Haynes, Her Way

Be A Better Climber, For Beginners

Following up on this post, I wanted to write a "next steps" post for folks that have just begun climbing but want to improve.

If you've been climbing for a few months pretty regularly, and you're doing around V1-V2 boulders and around 5.9 on ropes routes, this post is for you. You've figured out the basics, you own gear, and you can handle yourself fairly well independently in the climbing gym, but you want to start breaking through into the intermediate grades and improving as a climber. Here are my tips for those of you that fit that description:

Tip #1: Climb! A lot!

In general, the more you climb, the better. This tip would only not apply if you're suffering from seriously torn-up skin or at-risk tendons. The volume of your climbing, especially when you are a new climber, is super important! Climb as much as you can without getting burnt out.

Tip #2: Climb with people that motivate and inspire you.

Though this doesn't have to be stronger climbers, climbing with people stronger than you certainly doesn't hurt - the climbing community is a wealth of free information that others are ready to give to you. They can educate you, yes, but simply watching stronger climbers climb will teach you technique, beta, and can inspire you in ways that climbing alone simply won't. Even if your climbing partners aren't stronger than you, climbing with people that are motivating and inspiring and will help you reach your goals is super-important if you're looking to excel in this sport.

Tip #3: Vary your climbing.

Boulderer, gettin' weird on ropes

It's natural, especially as you become a more experienced climber, to be drawn to one type of climbing or another (whether that be bouldering or ropes). One pitfall I think many climbers fall into is not being willing to vary their climbing. Even if you are a hardcore boulderer, climbing ropes once out of five sessions is extremely valuable to your training as a boulderer. You're doing a higher volume of moves, and thus, learning technique and improving your strength at a more rapid rate. The opposite is also true - if you've decided you would rather lead climb (or even top rope) than boulder, it is critical that you work bouldering into your training schedule. As you advance, ropes routes become more "bouldery" in nature, with each individual move becoming more difficult and more powerful. Training boulders is the singlemost rapid way to improve your power as a climber.

Tip #4: Take projecting seriously.

Projecting is really, really valuable, particularly when you are a new climber and are learning technique and movement basics. Focus well on your projects - find a climb that is really hard for you, and stick to it. Work out every move, then focus on stringing them together. This is going to teach you a lot more about minute body movements than anything else will, particularly if you are finding climbs that take you a week or more of sessions and 100 attempts to complete.

Tip #5: Warm up well!

Warm up slowly. If you have the time to take 45 minutes warming up, do it. Stretch a lot - particularly your hips and hamstrings, which need a full range of motion when you're rock climbing. Warm up your  muscles, either by doing dynamic stretching, plyometrics, or through climbing, low and slow. Spend a solid 20 minutes doing those things before moving on to a solid 20-30 minutes of really low, slow bouldering. V0's, V1's, V2's, until you reach one level below your "projecting level," and maintain a light pump during your warm up. Take your time! Be patient with your body and treat it well, focus on improving your range of motion and warming your muscles and tendons so you can help prevent injury while projecting.
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The Business of Being Busy: How Being Busy Has Become A Status Symbol

How many of you have ever found yourself in this scenario:

Friend: How are things going?
Self: Oh, pretty good, BUSY! How are you? [While sitting on the couch trolling Facebook on your phone]

Here's the thing. I'm a pretty legitimately busy person (right now). I may sleep late, but my work schedule is wacky and my job is very physically demanding. I put in a lot of hours outside the gym doing things for my job just because I love it THAT much. Between blogging, keeping up with my own athletic schedule, and coaching, I probably am putting in 12-hour days pretty regularly. But, if you think about it….it's not like I'm sleeping the other 12 hours. I have a few hours a day where I'm just….chillin'. Usually texting my friends, trolling Instagram (my faaaavorite), hanging out with my husband, adulting….you know, whatevering around. So why is it that we feel the compunction to say "SOOOO BUSY!" when our friends text us?

I've totally found myself in the above situation, and I don't quite understand how being busy has become a status symbol. Is it because others will see you as more highly valued, and more highly demanded, because you are busy? Or is it because others will see you as having a higher work ethic if you're busy? Maybe others will see you as more goal-oriented, or your life as more exciting and fast-paced, if you're busy.

The 'status' of being busy is an American phenomenon (this article covers this issue in more depth). In other countries and parts of the world, being overly busy - or being perceived as overly busy - is actually seen negatively, as the person appears to lack control over their own lives, and to have poor time-management skills. There is real danger in being too busy (and I myself need to remember this, pretty much every day, when I am Instagramming, emailing and Facebooking for our team at 11:30pm, in my bed, on my phone, in the dark). Work overload leads to burnout, takes your attention away from important tasks and decreases your focus on social support, which in turn reinforces said burnout.

Find a balance. Create a schedule. Schedule in time to meditate, or use meditation as a transitional exercise between work and home. Get home from work, put way your electronic devices, and take a walk to transition to your relaxing, at-home, after-work time. Disconnect your email from your phone. Get more sleep. Spend more time with your loved ones. Eat good food. Talk about deep, and important, life-affirming topics with people you care about. It's okay to not be busy. The work will be there tomorrow, you can take the time tonight to disconnect.
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Monthly Budgeting

Budgeting is the suck. I know.

This post is not glamorous, but I think it might help some of the folks that read my blog.

Seth and I are tight on funds right now….well, okay. We've always been tight on funds. We might always be tight on funds, I don't know. In the meantime, though, I've fine-tuned a budgeting process that I think would probably work really well for a lot of young families, and I wanted to share it in case those of you that read my blog are attempting to work out your budgeting.

First, start using Google Calendar and Google Sheets. Google Docs and Google Sheets works very similarly to Microsoft Excel, except it's a dumbed-down version and can be accessed from anywhere (even via mobile, which is awesome for when you're on-the-go and need to access it). Sync whatever email you are using to access your Google Calendar to your phone. Set an alert on your Google Calendar for every Friday evening to do your budgeting for that week. (It is actually easier if you do it daily, but ain't nobody got time fo' dat.)

Second, start a spreadsheet in Google Sheets, and call it Monthly Budgeting 2015. Label the tabs along the bottom of the notebook by month (so, since this year is almost over, "November" and "December").  Go into the November spreadsheet, and in bold, type "Income". Beneath that, start calculating and adding the following figures:
Total monthly income, yourself
Total monthly income, spouse/anyone else that contributes to household expenses
Total income (add the two figures above)

Tab down a couple of lines, and in bold, type "Expenses". Beneath that, create a column of categories where each of your expenses might fall. Mine looks like this:
Cell phone
Next month's rent (I'll explain this shortly)
Allowances (I'll explain this shortly)
Bridge (I'll explain this shortly)
Total Expenses

In the column next to each category, put in a budget for that category. To do this, I went back through the previous three months when I created my first budget, and decided what was the max or average for each category that we typically spent, and used that figure. You can do it however you want, depending on how strict you want your budget to be.

To create a "total expenses" cell that changes if you need to add or delete rows, click on the cell where you'd like the figure to be. Type in "=SUM( )" and between the parentheses, highlight all the cells where there are expense figures. It will total all of the cells in that range for you, and will keep them totaled if you change/add/delete any cells. SUPER helpful. I do the same thing for the "total income" cell.

Let me explain a couple of the figures:

Next month's rent: I carve out a space in my budget for the following month's rent because I make additional deposits into our savings and onto our student loans at the end of every month. The basic goal is to deposit as much as I can (nearly drain our checking account) around the 27th of each month and put as much as I can in those two places. If I don't carve out space for the next month's rent (which typically comes out of our account on the first), I might accidentally drain that money out of the account too and we would overdraw when rent came out….and that would be bad news bears.

Allowances: Decide with your spouse what is a fair amount for each of you to spend on personal luxuries every month. This is 100% personal preference and dependent on the relationship of the couple. For Seth and I, we choose to put all our month in our accounts, and we are treated equally when it comes to allowances, regardless of how much each of us makes. Some couples will do percentages, some will take 100% and give allowances to the other spouse - I'm not here to judge your process, just to give you an idea of what works for us.

Bridge: At the end of the month, when I go to dump as much as I can into our savings accounts or onto our student loans, I take a look at our calendar and see when our next paycheck is coming in (either from Seth or I). I calculate how much we will need to last us until that paycheck comes through (based on whether we have cell phone payments, student loan auto-withdraws, etc. coming out in the meantime) and I leave that amount in the account as well. This creates a "bridge" for us so we don't overdraw between the end of the month and the deposit of our next paycheck.

Make sure that your expenses are less than your income. If your expenses are more than your income, then you know you have to find somewhere to cut back - or, start bringing in more income.

Third, at the end of each week, go through your online banking and enter in totals for each category. For example, if you have three charges from Shell, Exxon and BP, then add those figures and put that amount in the "gasoline" column. If you have two charges from Kroger and Marsh, add those figures and put that amount in the "groceries" column. You'll see when you're getting close to the amount you budgeted for the month, and you'll either want to scale back in that category or make room in another to allocate some of those funds.

This all sounds super-complicated, but once you set up your first month's spreadsheet and get on a roll, it's actually pretty simple. You can copy/paste that spreadsheet into the following months'  spreadsheets, and it makes the process pretty smooth - you never have to do this whole process over again.
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If I Could Live My Life Over

This topic isn't always comfortable to think about for most people. I think it is a very honest and raw thing to publicly state that you have made mistakes, and you have regrets - because that is human, and that is normal. It is normal to acknowledge that hindsight is 20/20, and that if you could go back and rewrite specific chapters of your life, you would. I know I would.

I have not done everything as well as I would have liked. I got awesome grades in high school (top 4% of my class, 22 out of 333 graduates, 3.999 GPA [yes seriously, they wouldn't round me up]), then I  dropped the ball in college. For those of you that know me the best, you know that college was very, very difficult for me due to extenuating family circumstances - not something I am willing to get into here. If I could go back and redo college, if I did not know what I know now about my passions and aptitudes, I would have at least worked harder in the classes I dropped the ball in. It was simply easier for me, given the distractions I was experiencing, to coast through those classes. I wish I hadn't - I wish I had pushed through and demanded A's and turned in quality work, but I didn't (and that's okay). If I could redo college, knowing what I  know now, I would have gone in as a kinesiology major and majored in kinesiology and/or sports therapy. I wouldn't have screwed around with languages, and journalism, and music, and political science. It is difficult, if not impossible, at 19 to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life - especially when your life is as fairly topsy-turvy as mine was.

I would have done drum corps and WGI.

I would have studied abroad for longer. I did a summer. It was half-assed. I wish I had been braver, and more independent, and had gone for at least a semester, if not a year.

I never would have gone to graduate school. Yes, I know, education has value in itself, even if you don't use the degree - trust me, I tell myself that every time I make a student loan payment on this debt I will literally never pay off. The debt is fine, people. And yes, I do believe that education in itself has value. If I could go back to my senior year of college, though, I never would have applied for a 2-year, traditional Master's program at a private school. I also wouldn't have applied to all the PhD programs I got into (or, if I did apply to them, I would have gone to one of those PhD programs in place of the Master's). I probably would have still done continuing education after I graduated, (knowing what I know now), but it would have looked very different. I would have gone to yoga teacher training and gotten my personal training certification. Not a Master's in IR. Nope, nope and more nope.

I hope that young people, especially young women, hear this: I would not have tied so much of my self-worth to my relationships with Boys. Boys, with a capital B. I would not have allowed Boys to be able to determine whether or not I was valuable and worthy of attention, praise, worship, affection or love, and I would not have stuck around when Boys treated me as anything less than an absolute queen. There. I said it.

I would have been braver and bolder with my words. As an adult, I feel comfortable when someone is pouring their heart out to me poking them in the chest and saying, "NO. You have value. You are perfect in every way, you are smart and kind and supportive, and I wish everyone I ever met in my life is just like you." I feel comfortable, now, when someone treats me poorly, with telling them, "You know what? You're being a terrible friend right now. I don't have time for your or your negative words, right now or ever. Bye." I was not brave with my words when I was young. I thought a lot of things that I never said out loud, and I am sorry for those missed opportunities I had to help someone else or to stand my ground and demand the treatment from others that I deserved.

It is healthy to acknowledge that you've made mistakes and have regrets. You learn from your mistakes, they inform how you live your life in the future. It's okay, and it's real!
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Travel Bucket List

My husband Seth and I have some pretty serious wanderlust.

We love, love, love to travel. I love packing minimally and exploring the world. We did Zimbabwe this year (you can read about it here and here). We packed minimally because of restrictions on light aircraft, and realized how freeing it is to not overpack. No makeup, no hair dryers or straighteners or jewelry, no extra shoes. We did have to have our laundry done twice while we were away, but it was worth it to not have to haul around all those extra bags….and to see the look on our guide's face when we arrived at our second lodge and could carry all our bags ourselves. Hiiiiilarious.

That said, I have a bucket list of places I want to travel before I die. Some of the places I want to go, I'd like to go before we have kids - in other words, I'm hoping to get there in the next few years.

Redwoods National Forest

Thanks to my awesome in-laws that love to travel just as much as I do, we are knocking this one out THIS WEEKEND! I've always wanted to go to the Redwoods National Forest, but somehow have never (ever) made it out to California. Seriously - like, anywhere in California. I have always prioritized international travel over domestic travel when I had free time away from work or school, so there is a long list of amazing places in the U.S. that I haven't yet seen.

The Redwood National Forest is home to the tallest trees in the world. In 2006, a team of scientists measured the trees and discovered that the tallest tree, named Hyperion, stood at 379.1 feet tall. That's nearly six stories taller than the Statue of Liberty, and 75 times my height. So excited to knock this one out in just a few days!

Deepwater soloing off Railay Beach in Thailand

Since I went to China (twice), and started rock climbing two years ago, I've had it on my bucket list to go to Thailand and go deepwater soloing. My husband and I are discussing arranging a trip around Southeast Asia, so we are able to knock out Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia in one trip. We found a resort on Railay Beach in Thailand that includes trips to go deepwater soloing off the coast of Krabi Island that seems really affordable, so it's likely if we get to do this trip that that is where we'll be going.

Railay Beach
We'll want to do all the other touristy things in Thailand, too (of course), such as Phuket, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai, but as a rock climber deepwater soloing somewhere this beautiful is way up there on my personal bucket list.


Asia continues to draw me, and will probably always draw me. It is so vastly different from the United States in nearly every way, that I feel like to really dig deep into the parts of your soul that are so comfortable and ingrained in the American culture, you just have to go to Asia.

When we travel to Thailand, we want to stop over in Vietnam - specifically to see Halong Bay, but also some of Vietnam's more touristy destinations (Seth specifically wants to go to its floating fish markets - if someone is going to get psyched about cooking fish on vacation, it would be my husband).

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Cambodia is also super high on my travel bucket list - primarily for this place:

Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is an archeological site that contains the remains of several of the capitals of the Khmer Empire, which spanned from the 9th to 15th centuries. It stretches over 400 square kilometers, and contains both Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, religious temples that have been preserved and protected by UNESCO.

South Africa (Great White shark diving)

For those of you that don't know, my husband and I are both scuba-certified. Seth is actually only a few dives away from receiving his Dive Master's certification, and I received my Advanced Scuba Open Water certification in 2012. One major thing we both want to tick off our bucket list (likely pre-children) is to go Great White dark diving in South Africa.

Yes, really.

There are several other places we want to go, but those are highest on my (and likely our) list right now. We also want to visit Easter Island, the Galapagos Islands and the sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica (where I will probably cry a la Kristen Bell).

Where do you want to go, and why? I'd love to hear, I'm always looking for places to add to my travel bucket list!
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The Moment My World Stopped Spinning #BehindTheBlogger

My life has been nothing if not a winding road full of "wrong" turns and misdirections. I put "wrong" in quotes because, if it hadn't been for all the misguided paths I've taken in my life, I may not be where I am today - and where I am today is pretty perfect. So I guess, truly, in the grand scheme of things, all those "wrong" turns I took added up to one big "right".

The Leadup

I grew up in a small town in central Indiana. I went to Indiana University, a Big 10 school, because it had what seemed like an infinite number of majors, and I had less than no idea what I wanted to do with my life at 19 years old (does any 19 year old truly know what they want to do with their life when they go to college? I mean it took me another eight years to actually figure out what I wanted to do with mine...) I went in as a music major, immediately changed my major to spanish, then a semester later to journalism, then two years later to Chinese with a minor in Political Science. I studied abroad in China, went to graduate school, and received my Master of Arts in Foreign Policy with a focus in US-Asia relations and a specialization in Chinese domestic politics in 2012 (yes, seriously). I spent pretty much all the money I'll ever have in my life getting a degree I'll never use. LOL forever.

I lived in DC from 2010-2015. I originally moved there to pursue my Master's degree at American University, with big dreams of working in the intelligence community when I graduated. I even interviewed for what I thought was my dream job! Oh, how hilariously wrong I was. Life in DC is cutthroat. It is expensive, and crowded, and rushed, and exhausting, and competitive. Don't get me wrong, it was actually a cool place to live for the amount of time that we did - it just isn't somewhere I'd be able to live for the rest of my life. By 2013, I was starting to feel drained, and lost - I hadn't gotten the jobs I had hoped I would, I wasn't loving what I was doing, and in fact, I really wasn't loving the entire field my degree had funneled me into. I felt like a giant failure. I had worked so hard for all of these things, and what had it gotten me? Nothing.

Then, I found climbing.

Many of my readers know the story by now - my friend Shizu and I purchased Living Socials for open climb sessions and top rope belay lessons at Sport Rock Climbing Centers in Alexandria, Virginia, and started going to open climb every Sunday. A friend of ours heard we were trying climbing, and convinced us to try bouldering. Since then, I have been hooked. I fell in love with the climbing community, with the supportive and accepting people that engage in the sport and the physical and mental challenges that the sport offers its athletes.

The Moment My World Stopped Spinning

Another family at my gym invited me to go climbing with them in the Red River Gorge over Memorial Day weekend in 2014, and I accepted. I had never been climbing outside (as I'd only been climbing seriously for about 6 months), but it sounded fun and like a new challenge I wanted to tackle. So, I went.

We spent the weekend hiking around, finding climbs, working on them (I was only on top rope at the time as I hadn't learned to lead), and just generally having an amazing time. I met the Eskin family during this trip, a family I remain very close to today, and the family that I credit with creating the initial spark that led my life to coaching youth climbers. We spent one morning in the Chocolate Factory, an area of the Red I have a soft spot for, as it was where I was standing when I realized what I wanted to do with my life.

We were all working a classic line called Pure Imagination, a climb way outside any of our abilities, but that we wanted to try anyway. I was standing on the belay zone, looking up at this beautiful climb, and I had this huge epiphany - "Oh my gosh, I am wasting my entire life." My whole life until that point had been focused on achievement, and goal-setting, and comparing myself to others. I could almost literally feel my world stop spinning as I was standing there looking up at that climb. It was then that I decided that I was going to quit focusing on all of these tangible measurements of my self-worth, and start focusing on my own actual happiness and fulfillment.

Now, I'm a climbing coach, and I couldn't be happier. I feel completely fulfilled by my job, something I never would have imagined was possible a few years ago. Do I make good money? No, I don't. But, things like that are so secondary to how much I love my job, and my kids. I can credit that trip to the Red and that moment standing under Pure Imagination with showing me what it was that I wanted to dedicate my life to.

#BehindTheBlogger Sidebar Button

 Thank you for reading a story from #BehindTheBlogger Hop. Every 2 weeks a group of bloggers is given a writing prompt. These prompts are very open ended, so our bloggers can write about whatever they desire. The main rule is that their blog post directly relates to the topic of that week. The point of this hop is for our readers to get to know us on a personal level.  Please hop along and read all of the blog posts in this weeks hop. Just click the links below. If you want real and raw emotion, then you will find it here. After you read each post, please comment and share. We want to get to know you too!

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"Real" Climbers

Although I've always heard rumblings throughout the climbing community that some people think there are such things as "real" climbers (versus gym climbers, or whatever else they choose to dub "not real climbers"), I never really experienced the concept firsthand until I moved back to the Midwest. Apparently it's a thing here - a thing so real we discussed it at length at a staff meeting a few weeks ago.

The concept is sort of confusing (and pointless, and shallow) to me. One of the major reasons I got so into the climbing community so quickly is the level of acceptance and support I felt among other climbers - much more experienced and well-versed climbers than I. The climbing community in which I was brought up is all about new climbers, gym climbers, outdoor climbers, trad climbers, ice climbers, crack climbers, boulderers, sport climbers, whatever - though I heard rumblings on occasion that there may be people in the community with opinions about "real" versus "fake" climbers, I never really experienced it.

Gym climbers are climbers. Some people simply enjoy gym climbing more, and that's okay. Maybe they don't have the time, the means, or the relationships with other climbers to get them climbing outside, or maybe they just don't want to. Maybe they like the controlled environment of indoor climbing, and the constantly-changing routes, in a convenient location. They're still climbers. They're still climbing things, and that makes them climbers. It seems like a very strange phenomenon to me that someone said, "You know, we should probably define 'real' climbing, because these hoodlums are running around acting like they're climbers, and that is totally threatening the man-on I get from pretending I'm the only 'real' climber around." So strange.

Although I don't normally let anyone preview my posts, I let my climbing partner, Ryan, go over this one when I first started brainstorming it. He had some very specific thoughts on this topic, and I wanted to share them.

"In a sport where the goal is to increase altitude in a literal sense, we tend to validate ourselves (or lift ourselves up, as it were) by pushing those different than us down. 'Sport climbing is neither' was a common phrase used by trad climbers that existed in part to legitimize trad over sport, and, as a result (either intentionally or not), validated the decision to spend thousands of dollars on cams. It's indicative of a species that has evolved through the millennia via 'survival of the fittest' that we should try to separate ourselves as ahead of the pack. Devaluing others' efforts because they deviate from our own achieves this on some level. The tendency to put others down is written into our DNA, so to speak. One thing my first climbing teacher taught me is that the one common thread in all climbers is the struggle. The same frustration I, as a new climber, felt on a 5.8 is cut from the same cloth that Sharma was feeling on Dreamcatcher."

To me, no one climber, regardless of experience level or affinity (for example, a boulderer versus a lead climber) is more or less "worthy" of being called a "climber" than any other climber. No one climber is any more or less worthy of experiencing or attempting classic routes than another. Even if it's way out of your pay grade, by virtue of being a climber (of any sort), you are just as worthy as any other climber of climbing that route and gaining that experience. One of the most beautiful aspects of the climbing community is that climbers all love one another and seek to lift one another up through our sport - maybe if you're the corner-sulker bemoaning the popularity of bouldering among today's youth climbers, maybe it's you that isn't the "real" climber because you don't have a climber's heart.

Thanks to Ryan Fischer for his significant contributions to this post.
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