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When Winter Becomes Unbearable

Thank God we’ve had some warmer days… I know I haven’t written in a while, but of course, as predicted, I’ve been struggling- with winter. In a previous blog entry I said I was going to make this winter the best winter ever! That indeed did not happen… and unfortunately winter isn’t over-yet. So I have to try to get on with it, and still try to turn things around. Last year I made a long list of activities to do in the winter and then I divided into three categories: low energy, moderate energy and high energy. When one struggles with depression or an eating disorder, there are many days when opening a book is too taxing. I pray this list will help you find ways to get through winter. Keep your chin up, it eventually has to end!

Low Energy:

  • Workout: Bike and Read, Hot Tub, or Steam Room
  • Plan Dream Vacations (Pinterest For Inspiration)
  • Research New Exciting Places in the World
  • Pinterest a New Craft, Recipe, or Fashion
  • Read By a Fire
  • Light Candles and Read
  • Light Candles and Listen to Music
  • Find New Music
  • Window Shop Online
  • Catch up With Friends Via Text/Facebook
  • Journal/Blog
  • Make a Wish List/Shopping List
  • Phone Games
  • Computer Games
  • Look on Twitter/Instagram
  • You Tube Different Exercises (NOT Diets)
  • You Tube Jenna Marbles (She’s Hilarious!)
  • You Tube Motivational Clips (“The Ultimate Motivational Clip- Rise and Shine!”)
  • Read Your Daily Bible Verses
  • Listen to the Bible Via YouVersion
  • Look Up Neat Restaurants by Reviews or Open Table App
  • Check Out StumbleUpon App
  • Look at Etsy
  • Make Plans with Friends
  • Dream Up Tattoo

Moderate Energy:

  • 30-50 Minutes Cardio or Weights
  • Catch Up on Work/Homework
  • Do Etsy or Pinterest Craft
  • Shop My Closet: Put Together Cute Outfits
  • Listen to a Sermon
  • Build a Blog or Website
  • Knitting
  • Drawing/Painting/Doodling
  • Bake or Cook
  • Pedicure/Manicure/Facial Masks
  • Play With Hair and Find New Hair Dos
  • Clean
  • Foam Roll Your Tight Muscles
  • Meditate
  • Window Shop for Dream House
  • Learn New Language
  • Go to a Coffee Shop
  • See a Movie With a Friend
  • Go to Dinner with Family or Friend
  • Luxurious Bath-Bubbles, Candles, Music, Book, Drink
  • Girls Night Movie In
  • Listen to a TED Talk

High Energy

  • Workout With A Friend
  • Paint
  • Bake for Friends/Coworkers/Family
  • Organize Something
  • Home Improvement
  • Dance In Your Living Room/Bedroom
  • Watch a Local High School Game or College Game With Company
  • Go to a Professional Sports Team Game
  • Read About Finances/Investing
  • Rock Climbing w/ Friends
  • Play Sport Indoors
  • Bible Study
  • Volunteer at Church
  • Stretch Until You Can Do the Splits
  • Get Dressed Up and Go Out to Eat or a Play
  • Happy Hour With Friends
  • Museums/Art Galleries
  • Shopping
  • Snow Tubing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross Country Ski
  • Stay In a Cabin
  • Babysit
  • Visit Family
  • Put Things Online For Sale
  • Host Board Game Night
  • Mentor a Teenager
  • Host a Dinner Party

These are just a few ideas! Print it off and hang it up on your refridgerater or the back of your bedroom door. Make it seen, because what is unseen is forgotten. Explore new areas and reignite old passions!

What helps you get through the blues?

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#53 Kit Carson Peak & #54 Challenger Point: October 3rd, 2015

Kit Carson Peak & Challenger Point

  • Kit Carson Height:14,165 ft.
  • Challenger Point Height: 14,081 ft.
  • Range: Sangre De Cristo
  • Kit Carson Route: East Ridge
  • Challenger Route: Challenger to Kit Carson in reverse
  • Distance from Trailhead to Camp: 3.4 mi.
  • Distance from Camp to Both Summits and Back to Camp: Roughly 8.2 miles (GPS died for a short time)
  • Elevation Gain from Camp: 4,300 ft. (I think this is wrong because I’m not sure if they add the loss and gain)
  • Time started: 8:25am
  • End time: 6:30pm
  • Time to Summit Kit Carson: 4 hours and 5 minutes
  • Time to Descent (Back to Camp) from Challenger: 4 hours
  • GEAR (to bring):
    • Bear spray, GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, Topo Map from 14ers.com, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat, light weight puffy coat, warm hat, lightweight gloves, day pack with water sack (100 oz or more), snacks.
  • Road Condition: With a little guts, my sedan was able to make it all the way to the upper trailhead- barely. It’s very bumpy and plenty of opportunities to bottom out unless you know what you’re doing and have plenty of experience.
  • Trail Condition: Walk up the road from the upper trailhead 2.65 miles until you see the sign wooden sign on the right for the Humboldt standard route. I camped at 3.4 miles in and that’s the start of many more campsites to come. There are a couple wet areas, but nothing to sweat. Walk past the South Colony Lake, and when you reach the Upper Colony Lake look for a trail leading to the right and up the mountain side. You’ll come to a saddle and turn LEFT. Climb over the BACKSIDE of Point 13,290. It’s easier and will block you from the wind. Once at Bear’s Playground, look for the cairns as they will lead you beautifully across the meadow (you’ll never have to actually summit Obstruction Peak). There is a path that will come and go up Kitty Kat Carson, but just climb to the top of that one and you’ll barely notice climbing along the ledges of Columbia that you even climbed another named peak because it’s such a short distance. The pictures from 14ers.com make the next section look very intimidating, but the ridge to Kit Carson isn’t bad and with care, you can safely make it down the gully without too much trouble (mostly solid rock). As confusing as it sounds in the directions, once you’re there, it’s fairly straightforward. I only took the directions out once to check out how they recommended climbing up the last stretch of Kit Carson (lots of loose rock). ONCE YOU’RE READY TO MOVE ONTO CHALLENGER: Backtrack down the same way you came up Kit Carson only head to the right instead of the left (to go back the way you came). You’ll see a purplish, brownish, fairly wide trail to follow around Kit Carson. In a short time you will see Challenger and it’s straightforward from there to reach the summit of Challenger Point.

After the disappointing news of Alix not being able to take me up the Spanish Creek to conquer my last three mountains, I immediately started plotting alternative routes. It was now Friday morning, and I only had two days before my mom was coming. I decided I’d go back to the South Colony Lakes to climb Crestone Peak. It was 14 miles long, and I figured I could hike the whole thing that day. I knew I wouldn’t get done until the middle of the night, but I didn’t care. I was going to do what I had to, to finish this.

I stopped in Westcliffe and continued to look at the routes because I just had this feeling while I was driving over that there had to be a better way to get Kit Carson and Challenger Point. My original thought was to drive all the way back over from where I came and take the Willow Creek Approach. Upon further research I found that I could hike to Kit Carson from South Colony Lakes, but it didn’t have directions on how to get to Challenger Point from there. I decided I’d use what I had, and try to follow the directions in reverse (from the standard route: Challenger to Kit Carson).

I was so relieved that I wouldn’t have to drive all the way back over to the town of Crestone over two hours away. However, taking the East Ridge route to Kit Carson would be an absolute exhausting route: first I would have to climb over Point 13,290, then climb along the lower ridge of Obstruction Peak, then climb up and over Kitty Kat Carson, then climb a short distance over Mount Columbia, then climb up to my first destination Kit Carson Peak, then finally to Challenger Point and do it all over again in reverse.

That night I hiked in to camp once again carrying my annoying overnight pack and literally cradling my Wal-Mart tent in my arms the whole way. I only hiked in 3.4 miles to one of the first campsites I found. I couldn’t stand walking another step. The hike in was haunting and the wind blew so powerfully. It made me so incredibly uneasy about the climb the next day… “What if the winds are too strong and I can’t make it?” I set up my tent and somehow quickly fell asleep.

I woke up the next morning paralyzed by the same fear the next morning with thoughts of not making it to the summits that day. “What if it’s too windy? What if it’s absolutely freezing? What if I can’t find my way? I have to get it today, or I run out of time.” It was as if I was already experiencing failure before it even happened.

Despite my fears I did the next best thing, much like recovery, and just started going through the motions of getting ready for the hike and tried to put out the thoughts of negativity. Before I knew it I was outside my tent ready to take a chance.

Put on a smile, think happy thoughts, and you're already half way there- seriously!

Put on a smile, think happy thoughts, and you’re already half way there- seriously!

As I hiked to the Upper Colony Lake, the wind started to blow and ripped through the leave of the trees and as I got higher, it only got worse. Once I reached the saddle between Humboldt and Point 13,290 it became the windiest. My head down, hood up, I hiked step after step in the wind until I could hide behind the ridge. Although 14ers.com hardly talks about this ridge, it is definitely worth noting. It was an exhausting ridge with lots of climbing and it takes a lot of time even though it is only .4 miles long. I was so cold and miserable, but still pushing to go further.

Once I got to the Bears Playground (a large meadow high in the mountains) the wind was nearly strong enough to blow me over, but I kept going. I wasn’t having any fun at all and I was so cold, but I couldn’t give up, I couldn’t hike it another day. It was now or never for this journey. Luckily, there were cairns all along the field that lead to the easiest way possible along the expansive meadow and boulder field.  Along the way I kept looking over at Crestone Peak searching for a possible route that I could take so I could climb all three peaks in one day. It looked positively frightening, but I knew from previous climbs that what looks straight up and down, might actually not be as steep as it looks.

Once across Obstruction Peak, I could now see Kitty Kat Carson. It was an interesting looking mountain and the words “Shark Fin” kept running through my mind. I never went near the ledge since it was still windy, but luckily the wind for the remaining time that day never was intolerable again. It was a fairly easy climb to get over and the views on the other side were awesome of Kit Carson in the distance.

I didn’t even realize at one point that I had actually climbed over Mount Columbia since it’s such a short distance from Kitty Kat Carson. Once I started coming down from Mount Columbia a jagged ridge lied ahead to climb over. While I thought I was done climbing anything above class 2, it turned out I wasn’t. For the remaining time to reach Kit Carson Peak, I had to do all class 3 maneuvers.

View crossing from Mt. Columbia to the ridge which lead to Kit Carson.

View crossing from Mt. Columbia to the ridge which lead to Kit Carson.

Once again the summit was calm and beautiful. For the first time I could see the famous sand dunes past the Crestones and Challenger Point was so close I could touch it. I was so relieved that I had made it to summit number 53. I just didn’t have the confidence that it was going to actually happen!

As I moved closer to Challenger Point from the summit of Kit Carson, I could see many gullies leading down the side- except they were class 4/ class 5. I was so confused. I kept reading the directions in reverse on how to get to over there, but it wasn’t making any sense! I wasn’t seeing anything they were talking about, and they said it never exceeded easy class 3. What I was staring at was definitely not easy class 3 and made my insides want to jump out of my skin. I was stuck!

I saw other people come and go on the top of Challenger, but none of them were making their way over to Kit Carson! That is until two gentlemen started down Challenger’s slope and I stared at them below to see where they would go, but they disappeared! I sat there waiting for them for a time to see what gully they would climb up, but they never came. I called down the mountain, but no one answered. Near tears, I decided it was time to take action. I tried to go down each incredibly steep gully, but each time I went down, my senses told me to go back.

Finally, I decided on one final gully that didn’t look quite as steep as the others and started to make my way down. Carefully I scooted on my butt and climbed down the vertical wall. I didn’t have room for fear and concentrated on the next place I needed to put my hands and feet. Near the bottom I reached a dead end and had to actually scale the wall horizontally to reach a safer area. If I was going to fall, this would have been the spot. I should have had ropes, but God being with me, safely guided me to solid ground.

As I started to climb up Challenger Point I ran into two hikers, Carol and her husband who watched me climb down the entire wall. They were expecting me to be some extreme climber dude and were so surprised when they realized it was a girl in pigtail braids that descended the wall! They then pointed out a sign at the bottom that said, “DANGER! Loose rocks/ Cliff. MANY HAVE DIED”. Whoops. I told them I couldn’t figure out any other way to reach Challenger Point! I told them about my trip and Carol called me crazy- which I knew! I was so happy when she found me the next day through my blog and sent the kindest message.

 

A short climb later I was at the summit of Challenger Point, #54. Another summit I really didn’t think I was going to get. I had spent over an hour trying to figure out a way to get over there. Fortunately on the way back down I found the Kit Carson Avenue which lead around the backside of Kit Carson and met back up to where I originally climbed to get to Kit Carson Peak! No wonder I couldn’t figure it out! So now all of you know! After climbing Kit Carson Peak, climb back down the way you came up and make your way to the right and you can’t miss the Kit Carson Avenue! Climbing down the west face of Kit Carson was probably one of the scariest moments of my entire journey- I do not recommend it!

My body was getting very tired at this point, but I still had a long journey ahead of me to make it back to my camp. I had given up on the idea of climbing Crestone Peak that day as I was running out of steam and daylight. Thankfully, the wind had also died down a lot which made the hike much more enjoyable on the way back. Unfortunately once I made it back to Obstruction Point, I couldn’t find any of the cairns I so easily followed on the way in, and had to make my own way back through the Bears Playground. It was much rockier and I was having to climb through many boulders which were unstable and threw me around, but eventually I made my way fairly unharmed to Point 13,290 and then back to camp.

I had started at 8:25am that morning and didn’t arrive back at camp until 6:25pm that night and immediately I curled up in my warm sleeping bag and went to sleep, anxious, but more confident about bagging my final fourteener, Crestone Peak.

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#45 Huron Peak: September 16th, 2015

Huron Peak

  • Height: 14,003 ft.
  • Range: Sawatch Range
  • Route: Northwest Slopes
  • Distance: 6.5 mi.
  • Elevation Gain: 3,500 ft.
  • Time started: 12:05pm
  • End time: 3:30pm
  • Time to Summit: 2 hours
  • Time to Descent: 1 hour and 15 minutes
  • Overall Pace: 1.8 miles per hour
  • GEAR (to bring):
    • GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, Topo Map from 14ers.com, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat, light weight puffy coat, lightweight gloves, day pack with water sack (64 oz), snacks.
  • Road Condition: My Saturn sedan made it all the way to the upper 4WD trailhead. However, I did bottom out a couple times, but my car is okay!
  • Trail Condition: It had just rained the previous two nights, but the trail was only damp. 99% free of mud. There was also a little bit of snow collecting in the last 500 feet of elevation. The trail is easy to follow and is a series of switchbacks the entire way. It was a nice, easy hike. However, it was windy and cold.

Before I took off for Aspen, I stopped into REI and without any hesitation, they took my warn out hiking boots and told me to pick out another. It’s possible that I might be getting a stress fracture in my right foot, so I took my time with the shoe’s salesman and he helped me pick out the best pair and fit. It ended up being a pair of Keens and I bought inserts to offer extra cushion and support. It didn’t surprise me that I chose a pair of Keens, I love my summer sandals that are made for hiking in wet conditions.

As I drove to Aspen, I realized that I had forgotten to make a reservation for Maroon Bells. I tried to find an open slot, and was unsuccessful. I dreaded the thought of sleeping in my car, plus it was illegal anywhere within the park. I stopped at the Forest Ranger Station in Aspen but it had moved to a new location. I called them and asked them how I could legally camp outside of the park. They stated these two things:

  1. Has to be 1/4 mile away from a road.
  2. Has to be 100 feet away from water.

I think there was a third, but I can’t remember. She also advised me to check in on the campsites in person at the park as there may be one open. I followed her advice and was happy to find that campsite number one was open for the next two nights! “Perfect!” I thought. But while I was in town, I also took the time to check out the weather, and the forecast was horrid. Rain all night both nights into the morning. Rain in town, meant snow on the mountain. It completely changed my mood. I couldn’t help but feel unsure and anxious of what to do if it didn’t work out.

After I had just slipped my payment into the box, I noticed a large, black animal walking down the road a couple hundred feet away. It was a bear! I was so excited to actually see one! I hopped in my car and drove close enough to get a picture before it disappeared into the woods again- but it was heading in the direction of my campsite! I sat in my car a few minutes and just as I predicted he came back out on the road that lead to my campsite. He was sniffing wildly at the air and made his way to the dumpster right behind my car. He couldn’t get in, and then wondered to my trunk. Thankfully, he didn’t give it much attention and walked right past my window to the bear lock box. Once he couldn’t get in there, he meandered back into the forest, right through my campsite. I waited about ten minutes and then started to set up my tent cautiously. Somehow I still felt safe enough and that I wouldn’t be bugged by the bear anymore.

It rained all through the first night, and was still raining when my alarm clock went off at 6am, 7am and 8am. I was too scared to climb. Not only afraid of the snow, wet rocks and wind, but now it seemed too late in the day. I can’t explain the feeling I get when this sort of thing happens. Somehow, I feel stuck, and trapped and overwhelmed with anxiety and hopelessness. I was going to be set back another day. I was anxiously eating the whole evening and woke up sick to my stomach from eating too much.

For some reason, I was in a funk. Visiting my friend in Boulder reminded me of all my failed dating attempts and feelings of inadequacy. He was also doing well financially and was staying at a beautiful, luxurious place and I couldn’t help but feel like a disaster. I felt lonely. Sad to lose my hiking buddy, and overwhelmed with panic and homesickness with the changing season.

I love the fall. The leaves changing, orange pumpkins, the delicious pies, heart warming chili, fireplaces, football parties, warm sweaters and cute boots, apple orchard visits, Halloween and time with family. It still brings tears to my eyes… I’m missing it. I’m also missing one of the most important moments in my life: the birth of my nephew, Logan. He was born yesterday and all I want to do is hold him and kiss him and tell him I love him.

My brother Luke and my newborn nephew Logan.

My brother Luke and my newborn nephew Logan.

All these feelings made me reach for the things that used to once comfort me, but also brought me nothing but pain and regret: food. I drove back into town and spent $20 on binge foods and sat in my car most of the day bingeing and watching “Breaking Bad”. I don’t know why I didn’t call anyone. Sometimes it’s more painful. Sometimes it is what it is and a phone call to a loved one can’t help. I was sad and depressed, and I just wanted to numb it all and have it go away.

This trip is getting harder each day with new challenges. But I try to remind myself with tears in my eyes that this is absolutely worth it. That this will all make me stronger. That this is a once in a life time opportunity and I can do this for a couple more weeks. I can! I can! I can! I will get it together!

While still in town, I threw away all the foods that had been tempting me. I headed back to my tent still feeling quite melancholy, and tried to sleep. The next morning when my alarm went off at 6am, it was raining. 7am, raining. 8am, still raining! Instead of wasting yet another day, I made the quick decision to head to the Sawatch Range where I knew I could still get Huron Peak done that day. It was only 6.5 miles long if I could make it all the way to the trailhead and it was only a class 2 so their wouldn’t be a risk of a fall if it was wet and slippery.

I packed up my soaked tent (which leaked on me a little bit) and still being in a funky mood, I stopped at a gas station and bought way too much food. The drive through Independence Pass was gorgeous with so many trees and shrubs turning bright yellow and red. Normally I’d stop and take pictures, but I didn’t have the desire; I was still feeling down in the dumps which often kills the impact nature usually has on me.

My car had managed to make it all the way to the 4WD trailhead with a couple incidents of bottoming out. My poor car… it takes such a beating and yet she does so well. So far on this trip I’ve popped two tires, broke my ABS breaks, broke off my side review mirror (taped back on with hot pink duct tape) and broke my cruise control (ooooh how I miss it). It’ll be a miracle if it lasts another year- or a couple weeks.

I headed out on the trail at 12:05pm with my new boots on and a sky full of clouds. The forecast only said rain and I was willing to get a little rained on for the forward momentum of getting peak number 45 under my belt. I turned on my music and tried to tune into my familiar songs and the views of the enchanting forest, but I couldn’t shut out the thoughts about how fat I was feeling and how messed up I must be for no one wanting to date me.

My eating disorder has been loud since Pikes Peak. The most frequent thoughts being, “You’ll never be this fit or little ever again. Remember Cory? He didn’t want to move forward with dating you because of your body. You should have lost way more weight than you have on this trip with all the activity you’re doing- you’re such a fatty. Look, you’re already gaining weight and you’re not even done, yet.” And the voice of inadequacy saying, “You can’t even get someone to date you more than a week. What’s wrong with you? There’s something wrong with you…”

They are there, and now I can’t get them to shut up. Every word seems like truth. All these feelings and what action do I want to take? I just want to stop eating. I want to lose weight. I want to stop the voice of rejection and inadequacy and this seems like the answer.

Recovery is hard. Loving as if you’ve never been hurt is hard.

Thankfully, the wind started to blow like it did on Longs Peak and took my mind off of my defeating thoughts. It was making it so cold, but I could now see the summit and it wasn’t that far away. Near 13,600 feet, I ran into a girl who had to stop because she was having problems with altitude sickness. I felt so bad… She was so close! But she responded, “I’m okay here. The pikas and marmots are playing and are really entertaining!” “Wow”, I thought. I don’t think I’d be as content as her.

At the summit I ran into her two hiking buddies. On one hand they were kind enough to take my picture, but on the other hand one of them lit a cigarette. He asked if I wouldn’t tell his wife on the way down, but I kind of wanted to! He was polluting the summit and ruining my experience! Not only that, my cold was still present and I already couldn’t stop coughing! It was so cold and windy at the summit that I didn’t spend much time there and followed the two men back down.

Soon, I was jogging down the mountain wanting to get to Buena Vista faster, but my ankle gave out and I took a hard fall. I sat there for a moment in pain and one of the men came up behind me to help me up. We spent the next half hour talking about our hikes we had done. He was from Virginia and had climbed about 12 of them. He was trying to climb as many as he could while he was out here and luckily the altitude wasn’t bugging him.

Once we caught up to Kristen (the hiker that was dealing with altitude sickness), we parted ways. Their third was still far up the mountain and they were going to wait for him. They were so kind, and asked me to join them for dinner in Leadville, but I was heading to Buena Vista, more so, I didn’t want to eat.

By the time I got to my car, my feet were killing me. Both balls of my feet were. I think my new boots were on too tight, but it worries me as I’m supposed to climb Mount Antero tomorrow which is a 16 mile hike- nearly three times longer than today’s hike. We’ll see how it goes. As I drove away from Huron Peak, I could tell I was in a slightly better mood. I could appreciate the changing leaves and couldn’t stop taking pictures of them.

Near the freeway I had to stop because a family of Rams were crossing the road! For the first time I got to see a baby ram. It was pretty cute! I can only hope that my spirits continue to improve and that I won’t be beating myself up again all day. Pray for me in this and that my feet will last the 16 miles tomorrow!

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OMGee, I Just Applied to College to Pursue Nursing!

I haven’t told that many people, but I have had the intent on moving after my adventure. I was almost sure that I was going to move to California, but now, Colorado is back on the table. Here’s my essay:

I have hope for an amazing future. It hasn’t been the most concise path thus far, and wouldn’t be considered the most prized way of building a future, but I wouldn’t change it. Every path is unique and beautiful and every decision can be made into something unique and valuable.

Like most, I thought I had a solid plan leaving high school and was looking forward to starting my life. I entered UW-Stout to pursue my love for art and passion for playing volleyball. However, my sophomore year, my identity was crushed. I was cut from the Varsity volleyball team, and came to the rude realization that my art wouldn’t lead me anywhere that offered safety or security. I then spent the next 3 years trying to discover my calling and didn’t have much success.

In 2010, I decided to move to Colorado to try something new. As one of my gifts, I have never been afraid of starting over, or been afraid of the unknown- in fact, it excites me! After a year of working at restaurants, I had the urge for more meaning in my life. I loved coaching, and had coached volleyball for four years including a year as Head Coach of the Junior Varsity volleyball team at McDonell High School in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where my team earned the title of Conference Champions. I also loved the study of nutrition and the human body, so with my strengths in mind, I decided to apply at 24 Hour Fitness in Highlands Ranch, one of the top gyms in Colorado. I received the position as a personal trainer, and also earned the title “Rookie of the Year”, of the entire company.

No one knew, but I had been struggling with depression since I was nineteen (with the loss of identity) and at the age of twenty-four, was also struggling with an eating disorder. These struggles eventually brought me back to Minnesota where I became deeply involved in my faith. I continued as a trainer for the next year and a half, and eventually broke off and started my own personal training business. It was going well, but my eating disorder and depression sabotaged everything. I was at the point where either I got help, or I died.  By God’s grace, I found help in Belleview, Washington at a residential program called “Center for Discovery”. That place changed my life entirely. I was finally on my way to finding my true self and healing.

I went back to personal training for a while at Life Time Athletic, but having an entirely different view on what truly fulfills life, I didn’t find the work as rewarding. I wanted to help people find balance, not make them believe that they couldn’t live without me, or that their life wouldn’t be as valuable if they weren’t at a certain weight or performance level. Those beliefs nearly destroyed me.

A relapse in my eating disorder sent me into a time of deep reflection. I have always been a purpose driven person, but I was having a hard time finding my place in the world. I was also reflecting on how much the eating disorder had stolen from me, and wanted to regain my zest for life. Those two things combined sent me on the amazing journey I’m currently on. June 3rd, 2015, I left for Colorado in hopes to conquer climbing all fifty-four fourteener mountains, strengthen my relationship with God, and gain direction on where to find fulfillment in my career life.

It’s been an incredible journey which I have been blogging about in hopes to help others who also struggle with an eating disorder and those in general who need a pioneer to chase after their dreams despite the fear of the unknown. I came up with the slogan “Faith>Fear”. I’d be honored if you read some of my entries at sunshineof1985.com. This trip has been the motivation I needed to start living the life I had imagined for myself. A life of giving and of adventure.

How does Metropolitan State University of Denver fit into this equation? By helping me become an angel of the people, a nurse. Nursing fulfills my needs for helping people and using my God given intelligence. My now clearer vision of my future and grasp on my identity gives me motivation to complete the program and to do it well. Along with becoming a nurse, I also envision being an active advocate for people who struggle with eating disorders. I want to help society become more aware of the true definition of what it means to have an eating disorder. I have big plans for my future, and I hope that your esteemed college becomes a part of my future and life story.

Keep your fingers crossed and prayers of course are always appreciated!

#17 Mount Belford and #18 Mount Oxford: August 1st, 2015

Mount Belford and Mount Oxford

  • Mount Belford Height: 14,197 ft.
  • Mount Oxford Height: 14,153 ft.
  • Range: Sawatch Range
  • Route: MAKE SURE YOU PRINT OFF TWO ROUTES! Belford: Northwest Ridge; Oxford: From Mount Belford
  • Distance: Over 13 mi with mistake? Went past Belford, then back up Belford, then to Oxford, then down and back on Missouri Gulch to trailhead. (Again, I miss my GPS!!)
  • Elevation Gain: 5,800 ft.
  • Time started: 6:15am
  • End time: 2:20pm (can’t quite remember…)
  • Time to Summit Belford: 3 hours and 40 minutes
  • Time to Summit Oxford: 50 minutes
  • Time to Descent: Approximately 3 hours
  • GEAR (to bring):
    • GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Map, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard, light weight puffy coat, first aid kit, toilet paper, day pack with water (100 oz at least), food (2 cliff bars, 2 granola bars and trailsmix), sunscreen, lip balm.
  • Road Conditions: Minor potholes and a little rough in some parts, but a 2WD should have no problem making it to the trailhead.
  • Trail Conditions: Trail is straighforward, hiking on weekends makes it easy with following people. Make sure you turn LEFT at the fork with the signs to go up Belford first. The other way will take you to Missouri Mountain which can eventually bring you to Belford and Oxford, but this is a much longer route. Slippery in some areas, but never fell on my butt which is saying something.

After climbing Yale, napping and blogging (a familiar routine) I headed towards Mount Belford and Oxford. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find as far as camping, but I was hoping I could set up my tent to get a good night rest. Not far off of 390, past a beautiful glistening lake, I found a public, free campsite at Clear Creek Reservoir. I made my way around the campsite and in the back there was a very large family that had clearly been there for more than a couple weeks (the allotted time). I was annoyed but thought, “I wonder if I could make camping work for awhile to save up for a better car after this?” It wasn’t the first time I’d thought that.

I set up my camp and tried to hit the hay around 9pm. Unfortunately for me, I happened to camp right by the most rambunctious kids in the whole camp- another reason I should really stop camping at these public places. I never have an issue when I just make my own campsite. Just saying that makes me sound like I hate kids or something. Truth is I love them and I hope to have a few of my own someday! While I thought living the travel life would make me want a life without children, it’s actually done the opposite. It’s made me realize how much I do want a family. Traveling the world would be great, but I’ve always been a purpose driven person, and not having children being a part of the picture, seems somehow, empty. I think with careful planning you can have the best of both worlds.

I happened to sleep through my alarm the following morning. While I wanted to start at 4:30am, I didn’t hit the trail until 6:15. Honestly I was fighting that morning whether to climb or not and felt old familiar thought patterns arising. If the circumstance isn’t perfect, or if I oversleep, I often call myself a failure, roll over and fall back asleep to numb my feelings of inadequacy. This- has gotten me fired from jobs or nearly. This morning was different. I somehow talked myself into still getting up and going anyways. Telling myself it wasn’t perfect, but I could still make it work just fine. If I didn’t climb, I would have thrown myself into a depression and I could just hear the horrible things I would say to myself.

My body was feeling particularly sore that day- probably from the 12 hour hike a couple days ago. My legs were still burning unusually so, but my motivation was high. All through the woods were nice switchbacks, and the stream beside the trail was soothing. I was passing people until I could hear trail runners coming up behind me. They were talking as they were jogging up the trial! Their water packs were tiny! I just don’t think even after climbing all the mountains I’ll be able to do that, I don’t know if I would want to. You miss out on a lot with your head always down. But at the same time, things start looking the same through the woods and on the rocky mountain side, and it would be nice to shorten the hike up and enjoy the view longer at the top; which are always different!

Belford 26

I passed an old abandoned cabin, and just past it I emerged from the forest with views of Belford in the distance. As I got closer, I could see the switchbacks up Belford flooded with people. I could feel judgement towards myself for not being one of them and being frustrated with myself for oversleeping. We came to a junction in the road, and without much thought, or reference to my directions I trudged to my right. On and on I went jamming out to my tunes when I realized I was now on a completely different face of Belford- not at all heading towards the switchbacks up the steep side. I had gone the wrong way and was headed towards Missouri Mountain. “Great” I thought, “I started late, and I went the wrong way, my body shouldn’t do more than it should have to the way I’m feeling, and I’m doing two today so time is of the essence”. I ran down the trail and back to the junction.

I headed up the correct way up the switchbacks. I re-passed the people I had passed that morning, and ran into other people who had done the same as me. At least I wasn’t the only one. I had to stop once and massage my Achillis on my right food because it was hurting so bad with every step. Luckily it helped and I was able to make it to the peak. The peak was full of people. You’re just not going to get a summit of solitude on the weekend. However, the weather was beautiful; nice and sunny, little wind and I could sit and enjoy the view for a while. I had to be grateful for the amazing weather I had gotten this week, especially when comparing it to before I had left for Montana.

Soon I was on my way down a steep decline to get over to Mt. Oxford. This was going to be the worst part of the entire climb. Not only do you climb up one mountain, you have to go back down, only to climb up to another, then back down, then up again and the last up again, was going to be the hardest and most steep of the entire hike. It only took me 50 minutes to get to the summit of Oxford. I had a gentleman who had climbed the entire Sawatch range twice, take my picture. While I was resting, more people summitted. I was so busy talking to them, that I forgot to take panoramic photos! Still so bummed… but 14ers.com has pictures of it, so I can always look there.

While at the summit, I asked the gentleman if it would be smart to try to climb Mount Missouri. When Alix did this hike, she did all three. If I could get it done, I could save myself an entire day and gain another rest day, or finish a day early in the end. It was already noon, and he said no immediately. Another couple said they were going to try it anyways. Against the advice, I decided to tag along with Matt and Katie because they had directions. Clouds were definitely starting to develop, but I could decide when I got to the base trail of Missouri Mountain.

Matt and Katie were fast. Like, really fast. While I was huffing and puffing back up Belford, they were chatting. To my surprise, I could keep up well enough. After surveying the clouds at the top of Belford, we decided we’d take the lower Missouri Gulch junction to check it out. We ran down the entire mountain side again back down into a valley. We came to Missouri Mountain and we could now see the closer ridge and how dangerous it really was. It was so tempting because the other route makes you go all the way down the valley further, and then you have to climb 1,400 feet back up. People had died going up the more dangerous route, so with that info, I didn’t go.

We had passed people who were just coming down Missouri and had started at 4:30-6am in the morning. Clearly, this mountain wasn’t as easy as what Kate and Matt had envisioned. The clouds had now gotten darker and the people coming down all suggested it wasn’t a good idea. We discussed it for quite some time, but then crack! Thunder went off and it made my decision easy. Katie and Matt decided to wait it out, but I was coming up on seven hours of hiking, and didn’t want another twelve hour experience so I said my farewells and prayed for their safety. They said they’d message me on here whether they made it or not, I hope they do! I hope they’re okay! I hadn’t heard, but apparently a person died of a lightening strike a week ago on Yale. It’s just so sad…

I have to remember that the mountain will still be there the next day and it’s better to turn around than become another statistic. As I ran down the mountain, I was chased by four teenagers who thought they were pretty cool… or funny? My hip flexors were killing me at this point and I just wanted off the mountain as quickly as possible. My body was crying for rest and I was happy to hurry back to my campsite to sooth it. I really need to start giving my legs an ice-bath in the icy stream after my hikes!

I’m Better Than I Was

I knew this trip two week trip with family would be a challenge with food, but I have to admit that I’m struggling. But instead of giving in or falling back, I will try to remind myself of my progress I’ve made towards freedom from this disease.

I used to criticize myself 24/7.

Now I practice self-compassion.

I used to consider myself unworthy of love.

Now I know I am worthy.

My eating disorder used to encompass 95% of my life.

Now my eating disorder only has 5% of my life, maybe even less.

I didn’t want to live.

Now I’m excited for my life.

I’d rather die than tell people I struggled with an eating disorder.

Now I exclaim it as a way to be a voice for others.

I used to think I had to redeem myself for my past mistakes.

Now I know that every mistake is part of my beauty.

I used to think I wasn’t sick enough because I didn’t look anorexic.

Now I know eating disorders are a sickness of the mind and comes in all shapes and sizes.

I used to think that being sexy, successful and smart was my way to acceptance.

Now I’m coming to accept that I am enough as I am.

I thought vulnerability was a weakness.

Now I embrace it.

I thought I was a burden.

Now I know sharing my burdens deepens connections with others.

I used to think I was a bad person.

Now I know I’m an imperfect person that makes mistakes.

I used to numb for days at a time. Alone and isolated I binged until my stomach wanted to burst.

Now I use food to numb very seldom. I sit with the uncomfortable feelings, knowing it’ll pass.

I used to exercise until I’d burn a 1,000 calories.

Now the only exercise I do is for enjoyment. I NEVER count.

I used to panic when I felt full or hungry.

Now I sit with the discomfort, knowing it will pass.

I used to hate my legs.

Now I thank God for them that they are strong and able.

I couldn’t forgive myself for my life choices.

Now I’m starting to see everything has a place and the future is still bright.

I used to be ashamed of my need for medication.

Now I understand that my brain just needs a little help.

I used to think my achievements earned me love.

Now I accept the love that is mine regardless of my accomplishments.

I used to think I was unlovable.

Now I know I am deserving of love.

I used to think I didn’t fit into this world.

Now I know I was made to be different.

I used to think I had to live and be a certain way.

Now I know to follow my heart.

My identity was held in my accomplishments and failures.

Now my true identity lies in being the daughter of the Most High King.

I used to think God couldn’t reach me in my darkness.

He did, and He always can and He always will.

Progress, not perfection.

Happy 4th, Happy Freedom

On this occasion, I think it’s important to stop and give praise and gratitude for the freedoms we have in this country. But I can’t help but think about the very freedom I’m fighting for in my own life. Freedom from my eating disorder.

Climbing the 14ers is a bucket list item, a way for me to add adventure into my life. But it also forces me to look at food from a different perspective; as fuel. It pushes me to do something extraordinary that not many people can do, it declares to the devil that he will not take my life, and that I have the strength and the will to fight.

I know thus far, I haven’t really explained how my eating disorder came to be. I think it’s time to share that story. Maybe it’ll help give others who are headed down my path a reason to change directions. Maybe it’ll help other people understand eating disorders a little more.

It wasn’t until 6th grade that I struggled with my weight. Even before then, around 4th grade I can remember seeing my reflection in my elementary school windows and being embarrassed by my figure.

My unhealthy relationship with food started with a bad habit of coming home from school and eating too large of snacks before dinner, and indulging in front of the television at night. In 6th grade, I remember crying in the living room to my mother because none of my clothes fit. I already felt uncomfortable in my own skin being that I was always so much larger than the other kids. I was 5’6 in 6th grade, and stuck out like a sore thumb. My mom had done Weight Watchers in the past and it worked for her and so she invited me to start going to the groups and following the program in hopes that I would learn portion control.

I know now that this was her intention, but starting a dieting program also fed me the believable, twisted lies that I was unacceptable. The program worked for me and I lost weight. At family gatherings I can remember getting compliments. Compliments are supposed to be a good thing, but for me it meant affirmation that I wasn’t acceptable, affirmation that I was prettier and would get more attention and praise when I was thinner.

Unfortunately, on my dad’s side of the family, looks were of too much importance. I had always felt inferior to my beautiful cousins. I was always striving to fit in and keep up with them. Before every family gathering, I always went on a diet. It wasn’t so much that my cousins, or aunts fed me the thought that I wasn’t attractive; it was actually my grandpa. He was and is for the most part, a grumpy old man. But when he would see my other female cousins, his face would absolutely light-up and I couldn’t get his face to do the same with me. He was always snapping photographs, but mostly of my beautiful cousins and aunts. On one occasion, he actually told me not to smile in order to hide my braces.

All through junior high and high school it was a battle with my weight. Always fluctuating, and always using food to soothe, and exercise to undo the damage. Foods had categories of either “good” or “bad”, and heavy feelings of either success or failure. Every attempt of restricting was soon followed by times of overeating. The only thing that saved me from these patterns turning into a full blown eating disorder was my success and hard work in school and volleyball.

I had never felt attractive anywhere. I was the girl that was never asked out in junior high or high school and I was afraid of boys and their rejection. Sadly, feelings of rejection have been around as long as I can remember, even as a little girl with pigtails and ribbons in her hair. I never made eye contact with boys; too afraid that I would see the look of disgust on their faces, or laughter for me even thinking that I could gaze upon their handsome faces.

It didn’t help that I got picked on. This proves my stubbornness and need to rebel against the norm, but I remember when I was in early elementary school, I noticed that all the big, cool kids sat in the back of the bus. So I tried to sit in the back. The whole ride home I was picked on by the big kids. Leaving the bus, one of the boys pushed me down into the ground and laughed at me.

My brother, like all brothers, beat on me and called me names like “Pig Nose” and other impressionable names. His friends were typical boys and I always felt like they were laughing at me behind my back. “What a dork. I can’t believe she’s your sister”. My brother was actually popular. I wasn’t. I was friends with everyone, but was never invited, nor did I want to be invited to the drinking and hook up parties. I was far more interested in achieving good grades and making my way to the top of the volleyball team and everyone knew it. I was a “goody-two-shoes” who wasn’t even capable of swearing in their eyes. Being my true self wasn’t even an option. Every time I’d let a little bit of my silliness show, people would write me off as a dumb blonde- even my mother for heaven sakes. I only had two friends in high school who saw the real me and I’m grateful for them.

Once in college I was determined to leave that slate behind me. I made the college volleyball team at UW-Stout as a walk on. A huge boost to my self-esteem. While my teammates got drunk together, I was more concerned with getting good grades and staying in good graces with my coach. I was pretty much disregarded by most of my teammates after that. Looking back, I realize I missed the opportunity to bond with them, but in the same breath, I wasn’t willing to bend my integrity.

College was also the first time I had felt attractive in my life. Between volleyball and getting my wisdom teeth pulled, I had lost a lot of weight my freshman year contrary to the popular belief that students would gain the freshman fifteen. Every time I lost weight, I was afforded the attention from men. Every time I gained it back, it was painful.

My sophomore year of college the most devastating blow happened. I was cut from the volleyball team. I had completely lost my identity and at the same time was coming to the realization that studio art wasn’t going to take me anywhere in life. I was so lost, not to mention isolated from all my friends, who I also strived to fit in with. That year, right before Thanksgiving break, I had my first breakdown and came home early before the end of the semester. Luckily, my professors allowed me to finish the semester from home. Ever since, I have struggled with my identity, feeling accepted, and the darkness of depression.

Once I had lost purpose for working out, I began using it only as a means to control my weight. I would eat emotionally, and workout for 3 hours the next day, sometimes in the middle of the night. My body was falling apart. I had so many injuries and my body just hurt everywhere.

Between 2006 and 2008, I dropped out and re-entered UW-Stout. I was now 24 and already feeling behind in life. Most of my friends had graduated and moved on. My roommates at the time were anti-social and I felt utterly alone. One of these roommates was anorexic and bulimic. She was thin, pretty, had a boyfriend, and from what I could see from the pantry, ate whatever she wanted. It was like I had finally found the answer to all my struggles with dieting, my weight and finally being attractive to men. Occasionally vomiting up my food felt like a big middle finger to dieting. “F*%& you! Now I can eat whatever I want!”

I’ll never forget the first time I vomited my food. I was terrified and at the same time on a high. I told myself I would only use it occasionally to counteract the times I overate. At the time I was dating Dan and I confessed to him what I had done. He didn’t make a big deal about it at all. With annoyance he said his ex had done the same, rolled over and went to bed.

It was as if my mom knew right away. She noticed that I would go to the bathroom soon after meals and one day on the way into a grocery store, I asked her if I looked like I had lost weight. She said in shock, “Are you getting rid of your food?” I couldn’t help but answer back in nervous laughter. I said it wasn’t a big deal.

Not even a year into using these symptoms, it became more of a problem. I was still in denial. I didn’t “look” anorexic, therefore it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t need to be hospitalized, therefore I was in control. What first started as a way to control my consumption soon turned into a way to escape and numb any kind of stress in my life. Food had become my drug.

While living in Denver, I had the thirst to do more with my life than just drink and party. I wanted to help people and personal training felt like the natural fit. I loved fitness, I had coached 5 years, I loved the science of the human body and nutrition, and I could relate to people because of my own struggles.

I had some success with training. I was rookie of the year at 24 Hour Fitness, and when I moved back from Colorado and started training with LifeTime Fitness I reached 10k and became a level 4 trainer within a year. But it was hard, and extremely stressful. The pay was 100% commission and people came and went whenever they wanted. There was zero stability but I stuck with it for 5 years because I knew there were trainers who had made it out of poverty and into earning close to 70k.

When I tasted it, I was working 70 hours a week, and didn’t have a life. A lot of people make that sacrifice, but the free spirit in me couldn’t handle it. I was so sick during that time while I trained. I could barely make it through a shift without needing to sleep. My body was so completely messed up from all the bingeing and purging. I actually reached out to get help, but my insurance would only cover treatment if I was under 18 years old. I knew the eating disorder was going to cost me my job, and eventually it did.

I started my own personal training business called “Ideal” and it was great! I was earning the same amount of income with only 11 client hours a week. That left a lot of free time for me, and the only way I knew how to spend it was by bingeing and purging, working or hanging out with friends, which I didn’t have time to do. I was constantly plagued with the worry of clients leaving, and how I needed to find more, but too trapped by the familiar fear of rejection to even try.

That winter, I was suicidal. I finally couldn’t live with myself anymore. I felt like such a hypocrite. I was dishing out advice to clients all the time about their health and fitness and I couldn’t follow it myself. I couldn’t stop bingeing and purging, and I was finally at a place where I wanted to. I hated myself.

No one knew except my parents, and three of my best friends. I couldn’t let anyone else know. My identity was a trainer. The picture of health. I didn’t want people to look at me differently. Without my permission, my mom started telling her close friends about my current condition. I was pissed. I felt so betrayed and couldn’t see that my mom was hurting and felt so alone and helpless and needed someone to talk to. I started missing holidays because I was so sick and depressed. Finally she ended up telling all my relatives about my struggle. I was so angry. I couldn’t believe her level of betrayal. I wanted to tell them on my own watch, which would have probably been never. I couldn’t see at the time that telling people would eventually be the most liberating action of my life.

I started to look at places to I could go to for help, but first I needed insurance. Having my own personal training business meant I didn’t have any. The hoops that I had to jump through need to be saved for an entirely different blog entry. I had never pushed myself so hard, and wouldn’t accept any help. In the meantime, my binges got worse and there were even times where I was terrified my stomach would burst.

Finally, I received insurance and because I was so secretive, they couldn’t nail me as having a preexisting condition. I had tried both the Emily Program and Melrose Institute but they were full, and would be full for months. But at the rate I was going, I only had enough hope for days.

April 29th, 2013, a day before my mom’s birthday, I flew out to Belleview, Washington for residential treatment. It was actually a gift to her that I was going to be under 24 hour watch and care. She could finally sleep at night. The next 60 days were amazing. For the first time was dealing with my eating disorder and all the hurts that came with it and before it. It was a time of constant revelation. I had found people who understood me for the first time and formed friendships that would last for a life time.

The average time for a person to become “free” of an eating disorder is five years. But this also depends on how long a person has been dealing with this devastating disease. I’ve been in and out of treatment since my time in Washington. It’s quite normal to have slip ups and to even need to go back into short term treatment to interrupt symptom use. But every time I’ve had to, it’s definitely another round of self-loathing and questioning if I’ll ever get anywhere in life.

I’m at a point where I want to be done with this so badly. I’ve cried out to God to bind me while my head was hanging over the edge of the toilet. I’ve kicked, I’ve screamed. So many tears have been shed begging God to free me from this disease. Why can’t I be one of those people that just wake up changed? Why does this have to be so hard?

It very well may be the cross I carry for the rest of my life. It may be God’s will that I fight with this because it makes me fight that much harder for others’ freedom and the dream of there being a support system available that is as strong as AA and NA.

As contrary as it is, I thank God for my eating disorder. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, but I’m not quite sure I would know who God truly is without this struggle. I might still be searching for my identity. The truth is, I know who I am in Christ now, and it is stronger than any achievement life can offer. He is my Rock and Strength, and my constant source of Love and Security and that knowing that, has afforded me the freedom I possess.

Planning with No Control

I can’t help but be frustrated and discouraged right now. Colorado weather is not cooperating.While I planned that the weather would be an issue every once in a while, I couldn’t plan for the weather to be a constant issue.This spring in Colorado has been a rough one overall. While California is dealing with a drought, Colorado is drowning.Typically there isn’t nearly as much snow as there is currently on the peaks and the storms outnumber previous years.

All I can do is wait it out and try to make the best of it. Camping hasn’t been much fun thus far (which has only been a few days in all fairness). It’s been cool and rainy during the days and rainy and cold at night. It’s rare that I see the sun for longer than a couple hours at a time. When I lived here before, it was constant sun.There were more sunny days here than Arizona! Where did that Colorado that I knew disappear to?

I’ve been stewing at “Kind Coffee Shop” in Estes Park since 2pm, it’s now 5:30pm. I’m staring at my computer surfing page after page on what hikes to do in the mean time… I’m so lost on what to do over the next couple weeks.The cold kept me in my sleeping bag for twelve hours last night! I can’t seem to find my positive nature.The weather has me at a loss and why wouldn’t it? It’s what is pushing me to move away more than any one factor. Maybe this journey will teach me to dance in the storm. Right now in this moment, it’s affirming my reasoning to move.

Of course finances also have me down. While I was under budget eighty dollars, this waiting period pushes my entire journey back a couple weeks. Now I’m feeling frozen in place, scared to use my gas a familiar life long feeling… this is where my faith must be greater than my fear and that my God will provide me a way. I’ve felt this paralyzing feeling before. Many times in depression this paralyzing feeling would prevent me from getting to work, going to obligations or even seeing friends. The feeling behind the actions; hopelessness. But, planning helps. God’s promises help. So while I’m not sure what’s going to happen, I’ll keep moving forward, refusing to stay stuck and do the best I can.

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Reawakened Passion

Just in case you are wondering if I was crazy and if I even had any experience with hiking or camping, I do. Camping has been in my life since I was an infant. It is one of my fondest memories growing up. Camping from a young age has given me the opportunity from a […]

Removing the “Layers of Yuck”

Turning 30. Single. Broke. Eating Disorder. Chronic Depression. Need I go on? My life would seem to be wreck, an absolute mess. Would it puzzle you if I said I was actually hopeful? Inspired? Determined? Encouraged?

My reason for hope is found in my very near future. In two months, I will be taking a solo trip to Colorado to climb all 55 fourteeners! — You might be thinking, “What the heck are those?” They’re mountains in Colorado that are all above 14,000 feet. Think of the latest “Wild” or the classic “Into the Wild”  movies and you’ ll catch my drift of what’s to come. Over 3,000 men and women have climbed all 54 infamous mountains. I’m just not sure how many have been women… and of those brave women, have climbed all of them by themselves… Welcome to a new chapter of my life, and I’m taking you with me.

In this chapter I’m free to be broken, free to be weak, free to lose, free to be no one, free to be ordinary and free, to fail. Doesn’t that sound amazing?! You see, in the very recent past, these things listed in my opening paragraph gave me reason to loath myself and hold myself imprisoned in a cage of shame and disgust and to an impossible climb of self-redemption. Every good circumstance brought me temporary happiness, while every bad circumstance, whether self-inflicted or not, knocked me down so far I’d be out for days or months.

Sound familiar?

Want to find true happiness, regardless of status or circumstance?  Now, I’m not saying that I’ve arrived, but I do think I’m personally starting to absorb what it means to accept Christ’s death for our sins and want to dive into this deeper on my journey through the mountains. I’m starting to realize just how many “layers of yuck” I’ve been carrying around because I won’t accept forgiveness for my failures and sins. I know, it sounds cliche and if you’ve grown up a Christian your entire life like I have, you probably can relate to hearing a verse or a message a million times and it still not resonate with you- but someday, it’ll hit you differently, and you’ll know it’s God telling you to move.

Here’s another one you’ve probably heard, “God has you exactly where you’re supposed to be” (Act 17:26). It’s hard to hold onto that thought when it feels like your life has been a disaster, but right now I’m grateful that I have some time to really explore my past hurts. Why do something so painful? Because not dealing with it has left me a depressed, self-loathing individual who has never felt like she was enough.

As stated above, I am one of 350 million people globally that suffer from depression. It started at age nineteen when I was cut from my college volleyball team. Accompanying my depression at age twenty-three, has been my eating disorder better known as ED. I have had bulimia for six and half years. I still can’t even believe that it’s part of my story; I would have never predicted this. I’ve been trying to rid this insanity for a year and eleven months now and have been in 3 different treatment facilities. I’m currently receiving treatment in Minnesota and will remain in partial and eventually outpatient treatment until my departure to Colorado.

Even though my story is at a crossroads where my life doesn’t seem at all worked out, the great news is that God can use all our hurts and failures for good (Romans 8:28). That is the core purpose of this blog! I am determined to find acceptance, forgiveness and love for myself. The worth of myself will no longer stand in my beauty, my status or my accomplishments. It will stand in the beauty of being a princess of the Most High and living out who God made me to be!  A strong, adventurous, free spirited woman with an enormous heart for those who are hurting.

My prayer is that my hurts, that are not uncommon (1 Corinthians 10:13), will help someone else (maybe you) to live their life more fully; as Christ promises us a full and happy life (John 10:10). I pray that if you have struggled with accepting who you are inside and out; that you will find hope, inspiration, determination and encouragement to live out who God has created you to be!