Total Fail…But With Fancy Socks

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Recently I came face to face with failure. It didn’t seem like such a big deal because it had to do with a hike. I have headed back on a trail without finishing before, but this was something I was determined to accomplish…and didn’t.

On Saturday I set out to hike Picketpost Mtn on the Tonto National Forest, close to Superior, AZ. Those who are familiar with this hike know that it is a hard one, mostly because you have to rock scramble on loose, crumbly rock and steep terrain. I was woefully unprepared.

Loaded up with water, my camera, lenses, and lacking the right shoes to keep a grip on the boulders, I set out on the trail. I’m used to quick elevation climbs at this point, so the gain wasn’t causing me any issues. I thought, this must be why so many people turn back, because of the steep climb. Who knew? As I climbed, the views became more dramatic and expansive. The weather swirled in the distance and the wind swept the desert scrub and tiny wildflowers.

I stopped at several key points to take some photos and realized that I had too much weight on my pack to be balanced. I had to be especially careful not to slip and to move my weight from back to front, as not to pull myself backwards.

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Why did I want to do this hike on an impulse? I knew that it was a challenge and I have known a few of my friends to do it, but it was much more than that.

I wanted to set out to find some reserve within myself to make me feel good enough again.

Again? Have I ever?

There are times in my life that I have felt on top of the game – what game – the game of feeling better than or at least equal to. Mostly, I have always felt like I never measured up and related to anyone, like I missed the instructions that allow me to finish things with confidence and success as I saw my peers do.

I’m what you might call a Jill of All Trades. I am just okay enough to do many things, but never that superstar that gets kudos. As I get older, I don’t get the attention I used to get from men, and the women I know are so wrapped up in trying to work and raise kids, few of us can do that bonding to help bolster each other up.

We all struggle with feeling like we’re lacking something. The hole of the soul we might fill with the thrill of the chase, alcohol or drugs, a winning streak, that final triumph of a pursuit that goes well. Now that I am sober, who or what can fill that eternal void of the restless soul? What can define me?

These are the questions of an unprepared woman looking for answers.

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On the nasty precipice of that mountain, I had a fast fall when my footing gave way to loose rock.

I slid down quickly.

It all happened and I had NO control. Gravity did her job.

My blessing was a strong Manzanita tree who cradled me, cut and bruised, but still intact. I was able to gather my wits and crab-crawl my way to a safer bench.

You would think I would have thrown in the towel after that, but no. I climbed and tripped, cried and inched my way up and away into the setting clouds until I could no longer take it. I was hurting and scared. The storm was coming in and dark would soon be upon me, and there was no way I wanted to navigate that mountain in the darkness.

I came back down to the ground without completing the climb.

I am still disappointed, but I realized some lessons through all of this.

  1. Failing means you actually are doing something that challenges you. I am willing to take a risk.
  2. Stubborn pride and unrelenting ego are formidable foes. Being humble is being teachable.
  3. My worth is only defined by me. What you think of me is none of my business, nor should it be.
  4. If I act as if I am someone who is already whole, I am. What a paradox! Thinking about the ways I am not *there yet* only result in mental gymnastics. My actions change my thoughts.
  5. If it isn’t required and doesn’t bring me joy, don’t do it. Life is full of necessary pains, so why add to it? Have some fun.

And, on that note, I bought myself some fun socks:

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White Canyon Wilderness Wander

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Canyon Mouth, A. Sato

I spent a lazy Sunday wandering through White Canyon Wilderness, a hidden heaven not too far from Phoenix. No goal. No fitness hike. Just a lot of puffy clouds, silence, and the chance to soak in another beautiful view.

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White Cliffs, A. Sato

The best part of slowing down is taking the time to notice what you don’t when you are keeping pace on a long hike.

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A. Sato

Small flowers, delicate blades of native grass, unusual markings etched among rock, moss, and lichen, a hidden petroglyph…these are the findings that can only emerge into vision in idleness.

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I am taking the time to find God in small things. Her beauty is in the intricacies and eloquence of the understated and unnoticed.

 

 

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Last Worthless Evening that I’ll Ever Spend (with apologies to Don Henley)

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I find myself sitting on my bed today ugly-crying while listening to a Don Henley tune. You know things are bad when you pull out every loser song you can think of to drown your sorrows in the finest pop of the 1980/90s.

Broken hearts. They suck, don’t they?

My expectations got a little grand over something that wasn’t real. It probably never was real, but being a fanciful creative, I thought it was. This is why magic can get in the way. I was talking to my dogs about what a great life they have not having to worry about crushes and broken hearts, confusion and angsty lust. They seem to be so contented, why would they bother to delve into the disgusting world of modern romance? Why do I continue to do it!

It’s ok, I say to myself. Everyone gets hurt from time to time, and what was I thinking? It’s ok, I say, but it is not. Being in the first year of recovery, my heart is an open wound. “Don’t go there,” wise women warned. But I did. I lost face.

This is not the morose post I intended it to be, because I still find some humor in my circumstances. At 45, I should know that wishing muddy water would become clear by wading in it just won’t work. Still, we wish. I wish.

I think there is humor in pain and wisdom in wading. Instead of crying, I compiled a sweet list for lonely hearts on what to do when your heart is broken. Here’s to us! xx

50 Things to Do When Your Heart Is Broken

  1. Listen to Don Henley songs.
  2. Dress like Ozzy and say it’s your new look.
  3. Send him/her queen size panty hose, an emu, double-headed dong, rank cheese, or whatever you fancy – it’s the thought that counts.
  4. Practice slipping on banana peels so you can do it authentically.
  5. Compose a limerick.
  6. Get distracted.
  7. Find a hobby, like Irish dancing or ghost busting.
  8. Become obsessed with Fran Drescher.
  9. Make your own pasta.
  10. Get fat.
  11. Yodel.
  12. Know that this too shall pass (like stool).
  13. Try on bathing suits (that hurts worse than the broken heart).
  14. Grow your armpit hair.
  15. Flirt with everyone. (That 79 year old mailman is looking less decrepit these days.)
  16. Go to the movies alone.
  17. Make a collage of hateful thoughts.
  18. Listen to your mother.
  19. Grow weeds.
  20. Laugh at inappropriate moments.
  21. Get to know your home town.
  22. Put lipstick on a pig.
  23. Go gay, or a little gay, or straight, or just be gay. It’s all good.
  24. Get new underwear.
  25. Use 80s slang in the office.
  26. Adopt a shelter dog (just do that anyway).
  27. Volunteer (stop thinking about that asshole and volunteer).
  28. Reenact Casablanca with puppets.
  29. Fart more.
  30. Tell everyone he or she is dead to you, then wear black to every gathering.
  31. Get more sun. Energy vampires probably don’t like the sun either.
  32. Do that thing you always wanted to do, but were too scared to do it.
  33. Don’t drown your sorrows…dry them, like beef jerky.
  34. Lend a listening ear.
  35. Be the sexy mofo you are.
  36. Rebound.
  37. Laugh again.
  38. Change a habit.
  39. Be grateful.
  40. Make a list of why you are a great catch. Believe it.
  41. Get your heart broken again.
  42. Pan for gold.
  43. Collect aluminum.
  44. Take lots of bubble baths (water is cathartic).
  45. Stick with your friends.
  46. Pump iron.
  47. Focus on creativity, whatever it is for you.
  48. Make a mixed tape of empowering songs.
  49. Buy yourself some toys (you know, wink*wink).
  50. Love more, not less. Because you will get way over this, sweetie. You will.

 

❤ xo from the lonely-hearted Aleah

New Poem: In Hindsight

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In Hindsight

Where you go,
the language of never
plunges into dust.

Beneath the sun,
a blind man’s eye,
we gather up words.

I expect miracles,
but the river runs backwards –
the coyote inhales its long song.

Who walks like this
for so long the veins
dry up into forgotten wells?

The bones bleach beneath skin
and the bored moon yawns
a miserable sigh.

Who you are –
the thorns that I must walk through,
a mirage, a tiny truth.

You said it was a hawk
that passed so close to us
that day.

But I know the truth
of those hours
and what we had to find.

When decay lingers,
it is stark but honest.
A beak drops its stone.

My fingers are skinned
from digging down to you.
Now I stop.

What we saw that day –
different between us –
a vulture, a hawk.

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