Finally breathing

Holy cow, folks! For anyone who even bothered coming back and forth to check-in and see all of the nothing I’ve written, I thank you.

Things have been crazy the past few months. There has been anger and frustration (yes, it’s really taken this long) and a lot of trying to catch my breath going on.

For starters…last July I parted ways with my very real, very serious, very “scientific” job as a Senior Product Development Scientist. The reason? I wasn’t happy. Which seemed reason enough for me.

My plan going forward is a work in progress. In July the plan was: (1) become a nanny to my best friend’s son; (2) apply to (and get in) graduate school for Animal Behavior. This is where things got stalled for me. My best friend, through no fault of her own, didn’t require a nanny until recently and the GRE gods were laughing at me (and my graduate school applications) so I have to retest and reapply…and possibly retest and reapply and so on and so forth (but DAMNIT! I’m getting in!).

In the meantime, I have been coaching again at the local rock climbing gym. I was also offered the opportunity to get more experience handling dogs with the Analaigh’s behaviorist by volunteering with his foundation obedience classes. I have been doing this for about 7 months and last week he asked if I would be interested in running (under his guidance, of course) an obedience class designed to build onto the foundation class in preparation for the intermediate agility classes offered to more mature dogs.

Last month I started a second part-time job for some extra cash because…well, I like eating and driving and I hate having to choose between the two (I kid, I kid…I don’t make a habit of making bad financial decisions – – – well, not since that one guy a million years ago but stop judging me for that already!).

Last week, I (finally) started as Aidan’s full-time nanny about which, I will share more later through his (mom’s) blog.


This evening after Aidan’s dad picked him up as I took my girls out to run, play, and train while a light sprinkling of snow fell around me I took a deep breath and knew that I am exactly where I want to be right now. about studyin' for those GREs....again....

…now about studyin’ for those GREs….again….


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

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.

Just Go

“Just go,” Bryan quietly urges.

Not yet. Check my foot. Readjust the grip.

I’m going to fall. I know I’m going to fall. I always fall here. I’m looking at a possible ground fall.

Damn. Should have gone by now.

Here goes…


3 feet off the ground. Of course. Bryan always catches me.

I feel the most rewarded when I see what I want and just go for it. I know that I won’t always hit my mark. I know that sometimes, that next move requires more than I got. Just go, though. What have I got to lose? I’ve already fallen and been caught. I’ve already had to accept failure here. Just go. Maybe I’ll fail again but maybe I won’t.

“Just go,” Bryan quietly urges, again.

This time I listen.

Breathe. Go. Clip. Breathe.

See how easy that was?


Breathing is the most natural thing we do. Breathing is what keeps us alive. It is when I began to climb that I truly learned what it meant to breathe.

The breath comes naturally. We don’t have to think about it. We don’t have to think about it but amazing things happen when we do.

200 feet off the ground, tied to a rope, protected by metal, fabric, a trusted friend, and your ability to keep your wits about you. You are tired, exhausted really, your fingers hurt, your toes are cramping, your calves are strained, your forearms are burning, fear is coming on fast and now your legs begin to shake uncontrollably. Stop. Breathe. Focus. Breathe. Relax. Breathe.

Each breath fills your starving blood with much needed oxygen and the shakes lessen. Each breath fills your waning spirit with confidence and reminds you that you’ve done this before, you can do it again, and if you can’t your catch awaits you.

Another screaming match. Another slammed door. More angry, furious words and tears of utter frustration. You want to punch a wall. You want to scream and kick. You want to rip someone’s freaking head off. Stop. Breathe. Focus. Breathe. Relax. Breathe.

Life could not teach me this.

But climbing could.

Life continues to show me how to breathe on purpose.

Roughly pronounced ah-nah-lee is the Irish Gaelic command “breathe.”

Breathe : Analaigh