Logistics

Last Friday evening ended our adventures out west and although there are a ton of profound and deep things we experienced, there are also a lot of logistical things we learned from. I wanted to share some of the lessons we found valuable in a stand alone post. Since my husband and I will be traveling at least once a month for a while, I feel some camping/hiking/adventuring tips are in order.

Our trip took us through Colorado where we only stopped for a few hours. It was the first time we saw the mountains not covered in snow which was odd. Granted, we didn’t go hike up into the Rockies but even driving though Aspen and Vail, we found them to be bare. It was also somehow a cloudy day (Denver specifically has the most sunny days per year of any city). To say we were disappointed is an understatement. One of my favorite views is approaching Denver on 70 and seeing an endless sky full of snow capped mountain tops. Unfortunately, we did not get that experience this time.

Moab, Utah is only five-ish hours past Denver, just across the Colorado state line. That was our first stop and our third time visiting. We spent two days there and thanks to the owner of our hotel, we had some amazing hikes that were outside of Arches National Park. Which brings me to tip #1: ask someone local where they like to hike. Most of the area around Moab is public land meaning you can park your car on the side of the road and just trek in any direction. We ended up doing one of our favorite hikes ever which culminated with a beautiful arch on a cliff. To top it off, there were only two other people hiking at that trail. It was incredible!

Enter food…. as we drove along 191 through Moab, my husband declared, “I could really go for the best eggs benedict right now.” That’s his favorite breakfast meal so it’s not surprising he was craving it. Well wouldn’t you know, maybe two blocks after that, I saw a sign outside The Jailhouse Cafe, “Best Eggs Benedict.” I mean, what are the chances?? And just to confirm, my hubby is an eggs benedict connoisseur and he agreed they were in fact the best he’d ever had. I’d say tip #2 is to try the small, old looking local places over your familiar, nationwide chains. On a prior trip to Estes Park, we tried a place named The Egg & I and just like this trip, we quickly fell in love with the food and atmosphere.

Tip #3 is all about the heat. And let me tell you, we messed up big time in this department. We booked a campsite in Page, Arizona for a week. We knew it was the first week of July and that Arizona and Utah are both hot but we also know that the desert cools at night. We’ve camped in Joshua Tree in June before and while the days were scorchers, evenings got down to the 50’s. Page, Arizona is somehow an exception to that rule. The lows were in the 80’s….. We prefer camping over hotels for cost efficiency and also proximity to beautiful views and star lit sky’s. Just make sure you check thoroughly before booking a site or else you will waste money, end up staying in a hotel anyhow and be annoyed.

Last few tips: if you forget something important, live without or buy a replacement. DON’T TRY TO HAVE SOMEONE MAIL IT TO YOU! Our package got lost for a week and by the time it was found, we were already home.

Once you pack your belongings, take 1/3 out. I never wear everything I pack and it’s wasted since really. From a camping and hiking perspective, where showering daily isn’t even always an option, changing all your clothes all the time becomes less important. To be honest, most established campsites have laundry facilities also so rewearing things after washing is way easier than having a full outfit for every day.

Lastly, a decent amount of hikes and adventures require advance planning, special permits or a cash/check payment. If you wanna see The Wave in Arizona, it’s a lottery and only 20 people total are allowed per day. You can only enter the online lottery 4 months in advance. If you wanna hike Half Dome in Yosemite, you need a special permit and similarly, they have limits on how many people can go per day. Make sure you prepare well in advance, have all your ducks in a row and carry small bills at all times.

Hopefully these tips are helpful! Let me know if you have any questions! I will be sharing a lot of tangible tips and emotional growth experiences in the coming months and hopefully even adding a vlog!

Undeniable

It’s 4pm in Moab, Utah and I’ve already hiked almost 9 miles up to a huge arch in the middle of no where, through a sand trail that traversed a stream multiple times. Wait, let’s re-read that sentence…

Didn’t I break my ankle just four months ago? I know, I know, I keep talking about it but seriously, how did I do this crazy slanted slick rock hike? How did I navigate sand and algae covered rocks? And with NO PAIN? No swelling?

We can go over the first part of that sentence also and be in awe… I’m in Moab, adventuring with my husband. A month ago this was not our reality but now we have plans to travel every month for the rest of the year and maybe even longer. Oh, and let’s clarify, we aren’t paying for our trip, it’s all work related and my husband is actually being compensated for these amazing adventures.

Here’s what’s even more crazy: three years ago we wrote this down as a dream we wanted to see fulfilled. My husband aspired to be a full time photographer, traveling the country and working enough to support our family. I aspired to be working less and traveling with him, helping in whatever way possible and having time to write more. And if we travel back in time to when I was 18, I said all I wanted to do as an adult was travel around the country even though I had no idea what that would look like.

The path to get here was full of two broken ankles, a lot of moving around, some really emotional and tough situations and unending trust and faith. We spent a lot of time praying, making decisions that felt guided by our God, attempting to discern our path through the mess. We had so many opportunities to give up but I am so glad we kept going.

This trip is covered in blessing and prophecy. It’s clearly meant to be, undeniably a gift from God. Even up to our departure, we acted out of faith and received confirmation. Ten days ago the bulging discs in my back flared up. I could barely walk. I couldn’t work. I was miserable. I saw a chiropractor, got my back dry needled, was put on steroids and muscle relaxers. I attempted everything I could to heal. I thought for a moment maybe I was going to have to cancel going and send my husband out alone. But I also knew I was supposed to go and so I trusted that somehow, my back would feel better…. and it did. Almost 24 hours in the car, which would normally ruin any a human, was exactly the process my back required to be restored. That makes no sense……

So here I am, living seriously my best life, with my body functioning and feeling amazing against all odds. And while this season is oh so good, I will remain faithful, hopeful and positive whenever this peak becomes a valley knowing that if it’s not good, it’s not God and it’s just not the end yet. I hope those who are also enjoying moments of dreams becoming reality take a second to feel ultimate gratitude for the journey that they took to get there. And for those facing struggles and working hard to stay positive, I pray for the perseverance to keep your head up and the belief in the goodness that surely will come.

Steroids and ownership

My grandparents are from Italy and Venezuela (maybe Argentina but I’m pretty sure Venezuela). My brother is very dark skinned and although I’m kinda olive toned, I’ve NEVER had an issue with sunburns or not tanning nicely. I rarely lather on sunscreen, I never wear sun hats and I have yet to experience sun poisoning.

On Wednesday, the high was mid 70’s and the sun was out but mixed with clouds. I invited two friends over for some poolside hangs and was so elated to just relax and have some downtime and enjoy the vitamin D therapy. We sat around for maybe an hour before we were warm enough to embrace the barely tolerable, ice cold pool water. Once in the pool, after our squealing and whining subsided, we chatted for another 30 minutes or so. Our afternoon of fun was over, we had things to do and adult life to return to.

I noticed a severe burn line form my bathing suit and sent a text to my friends stating, “don’t worry, it will turn to tan by tomorrow.” Confident in my statement because I had never seen a burn on me that didn’t turn to tan and I was sure my 90 minute sun exposure wasn’t enough to kill me.

The next day, my burn was still evident, no brown tones had set in, my shoulders were tender and my chin felt burnt. I’m not talking about hot, but actually burnt. I felt perplexed but continued to believe (with slightly less confidence) in the tan tones coming shortly. I began applying home remedies of lavender and oils and lotions and creams in an attempt to coerce my skin into tanning. At minimum, I was hoping to alleviate the redness and bumps that were beginning to form.

Enter Saturday night…. I woke up to itching skin, bumps all over my chest, neck, face. I wanted to rip my skin off. I was placing ice packs on myself. My face had a similarity to an orange peel and my chest was on fire. I couldn’t sleep (which is somewhat a regular occurrence these days) and began scouring the internet for sunburn rash websites.

I found myself wondering what had happened? My skin had never been so unpredictable. Was I now so sensitive to the sun that I couldn’t adventure without sunscreen? I mean, maybe I’m dumb for even thinking that but when you experience minimal to no issues for 38 years, it’s definitely confusing to suddenly have your body react in a totally opposing manner.

I ended up being put on steroids to reduce the inflammation and rash and had to spend Memorial Day hiding out from the terrors of UVA/UVB rays. I’m bathing in aloe and drinking water obsessively. I’m itchy and red and irritated but most of all, I’m aggravated with myself. Why did I care so much about wanting a tan? Why did I ignore everything and person that suggests sunscreen is important?

All of this got me thinking back to my ankle and how I knew my right ankle was weaker before I broke it. I had right knee surgery 11 years ago and have had trouble activating my glute on the right side for a little while now. My right leg has been my less stable, weaker side ever since my surgery in 2007. I have known this and seen it as a problem anytime I do single leg exercises. I started seeing a therapist for my right knee maybe six months before I broke my ankle. I was doing my therapy exercises but pretty lazily, not with a huge level of commitment.

After breaking my ankle, I HAVE TO FIX MY RIGHT LEG ISSUES. If I don’t activate my butt and track my knee/quad correctly, my ankle hurts where my plate is. Maybe this is too technical talk but the point is, I could’ve been proactive and possibly fixed this issue a long time ago and maybe, just maybe, avoided an ankle breaking. So why didn’t I? Why was I not fully committed to proactive care of myself? Why did I not take it seriously? I see this all too often with my clients also, they come in with an ache or pain and we discuss a protocol for fixing the issue yet the true motivation for change usually doesn’t come until they’re desperate and non functional.

I have found myself full of gratitude for these forced behavior changes even though they come with some extreme discomfort. I’d prefer to learn from these experiences and become better at taking care of myself BEFORE I’m broken and itching and on medication or in the hospital. Yes, it would be nice if I could just magically be healed or if I could function better without any effort but the line says, “get up, pick up your mat and walk!” There’s an active part involved in our healing. I am to partner with my God whether that be in prayer and faith or in tangible behaviors like putting on sunscreen and doing physical therapy exercises. Whatever it is, whatever it looks like, I play a part, or it’s better if I participate.

So tonight, I am grateful for my sunburned rash and itching skin and my butt that doesn’t fire well because they are going to be my motivation and reminder anytime I want to be lazy or irresponsible. And any other thing I want to accomplish in my life, will be better because I will know that I ALWAYS have a choice to make smart decisions and I am never truly a victim to circumstances. I challenge anyone reading this to trace backwards something in their life and find the areas that could be improved and just maybe, see how life is trying to discipline you to be the best version of yourself. And then be grateful for those broken bones and failed attempts because they are way more of an asset than liability. ❤️

Oh, and here’s just a magical picture of my dog playing in the snow.

Maybe everyone should break an ankle

I don’t even know if this is profound. Just some ramblings maybe. I had felt like these past three years had been a season directed towards something. I wasn’t sure what that something was. I’m still unsure what it is. I suppose we are constantly moving in a forward direction with some sort of objective but also not really knowing. Moment by moment, with every interaction, our plans can shift, our path can change. Sometimes we achieve our “end goal” only to realize that was a stop along the way. We desire more, we dream bigger, there’s never really a destination.

I kept believing that these past three years, where my husband and I continued to live a life of less and less, meant we would end up living like gypsies, in a tiny home, traveling the world. Maybe we would be long term campers, adventuring with only a tent and truck for our “home”. Was my future going to include mission trips and a minimal life in some third world country? Could we be moving to a tiny apartment in New York to pursue other business avenues? All these thoughts raced through my mind constantly. I’ve spent the past three years interpreting our situation and aligning it with different ideas I thought would be fun or make sense.

Here’s what I found: I was totally wrong. We just signed a lease on an apartment. We are not jet setting to Haiti. We turned down the New York offer. While we will always adventure, travel and camp, there’s no Airstream in our future (yet). All of these years of letting go, giving up, selling things, minimizing had accomplished two conscious things and I’m sure bunches of unconscious things that we will discover in the years to come.

The first thing that’s happened is I have become a less controlling, more laid back human. I don’t feel so emotionally attached to things or processes. My anxiety doesn’t increase thinking about things breaking or being ruined. The couch cushions don’t need to be perfect. My husband is allowed to load the dishwasher however he wants. The groceries can be put in the fridge in a hodge podge, disorganized way. My medical bill for $42k didn’t even freak me out. I have thus far, totally detached from my idea of what is valuable, what’s worth stressing over and what I should cherish.

The second, and even cooler thing to happen is that my husband and I have to furnish our new apartment. We have nothing but beds and clothes and our camping gear. We have to buy a couch, nightstands, kitchen items, trash cans and bathroom items. We have to decorate and coordinate things. We get to pick out a whole house full of items. All the things we sold or donated we need to replace. But this time, we get to do it together.

My husband and I didn’t live together before we were married and when we did say our vows, he moved into my house. It was totally furnished and everything was mine. We lived there for three years before we moved in with his grandma and then into our house sitting situation. I’m six years, we had never had a home together that was ours. We had never shopped for our things. Neither of us realized we had missed out on such a fun and intimate part of being married. We didn’t know the joy of picking out plates and dishes. We hadn’t shared in establishing our home and life together. It had always been my stuff or his stuff.

I think it’s interesting how we just transitioned into a life that made sense and didn’t see the lack in our decision. We never got to feel excited about sitting together on a couch that we handpicked. We didn’t know the happiness that came from discussing vacuum options. The investment that happens when you share in decisions. Its more than just buying things, it’s creating a foundation for a home to live in, to host people in, to feel proud of, to feel wrapped up and cozy in unity.

And all of this began when he broke his ankle three years ago…..

The power in words

Speak life. It’s a common phrase. There are tons of writers and speakers who discuss this topic. The whole “Law of Attraction” and other theories and books related. There are studies that show plants thriving when talked to daily. In biblical terms, there are an overwhelming amount of verses that reference the power in our words. Speaking life into others and conversely, speaking death over people.

Some people would say the whole subject is a joke. Admitting that there is strength in words but not maybe truly believing in how much depth. Some may say it’s all coincidence or serendipity. Christians believe it’s all part of being faithful to God and His goodness for their life. For most of my life, I had no stance on the topic. I never even gave it any thought.

My cognition became my words and my words became my truth. I believed I was a failure and so I often lacked the ability to succeed. I did not see goodness in my life so I manifested a lot of disappointment. My brain would repeat my liabilities and I would perform in a subpar manner. I would defeat myself before I even attempted things. I would quit in my heart and then my body would follow through with giving up.

A couple of years ago, I started to really evaluate my brain and mouth and heart. I dug into the connection between the three, how I could influence myself and in turn my life by just believing in goodness. If I approached every situation with a positive attitude, my outcomes would surely be better than the alternative. If I see the worth in myself and others, I would always be hopeful and extend grace. And even when things don’t go as planned, I could still smile because no situation is all bad.

When I broke my ankle a little under six weeks ago, I made sure to begin speaking my healing over my body. In the emergency room, the night I broke it, my son called me distraught. He kept saying he was sorry and sounding sad and scared. I told him, “it’s ok, it’s going to be ok.” My husband looked at me and said, “we need to turn in one of our cars, we can’t afford them both” and I told him, “we will be fine, we will not make fearful decisions.” These statements are not because I am something special or a better human than others. I’ve just seen my God show up and I’ve seen the power in being faithful and full of hope.

When friends texted me about my surgery and my down time, I made sure to say I believed I would be miraculously healed. I specifically said I believed I would be healed faster than anyone from this injury. I constantly spoke all the positive things that I saw in this time of rest and recovery. I did not allow myself to become trapped in the fear and sadness. I know nothing productive is birthed from that space.

Yes, I felt and thought fearful and sad things at times. I am human and cannot control emotions or thoughts. But I refused to operate from that perspective. So here I am, five weeks and five days post surgery. I have two plates and nine screws in my ankle. I have scoured the internet for blogs and groups related to this type of impairment. I have asked people with similar injuries. I have looked up plenty of websites about bone healing and recovery times. I am not saying I am the fastest healing person to exist. How could I definitively know that? What I am saying is that I am being restored in a miraculous manner. I have range of motion and function that I cannot find in another who went through what I’ve gone through. I have not been emotional broken from this. My family has not been bankrupt by this. We will walk away from this more steadfast, more courageous and full of peace.

I am not bored

Today marks four weeks since my ORIF (open reduction internal fixation) to repair the three breaks in my ankle. I am one week out of my cast and three weeks away from the possibility of driving again.

The other day my husband asked me if I was going crazy yet. This question, along with many other inquiries about my “suffering” have become pretty common. Everyone assumes that this season of physical brokenness, no working and depending on others is enough to drive a person mad. To be honest, I would’ve assumed the same thing prior to this experience. If you told me I would be out of work, unable to lift weights, have to rely on people to leave my house and ask for help with simple tasks, I would have freaked out. The thought of that used to make me feel helpless and scared. I too felt sorry for someone going through something like this.

When my son was born, I was essentially a single mom. While his dad was around physically (sometimes), he was very absent emotionally and financially. I lived in a state with no family and almost no friends. I learned very quickly that I was going to need to be self sufficient for myself and for my son. I became the dad and mom, the provider, the cuddler and the disciplinarian. I worked as many jobs as I had to while also attending college. I loved feeling like I was taking care of business, that I was handling things, that I was in charge, that I had everything under control. I decided that I could not trust anyone to take care of me. If I wanted something done, I needed to do it. Delegating tasks only added to my frustration as I would go after others and redo whatever it was I had requested they do. Basically I was an island with a “no trespassing” sign up and my son was the only visitor allowed to stop by.

Six years ago, I married the love of my life. A man I trust. A man I believe will never truly let me down. Obviously he disappoints me when he says he will do chores around the house and forgets but I am talking about the real deep stuff. I know he will be faithful to me, I see his care for me, his heart for me and my son. I’ve seen him cry over my tears. I’ve heard him pray for me. I’ve seen him invest time and energy into our family. Yet somehow, I still kept a slight wall up. I still believed that I was separate from him in many ways. I still found myself trying to be the sole caregiver. Trying to take over everything. Trying to be the strong alpha and also the soft omega.

Growing up, I had many reasons to harden my heart. I felt a lifetime of betrayals before I even became an adult. Because of my lack of belief in others, I grew into an adult who made decisions that only solidified my thought process. I found myself in relationships with self-centered people who lied to me. I was a selfish and deceitful person so this shouldn’t have been shocking. I felt like the world was indifferent to my suffering. I felt undeserving of care and grace.

So back to the original question, “am I going stir crazy yet?” and the answer is an abounding no. I am not bored. I am not even close to frustrated. I don’t even understand how I was functioning before. My schedule was overflowing with things before I broke my ankle. A typical day included an hour of Crossfit, two hours of roller derby practice, five or six hours of massage, some house cleaning and chores, maybe some errands and grocery shopping and sometimes (not every day), a shower.

In the past four week, I have spent hours writing, resting, spending time with my husband and family and friends. And not time doing activities but time spent talking, truly engaging, growing closer to the people I care about. I have had countless moments of true helplessness where I humbled myself and allowed others to care for me. I have found peace with the calm. I am not counting down the moments til I can fill my schedule back up. I am embracing this time of healing. This season of physical brokenness that revealed an internal fracturing of my spirit. I am watching my bones and body heal as I sense my heart also going along on this restoration journey.

I think it’s easy to focus our eyes on the end goal. To anticipate the moment when our suffering is over and we can resume our existence. But life didn’t stop when I broke my ankle. Vitality doesn’t stop in the suffering. Life is always happening and I don’t want to miss a single moment. I’m more alive now than I’ve ever been.

Wise investments

My whole life I have been a social person. I was one of those kids who was “friends” with everyone in school. I didn’t have one set squad as they call it now (I’m old and I don’t even remember what we called it back then). I also had non existent self esteem so I found myself quickly conforming to others behaviors and interest in order to fit in. I became a professional chameleon.

In my late teens and into my twenties, my identity was so lost in others that I had no personal dreams or goals. I was just doing whatever and I didn’t even know it. I had no idea who was using me, who I could trust, who I was using and who was a real friend. I am sure people tried to be true and genuine with me but I imagine I pushed them away or ran from them. Authenticity was terrifying.

In 2007, I became a licensed massage therapist. I loved being around people, sharing in their lives and being able to help them feel better. It quickly became apparent to me that I was more than a body worker. I found clients sharing their deepest hurts and fears with me. Asking me to help them pick out their engagement ring for their soon to be fiancé. I got to know them and their families intimately. I became someone that a lot of them depended on for advice and counsel. I found myself spending time outside of appointments pouring into them, their interests, their dreams. I found myself caught up in hundreds of people’s lives.

For the longest time, I felt happy to do that. My life was way more comfortable belonging to others. I didn’t mind troubleshooting other peoples issues. If my brain was full of complicated scenarios and commitments, there was no time to be with myself. I didn’t have to unpack my life if I was busy diagnosing other relationships flaws. I found a sense of joy in investing in other people.

When I became a believer, I continued serving others and for a long time it was motivated by the same thought process: I am less than and insignificant so I will serve those around me. When asked about my own dreams, I still had none. I justified my continued behavior by telling myself how much of a servant Jesus was. I believed that I could live my whole life neglecting myself and pleasing others and in return, I would be a “good Christian”.

In 2015, I attended an event titled a Wisdom Conference. It was three days of teaching full of attitudes and lessons about being a wise human, about behaving from a place of knowing your value. On the second day, during my alone prayer time, I told God I needed him to have the speaker call out specific things for me. I asked for things that no one would know about me. I asked for a combination of things that was unique and deeply painful but that I knew needed healed. I knew I couldn’t shift my behavior without these beliefs being removed.

That evening, at the last session, the speaker started to close out with a call for members of the audience who sensed they needed some relief from embedded thoughts and actions. He began to call out one thing and then another, and then another and my breath stopped for a moment. He spoke all the things I had asked to be spoken. He called my brokenness out just as I had needed. I began to cry, (well bawl). The time that passed is unknown to me but it felt like an eternity and an instant simultaneously. And ok, if you don’t believe in God, that’s fine. I’m sure we’ve all heard voices in our head or sensed things that we’ve chalked up to intuition or our inner self. I will call this dialogue as coming from God because that’s who I think spoke to me. I clearly heard, “you don’t have to serve like you’ve been. You are free from that. You can serve from a place of true joy”.

In that moment, the things I had needed changed in my heart and brain immediately disappeared. I no longer needed to submit to others as if a slave. I would still put others before me in many ways but not because I had to, not to earn their love or friendship, but to show them Jesus. I would finally be able to give joyfully but still know my place in the world. I could see my value and it wasn’t increased by my deeds or decreased by my lack of giving. I was finally free to dream!

Fast forward to current day (cause what does all this have to do with anything)? The transition from bondage to freedom has been interesting. I have begun to protect myself from unsafe relationships, limit interactions with people who want to use me or be untrue to me. I will still be kind to them or do things for them, but I have learned to protect my heart and I haven’t since felt indebted to them. And as my work has now been removed from my life, my gym relationships have been hindered by my inability to workout and I have been at home, unable to really serve anyone, I find my vision even clearer.

Instead of chasing after things that make me feel less than, I choose to pursue things that have real world impact. I will replace empty conversations with authentic vulnerability. I will go out of my way for people who appreciate me and have gratitude even if they cannot reciprocate in action. I will put my family first, my husband above all, because what good are hundreds of friends if my marriage is suffering. And sometimes I will feel sad or hurt because relationships aren’t perfect but I will hold on tightly to that voice who affirmed me back at that conference and I will invest wisely.