Talking Beer & Yoga with The New York Times

I got the chance to represent Great Divide in The New York Times 36 Hours travel journal featuring Denver. Check out the video and see why I’m so enamored with this wonderful city.

What to Do in Denver – NYTimes.com.

 

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Soaking in the Storm

It’s no secret that I believe in energy. I think maybe that has something to do with my (perverse?) love of storms. I remember being little and watching my dad during crazy lightning storms in Kansas. He would stand out on the front porch, just watching, transfixed as the sky cackled and boomed before exploding into bursts of light. My mom was afraid it was scaring me, but I found his serenity calming. It was something out of The Tempest.

The last few days in Colorado have been a whirlwind of thunderstorms, hail, and even tornados. IMG_1003As alarms sounded and weather alerts warned to run for shelter, I found myself giggling, almost maniacally, and running instead to the nearest rooftop/balcony/porch I could find to get a better view. There is crazy energy in the air during a storm, and tonight, after I was fairly certain the hail had passed, I decided to go out for a run and see if I couldn’t soak some of it in.

I like to run at night because I find it to be more meditative than in daylight. I’m not as distracted by cars or other people passing. I have an easier time getting lost in my own thoughts (and let’s face it, that’s rarely a productive activity in its own right). Tonight, with the energy of the storms still pulsating, I got to thinking about my own energy and how it affects the world around me.

Science diagrams won’t help me here, nor will a bunch of fluffy quotes from The Secret (which to the shock of many I have never actually read). Instead, I like to use the visual of warm breath on a cold day. When you step outside and let go of that first exhale, you can see your breath form a cloud in front of you. It sort of hovers there, unsure of its own direction, before dispersing into the air around you, thinning into a light veil until you can no longer tell it apart from the air that stood there before. When you breathe in again, you may not even recognize the trace particles of that first exhale being recycled through your lungs.

I don’t believe in karma in the traditional sense, but I perceive it to work more like that breath into the cold. If I breathe in and out in accord with my intentions, if I breathe out good, then that is what I surround myself with. That good is not always going to be present in my next breath, but it sure as hell is out there, and it will be in someone else’s.

There have been a few situations lately where I found myself wondering how on earth I ended up being so lucky. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t believe in luck. The idea of luck, in my opinion, seems to downplay the influence we all have in manifesting our own realities. I don’t mean this to imply a lack of gratitude, because I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the beauty that surrounds me. I don’t believe I could ever deserve all that I have been given, but I can try my best to earn it. I want to be worthy of my incredible friends who inspire and empower me every day. I want to be worthy of family that loves me unconditionally. I didn’t earn this body that serves me even when I don’t respect it, but with every breath I suck in as I run farther than I thought I would tonight, I am grateful for the opportunity to fill it with purpose, to fill it with good, and send it back out into the universe to surround me with my own intention.

I don’t believe in karma, but I believe in my intentions. I believe in my breath. I know my tiny brain could never fully comprehend the workings of the universe, but I do know that I exist in it, and therefore I am a part of it. As I see it, the universe doesn’t work for or against you, it just works with its most active participants.

Or at least, that’s what I like to believe after soaking in a storm.

My wish for 2014, in a song–A Life That’s Good

Each year presents new challenges and new opportunities. Life has its ups and downs, but at the end of the day I have been incredibly blessed with so much beauty in my life. We all think we want a million different things, and everyone’s resolutions reflect that. But I think the real goal is just to find happiness. That, to me, is A Life That’s Good. But this song says it better:

A Pep Talk (From Me. To You. And Me)

So, maybe you’re pretty awesome. You probably are. But maybe you’re not quite as awesome as you would like to be. Sometimes it gets so hard to focus on the things we do well, or the times we succeeded. Our brains seem hard-wired to flash back to our traumas, our failures, or the times where our short-comings embarrassed us. A healthy dose of self-analysis is productive, and is a necessary component in the process of growth and development. But it becomes a problem when we let the realization of all of the ways we are imperfect seep beyond cognition and into our nervous system, paralyzing us with the overwhelming task of deciding which imperfection to work on first. This, in my opinion, is where we face the risk of becoming stagnant in our lives, both personally and professionally.

"What is the meaning of it all?"

“What is the meaning of it all?”

I’m not perfect, and you know what? I hate that about myself. (You probably thought I was going to say “I’m ok with that!” didn’t you?)  I drive myself insane sometimes with all of the things I want to do in life, and then get frustrated with the realization that there could never be enough time in the day to be as good as I would like at all of them.

Looking online these days, it seems like everyone is trying so hard to position themselves as an expert on something. For the actual experts out there, congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing what you have learned. For the rest of us, when did it become so taboo to admit that we haven’t mastered everything yet? How about the value in all the things we’ve tried?  Every article I read points out something else that I could be doing better or doing more. I mean, I’m always on the quest for self-improvement, but how do I decide what to do first here? Should I build a robot and train it how to use InDesign to prove I’m tech savvy? Or should I first write a Grammy award-winning song that gains international attention due to my highly successful grass-roots social marketing campaign?

I am not Mother Theresa. I am not Richard Branson. Neither are you. (Well, unless of course you are Richard Branson, in which case…well done on, er…everything). The challenge is to not get stuck staring at the void of space that lies between where you are now, and where you ideally want to be. If you are anything like me, the second you come close to achieving a goal, you make your goal higher and harder to reach. In this way, my standards for success are technically never attainable.

But I believe in life as a constant process. I can’t possibly do everything I would want to in a given day, so I have to focus on smaller steps. I can’t save the world right now, but I can add value to it. Being alive is passive. Living is active. Every time you listen to an upset friend even though you’re dealing with your own problems, you add value. Every time you slow down to help a co-worker who is struggling on a project even though it’s not your responsibility, you add value. So keep your lofty goals and remember that every day that you take one piece of yourself and you twist it, push it, try it on in a new way, look at it from a different perspective, grow it–no matter what other “failures” you may have had–you can pat yourself on the back, because for that day, you lived.

Denver is for Doers (and Lovers?)

I have loved Colorado since my first visit at 13. I started coming out for spring breaks to ski with my family, and I was a love-struck teenager. While most girls were putting up posters of N’Sync in their rooms, I was taping up my…N’Sync posters. I seriously loved those guys. Lance is gay?? Daaang I didn’t see that coming. Boyz II Men are going on tour? WhaAAAA??

I digress. Colorado: I eventually lost my passion for boys in bedazzled jeans, but I have been pining for you for a long time.

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Taken during my first run through City Park

After four years of living abroad, I am now officially living in Denver, and I couldn’t be happier about the move. Everyone who knows me knows how obsessed I am with New Zealand, and it says a lot about Colorado that most of the people I knew before coming here are Americans I met in N.Z.. This got me thinking about the type of person that is drawn to a place like Denver.

Before I even stepped off the plane last Tuesday, I have had people reaching out from all directions, welcoming me and offering to help in any way I might need. I felt at home here before I even had one. This last week has flown by, filled with city exploration, meeting friends, and making new ones. I’m laughing with the dude packing up my groceries, strangers say hi, and everyone wants to share with me why they love it here. It’s infectious. They say that Denver is a city of transplants; people who chose Denver and moved here because this is where they want to be. I say this is a city filled with my favorite kind of people. People who don’t just dream, people who make things happen.

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Sushibowl!

I was at a friend’s place on Sunday for sushibowl (not a typo, they just planned an incredible spread of homemade sushi sans football), and I was surrounded by the most interesting company. Everyone was throwing around ideas throughout the night of various climbs they wanted to do, hikes to try, music festivals to get to, etc. But the best part was what came next; the followup.

Instead of just leaving the ideas hanging in the air, this was a room full of doers. You want to climb but don’t have the gear? No problem, I know who has extra gear. How about this time? And this place? I’ll pick you up. It’s a plan. You want to go to that music festival? Ok, well the two of us can request the press credentials now and get +1s, let’s make it a road trip! So simple. So easy. So efficient.

It’s far too easy to waste time thinking about things that you want to do, or should do, without ever really being willing to take the steps to make it happen. It’s easier still to waste your life on hanging “what-ifs”. So <<virtual fist-pump>> to you Denver. Keep on doing what you’re doing, and I’m going to keep loving you for it.