I found a new hobby here in Fort Collins. I don’t consider myself a strong runner, but trail running at elevation is an exciting new challenge for me and it’s readily available right outside my front door. I have a lot of respect for athletes who train at elevation because it is NO JOKE. On the first run I was winded after about 200 feet. It felt like someone was pressing down on my shoulders and as I kept running it felt like there were tow hooks attached to each of my lungs, pulling them down to the ground. But the views were spectacular and so I kept running.
On some of the uphill sections I would start walking and oddly enough that seemed faster and more efficient than running. The photos below are from the Horsetooth Reservoir area in Fort Collins, Colorado. The starting elevation is around 5,300′ and the highest elevation that I have run to so far is Horsetooth Mountain at 7,260′. It took just over an hour to gain ~2,000′ and the views of the Rocky Mountains on a clear day in the distance are spectacular.
I’m excited to see this place transform in the Spring although I’m terrified of the snakes that will be slithering through the fields at that time, too. Right now the scenery reminds me of the paint section of the art store. More specifically, it reminds me of the earthy brown shades of paint. Yellow ochre, raw sienna, burnt sienna, burnt umber and raw umber are pigments that surely must be created from this part of the Earth (harvested in December no doubt!).
I have also seen some very daring mountain bikers riding at night on the trails. They used incredibly bright bicycle lights and from a distance they looked like an elongated, bioluminescent creature navigating the night scape. It was a surreal spectacle and I will try to get some video footage of it if I see another cycling group braving the cold temperatures at night.
The way you feel on a mountain can change in an instant, especially if you get cold. On this last run I got super cold once I reached the peak and stopped running. I had a light windbreaker with me and was able to warm up as soon as I started running again, but I think I’ll need to start trail running in a layered outfit somewhat like this instead. Just in case, right?
I don’t think that revealing your woman crushes should only happen on Wednesdays. Does the crush go away at midnight on Wednesday? That’s not the case for me. It starts way before Wednesday, then carries through all week, all month, all year. Nonetheless I’m happy to showcase my woman crushes mid-week.
Marilyn Monroe and Meghan Currie are this week’s #wcw. I’m doubling up because I see one crush in relation to the other. I went to a Marilyn Monroe exhibit at the Fort Collins Museum of Art recently and it sparked a conversation between my mom and I.
I mentioned to my mom that Marilyn was less than a year older than me when she died (she had just turned 36). The Los Angeles County Coroners office recorded her cause of death as acute barbiturate poisoning and speculated suicide. I have not researched all the reasons Marilyn was addicted to barbiturates but all of us at one point or another want to suppress or run from pain. Barbiturates were Marilyn’s answer to pain.
My mom pondered, “What if she were still alive? I bet she’d be doing yoga like you!”
I responded, “Maybe a yoga habit could have saved her life?”
What I meant by that statement is that yoga is its own barbiturate. It has a sedative effect in some instances, but it doesn’t suppress pain. Instead, it forces you to sit and deal with it. Literally, you have to find comfort in the discomfort. In the process you strengthen your center and it aligns you with your true self.
Marilyn hid from the pain and she allowed herself to be pecked apart by the Hollywood vultures surrounding her. She scattered herself and her center was lost.
This leads to my second #wcw, Meghan Currie, who is a Vancouver based yoga instructor. Meghan is someone who I admire because she seems truly centered and stays focused on a healthy antidote to pain. She makes incredible videos of her yoga practice and her time-lapse videos are particularly uplifting. I view both Meghan and Marilyn in a similar fashion- as teachers with a message. I’m thankful that Meghan produces her own videos and shares them with the world because there is a lot to learn from her. She projects fearlessness. She’s not afraid of her sexuality, of being open, of back bends and of digging deeper into the experience of being human. Watching her yoga videos inspires me to clear the living room and create space for any and everything.
She has many videos online. Below are a few of my favorites:
Yes, she’s wearing a one-piece here:
From Meghan’s bio page on her website I also discovered that we both share a love for:
handstands (I’m still working on these)
motorcycles (I like the vintage ones and ones with sidecars)
vegetables (yes, all day everyday)
graffiti (high school memories with my tagger boyfriend)
moss (all the colors!)
bicycles (the best ever)
dancing (I regret not taking ballet classes when I was a kid, and yes I love to dance)
beets (everyday, plus it’s the one vegetable I successfully grow in my garden)
music (a habit from childhood that I still practice- I lay in the middle of the floor and just listen)
language (especialmente el español!)
diagrams (like maps, I could stare at them for hours)
shaking (not always fun, but it means you’re getting stronger, right?)
wisdom (slowly acquiring this, and I admire those who have an abundance)
nonsense (already excellent at this and can provide plenty)
yard sales (+ house sales + thrift stores)
anatomy (like maps and diagrams, I like to study this, too)
instruments (I own a banjo and will one day know how to play it)
sprouts (the spicier the better)
spoons (hadn’t really thought about it, but yes, these are great inventions)
fears (not instant love here, but overcoming them is quite nice)
rocks (I love scrambling!)
writing (= healing, even if you don’t think you’re “good” at it)
art (the meditative aspect of “making” and using my hand/eye synergy)
ocean (I can never get enough)
laughing (it’s the ultimate belly workout)
arugula (try it in a smoothie!)
crying (not instant love here, but it’s like a wash cycle for your psyche)
singing (I’m not great at this, but I’m Irish and we like to sing)
love (I love love always)
wrinkles (especially on the face!)
raspberries (gimme all the berries)
breathing (trying to be more aware of this action that we take for granted and that unifies us all in life)
My mom instilled in me an appreciation for color and nature. We both happen to really like lichen, too. Lichen is a tiny composite organism that grows on rocks, bark, leaves, walls, etc. and looks like a crust of paint. Out of all the photos I took from my hike on Mt. Whitney, she asked me to print out the one of the lichen growing on the bare rocks so that she could hang it on her wall. I like to think that the photo reminds her of the resilient characteristic of lichens- they can survive and thrive in some of the most extreme environments on Earth. She amazes me. This series of photos is for her.
Saying goodbye to San Diego was a lot harder than I imagined. It is the prettiest place that I have ever lived. The weather is always gentle and the salty breezes lure you outdoors everyday. The ocean view from the top of the Torrey Pines Gliderport is one of my favorites. I went there to do a final barefoot beach run with friends before departing.
As soon as I saw the enormous ocean sprawl out in front of me I started balling. I was crying because it is so beautiful and I will miss setting my eyes on it. I’m not sure when I became so attached to the ocean, but at some point over the past 5 1/2 years my astral body must have taken a night flight while I slept and dropped an anchor deep into the Pacific ocean. Pulling that anchor up and towing it to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is a challenging expedition.
I recommend going for a barefoot run as a final way to say goodbye to a place (if the weather allows, of course). It’s the ultimate grounding experience, and if you happen to be running and crying at the same time, well that’s even better. What I mean is that it feels as if the running and crying get into a boxing ring together. They duke it out for a spell and then your nervous system comes in as the referee to break up the fight, regulate your breathing and bring you back to your calm self. Plus your feet and calves will feel achy and strong at the end. I let my friend Lara take a photo of me in this vulnerable state just before we descended the stairs to Black’s Beach for a run. I look like I’m laughing here but I’m battling tears.
This was a really cleansing experience and I’m happy to have these photos to remember it all. I posted some photos below from my last few weeks in San Diego. These are just a few of the many things that I will miss about this magical place.
The stairs at Black’s Beach- best natural workout in town. Try it barefoot!
Rainbows over the ocean. On this particular day a bolt of lightning struck right through the rainbow. I didn’t catch it with my camera, but life could’ve ended right after that moment and I would be satisfied.
The active, scantily clad beauties walking all around town. This is a vintage photo, but it’s basically still the same in San Diego (appropriated photo from a book called Art in the Streets written by Jeffrey Deitch, Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose).
Getting to walk out of your front door in “beach gear” and:
a.) no one bats an eye
b.) you are not cold
c.) you can jump in the salty ocean if desired
The pretty succulent plants blooming and growing in every corner. They remind me to consistently grow, even in the most unexpected or difficult situations.
Circuit class with some of the toughest ladies in San Diego (Stephanie and Marlo) and our trainer, Corey from Bmorfit. He gave me a new respect for the value of hip rotation exercises and getting a consistent ab burn at least once a day.
Being a twenty minute drive from my cousin Mike, his wife Chris and their two adorable kids, Jude and Alex. On our last day of hanging out with the kids I brought them a piece of reflective paper and told them it was a “rainbow catcher.” They were entertained for hours.
and of course…Jude’s infectious laugther. It doesn’t get better than this.
Adiós a San Diego. Nos vemos otra vez.
While conducting some inventory overhaul at work I came across a piece of tattered, gold paper. I could still see some beauty and potential in this paper and used it to conduct some initial backdrop test shots with product placed in the foreground. I used an X-acto knife to cut a triangular pattern in the paper and worked with my photographer friend, Michael, to create lighting and shadow effects that would add more depth to the overall pattern.I really liked the results of the first test, but I wanted to take it further because I knew that a monochromatic backdrop would be more subtle and allow for more lighting experimentation.
This is Michael (below), my photographer friend who helped me conduct the backdrop tests. Here he is standing in front of the backdrop against a white wall. I like the sense of scale that this photo provides…and I love his smile here.
The results of our second set of tests are below. We were both really happy with the results. I styled the flowers and Michael lit the paper from several different angles which changed the look dramatically. The possibilities are endless and I love how light and shadow interact with a simple piece of paper to create such variety and depth. I will definitely experiment with more paper backdrops and also devise a way to make them more durable for reuse.
Thank you California for teaching me that I love the mountains.
These photos are from our hike from Idyllwild to Mt. San Jacinto via Humber Park. Mother Nature was showing off for us on this day. Flirting for hours with her sparkly blues.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Day hiking Mt. Whitney is accurately described as “strenuous.” I knew what we were up for and my hiking partners and I trained well for this monster hike, including completing the majority of the six pack of peaks and Cactus to Clouds. I thought the few days rest at Lone Pine Campground (6,000 ft.) and spending the day at Lone Pine Lake (10,050 ft.) the day before the hike would help, but I clearly underestimated the time and value of acclimatizing. In retrospect, I would like to have camped at a higher elevation for at least one night to prevent the altitude headache, but we booked what was available to us on a busy holiday weekend.
Mt. Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 ft., so this hike went well beyond my previous highest elevation point of 11,503 ft. (Mt. San Gorgonio). I expected a strenuous hike and prepared for it, but I reached a level of exhaustion that I had never experienced before. I was able to push through the 22 mile round trip hike, with an elevation gain of over 6,100 ft., in 15 hours. We had less than ideal weather including rain, sleet and gusty wind chills in the 30’s. I “landed” back at Whitney Portal with extremely sore feet, a headache, mineral deficient and very thirsty. The funny thing is that as soon as I sat down, drank some vegetable juice, and acknowledged that it was officially over I felt better right away. And now when I look back at the photos I feel proud for pushing beyond my comfort zone and privileged to have witnessed such spectacular scenery (including a rainbow when we were at 13K!).