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Wanderlust

"Not all who wander are lost."

Respect.

Being able to get out and enjoy public lands is one of the things I hold nearest and dearest. With public lands coming up in the news this month and several personal experiences in the last few weeks, I felt the need to write about a topic I’ve always felt was just common knowledge; respect.

My last few hiking experiences have told me differently.

I was raised on the Great Outdoors. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been on trails, on ski slopes, in back country campsites, hanging off rock walls, splashing in rivers and lakes. My dad and mom have been doing it since they were kids and my grandpas before them. I was taught at a very early age to respect the mountain.

The mountain can kill you.

I don’t care if you’re on a day hike, in bounds at a ski area, or climbing a 14er. The mountain can kill you.

The goal of this post is not to instill fear, but to bring about an important realization. Acknowledging the mountain can kill you is Step 1.

With more and more people moving to Colorado, I’m seeing more and more people out on the trails that don’t have a clue what they’re doing. I think its great that they’re getting outside. I hope everybody gets the chance to experience Colorado’s mountains like I do, but I also see that lack of respect and say a little prayer every time I see one that they don’t end up as Search & Rescue’s next target.

Step 2 in having a healthy respect for the mountains is being prepared. If I’m going more than a couple hundred feet from the car, I always have a water bottle and a jacket with me. It doesn’t matter if its the middle of July, or the middle of January. Dehydration is real and the weather can turn on a dime. It doesn’t matter what the weather report says, its the same reason you carry and ice scraper with you all winter long in your car, or the same reason you carry insurance. Anything is possible. If I’m going more than a mile, I stick a granola bar in my backpack.

I grew up getting packed squished Clif Bars for school lunch; my dad’s climbing rejects. Did he ever actually eat the Clif Bars? I don’t know. But I do know that he was always prepared. If you end up out longer than you expect, or god forbid, in a bad situation, a granola bar can be a lifesaver. Literally.

We were snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park a few weeks ago and there was over 60″ of snow. I was up to my knees in some places wearing snowshoes and the weather was threatening to turn all afternoon. I was shocked at the number of people I saw trying to hike in skate shoes. Was it likely ignorance? Yes. But with the capabilities of Google in your pocket, its not hard to check weather conditions. These guys lacked a basic respect for nature.

Step 3 is realizing that you can’t dominate nature. I don’t care how much weight you can lift at the gym, or how many marathons you’ve run. I don’t care that you’re a 22 year old guy and nothing can stop you. Neither does the mountain.

Nature is not something man can dominate. Man builds a sidewalk, and the grass still finds a way to grow through the cracks. Man builds levies and nature destroys their city.

I could direct you to hundreds of stories of athletes, incredibly smart people and even seasoned mountaineers that have died at the hands of nature. Am I being dramatic? A little. But I’m not just talking about Everest. People have died on that 14er you day-hiked last summer. All I had to do was Google “Rocky Mountain National Park” and hit “News” to find this story of someone who got bested by nature there last weekend.

On the same trip in Rocky Mountain National Park, a group of younger guys, who I overhead later were all doctors, thought it would be funny to count to 3 and yell “Avalanche” at the top of their lungs. I would have hit them if I could have gotten there quick enough in my snowshoes (snowshoes, while practical, are not very good for running).

Was there avalanche danger at Emerald Lake that day? I don’t know. But I do know what they did was blatantly disrespectful to the back country skiers and boarders continuing up the ridge.

Being prepared wraps up into realizing you can’t dominate on the mountain. Leaving your ego in the car and grabbing a jacket. Recognizing the weather and realizing when its time to turn back. Realizing that you are NOT in charge and you have to respect Mother Nature or suffer the consequences.

So many outdoor activities seem like domination is the point, don’t they? Let me tell you a secret. Not one of those activities actually dominates Mother Nature. When you raft a section of rapids, did you dominate that river? Or did you successfully navigate the rapids to make it out alive? Do you dominate a mountain when you summit? Do you dominate a route when you send it? The river doesn’t change because of what you did, neither does the mountain or the crag. It’s not domination. It’s symbiosis, which requires respect.

Every outdoor activity holds some danger. Should you stop participating because you might die? Hell, no. You should acknowledge the danger, prepare for the danger and undertake the activity with a mindset of symbiosis, not domination.

 

Respect the mountain. Be prepared. Check your ego. Don’t ignore posted signs. Pick up your trash. Respect your Mother.

It seems simple, but I guess not everyone was raised on Colorado.

 

 

 

Announcement: Our Big Adventure

Yesterday, I gave my boss my thirty day notice. We gave our landlord our thirty day notice. We’re doing something big and exciting and kind of scary! We’re putting our stuff in a storage unit, packing the essentials in the Subaru and headed North for the summer. We’re going to live out of the car and explore Alberta. We’re definitely headed to Banff and Jasper, but are going on a walk-about of sorts. No plan, no agenda, just me, my love, my pup and a (hopefully!) trusty Subaru.

I am excited and terrified. I’ve envied those people on Instagram who take off for places unknown. The freedom of not being tied down to anything. Yes, its only 6 weeks. Yes, its only Canada. But its the biggest thing we’ve ever done. Its scary, to leave a good paying job, the home we’ve made together, our friends and family. But its time for a reset. I need my eyes opened and my soul refreshed. And I know it’ll be just that.

We leave July 1st and will be back mid-August. Prayers, good intentions and gas giftcards welcome! 😉

And suddenly, its summer…

Living in Colorado, one might say we don’t really have seasons. We get 70° days in January and blizzards in May. Spring and fall are pretty much just a violent collusion of summer and winter.

We’ve been having shorts-and-tank-tops, oh-my-god-why-isnt-my-pool-open weather since March (mixed with the frequent snowstorm or rainy weekend) but that moment where suddenly its summer didnt happen until last week for me.

The smell of the air changes. The world has fully commited to awakening into summer. The nights might still be hovering in the 30s, but the mornings hold the promise of summer. The air is full of the smell of growing things, fresh cut grass and exhaust from noisy lawn mowers. The morning grass is full of dew and the light filters through young leaves, turning their edges gold. The evening air is perfumed by a warm breeze. The windows come open, teenagers hang aimlessly in front of the 7-11 and on playgrounds. The first measly, un-ripe peaches grace grocery store shelves, skirts are out to show off pale winter legs. Suddenly, its summer.

I think one of the most awe inspiring things in life is the changing of the seasons. Little signs here and there, harbringers of what’s to come, until suddenly one day its just there. The calendar might say the first day of summer is in late June. The weather might say that first warm weekend in April. But for me, it was solidly May 18th.

I love when the leaves gradually begin to fade and the days grow cooler in September and one day you wake up and its fall. I love when the first snow whispers about the winter wonderland to come and then one day its solidly winter. I love when the snow begins to melt and the world explodes in blossoms and the hiking trails are muddy and the baby animals come out and its suddenly spring.

But mostly, I love waking up to the realization that its summer. Because summer and me have been pals our whole life. And this summer is gonna be a wild one.

Stay tuned!

Food Revolution Day 2016

[I’ve been composing this post in my head all week and was so excited to post it for Food Revolution Day, which I mistakenly thought was tomorrow. Its next Friday, I don’t know how I got so ahead of myself. My mom’s Mother’s Day card is still sitting on my desk. Oh well, the sentiment’s still the same!]

Its highly plausible that Food Revolution Day is only a thing because of Instagram, but its still one of my favorite “days” when it comes to the sentiment.

We eat like crap.

Picture your local grocery store. What does it look like when you walk in? If you’re like me, 1/3 of the store is devoted to produce, fresh meats and dairy. The other 2/3 of the store is a mixture of dry goods and a huge assortment of processed foods, in every form from boxed cookies, to frozen taquitos.

When you drive through town, there’s Starbuck’s, McDonald’s, Dominoes, Sonic, Wendy’s, several 7-11s.

Even if we manage to get past the easy temptations staring us in the face every day, the shelves of our super markets are stocked with lies. There’s sugary cereals full of empty carbs promising us to be “full of fiber” (that’s good, right?). Fat-free milk seems like a healthy choice, until you read the label (is that really even milk?). In the soft drink aisle, the choice is regular (diabetes) or diet (cancer). Scores of the packaged foods on the shelves are full of high fructose corn syrup and MSG.

I read an interesting news blurb the other day about how the FDA is looking into re-vamping wast it considers “healthy”. Apparently, they’re still stuck in the 90’s where grains are the biggest group on the food pyramid and fats are the anti-Christ, including almonds and avocados.

Its rough trying to be healthy out there. I was raised in a house where dinners went Pasta, Pizza, Burritos, Refrigerator Surprise, Repeat. When I came to an age where I wanted to watch what I ate and tone my figure, I jumped on board my parent’s Atkins kick. Carbs were the devil and crazy-expensive bars and shakes were the breakfast of champions. In college, I was reading the labels of everything and watching my fat consumption, putting that god-awful fat-free milk in my coffee and not eating cheese.

Towards the end of college, I started really cooking with a passion. Bon Appetit has been my best friend for years now and I feel healthier than I ever have before.

So, what’s the secret? What is this food revolution? Its simple and its what would have kept our ancestors alive for years (if modern medicine had been a thing). Its eating simply. Its cooking from scratch. Its consuming things with few ingredients that you know what they are. Its massive quantities of fruits and vegetables (like my fridge is all fruits, veggies and hot sauce, I kid you not. That and moldy tupperwares…) and smaller portions of grains and meats. I don’t know why its taken people so long to embrace this…we were designed to live off Mother Earth. We should be eating what she provides for us.

Is it hard to live this way when I’m a busy professional? Why yes it is. I cook every single night. I rarely used pre-made items and when I do its things like pasta that I’m really not going to make myself. I’m not crazy. I eat cheese (mac and cheese is my favorite food! But mine is homemade with organic milk and cheese and real butter). I eat bacon. A dish is not complete without a carb. But our plates are also overflowing with vitamins and nutrients from things like avocados, beets, spinach and beans.

Put into your body what you want to get out of it. Nutrients and happiness.

I learned about food deserts for the first time when I was in college.

noun
1.

an area, usually low-income, in which many residents cannot easily get to stores that sell affordable, healthful foods.

It absolutely shocked me when I realized what this meant. There are people living in my city, that do not have easy access to fresh foods. I couldn’t believe that people were malnourished in the heart of a thriving city. But when you stop to think about it, it really isn’t very different than living in the middle of a real desert, is it? There aren’t many grocery stores within walking distance of some of the poor-er neighborhoods in Denver. If you don’t have a car, going to a grocery store might mean taking two or three buses, or  a train, dragging small kids with you after a full day at work, shopping for whatever will fit in the two or three bags you can manage on public transit on the way and that you think your kids might eat (conditioned by commercials and life to love sugar and hates veggies), making your way back home and then trying to cook something for dinner.

For a lot of people, walking to 7-11 or Walgreens on the corner to buy some peanut butter and jelly or a box of Rice-A-Roni is the more feasible solution. Kids grow up eating processed foods lacking nutrition and become today’s generation of children who are both obese and malnourished, not because their parents don’t care, but many times because their parents have no other options, or simply don’t know better.

So what’s my solution? We as adults are faced with crappy choices, children are being raised in many places not to know better, what can we do?

I believe the difference starts with cooking. Its a time commitment, yes, but we devote so much time to things that really don’t matter; our smartphones, reality TV, happy hour. Learn to enjoy cooking. Its an adventure! Get your kids involved. Teach them that veggies really can taste good. That fresh fruit can be just as delightful as candy. That water is the foundation of life (sorry kids, soda sadly is not).

Urban-farming, bringing affordable grocery stores to inner-city areas, re-vamping school lunches, bringing healthy choices into the work place, all of these are also part of this “revolution”, but we can’t do anything until we start to look take a look at our own lives. Cooking from scratch has made me feel worlds better and its made my kitchen a delicious place to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I still indulge in junk. I drink Diet Mountain Dew on occasion (sorry diabetes, I chose cancer), sometimes we indulge and buy taquitos or get Frappucinos, because lets be honest, you only live once.

That’s the key, you only live once. For every frappucino, there’s five veggie bowls or salads for lunch. For every taquito dinner, there’s a month worth of fruit smoothies. For Diet Mountain Dew, there’s a grass-fed steak salad bowl.

I hate kale. And quinoa. Chia seeds sort of freak me out. But I cannot get enough of sugar snap peas. I eat more bananas than a family of monkeys. Almond butter is the best thing since sliced bread. If you don’t think anything more adventurous than bananas and chicken is going to float your boat, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with barbeque chicken or a peanut butter (natural is soooo much better!) and banana smoothie. But please, this week try. Go into the grocery store with a conscious mind. I am a broke young adult. I work 40 hours a week. If I can afford produce and find time to cook, so can you! (pro-tip, GO TO SPROUTS FOR MEAT AND PRODUCE ITS WAYYYY CHEAP)

My point is this; teach yourself to love real food so we can change the world, one soba noodle, chick pea, kale dish at a time (pictured below).

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[Explore the link’s below for some food revolution fun!]

Fixing Denver’s Food Deserts; how you can help!

Jamie Oliver-Food Revolution Master!

The Pulse Pledge – legumes are healthy for you and use less water, great for the environment. Save the planet and your body sign up now!

Bon Appetit – the cooking masters

Local Milk’s Soba Noodle dish if my picture inspired you

New Orleans

The French Quarter in New Orleans is unlike anywhere I have ever been. Its rich with history, with culture, with people, with experiences. Its deeply alive. Everywhere you look, every street you turn down, every jazz band, every bite of gumbo, every breath of air is thick, not just with humidity, but with life.

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We flew in on St. Patrick’s Day and were met by a wave of humidity and the sweet perfume of growing things. We pulled into our hotel in the French Quarter amidst a sudden downpour. Luckily it let up as quickly as it started and we ventured out into the damp chaos.

New Orleans is unique in many ways, but one of the most aparent is the party atmosphere. Alcohol is legal on the streets so you can walk into any bar and get a cocktail to go, making the streets thick with revelers, espeically on a drinking holiday like St. Patrick’s Day! According to a local we met in a coffee shop, it is fairly affordable to buy yourself permission to have a parade, so they are quite popular. Apparently, its even possible to have a legal parade at four o’clock in the morning. Staying right in the French Quarter can be a bit loud!

We walked out into a parade and caught green and gold mardis gras beads and got hurricanes to-go from a place with slushie machines filled with alcohol. The streets were full of people, discarded beads crunching under foot, live music pouring out of every doorway.

Most of the French and Spanish styled, brightly colored buildings have second story balconies. These were teaming with people, looking as if they might collapse at any moment, mardis gras beads being thrown for hollers or people willing to expose themselves. One big party, the night pulsing with revelry. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced.

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The next morning we waited in line at Cafe Beignet for the sought after donut-like, deep fried, powdered sugar covered pastries that are beignets. The lines may seem silly, but they taste like clouds and are absolutely worth it.

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We wandered the streets and took a cable car to the cemetery in the Garden District (the cemetery was worth it, the cable car was less tourist-attraction and more public transit. Skip it if you have a rental car). We ended up on Frenchman Street for the evening, high quality live-music in every bar and on every street corner. The close proximity to so much music is pretty incredible!

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On the 2nd full day of our trip we drove out into the swamps in hopes of seeing an alligator. The state parks were closed due to flooding and we encountered some interesting country. The water under the highways, vast expanses of swamps and mangrove trees, were all so incredibly and beautifully different than the landscape we’re used to, it was very interesting to see. We ended up only seeing a turtle, but it was still very neat!

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Muffalettos were consumed from an Italian restaurant and a fancy dinner at Arnaud’s was planned. I was shocked by how fancy dining out is in the South. In Denver, even high priced restaurants welcome you dressed like you just got back from a hike. In New Orleans we had issues finding a nice restaurant without a jacket requirement and the number of forks at dinner was daunting! Arnaud’s was beautiful, the service impeccable and the food very good. A definite experience.

After three days of on and off rain and chill, the sun finally came out on Palm Sunday, the last day of our trip. With the sun, the city was transformed. The damp, dirty streets and buildings glowed. The church in Jackson Square stood imposingly against the blue sky, the flowers bloomed.

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We stumbled across the most beautiful sweets shop, Sucre, and ate coconut basil gelato and almond macarons. Topher ate his millonth bowl of gumbo and Sally and I bought vintage inspired dresses from a great little boutique, Trashy Divas. My dad smoked a cigar under palm trees.

One of the coolest experiences, was a mule-pulled carriage ride through the French Quarter. Our driver was extremely knowledgeable of the city’s history and it was very sweet to ride through the streets behind a mule. We wandered into the country’s oldest active Catholic church and listened to an electric violin duo outside the building where the Louisiana Purchase was signed.

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Its always good to come home from a trip, but bittersweet as well. I am so glad I got to experience the intense culture and life that is New Orleans. If you have the opportunity, its definitely one cool place to visit.

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JANE-A-THON 2016

I’ve been skiing since I was two years old. That’s 19 years. Skiing is second nature to me. I was probably 15 when I became totally confident in my abilities. I can follow my dad anywhere on the mountain and although it may lack grace and finesse, I know I can make it down. Skiing is probably the one thing I would say I am very good at in this world. Physically, at least. I’m not sure making perfect beschmael without a recipie counts as a skill!

This year my dad and I signed up to ski the Jane-a-thon, a ski-a-thon to support Invest in Kids, a great organization that gives at-risk families and kids tools to thrive. The challenge is 16 of Mary Jane’s black diamond mogul runs in 6 hours. I signed up thinking that yes, it would be hard, but not un-doable if we trained for it.

As we started training (we got up to Copper every weekend in February and skiied Mary Jane once ) it became obvious to me that this was NOT going to be a walk in the park. On an average day we did 7-9 runs. A cruiser warm up, some moguls, wait in line to try to cat-ski, drinks at the bar, a few more runs, try to photograph each other catching air or looking rad on a double diamond, call it a day at 1pm and have lunch in Frisco on the way down.
That was our average ski day.

Not just that, but doing moguls is grueling. You’re hitting bumps every turn. If the conditions are soft and the moguls not too deep, its not too bad, but when they’re icy and steep and deep, you jar your whole body with each turn. When we first started I could do maybe 3 mogul runs in one day. I’d stop every hundred feet or so to catch my breath. It’d take forever to get down.

Yesterday was like nothing I have ever done before. It was the hardest physical feat of my life. I’m not a limit-pusher. I like to stay in my comfort zone and still have fun. This was a whole different story. This was pushing my limits like crazy.
We skiied 16 mogul runs at Mary Jane from Outhouse way over on the left, to Trestle clear on the other side. We left Denver at 5:30am. We got on the lifts right as they started up. We skiied our asses off. We took one quick bathroom break the whole day, otherwise we ate Cliff bars and goldfish and drank water and Red Bulls on the chairlift. We tucked and poled on the catwalks at the bottom of 11/16 runs. We utilized the singles line to make sure we got on the chair as quickly as possible. We were running 20 minute runs, chairlift included. We were taking them as quickly as we felt comfortable. And we skiied into the lodge at 9 minutes until our deadline. We skiied over 30 miles and 27K vertical feet.

It was grueling and exhausting, but well worth it. Pushing yourself past any fathomable limits and succeeding is truly rewarding. That is what 2016 is going to be about for me. Pushing myself past MY OWN limits. I am not going to be an olympic skiier or go teach English in Malaysia, but I’m going to try things I wouldn’t normally try and do things that scare me. Because life in the comfort zone is not a life I want to live.

On another note, between the two of us my dad and I raised over $1000 for Invest in Kids. I was blown away by the generosity of my friends, family and co-workers. I alone raised $631. Children are the future and giving them the best possible tools to be healthy, live without abuse, learn, be prepared for school is the best way to invest in our future. If you want to donate, you can do so following this link until March 15th.
http://iik.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1150760&supid=432725641

Thank you and don’t forget to push your limits!!!

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Moody day at Copper, Resolution bowl
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Sunrise over Lake Dillon on an early morning at Copper
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My dad doing his thing
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Finally caught the cat at Copper! Tucker Mountain
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A sweet little bowl we stumbled upon after cliffing out in the trees
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Beautiful training day at Mary Jane
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My dad and I on the chair, halfway done with the Jane-a-thon

I’ve been skiing since I was two years old. That’s 19 years. Skiing is second nature to me. I was probably 15 when I became totally confident in my abilities. I can follow my dad anywhere on the mountain and although it may lack grace and finesse, I know I can make it down. Skiing is probably the one thing I would say I am very good at in this world. Physically, at least. I’m not sure making perfect beschmael without a recipie counts as a skill!

This year my dad and I signed up to ski the Jane-a-thon, a ski-a-thon to support Invest in Kids, a great organization that gives at-risk families and kids tools to thrive. The challenge is 16 of Mary Jane’s black diamond mogul runs in 6 hours. I signed up thinking that yes, it would be hard, but not un-doable if we trained for it.

As we started training (we got up to Copper every weekend in February and skiied Mary Jane once ) it became obvious to me that this was NOT going to be a walk in the park. On an average day we did 7-9 runs. A cruiser warm up, some moguls, wait in line to try to cat-ski, drinks at the bar, a few more runs, try to photograph each other catching air or looking rad on a double diamond, call it a day at 1pm and have lunch in Frisco on the way down.
That was our average ski day.

Not just that, but doing moguls is grueling. You’re hitting bumps every turn. If the conditions are soft and the moguls not too deep, its not too bad, but when they’re icy and steep and deep, you jar your whole body with each turn. When we first started I could do maybe 3 mogul runs in one day. I’d stop every hundred feet or so to catch my breath. It’d take forever to get down.

Yesterday was like nothing I have ever done before. It was the hardest physical feat of my life. I’m not a limit-pusher. I like to stay in my comfort zone and still have fun. This was a whole different story. This was pushing my limits like crazy.
We skiied 16 mogul runs at Mary Jane from Outhouse way over on the left, to Trestle clear on the other side. We left Denver at 5:30am. We got on the lifts right as they started up. We skiied our asses off. We took one quick bathroom break the whole day, otherwise we ate Cliff bars and goldfish and drank water and Red Bulls on the chairlift. We tucked and poled on the catwalks at the bottom of 11/16 runs. We utilized the singles line to make sure we got on the chair as quickly as possible. We were running 20 minute runs, chairlift included. We were taking them as quickly as we felt comfortable. And we skiied into the lodge at 9 minutes until our deadline. We skiied over 30 miles and 27K vertical feet.

It was grueling and exhausting, but well worth it. Pushing yourself past any fathomable limits and succeeding is truly rewarding. That is what 2016 is going to be about for me. Pushing myself past MY OWN limits. I am not going to be an olympic skiier or go teach English in Malaysia, but I’m going to try things I wouldn’t normally try and do things that scare me. Because life in the comfort zone is not a life I want to live.

On another note, between the two of us my dad and I raised over $1000 for Invest in Kids. I was blown away by the generosity of my friends, family and co-workers. I alone raised $631. Children are the future and giving them the best possible tools to be healthy, live without abuse, learn, be prepared for school is the best way to invest in our future. If you want to donate, you can do so following this link until March 15th.
http://iik.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1150760&supid=432725641

Thank you and don’t forget to push your limits!!!

image
Moody day at Copper, Resolution bowl
image
Sunrise over Lake Dillon on an early morning at Copper
image
My dad doing his thing
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Finally caught the cat at Copper! Tucker Mountain
image
A sweet little bowl we stumbled upon after cliffing out in the trees
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Beautiful training day at Mary Jane
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My dad and I on the chair, halfway done with the Jane-a-thon

Positive Changes

Happy March, friends!

Although its been a beautiful winter, I can’t say I’m not excited for warmer months and what lies ahead!

I can’t believe we’re already starting the 3rd month of 2016! I don’t know if its that as I grow older I’m getting more conscious or that its just easier to focus on the smaller aspects of life when you have a rarely-changing daily routine, but looking back on January and February, I feel like I’ve already made some very positive changes this year.

One person whom I follow on Instagram mentioned in January that she was going to do monthly goals instead of uearky resolutions, and although I still have a new year’s resolution list taped to my bathroom mirror, I love the idea. Its so easy to get excited on New Year’s Eve and make all these plans and goals to eat better, exercise more, do more of this, less of that. But its also very easy, as we all know, to quickly loose motivation and forget all about it by May.

Inadvertently, I feel like I made a positive change in both January and February. In January I signed up for a month at my local yoga studio and took 3 classes per week. In February I managed to read 4 books, which is more than I think I read in all of 2015. I did not set an intention to make positive changes in each month. They both sort of just manifested. And now I’m motivated to keep the trend going. I’m not quite sure what will stick yet, but I took the Pulse Pledge, to eat pulses (chick peas, dry peas, beans or lentils) at least once a week and I’d like to take that further by really focusing on meat-less meals once or twice a week. I also started a 30 day ab challenge (crunches, sit-ups and squats) that I found floating around the web. Maybe it’ll be something else entirely.

I think its important to start small. Tackling everything you want to change at once is daunting. Even a month is a big commitment to something. Sometimes all you can do is commit to single choices to make yourself better. And start from there. Yes, maybe committing to eating paleo or vegan or whatever, even just for a two week cleanse, is utterly unattainable, but choosing to drink fresh pressed juice for lunch and avoiding sugar that evening is not. Giving up all negativity is a big goal, but choosing not to say anything negative for a day is not. Each morning is a new start. Each breath is a new chance to be better, whatever that means for you. So join me in making a goal for March, or don’t. Maybe just promise yourself to go on a walk at lunch tomorrow, or journal tonight.

I know you can do it!

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Just in case you were wondering...

All Things Asian

Well, not ALL things Asian; that would take all day!

I just wanted to touch on three completely unrelated things that fall under the totally broad, totally stereotypical banner; “Asian”.

#1 Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Have you read this book? No, the movie doesn’t count. If you haven’t, immeadiately drop what you’re doing and order a copy on Amazon. If you have, take a moment and revisit its beauty with me.
Memoirs of a Geisha (pronounced gay-sha, not gee-sha) is the story of a young Japanese girl sold into geisha-dom. Its beautiful, its poingnant, its heartbreaking. Its extremely well written and you won’t want to put it down. Geishas, though beautiful, elegant, intriguing and an integral part of Japenese culture, were women treated as slaves. Owned, the entertainment of men, their virginity sold to the highest bidder. The story is a beautiful portrayal of that dichotomy. And enchantingly beautiful world, faced starkly with the reality that women have been and continue to be, absolutely objectified.
Go. Get. It.

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#2 Rice
No, I’m not talking about Uncle Ben’s Minute Rice or the gross crunchy stove top version that white people insist upon using.
I’m talking about the easiest, most delicious side in the world. It literally takes 45 seconds of active time and 15 minutes of “forget about it”. I’m talking about the fluffy, sticky, white goodness that you think only exists out of Chinese food take out boxes.
All you need is a rice maker (there are plenty of ~$25 options on Amazon, thought my Japanese almost-father-in-law insists that only the floral patterened ones are worth purchasing), some short grained white rice (nothing that comes out of a box. Grab a bagged version at the grocery store or pick up a 20 lb bag at your local asian market if you’re like me and enthralled by the ease of rice with everything) and 2/1 water ratio. Then toss in another 1/8th of a cup of water for good measure. Plug it in, switch to cook mode, throw a lid on and wait for that beautiful “POP” that means steamy delicious goodness is ready.
Enjoy fresh topped with a little soy, mix with half and half, cheese and copious amounts of salt for my white mother’s incredible version or use as a side for pretty much anything.

My boyfriend’s dad will make a pot of rice if the main is spaghetti. Don’t sweat it, stay calm and rice on.

#3 These dumplings though
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/boiled-chinese-dumplings
You can handle this, I promise. So easy, albeit time consuming, so delicious. Sub ground chicken if you can’t justify pork dumplings for dinner. Fry in a little vegetable oil at the end and enjoy with copious amounts of sake!

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Okay, I’m sneaking in a fourth because I can’t help it♡

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#favoriteasian

PS…I know I’m a white girl, I’m blogging at the park for God’s sake listening to Luke Bryant, but immersing myself in other cultures is my favorite. If I can go to the Asian market and hold my breath through thirty minutes of aisle searching for dashi or miso, so can you. Take a step out of your comfort zone and experience zomething new. That mac and cheese and Vampire Diaries can wait until tomorrow. Promise.
-Xx

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