Monday, September 21, 2009

30/30 vision

A little over ten years ago, I created a list of thirty things I wanted to do by the time I turned thirty. A few weeks ago, I turned thirty, so it was time to break out the list and see how I did. Now I am choosing to share it and encourage anyone reading to make a list of their own...
The things italicized in red are the six things I simply have not done yet.
The things highlighted in blue I consider that I have kind of done, but not to the extent that I would like to...

1. Travel abroad
2. Learn how to knit
3. Visit all 50 U.S. states
4. See a major sporting event
5. Climb a "14er"
6. Write a song
7. Go snorkeling
8. Be a coach
9. Live on the ocean
10. Live in the mountains
11. Live in a big city
12. Watch the northern lights
14. Go on a month long road trip
15. Learn a second language proficiently
17. Go skinny-dipping
18. Stop biting my nails
19. Volunteer/Service trip
20. Go piranha fishing
21. Sing karaoke
22. Spend new years eve in times square
23. Learn how to snowboard
24. Go on one of the top train rides in the world
25. Take a hot-air balloon ride
26. Learn how to develop film
27. Go on a backpacking trip
28. Sponsor a child
29. Go bungee jumping or parasailing.
30. Make a longer list of things to do once I turn thirty

The first thing on your list could be to make a list...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the third climb's a charm

When the alarm went off at 3:30, I couldn’t remember why I wanted to do this. But when we reached the trailhead, I stepped out into a crisp clear “morning”, was met with a rush of adrenaline and had no doubt I wanted to stand on top of the mountain. Our steps began to follow a trail that would eventually lead to the summit of Mount Elbert. At 14,433 feet, it stands as the highest mountain in Colorado and the second highest in the lower 48.
It was my third attempt at hiking a 14er. The first was Longs Peak, but I turned around only a mile or so up to help someone else down. The second was La Plata Peak, but a heart-wrenching decision to turn around because of a storm had to be made as we neared the summit. I had a strong desire to go back and conquer La Plata, but the thought of staring across (and slightly down) at it from Elbert was satisfying enough.
Before I knew it, our steps met a sunrise and we rose above treeline. Those feats were diminished by some annoying looking clouds and someone on their way DOWN who was nice enough to tell us we had “a LONG way to go”. At least he was honest, but that’s not really what you want to hear as you gaze up at fast moving clouds. I kept staring at the clouds and hiked through the pit in my stomach that feared this would be La Plata all over again. Then it started to spit snow. I was SO happy. Seriously. If it was snowing, that meant it wasn’t raining and if it wasn’t raining, the chance of slippery rocks and lightning was greatly decreased. There is always the chance for lightning and snow, but it’s not too common, as affirmed by mister “long way down” raincloud himself, who was apparently a self-proclaimed thundersnow expert.
The ascent from the first snow on was long. People were hiking through pain. The adrenaline wore off. False summits taunted us. There were some points where I really had to focus on my breathing thanks to the frustrating condition I like to pretend I don’t have called asthma. Snow and sun came and went. Hours passed. Through all of it, we just took step after step.
Finally, the actual summit came into view. A huge rush of adrenaline came over me and I took off hiking faster than I had all day towards it. I’ll never forget stepping onto the top. It was an amazing victorious feeling. From the top of Elbert, it feels like you can see the whole state. It was absolutely incredible.
The weather slowly deteriorated on our long trek down, but I hardly even noticed. The goal had been accomplished and on my first full day of being thirty, I felt a flood of possibility. I am so thankful to Amy, Dave and Cindy for being there with me every step of the way to share a mountaintop experience that will be forever engrained in my heart.
Now who’s ready to enter the Whitney lottery with me?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

feeling jazzy

I love music. And there's just something about jazz music that I really love.
I think my swing (no pun intended...ok maybe it was intended) toward really listening to and loving the musical style took place in the heart of New Orleans. A few years ago, I spent some time in the city assisting with cleanup after hurricane Katrina. It was an emotionally challenging time and before leaving I found myself sitting with friends at a cafe in the french quarter. The sun was shining down, I was eating something delicious and there was a man playing the saxophone. I could hear other music coming from the surrounding streets, but I was mesmerized by the sound coming from this one instrument. In the midst of so much pain and desruction that had fallen upon that place, that moment made everything seem just fine and I wanted it to last forever.
Since that glorious morning, I have entertained my jazzy groove. I love that the music lacks a defined structure, yet has so much heart. Beats are backwards, diverse sounds are aplenty and you never know what is coming next, yet somehow, it all comes together. It's simply fantastic.

I was fortunate enough to attend some jazzy shows while living in Chicago last year and I remember walking back to my apartment one night in the cold air singing. Tonight, I just wanted to dance. And it hit me as I drove down the valley that jazz (as much music does) lures me to respond. I allow myself to jump in to the unknown only knowing that if I don't want to miss a beat, I have to do something.
There's just no way I could conclude this post without of my favorite quotes by Donald Miller, from his book Blue Like Jazz...

"I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn't resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.
After that I liked jazz music."

Are you feeling jazzy today?