“You’re not depressed, you’re just selfish,” her father’s words sank into her bones. In an instant, the world became tinier than it already felt in her restless body. As a 16-year-old already feeling lost in her skin and seeking a way out through peers, self-harm, sex, and substances, she unleashed what she’d been hiding. “I think I need help,” the bravest words a human can muster, became another windowless room, rather than a way out of this burning home crumbling in on itself. Now she knew that she was alone; this was not a safe place to be brave. So she ventured deeper into the fire and prayed that her lungs would someday know the taste of fresh air.
Judgments by trusted adults come in many different forms. When people that girls look up to say, “it’s your fault,” “life is just hard,” “you’ll get over it,” even the well-intentioned, “you’re resilient,” she’s told that she’s alone in this journey. And that’s just not true. There are many spaces for young people to be seen and heard—and it is up to each of us to create more of them.
Each individual has something wonderful to offer youth; perhaps your words have been said before, but not in the way you can speak them. As mentors, parents, peers, teachers, neighbors, and leaders we all have a vital role to help young people through the vast challenges of our time. Being authentic, honoring silence, listening deeply, and asking for help may be a few keys to support our youth—and help heal the young person still within each of us.
Although taking on important social roles like mentorship can be of immense value, being who you are is simply enough. You don’t need to do more, be more, or even be healed from your past to provide valuable support for others. Your trials become treasure when you serve others through the lens you now have—and if you’re not ready to share your journey yet, your honesty has the potential to speak volumes more than advice-giving can. You may be the first person to give someone else permission to be true, simply by being yourself.
Let silence speak.
Mentors don’t have to give advice. Mentors don’t have to have the perfect words. In especially trying times, mentors can let silence be a guiding force. When in conversation, many people feel a need to fill the silence. A “pregnant pause” allows for personal reflection, space to think, and as Jungian tradition suggests—this is especially important for introverts. In the extroverted, “just stay positive” culture in the U.S., holding silence to contemplate, imagine, and reflect from the inside out has lost its value.
Harvard Medical School psychologist Susan David challenges this culture that prizes relentless positivity over emotional truth. When we avoid uncomfortable silence at all costs, what we are saying is, “my comfort is more important than your reality.” However, helping youth feel that they’re not alone is more valuable than fixing or filling the silence, especially when they are telling us something that is not easy to hear.
Support the person, not just the problem.
It’s easy to get tunnel-visioned by a problem—stress, anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, disordered eating habits, and general risky behaviors—and get into the mindset of fixing, solving, and seeking solutions. The addiction counseling strategy called Motivational Interviewing describes this often automatic response as the “righting reflex.” It’s natural as empathetic beings to want to help solve a problem, however, young people aren’t a problem to be solved. Young people are humans needing to be seen and heard.
When we support youth as people—rather than a problem that needs to be fixed—the higher likelihood of them coming to their own conclusions. People will change when they are ready to change, and we can help get them get ready by listening, being curious about their experience, validating their emotions, and affirming their strengths for getting this far. Building an authentic relationship is one of the best ways we can provide sensitive, individualized, and consistent support to show young people they are not alone—and you’re not alone in this work either.
It’s ok to ask for help.
In your pursuit of non-judgmentally supporting young people, how are you doing the same for the young person within you? There is still a child within who remembers those words her teacher told her, a teen who remembers the words their father spoke. Especially if you’ve had a challenging childhood or adolescence—which many have—this is often the most challenging part of mentorship. This work can bring up a lot that you didn’t expect, and it’s ok for you to ask for help too.
How you take care of yourself, how you heal, how you speak your truth—whatever that may look like on any given day—this is mentorship. When you give yourself permission to be human, you give those around you permission as well.
For all people who feel like these days are too much to handle alone, please remember that there are free resources to help with whatever you are going through. You are not selfish, wrong, or weak for asking for help—you are strong, you have a story that only you can share, and there are so many others out there waiting to hear.
Resources: local and national hotline
24/7 National Crisis Text Line 24-Hour Crisis Line: Text 741-741
24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 800-273-TALK OR 800-273-8255
24/7 Bozeman Help Center Crisis Line: Call 406-586-3333
Montana Crisis Recovery Program (COVID-19 specific crisis call center): Call 877-503-0833 (Everyday of the week, 10:00 am – 10:00 pm)
Montana Warm Line / Non-Crisis Support Line: Call 877-688-3377 (Mon – Fri 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm & Sat – Sun 10:00 am – 10:00 pm)
Through our amazing community partnerships, we offer single day-trips, group wellness workshops, group coaching for teens, week-long National Park adventures, rock climbing festivals, and so much more. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, send us a message and we’ll create a customized experience! We also offer 1:1 virtual health, wellness, and trip support.
“Nurturing Your Vision” Part IA Sky Oro Virtual Event: This workshop will include embodied vision journaling and life coaching activities, mindfulness exercises, and group discussion around how to nurture your vision when the road gets rocky.
Ladies Weekend Out 2.014 Lucky Ladies will have the opportunity to join Golden State Guiding’s awesome female Guide team for a 3 day weekend on the Eastside filled with exciting multi-pitch and single-pitch climbing, camping in Bishop, California, and a social gathering on the third and final evening at the Têra Kaia retail store!
5/13 – 5/16 Bishop, California
Wild Women Expeditions Yellowstone Multi-sport AdventureFloat down the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park; explore the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone—often referred to as the Serengeti of North America—to look for bison, elk, pronghorn, and even wolves; sleep under the stars tent-camping for four nights in a local campground complete with amenities; top off the adventure with a fun horseback ride and then visit a local hot spring to soothe our muscles after a wonderful week of outdoor exploration.
6/20 – 6/26Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks
Touch the Sky Summer Camp“The Touch the Sky program introduces enthusiastic kids, ages 12-15, to the sport of outdoor rock climbing. Intended for kids of all experiences and backgrounds, the program focuses on fundamentals of climbing movement, safety, and meaningful connection to the landscape and community.”
7/26 – 7/30Southwest Montana
Thursdays July 22 – August 182021
SEASONSHigh SchoolSeasons is a 4-week group wellness coaching opportunity for girls in 9-11th grade to have a safe, supportive, and super fun opportunity for intentional in-person connection. We will go through each season of the year in 4 weeks: Spring/Intentions, Summer/Adventure, Autumn/Creativity, and Winter/Rest
Saturdays July 24 – August 142021
SEASONS Middle SchoolSeasons is a 4-week group wellness coaching opportunity for girls in 6-8th grade to have a safe, supportive, and super fun opportunity for intentional in-person connection. We will go through each season of the year in 4 weeks: Spring/Intentions, Summer/Adventure, Autumn/Creativity, and Winter/Rest
I stare at the worn spines of adventure classics, many of them required reading in my youth. Verne, London, Thoreau, Tolkien, Krakauer, and Abbey stare back at me. I was entranced with nature and adventure from a young age; not until recently did I see myself as a guide, worthy of creating my own stories in the mountains.
Historically, the outdoor sector has primarily represented a limited demographic, mostly due to the privilege of leisure, stigma about who is welcome in these spaces, emotional and physical safety, and financial or physical access.
It takes bravery to change. It takes making mistakes and admitting them. It takes holding ourselves and each other accountable as we grow together. And it takes leading organizations like the American Mountain Guides Association to intentionally break barriers to entry.
As a white, cis, het, able-bodied human myself, I have an immense privilege to travel to one of my favorite places for two weeks during a pandemic to climb and learn in the unceded traditional lands of Serrano and Western Shoshone peoples. Not to “bag” or “crush” anything, but to co-create a spacious community and help steer the future of guiding with amazing women from around the continent. This is not an end, only a beginning—and a strong beginning it is.
The AMGA Rock Guide Course I attended March 9-18, 2021 in what’s known as Joshua Tree National Park was not an intentional affinity program—although 5 out of 6 of our participants were women. More and more scholarships are being offered to shift the current reality.
I am grateful to the First Ascent Charitable Foundation for sponsoring my rock guide’s course. Their opportunity provided me a chance to increase my scope of practice from a Single Pitch Instructor to an Assistant Rock Guide. Here, I gained confidence in my leadership abilities, efficiency in my transitions, and learned best practices to keep clients safe.
This RGC helped destigmatize who can be considered a mountain guide while keeping the highest standards. This group helped me feel welcome and safe to ask questions and be myself. And without this partial scholarship, I would not have been there to experience it.
We all need nature because we ARE nature. And nature needs us. If we grow up believing the great outdoors and adventure is only for wealthy white men, we miss out on a major part of who we are.
When underestimated people only see the same faces represented (especially when so few of these people look like the one they see in the mirror) a self-fulfilling cycle continues. Instead of saying, “if they can do it, so can I,” they might say, “oh, that’s not for me, is it?” Outdoor leaders of culture, disabled outdoor leaders, queer outdoor leaders, women, and many other underestimated peoples—and especially intersections of these areas—break this cycle.
The mountains can be harsh and triggering, they are also wonderful and healing. It is important for us guides to consider that both experiences often exist simultaneously. In this space, I hope to lift up many women, girls, and underestimated young people to see guiding as a legitimate career path, and that they too belong out here.
Finding Sustainable Self Care & Taking a Break From Your To-Do List
“I need to get it all done today.”
Conditioning from all the years in public education, from familial expectations, from this inner-critic, weighs on me heavily.
These words have been conditioned in myself and so many others. We may feel like there’s so much to do, so much to have done. It’s hard to stop. To take up our rest. To feel like we deserve a break. The inner-critic calls us lazy. We’ve already been resting enough—it’s time to get to work.
But we haven’t truly stopped for even a minute.
For me, I forget to eat. I get headaches. I feel a sense of overwhelm that lasts for days or even weeks. But yet, I push through because that is all I’ve known.
Bubble baths, candles, essential oils, or other surface-level wellness practices are not going to help the roots of the issue. This may take a lot of time, energy, experimentation, and deep support from friends, family, or a specialist in mental health care. You may need to make some big changes like considering a career change, or you may just need to make some small ones like learning how to meal prep. Our needs differ, even if our sensations of stress, overwhelm, and burnout are all very similar.
If you are in desperate need of stress management, you can start today re-learning how to rest, understand what you truly need (not just what you’re told you need), and discover why it matters to you to listen to your inner-nature for cues to help you make lasting changes.
Momma Nature is one of our greatest teachers. Regarding rest, the land constantly says through the winds, “I don’t need to get it all done today. I have the time to take care of all that needs to be taken care of.”
We can say the same if we want.
Let these words sink in…
I don’t need to get it all done today.
I don’t need to get it all done today.
I don’t need to get it all done today.
When we come into our work, our relationships, and our lives from a foundation of knowing no matter what we are enough, we can do all we need to without sacrificing who we are, our energy, our wellbeing, our faith, our confidence, our love. At least not to a state of depletion that cannot be somewhat renewed with a bubble bath… if that’s your thing.
When we come from a place of not having to earn our place on this earth, we may feel more motivated, more inspired, and perhaps that we have more time in the day to do the things.
Since many of us run around like if only our to-do list was complete, then we would be happy, I encourage you to consider: If you were to check off everything on your to-do, forever, what would you do next?
Having things left to do at the end of your day is good for us. Your to-do list (or how much of it you complete) does not define your worth. Not even one bit.
I invite you to take 5 minutes to consider the GOOD from this year and complete the following prompts in a journal:
“I am now…”
We can simultaneously honor all the challenges AND find gratitude for the goodness that got us to the completion of this wild year. You may not be exactly where you wanted to be one year ago today, but you have succeeded—because you are here now.
Confidenceor self-efficacymay play an important role in this ability to create lasting change. Have you ever noticed that when you’re lacking confidence, you lack motivation? It’s totally normal to get stuck into a “why bother” mentality when things get difficult, especially these days.
On the other hand, when something is already going really well we may have more motivation to continue pursuing it. For example, when you’re already doing something to take care of your body (even if it’s not crushing a HIIT workout), you’re likely more kind to yourself and more motivated to reach your goals. By gaining confidence in our small steps, we find our motivation to reach the summits. It becomes less about resolving, and more about remembering how we made it here in the first place.
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they often come from a deficit mindset. We resolve to make changes because we don’t have what we want or need. And then when we don’t reach our goals by February, our motivation to persevere plummets with our confidence.
By the way, according to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit, and a median of 66 days. We may not see lasting changes until August of 2021, but we’re not going to see ANY changes if we’re already out of juice on January 18th.
If we build on what we have now, we can integrate what we already know, what we’ve already experienced, and what we’ve already learned(especially this year) with the reality we want to see for ourselves, our families, and our communities to come.
NOW, I invite you to flip your page over and write the same prompts as if you are speaking about the upcoming year in the past-tense.
It’s December 31st, 2021… What do you remember about this “past” year?
“I am now…”
If you could completely choose how this upcoming year, 2021, feels and looks (within your control), what would this next year feel and look like?
This embodied vision captures the essence of your best possible self and may give you the confidence you need to make it your REALITY. As you are doing this exercise, stay mindful of your body and breath. Do your best to breathe as you are at your best; put your posture in a way as if you are feeling your best; create a container for yourself.
Create a reality that’s challenging and compelling, and of course, in alignment with your values. Your vision may come from your depths and not just what you’ve been told you “should” do. State in as much detail as possible what you’ve accomplished, and how you got there.
Continued 2021 time-traveling exploration prompts:
What do you remember most from the year 2021?
How did you feel in your body this year?
What did your relationships look like? What did your relationships feel like?
What did you notice around you in your community, the country, and the world?
In what ways did you grow into yourself during 2021?
What did you do, in order for you to be here, embodying your best self on 12/31/21?
Put this page or journal someplace safe so you can revisit it one year from now and see how capable you truly are.
If you’re like many of the people I work with who want to leave 2020 like a big pile of compost and start planting seeds for 2021, you’ve probably tried a few things to finish this wild year strong…
🌱 Reconnecting with Loved Ones
🌱 Reflection & Journaling
🌱 Visualization, Meditation, & Prayer
🌱 Setting Intentions, New Years Resolutions, or a Word for the Year
You might be the one who doesn’t want to wait until January 1st to make this world a better place for yourself and others—you want to begin yesterday. And you have been putting in so much work already.
But then you hear more challenging news and the doubt sets in or you feel the weight of burnout. You beat yourself up and end up feeling like there’s something “wrong” with you because you’re not motivated to put the work into your goals and relationships.
It is not your fault!
The simple truth is that you’re still working through everything in the midst of a global pandemic. By nature, this decreases the confidence we need to stay motivated.
I’m guessing you already know this.
Here’s what I want you to know: You can stick to your intentions and make lasting changes. You can find balance in your body and your life. You can pursue new and old relationships, even from a distance. You can find sustainable health and well-being and this can absolutely overflow into your household and your greater community.
You see, there are particular experiences and gifts that only you have. You have a perfect purpose—and I imagine you even know what it is.
When you’re burnt out and stressed out, it feels impossible to give your gifts and share your stories.
And I know you want to give and share.
This is what I teach my amazing clients… I show them how simple it is to find more balance in their lives by tuning into nature & their bodies’ rhythms and learning how to give from their abundance rather than their leftovers.
Without both of these important pieces, any intention, resolution, or goal you set will have a hard time taking root. Your body will always fight back if they are not in balance.
And this is exactly what I’d love to show you.
I don’t want you to keep feeling frustrated by your own body and beating yourself up for not being at your best all the time. I want you to find forgiveness and the confidence to reach your value-centered goals for a long time to come.
That’s why I’d like to offer you a FREE Burnout to Balance Discovery Session to find your roots and grow confidently as we transition into a new year.
I’ve opened up 5 slots on my calendar for the next 3 weeks, and I’d love to speak with you during one of them.
During this call, I’ll help you determine how to achieve the results you want, WITHOUT feeling like you’re sabotaging yourself anymore. You’ll get a personalized action plan to help you reach your unique goals over time.
If you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and you’re ready for a different (and more fun & effective) approach to goal-setting—then I know I can help and I look forward to connecting with you.
P.S. Spots for these FREE calls will fill up fast, so if you know you want help with sustainability for your New Year’s intentions, I encourage you to grab one of these spots today!
I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been experiencing the culmination of loss and grief from this year. The sadness is settling in that I cannot meet with all my loved ones. It feels extra lonely now. And at the same time, extra still. As I shared in March of this year in Sometimes, Inside is Your Best Side,
“Nature uses the season of winter to rest from the productivity of spring, abundance of summer, and harvest of autumn. We all know this, but rarely practice it. In my lifetime we haven’t ever had to cease producing and consuming. We haven’t had to rest. There’s new growth and ideas and goods always sprouting up. We’ve been encouraged to keep up, keep going, do more.”
How might we find a better balance of stillness and contemplation when we can all be together again? This has been an unusually still Christmas and winter solstice season, and yet, perhaps that is exactly what our creator had intended from the very beginning when he sent a child to guide us with his “still, small voice.” I invite you to listen with me. I invite you to rest with me. I invite you to share your amazing story, when you feel ready.
Please reach out if you feel that you need some extra support in this time. You are not alone. May you feel that you are deeply, deeply loved beneath the surface of this challenging season.
Journal Prompts: This year…
When, where, or with whom did you felt most warm, safe, protected, and honored?
What do you love most?
What are three strengths you’ve tapped into? In what ways have you applied them?
How did you rest and renew?
What brings you deep joy?
What are you most grateful for this year?
What brought you a sense of wonder?
What has been hard to accept? What does this challenge have to teach you?
Who supported you in the ways you needed most? How did they support you?
When is one area of your day (specific time) that you can cultivate stillness during this Christmas and solstice season?
This season brings up different emotions for each of us. Whether or not you’ve been craving family time—it’s different this year. If you plan to communicate in-person or virtually with the people you grew up with, here are a few simple tips that may help your well-being.
Boundaries can support your relationships by front-loading your expectations and needs before a challenge comes up.
Perhaps you’d like everyone to wear masks. Maybe you don’t want to dive right into politics. You don’t eat meat anymore? Whatever it is, that’s ok, that’s you. Setting firm boundaries and communicating them early on to at least one trusted family member can help. This way, you will have an ally who can stand by your side and hold you and others accountable (and mediate, if necessary). Your boundaries can change as you do, but if you don’t communicate what you need—no one will know how to hold you.
We all have our history with family, which often magnifies our challenges.
No matter where we stand in our values, most of us are genuinely trying to do the right thing. We are more polarized in many ways with all that’s come to the surface this year, and yet many of us still choose to spend time having a dialogue, debates, and discussions with family. You are brave. When we remember that we are connected by bonds stronger than race, religion, and politics—we can learn so much from one another even if it makes us want to pull our hair out sometimes.
Also, leading a dialogue with “before I respond to your question, I just want you to know how much I love you” may perhaps help us and our family members feel a little more present and relaxed. Maybe not, but it’s worth a try.
What might this person have to teach you?
Perhaps what we learn is not about the content of the conversation, but about how to relate, listen, and respond rather than react. The Sustained Dialogue Institute defines dialogue as “listening deeply enough to be changed by what you learn.” A slight focus shift from what we’re listening to, to how we’re listening may be the key to depolarizing our dinner tables—and our country.
If you don’t feel safe, respected, or heard, it’s ok to step away.
Unfortunately, setting boundaries doesn’t always mean they will be respected—but if you have made your expectations clear, it will be easier to bring them up again later. Your action to take some space for your well-being may be better understood and carry more weight if you’ve set healthy boundaries and expectations up-front.
Moving our bodies can help us alleviate stress and connect deeper with those around us.
Getting outside, moving our bodies, and playing can help us relax, unwind, and remember why we came back here. Plus, some healthy competition can get some of that pent-up energy out in a healthy way.
When you feel frustrated in a conversation, notice your breath.
Our communication or relationships will stagnate if we’re all holding our breath in frustration. For me, I often feel a fire in my chest and throat when I hear something that doesn’t sit right with me. My breath gets shallow almost immediately. If I speak right away, my voice shakes. Instead of screaming, like my body probably wants me to, I try to take a deep breath. These breaths help me stay calm, and it’s not surprising that I speak and listen better when I’m calm.
No matter what you believe in now, this soil formed you.
You don’t have to have all things in common, but practicing gratitude may help us feel a little better. Gratitude doesn’t have to be blind positivity. You can simultaneously be speaking against an ideal or policy your family supports while being grateful that they taught you to think for yourself. It is human to feel the spectrum of emotions that we all feel when with family.
And if you don’t feel safe in this soil, return to your boundaries and it’s ok to ask for help.
I wish you all well as you embark on this adventure of holidays during the pandemic. Be safe out there.