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Practice Curiosity instead of Judgement

It started with an idea

"I need an adventure," I said to myself Thursday night. My body was craving sunshine and snow and mountain air. Thankfully, I had the next day off, so I quickly made a plan and the dogs and I took off early the next morning. There's always an excitement I feel heading into the mountains. I crave the quiet and the beauty and the sweat. It's the perfect reset. The trip was easy. We found trailhead no problem and ran into someone who had just come down and said we didn't need snowshoes it was so packed down. Score. And first mistake. We head the up the trail. It's lovely and we're the only ones in sight for miles. The trail signs are super clear and look brand new. I even get to let Daisy, my german short hair pointer, off leash, which is rare occasion. As we start to climb higher, there are a few spots where the trail is not as well packed, but nothing we can't handle. We make it to the top full of energy and life. At the top, the sign indicates it's a loop trail. "Why not?" I think. "Let's take the other way back." Second mistake. We gleefully head down the mountain and the trail quickly turns the opposite way. It was packed out, so I didn't think much of it. Then, it really heads downhill, way out of the way that we want to go. My instincts kick in. I start to wonder if we should turn around. "Nah, it'll probably go back the other way at some point." Third mistake. We go down a super steep incline and I see this trail is not going to the trailhead... at least not the one we parked at. We'd have to walk at least one mile down this road and another mile down the next to get to where we parked. Ugh. I have a choice to make. "Well," I think, "Let's go back up a little ways, then cut over and eventually get to the trail. The snow should be fine." Fourth mistake. About 5 steps in, I'm post-holing up to my knees. With no snowshoes and two dogs. I figure it can't be that far to the trail. We'll get there in no time. 20 minutes later, I'm between a rock and a hard spot. Too far in to go back, and yet nowhere near the trail. Looks like we'll have to go down here after all. Daisy follows me gleefully. Duke, my lab, on the other hand, sits stubbornly in the snow. "There's no way, mom." I may have pleaded with him at one point to get him moving. "We don't have a choice, buddy. We have to go down." The thing about post-holing in this snow is, it's icy on the top and soft on bottom. Which means each time I fall into the snow I'm scraping my shins and knees. They start to ache. At one point, I crawl down the snow on all fours to avoid anymore damage. It's both comical and overwhelming at the same time. There are houses just below the trail and I wonder how many of them are staring out their windows looking at us laughing. Before this story gets any longer I'll spoil the ending: We made it down to the road and walked a mile back to the car, thankfully all unscathed. I always bring extra clothes for me and kibble for the dogs just in case... and that proved a good safety measure. We all felt better once we'd been fed, watered, an re-clothed. All in all, it was an adventure all right, just maybe not the one I expected. As we drove home, I started reflecting on other times I'd gotten myself into similar situations (yes, unfortunately, this was not the first. It's like my brain shuts down at some point and I get so excited to go I don't think ahead.)

  • The time I was training for a half marathon and took Duke on a 7 mile in the hot sun and forgot to bring water for either of us.

  • The time Duke and I were on a beach walk and we tried cross a spot with the tide coming in and both almost got pulled out to sea (no wonder he was so stubborn on our hike. Poor dog. look what I've put him through!)

  • The time I was hiking with friends and we glissaded in the fog, missed where we were supposed to turn, and ended up getting lost in a horrific rainstorm (again- why I always bring a change of clothes)

  • The time I booked my return flight for the same day as my departing flight for my bachelorette party.

  • The time we didn't book ahead in Thailand and ended up on an island that literally had no rooms available for us.

I'm sure there have been more occasions. I'm not shaming myself for any of these, and... I am noticing there is a pattern that tends to happen when I adventure. It's like I forget to think or plan; I just go. (Thankfully, my bacon has been saved a million times over.) I see this all over the place in my life. I get an idea and then I get tunnel vision. I say things without thinking. I plan enough to get by. It's worked out for me, thanks to me being gracious with myself and other kind souls who have been gracious with me along the way. I'm curious as to what could shift for me if I changed this behavior... if I planned and thought things through a little more thoroughly.

Looking at this part of my life isn't always fun. It would super easy to shame myself and talk about all the reasons I'm bad and wrong and a horrible dog mom. All the reasons why my lack of planning make me stupid and careless, reckless, even. I've been down that road before. It doesn't serve me. In fact, it makes me feel worse. What does help though, is looking at these parts of my life as an opportunity to see something I hadn't before and to make a choice from there. It's the reason I always take a change of clothes on a hike now. I learned from my experience. I saw something that didn't go well and made a choice to have a different outcome in the future. I know I don't always plan well and that sometimes it gets me into trouble. What could I do to alleviate some of that in the future? It doesn't mean things won't ever go wrong again. Life happens. Even the most well laid plans sometimes go awry. It does mean I can choose to level up my life by looking at the places I falter or fail and see them with eyes of compassion and curiosity. I can choose to see all those failed plans and say, "hm, interesting. What do I want to do about that?" My answer might be "nothing." It also might be, "I'm going to do a little more research on the hikes I go on and read trip reports ahead of time." Curiosity keeps me out of judgement, which frees me up to stay open and flexible to the way forward. This is my question for you this week:

Where do you need to see yourself or a fault you have with eyes of compassion? Where can you look at your faults with curiosity rather than judgement?

Curiosity allows you to be in choice, and to make a choice that fits for the moment. It's what I'm working on this week and I hope you'll join me. The yoga practice can be a great starting point for practicing this work. Notice where in your practice you see with judgement rather than curiosity. Shift your perspective, see your "faults" with love, and be in the power of choice. You can join me this week for class virtually, or in person if you live local. I'd love to see you and be in this work together.



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