Monday, December 28, 2009

identity and listening

As the year comes to a close, I feel like I should offer some profound, epically relevant and moving commentary on just how much these last twelve months have held for me, as a person and as a climber. In the same moment, I feel that trying to do that would just end up sounding trite and probably inadequately catalog just how full this year has been. I'll try anyways.

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed by the heady awareness of growth. This year, especially, I have been confronted with the stability of my own identity. As I've settled more and more into "me", whatever that actually means, I've been met with markedly more polarized reactions. I've decided (though I can't pinpoint when exactly) that I make no apologies for who and how I am. Does it mean I am static, decidedly without movement? Certainly not. It means I take each day for what it is, and that I seek out all the cracks and crevices and corners, trying not to categorize or stereotype or overanalyze but instead to just listen. I've spent far too many years of my relatively short life NOT listening to myself and not listening to what I need, to be mentally and physically and emotionally healthy. Sometimes, what I need is a good run around the block; other times, a few hours alone with a book; and, other times, a good conversation about faith and life over a tasty cup of tea. And in that listening, I feel better. I feel content.

And somehow, in the middle of all of this, I've become THAT girl...the one to whom people say "you're doing what the rest of us wish we could". This totally baffles me. Don't get me wrong, I'm flattered by such comments, but I'm no different. I'm no more, no less. I'm no braver, and certainly no better. Without sounding self-demeaning, I am normal. There's nothing particularly special about me. I have merely chosen to listen. When my chest gets tight at the thought of snowy mountain ranges and impossibly blue alpine skies, I just listen. I just enjoy that moment of my life, soaking it up and breathing it in.

Those moments have managed to arrange themselves into a series of sweet memories, of nostalgia-triggering adventures. I count myself duly blessed by the new friends I've had the privilege of meeting this year, many of them through Twitter and still others elsewhere. People like Rick (@RikRay) and Eileen (@rockgrrl), who ever so graciously included me on their Yosemite adventures this summer, teaching me not only to place cams and set anchors, but also to watch and trust and ask questions. To always ask questions. And Nina (@nsmonkeygirl), with whom I've shared many a comedic error (parking tickets, epic walk offs), or sweet Sara (@theclimbergirl), whose hug is like that of a friend you've known for decades. These warm people, among MANY others, have been central to my development as a climber and really, as a "grown up", whatever that means. My mom keeps telling me I am one, so I guess I had better figure out a way to define that in a way that works for me, right?

In what marks my first full year as a "climber", I've met many goals, both mentioned and unmentioned. I've been enveloped more fully in the outdoor community, feeling like I've finally figured out where I fit in the scheme of adulthood stereotypes.

This year, I started grad school, I quit my job, and I drastically changed my living situation. I went on my first interstate, for-the-hell-of-it solo trip involving trains and airplanes, and I learned to skydive. In all of that, I came to understand that a successful measure of time has nothing to do with how many minutes or hours or days or weeks are part of it, but how honestly and fully I live that time. I've been a student, a babysitter, a daughter, a success, a failure, an inspiration, a friend, and a convention. I've slept too little and talked too much.

Given that 2009 has been a self-percieved success, I hope for 2010 to hold just as much adventure and promise and potential. Mostly I just choose to wake up tomorrow and be in each moment as it comes, decidedly optimistic and characteristically stubborn. With that, good night and blessed dreams for your new year!


  1. Love and hugs. I could use paragraphs 2 and 3 verbatim in my own story, but I won't.

    I'm so pleased you're a part of my world, my fellow non-adrenaline-junkie.


  2. Like I told you last night, you energize me and fill me with inspiration. I admit that I am one of those people who thinks you're something more than "normal." Maybe that's only because, despite the fact that you ARE normal, you're one of the few people I know who really LIVES her life and listens to herself. So many people I know worry about finding their little pigeon hole to live in, not stepping outside any boundaries, and not raising any eyebrows. I feel like I've been raised that way and surrounded by a lot of people who think that way, and I've always felt somewhat smothered by negativity. When, nearly two years ago, I made a vow to start exercising and lose weight, the ONLY person who thought I would last longer than two weeks was Sharon. And, over the past several days, I've come to realize why Sharon liked having you around ;) And I know that you've got plenty of other wonderful, positive, energetic friends. I've still got a long way to go in my journey to stop wishing and start doing, but I am VERY glad to have found you when I did, KB.

  3. I've very happy to have gotten to know you these past few months, Katie Beth! Our little Twitter climbing community has been an amazing source of positive energy, especially in days like these. You're making realizations that I think it takes decades for some to observe, and I think it's wonderful.

    Here's to 2010 and with 1,000% certainity that we'll find ourselves on a remote rock somewhere, spotting each other again. :)

    love, TR

  4. Sara: My response to you would be best expressed in person via facial expression and hug, so I'll leave it at that.

    John: Sharon's a pretty neat person, eh? I consider myself EXTREMELY blessed to have not only met her, but lived with her. Her influence on my life is profound and treasured. Makes sense that you two would be friends...;)

    Tiffany: Oh holy night. Do you even KNOW how glad I am to have met you? I so very much wish that I lived close enough to you to see you with ANY regularity, and I echo your sentiments towards 2010--let's shake things up, okay? #tacklehug

  5. I love your posts Katie, some parts I feel like I could write them myself, others I think that I *have* written them but just years ago and still others I think I may write in the future.

    I love sharing climbing with you and look forward to our upcoming adventures!

  6. oh gosh, you two stop. John, I can't believe I was the ONLY person who thought you'd make it, but I do like to say "IN YOUR FACE" to Paul... haha your personal triumphs allow me some gloating privledges, however strange that is.
    and, my dearest KB- I've said before, and I'll continue to say, you and KC saved me when you moved in with me that bizaare spring semester. And while many personal struggles continued to occur on all ends, I have loved watching you grow- you are "that girl" and while you say you're no different, I beg to differ. You have definitely embraced your inner you, but you've also managed to strip away pieces of you that were only out to please other people. I think you've discovered in the process that by pleasing yourself you do still, most of the time, please other people- but you've let go, and in turn grown. And I love and am inspiried by you, because of it :)

  7. ps please excuse my many spelling errors in the above post. I'm still sleepy and was freewriting... didn't check over anything I wrote until now *ew* not at my best.