Poem // Meditation

Music: “Nine” by Nadayana (2016)

3 Journaling Prompts:

  • Imagine the release of a major burden that you’ve been carrying lately. What part(s) of your body are connected to this burden and what does it feel like to let it go? Invite your hands to that place on your body and send it some deep breaths.
  • What’s left in the space where your burden was once rooted? What is one boundary you can put into practice to keep this a safe space for you to explore?
  • Rather than allowing something else to be planted in your burden’s place, what is a way you can nourish and nurture this spaciousness throughout the rest of your day?

Poem // Meditation

You know your way: Your body is the map, your heart the container to bring along all you need for the journey ahead. 

We rise to mountain tops and we fall into valleys. The shadows leave what is true, if we stay a while. But we don’t, we seek the temporary light in the valley. Cover up the dark. Run away. We leave and we return, again and again. Wishing to be on the ascent.

To feel deeply is to know life. To hurt is to taste life. To grieve is to touch life only for a moment, and then let her go.

The sun shines in the day, the moon and stars guide you by night. You are safe. You are protected. But this will hurt.

We must be here, to be there. The valley has much to teach us, blessings of skin and sand and sage. Stay here a while, but leave the weight. Receive your rest. And when it is time, take up your things and go softly.

3 Journaling Prompts:

  1. If you could time-travel to 2019, what advice would you give to yourself or others? How can you still share or receive this advice now?
  2. When was a time that you sat with your discomfort instead of distracting yourself? What was it like?
  3. Who is a person that is going through a challenging season that you can have more compassion for? What does your compassion for them look like?

—E

Once

hardened by hatred
weighed down by salt.
the splendor of stillness
once foreign to me
now runs through my veins.

words will cleanse
ink will detoxify what’s left
of lives lost to the doubts of having nothing to say.

out of fear of imperfection,
I didn’t write a word
not even a single letter.
these pages are messy now,
no longer blank.

this surface isn’t meant to be silent
out of fear of ruining it.
this must be colorful and real and messy and true.

have only a fear of never beginning.
enter the cracks on the surface
and burst through
all that tells you that you can’t
all who says that you have nothing to say.

the first letter
dances
barefoot on summer soil.

your mind is a lovely place,
your body filled with wisdom.
just once
tell your story true
no matter how messy it looks.

–E

“He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.” – Psalm 18:33

Your hand fingers for the hold above and just out of your reach, wiggling higher, searching for something better to rest on. Your right foot is too low to really use. Your left foot, weighted on a tiny quartz crystal, pushes you only slightly upward. There might be enough purchase on these holds, but you’re out of balance, and the good holds seem so far. Your forearms are pumping. Your legs start to shake. You want to give up…

The Psalm is a reminder of God’s promise. It’s not a promise of “I will give you bomber footholds and make everything easy.” It is instead a promise that we can be confident in what we do have—strength in Jesus. No matter the difficulty of the crux (which comes from the same root-word as “crucifixion”), we can have faith in our God-given abilities to overcome trials and reach the magnificent heights He has prepared.

When the way gets difficult and fear paralyzes us, it may seem easier to step down from the progress we’ve made than to continue climbing. We’re challenged most when we feel weak and our steps seem uncertain, however, it’s in these times when we grow closer to God. When we have faith, we can still reach mountain heights—even when we’re feeling weak.

Having faith isn’t avoiding falling, coming down when things get a little bit uncomfortable. Faith also isn’t blindly going for something when our decisions may be a detriment to ourselves or others. Faith is a calculated risk, knowing we’ve done all we can in our ability, and knowing we could fall—but if we do, we’ll be safe.

We’re only human. Falling is inevitable when we’re outside of our comfort zone. It can be terrifying, it may hurt, but we will make it through.

It’s similar to having faith in Jesus—when we pick up our crosses and follow him, it can be so scary to let go of our plans and expectations. And it may hurt sometimes to do the right thing. But when our hearts are centered on eternity, we can move beyond any crux and into His loving arms. Just remember to check your knots.

-E

As our crags thaw out, climbers shed a few puffy layers in preparation for their warmer-weather rock projects—their native climbing pants accompanying them in both successes and failures. Since the alignment of the stars and planets aren’t always a reliable source to forecast adventures, we turned to these celestial slacks for this season’s climbing horoscopes.

Spandex Tights
This will be a colorful and bright season filled with exposure—not just of beautiful rock buttresses, but of your privy parts as well. Expect an enjoyable but fragile time, where you should probably avoid real rocks, dirt, and Velcro.

Denim Jeans
Just like your pants, this season will be familiar and solid. Expect an opportunity to show off how strong and stylish you are—but how can you do that without heel-hooks or figure-fours? Alas, that durable denim will slow you down, restricting you from reaching your full potential.

Carhartts
After some unsuccessful red-points on difficult sport climbs and too many flaky climbing partners, you will embrace free-soloing as your main climbing discipline. But keep in mind as you rise to great heights—you are not as indestructible as your pants.

Short-Shorts
You may open a portal to embody legends—Royal Robbins pioneering big-wall climbing, Lynn Hill making a first ascent of the Nose on El Cap, Wim Hof climbing Everest—or you may just have an embarrassing day at Spire. Embrace your freedom, but keep in mind your vulnerability to the elements and others watching from below.

Corduroy Pants
You are a practical and durable climber who can display flexibility when cruxes manifest. Your understanding of comfort will allow you to thrive on cooler days, climbing multi-pitch routes or meeting for coffee dates.

The Newest Climbing-Specific Knickers
You are a strong boulderer or sponsored climber who wants to be protected from scratches, abrasions, and embarrassing fashion trends. Your gusseted crotch reveals you can handle most of the difficult movements on your projects. Take this opportunity to climb your hardest; even if you do wreck your pants during your first outing of the season, duct tape is always available to turn your blemishes into dirtbag perfection.

Nothing
You are a cutting-edge climber who will have a painful season due to harness-chafing and constant exposure to sharp rocks, solar radiation, harsh winds, late-season snow, judgemental stares, and uncontrollable laughter. The celestial alignment will cause other climbers to hesitate when you ask for a belay.

–E

This article first appeared in Outside Bozeman Spring 2018

A beautiful blast of cool mountain wind invades the cabin as I open the window. My lumbar spine is sore from sitting so long. I feel my stomach draping over the seatbelt from snacking all day. The hair dancing around my face tangles around itself in a big nest. Sometimes I wish we were just there already.

One year ago, I left sunny San Diego for the uncertainty of the Rocky Mountains. Before I left, people would ask me, why? They assumed I got a “big-girl” job or fell in love with a cowboy, but I assured them that this was an adventure—full of possibility, beauty, and uncertainty.

Embracing this unknown, I pursued my dream of living in Bozeman, a dream that little Emma had when she was nine—for she knew far more about life than I do now. And it was around this same time when Bernard (then age 11) moved to Bozeman from the Philippines. With faith, I decided to follow Emmy’s heart, rather than this overactive and unsettled adult mind.

This heart led me to Bozeman, where I soon met B. It led us back to California to entwine our lives under the rock giants of Joshua Tree. It led us to the Philippines to connect with family and explore the languages and culture my children will know as their own. And it led us back to the land of the big sky and the mountains that touch it.

We’ve traveled to many amazing places, and I’ve learned so much, but the teachers have not been our destinations. They have been the long stretches of desert highway, the vulnerable conversations with friends, the chaotic lines at National Parks, the gear stuck on multi-pitch climbs, the rain, the extended time with in-laws, and the unknown adventure of each day that teaches me to accept and embrace who I am, and love daringly all the beings that surround me.

All the time we can find wild places and unparalleled adventure within. And it is possible to do this without traveling far. So it’s time that I stay put for a little while, grow some roots, and let these winds tangle my hair where I stand. I am already here.

–E

What to say when the mountains call.

While many people in our country spend these frigid months watching the news or Netflix in Snuggies, most Bozemanites keep warm by skiing or snowboarding Bridger, Big Sky, or the backcountry. Unfortunately, many of us must spend five of seven days inside an office or a classroom—sans ridiculously comfortable blanket with arm holes—in order to afford gear, lift passes, and the medical expenses that accompany a mountain lifestyle. For the weekdays when the heavens anoint our peaks with fresh powder, and your closest view of the Ridge is the background photo on your laptop, try these excuses with your superiors.

“I strained my chi doing camel pose in yoga last night.”
It’s really important to listen when the universe tells you to take a day off. Some unbalanced chakras could really mess up the workspace feng shui.

“I’m taking a sick day.”
Although we try to discourage using the word “sick” interchangeably with cool, awesome, wonderful, etc., there’s finally an appropriate use for it—and it’s barely fibbing when used as an explanation for your absence in class or at work. The nipple-deep pow and the lack of lift lines are sick, indeed.

“I’m sick. Really.”
Chances are you may truly be afflicted by a virus, but what invigorates your system better than some fresh air and cold smoke? You’re less likely to spread your infection while bundled up head to toe in ski gear; however, you are more susceptible to a snotty beardsicle—and pneumonia. Use this one with caution.

“My dog has the flu.”
Most employers and professors will understand that you will need to be gone all day giving her medicine, homemade bone broth, and mixed-berry popsicles. Substitute “child” as necessary.

“My doctor recommends that I spend time outside to cure my winter blues.”
You will probably do yourself and everyone else a favor this season if you just go outside. Ask your doctor, a yoga teacher, or the cashier at the Co-op to write a prescription. “200 turns in fresh powder before lunch, three to five times a week to help prevent the transmission of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Repeat after one week. Refills: Unlimited.”

“Do you mind if I take a half-day today? I’d like to take advantage of the powder.”
Be real and remember that you are in Bozeman, after all. The powder clause and nature tax are real things here, and your supervisors likely want to get outside as much as you do. Odds are, you’ll be running into them on the slopes. If they still say no, give ’em a disappointed head-shake and mutter something about the robust middle-management job market in Miami.

–E

This article first appeared in Outside Bozeman Winter 2017-18.