Swap Sale Finds

The middle school in our neighborhood had a swap sale/plant sale yesterday, and we stopped by to check it out.  We went during the last hour of the sale, which was great for me because a lot of people were literally trying to just give everything away.  I found a lot of really cool little accessories for $2.00 total.

pincollection_1noaccident

This seller had an enormous collection of pins.  There were a few of my favorites — I especially like this “Safe Driving Award” pin (no accidents for 18 years!!!) and the weird masonic pin.  Other pins clockwise from top left as follows: Japanese ship pin from some Disney store, enamel bird pin, “Wurstfest 2008,” masonic cubic zirconia pin, scouts “Be Prepared pin,” and the gold star.

snakering

The Slytherin in me couldn’t resist this snake ring, although it only fits on my pinky (one downfall of bouldering is that it makes your fingers thick).

geodes

These last guys were sitting in the “FREE” box, and are clearly the leftovers of a child’s geode-breaking set, haha.  However, I have a hard time resisting something shiny, PARTICULARLY if it is free, so these went up with me (much to my boyfriend’s chagrin).

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Here, Lately

Climbing has been a lot slower these days.  My knee continues to occasionally lock up, my shoulder has been aching, and today at the gym I “tweaked” my right hand somehow so now when I extend my thumb it hurts quite a bit.  Climbing out here is a lot harder, probably because we’re actually in the vicinity of quite a bit of real rock, whereas NYC was a little dry in that area.  I’m not a huge fan of the setting at our new gym — it’s a LOT of reachey, dynamic moves (and by reachey, I mean that several problems supposedly at my grade require moves that are a few inches larger than my full extension).  However, I keep sticking at it, although spirits have been low.  I’ve been stuck at V5 indoors since last year, and I don’t want to even get started on my performance outdoors.  Not good, to say the very least.

Denver is fine although after four months it still isn’t home.  “Home” as in the place where my boyfriend and I live together is great — it’s nice to finally live with him and only him — but we’ve a long way to go before we find all our favorites and look forward to coming back to this town after leaving.  Anyway, I got accepted into graduate school at the University of Denver (hoorah) so I’m hoping that once classes start and I have a job where I talk to people other than elementary students, I’ll make some friends.

More and more I’ve been turning back to art to make myself feel better.  I’ve always been quite an avid painter and crafter, although I didn’t really have the time or space to keep up with anything other than crochet and knitting in New York.  Here, we have the luxury of an apartment without roommates and that we can afford without working a million hours a week.  Both of those things help in supporting creative endeavors. So, don’t be surprised if more of that turns up in posts.  

Anyway, thank you for reading.  I’m trying to focus more on being grateful lately, so here are some things I am grateful for:

  • My car that continues to work
  • Audio books
  • My boyfriend hiding pictures of himself in funny places to make me laugh
  • Snacks

We Moved to Denver

NYC will always be the number one city in our hearts, but when the boy came back from Bhutan, we decided it was time to try a new adventure. And so, we moved… to Denver.

Why not, right?

We wanted somewhere with (easier) access to the great outdoors. While living in NYC, boyfrand and I spent most weekends with good weather leaving the city and driving the two hours north to go climbing in the Gunks. So, if most of our free time was spent leaving the city, why pay the millions of dollars in rent to live there? In Denver, we still get a tiny bit of the vibe of a city with the beautiful Rocky Mountains right on our doorstep. There are bouldering spots a scant 25 minute drive from our apartment — much closer than the two hours by car and hour by train to get to the Gunks. For long weekends and mini-vacations, we’re just about 5 ½ hours from Moab, 7 hours from Joe’s Valley, and 10 from Hueco.

We’re both from the east coast, and we’ve never lived anywhere “out west” before. It’s great to have (more) convenient access to beautiful US places we (or he or I) have never been before — Yellowstone! Badlands! It’s my dream to spend two weeks or so going on an Americana national parks road trip (you know, while we still have national parks to go to).

Another perk about Denver is that, although it’s considered an expensive city, it’s laughably cheap compared to New York. We were able to get a one-bedroom apartment just for the two of us that doesn’t leave us broke at the end of every month — something that, as a nearly 30-year-old, I appreciate, and something that in NYC would have been prohibitively expensive unless we both switched out of our careers in teaching and non-profit and went into the escort business.

Anyway, it’s been about a month, and we have an apartment and jobs. I had to buy a car (an expense you don’t need to worry about in NYC), but at least I don’t have to ride the subway anymore. We’ve been on two bouldering trips and a hiking trip — so far, so good! We both definitely miss the thrill of living in New York — particularly the world class museums and food from every corner of the world available at literally any time of night — but we’re excited to try something new.

You Used to Call Me on My Cellphone

*** For all of you that read my blog for the climbing posts, be warned — this isn’t one of them.  But feel free to stick around if you want to know how I compare my love life to popular songs. ***

 

You used to call me on my cell phone…

Hotline Bling has been in my head for about the past two months.  It’s just so damn catchy.

I think it’s funny that the gist of this song is supposed to be something like Drake leaves, and this girl he… loves?  used to love?  was interested in?… is partying and going all sorts of places and generally having a great time, and Drake’s pretty upset about this.  He says that she’s “got a reputation for herself now,” and that she’s “hanging with some girls [he’s] never seen before.”  Before, she used to “always stay at home, be a good girl.”  Drake also states that “Right now, [she’s] someone else.”  She’s different; she’s changed.  She’s not the person that Drake used to know.

But who can define this girl’s goodness?  What right does Drake have to make decisions regarding the morality of her behavior?  Even if it is coming from a place of intimacy and love, the idea that Drake knows her better than she knows herself (as some people feel about the ones they love when those loved ones do things they don’t like) disregards this girl’s agency.  We should all be allowed to breathe, to experiment with new styles or behaviors, and to explore new aspects of ourselves.  And is anything she’s doing actually bad?  She’s going out, wearing clothes that she likes, partying with all sorts of people, and generally having a good time.  That doesn’t seem bad to me, provided she’s not getting into fistfights at the club or stealing purses or something.

Drake says she “make[s] him feel like [he] did [her] wrong.”  We’re assuming Drake and this girl were intimate somehow — implied that they were lovers, or at least love interests — and Drake is now surprised that, after he has left, she is doing things that make her happy instead of staying home and mooning over him as she’s supposed to.  He’s also wondering if, since he left, she has found someone else to be with.

So, when it comes down to it, basically this song is saying something along the lines of “I left, but I’m upset and scared because it seems like you are not dying without me, which makes me feel like you don’t need me.”  It’s coming from a place of fear; Drake fears he is replaceable.  This girl’s actions show him that he is not the center of her universe.  But should he be?

If you love someone, don’t you want them to be happy?  Especially if you’re choosing to do something that separates you?  If you love someone, truly love them, don’t you want them to feel as complete as possible?

Boyfriend left exactly one month ago yesterday.  He got a contract teaching in Bhutan for a year.  People do this all the time; I spent three and a half years working overseas in my early twenties.  He has never lived overseas and always wanted to, so when he was this particular opportunity, he jumped on it.

Part of this is because his thirtieth birthday is coming up; it’s not for another year and a half, but I know he feels it there, looming on the horizon like the end of the world.  Like most of us, he is afraid of waking up one day to discover that he had never done anything and now is too old.

Part of this is because he is a very good boy, and his growing older reminds him that his parents are growing older, and he wants to eventually live closer to them to help support them.  I think he fears “going back home” will be the end to any sort of adventures.  It will be Time to Be Responsible.

A small part of me wonders if he and I getting more serious — moving in together, becoming domestic — scared him about becoming too normcore.  That our relationship was a symbol of the end of his adventures as well, so he needed to go out and do something radical (although he, of course, loves me and assures me that we will be together forever, etc. etc.).

Am I thrilled that he’s gone a scant six months after asking me to move in with him?  I’d be lying if I said that I was.  But I also love him, and I want him to be happy and complete, and if he feels that can’t happen here, well, the he should go.  And so he has.

But only for ten more months.  And this is good for me as well — when I’m in a relationship, I have a tendency to put most of my efforts into my partner instead of myself.  Boyfriend and I got together very soon after I moved to New York, so it’s probably good that I now have this huge chunk of time to explore the city on my own terms.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.  And deep down, I know it’s true.  We both could use some time to work on ourselves, so that when he comes back, we’re both ready to build something together.

Anyway, to quote Drake again, Boyfriend is getting “exactly what [he] asked for, running out of pages in [his] passport,” and I’m happy for him.  Or, if not exactly happy, I at least recognize his own agency and support him in his quest to find out exactly what life means.  And I will continue to do so when he gets back and realizes that life is one giant question and he still has a long way to go before he finds any answers.

Or, you know, makes peace with the fact that perhaps there aren’t any.

And I know when that hotline bling
That can only mean one thing…

Bouldering Mental Block

I got really discouraged at the climbing gym Saturday. The day started off so well; I was super hyped to be going in to work on a few problems, but after the warm-up things just kind of fell apart. Part of my warm-up involved a V3 that I had been able to flash just two days previously, but after three attempts at it I still couldn’t seem to send it. Frustrated, I moved on to a V4 I had was able to get up until the finishing move on Thursday. I fell off the second move. And then I fell off the second move again. And again.

It was pretty demoralizing. Since it was Saturday morning, more and more people started showing up, and since these problems were in a new area of the gym, they all crowded around this tiny area. The gym is pretty miserable when it’s packed, so I moved on to another problem I’d been working on. This wall was being taken over by a teen climbing class. Ok, move on. The next wall was covered in toddlers milling about, jumping on the mats and getting under everyone’s feet while their parents merely said “Great job, wow! That’s awesome!” to children who were basically putting themselves and the climbers around them in danger (don’t get me started on the parents that bring their kids to this gym, y’all).

When the walls started clearing up enough for me to climb, I was pretty pissy. Carrying all this pissy-ness onto the walls with me was not a good idea. I took fall after frustrating fall, missing holds that I have been able to get before or not making any new progress on problems I’ve been trying even though I’ve been working on them for weeks (six weeks in the case of a particular V4+). They’re going to change the wall before I finish the problem, I know it. It will be the third problem I’ve worked on nearly every day since having it been set that will be changed before I’ve been able to send it.

This anger, this frustration, and this desperation to finish these problems are all having negative effects on my climbing. I know this. My boyfriend has spoken with me about this many times, since he can carry a lot of frustration into his climbing too, especially when it’s a problem that he’s already figured out the correct beta for but just can’t seem to stick. I let outlying factors fuck with my mental state – the amount of people, the toddlers and their insufferable parents – instead of blocking them out (Really, why should I be concerned about these people? They’re not concerned about me, it doesn’t matter). I let my perfectionism and self-doubt fuck with my mental state – I see a move, know that it’s a hard move, and don’t follow-through and stick it because I know I’ve fallen a thousand times and will probably fall again this time.

There are other outlying factors too. Work stuff, personal life stuff – all these things add up and contribute to the emotions I’m carrying with me on the wall. I need to find the peace and confidence within myself to know that it takes a lot of work and that failure, when climbing, is an inevitable part of the process. Bouldering is fucking hard. Of course I’m going to plateau at V4 and stick there for a long while, because V5s are fucking hard. Falling off a climb says nothing about how hard I work or my value as a person (as much as I seem to wrap them all up together).

I’ve been reading a couple articles about this. “Overcoming the Fear of Failure,” tells me to consider my experience and training, to concentrate on the process of climbing as opposed to the outcome, and finally to be comfortable with the possibility of failure as one potential outcome. The last is probably the most difficult for me, and as the article points out, “you can only assume this mindset by consciously detaching your self-image from your performance.” It’s not about the send; it’s about the experience of the send. It’s about the enjoyment of the act of climbing, not the outcome.

Have you had any experiences like this, in climbing or otherwise? Give me some tips for how you handled it in the comments; I’d love to hear how you worked through it.

Problems with the Follow-Through

As a follow-up to the last entry, I did in fact meet my goal of 500 words a day for the entire month of July. However, that success was short-lived, as the ultimate goal was to build a habit of writing 500 words every day for the rest of forever, and unfortunately I only made it through the first week of August.

It’s easy to let all the other daily stuff distract you. It’s easy to get derailed. Maybe it’s Sunday morning, and you’re tired and hungover, and you go out for bagels with your best guy and suddenly the whole afternoon has been frittered away and you haven’t accomplished anything. Or maybe you wake up during the week, and you can’t quite seem to get it together for work, so you end up wasting too much of your morning time, which is your best time to write, and you run to the train without having completed anything, only to come home later too tired and drained to do anything except watch X-Files re-runs on Netflix (welcome to my life). There are just so many excuses, so many tiny excuses, that end up knocking down whatever habits you’ve tried to set up.

In college, one of my professors said he thought I was capable, but that I always lost it in the follow-through. I agree. There’s something about making a commitment to my creative work that changes it from something I enjoy into a weight hanging around my neck, dragging me down. I become reticent and resistant; I no longer want to do whatever it is that I wanted to do. Once work has been started on a project, it becomes a reality, and the reality of a piece of work is much more overwhelming than the free-floating dream of it.

But that’s a childish reaction, and one that’s based out of the fear that I am, in fact, as extraordinarily unremarkable as I know myself to be. My desire to be right, to create something of meaning, makes me impotent. So it would seem the best course of action would be to remove the self, the ego, from my work, and try to concentrate on whatever it is about the piece that inspired me to make it in the first place. To concentrate on the purity of the work, with thoughts of how others would judge it left behind.

Big Fat Failure

Do you ever feel like a big fat failure? I know I sure as hell do. I spend most of my life convinced that I can’t do anything right.

This feeling affects most things I do, from working to having a successful relationship to writing. I don’t think there’s a particular reason I should feel this way; I’m not a significantly more terrible person than most people I know (but not significantly better, either). I make it to work on time every day, try hard to apologize when I know I’ve done someone wrong, and I don’t accidentally break an inordinate number of objects.

However, the feeling of being a failure still hangs over me, crippling any creative inclination I might have. This is what I feel is at the root of what I can refer to as my “writer’s block.” This feeling of impending, inevitable failure cripples me, acts as an immediate paralyzer to my ability to write. I sit down at my computer, pull up an empty word document, and immediately switch to facebook or tumblr. Or I don’t even make it to my computer, because writing takes so long and I’m so tired, and there’s no point anyway, because it’s not like anything I write is good.

And so nothing gets done.

My goal this month is to get over these feelings of failure and to get back into the habit of writing. For July, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo, as some of you may know, is National Novel Writing Month. It occurs during November, and everyone who participates undergoes the arduous task of writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Camp NaNoWriMo is like regular NaNoWriMo’s laid-back cousin. Occurring in April and July, Camp NaNoWriMo is a month dedicated to setting a writing goal and sticking with it – whether it be starting a new literary project of any kind (play, poetry collection, etc) or editing past work into a new version.

This year, I’ve decided to use Camp NaNoWriMo to get back into the habit of writing. Every day this month, I have to sit down and write at least 500 words. They can be about anything – parts of a story, a blog entry, or even just a random stream-of-consciousness journal-style entry of things that I have on my mind. No rules, just 500 words a day.

The point is to overcome my fear of failure surrounding writing. If I can get comfortable sitting down and writing anything, if I can get back into the habit of writing in general, I hope I can get back into the habit of writing something that’s actually part of a greater whole without worrying whether or not the first draft is going to be a complete and utter failure.

Because let’s face it – the first draft, by definition, is going to be a failure. But that’s ok, because you can edit it and make it better. The greater failure is no first draft at all.

Shackin’ Up

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I moved in together. Here are some things that I’ve experienced since I’ve moved in with him.

  1. Travel times are significantly decreased. Now, this might not be too big of a deal for those of you with vehicles, but as a proud rider of the NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority, I can tell you that the less time spent on the train, the better. Brooklyn has a lot of really good connections between itself and Manhattan, but as far as north-to-south travel within the borough is concerned, things can be less than ideal. Even though we were only living about four and a half miles away from each other, the time it took to make it from Point A (my place) to Point B (his place) could take anywhere from 40 to 55 minutes, depending on whether or not you just miss not only your first train, but your transfer as well. Being able to just come home and have him around saves me lots of time.
  2. Things are a lot funnier. My boyfriend is full of jokes. Granted, most of them are really bad jokes, but I like them (hence the whole dating-and-wanting-to-move-in thing). Even if we’re just sitting down to breakfast together, and I’m blearily stuffing granola cereal into my face and hating the fact that I have to go to work, he’ll make some silly remark that brightens my attitude and makes me feel like I can, in fact, make it through the day. I like hearing him say things to the dishes, make weird noises, and generally be a strange, funny guy.
  3. You always get to hang out. We’re both very busy people, and in the past our packed schedules made it difficult to see each other as much as we wanted. We tried to cram in one “date night” a week (usually us being exhausted in the same apartment and watching Netflix) in between work, gym sessions, and all the little chores that take twice as long when you live in the city (ex: laundry). Now that we’re living together, we get to see each other all the time.
  4. You learn to compromise. As the song goes, you can’t always get what you want. Some things we’ve compromised on is our neighborhood, the train line we live off of, whether or not we have roommates, etc. While most of these compromises aren’t idly made (in fact, most of these compromises were monetarily-motivated), in our case it took one person to be more… willing… to point out reality and show what we really could afford vs. what would be nice but just isn’t right for us at the moment.
  5. You get to fall asleep and wake up together. Every night I get to fall asleep next to the person I want to see most and start my day with him as well. And that’s a great feeling.

I realize this is quite a rosy picture of cohabitation, and I attribute it to two main things – first, that my boyfriend and I have really good communication with each other and try to let each other know when the other person is annoying/hurting us, and two, that it’s only been about a month. However, I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for us together.

No More Meat

** Please note: this is not an attempt to “convert” anyone to vegetarianism. It’s just an explanation of an experience I’m currently going through and an attempt to live more closely aligned with ideals I feel are important to me.   All opinions are my own and only represent the limited amount of research I’ve done on the subject (some articles are linked. I also recommend the documentaries ‘Food, Inc.’ and ‘Vegucated’). **

I’ve never been a vegetarian before. My parents raised me on hearty dinners of hamburger helper, shake-and-bake pork chops, and meaty spaghetti. I never really thought about the ethicality of my consumption or just where my meat was coming from.   Cows lived on farms; meat came wrapped in plastic from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. End of story. Once I left home, my meat consumption declined drastically.   This was more for budgetary and space reasons than any ethical stance; meat is expensive, and freezer/fridge space is currently scarce because I have four roommates (six, if you count the cat and rabbit). Also, since then, I’ve been learning more about the meat and dairy industry in the US, and the information I’ve been exposed to doesn’t exactly whet my appetite.

On January 3rd, I realized I hadn’t eaten any meat yet in the new year. I figured I might as well keep going. It’s now March 10th, and I think I’m officially ready to call myself a vegetarian. Here are a few reasons why I’ve decided to do this:

One: Environmental. Those of you who aren’t from agricultural communities may not be familiar with the sweet smell of industrial meat farms. And by “sweet,” I mean noxious. As someone who grew up in North Carolina, I’ve experienced the intense, fecal, gaseous smells of poultry and hog farms. You could always smell them before you saw them, and there were certain spots of highway where you knew you had to roll up your windows or you’d be forced to smell shit for miles.

The minutes driving through them were bad enough – you can only hold your breath for so long, after all – that I can’t imagine the torture of having to actually live close to one. ‘Pig Poop Fouls North Carolina Streams,’ published in Scientific American, describes the plight of an elderly couple that lived in the vicinity of a hog farm. The wife described how you couldn’t do laundry if the wind was blowing, because the smell of the hog farms would get into the fabric and you’d just have to wash them all again to get the smell out. Her grandchildren wouldn’t visit her. Her life was worse because of her proximity to the hog farms.

Bacteria from these hog farms often make its way into the water system via improperly disposed of hog waste. Most large farms have hundreds if not thousands of animals, all producing a vast amount of urine and feces. This urine and feces are stored in “lagoons,” and are sprayed onto crops via sprinkler systems. This waste is not supposed to leave the property of the hog farm. However, a study done by UNC  suggested that these large hog farm operations have allowed waste bacteria to pollute North Carolina streams and rivers . Researchers took water samples from water sources situated near hog farms and found “DNA from bacteria that live in the digestive systems of hogs and that are not known to live in any other animals or people.”  The water quality has been compromised. A criticism of this study is that the mere existence of this bacterial DNA cannot prove that hog farms are disposing of their waste inappropriately; however, it seems to give pretty damn good evidence that waste mismanagement is, in fact, happening.

I don’t want the state I consider my home to smell like hog shit. I don’t want my parents, who currently live in rural North Carolina, to wake up and be forced to stay inside their home because their backyard smells like hog shit. I don’t want anyone in my family (or, you know, any human in general) to be forced to drink water contaminated with hog shit. 

Two: Humane Treatment of Animals. Most animals raised for meat in the United States live on CAFOs (Concentrated Organized Feeding Operations). Many of them spend their days standing around and covered in their own shit. CAFOs can include both open lots without grass and closed buildings without windows. They exist for animals to be stored until they are the proper size for butchering.

Pregnant hogs are often kept in conditions so cramped they are forced to stand. Their waste falls through a slotted floor and is kept below them, and the hogs are “exposed to high levels of ammonia, which causes respiratory problems.” These hogs also develop ulcers and wounds caused by the pressure of being crammed so close together.

The egg industry also employs questionable methods. Male chicks born into egg operations often get exterminated on day 1. Because they’re male, they’re not going to lay eggs, and because they’re bred from a type of chicken geared toward making eggs and not meat, they aren’t seen as being viable as a meat source. It’s more economical just to kill them and be done with it.

Every time I think about eating meat now, I think about these animals. I think about the documentary Vegucated showing bags full of still-living male chicks being thrown out like garbage. Every bite feels like support of cruelty, and that’s something I’m not comfortable with.

 Three: Health/Beauty/Vanity. In high school, my skin was fairly clear. However, since about 23, my face has virtually exploded with adult acne. After trying almost every product I could get my hands on (scrubs, goos, washes, “treatments,” etc), my face was still a mess. I read a few articles that suggested dairy products like milk and cheese could cause skin problems. I severely limited my intake of these products, and my skin has definitely improved. Is it a decrease in dairy products or merely an increase in produce consumption that have caused this change? I’m not sure, but I’m going to keep with it because my results are good.

Since December, I have not eaten any meat products (eggs, however, continue to be consumed, although at a greatly reduced rate, and milk and cheese have been cut out almost entirely). Overall, I feel healthier and less sluggish, and I’m paying more attention to the type of things I consume and how they will affect not only my body, but my community and my sense of integrity.

** Please note: this is not an attempt to “convert” anyone to vegetarianism. It’s just an explanation of an experience I’m currently going through and an attempt to live more closely aligned with ideals I feel are important to me. All opinions are my own and only represent the limited amount of research I’ve done on the subject. **

Girl on (Plastic) Rocks

I’ve never been a very athletic person. Much of my childhood was spent either in bed or a comfy chair, curled up with a novel. In middle and high school, my whole goals were just to make it through P.E. classes without somehow embarrassing or injuring myself (I am, without a doubt, one of the clumsiest humans alive). I’ve tried kickboxing, I’ve tried jogging, and for a few months two years ago I was old-lady power walking on a fairly regular basis – but nothing really stuck.

Until now. My sig other introduced me to the wonder that is rock climbing (specifically bouldering), and I think I might be addicted.

Sports never were my thing. For one, I never “naturally” took to sports, so I never practiced, so I always sucked at them. I also was a nerdy kid who frantically excused my physical inabilities by believing and maintaining all the media B.S. that athletic people are idiots (on behalf of nerd-dom, sorry athletes, but let’s be fair, you got a few good ones in there too). I’m a perfectionist, holding myself and everyone around me to basically impossible standards. I hate when I make mistakes, and I hate when others make mistakes, because deep down I’m convinced that if I had the chance, I could do it better.

This doesn’t bother me in climbing. Climbing teaches me that not only is it o.k. to fall, it’s the only way to ever get better, and that’s a life lesson I still sorely need.

Climbing isn’t a group sport. It isn’t a competition (I mean, there are professionals and competitions out there, but I’m talking about the low-key essence of climbing). The only person I’m trying to beat is my past self. The only person who controls the outcome of a climb is myself. I get what I put into it – if I train, if I exercise, I can improve, do harder climbs, and accomplish cooler moves. And this has inspired me to practice not only climbing, but other areas of fitness as well – I’m now doing yoga, pilates, and resistance training, and I’ve changed my diet drastically in the last few months. My body feels good, healthy in a way it’s never felt before. My body feels attractive in a way it’s never felt before, even if the feeling is just in my head.

And that goodness transcends my time spent in the gym. That goodness makes me not only more confident in myself, but also more forgiving of my mistakes. It makes me more forgiving of others’ mistakes, as I climb alongside other beginners and we see each other’s weaknesses and work together to make them strengths. All in all, I feel like a kinder, more helpful person, and that’s a good thing.

So let’s hope this is one hobby that will stick.