A recent encounter with a semi-stranger provided the spark I needed to sit down and put pen to paper (finger to keys does not sound as eloquent so enjoy my antiquated figure of speech).
On Tuesday night, I signed up for an unlimited month pass at Grotto, a new bouldering/yoga space in my near by community. My friend Jennika’s awesome photos & videos inspired me to attempt to conquer the colorful configuration of footholds.
My first night, I was able to make it up a few basic Vs; yet, after an hour of climbing, my forearms and hands felt like fiery rocks. I was certain that someone had poured cement through my fingernails, constricting my muscles and tendons from fingertips to elbows. I could barely open and close my palms and it felt as if invisible weights were preventing me from holding up my hands with ease. After our first night of climbing, we took a heated vinyasa yoga class. I cannot imagine what my hands and arms would have felt like on Wednesday had I not practiced. Even with the release and stretch from the night before, I could feel every movement I made with my fingertips and forearms that next morning.
I planned my second night climbing at Grotto before a yoga class they offered. After my climbs, I walked into the yoga room and the teacher from the previous class was still in the studio. When we locked eyes, she looked at me like she knew me. I did not recognize her; so, I felt a twinge of discomfort as she approached me with a smile. My discomfort instantly shifted to elation when she said, “I heard you speak at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla in November”.
A few months back, I shared as much of my story as I could pack into 15 minutes at an amazing event hosted by two driven woman from the La Jolla lululemon. My experience was incredibly powerful and empowering for me. I spoke my truth and told my darkest moments and great successes to approximately 250 strangers. Once she and I made the link, we shared an immediate connection. She intimately knew my truth, my story.
There is incredible power in sharing your story and that is why I initially purchased the domain JuliaSparkman.com 3 years ago. I receive daily inspiration from reading about other peoples’ experiences and explorations, so I bought this URL with the intention of sharing mine, too.
For three years, I have left this page dormant. I’ve blogged extensively for other pages and I journal exhaustively. Yet, I have not been sure where to begin with my own website, so I haven’t started.
Deeply humbled that second evening from both climbing and speaking with a woman who already “knew me”, I floated onto my yoga mat with a deep sense of self and peace. In class, my teacher was a tender-hearted, attuned woman. She shared an intention of meeting others were they were at…
Her message struck me.
I needed to meet myself where I was at… At the beginning.
Previously, my ego has prevented me from publishing posts. I questioned the “why” behind sharing without the viewership of a formidable audience. I also did not know where to start. When I blogged previously, I had a target audience and specific topics I focused on. On my own, I am less certain. I only know I want to share my story and make connections. And I want to use my personal website as a means to share and connect.
My recent climbing expeditions finally gave me the motivation to #justdoit. Therefore, the content of my first real post (below) are the lessons I’ve learned from my two experiences at Grotto.
As many of us are acting upon our New Years resolutions, intentions, and goals, I believe this content is appropriate and it would have been selfish of me to keep these lessons for my own. I hope you enjoy and then share something with me that’s helped you grow.
Four Lessons I’ve Learned Attempting to Boulder
1) Start Where You Are
As both a climber and a solo-blogger, I am brand, spanking new. As mentioned, my ego kept me from posting in the past, but I’ve realized, I need to start where I am…
In climbing, you have no choice but to start at the bottom of the wall. Yeah, there are a few short-cuts, but for the most part, it’s all about taking your feet off the ground.
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.
Allowing myself to be inexperienced and suck for a little bit will present far more blogging opportunities than not starting at all. Even if no one reads my post, writing is still incredibly beneficial — I am practicing the act of sharing my thoughts and ideas in an organized manner.
With all things in life, we must start where we are. Making shift happen starts with taking that first step.
2) Push Yourself
It’s impossible to grow without trying new things.
My yoga practice revolutionized my life and my day-to-day thinking. But, after participating in a six-day a week, two week BootCamp at the beginning of December, I remembered how important it is for me to push myself.
I learn through calisthenics. My yoga practice has taught me patience, grace, strength, and confidence. BootCamp embolden me and reestablished trust in my physical and mental capacities. During BootCamp, I practiced the ability to push through discomfort to complete what I started, even if that meant using every last bit of my energy to finish.
The strength and determination I gained at BootCamp gave me the courage to try bouldering.
I was scared and uncertain, but I felt the fear and I went anyways. I failed a bunch of times at first, but then I made it to the top and I now have my sights set on higher-level Vs and climbing with straight, relaxed arms.
I am responsible for setting my goals. And I have learned in order to be my best self, I must push forward, try new things, and seek challenges. Discomfort usually plays a large role in my successes.
Similar to my first two attempts bouldering, writing this blog post is very challenging and uncomfortable for me. Nevertheless, it is my goal that writing my own blog will lead me to contributing for an amazing publications like NPR, National Geographic, and Vice Magazine.
3) Seek Mentorship
I was initially successfully at blogging because my mentor, Kaivan Dave, majorly helped. Kaivan set-up the front and back-end. All I needed to do was write, copy & paste, and upload a photo. This time around, I had to figure out everything on my own. But, I am able to use the lessons I learned from Kaivan to start in the right direction. And that empowers me to seek further mentorship.
At Grotto, Jennika’s support has been crucial to my first two attempts at scaling the climbing walls. On my second evening at the space, I attempted to climb the same V three times, only to get scared and stuck at the same spot.
On my fourth attempt, I took a step back and watched Jennika and another skilled climber maneuver past my limitation. Taking the space to learn from them allowed me to accept their encouragement. On my fourth try, I tapped into my courage and pushed past the mental restrictions that previously restrained me from physically making it to the top.
At some point in my ascension, I scrapped my arm and failed to notice, as I was engulfed in flow. My adrenaline was pulsating and I was 100% focused. It was a beautiful moment when I discovered the deep wall burn on the inside of my left forearm— it is a physical manifestations of my efforts and determination! A great reminder for now, but hopefully it won’t leave a scar ;)
For all of my new endeavors, I am going to find someone that knows what they are doing and watch them. Instead of waiting for the teacher to appear, I am going to go out and find the teacher myself, because it might be too late if I wait until I am “ready”.
The greatest lesson I have learned from my two climbing experiences at Grotto is the importance of resting.
I struggle at slowing down. I am hungry for growth and I am always ready to move on to the next challenge.
However, I am continuously learning how important it is to take time for myself. We need to let our hard work sink in and regain strength to avoid burning out.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I moved out to California last year. At first, I was working non-stop; I never took a full day off.
As a leader, I was setting a horrible example. It’s important we rest and engage in different activities so we can return to our work with a new, refreshed perspective. Through my mistakes, I’ve learned, I am better-off doing less. When I push myself to fatigue, I suffer in ALL of my efforts.
Resting between climbs is metaphorical of this advice. The first night I kept pushing and pushing and my extra attempts did not get me any higher on the wall. Similarly, when I over-check my email or spend too long at my computer screen, I do not accomplish any more work than I would have if I had kept to my work-life boundaries.
I am glad I was able to experience the profoundness of resting and taking breaks on my ability to be successful climbing, because I know resting and taking space to rebuild will ALWAYS support my best living!