Monday, October 31, 2011

A List for Life

Ask my roommate, closest friends, or my students about my list-making OCD-ness. I love to write out lists and carry them around checking off the items. Whether it's for packing for a trip, buying groceries, buying outdoor gear, or putting together a production, you can guarantee I will hand write out a list.. and check off the items until they're all done. Well the other week my good friend Bill and I were talking and he asked me what my list of 30 before 30 was. What is that?! He explained that it's a list of goals you want to accomplish before you turn 30. Well.. let's see.. I want to......

A few days later I was waiting for some video to render out, which if you know anything about editing high end video, rendering can take some time. Off to the side of the computer was a yellow tablet and a pen. Bill's question, Anne what is your 30 before 30, popped into my head so I began to write down the numerals. What do I want to do before 30? How much can really be accomplished in five years?

Recently I was given news that a classmate of mine from high school had suddenly passed away. I hadn't talked to him since we graduated, and I began to wonder how much of life he really got to experience. Did he get to travel? Did he find love? Did he pursue the things that made him feel alive? Did he have peace? Did he accomplish any of his goals? I thought about his death a lot and how fast it came.

I think often times about the pace of life, or the stages. First you're a child and you get to experience whatever your parents decide you need and should experience. Then you go through 12 years of education which doesn't lend much time to gain a worldly education. Then its either off to higher ed or work. By this time, 18 or so years of life has already come and gone. That's a lot of years that just flew by. So what made them worth it?

During college I worked very hard and experience a life time of stress. The only thing I regret is not letting go of work and grabbing ahold of my own passions outside of production. I remember a classmate commenting on another classmate's commitment to our department. "Why would you come to college to play football.. where is that going to get you?!" was his comment. Well.. I replied.. maybe that's what truly makes him happy so that's what college is worth to him. I think that's great.

What I have learned most since I moved to Colorado a few years back is that you have to have time for your passions. Work can be a passion, I know it is for me, but there are also a lot of other passions outside of career worth pursuing. So when Bill asked me what my 30 before 30 was, I became anxious to see what my pen would put on the paper. I ended up surprising myself with what my mind brought to the forefront. Seeing what I love and value and want in life on paper was a moment of growth and excitement for me.

It has been seven years since I graduated high school and I wondered, after hearing of my classmate's death, what has happened in the past seven years for him that made life worth it? I hope a lot. What the news of his passing taught me is that we really don't know how many years we will individually have in our own life. How did we know sitting in English class at the age of 15 that he'd only have ten more years left to do all he was dreaming of getting done. It's amazing. I think for me this news just gave me a kick of motivation to not be so worried about the uncertainties because after all life is uncertain and there is nothing we can do to change that.

So I thought I'd share my list with you..

1. Go to grad school - pursue leadership development and international/intercultural studies
2. Get a dog
3. Go to Egypt.. Egyptian history fascinates me
4. Climb some of the world's biggest mountain peaks (of course)
5. Travel through Europe and eat
6. Trek the Continental Divide with friends
7. Learn to play the violin.. it has to be one of the most beautiful sounds in the world when played right
8. Start putting together my own artwork. I love crafts, to paint, scrapbook, why not share it with more people?
9. Produce films.. Tell more stories..
10. See the Northern Lights
11. Teach English in another country
12. Visit more museums with my Dad. I love history, art, science and most of all I love my Dad and learning about life from him and with him
13. Scuba Dive.. hang out with sea turtles
14. Meet my penpal in Zimbabwe. Duma and I have been writing to each other for over ten years now.. and its about time we actually hang out
15. Start my own company, consulting with non-profits and organizations on how to effectively reach out to an audience and tell their stories
16. Keep on improving my cooking skills.. I just love making & baking
17. Become a life coach
18. Volunteer at the Sundance Film Festival (or have one of my films shown there..)
19. Sing at an open mic night.. maybe show off my harmonica skills too
20. Lead on trad and climb more places
21. See the Beatles "LOVE" Cirque Du Soleil show
22. Shoot a production with a RED camera.. I'm a nerd!
23. Attend a Star Wars convention.. dressed up as a Jedi Master
24. Be a guest eater on Epic Meal Time.. I would die.. seriously they use more bacon and grease in one meal the I've consumed in my whole life
25. Direct another live concert .. energy at concerts is such a great high! especially when you're orchestrating it on film!
26. Attend a NBA game.. I know I live in Denver and we have the Nuggets.. so let
me know if you want to go to a game with me
27. Jump off a cliff wearing a go-pro and a squirrel suit
28. Learn to ice climb
29. Learn to drive a manual car.. its probably about time, I do live in Colorado afterall
30. Start my own garden

Five years isn't a whole lot of time.. but again it's plenty to do what you've always wanted to do. All too often I think we get wrapped up in "what stage is it for me.." and think there are regulations or guidelines on what you can and cannot do depending on your age. Well that to me is just plain SILLY. I hardly believe I will accomplish all of those things in five years, and maybe my list will change as time goes on, but it does give me a foundation of where I want to go. I'm a visual person, I like to put things in front of me. Who knows what the next five years will bring.. but if I'm lucky I will have the chance at 30 to reflect, celebrate, and make a whole new list of 40 before 40.. then 50 before 50.. and so on. You should never come to a point in your life where you think you're too old to make new plans. Actually what the truth is that you've been given this incredible gift of life and you should accept it, embrace it, and live it.

Some things we want in life are so simple.. to go to a basketball game.. and yet other things are much more complex, but when it comes down to it all we have is time so we might as well use what we're given and make the most of it. I do hope my friend's life was a solid 25 years. Looking back on the past 7 years since I've seen him, I realized that I may not have accomplished all that I wanted to yet but I have tried my best to find joy, peace, friendship, and faith for the majority of it. So that's all. My prayers go out to his family and friends who are mourning their loss and celebrating his life. Maybe you can't come up with 30 or maybe you can come up with 100 things.. but it's a great activity to collect your thoughts, recognize your own goals, and press on and up into the future.


That little spec is me at the top of Huron Peak. I reached my
goal at the top.. climbing 25 peaks for my 25 year of life.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Time Flies By When You're Living

Once again I find myself stumbling onto my blog and realizing that it has been over two months since my last post. To blog or not to blog.. that is the question I often ask myself. I find myself writing novels and posting questions in my mind as I'm teaching, rock climbing, camping, sitting at the top of a mountain. But when I return to my computer in the comfort of my own home its like my mind is shut off and my desire to put my thoughts and wonders out into the universe has lost its charm and motivation. Sometimes I wish I had the same amount of motivation to relax, reflect, and share life that I do to climb. However, for me, I find it hard to sit. To be still. To sleep. This is what I want to work on, starting with today as I sit and type out an updated post on me, my adventures, and my plans.

Nepal was truly a life-changing experience. Everyday something new and unique happened. Everyday I met someone who touched my soul in ways I cannot express. It created in me a desire to be more, to do more, then what I thought I was capable of. Putting myself through a summer of traveling, I look back and realized the exploring was more of me getting to know me then of me sightseeing and climbing. When in Nepal I made a wonderful new friend, Neelam, who taught me a lot about life through her stories. She was telling me about her culture, family life, and traditions. Women in Nepal are now slowly but surely allowed to pursue an education and careers, but that doesn't mean they have let go of their traditions of arranged marriages and living with and serving their husbands and families for their entire lives. This didn't seem to bother her though. She loved so much her family and the men in her life. You can tell she had a genuine passion to serve them, to love them, and to be a part of her family. Family was not a question, it was a necessity. Community was not an option, it was a necessity. When I was her age I ran away to college then ran away to Colorado. I thought being an adult and a woman meant you had to prove yourself capable and you had to do it on your own. I explained to another friend, Ashok, who I met in Nepal that that was my mentality. He asked, "why?" Why would you want to leave your family? Why do women feel they need to "fight" and be "independent"? I'm not sure.. why do we?

Since Nepal I've been working with some organizations and educational communities that promote the education and job opportunity of women both nationally in the USA and internationally. It's been great and I'm really developing a passion to understand and communicate better on the ideas of investing in women who then invest back into their families and communities.

My love to be in the mountains has grown even more since Nepal as well. I've been climbing a whole lot and have really improved my technique and strength. I've invested in personal training and every weekend I'm pushing my limits on endurance, strength, and technique. I want to know more about climbing big peaks.. and then I want to climb them. There's so much to be learned from climbing that can be applied to leadership. Characteristics such as patience, humbleness, perseverance, and finding contentment in one's abilities. I have found that being a young adult woman in the world is much like being a young adult female climber. I have the choice to power up mountains at my own speed without any climbing partners. I can view the sites from the top, check the peaks off my "to-do" list, and climb down alone knowing I am capable. OR I can team up with others and work together to climb high, climb strong, and accomplish goals. I really don't like this idea of "fighting" for a position in relationships, in career, in the world in general. I'd rather be on a team. Sometimes I'm the strongest, the fastest, the most knowledgeable.. the leader. And sometimes I'm not and the men on my team are the ones helping me and the rest of the team get up and down the rocks. What Neelam taught me was there is room to pursue my own passions and yet allow others to invest in me and me to invest in relationships. That it's ok to be a woman, a wife, a mother, a girlfriend, and a professional, and a mountaineer. I think its much better that way. Who ever came up with the idea that this was America and you got to fight for your right to be at the top was a coward. I think it takes much more strength and character to relax, to serve, to love others and allow others to love you. To want to be a part of a team, a family, a community and want to balance between relationships and work.

The team at Three Sisters is really trying to accomplish is not to overpower men on the mountain, but rather that women are capable to be on the same hill side. How are we expected to survive if we can't allow good positive change? Without change there is not growth, and without growth what's the point of life? So we can our attitudes, our viewpoints. We say "yes women can be educated, can work and contribute" But we don't have to then rule out the responsibility of women to be mothers and wives. There's room for both.

I'm reading "Breaking Trail" by Arlene Blum and it is literally rocking my soul.. no pun intended. She is a scientist, a mountaineer, a servant to the needy, and a woman. She desires relationships.. family.. love. She's not afraid to write that she struggles up mountains and isn't as strong as her male climbing partners. But that doesn't defeat her desire or ability to lead expeditions up the world's highest and toughest peaks. That doesn't stop her from pursuing her career in science. She's not fighting for her spot in a male dominated lab. She's working along side other scientists, gender regardless, to make discoveries and find solutions. My soul connects so much with her and her stories. She's brilliant and so inspiring. And she started all of this when she was my age.

I came back from Alaska to find a lot about me had changed. Not just inner-being stuff, but relationships I had left the states had changed when I returned. Friends got married, roommates moved out, new roommates moved in, family situations happened, teaching had become more a part of my life then expected, the idea of grad school came into the picture, new partnerships started, and my once "activity" of climbing, both rock and mountaineering, has now become a life style.

I want to know more about what it is that truly makes a community grow. I want to understand why we need money, politics, good leadership, equality, education, etc. and to effectively implement not only the idea of change into society but change itself. Real change which starts by changing the way we think.. communicate.. react.

I want to climb bigger peaks and see the world the way some of the great mountaineers have, the way Arlene Blum has. I'm planning on returning to Nepal.. hopefully shortly if life allows. But I'm also building the plan and hopefully team to head up Mt. Rainier next summer. I'll start there, and then move on to Denali, Annapurna I-IV & South, and who knows where else. Why not? Who says I can't? And who says I won't? I already proved to myself that I can carry my own in Nepal, where else can I go? How high can I climb? What else can I learn? But be assured I didn't go to Nepal alone. I had an amazing support team both during my trip and after and I won't go anywhere else or do anything else in life alone either. The peaks and valleys in our lives will come and go, but what is most important is the team you have alongside of you during those times. Climbing alone sometimes can be nice, we all need our personal time, but in the end you have no one to celebrate the summit with. And when you get stuck on a cliff in a blizzard with all your gear frozen to the rock alongside your numb body, the only thing that really matters is who is there freezing their fingers and toes off with you.

I don't know what this whole ramble was really about. Time really is flying by and I love it. Some people look at their age or the time of year and moan/groan, but I think every new number and every new season is a new opportunity to have a good time and get crazy pursuing life. So my challenge to you is to seek the absolute joy in every moment and to make sure you aren't seeking it alone. My challenge to myself is to not get so ahead of myself. To slow down and bit and find it ok not to be out climbing and shooting video every second of every day ;) (But boy that does sound like a dream life to me!)

My second challenge is to keep up on this blog. If someone is actually reading this then hold me to it. Hopefully it's interesting. It feels good to get this out of my head and put it out into the world.


My friend Brian & I at the top of Mt. Oxford in Colorado, 14,153 ft