In April 2012, Climbingjourney was born! How? My name is Doris and I am a destination climber and just travel everywhere. I feel blessed with my travels and also have pretty silly stories I have experienced and shared with friends in my travels. With that, I have several friends who have continuously encouraged me to start a blog. So I did with the goal to journal my travels and share and encourage others to explore outside of their local crag. But somehow, I don’t think that is the ‘master plan’ for me. My effort morphed into a place where folks draw inspiration. I have folks that say no matter what they climb or even if they don’t even climb they feel they have a home with Climbingjourney. I LOVE that because from pro-climbers to everyday me and you climbers, hikers, outdoor enthusiasts, to anyone who loves to live vicariously through my blog, I want everyone to find a home with my blog.
So what better way to end 2012? By stripping down walls, reflecting our past year and sharing it with others. This is truly powerful and a true source of inspiration. We all collectively draw from our experiences and share it with others. Others read and learn and share. It is a universal source of inspiration.
So please take the time to read each story, each person put time in this piece and I am just in tears reading all of these, because everyone who participated are not only amazing but inspiring to me.
Thanks all who participated, and thanks everyone for your continued support of this blog. All who read this, share because sharing is for caring! Happy New Years!
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? A challenge that I have had to overcome this year was a rupture in my A2 ring finger pulley. This finger injury put me completely out of climbing for 6 weeks and I still have some trouble with it as it heals. However, realizing the importance of recovery and living a mutli-faceted lifestyle, I had time to focus on my studies (my first year at Columbia University) and begin to make my come back gradually.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? The above response should answer part of this question. In order to oversee limitations, it is important to listen to your body, believe in your own capabilities, and to take your own approach. I am still finding mine and adapting it along the way; however, I feel like I am in a very stable, happy position now after that injury and having started University as well.
What is one goal you have for 2013? A goal for 2013 is to push my limits on rock. I do not have a grade-oriented goal; however, I would like to try new things and to experience new beautiful places. For example, I’ve never climbed in Greece, or the Dolomites in Italy – two places I’d love to go to, among other places!
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? Limitless!
April 4, 2012 was just another night of me doing what I love – climbing. I wanted to get a quick training session in before heading home for the night and I scampered up to the wall, clad in my Solutions and hands covered in chalk. Amidst my warm up, however, my very routine session took a very unprecedented turn. Trying to finish the last move on a problem, I fell essentially from the top of the boulder. My fall was freakish and discombobulated, my body in an awkward swinging motion with my weight very high up. When I landed, I had my left arm hyperextended under me; it took the full force of my fall. This impact bent my arm 90 degrees the wrong way, severely dislocating my elbow and snapping just about everything inside my arm. I severed all of my musculature, tendons…everything. Including my brachial artery. The only thing still in tact was my nerve.
After over seven hours of emergency surgery and an incredible fight from my vascular and orthopedic surgeons, I woke up in the ICU. My vascular surgeon smiled at me and told me I was a fighter; he explained that I’d almost lost my arm. We talked about the damage, and the repair – which involved a saphenous vein graft to reconnect my severed artery. And we talked about climbing. He looked at me and said, “The fight I see in you…there’s no reason you can’t make a full recovery and climb again.” I cried.
Four and a half months later, I was doing just that. Climbing. I still have significant limitations, and my recovery is far from over. But I am smiling. And I am incredibly grateful for all of it.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? This year I have had to overcome many challenges. No one ever expects to almost lose an arm. But I would say the biggest challenge I have faced through it all – as always – is simply the challenge within. My life changed forever in an instant. But because of the incredible support around me, I look back on it with nothing but gratitude. I am still trying to find a balance with everything, physically and mentally, regarding my injury and my recovery. But I feel tremendously lucky for everything I have been through. This is my challenge, my journey. And it is wonderful. Yes, it is a challenge. It was a challenge for those first few weeks to be unable to dress myself, bathe myself, or even brush my own hair. It was a challenge to relearn simple, mundane tasks like tying my shoelaces or zipping up my pants. It was a challenge to walk up to a pull up bar I’d previously been able to do sets on prior to my accident, and not even have the physical strength to merely hang from it. It was a challenge signing up for classes this Fall semester and realizing I might have to register with disability services. I have had many challenges this year – and I am so grateful for every one of them, and the additional challenges I continue to face on a daily basis. Challenges are not something to be feared. They are a chance for us to prove how strong we really are.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? As I mentioned before, I have so much support. My family, my friends, and the amazing doctors and medical staff who put me back together and continue to encourage me in my recovery – words cannot express what this support has meant to me or the impact it has made on my life. While my journey is mine alone, I have never had to travel it alone. For this I am immeasurably grateful. Inspiration is an incredible thing – it can be sought anywhere, but usually, the most inspirational things find you. I have been told by many people this year that I am an inspiration. Hearing these words still moves me to tears. I am honored to hear that perhaps my story has given a source of inspiration or strength to others. But if such is the case, I am simply paying it forward. I am inspired daily by the amazing people in my life – by their kindness, their selflessness, and their unwavering love for the people around them. I feel these things constantly and I am moved and inspired by the immense amount of love in my life and in this world.
What is one goal you have for 2013? One goal I have for 2013 is just to keep climbing and laugh lots. Laughter is good for the soul, and climbing is good for my soul.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? A phrase that I find inspirational is, “Climb on.” I know that sounds trivial and juvenile, but bear with me, I can explain. First of all, for very personal reasons, hearing these words was something I dreamed about for months after my accident. I yearned to hear them. Fought to hear them. Because if I heard these words, it would mean I was climbing again. And four and a half months after my accident, when I was allowed to climb for the first time, finally hearing these words…I cannot begin to explain what that felt like. I was home. But beyond just that moment and what it meant to me personally, I think this phrase has a wonderful underlying message. Keep going. Do what you love. When something challenges you, fight back. Build strength. Show gratitude. Laugh lots. In every aspect of your life – both literally, and figuratively, climb on. 🙂 That’s what life is all about.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? To be honest, I’m still firmly entrenched in the greatest challenge of my life. In August of last year, my father passed away. Despite having buried more than my fair share of family members, friends, and colleagues, there was no loss yet that could have prepared me for what it is like to lose a parent. You truly can’t begin to understand it until you go through it. My situation was complicated by several factors, not the least of which were my parents’ divorce in 1998 and my brother’s suicide in 2008, leaving me to deal with everything by myself. I was living in Carolina when Dad died, and his house–the house where I grew up–was nearly 700 miles north in Michigan. As if that wasn’t enough, my father was a hoarder. Like you see on the TV shows. It wasn’t ever as bad as the ones with spoiled food everywhere or infestations or anything like that, but, in terms of sheer volume, yeah…what you see on TV is what was waiting for me when I opened the door of my childhood home. The house was in some pretty significant neglect and disrepair in addition to being packed to the ceilings. There was no denying it: I had no choice but to give up the life I’d created for myself down South and to move back to Michigan until I could get the house cleared out and fixed up to sell. The whole situation was utterly overwhelming. I was a complete mess. Even though I grew up in Michigan, I left there for a reason–several reasons. I couldn’t bear the thought of going back; especially to do what it was I had to go do. But really, I could see no other way.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? It’s been nearly 15 months now since Dad died, and while I’m not done yet, I’m well past halfway. I can finally see light at the end of this tunnel. But it’s been no easy journey. I have been isolated and alone and have suffered significant depression and anxiety. I have been destroying my body with the tremendous workload of cleaning out and renovating the house. My weight has dropped like a stone. It seemed like the longer time dragged on, the worse things got. Stuff broke or went wrong with the house constantly. I had to put the cat to sleep. Then, in October, when I thought I had reached an all-time low, I got a lesson in humility when I got a terrible case of MRSA while on a trip to Carolina. At that point, everything stopped. My entire life became about my health. It was humbling. The abscess from the MRSA was enormous and on the back of my right thigh, right under where your harness’ leg strap goes. The pain was excruciating. I had an open incision in my leg for 6 weeks. I was aware of the injury with every move I made. I couldn’t even sit down. Every time I saw any medical professional, I had to drop my pants. It was humiliating. I had no insurance and no idea how I was going to pay for all this. I was baffled: what more was I going to have thrown at me? What had I done to deserve all this? The simple answer, the one I couldn’t accept until very recently, was: nothing. I hadn’t done anything to deserve any of this. But it was mine, just the same. And I was going to have to figure out a way to get through it, because there was no other option. THROUGH it was the only way.
I’m incredibly fortunate in that I have some of the most amazing friends on this earth, Doris being among them. They were there for me along the way, helping me withstand the tremendous pain and grief I was experiencing. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them, there is no question of that. Due, in part, to their influence, I was finally able to remember an important truth that I had been too consumed by my suffering to see: that everything happens for a reason, even if we can’t see what that reason is. Everything that happens is meant to be, and everything that is meant to be, happens. It took a while, but I finally remembered that we’re never given anything in this life unless we’re also given the tools to deal with it, which meant that I had whatever it took to get to the other side of this. I began to see that in going through this journey, this experience, I was learning and growing and changing. I saw myself moving forward, and it gave me hope for the future. I was finally able to reclaim the energy I’d been spending on resisting the reality of my situation and direct it towards more positive pursuits. I was able, once again, to trust the process of the universe to bring me my highest good. Once that happened, things really began to open up for me.
What is one goal you have for 2013? My goal is to emerge from this whole experience a stronger, better person than I’ve ever been. Despite everything, I understand that I am still incredibly blessed, and I have to be grateful for that. In a way, I CAN be grateful–more grateful, even–BECAUSE of my suffering. Which means I have to be grateful FOR my suffering, too. It is only in the last couple of weeks that I’ve been able to come to fully accept this: that I am grateful for this journey…all the pain, all the suffering, all the tears, all the everything. And that I owe it to myself, and to everyone whose lives intersect with my own, to recognize and respect this journey and to learn all that I can from it in order to be the best me that I can be, going forward.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? I find inspiration in all kinds of places. Really, truth and wisdom are everywhere, if you’ll only open your heart and your mind to them. But there’s one phrase that resonates with me in light of all this. It’s an affirmation I use a lot, especially at times when something is happening that I’m not especially happy about but can see it’s probably somehow for my highest good: Thank you, universe, for this opportunity to learn and grow.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? Getting over the loss of my best friend and 4-legged companion, Maggie.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? I leaned heavily on my girlfriend, Angela, and many of my friends who were Uncles and Aunts to Maggie. I let them love on me during a few weeks of heavy grieving. Eventually, I was able to return that love and turned my focus toward rescuing other dogs in need. I became active with a rescue and conservation group, eventually pulling two puppies off the chopping block (just hours before they were scheduled to be put down). Since then, I’ve been a part of a few other rescues and always go to bed with a sense of peace. Raising these two pups has been a full-time job and am continually inspired by the memory of Maggie.
What is one goal you have for 2013? I want to be kinder and more loving. My goal for 2013 is to get my dogs completely trained off-leash and make their transformation into crag-dogs complete.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? All you need is love.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? My biggest challenge was keeping my heart open to love. Being a scientist, I have been trained that past experience is the best predictor of future experience. I was conditioned, over many years, to believe that romantic partners ran away and/or took away from my life. Love was risk and loss, and instability. This year I had to sweep away that past experience and consciously project a new vision of love, friendship, and partnership. Every bump in the road, every little fight, I had to keep my heart open to the experiences I wanted to have and wait for the love I wanted to form. I held space, sometimes very cautiously, and sure enough over the course of the year that love formed.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? I learned to do this from climbing. If you start a route thinking of all the reasons you can’t do it, you won’t. If you think about falling, you will. If, however, you picture yourself smoothly gliding up a granite wall and making that – uhhhhh- final clip, then you will. Anyone who has climbed for a time has that experience of sending something they never thought possible. We do it through belief and positive projection as much as strength and skill.
What is one goal you have for 2013? My goal next year is to become all-around strong. I want to continue strength training and step up the endurance training, so that at some point a nice long alpine climb in the Cascades is back in my sights. For me, all around strong is doing a dead-weight chin up, ten real (not girl) pushups, and running a half marathon.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? My phase comes from the Old Testament but is a sentiment found in all spiritual traditions: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” Here’s to all of us sending our best selves out into the world.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? My first thought was getting my hand to recover after breaking my pinky in Feb., but after seeing what Jennifer had to go through I realize I got off pretty light. So I guess my biggest challenge is coming to terms with the aging process, that I can’t climb like I used to or as long as I used to. But I’m thankful I can still climb, bike, etc. and I still have fun.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? I didn’t really overcome it; I guess it’s going to be an ongoing challenge. But I’m dealing with it!
What is one goal you have for 2013? Hopefully achieving a successful retirement from NCDOT and transition to something fun/fulfilling. Right now I would like to look into setting for my local climbing gym TRC more…
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? If you are not having fun climbing, biking, or whatever recreation, you are not doing it right.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? One of the goals for this year was so overcome some of my fears, especially in climbing. I wanted to be more relaxed and not get stressed. Although it was on my goal list, for the most part of the year I felt that I was failing miserably. I was putting too much pressure on myself, I kept thinking that I should be climbing harder, I should be leading more, I should be getting out of my comfort zone and if it didn’t happen I felt that I failed. As a result I was climbing worse and worse, my comfort zone was getting smaller and smaller. I was far from being relaxed. I wasn’t even enjoying climbing anymore, I was dreading going to Horne lake for example because the style of climbing there is intimidating for me. Luckily, recently there has been a change; it was like a light switch. I am more relaxed now and I am able to control my fears more. The fight is not over but I know now that it is possible.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? Taking a break started the change for me. One day, when I realized that I was looking for any excuse not to climb I decided to step back, concentrate on other activities, and see if the desire to climb comes back. During that time I read one of Castaneda’s books and one passage stuck in my mind. It was about fear, how this is the first enemy and if you run away, this will put the end to the quest, and you will never learn. I’ve read similar things before, that a good approach to life is to look at things as learning experiences rather than failures. When a baby takes his first steps and falls after 5 seconds, we consider it a great success. This time I really believed in it. If I want to do a certain move and it feels like I am going to fall off, if I don’t try to do it I will never know. If I don’t step on this tiny foothold I will never know if it will hold my weight. The only way to know what will happen is to do it. The doubtful thoughts are still in my head, but now I choose to ignore it. Feel the fear and do it anyway. And if I fall off a move, well, that’s a challenge; I simply need to try again. The other thing that I finally understood that the only person who cares what grade I climb is me. If I fall on a 5.7 nobody really cares but me, if I send a 5.12 fellow climbers will congratulate but tomorrow the only person who remembers is me. I try to take my ego out of climbing and do a certain line not because if I send it I have the opportunity to boast about it but because it looks beautiful, because I enjoy the movement on it. The most important that I love climbing again.
What is one goal you have for 2013? The goal is to live in the moment and enjoy the moment. I want to do the things I want to do now; I don’t want to postpone it till some magic moment in the future. Now is all we have. And I want to enjoy what I do no matter what it is because this is what I choose at this moment. It is easy to enjoy a good climbing day. But we have to work sometimes to have the money to go to the next destination. In the past year I had to do jobs that were new to me or physically demanding. Instead of hating it, I try to find one good thing about it and concentrate on that. If I am working outside and it is cold and it is raining, I still want to choose to enjoy the day rather than spend it complaining.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? A warrior accepts with humility what he is, and he doesn’t squander his power on lamenting because things are not otherwise.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? Overcoming my fear of falling so I could progress to harder routes. I was stuck at 5.8.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? I practiced falling! First, just letting go. Then, letting go with a little slack in the rope. Then bigger falls. Then, falling on lead. It took all the courage I had to fall. But, it worked! I have recently gone sailing off the wall while working on a pretty amazing 5.10 with a HUGE swing. I was not afraid!
What is one goal you have for 2013? To climb in Europe with my son Evan Neal to celebrate his 15th birthday.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? Reach. Leap. Breathe. (My climber name, Ginny’s climber name and Robin’s climber name.)
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? I can still remember the day when my life changed forever. July 20th, 2009, my wife basically told me that she doesn’t love me, and she wants a divorce. I don’t think I actually felt anything immediately after that, I went into a state of shock and numbness, and fell into some sort of autopilot, part of reality, but detached from it as well. My life for the past eleven years, gone and over with overnight.
Of course, the shock and numbness wore off, and I dealt with the pending separation as best I could at the time, and started figuring out what the hell I’m supposed to do with my life now. I felt like a cliché, the overweight, balding, middle-aged guy with an ex-wife, child support payments, and a dark empty house. Not to mention, alone and isolated; I didn’t know anyone else that was going through what I was.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? I joined the Divorce/Separated support group on meetup.com, and met others going through the same thing. Found a class called Rebuilding for people going through divorce and separation. Joined a gym. Started making new friends, and creating a new life.
One of those new friends introduced me to rock climbing in June of 2010. I was always an outdoors person growing up, but fell away from it, as I got older. I had been working out, and felt reasonably sure it rock climbing was something I could do.
What is one goal you have for 2013? I’ve been climbing ever since June 2010. It was something that was wholly mine, a part of my new life, and not a remnant of the old me. My successes (and failures) on the wall were my own. At first, there were many failures as I struggled with learning new techniques, and to be quite honest, I was out of shape. But those failures just gave me the focus to train harder, get stronger, learn new moves, and finally succeed.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? As in climbing, so it is in life. We all have obstacles to overcome, and no one else can make the ascent for us. We can accept the help, support, and encouragement of our friends and family, but ultimately, you’re the one that has to make it to the top. We may not make it to the top the first time. Or the second. Or sometimes not even the tenth time. But you always have to keep trying.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? I popped my shoulder and acquired so many injuries all over throughout the year. I managed to slowly train my muscles back to normal. I was only hoping to get back to where I was, but to my surprise, my skills improved a lot more than expected as my body was healing (no, I was not supposed to climb while healing). 😉
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? I overcame it by having patience and taking baby steps. Start out easy and have exercises that avoid the injured parts. No rushing, but instead listening to thy body and stop when necessary. Also living next to a climbing gym helps a great deal (as opposed to living next to a mountain).
What is one goal you have for 2013? Have my body to recover from all the injuries while avoiding additional ones. And over-hang baby!
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? Just do it!! (Not from Nike, but from a buddy)
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? Can’t think of any major challenges I had to overcome this year.
What is one goal you have for 2013? My goal for 2013 is to do more activities outside my comfort zone.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? ‘Dedication and perseverance pay off in the long run’.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? The biggest challenge I had this year was to just find a way to fit in in a new city. I’ve never lived anywhere bigger than Raleigh and now all of the sudden I am in London! It’s a bit different than the back of my truck, and a little scary, especially for a climber. But it is where I need to be right now, for family reasons, and that is always the most important thing.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? I was pretty scared at first that I would be unhappy here. Not just my climbing life but in a lot of other ways as well. But I’ve always considered climbing to be a life long activity – something that I will do until I die, no matter where I live. So I took the opportunity to take a break from big trad and just focus on getting stronger. I work full time now and don’t always have time to spend a week in my van waiting for perfect weather. So I turned to sport climbing and bouldering to make things simple. I even have a proper training program for the gym. It is different but it’s been very good for me. I’m stronger now than ever and am not even close to feeling burnt out (I used to get burned out quite often). I’d say just staying positive, rolling with the punches, living in the present, embracing what God has put in front of me – that is how I’ve been able to find a place in London. As far as inspiration – my wife Chrissy runs marathons and trains in the horrible British winter. She trained for her first one a few years ago while also working 6 days a week to support us. I couldn’t work yet because my visa hadn’t gone through. That was a tough winter for both of us but she pulled us through. Compared to that, staying fit for climbing is easy.
What is one goal you have for 2013? I would like to start working an 8a sport climb. I’m not there yet but all goals are good goals. More importantly though I just want to visit a lot of areas. Big trip to Lofoten in Norway. Also Spain, France, maybe Greece, an definitely NC in the fall!
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? I interviewed a guy a few weeks back for a job. He had been through a rough time and the job we were discussing was not for a lot of money. He is definitely not the kind of person that I see loving London so I asked him how he felt about interviewing for a job like this in a city that didn’t inspire him. He said “Man, it’s all good. I’m interviewing for a job while other people are sleeping in the rain. It’s all good. LIFE IS GOOD.”
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? Solitude: last year was a very challenging year. I did not leave my home for a better life or a job, I left to start a family, and when my ex asked me for a divorce I realized that it was the first time in my life that I was alone and the fact that it happened right before winter, shorter daylight and my 11 year old golden retriever died the same weekend that I was moving out made me feel even more alone.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? I started reading, grounding myself, I started looking a positive quotes and videos like the Dalai Lama, poetry, then I started writing and during that time I wrote a quote that changed my life: “Recently life hit me very hard, dropped me to my knees and stripped my to my bare core and when I was lying there I realized that the core is “me”, then I smiled and I began to “heal”.
What is one goal you have for 2013? I created a bucket list… I wanted to make it realistic so it was achievable. My list included: Rock climbing: done, to participate on a mud run: done, go white water rafting: done, sing karaoke: done and to go back scuba diving: hopefully coming soon.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? My life is full of inspirational quotes my life motto is always been “the best is yet to come” if I had to pick in one word that describes climbing for me it is “bond”, I was lucky to start rock climbing when I did because I have done sports all my life, I played soccer in championship teams, I was champion of tae know do, I played tennis 4.5, etc, etc. but I have never participated on a sport where you actually bond with people, I remember my first time outdoor climbing as if it was yesterday, I arrived there with six strangers and I left with six friends.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? Participating in the Triangle Rock Club’s Ronald MacDonald 12 hour Climbathon fundraising event. This climber is older than most. Being in my earlier 50’s, was quite sure if I was completely sane to climb for 12 hours. I did it and I had fun. Three days later I started school full time in massage therapy program.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? Going to school leads into question 2 as challenge. My rotator cuff and arm muscles were overworked and tight from the Climbathon and then exasperated by learning how to give massages. Had to seek PT to relieve muscular tension.
What is one goal you have for 2013? Body conditioning is more important with age. Strength training, cardio, stretching is essential for optimal Human Kinetics.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? Climbing is living in the moment, being present brings peace of mind.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? For years, I’ve had knee and hip issues. Three years ago, I found out that I had hip dysplasia and started developing a labral tear in my right hip. I was told that things would only get worse if I didn’t seek treatment. I was presented with three options: a total hip replacement within 5 years; a periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) – a surgical procedure that involves breaking the pelvis to reorient the hip socket; or stop being active. Well, I ignored it and took my chances. So for two years, I continued to do the things I loved to do in pain that gradually increased over time. But by the fall of 2011 things got pretty bad. I had to give up running (except during my obstacle course races)…even walking was painful. So I finally made the decision to have the PAO. Before the surgery, I wasn’t so sure I’d be able to run or climb as well after surgery. I felt like I had an “expiration date”. So I tried to do as much as I could the first 6 months of 2012. Once I had the surgery, things got even worse mentally. Being on crutches for 3 months and not being able to do anything really took its toll on me. I definitely was at my lowest point mentally.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? Although, I had the support of friends, I felt like this was something I had to overcome on my own because they didn’t know exactly what I was going thru physically and mentally. I did the only thing I could do. About a month after my surgery, I started going to TRC pretty much every day to work out and do my physical therapy. I started using the hangboard for the first time ever to help keep my finger strength up. It was difficult not being able to climb and to only be able to watch. But that motivated me even more. As soon as I was cleared to start walking without crutches, I started climbing. I continue to work hard in the gym training and doing PT.
I’m now 5 ½ months post-op and recovery is going better than I originally expected. My hip is still healing and I still have a few more months before I’m fully recovered. But I’m climbing again and even started doing a little running.
What is one goal you have for 2013? Before my surgery, I would’ve been satisfied to just be able to do things as good as I could before. But during this process, I realized I wanted to be better. I’ve only been back climbing for less than 3 months, but I already feel like I’m a much better climber than I was before. I’m even leading in the cave – something I never did pre-surgery. As far as running goes, I would like to get back to doing Tough Mudders and Spartan races. But I’ve still got a lot of work to do before I can make that happen.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? A friend of mine shared a quote with me recently that applies to so many things in my life the last few years: “Choose love, not fear”. In this situation I am afraid to start running seriously again and pushing myself like I used to because there’s a good chance that I could reinjure my right hip and there’s also the risk of needing the same surgery on my left hip one day. But I choose not to let fear keep me from living.
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? Successfully completing graduate school and acquiring a job thereafter.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? Gained confidence and redefined my definition of “success” through rock climbing. Applied to jobs that looked challenging, but also catered to my strengths. Determined my goals for my future career and worked towards finding a role that fit in interviews. In the end…getting the job that suited me well! 🙂
What is one goal you have for 2013? Leading a route in the lead cave at my local climbing gym TRC!
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? “I’ve learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”
Name a challenge, any challenge you have had to overcome this year? I had a lot of goals this year, probably too many! One was to send my first real cave climbs in Spain and the other was to send my first 12 at Rumney. Really I was not looking at the grade, just the line and it happened to be a 5.12. The Spain goal happened, but it was hard has heck and frankly, it went down kind of ugly. So I went back home with lots of training ‘to dos’ to get stronger and get better at my weakness, anything overhung. Then I had 3 different finger injuries this year, some were just crazy non-climbing injuries. In between these injuries, I got on that 12 at Rumney, and successfully led most of it, but I bailed one bolt before the anchor because my finger was not ready and to be honest, I was afraid of the last crux and was not ready to take the consequence of the potential fall. Each time I recovered and started to get training, I was taken back with yet another finger injury. To top it off, I lost my best snuggle buddy ever, Jake, my dog, on Christmas Eve.
How did you overcome it, or what helped or inspired you? I have been forced to take a step back. So with the advice of one awesome climber and mentor, he encouraged me to get on every 6, 7, and 8 in the gym, over and over and over and over. He said overemphasize climbing moves, make your moves more controlled and fluid and work on your foot work. Last he said, boulder 50% of the time, all the V0s-V2s. I did just that and at first it was frustrating because I was not really challenging myself, being a former elite gymnast, I need adrenaline and constant push or else my motivation goes down the drain. I have been able to survive half the year doing LOTS of moderates and just letting my finger heal. I also have become a bouldering addict along the way. I also realized some folks had a lot of expectations of me and were wondering what’s wrong, why isn’t Doris climbing harder? I realized the importance of humility, showing up at the gym (if I am not traveling) and being proud working those moves on those moderates! I also realize it is more important to maintain super close to me the friends who don’t care what I climb, because I really don’t aspire to have friends that put worth on how hard I climb, but who put worth in who I am as a person. I also have been running, hiking and cross training, which I rarely do consistently. But most of all, my very precious friends, family and new precious friends I have made this year have helped inspire me in the grandest way. My “bad” year is really not so bad, I have friends and folks I have read about that have had a tougher 2012 and they have pushed through so strong, which alone is so inspiring to me. I love all my sweet friends (both climbing and non-climbing) that think of me and always encourage me!
What is one goal you have for 2013?
- Inner me: Continue transforming in a positive and healthy way is #1 for 2013, I have lots of achievement, but much more to dig deep within inside me and grow. In 2012, a series of hand injuries forced me to cancel an El Potrero Christmas climbing trip and change to a Road Trip in California. I loved that trip because I got to know photographer Sophia who is a gem, I got my first high balls (over 38 feet), I jumped on a V4 & on sited it with only a little finger pain, I learned to give up control of my navigation system, I learned to travel without too many plans (organize freak I am), I learned there is more to life than just climbing. Don’t get me wrong, climbing is amazing, but so is the Big Sur, catching sunsets, seeing miniature ponies, climbing a huge pile of sand (I MEAN HUGE) and just sitting at the top doing nothing but hearing my own breath and reflecting and watching the ocean move at its own beat. In 2013, I want to make sure I diversify my journey and not just climb 100% of the time (even though that’s what I really want to do!).
- Climbing me: Although grade is not nearly as important as just being happy with any climbing no matter what the grade, I just really want to be consistent on 10s and 11s and get my fingers and body stronger. I do have a vendetta with a 12 at Rumney I want to finish (Hocus Focus), I want to get on a beautiful climb at Rumeny called Armed and Dangerous, I have a juggy 12 in Archidona I need to do and see how many times it will take to red point (haha) and I want a beautiful 11a (Legacy) I have been wanting at the New River Gorge. Not sure if I can do it as I work on healing my finger, but I am giving myself the full year to try those items. I swung my first trad lead in 2012, I want to do at least 3-4 trad leads next year, that is one trad trip every quarter, which is totally doable for this addicted destination climber. For bouldering, I want Bishop in the spring and Hueco in the winter, all with my Organic Pads….damn straight!
- Fitness me: I want to continue cross training, continue switching up weeks hiking & running and start practicing yoga rather than do it when I feel like I need it.
- Climbingjourney: I want to continue inspiring people through my blog, if it is not inspiring and encouraging others then I am moving away from what I feel is my blog’s purpose. Next year I also want this blog to be resourceful so look out for some changes. Lastly, I have some books in the works and a potential documentary movie, if I can fit it in, I think it might get done! teehee
- Personal me: I was married young and it was not a great journey, have to be honest. A spouse with lots of childhood emotional and psychological damage (poor thing) put a lot of strain on me in my 20s. After my divorce, the last 5 years have been all about loving me and learning to live life again without pain and strain. Every one that knows me knows that I tend to run from commitment, I want 2013 to be my year where I can begin embracing that fear and attacking it.
What is an inspiring one letter word, phrase, quote or affirmation you want to share with fellow climbingjourney’ers? Live life strong!