Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The daughter you see isn't the daughter in existence

Rumi said, “Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back towards disease and death.” When it's a parent that's tearing you down, ignoring them can be a hard thing to do. Until a few years ago my dad and I were very close. We talked every other day and we saw each other very frequently, but somewhere in my growing up process during college, we lost that. Our lives are supposed to be fluid like water. We move, swell, expand, churn, and change with each bend, rapid and waterfall. Somewhere in his life, he just stopped moving. He became a rock glued into the muddy bank of the river. Everyone else kept flowing past him, but he refused to move. His little girl grew up, but he couldn't acknowledge that because it would involve shifting from the comfort of his mud cavity in the riverbank. When he looks at me, the daughter he sees isn't the daughter that is in existence. He creates his own image of a person that he can love or be angry at because it is easier than accepting the fluidity of the water around him. He likes to think that his daughter is a quiet little girl; a recluse that will never marry, have friends, or do anything wrong; someone overweight; and as a brainiac, so anytime I try to talk about what is happening in my life, he ignore me. His image of me is comfortable and he can see his own reflection in it, so he won't listen to anything that will force him to abandon this image of me. He wants me to be him so that he won't feel like the only one that is stuck. I can't be around him anymore because after I see him he tears me down so much I feel miserable about myself and start to believe that his image of me is truth. For a long time, I would take the feelings of disease and death when I was around him because he is my dad and family is the most important thing to me, but it has gotten to the point that he wrecks so much havoc on my emotional health that until he choses to see the person that I have become, I am going to have to limit contact with him. I thought that by sticking out the emotional abuse I could pull him out of his rut and get him moving with flow of things again, but he has buried himself so deep in his hole that he won't budge. He has to make the choice to rejoin the flow of water and until he does, he will not keep me there in his hole. I chose the exuberance of life that comes with fluidity over the fear, sadness, death, and disease that comes with stagnance.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lost is a State of Mind

During the past couple of months I have discovered how much your state of mind reflects the state of your life. I feel like I am traveling in a boat through life's ocean and my mind controls the conditions. When I don't think about where I "should" be or where other people expect me to be, I know my boat is heading in the right direction and I am exactly where I need to be at that moment in time. The second I start to question my decisions about the route I've taken, which primarily occurs after looking at where my peers are or when I think about people's expectations of my voyage, thick fog and tall, powerful waves roll in. The waves toss my boat in every direction and I lose control. The fog limits my visibility, causing navigating to be difficult and I get overwhelmed deciding which direction I should go to get out of the fog. There are so many options and I don't know exactly where I want to end up. The further I think into the future, the more fog rolls in, blanketing me with anxiety. I convince myself that I am lost, so it becomes my reality. When I do stop thinking so much about the future and start enjoying where I am right now, the fog clears and I realize that I'm not actually lost. It was all in my mind. You can't be physically lost because all life is made of is a bunch of experiences. Every experience is beneficial and creates your ocean. Life may take you on a completely different path than what you had originally intended, but you will end up where you need to be. Our journeys are all different, but in the end the ocean brings us to the same place. It is our choice whether we navigate through the fog and waves or through calm water with the sun smiling down upon us.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Planting a Seed and Successfully Growing a Tree

A year and a half ago I planted an acorn. I watered it, nurtured it, and sent it all of my positive energy to it in hopes that it would grow into a beautiful, strong and courageous oak tree. I waited patiently, knowing that the life inside a seed takes time and the right conditions to be awakened, but too much time had gone by without any sign of the acorn ever opening it's eyes to the light of the world. It got to the point where I gave up on my little acorn. I thought I had picked a dud acorn that would never sprout life, so I started looking for a new seed to plant. Months had gone by since I had given up hope on a tree ever growing when an unexpected green sprout started to emerge from the soil. I was so excited when I saw the growth I could hardly contain myself, but I didn't tell many people because it was too early to tell if this sprout was a tree or just a weed. If it was my tree, the timing was perfect. I had just lost my companion and my current scenery was getting to be overly explored. I was ready to dedicate all of my time and energy into this tree and explore all of it's branches. After a week went by, the sprout had grown enough to tell that the growth was indeed a tree. My initial reaction was surprising. I immediately burst into tears, and not tears of joy. They were tears of disappointment. I had been waiting for this moment for a year and a half and it was finally here, so why was I disappointed? I mean what did I expect? An instant full grown tree? It made me question my intention for planting the acorn in the first place. I felt selfish for not wanting to give this tree a chance and I couldn't provide a clear answer of why I didn't want to help this tree grow and reach it's full potential. I wasn't scared of it or unsure if I would be able to make it grow, it just didn't feel right, so I started observing this tree more closely; smelling it, touching it, tasting it, meditating next to it. I was spending so much time with this tree trying to figure out what I was going to do, and I was starting to get sick. While meditating and taking in all of the information I was getting from my observations, it occurred to me that this wasn't my tree. This wasn't the oak I planted, but a juniper which had somehow managed to kill my acorn to make room for itself. Yes, it was a tree, but not my tree, and on top of it all, I'm allergic to junipers. So I was then faced with a choice; do I dedicate 27 months of my life to this tree which needs my help, knowing that those will be the hardest 27 months of my life, but in the end coming out a stronger person or do I plant another seed and wait for my oak tree, the tree that I'm really passionate about? Deep down I knew what my decision would be, but people were playing a huge roll in my decision making process. They thought I was crazy for not wanting to jump at the opportunity to help this tree grow because I should take my chance on this tree while I know there is something growing there. Junipers have branches to explore too, they told me. They didn't understand why I would abandon this tree just because it was making me feel sick. In the end, it is my life and my decision. I don't have a good feeling about this juniper and this isn't a tree that I'm passionate about, so when it comes to helping this tree, I won't be putting all of my energy into making it grow healthy and strong. I would rather plant another acorn and wait for a tree that will I love and want to help, not because I feel obligated to. It will be just as much work and just as hard to get it to grow and flourish, but facing the hardships knowing that the end product will be the beautiful oak I wanted in the first place will make it worth it. In the end, there is someone out there who is really passionate about that juniper and will dedicate themselves to helping that tree reach it's full potential.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Confidence vs. Ego

Confucious describes a superior man as "modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions." Ego is often mistaken as confidence because it is so vocal. Ego has a loud mouth and uses words as a big shield for all of the insercurites that a person possesses. It is easy to hide behind words and to use them to create an image for yourself. Vocalizing what you want to be percieved as forces approval from others, which is necessary for the ego to keep functioning. Without the words as a foundation, the structure of the person crumbles. Confidence, on the other hand, is a silent, free standing structure. It doesn't need words to hold it up. It is the energy a person gives off. Confident people live their lives how they want and don't need the approval of others. They do things because those activities make them happy, not because they have a reputation to uphold. They don't need to tell people how awesome they think they are because they are just happy being. When I think about confidence, the first person that comes to mind is one of my friends from Colorado. He is one of the studliest people I have ever met... Longs Peak trail crew stud, hardcore climber, and crazy thrill seeking extreme sports man, but he doesn't go on and on about how great he is. He's nice to be around because he doesn't make you feel like you're a wimp. Most of the time you would never even know how crazy athletic he is unless you asked him what he did that day. He wouldn't even brag his responce. It would be a no big deal "I decided I would hike 4 peaks today, but then it ended up being a run up 4 peaks because a storm was moving in." He didn't need my approval or look of awe to make the experience worth while. That's a person who's comfortable with themself. It's not the person wandering around pronouncing how attractive they think they are and all the things that they've accomplished. They need their ego to hide behind and because they aren't comfortable with themself and they need the approval of others to make what they did mean anything significant. So now I conclude with this question... If you really think you are attractive or good at something do you really need other people to reassure that fact?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Finding Our True Selves

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.  -e.e. cummings

One of the biggest challenges in life is discovering the people we are rather than creating the people that are acceptable to others. People need to be accepted or perceived as a certain type of person, so instead of just being who we are, we rely possessions and words to define us. We use a label, like "climber," "metal-head," or "artist," to define us. Our lives then revolve around that label. We buy certain things, shop certain places, wear a certain brand of clothing, dye our hair a certain color, and we only partake in activities that are suiting to the image we want to give off. We can basically create a person that we want to be. When I was in Alaska on a NOLS trip, I saw what happens when people are stripped of their labels and material possessions. We were a group of people from different backgrounds sent out to brave the Alaskan wilderness as a team. When we were in the backcountry, you couldn't tell who was the hippie or who was the frat boy. We all looked the same; dirty and wearing rain jackets, hats, hiking pants, and boots. Our looks and our possessions didn't matter. Our true selves were exposed because we didn't have anything to hide behind. We had what we needed to survive and that was it. We didn't talk about who had the most high tech phone or what brand of jeans was our favorite. Those things weren't important anymore, so it opened up the conversation to deep and meaningful subjects. Real friendships were developed based on who we were as people, not by our possessions or our image. After we got back into society after a month, it was weird seeing everyone dressed in their everyday clothes and talking about the car they owned or the job they had to go back to. It was like that wasn't them. It was then I learned that people who live off of the bare minimum are their true selves. Possessions and labels don't define them, they are just living and being. Living in nature with the bare minimum is key in overcoming the challenge of discovering our true selves. When you have nothing to hide behind, all that is left is you.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead

I read once that the hurt of letting a person walk out of your life shouldn't leave a scar or sway you from leaving them, but rather make you realize that if you wanted to be with the wrong person so bad, how beautiful it will be when the right person comes along. Letting the wrong person go is hard. There is so much pain involved and fear of what life will be like when that person is gone, especially if that person has been in your life for a while. We get into a routine and settling for familiar or comfortable is easier than the risk of never finding love again. We stay in relationships with the wrong person and tolerate being treated poorly because we don't want to be alone, we are manipulated into believing no one else will love us, we think we will never feel that way about anyone else, for financial reasons, or we like the image of the relationship. I don't know what real love looks like for everyone, but I can say that real love manifests when there are no selfish feelings involved and when any image of what we want the person to be or what we want to portray to the people around us disappears. Real love doesn't ask whats in it for me. It occurs when manipulation stops and when we think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to us, giving unconditionally because we love the person, not because we want the person to love us. The other person's happiness is just as important as our own. We accept another for their true self and don't twist them to create our own version of the person. We love them for their real image rather that the reflection of ourselves that we find in them. We all deserves real love and it is out there for anyone willing to find it. The pain of leaving the wrong person will be worth it when we find the right person and get a taste of what real love feels like. We just have to find courage to leave an unsatisfactory relationship. There will always be love waiting for us and when we are ready to find it, it will come into our lives. We just have to let the wrong person walk out of our lives to make room for the beauty of the right person.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I am not a Robot

It's easy to go through life on autopilate. When life gets hard, it takes little work to fall into a routine and walk mindlessly through each day. It doesn't take more than a minimal amount of energy to roll out of bed in the morning, go for the daily run on the same route, go to a dead end job that takes no brain power to do, come home and spend time with a significant other that you are settling for, go to bed and then do it all again the next day. This lifestyle is comfortable because it's stagnant and there are no risks. We are guarenteed to succeed because there are no challenges to bring us down. Why try something new when you know you can do the things that you are doing? When we start setting goals, trying new things, and breaking out of the routine, there is a fear of failure or a fear of the unknown. Lately I've been finding myself falling into this routine. My life has been stagnant the past couple of months and I have myself to blame. I have a list of goals about ten goals and I've only started working towards the ones that take the littlest amount of energy and don't diverge far from my normal routine. I look at the list every day and expect that just reading them is going to magically make them happen. Unfortunately that's not how it works. I'm not going to wake up one day without ever practicing and be able to play the mandolin or go out climbing after no training and be able to clean send a 5.11. Goals take work and you have to put energy towards them. I'm usually a very goal driven person. When I set my mind to something, I make it happen, but after the recent Peace Corps disappointment, I got so down that I felt like I wasn't capable of doing anything. I looked at my list of goals and they seemed impossible and like routes to failure and more disappointment. Routine was easier than figuring out how to accomplish my goals. My comfort zone wasn't a happy place to be, but at least there was no disappointment. I settled for the robotic lifestyle until recently I was going for a long bike ride and I realized that the human mind is designed to be in constant change. We are suppose to learn and push the boundaries of our comfort zone to live a completely statisfying life. The times I have been the happiest in my life have been times that I have overcome conflict and accomplished one of my goals. Being a robot was more devistating to my mental health than any sort of failure. Fighting to make our goals happen may be hard at first and there will be challenges. We may even fail, but staying dedicated and pushing forward will pay off with time and changes will start to occur and there will be success. The trick is knowing that failures teach us how to find success. Success is always there, it may just take some extra searching to find. In the words of Confucious, "When it is obvious that the goals can't be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Looking in the mirror and wishing the reflection was different

I wish an entire day would pass where every time I looked in the mirror I would be happy with the reflection staring back at me. Most of the time I almost don't look at that person in the mirror because I don't like what I see. Usually the person staring back at me has chipmunk cheeks, a double chin, thunder thighs, and a pudgy stomach and the person I wish I saw, the cute, tiny girl with the 6-pack abs, is no where in sight. Even more painful than looking in a mirror is getting on a scale. Every time I do it my heart feels like it's about to beat out of my chest and I turn purple from holding my breath because I'm so scared of what the numbers are going to read.
It's amazing how much I think about my weight. If I could change anything about myself, the only thing would be my weight. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is look in the mirror and see what the damage from yesterday's food has done to my reflection. I then find an outfit that is least likely to show that I have a stomach. Throughout the day, every time I eat when I'm around someone I get self conscious and I feel like they are judging me. The worst is when I first meet someone and tell them I'm a runner. If they are surprised I automatically assume it's because of the way I look. I'm tired of the negative weight thoughts continuously cycling through my mind. Why can't I be happy with the way I look and why do I feel so much pressure to be stick thin?
I believe that a lot of that pressure comes from a combination of my sensitivity and growing up with and extremely athletic family. Both of my mom's brothers and their wives race in marathons, triathlons, and adventure races. As if just doing the race isn't studly enough, they generally place. My uncles are tall and slim and my aunts are teeny tiny, so it definitely shows how active they are. Before I see them, I always feel extreme pressure to lose a bunch of weight just to gain their acceptance. The only time I felt like I measured up to them at all was after my first season working as a park ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park. After that summer, I was 10 lbs. thinner than I am now. In my 3 1/2 months working in the Rockies I hiked 350 miles on top of running regularly and eating very little. I remember getting off of the plane and my aunts and uncles were actually impressed when they saw me. It felt so good to finally feel like I was one of them.
I also have a lot of pressure coming from my dad. Every time I see him he always makes a comment about my weight, if I'm exercising, or what I've been eating. It hurts when your own father tells you that it looks like you've gained some weight or you are going to get fat because you're not working out. After enough times of hearing it, I can't help but start to believe it.
I've come a long way from a few years ago. I broke the neck of my femur from over training and not enough nutrients (after my summer in the Rockies), which forced me to re-evaluate my exercise and diet habits and come to terms with not being able to exercise for a few months. I am happy with the way I look sometime and I try to find things about myself that I do like. I also try to appreciate all the things that my body does for me. I am healthy and I can run, climb, do yoga, and hike. I just wish the little voice in the back of my head nagging me to be skinnier would disappear forever. One day I'm hoping that I will wake up and never be unhappy about my body again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fighting the Inner Battle

"Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We wouldn't be as strong as what we could bave been. Give every opportunity a chance, leave no room for regrets." -Unknown

For the past 18 years my life has had a clear purpose. Every fall since I was four years old, I have packed up a backpack with books, pencils, and paper and spent the following nine months in a classroom taking notes and studying subjects from art and music to science and math in persuit of a college degree. Now that I have that 9x12 piece of cardstock with "Aubrey Nicole Tamietti Bachelor of Science in Biology" printed in bold lettering across the center of the page tucked away in my closet, the question I keep asking myself is what is my new purpose?
I graduated this spring with big plans for adventure and dreams of bringing good to people in need. A week after graduation, I hopped on a plane and spent a month backpacking and sea kayaking in the Alaskan wilderness doing a little soul cleansing before a 27 month assignment teaching science with the Peace Corps in Africa. I was set up to come home from Alaska mid-June, have a few weeks of recovery time, packing and goodbyes and then was schedualed to leave mid-July for Africa. If there is one thing that I have learned in life, it is that you can't always rely on plans. Natural disasters are unpredicatable and uncontrollable and can break down the sturdiest of plans.
My natural disaster came in the form of federal budget cuts. A few days after I got back from Alaska I got an email from the Peace Corps placement desk saying that due to a lack of funding my program had been cut and I wouldn't be able to leave until January of 2012 at the earliest. I had no reinforecement or flexibility in my plan, so when the natural disaster hit I was thrown into a deep, dark hole with no sense of purpose.
Now, I am stuck in this hole trying to find my purpose to shed some light on the way out. It's a lonely place down hear since my Flagstaff friend base has diminished significantly since graduation. People have moved away, are still in school or they have moved on with their lives, so I have found myself alone a lot trying to figure out how to get out of this hole and fighting an inner battle with my emotions. Tears have become my steady companion and will join me unexpectedly during a run, while I'm biking home from work, or even at the grocery store.
Even though the battle is hard and tears aren't my most valued companion, I know that this emotional battle won't last forever and eventually tears will not show up so regularly. I have a firm belief that things happen the way they're suppose to and when the timing is right adventure will come for me. There are obviously still experiences that I need to have here in this hole before I can find my way out. When the day comes when I can climb out of this hole, I will be a stronger person and have learned the lessons I need to help me tackle whatever other natural disasters come at me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Climbing Longs Peak

For the past two summers I have worked as a park ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park. I had the privilege of living in a house that overlooked the continental divide and I stayed in the room of all rooms. Two of the walls were windows that looked right out over Longs Peak (the only 14er in the park) and every morning I woke up to a gorgeous view of the sun beaming across the peak. It was smiling at me and calling me to come explore. I felt like I would be betraying the mountain if I didn’t summit it, even if getting to the top would be difficult.
The journey started 1:30 am with the sound of my alarm. My friend Julie and I anxiously forced down some cereal, grabbed our packs and headlamps, and headed out the door to make our second attempt up Longs Peak. I looked at the sky, trying to get some sense of whether there were clouds socking in the mountains, but it was too dark to tell. At the end of the previous season we had attempted Longs and were unable to make it past the keyhole (the transition point of trail where it turns from a hike to a scramble) because it began to snow, causing the last two miles to be too dangerous to attempt. We were both hoping that the weather would cooperate and this attempt wouldn’t end with the same disappointment.
It was a little before 3 am when we reached the trail head and began the 8 mile, 4,850 foot elevation gain trek up to the summit. The first 6 miles were hiked completely in the dark. It is a completely different experience just using the light from your headlamp to get up trail. You can’t see your surroundings or what the terrain is like up ahead, so it makes the journey much more exciting. Also, because Longs Peak is such a popular trail (on a typical day in the short window where the peak goes non technical there are around 200 hikers that attempt the peak), you can see all the headlamps in the distance zig- zagging up the mountain. It is an amazing site.
We reached the keyhole right as the sun was peaking up over the horizon. Deep red, orange, and yellow streaked the sky and below us was an amazing view of the terrain we had just hiked through blindly. There were also only a few light wispy clouds in the distance. We were thrilled and began to prep ourselves for the intense scramble up to the summit.
From the keyhole to the summit, the “trail” is split into four sections. The first is the ledges, where, as noted by the name, you are hiking on a ledge. We got through that section with no problems and made our way to the trough, which is sometimes considered to be the most strenuous portion of the trail. There is loose rock and it’s extremely steep, so your legs really have to work. My legs were burning when we reached the top of the trough, but the summer of hiking had been good preparation and it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. I was beginning to think that this hike wasn’t as bad as most people portrayed it as. After the trough, we reached the narrows. This section was a little more frightening because the trail narrows down to about three feet wide and there is a drop off on one side. We were lucky that we were ahead of the crowds, because it was fairly easy to pass across without fighting all the people. Finally, we hit the homestretch, the most exposed portion of the trail. Because of the mass amount of use, it has become very slick and to make it even worse, due to recent storms, there was water flowing over the steep rock face making it even more slippery. One wrong hand or foot placement and I could have slipped to my death. I was so lucky to have Julie there for support. My nerves would have got the best of me if she hadn’t been there to encourage me.
After what seemed like an agonizing eternity on the homestretch, we reached the summit at 8 am. We looked around the huge summit and were surprised to find that we were the first ones to get there that morning. What was even better was that were there by ourselves for about five minutes and there was no wind, both being rare because of the mass amounts of people that summit each day and because there is always wind due to the exposure. It was an amazing reward for everything we had gone through to get there.
A few weeks before our incredible summit, I was talking with another park employee about the places we had been in the park. For his job, he frequently rode in a helicopter which would drop him off on various peaks. He bragged about all the mountains tops he’d stood on and at the time, I was jealous that he had been on so many peaks. After reaching the summit of Longs Peak using my own hard work, I realized how much he was missing out on by skipping the journey. Even though he had been on all of those mountains, he had nothing to take away from the experience. Each peak was nothing more than a check mark on his list.
I have discovered that there are two ways to travel through life. You can take the easy route and ride a helicopter to the summit of a mountain or you can take the difficult route where you have to hike, climb, and, at some portion, crawl up the trail. Sometimes you will be clinging on to the rocks for dear life and wonder why you ever took the hard way, but in the end you will have gained an experience and feeling of self worth that you would have not gained other wise. There is no depth to the destination if we don’t make the journey, even if the journey is a hard one. A destination is just a destination without the journey that gets you there. Now when I look at Longs Peak, it’s not just an outline out my window. It is a peak that tested my limits and left a deep imprint on my soul. I know what the stream of headlamps looks like as it floats up the mountain, what the fear of falling to my death on the slippery rock on the homestretch feels like, what the thin, cool air feels like when it enters my lungs while a victory dance on the summit, and what the congratulating arms of a fellow ranger feel like when they’re wrapped around you when you return to the trail head. I have truly lived the experience and I wouldn’t trade the fear or physical strain for anything. The glory wasn’t just about being on the summit. It was about the entire journey starting at 1:30 am, all the way up to the summit and back down to the trail head. The journey created a much more rewarding experience than if I would have taken the easy route and just stood on the peak.