including myself – have a natural aversion to rules being forced upon them – like a baby being fed spoonfuls of those icky green peas, spitting them back out faster than they can come in.

Secondly, just by having the opinion that Ray Kroc’s actions were calculated, crooked and cold-hearted. That he should have a dump truck of the Golden Rule shoved down his throat. I myself am officially NOT practicing the Golden Rule.

Funny, isn’t it?

You see the  Golden Rule is not really asking us to walk around being do-gooders all the time.

It’s actually asking for us to find compassion in any and all situations. Look at the person before you. Treat them as you would want to be treated or looked upon if you were in their exact position, had made their same choices, or carried out their actions – no matter what.

It’s difficult to do unto another what you would have them do unto you, when you’re preoccupied with being upset, angry, jealous, frustrated, betrayed or disgusted about what you are judging them to have done – to you or to someone else.

Judgement breeds defensiveness by nature.

Ever cuss somebody out or flip somebody off because they pulled in front of you on the interstate? Ever cuss somebody out or flip somebody off because you accidentally pulled in front of them on the interstate and they cussed you out or flipped you off? (you may need to read this twice)

We do these kind of things all of the time. With our kids. About friends and family. At work. In line at the grocery store. Across party lines. Especially with people we consider to be different from us.

Judgement is diversion. An illusion. A disguise.

It’s our ego’s way of claiming false significance and superiority in under to escape the underlying fear that we all have in common – Am I good enough? Am I worthy? Am I lovable?

It offers false pretense that we are not ALL responsible for the bigger picture. We point fingers. Shirk our personal responsibilities. Dodge ownership. As if to say – look what HE did.

We attempt to place the focus out there – on somebody or something else and all of their inadequacies – evading our own human flaws, faults and failures.

So instead of the Golden Rule, I propose a Golden Ticket.

Guaranteed entry into compassion, forgiveness and understanding, and ultimately release from our own fears.

This is a practice a friend and fellow student of The Course in Miracles shared in our last study group.

That night I happened to be trapped in a mindset that had me feeling taken advantage of, not worthy and ultimately victimized. I was sorting through my intense emotions and the judgement I was placing upon the person who I felt was responsible.

I couldn’t get past what I felt this person had done “TO ME”, in order to have compassion and understanding for the choices they felt necessary to make.

As far as I was concerned the Golden Rule could go suck a Golden Egg!

That’s when Carrie proposed replacing my judgement thoughts and statements with I AM statements.

I am the person I’m angry with. (on some level)

I have made similar choices in my own life.  (even if I can’t recall)

I am that bad attitude.

I have taken advantage of people.

I have felt entitled.

I have made that same mistake. (whatever that mistake is)

I have been ignorant, belligerent, unfair, desperate, scared, indifferent – all of which ultimately stem from fear.

I have made choices, said things and acted out from a place of fear many times in my life. So have you. So has she. And he. And they.

We are all a lot more alike than we are different – at the core of our humanness.

We just want to know that we matter.

We want to provide for and protect the ones we love.

We want to be loved – unconditionally.

We want to contribute and bring value to the world.

But we cannot have what we are not willing to give.

We are all both Ray Kroc and the McDonald brothers. The “good” and the “bad”, no matter what trait you might be assigning to each party.

So rather than do unto others, you ARE others. If given their exact history, upbringing, inherited beliefs, hardships, fears, pressures – chances are you would choose and act just as they would.

Chances are, you already are in some way, shape or form.

Our willingness to practice seeing ourselves in others – and them in us – is your Golden Ticket to peace, love, compassion and understanding.

Place an I AM statement you are working with today in the comments below. And remember, you’re not alone. I am you. You are me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you want to feel at peace, do ya?

Pathway to Peace #1: Big Blue Dog Bone

My first big lesson in acquiring peace came one day about eight years ago, lying face down on my home office floor – wailing like a toddler in a Target aisle having been denied the dollhouse of her dreams.

But rather than a dollhouse, it was real life that was causing my tantrum. More specifically, my ex-husband. Or at least that’s what I was telling myself.

(Pointing a finger elsewhere always seems to provide just enough delusion to take the edge off – temporarily.)

My marriage had ended. The divorce was final. I was living my life. He was living his. No harm, no foul. Except for one “minor” detail. After several years, any and all interactions with my ex-husband –  or lack thereof – still had power to send me into a full-blown meltdown.

I can’t remember to this day what sent me over the edge on that particular day, but I felt desperate to never feel that way again.

I called a close confidante and begged him to give me the answers to all my troubles. To tell me what to do. How could I fix this? How could I fix him? How could I learn to not care? Who could I turn to? How could I release the miserable death grip this broken and wounded relationship had on me?

Calmly and pragmatically he replied, “Ok, are you ready? I’m going to give you your answer. Maybe you should sit down.”

Already lying on the floor, I sat up at attention. My ears perked up. My sobbing ceased.

“I’m ready.”

To which he offered, “Big Blue Dog Bone.”

I sat in silence.

A.K.A. shock.

“What?”

He said it again, “Big Blue Dog Bone. That’s your answer.”

And then he started to laugh. Uncontrollably.

(HINT: It was meant to sound as ridiculous and non-sensical as it did to me… as I’m sure it does to you now)

It was his way of saying INSERT HERE. In other words, there was no specific answer. No cure-all, out there – somewhere.

There wasn’t a super hero that was going to sweep in and make it all better. My tortured mindset came from me holding on too tightly to how I thought things should be. Or should’ve been.

Peace evades us when we hold on too tightly. To an idea. An outcome. A person. A belief.

When we expect someone to say something, to do something or for something to happen so that we can finally feel happiness and be at peace – it will not come. It can’t. Outside circumstances are not where the answers lie.

My only answer was to choose peace, in that moment, and any other since.

  • Do whatever it takes for you to have peace – at all costs – above all else

Many of us say we want something or don’t want something but we’re totally unwilling to do what it takes to get it. Or to change the habits and patterns in our lives – and more importantly in our minds – that keep us from feeling joy and being at peace.

(HINT: you will know if you’re on the right track if whatever action you’re taking or allowing ACTUALLY gives you a sense of joy or peace).

If not, until you’re REALLY ready to require what it’s going to take for you to be at peace, you’re only pathway to peace is option 2.

 

Pathway to Peace #2: When All Else Fails

There’s an anonymous quote that says, “Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.”

(I would add to that list: tragedy, heartache, loss, frustration, confusion and injustice.)

“Rather it means to be in the midst of all these things and still find calm in your heart.”

Our lack of peace sometimes comes from our circumstances. An unexpected or unimaginable loss. Too much change too quickly. An unwanted diagnosis. A reality too far from our expectations and hopes. Fear too close for comfort.

My second lesson in peace was one of my greatest – and hardest – life lessons to date.

It involves a friend of mine who was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago, when she was pregnant with her second child. I am happy to say she delivered a healthy baby girl. She is alive and well, parenting two beautiful children.

Three years later – after she was diagnosed with a second bout and different form of cancer – doctors’ would discover she has a rare genetic mutation that puts her at an increased risk of approximately twelve different forms of cancer – several of which are terminal.

She fought – and once again won – the battle with the second form of cancer.

Currently they monitor her for cancer re-occurrence with annual surveillance and any other testing they deem necessary throughout the year – sometimes when she senses something just isn’t right.

It’s a reality she lives with on daily basis. A reality I struggle to comprehend.

One day during a “real-life” conversation about how she was doing, I asked some deep questions in an attempt to understand better, so that I might comfort and support her.

“How are you coping with all of this? With everything you’re going through? With all the physical trauma. And even more the psychological aspects? With facing the possibility of your own premature mortality? With being forced to consider the thought of your children growing up without you?”

Her profound answer changed me forever.

“There is no way to make peace with it. My only peace comes from accepting that I will never have peace with it. “

  • Make Peace With Not Having Peace (for now)

It reminds me to live each and every moment like it could be my last. Because the truth is – for all of us – it could be.

We all know that.

But most of us manage to live our lives ignoring it.

My friend’s in your face life – or mortality – experience made it impossible to ignore.

She proved to me, we don’t truly get a choice about what life hands us, but there is always an option to have peace – one way or another.

Sometimes we’re just not ready, but beating ourselves up about it just amplifies our lack of peace and acceptance.

There are things in our life we can’t really control, or we’re just not ready to own up to or are not yet capable of changing.

Be easy on yourself. Do your best. Keep envisioning what you want (peace). Keep taking steps and give thanks for exactly where you are.

I NEVER would have thought to gain peace by accepting you just can’t have it in the first place.

It gives me peace to be reminded that I have that option. I hope it does the same for you.

And I hold it in my heart, mind and soul every day that my friend will experience peace on a daily basis, keep fighting the odds and grace this earth with her presence for many years to come.

I wish the same for all of you!

What are you able to make peace with today? If even just for today. Please share below.

Boots, Class & a Little Sass

Well, I’m back in the saddle again!

I lost my way for a bit. Became worn out and saddle sore. Got bucked off my horse. And dragged along behind for far too long. AND finally, found myself face down in the mud!

So, I decided to take the advice of a dear, long-time friend who was born and raised in Southern Oklahoma.

With the dynamic drawl of a bonified badass southern belle, she commands, “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps, Girl!”.

You don’t dare argue!

Even though my blog, TheAdventuresomeLife.com, has already been in some form of development for three years now, I have found myself lost – often.

Leaving me with another point that I can’t argue – my heart and soul feel a void every time I’m not actively creating, connecting and continuing to grow it.

I can’t even give you a specific reason why. Sometimes it’s just the overwhelm of day to day life. Other times I’m placing other needs, responsibilities or priorities of my own or the needs of other people above it. I set it aside in the name of being tired, scared, or too busy.

The noose around my neck from judging myself for getting off track or losing my way – again – is enough to prevent me from moving forward. From finishing what I came here to do.

During my adventure racing experiences my teammates and I would get lost ALL THE TIME. The courses we competed on would cover many miles and all sorts of terrain, sometimes over multiple days of racing.  The only solution when we considered ourselves to be lost, was to get ourselves found by:

  • Asking for help or directions (if there was another team or race official within 20 miles of us)
  • Backtracking to where we last knew where we were and starting over again
  • Pulling out our map (if we had one), getting our wits about us, and devising a plan
  • Wondering around aimlessly until something made sense or looked familiar (My least favorite and the most time consuming – but still an option)

These same tools are accessible to us in our lives as well. The only difference between racing and everyday life is our ability to have:

  1. Acceptance. Getting lost was a given when I was racing. It was just part of the deal – to be expected.  We often forget the same holds true for life. We allow ourselves to panic or judge ourselves far too harshly.
  2. Willingness. There was no giving up in adventure racing really. Unless you wanted to sit down in a dense forest, stop paddling in the middle of a lake, or refuse to rappel down the mountain you just climbed. One way or the other, you had to find the finish line to be able to go home. Life is similar. Our willingness to keep moving is the only option we really have.

So make today THE day. Grab your boots. Or your Adidas. Or your 3-inch Jimmy Choo pumps and prepare to lasso whatever it is that you’ve been chasing, avoiding or denying yourself for far too long.

Maybe you want to finally shed a few pounds by adopting healthier lifestyle habits. Maybe you are in dire need of saying “NO” to some people or things – to stop running yourself ragged over other people’s priorities and “emergencies”. To finally find or pursue a passion you’ve been denying yourself. Open your heart back up to love. Be brave enough to go after that new job or career path. Or just allow yourself to take a breath, relax and just be.

In my case, it’s piss or get off the pot when it comes to creating, building and sharing my vision. My passion. My purpose.

TheAdventuresomeLife.com is your place to go for tips, tools and experiences that are designed to help you:

  • Gain acceptance of what is and has been
  • Bust through barriers that stand in your way
  • Tackle perceived obstacles
  • Overcome paralyzing fears
  • Set new sights and attain them
  • Realize new paths and possibilities
  • Discover solutions for your life
  • Create quality connections
  • Build confidence in making choices
  • Experience new levels of peace and understanding
  • Feel more alive right now
  • Have more fun in every aspect of your life

Life is one big Adventure!

You can SEE IT in what’s right in front of you.

You can SEEK IT beyond your current level of acceptance, perceived limitations and understanding.

Life is not about never getting on the horse, so as not to fall off.

What a snoozer that would be – Zzzzzzzz.

It’s about getting on your proverbial horse in the first place. Learning the ropes. Getting the feel. And inevitably falling off. Again. And again. And again.

The only way to keep on living is to stand up, dust yourself off, and get back on.

Wahoooo! Let’s ride!

 

There will be new things to come from TAL in the coming days, weeks and months. I’ll keep you posted. But in the meantime, I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Anything from this week’s blog speak to you in particular?  Something you need to sink your spurs into? Any other topics you want to hear about? Questions for me?

Everything old CAN be new again

The great Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “He who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead.”

As we grow older and begin thinking that we have it all figured out – or at least thinking we should by now – we often deduce that there is nothing to look forward to in this life. If even in the background of our thoughts – our subconscious.

We’ve done what we knew to do. Lived a “good” life. Done the “right” things. Been “good” people.

And still consistent peace and happiness evades us.

So, we trudge through the monotony of day to day life looking for meaning, a glimpse of joy, relief from our worries – or just how to survive the day.

The bliss of weddings turns into the work of marriages or the devastation of divorce.

The gift of a newborn becomes the challenge of raising a teenager.

The security of family is forced to endure hardship and loss as people begin coping with health issues and death.

The excitement and sparkle of a new home becomes a never-ending and ruthless money-pit of needed repairs, upgrades and replacements.

The pursuit of a career and success becomes just doing a job, second guessing everything you’ve built or desperately trying to figure things out when your circumstances change suddenly and unexpectedly.

The thrill of physical challenge and pushing limits becomes aches, pains and ultimately the cortisone shots or surgeries of today.

We can become hardened over the years. Less receptive to new ideas. More frustrated by the changes and speed of life.

Worn out.

We may live in guilt or anger about our past mistakes or the mistakes of others.

We may feel that things are unfair or that the best has already happened.

 

What do all of these things have in common?

They include some form of worry.

Our minds bombard us with regret, daunting tasks, fear, anxiety, to-dos or else, should haves, could haves, perceived loss and remorse – on a daily basis.

Sometimes all at once.

No, really!

Have you ever checked your thoughts in a meltdown moment?

I can pretty much guarantee all the worry-wart-isms above will be present in what you’re telling yourself during said meltdown.

 

You ever WONDER how you can change all that?

If you do, you’re on the right track.

In our almost constant state of worry we completely miss the WONDER – the awe – of life.

 

What’s happening in the outside world around us is not where the issue lies – nor where you will find the answer. You must venture into the recesses of your mind.

 

Instead of saying –

I don’t know what to do about…

I’m worried about…

I can’t or I don’t want to because…

I should do this…

I could have done that…

I need to…

 

Try a little WONDER on for size –

I wonder what will happen?

I wonder how this experience will help me grow?

I wonder what it will be like?

I wonder what I can bring to this situation or relationship?

I wonder how much fun I can have?

I wonder what I can learn from this person or experience?

I wonder what we can create?

I wonder how this will unfold?

I wonder what this all means?

 

3 things are guaranteed to happen when you ask a WONDER QUESTION of yourself:

  • It will immediately take the edge off your worry and help you realize things are not as bad or as daunting as they seem.
  • You will see things in a whole new light – much like a child witnessing colorful, bursting fireworks in the sky for the very first time.
  • You will release yourself from feeling the need to have all the answers. You become a player in this Adventure called life.

 

Allow yourself to WONDER at least a little – every single day – and escape the clutches of worry. Your heart will open. You will experience acceptance, advancement, fun, forgiveness, breath, movement, letting go, love, beauty and awe.

 

Life is nothing BUT a state of wonder really.

Allow yourself to witness the masterpiece.

To experience the miracles.

To appreciate every moment.

NEVER STOP WONDERING!

 

What are you wondering about today? Or start with what you’re worried about. Put it in the form of a wonder question and be sure to share your question below.

What goes down, must come up!

  1. When something isn’t working for you, switch to something that does – use whatever is available or presents itself in that moment. 

Day one was a 7-mile hike down to the floor of the Grand Canyon. I had worn my hiking boots many times before so they were good and broken in. However, about 5 miles into the hike, I started to experience pain on my right inside ankle bone. The angle of the descent, and my unusual stride due to muddy, sometimes icy and slick terrain had my boot rubbing on my ankle in such a way that it became bruised. Before long each step was unbearable.

I tried re-tying my boots in several different ways. Taking breaks. Even slipping my foot partially out of the boot and hiking with my heel flattening the back side. That option offered my ankle bone relief, but quickly caused issues in other areas – my back, knees, calf and quadriceps. All of which I needed to finish that day’s descent, let alone the 9.5 mile hike out the next day.

When I couldn’t take it anymore, I sat down, removed my 40-pound back pack and considered my options. There was only one really. I had packed a brand spanking new, shiny, unblemished pair of running shoes to put on once we reached camp – as a respite for my feet.  They had insufficient tread for the terrain, and little to no ankle support. But it was either that, debilitating pain, or bare feet.

My choice was clear.

If it wasn’t for the “what you pack in, you pack out” hikers pledge and Grand Canyon policy, I might have hurled my mud and clay packed hiking boots over the edge of a cliff.

So tempting!

But instead I beat my wretched boots together incessantly, removing as much debris – and weight – from them as I could. And strapped them to the back of my pack. I christened my pristine, sparkling new running shoes by strapping on a pair of YakTrax to ensure sufficient traction, and continued my descent.

One way to know you’ve clearly made a great choice: it solves a problem – and feels so damn good! 

I wore those tennis shoes the rest of the way down and all the way out of the canyon the next day. They received a rigorous washing when we arrived home. And they are officially my favorite shoes!

The irony is that I had spent the entire week before the trip lecturing my son for not breaking in his brand-new hiking shoes – he needs new shoes about every 3 months due to his exponential growth!  He had ZERO issues with his shoes. (Don’t think he didn’t make that point known.)

    2. Figure out what you want most – in that moment – and do whatever it takes to get there.

My son did have his own challenges however. To be expected, considering he was a 14-year-old young man attempting something that only 1% of the 6 million people who visit the Grand Canyon each year are brave (or crazy) enough to attempt.

He was a champion the first day, descending 4,780 feet in elevation, covering 7 miles. Just to offer you some perspective, there is not a single flat surface from the rim until you reach the bridge that crosses the Colorado river at the bottom – exemplifying the phrase, “It’s all downhill from here.”

And if you’ve never hiked, walked or ran at a steep decline, you should know that it’s much harder on your joints and muscles than climbing at an incline.

That evening at camp, it dawned on me as my own muscles started to tighten and ache, that rolling out of our tiny beds in the bunk house the next morning could prove to be interesting – and maybe even a game-ender for my son.

There’s nothing quite like taking that first step the day after you’ve asked your body to perform some enormous physical feat. It usually involves some element of shock and crying out loud or cussing. Followed by a desperate attempt by your brain to make sense of how you’re going to even live through that next day, let alone take another step. Or how about thousands of steps, with a heavy pack on your back for 8 to 10 hours straight.

It’s in those moments that you have to have a real heart to heart with your brain – reminding it that it is in charge of your body and has the power to determine what happens next.

We had no choice but to hike up and out of the canyon the next day, gaining 4,380 in elevation over the course of 9.5 miles – not for the faint of heart.

A holiday weekend, rangers were not on duty, and a mule or helicopter rescue could take up to 3 days – information we learned from another hiker who was contemplating any other option but painfully hiking out that next day.

Luckily, after a quick breakfast to fuel our minds and muscles, my son was all too anxious to get started. So we set off on our trek before the sun had even risen over the tallest walls of the canyon.

The terrain on the way up and out of the canyon was a little more shaded and gradual, covering less incline over more miles. We made several stops along the way – taking in the scenery – constantly reminded of how fortunate we were to be having this experience – and more importantly, having it together.

It wasn’t until the last 2 ½ miles of that day’s trek that my son started to both mentally and physically break down.  It’s at this point that the trail really begins to climb. We scaled the canyon wall on switchbacks that slowly but surely release you to the top rim of the canyon where other tourists look at you in horror – as they realize you just came from the bottom of this monstrous, gaping hole in the ground.

Several times in that final couple of hours he sat down – holding back tears – ready to be done. Verbalizing his distaste and anguish out of frustration and exhaustion.

I’m not as brutal of a mother as I may seem. My son actually requested to make this trip when he was 11 years old. We were visiting the canyon, hiking just a mile or two in and out from the south rim. He saw the hikers with their packs as the continued on down into the canyon, beyond our view and he was hooked. I promised him we would come back and do it someday.

When he was 13, I decided it was time. But when I called to reserve a space at the only boarding at the bottom of the canyon, Phantom Ranch, I discovered they were booking a year out in advance.

So here we were, a year later. As I looked at my 14-year-old son – understanding his pain and mental battles in that moment (because I had put myself through them so many times before in my own life) –  I knew the time had come.

My young son was now a young man. And he was about to learn a really important lesson.

Sometimes your only choice is to put one foot in front of the other and keep on moving.

“Nobody can carry you this time – namely me. There’s no one to come rescue us. You can’t just quit and sit there. It’s going to get dark, and cold as the day moves on – and we don’t have the gear to survive those conditions – on the open face of windy canyon wall – for very long.”

As we sat on a huge rock – my son gathering his composure and determination – I assured him. I was in this with him until the end. We could stop, stretch and rest as often as he needed. He could cry, cuss, bitch, moan, laugh, sing – whatever it took. And he could set the pace. But the fact of the matter was, the only way out of that canyon was to walk ourselves out. And the more we kept moving, the quicker we would get to the top.

I used the promise of food (specifically a cheeseburger), a hot shower, foot rub, a comfortable bed and sleeping in as long as he wanted the next morning to entice him.

At a certain point, what my son wanted more than anything was to be off his feet, out of that canyon.

And I wanted it for him too.

But the only way to get what we wanted was to do what had to be done.

So after 8 hours of hiking that day we reached the top rim of the Grand Canyon.

My son learned – and I was reminded – that no matter how much you want something, it’s not yours for the taking unless you know how bad you want it and you’re willing to put one foot in front of the other and do what it takes to get it.

What do you really want – at all costs? Share in the comments below. Naming it is the key to making it happen. And then it’s just a matter of taking one-step and the next, and so-on.

Don’t get caught up in obstacles. They may exist simply to make the path you choose more clear. The importance does not lie in HOW you get there. Only that you do!

You don’t have to have it all figured out, Einstein!

Herein lies the problem. Making resolutions inadvertently assumes that there are things that need to be resolved. Dealt with. Settled. Solved. Figured out.

This approach – while well-intentioned – places all the focus on what’s “wrong”. On what you believe needs to be improved upon, changed or even eliminated. It utilizes perception and interpretation of what has been in order to determine what can be now.

What you have believed, thought and been willing and able to accept up till now has got you exactly where you are. Go you! Good job.

But if reaching beyond your current reality is what you seek, a new level of thinking – and a whole lot of imagination – is required.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when creating them.

– Albert Einstein

Don’t get me wrong. Your personality is important. Your own personal genius. Flavor. Uniqueness. Individuality.

But it’s time to let your personality serve your soul – not the other way around. You can’t expect your expansive, inclusive, all-encompassing soul to be fulfilled by a lil’ resolution that was created from the same mind that has, up till now, kept you from the reality you want.

I define the soul as the essence of who we are, despite any human experiences, episodes and encounters. It’s us at our core – beyond our five senses, interpretations and judgments of the world. It’s our natural, beautiful, infinite, peaceful and passionate state of being.

 

From The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav:

(In reference to the writing and works of William James, Carl Jung, Benjamin Lee Whorf, Niels Bohr and, my personal favorite, Albert Einstein – who Zukav refers to as mystics.)

“…in the depths of their own thoughts they each saw much too much to be limited by the five senses…”

“…I came to understand that what motivated these men was not Earthly prizes or the respect of colleagues, but that they put their souls and minds on something and reached the extraordinary place where the mind could no longer produce data of the type that they wanted, and they were in the territory of inspiration where their intuitions accelerated and they knew that there was something more than the realm of time and space and matter, something more than physical life.”

“…what motived these men, and many others, was in fact something of great vision that comes from beyond the personality. Each one of us is now being drawn, in one way or another, to that same great vision. It is more than a vision. It is an emerging force. It is the next step in our evolutionary journey.”

 

What am I getting at here? This: The materialization of our ideas, dreams and visions ends at our own perceived boundaries and limitations.

The answer is not to define a NEW boundary and limitation. It is to accept that there are no boundaries, that the possibilities are truly limitless.

Don’t accept jumping from one lily pad to the next. Leap out of the pond and into the ocean.

What’s motivating you in 2017? What’s your vision? Look deep within your soul for the answers. Don’t resolve. Create freely instead. Allow expansion and openness in your heart and mind.

Here are a few simple steps to get you started:

  1. Start with your head – the mind – and make space. Clear whatever thoughts, judgments, fears, doubts you might have about what has been, what you want and how you’re going to get there.

My favorite technique is to identify the thought. Label it “thinking.” Nothing more. It just is. And then drop it. Let it go. Release attachment.

2. Open your heart. Be receptive to possibility. To not knowing. To trusting. To having faith. To allowing and having willingness to participate and trust things you don’t already know or can’t see.

Try new things. Take chances. Be silly. Allow fear to come and go.

3. Acknowledge and enjoy what the external world then reflects back to you. You will either experience things differently (perspective). Or circumstances and surroundings will actually change (physically). Take time to notice. Celebrate even the smallest of shifts.

As we enter this new year, take this week’s Adventure Challenge! Let go of what you believe you know to be true in order to make room for a new reality and possibilities beyond your current understanding.

This year, instead of deciding what you think you want, maybe it’s time to simply ask, “What now?”

Recommended reads for expanding your mind, heart, soul AND reality in 2017:

  • The Adventuresome Life Blog by Dana Shane  (If you haven’t already, enter your email address below in order to receive FREE weekly tips and tools for living an Adventuresome Life in your inbox)
  • The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
  • Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard
  • A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Put your hair in a bun, slip on a loincloth (mawashi) and FIGHT!

I’ve always had an uncanny ability to make things happen when I truly set my mind to it.

My son has it, too – when he wants to.

It’s funny how tired he becomes or how much “his ankle hurts” – all of a sudden – when it’s time to do his chores. Yet he can be in the throes of flu-like symptoms and still find energy to make a trip to Game Stop to acquire the latest Xbox One release.

Sometimes you really want something.

Sometimes it’s a means to an end – you need to do something in order to create what you really want, do what you want to do or feel the way you want to feel.

It doesn’t always seem obvious, feel painless or come easy.

So what do you do in the times where your heart isn’t in it, your fears are overcoming you or there are perceived obstacles in your way?

 

PREPARATION STEPS

  1. Knowing what you want is the key to tapping into the energy source you need to make things happen.

What’s the goal? What are you attempting to make happen? This is your dangling carrot. The outcome you want to achieve. The effect you desire.

  1. Identifying why you want what you want is the fuel that allows for sustainability. It’s what allows you to focus on your journey.

This is the part that keeps you going mentally and spiritually when the going gets tough. It’s the bulls-eye on the target. It’s the glue that holds your efforts together.

ACTION STEP

  1. The only thing left to do – and the best advice my older brother ever gave me – is to drop your ass and prepare to fight for what you want.

In other words, at some point, you have to squat down, use your muscles, thrust upward with power, force and momentum, propel yourself forward and come out swinging.

Conjure your inner Sumo!

It doesn’t matter what it is. Finally losing the weight. Building that new company. Getting yourself in shape. Saving the money to take that trip. Getting out more. Meeting new people. Buying your dream house. Ending an unhealthy relationship, healing one worth fighting for or opening your heart to a new one. Tackling a bad habit. Wrangling addictive behaviors. Getting a grip on your finances and investments.

Heads up! This part will always include overcoming some fear, insecurity or uncertainty – all of which are in your mind – and can only be obliterated through action.

I’m convinced there’s nothing more rewarding in life than setting your mind to make something happen, working your ass off and actually seeing it come to fruition.

What do you want more than anything else in the coming year? What do you really want to change, accomplish, tackle, overcome, open-up to? Share below.

Then drop your ass and make it happen.

Stop this thing! I want off.

Recently my 13-year-old son did me a really big favor.

He gave me some parenting advice – and some much-needed perspective.

After sharing something he was upset about – and after my feeble attempt to “problem-solve” – he looked me square in the eye and said, “Mom, sometimes I just need you to say it sucks!”

I took a moment to recover from feeling like the worst mother in the world and overcome the shock and pride I felt that my son was willing and able to so simply, yet eloquently communicate his needs.

Then I replied, “Yes, bud, I can do that. I’m sorry. That sucks.”

After all, this past month has been a time of very high highs and very low lows.

I’ve celebrated the big wins of some of my favorite teams. And mourned the losses of some of my favorite candidates.

I’ve received joyful birth announcements and endured devastating news of deaths.

I have managed the stress of running one company experiencing many changes while navigating the growing pains of developing and launching a second company.

I’ve let go of some longtime dreams…and picked them back up.

I was physically ill for the first time in…well, in I can’t remember how long.

I had people I count on exit my life – for now. And new people enter my life with whom I must develop trust.  I’m not sure which is harder?

I’ve wrestled with disappointments, faced unknowns, felt defeated, lonely and downright beat to a pulp at times.

Do I have to see it that way? No.

In the grand scheme of things, is it really that bad? No.

To others looking in on my life, does it appear to suck? No.

Does anything I’m thinking or feeling make it absolutely so? No.

But in the words of my son, “It just kind of sucks right now.”

The scales are tipped greatly. The unknowns far outweigh the certainties. And quite honestly, it all makes me feel just a little uncomfortable.

Or more accurately, I’m FREAKING OUT!

Kind of like that moment when you find yourself sitting in the car of the latest, greatest roller coaster at the hottest theme park, wondering what the hell you’re even doing there.

When I’m navigating the pitfalls of suckdome, I have a tendency to do the exact opposite – internalizing, analyzing, withdrawing, shutting down, holing up, putting on the brakes, distancing myself, and second-guessing myself – of what needs to happen.

I freeze up and let fear run the show.

In this particular case, I didn’t write a single thing, send out a single post or create anything new for The Adventuresome Life in the past month.

The main thing that lights me up in life, and I decided it would be a good idea to not focus on it, not share with others, and not continue to explore and expand my greatest passion and creation.

Sounds like a great idea, right?

NOT.

My favorite quote of all time, attributed to Jesus Christ, is this: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

As the quote reveals – pulling away from my passion quickly revealed its capability to destroy me. The general suckiness of one day compounded, dragged out and endured as I spent more time and energy on what was stressing me out rather than on what lights me up.

And now – the moment that I sit down in front of my keyboard – I can see the dark clouds clearing.  I can feel the weight upon my shoulders lifting. I can grasp the lifeline thrown.

So when life hits you with a series of sucktitude, what do you do?

  1. Admit something sucks. Accept it. Name it. Claim it.
  2. Remember that everything is temporary. This too shall pass.
  3. Loosen your white-knuckle grip. Open your eyes. Quit holding your breath. Throw up your hands. Yell “Wahoo!” Nurture and focus on whatever lights you up, makes you happy and fuels your aliveness!

Life is full of dips, drops, loopty-loos, long climbs, jerky turns, rumbles, death-defying plummets, flips, mach speeds and screeching stops. And sometimes they suck, unequivocally.

But whether you close your eyes and hold your breath, scream bloody murder the entire time, get pissed off that you’re even on the ride – one thing will never change – you can’t get OFF the ride.

So come up for air in the straightaways. Embrace the thrill. Relax and enjoy the exhilaration that is life. Your life. Your own personal roller coaster.

 

Here’s to being Adventuresome…and all that comes with it.

Recently, I convinced my personal trainer to be my partner in a local Adventure Race.

It may seem like it should be the other way around since my race partner, Payton, is a health and fitness professional, was a Big 10 collegiate athlete and just happens to be 19 years my junior.

You may remember Payton as the personal trainer I spoke of previously. He helped me become a national finalist in the Life Time 60 Day Body Transformation Challenge.

In other words, I paid this young man to kick my ass and basically torture me – and it was worth every penny, ache and pain!

The text conversation went something like this:

Me: I REALLY want you to be my adventure racing partner on Sunday. 2 mile canoe. 4 mile trail run. 11 mile bike.

Payton: I haven’t ran a mile in months. I would legit die.

Me: Paybacks.

So with less than a week’s notice, he agreed with this statement:

Excited for The Des Moines Adventure Race this Sunday. My client REALLY gave me no choice after these words (above). I inflict so much sweat, tears and pain on her. It’s time she gets to see me struggle. Here’s to being Adventuresome!

He may be able to hold grown women up in the air with one hand, do a back flip from a standing position and “walk around” on his hands with the greatest of ease, but what this race was about to ask of him would be something he had not yet experienced.

I was in my element – years of boating, biking, running, adventure racing and triathlons under my belt. But I was quickly reminded of how each and every race presents you with trials and tests that change you – offering up life lessons that apply well after the race.

 

Here are some of the lessons I was reminded of during the constant physical and mental demands of  this 3-part, non-stop, 2-hour race:

 

CANOE (2 miles) – Sometimes you intend to go one direction and the current of life takes you another.

With Payton’s upper-body strength, my kayaking experience and the fact that it was the first leg of the race, I thought the canoeing portion would be the least of our worries.

Although we managed to not tip over or find ourselves paddling in circles, the canoeing portion proved to be more of a challenge than I had thought it would be.

Unlike navigating solo – which I am used to in a kayak – we had to work together to keep the boat propelling forward while staying on course. Payton (the strength) in the front and me (the experienced paddler) steering from the back.

The more you can keep your canoe in a straight line, the less work it is – path of least resistance.

Sounds simple enough, right? Easier said than done.

The combination of our uneven strength, our inexperience with co-piloting a canoe, and the inability to read the wind direction and water current quickly became apparent – and quite humbling. We continually had to correct our position as the boat started veering in unintended directions.

There was nothing to do but repeatedly make adjustments, keep our cool, continue communicating and work together.

No amount of frustration could justify giving up. The only thing that would get us where we needed to go (the run transition area) was to keep paddling.

 

RUN (4 miles) – Slow and steady may not “win” the race, but it will get you to the finish line.

Running has always been “my thing.” I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. Combine running with winding trails through nature – and I’ve pretty much found my happy place.

Payton, however, not so much. Prior to this race, he had never run more than 2 miles at one time.

I was asking him to run farther than he ever had, through fields and trails of uneven terrain, after just paddling in a canoe for 30 minutes (you use more of your legs and core muscles than you might imagine). All while making sure to leave enough energy and ability to bike 11 miles after the fact.

I wouldn’t define myself as a fast runner, but I have had a close relationship with endurance over the years. I kind of go into my own world, fall into a manageable pace and keep on trucking.

Side note: In Adventure racing, teammates must stay within 100 feet of each other at all times.

But today it would be Payton’s world.

I knew from past Adventure racing experience that if Payton was forced to attempt to “keep up” for 4 miles straight, it would take a toll on him – both physically and mentally.

So I encouraged him to set the pace. My theory worked. Every time I would follow his lead, his pace would quicken.

If I had pushed Payton to run faster than his comfort level and current ability – we may not have finished the run – let alone the 11 miles of biking that was awaiting us.

 

BIKE (11 miles) – Keep your eye on the squirrel – or whatever it takes to finish what you started!

The bike portion of the race required us to bike around an hourglass-shaped road 3 ¼ times. Payton had ZERO experience on a bike. I was actually pleasantly surprised by his comfort level and agility on the bike despite this fact – must be the gymnast in him.

A friend had loaned him a bike and helmet to use for the day. Very kind. But after just one lap sitting on that bike seat, Payton was not feeling the kindness.

It was clear that the bike was not fitted correctly for Payton’s body. We had adjusted the seat for his height. But there are many other factors that go into properly setting up a bike.

About halfway through our second lap, we had to stop and stretch. Payton’s right quad was seizing up on him. If you have ever had this happen – you know that this can be a race ender. No choice in the matter. Done.

As Payton stretched, I looked him in the eye and said, “If we need to end it here, I support you. We did what we could. But if you want to finish this thing, I’ll get you to the finish line. But it’s going to hurt.”

Payton didn’t even hesitate. He jumped back on his bike and said, “Let’s finish it.”

About every few minutes, in no particular order, he would mutter with a clenched jaw, teeth gritted. “Damn hands. Oh, my back! My neck hurts. My quads are burning.”

I continually offered words of encouragement to motivate him, mental images to distract him, and physical tips to try and ease his pain.

As we were coming around the back loop on our 3rd lap, I thought I heard Payton say, “Where’s that f***ing squirrel?” I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. I thought he had officially lost it!

But as we came around the final bend – the last quarter lap of the race into the finish line – I saw a dead squirrel laying in the middle of the road. I hadn’t even noticed it before in our previous laps. But Payton had. And it had become his dangling carrot.

In the end, that damn squirrel would be what got him to the finish line!

 

Taking it all in after the fact – Phew! What an Adventure! We really have nothing to lose from trying new things, challenging our own perceived limitations (you are always stronger and more capable than you think you are) and sharing in the experience of it all with others.

In a nutshell – pun intended – I was reminded:

  • Life doesn’t always go as planned, but your only real option is to “keep paddling” and make adjustments as needed.

 

  • Work with your “team members” – whoever they may be. Keep communicating. And when one of you needs a little extra help – make a choice that benefits all parties involved the most overall.

 

  • Decide what you want, and then use whatever it takes – even if it’s a squirrel – to help you get there.

 

Now it’s your turn! Join me November 5th & 6th for The Inaugural Adventuresome Life Experiential Workshop at Wesley Woods in Indianola, Iowa.

You’ll face fears and address self-imposed limitations. Develop a more Adventuresome attitude and approach to life. Experience fun, joy, passion and purpose.

After all, what is life but one GRAND ADVENTURE!