Yesterday I learned of the death of a friend.

His name was Bob.

Bob and I met through Facebook, of all places, as a result of a large number of mutual friends; climbing friends (the best kind).

It was Girl Scout Cookie Season in 2010 and I mentioned in a bragging fashion that my grocery store was inundated by girls in green with boxes of cookies to sell. Bob had Thin Mint envy – and thus we met.

Bob’s story was similar to mine, kinda. Eating delicious foods without the benefit of exercise was his life until his young son happened upon the climbing gym. His son quickly loved the sport and showed amazing promise. Being the loving father he was, he too took up the sport – and it changed his life. He taught himself to make delicious food that was good, too, and began getting out to exercise. He headed over to the Delaware Rock Gym during it’s early days of construction to do everything and anything he could to help get it built so he and his son would have a place to climb.

Bob loved climbing. He loved the people. He loved being able to see the tangible proof of his hard work and mastering himself physically and mentally. He loved every chance he had to go with his son to beautiful places with wonderful people and climb rocks.

Tuesday while climbing in one of these beautiful places with wonderful people being belayed by his son, Bob died of a heart attack.

I am grateful to have known him and I’m happy for him that climbing gave him so much. I climb because of the clear picture I have of who I am and what I have the strength to do and overcome. I know this was true for Bob – we spoke of it endlessly one night long ago.  


Faith, Hope, and Trust

There are very few things we can accomplish in our daily lives without trust. I’d even be willing to go out on a limb and say there isn’t anything we can accomlpish without it.

I believe trust to be inherent, at least initially. As babies we trust ourselves and it makes us fearless. We fearlessly take step after step because “of course we can” and our trust is so complete in ourselves and our abilities that not being able to conquer a thing, like putting a shoe on a foot, leaves us utterly frustrated. We know we can, so why can’t we?! Our trust in others is inherent, too. We have no reason to doubt things could be any other way so our trust in others is often absolute which makes keeping us safe so daunting a task for our parents.

It is the living of life in connection with people that we begin to lose this inherentness of trust. A toddler tears your favorite toy from your grasp. Mama wasn’t where you thought you had left her. A friend was trashing you behind your back. The man you had given your heart to tossed it aside. Trust becomes a prize to be earned and a gift to be given.

I understand the wisdom of this new thoughtfulness in trusting but the loss of the hope and faith which made trust so inherent saddens me greatly. I want to trust inherently again. I want to have the hope and the faith in me, again, that my trust will not be misplaced and to know that if it is it will not keep me from openly and faithfully trusting again. My trust in people is mine to give, not theirs to earn.

As I neared the top of the climb on the sharp end of the rope 5 feet beyond my last clip with no strength left in me to secure the rope in the clip near my shoulder; I let go of the wall and took the fall. As I fell passed my last clip, then the clip below that, then the clip below that, and began to near the ground, my trust in my partner was absolute, I gave it to him freely, and he caught me…3 feet off the ground. 

How Do I?

My climbing partner has done it again…he has *abandoned* me again for 6 weeks while he’s off to somewhere exciting to do math. He did this to me last year, too. Last year I survived by not climbing or (cringe) bouldering (cringe). Not this year, not this stinking year. It’s the eve of climbing Friday and I wonder how I’ve done this before. How do I take my life, tie it to a rope, and hand that rope to someone new and untried.

It starts with trust. You. Must. Trust.

So it does, Self, so it does.

First, I trust myself. I trust my ability and my judgement.

Next, I trust my partner. A little at a time; first where I know I can succeed then where I think I can succeed.

Finally, I trust even where I am sure I will fail and hope and pray my trust in me and my trust in him is enough to see me through.

Leading at the Gunks

I’ve done it again…I’ve decided it’s time to put myself out there, see what the world has to offer me, and soothe my lonely heart. It’s the eve of a new date with a new stranger and I wonder how I’ve done this before. How do I take my heart, put it on my sleeve, and share it with someone new and untried.

It starts with trust. You. Must. Trust.

So it does, Self, so it does.

First, I trust myself.

Next, I trust my partner.

Finally, I hope and pray my trust in me and my trust in him is enough to see us through.

photo by Emily Varisco

Calling All Women (Rock Climbers) of the World

I’ve shared my story here many times

I’ve shared my love of the sport; what I get out of it; what it means to me

I shared my first time; my fear; my trepidation; my stupidity

I’ve shared my strength

I’ve shared my weakness

Now, I want yours

Recently a friend mentioned her experience in climbing leaving her feeling weak and frustrated (with a side of camel toe). I had no reason to know she’d ever been climbing; why she went, who she was with, what her experience was like AND I WANT TO KNOW!!!

So any woman who has ever been climbing who comes across this – I want your story; even if it was a whim, you went, you hated it, you will never go back. I want to hear about it.

If you are a regular climber: novice or professional – I want your story. I want to know what drew you to it. What climbing means to you. Why you keep doing it. What you’ve learned. How/If it’s changed your life outside of the sport.

Use the below form to send me your story and this will become part of my Friday “Life by Climbing” spot; we grow and learn through our shared experiences and I want to grow and learn through yours.

I Just Want To Climb

Climbing is my happy place.

It is where I go to remind myself that:

I am awesome
I am strong
I am sexy
I am beautiful
I can do whateverthehell I want

It is where I go to:

Clear my head
Strengthen my heart
Fight my doldrums
Is it weird climbing is a place, not my hobby?
[I know I am boringly on repeat…(yawn)
How many times can I talk about what climbing is to me?
Meh, stick with my blog and you will likely find out…]
 But any whooooo…

 A few months ago the ex, the fudgsicle, wanted to meet up.

I agreed.

Why did I agree?

I said it was because I wanted to give him the place to free himself from guilt because I was over it. I was lying. It was because I wanted to know what he wanted. I wanted to hear him say he was a jerk and he was sorry and I was wonderful and he was a fool.

He said those things and I was elated because I knew them to be true and now I knew he knew them to be true, too.

(Score 1 for the HOME TEAM)

Then he said, “Let’s do this again sometime. Let’s hang out. Let’s go climbing.” While my insides were screaming, “W-w-w-w-The-Fuuuu?” my outsides stupidly said “Sure, any time.” I didn’t meeeeean it. I thought it was one of those things you say when you say you should do some thing you have no intention of doing but at least you feel like you made the effort because you said you would think about doing it, even if you really know in your heart of hearts you won’t.

And it very nearly was that because I didn’t hear from the fudgsicle again until a month later.

In a month a million things can change. In a month you can realize that all you needed from that apology was the validation that the person who hurt you recognized that he hurt you. In a month you can let yourself be open again to meeting someone fantastic. In a month you can meet someone fantastic.

In a month I did all of these things.

So there I was a month later with a man who hurt me deeply, made amends, and wanted to make a go at being friends.

So there I was a month later at the beginnings of something I fell headfirst into somewhere between his being 4 minutes late to our first date and muttering “Fuck it!” under his breath as he grabbed my jacket and pulled me to him for our first kiss on our second. ((swoon))

So there I was a month later…confuzzled.

I am fiercely independent and the past few years I came to know fully that my life is mine; my choices are mine; I ask no one for permission for the decisions I make; I owe no one explanations of my life.

(Except in relationship)

The conversation with Mr. CouldTotallyBeMisterRight went something like this…

Me: We aren’t together together and I don’t owe you this information but as it is something I’m not sure if I should tell you or not, I’m sure it is something I should tell you so: The fudgsicle is climbing with me on Sunday.

Mr.CTBMR: The guy you’re in love with?

(insert my correction: was)

Mr.CTBMR: Right, but you were. We aren’t together together but if we were then I wouldn’t be okay with it. (insert reasons why not; be creative!!) 

So there I was a month later…still confuzzled.

I did what any fiercely independent person who doesn’t answer to anybody would do: I went climbing with Sir Fudg-A-lot.

It sucked.

Climbing is my happy place.

It is where I go to remind myself that:

I am awesome, strong, sexy, and beautiful
To clear my head, strengthen my heart, and fight my doldrums

Climbing wasn’t any of those things that day. I didn’t want to be sexy or beautiful. I wasn’t able to clear my head. All that was running through my head were the protestations of friends that the fudgsicle was not interested in only climbing, in being friends, but wheedling his way back into my life.

Another few weeks, another request to climb together, another conversation with Mr.CTBMR. This conversation went more like…

Mr.CTBMR: You want to see him. Why else did you see him the first time? The second time? This time?

Me: I don’t! I don’t want to see him!

So why did I?

Was it really because I wanted to assuage his guilt? I’m not that altruistic. Was it really because I did not want to be rude and say “no”? I say “no” all the time and rarely concern myself with who I’m being rude to. 

(Climbing into the Honesty Tree)

I did it because I want him to be sorry (yes, I’ve said). I want him to remember what a kind, forgiving, and loving person I am. I want him to remember what a beautiful, strong, funny person I am. I want him to see I survived. To see it. To sit with it. And then to go home and remember that he let me go. I want him to want and remember all those things and ask for it back just so that I can say, “I do not want you.”


There I said it. I want him to want me so I can reject him.

(Wow, I guess I’m not so forgiving and loving after all)

I want to move forward, not backward. We were not friends before we met. He did not treat me friendly while he was deciding whether or not I was worth it. I will survive the loss, such as it is.

I will not lose the chance with Mr.CTBMR because of a fudgsicle. I do not want a fudgsicle. I want Mr. Right.



C’est Fini

Now, it is

Not because of Mr. CTBMR but because of me.

The choice is mine.

The decision is made.

I ask for no one’s permission.

I owe no explanations.

It is Friday.

I will climb tonight and I will go back to my happy place.

I will be awesome.

I will be strong.

I will be sexy.

I will be beautiful.

I will climb clear-headed.

I will find strength in my heart.

I will chase away the doldrums.

(I will climb like a cow; a sexy cow) 

When believing otherwise is foolish

I have been chewing on this question the past few days.

Today I was walking the girls and breathing in the crisp, cool air;

sad and confused about the silence of this week and trying not to compare it to the silence of another time.

I was asked very adamantly to separate times past from times present and to not hold one accountable for the failings of another.

So I sucked in another deep breath of crisp, cool air and jumped about shaking hands and head while yelling,


I scared the girls.

To distract myself further I let my thoughts wander to my upcoming climbing date and it came to me:

Naiveté is believing in the outcome of something that you have no right to believe will occur. The benefit of the doubt is believing in the outcome of something that you have no right to believe will not occur.

During a good season when I am training hard and my mental focus is razor-sharp and my physical ability is being pushed to its max I am a 5.11 climber.

((To be clear, 5.11 on lead. I can TR 5.12 but TR is just practice)) 

It would be naive of me to rope up and expect a successful conclusion on a 5.14…

…but if I was feeling particularly sassy, properly energized and focussed turning my sights to a 5.12 would be giving myself the benefit of the doubt.

I have no reason to believe I can climb a 5.14 today. I don’t have the physical strength, endurance, or mental acuity that would be required. It won’t always be this way, but it is today. Believing otherwise would be foolish.

 I can top-rope 5.12. I have the physical strength and endurance necessary to send on the safe end of a rope just not the mental strength to do it on the sharp end. It won’t always be this way and today might very well be that day. I have no reason to believe that I would not succeed if today was the day I wished to try. Believing otherwise would be misplaced self-doubt.


Of course, as it turns out, more understanding of this shade of gray does not help me out of my quandary.

They say I was naive to believe a man meant what he said when he said that he loved me but he could not be with me.

Do I give a man the benefit of my doubt when he tells me not to question his interest while painful recovery keeps him from getting to know me in the way we should during the infancy of our acquaintance?

As I sit here, I wonder how foolish I look 

Note: My perspective around top-rope climbing versus lead climbing and the ratings of what I can and can not do are my own thoughts which extend no further than the standard to which I hold myself. I do not measure myself against others or others against me, not as a climber. Climbing is a beautiful, personal place where we each face our own demons in our own ways at our own speeds. I am mediocre but I love the sport and that’s all that matters.

Barney Beagle

When I was a child my parents read the story of Barney Beagle to me. Barney is a beagle who lives in a pet store and who is waiting for his boy to come and take him home. A few people come into the store all looking for their dog, each person has a look about them which hints at the best fit. As new owner and dog go home, it is clear they were made for each other. One day, a mean boy comes in and wants to take Barney home but he is not Barney’s boy and the mean boy leaves the pet store empty-handed. Finally, could it be? Is that him? It IS! It IS Barney’s boy. Anyone could see that!And happily ever after they go.

At the time, I thought it was cute that the poodle went home with a woman who looked like a poodle and dalmatian went home with the man looking like a dalmatian and Barney’s boy had floppy ears and looked clumsily excited, just like Barney.

Often when I sit with Analaigh in quiet reflection gently passing the time thinking while staring exhaustedly at Rose bouncing with insatiable joy or I walk staring at the ground dreading the encounter which will draw my gaze upwards forcing me to engage with the people in my quiet world or I cry and cower when I hear a heavy stomp, see a shadow move, or feel unhappy energies around me I wonder if she thinks to herself:

She IS my girl. Anyone can see that!

One day, I wrote of ‘Too Much Rose’. But she’s not too much, is she? She is wonderfully, perfectly full of life and love and happiness and wants only to share it with her world one tail wag, one belly rub, one cuddle, one face-licking-off session at a time.

I remember most of the times I heard it spoken. I caught most of the times it was merely implied. An angry, hurt, young boy tormented his sister saying our parents cast us off because she was too much, the added burden, the second child. A frustrated, young mother plagued with a mouthy, teenaged daughter accused her of being boy crazy, always obsessing over silly things. Again a frustrated mother disconnected from the now wall-protected grown daughter annoyed by her being different “for the sake of being different.” An aunt who always took the time in every family situation to caustically suggest happiness would not be found unless claiming the attention of the room.

“Why can’t you do anything small?”

“Why must you obsess about everything?”

“When you visit you steal [his] attention.”

“You love being center of attention.”

“Of course he left you, you loved him too much?”

Too loud.

Too bright.

Too needy.


You fear in the presence of a man and a brother–or father, or master, or what you will–to smile too gaily, speak too freely, or move too quickly…I see at intervals the glance of a curious sort of bird through the close-set bars of a cage: a vivid, restless, resolute captive is there; were it but free, it would soar cloud-high.              -Mister Rochester (Jane Eyre) by Charlotte Bronte


I love fiercely.

I laugh heartily.

I dance poorly.

I sing loudly.

…when I am climbing…

In climbing, there is no too much.

Climbing is freedom

And I soar cloud-high.

As polar opposites as they may be Rose can equally as honestly claim for herself:

She is MY girl! Anyone can see that!