Change Is… (or: Thoughts on Leaving Things Behind)

Change is // lgsmash.com

Change is scary, sure. That’s what everyone says. And while change can happy like accepting a job offer for your dream job, change can also be sad because it means, inevitably, leaving something (or a lot of things) behind.

I’ve spent my first month in Pittsburgh with a really dark cloud over my head. I thought I was working to adjust to my new life – and I was making an effort – but I was mostly mourning the loss of my old life, the things I’d left behind. Without realizing it, I was trying to figure out how to make life in Pittsburgh look and feel like life in Denver instead of adapting to this new life in front of me.

I wanted back all the things I lost in the move: I wanted free time with my husband. I wanted an office full of coworkers I adored. I wanted my friends who were ready to trail run, rock climb or meet for dinner. I wanted to not think about every single penny I was spending. I wanted to know where to camp and how to get places. I wanted not to get lost EVERY SINGLE TIME I drive. I wanted early morning climbing at an amazing climbing gym. I wanted happy hours with great friends who know the all the backstories and just get me. I wanted good beer.

(I still want those things.)

These past 4 weeks, I’ve cried a lot of tears in frustration and sadness because, surprise! Those things are not part of my life right now, no matter how much I miss them.

On Sunday, after a particularly sad morning and after dropping Alex off at dinner for school, I turned on This American Life on my local NPR station on my drive home. The episode centered around the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, 10 years after Katrina, and I tuned in during an interview with a woman, Jean Gibson, who survived the storm and has since rebuilt her life. When she responded to a question about her new life, tears streamed down my face as it felt like she was speaking from my heart.

Interviewer: And so it’s like, yeah, you have a new life. But it looks like a good life. Is it a good life?

Jean Gibson: Looks are deceiving. You make do with what you have and you try every day to get that other life back. Yes, every day. Every, every day. But it’s not coming back. But that’s okay, tomorrow coming. I’m going to be able to get some little piece of it. And then tomorrow come, and it doesn’t come back.

Piecing together my life in Pittsburgh to mirror my Denver life will never be the answer. That life is never coming back. And that’s okay!

If Alex and I move back to Denver in 2 or 10 years, we will be different people with a different life. If we moved back right now (or had never left), many of our close friends also moved away this summer so we’d still be facing a new reality and rebuilding community.

The best I can do now is remember favorite moments and celebrate everything I learned and became while living in Denver. It just clicked on Sunday night; I’m acknowledging that, truly, that chapter is over and as sad as I am to have left it behind, I have a choice: I can keep spending my days feeling sorry for myself or I can bring light in and cherish what WAS and embrace what IS.

So on this first day of September and after celebrating the beginning of a new year of marriage yesterday, it feels like a fresh start, a breath of fresh air. For the first time in 4 weeks, I feel happy, truly happy. I’ve sent my little rain cloud packing and, while there will probably still be tears on occasion, I know there will be far fewer. I will find great people to call friends and I will learn things about this city that I will come to love.

It’s going to be alright here in Pittsburgh; it won’t be anything like the past 6 years of my life but there’s bound to be a lot of great stuff that happens while I’m here and I’m ready to be part of it.

Currently…(August 2015)

Currently August 2015 // lgsmash.com

…working in a coworking space!

…riding my bike all the places and cursing the hilly Pittsburgh landscape

…making friends, slowly

…realizing we’ve been in Pittsburgh for 1 full month

…navigating this life transition, albeit, not as gracefully as I’d like

…buying beer by the case to save money (seriously, liquor/beer laws are so strange here.)

…putting together IKEA furniture like a boss

…painting said IKEA furniture like a boss

…watching This American Life on Amazon Prime

…celebrating 3 years of marriage tomorrow and

…looking forward to celebrating upcoming marriages of sweet friends

This month has been a doozy and I’m looking forward to welcoming September and figuring this whole Grad School Spouse + Working Remotely thing out just a bit more.

Moving East Road Trip: Venturing Through the Midwest to Pittsburgh

We left Denver on a Friday morning with our sights set on reaching Minneapolis that night but the 14+ hour drive proved to be too much. Because we had to drive the entire length of South Dakota, we decided to at least drive through Badlands National Park and add another park visit to our list.

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

We drove up through the back way through Imlay and Scenic, SD, which was an interesting view of rural WY and SD but I might recommend sticking to the main route from Denver to Rapid City and entering Badlands from Wall, SD. Lesson learned for next time we’re driving all the way across South Dakota. :)

We stopped for the night in Sioux Falls, SD, just about 4 hours from Minneapolis, and slept in the only room available in tiny city of Sioux Falls (a smoking room, nonetheless). When the sun rose early on Saturday, we quickly packed up and hit the road, bound to see our friend Elizabeth!

Elizabeth and I are friends from the end of college but she and Alex were actually friends from much younger, tiny tot years. While Elizabeth and I knew of each other in college, it wasn’t until we had a class and were assigned a group project together that we became fast friends and I’m very grateful that, despite distance, we’ve remained so close and make it a priority to see each other at least once a year. So when we planned our road trip, heading north to drive through Minneapolis was a no brainer!

Elizabeth took us out on the lakes near her apartment and we rented a canoe to spend our afternoon lazily paddling about. Somehow, we convinced Philly to join in the fun and she embarked on her maiden canoe voyage.

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

Canoe riding and swimming aren’t her most favorite activities but she was a good sport throughout the afternoon.

The rest of the evening was spent catching up over dinner and drinks in Uptown, Minneapolis and, per usual, our time together ended much too soon. Team Petre filed out early Sunday morning for our next city, Milwaukee.

In Milwaukee, we spent much overdue time with Alex’s brother and wife and their 3 young daughters. The youngest niece was just a few weeks old and was as precious as they come.

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com In between baby snuggles, we spent 48 hours playing with the big girls: running around the back yard, coloring at the table, dipping our toes in Lake Michigan.

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

While kids aren’t on our immediate horizon, it was so much fun to be around mini-people and step into their world for a few days.

As in Minneapolis, our departure came far too quickly and we gave our tiny nieces and their parents big hugs goodbye and pointed our wheels south toward Cincinnati, where both of our parents and families live.

Alex and I haven’t been home to Cincinnati with much regularity since he moved to Colorado thanks to steep airfare prices so we made sure to pencil in 3-4 days in Ohio with our families. Outside of spending as much time with our families as possible, I had to main objectives: ride rollercoasters at King’s Island Amusement Park (and eat Smurf Ice Cream, obviously) and chow down on as much Skyline Chili as I could handle.

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.comDone and done. Alex and I took my youngest sister to King’s Island with us and the three of us did not stop laughing the entire day. I even heard my grown husband squeal with delight as we rode The Beast; it was one of the best days. Because of the heat and humidity (ugh, welcome to Cincinnati), there was no one at the park so we walked onto every ride.

And Skyline? Oh man. I have missed Skyline Chili so much! We bought cans of the Cincinnati chili at our local King Soopers in Denver but it’s not the same as eating it fresh. I mean, that cheese!! I ate so much Skyline Chili in Ohio. #noregrets

We also had dinners with our parents, drank beer with older siblings, marveled at how grown up the younger siblings are, swam with grandparents and caught up with old friends. Usually when we venture to Cincinnati, it’s for a holiday and with both our families in the same city, our short time home is usually hectic and jam-packed. This trip, though, recharged my soul and felt so relaxing. Spending good time with good people will do that to ya.

To end our time in Cincinnati and cap off our trip, we made reservations for dinner at The Palace Restaurant, a 4-star restaurant in downtown Cincinnati where our friend, Nathan Sheatzley is the executive chef. 

Road Trip: Midwest to Pittsburgh // lgsmash.com

We opted for the 9-course tasting menu as we couldn’t not try the full scope of Nathan’s work. He did NOT disappoint. Holy cow is his food fantastic! Alex and I have enjoyed Nathan’s cooking on our annual ski trips and other less formal occasions so it was such a treat to enjoy the food Cincinnati has been raving about. If you find yourself in Cincinnati and looking for a high quality meal that will delight you, look no further than The Palace.

Hilariously, Alex and I dined (much less extravagantly) at the Palace for our 1 year dating anniversary; this meal, 8 years later, we toasted 3 years of marriage (a month early but we celebrated nonetheless. Ya know, #gradschoolbudget and all).

The next morning, we ate homemade egg sandwiches at my mom’s house before saying our ‘See ya later!’s and hitting the road. From Cincinnati, it’s a short 5 hour drive to Pittsburgh; straight up to Columbus and then east to a few hours to PGH.

Saturday night, we arrived at our new home and have slowly been figuring out this new life, new schedule and new city.

Pittsburgh Apartment // lgsmash.com

And if you’ve made it this far in the post, WOOP! We’re almost there.

To any others facing a grad school situation, I highly encourage you to take some time to do something just for you before beginning school. Whether it’s travel or vegging out with Netflix, you’re embarking on a huge life change, regardless if you’re the student or the partner.

I was nervous to take 2.5 weeks off work for this move but am so glad I did. In our culture of HURRY HURRY! DO MORE! NO DOWNTIME! (and especially so at a start up), it’s intimidating to say, guys, I love ya but I gotta do this important thing for myself and my marriage and take an extended road trip to move.’

But half assing something like this brings the potential of starting off the next chapter on rushed, unsteady footing. And from what I can tell about grad school, there’s no slowing down from here on out. From an intense course load to a (likely) intense job, post-MBA, our road trip gave us time to pause and be with our favorite people, doing our favorite things before the chaos.

So with that, our summer road trip ends here, in Pittsburgh, PA where we’ll be back to regularly scheduled blog posts shortly – with less mountains and more midwestern flavors.

Moving East Road Trip: Vegas, Vail and One Last Day in Denver

After spending 2 adventurous days in the Grand Canyon, we ventured further west into the desert to live a bit lavishly in Vegas. I’d only been to Vegas for a work trip (boring) and the summer prior to visit my sister (fun but didn’t do the Strip) so I was excited to stay on the Strip and really ‘do it up,’ as Alex said.
Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

The 4.5 hour drive flew by; we turned on a long podcast, stopped for lunch in Hurricane, UT (stop at Sonny Boy’s BBQ - so good!) and 2 short more hours on the road, we parked our car in Vegas.

We stayed at the Trump because Alex was able to snag a good deal on Hotwire but I would not recommend this hotel. It was nice enough but being off the Strip made it difficult to get to the ‘fun parts’ of Vegas very easily, among other things. Our first night in Vegas, we walked the entire length of the Strip and racked up nearly 20,000 steps on my phone’s pedometer!

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Originally, we’d planned to be in Vegas just Saturday and Sunday nights, leaving Monday for Zion National Park but after a crazy year and in the midst of this major life change, we both wanted to stay one more day in Vegas, relaxing. We checked out of the Trump on Monday morning and checked into the Venetian, thanks to a steal on Hotwire. We slept in, read books by the pool, gambled most of our Vegas allowance away just for Alex to win it all back in the last game of roulette.

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Vegas was a blast and, just like everyone says, 2 nights of play time is enough; it was time to leave behind the hot desert and copious amounts of people, smoke and expensive prices for the wilderness.

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

The next stop on our tour was Vail to camp with our good friend Justin. Justin recently moved to the area to run a vet clinic in town but he’d already scoped out great camping in the White River National Forest (highly recommend checking this out, Denver friends!). We parked our cars shortly before dusk, set up camp and, most importantly, drank beer around the fire swapping stories of our past few weeks; Justin shared entertaining stories of mountain vs. city pet emergencies while we relived our time spent on the road.

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

We’d built in one extra ‘free’ day into our schedule and decided to spend it in Beavercreek with Justin. Putting our new-found frisbee skills to use, Justin brought us to the top of Beavercreek mountain to play frisbee golf! Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Spoiler alert: throwing a frisbee disk is far harder than throwing a regular ol’ frisbee. I found that out preeeetty quickly and spent most of my afternoon digging through grass to find my lost disk. But it was fun, regardless. Any afternoon spent in sunshine, on a mountain, with friends? Winning.

After a quiet evening in Beavercreek, we packed up and trekked into Denver! Coincidentally, my brother, who works on Harry Connick Jr’s tour, and Alex’s high school friends both were in town on that same day so we made sure our trip coincided with theirs. We spent the afternoon at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House with my brother, getting a behind the scenes peek at what goes into a major concert, and the evening with our Cincinnati friends, showing them our city and enjoying one last dinner in town at our favorite restaurant, Euclid Hall.

We had a couple of hours between seeing my brother and our friends so we drove through our old neighborhood and decided to stop into the State Capital, knowing there are free tours throughout the day.

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

This was Denver bucket list item for me; for my 25th birthday, I visited the Denver Mint and after that tour, I’d wanted to check out the Capital, too, but because tours are only offered Monday through Friday, during the day, I hadn’t been able to swing it. Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

The tour was really interesting! Only 30-45 minutes long, the guide shares many interesting historical tidbits and facts about how the building was constructed. At the end, tours are allowed up into the iconic gold dome and onto the viewing deck outside for incredible views of the city. It was a perfectly Colorado thing to do on our very last day in town. Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Early the next morning, we stopped by the kennel where Philly had been staying for the past week and officially began the easterly portion of our trip. It was a quite ride out of Denver, both of us just soaking it all in and realizing, HOLY SHIT. This is happening right now. 

Road Trip: Vegas, Vail + Denver // lgsmash.com

Moving East Road Trip: Denver to The Grand Canyon

When we planned out our move, we knew we wanted to tack on a few extra days in Colorado and the west before we moved east. Alex hadn’t been to the Grand Canyon and I’d only spent a few hours there last summer so we dedicated 2 full days on the schedule to exploring Grand Canyon National Park.

(Full route: Denver > Grand Canyon North Rim > Vegas > Vail/Beavercreek > Denver > Minneapolis > Milwaukee > Cincinnati > Pittsburgh)

I left work on Wednesday, wiping tears after a really thoughtful send off from my team, and after driving through our beloved Capital Hill neighborhood one last time, we turned in the keys to our apartment and hit the road. The goal: drive 5 hours to Pagosa Springs, CO in southwest Colorado. With a near-midnight arrival into Pagosa, we opted to scrap our car camping plans and find a cheap hotel for the night.

Thursday morning came early and we dined on hotel continental breakfast waffles before hitting the road bound for the Grand Canyon! Remembering the drive out of the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t wait to stare out the window and swoon over firey orange rocks along the route.

A video posted by lynne petre (@lynnepetre) on


Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com

About 2 hours from reaching the Grand Canyon, we stopped at the Navajo Bridge which crosses the Colorado River and offers stunning views of the Vermillion Cliffs to the west and the river beneath. The original bridge, now the pedestrian bridge, opened in 1929 and with the increased volume of vehicle traffic, a new bridge was built and opened in 1995 which is why there are two nearly identical bridges over the river.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com

Continuing on, we stopped at the Kaibab National Forest Welcome Center to get a recommendation on best dispersed camping spots in the forest, ideally with a view of the canyon and without a lot of people around. The campground inside the park books up 6 months in advance (and doesn’t have First Come First Serve camping, as the website indicates) but because the Kaibab National Forest abuts the park boundary, we knew we would be able to find camping in the forest and still close to the canyon.

We took Forest Road 611 to find a place to call home for the night and, after poking around a few different locations, found one that offered a pretty sweet view. It wasn’t quite the view we’d been expecting; we were hoping for EPIC CANYON VIEWS but instead were treated to views of the basin just before the epic canyon views. Regardless, we loved it.

View from our campsite

View from our campsite

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com

A note about Forest Road 611: this is a mostly dirt road with some rocks (not large) and gravel; we drove our Subaru Outback but vehicles with lower clearance would be able to make this drive, too.

In the minutes before the sun rose on Friday morning, I rustled Alex awake and we hopped of our tents in our sleeping bags to watch the sun slowly rise over the horizon…

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com

…and then promptly shuffled back into the tent for a couple more hours of sleep. I mean, it was vacation, after all!

Alex and I spent the rest of Friday at the Bright Angel trail, eating lunch at the lodge and driving 20+ miles out to Timp Point, far in the Kaibab Forest on the northwest border of the park.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com

Timp Point came recommended for the type of EPIC CANYON VIEWS we were hoping for and it did not disappoint. To get to the actual Timp Point, there is a short 20 minute hike from the trailhead; we parked and hiked out to the point to check out the views before searching for a campsite.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com

There were only a handful of spots in Timp Point and we grabbed a campsite with an excellent view of the canyon. We set up our tent, cracked open a beer and settled in under the shade with our favorite camping game, Farkle.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com

As the sun sank lower in the sky, we tossed a frisbee which I hadn’t done in ages! We made up a game where we assigned points to trees based on their distance away from the ‘starting line’ (aka TreeNerf, for those who have car camped with us in the past year) and had a blast just goofing off like kids again.

Sunset from our spot was dreamy.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com

We cooked sausages over the fire for dinner and talked for many hours into the night – about our favorite Colorado memories, expectations and fears for the next 2 years in Pittsburgh, thoughts about the past year of our marriage and hopes for the next year. The past year of our lives was hectic and we didn’t take much time for *just us* and we both felt it. That last night in the Grand Canyon felt like we reconnected and got back on the same page and was the best way to kick off our 2 week road trip.

2.DSC_0231Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com

We turned in for the night (in the back of Subaru because there was lightening that probably wouldn’t have been a problem but I’m paranoid about lightening so made us sleep in the car), slept like babies and, in the morning, packed up to head out.

Road Trip - Grand Canyon North Rim // lgsmash.com

Next up: Vegas!

Home is Wherever I’m With You (or: Thoughts on Moving Across The Country)

Pittsburgh Apartment // lgsmash.com

We parked our Subaru in the parking lot of our new home on Saturday afternoon and said a silent prayer that the inside was just as we remembered it. Well, almost as we remembered it; Alex remembered a slight smell of ‘cat pee’, I only remembered the open, spacious apartment and so much natural light.

Taking a deep breath, I nervously opened the security door of the old house we would be calling home and we climbed the 3 flights of stairs to the top unit. Like kids on Christmas, we excitedly raced up our entry way stairs, anxious to see what was at the top. It was just as good as we remembered and no cat pee smell.

UHaul was closed on Sunday so we spent the weekend living out of the same packs we’d used for the past 2.5 weeks and slept on our camping sleeping pads, just as we did in Denver after we’d boxed up our belongings. For dinner, we walked up the street to try our new neighborhood restaurants and made notes of places to visit for special occasions because the grad school budget means more eating at home, less eating out.

As we enjoyed our last meals of ‘vacation’/moving, the reality of it all sank in. We’re in a new and unfamiliar city, alone. Just the two of us. And while I’d done this a handful of times – moving to Atlanta in college for a co-op job, moving to Denver with a very limited network – it felt scarier, heavier this time. Maybe because, at 29, I’m thinking about my/our future and my career more seriously, maybe because we’re taking on a new debt and reducing our income, maybe it’s the massive lifestyle change, maybe because it’s been 6 years since I’ve done this and I’m just out of practice.

But as I felt my mind start to venture to the dark side, I turned to my husband, my person of 9 years, and smiled. Unlike those past moves, I’m *not* doing this alone. We’re doing it together. We are renting an apartment that’s already my most favorite space I’ve lived, we get to explore a new city and part of the country and challenge ourselves in ways we can’t while living in Denver for 6 years.

There’s sure to be ups and downs as we navigate a new life chapter but, as sappy as it is, I know that as long as we’re doing it together, we’ll thrive.

 

Currently… (July)

Currently July // lgsmash.com

…road tripping! (and enjoying it, except the leaving Colorado part)

…living out of our car (officially, we are homeless until August 1).

…savoring our last moments in Denver/Colorado for a while.

…picking up Philly from the kennel and heading (north) east!

…reading a lot when I’m not staring out the window at the beautiful drive (just finished this, now reading this).

…missing the routine of a ‘normal’ day a little bit and

…feeling ready to stop eating out.

…looking forward to doing all of the things the midwest has to offer! (Like the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Via Ferrata in West Virginia or canoeing in one of Pittsburgh’s 3 rivers)

…saying ‘see ya later, Colorado’.

See ya in Pittsburgh, friends!

Road Trip Check In: Hi from the Road!

Grand Canyon // lgsmash.com

I’m currently sitting in a luxurious hotel room on the Vegas strip, savoring the comfort of a real bed and fluffy pillow before we hit the road again early in the morning. It’s been a terrific first leg of our road trip!

We left Denver on Wednesday night and drove southwest towards the Grand Canyon. We arrived late afternoon on Thursday and spent two excellent days exploring the East Rim, Bright Angel and Timp Point. We then packed up camp and ventured further west to spend a couple of days in Vegas.

We ended up extending our stay by a day to really maximize our relaxation time – once we leave Vegas, we head back to Colorado to spend a couple of days camping with a friend in Vail, then hit Denver to pick up Philly and lastly, we’ll begin making our way east towards Pittsburgh, visiting and staying with friends and family along the way.

When we planned our move, we made sure to include a week of ‘us time’ before we began the move east. The past 12 months have been really crazy and challenging – from me changing jobs and working longer hours to Alex’s grad school applications to planning and executing a cross-country move – we both felt it was extremely important to take time for just us before we move into the next chapter. I’m so glad we built in this time – it’s been almost a year since Alex and I did a trip or weekend adventure just the two of us so this was much needed and long overdue!

I’ll be sharing trip segments in blog posts once we get settled in Pittsburgh (much to share about the Grand Canyon!) but in the meantime, you can follow our trip on Instagram!

It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Later!

Moving Day! // lgsmash.com

Today’s the day! I can’t believe it’s finally here and happening. We’re turning in the keys to our apartment, jumping into our packed car and driving away from our home of the last 6 (and 4) years. Surreal!

The past weeks have been filled with crossing off to-do list items, packing boxes and bags, saying goodbye to friends and coworkers and planning our long road trip to get to Pittsburgh.

I’ve been happy, sad, anxious, (very) stressed, teary, tired (so tired) but as the day is here and I have just a few hours left at work in the Denver office, I’m feeling excited. Excited about the 2.5 weeks on the road ahead of us, excited to see our families, excited to move into our new apartment, excited for the next chapter!

Denver has been a great home and I leave with no regrets, not wishing I’d done more in my time here. There will always be mountains I want to climb, trails I want to backpack but the good news is these will be here when it’s time for me to come back. For the next two years, I’m looking forward to exploring a new part of the country, meeting new friends and challenging myself in new ways.

So, cheers Denver! It’s not ‘Goodbye’, it’s ‘See you later’ which makes the leaving a lot less awful.

See ya on the road, friends!

(PS – follow our road trip on Instagram!)

Life Lessons of Rock Climbing

This week has been hard for a number of reasons you can probably guess (see: moving things). But through the hard parts of ‘real life’, I thought back to the multi-pitch climb Alex, Lucas and I did this past weekend. It, too, was hard for reasons you can probably guess, too (see: climbing things).

As I feel I’ve been very barely treading the water that is a huge life change, I thought about how much climbing lessons relate to real life.

Life Lessons of Rock Climbing // lgsmash.com

5. Be confident; you’re stronger than you think you are. Physically and mentally. With a tendency to sometimes doubt myself, I had no option but to be confident and trust in my strength on the climb. Ain’t no other way to get off the rock! In real life and climbing, the challenges make us stronger. Be confident and tackle the challenge; it feels so good to come out on the other side and know you conquered something badass.

4. Never underestimate the power of a good shoe. I mean, enough said.

3. Remember to pause and appreciate the moment. On the climb, there were so many beautiful, tiny wildflowers along the route and I made a point to (take deep breaths and not look at how high off any ground I was and) notice and appreciate those tiny flowers. In the chaos of moving, I’m actively taking time to appreciate the small details around me: the smell of pine in the mountains, the found birthday cards from 6 years ago, the taste of a Santiagos breakfast burrito.

2. Surround yourself with good people. People you trust, people who support and encourage you, people who make you laugh. If you’re going to be tied to a rope together for 6+ hours climbing or spending your limited free time together, spend your time with people who make you feel good.

1. Breathe through the hard and scary parts. Panicky thoughts lead to panicky breath which makes is hard to focus on the task at hand. Breathe. In, out. Again. You’re safe, you’re strong and you got this.