The Challenge of Injury Depression

Nothing will shift a person into depression in Colorado like an injury, and since Coloradoans tend to be extreme outdoor enthusiasts, (and rightly so), it stands to reason that the level of depression that descends when an injury takes someone out is unique to this place. Athletes here are nothing if not over-achievers and I would say that they are equally adept at epic injuries. I say this from experience as well as from observation. For the record, I don’t actually consider myself an athlete by Colorado standards, but I am typically a very outdoor active person sans injuries. Truthfully, the hardest part about living in Colorado is not being able to go outside and enjoy it. With an endless supply of outdoor activities from hiking, running, cycling, rock climbing, skiing & snowboarding to name a few, and an average of 300 sunny days a year, being sidelined from an injury is like a prison sentence.

Since moving here, I have slipped and torn my acl, mcl and medial meniscus with the latter requiring surgery, custom orthotics and endless hours of physical therapy. I’ve also gotten a mild concussion, severely sprained my ankle and had a two-year battle with debilitating Achilles tendonitis pain. When I first sat down to write about this, I was prompted by my own surprise that what I had been experiencing the past few years may have been a form of undiagnosed depression.

At the time though, I wasn’t consciously aware that I was depressed. I just thought that the “bitterness in my heart” at seeing other people achieve amazing feats of physical endurance hiking 14er after 14er, running mile after mile up mountains and doing every physical feat that I could not was the direct result of being in pain every time I attempted to do something that I loved. I felt like a complete failure because no matter what I did, I could not figure out the cause of the tendon pain, and neither could the army of physical therapists that I saw. During the course of my injuries, I gained a lot of weight and couldn’t fit into anything but yoga pants which only added to my feelings of hopelessness. I came home from work each night and turned on the tv, watching 3-4 hours every night. I slept all the time, and I had no real ambition because I was just desolate in my agony.

It wasn’t until I visited a new gynocologist to see about getting on hormone replacement therapy that a glimmer of hope appeared, but first I had to have a certain come-to-Jesus moment, when we are literally trying shake ourselves awake. My moment came during the obligatory weigh in that happens at all doctor appointments. I was shocked into silence and shame by the number on the scale. I weighed more than I had when I was pregnant, and I simply did not recognize myself anymore. Being depressed is a lot like screaming into the void, or screaming at yourself with the mute button on. As soon as I stepped on that scale, the mute button released and I could hear everything loud and clear. Once I let go of the judgement, I was able to shift into action. My doctor suggested I try an elimination diet that she had used herself called Whole30 and since I was out of options, I reached for it like a lifesaving buoy.

The next day, after downloading all the information I could find, I had my first cup of black, no sugar, no creamer, no nothing coffee. I almost gave up before I started, but it was imperative for me to begin with the most difficult task first. The only reason I drank coffee was for all the delicious coffee creamers, so black coffee or coffee mixed with plain, zero sugar almond milk became my new normal. I realized quickly that I had to establish a new relationship to food and it started by going cold turkey and cutting out all the dairy, grains, legumes, sugar and alcohol for 30 days.

A few weeks into it, a funny thing happened. I just sort of noticed that the pain was less in my Achilles tendons. This pushed me to continue and to learn as much as I could about my body, my food cravings and sensitivities. Once the pain faded, I started turning off the tv and finding new and fun workouts, I was able to start running again and hiking longer and more challenging trails. So far, I’ve lost half of the weight that I gained and my relationship to food has become less dysfunctional. Now, food is for energy and since my taste buds have been re-trained, I can taste the sweetness in things that I never noticed before. Seeing my body change and heal has been a powerful motivator, but feeling better and being able to enjoy Colorado in all of its glory is the greatest reward.

During my injury-induced depression, I started to wonder about the gifts that being sidelined can be. I have many friends and acquaintances who inspire me with their endless physical prowess, who have also recently been injured and forced to sit on the sidelines and heal. I do know that slowing down is not something that we usually do willingly. Life demands a certain amount of our undivided attention and taking time for ourselves feels almost selfish. Perhaps that is the gift. Perhaps having the unwelcome opportunity to sit still and observe is exactly what we need sometimes. One thing is certain, once the pain has vanished and we are able to resume the joys of doing what we love, we never take one single second for granted.

Forgiveness Looks Good on You

Letting go is in the air.  Trees are doing it.  The seasons are doing it.  Seems like we are in good company if we want to do it.  I’ve been carrying something for a really, really long time, and this week, I made a decision that I am ready to let it go.  This week, was the mother of all weeks,  thanks to a Full Moon on 11/11 in Mercury Retrograde.  Oh yeah.  Good stuff.  If you didn’t feel it, then I guarantee you just weren’t paying attention.

This was the kind of week that is like a naughty puppy, or child, the kind that will do just about anything, good or bad, to get your attention.  It got mine, that’s for damn sure.  I’ve been yo-yoing between waking up at 3 a.m., unable to fall back to sleep and going to sleep at 8 p.m. the next night to make up for it; but my desire to let go started on my only day off of the week and the first Saturday I’ve had off in recent memory that had drop-dead gorgeous weather. All my usual hiking partners were busy doing their own thing, so I grabbed my aging, but ever-willing pup, and we headed to the woods of Nederland and the Hessie Trailhead with the intention of hiking up to Jasper Lake off of Devil’s Thumb trail.

I packed my micro spikes, some borrowed snowshoes and plenty of layers in preparation for the deep snow that I knew would meet me at the top, and got to the trailhead by 6:45 a.m. along with a record minimum of only 5 other cars.  I love getting up really early to hike, and not just because it usually means less people will be there.  The light is so stunning as it rises over the horizon and touches the trees and mountains in front of it.  There is nothing like it, and pictures just don’t do it justice.

It was cold, icy and perfectly quiet; my favorite hiking conditions. About two miles in, we made it to the trail that would take us to the elusive Jasper Lake.  I say elusive because I had a hard time finding any sort of direct trail to it via my AllTrails app, so I used the Devil’s Thumb Pass to King Lake trail as a guide to show me the route that would take me to Jasper Lake without hiking the full 15 mile loop.

The trail became a single file, narrow path with at least a foot of snow on either side.  I was feeling very much like I was in the Robert Frost poem,  The Road Less Traveled since it was clear that the majority of humanity was taking the trail that leads to Lost Lake.  We got to an open area with an amazing view and an Indian Peaks Wilderness sign that seems oddly out of place.  The wind started howling as we hiked across the exposed landscape.  The snow here had given way to the dried up grass beneath it, but this was misleading because just on the other side, the thick snow returned and I had to switch to my snowshoes.

Since I was attempting to record my route, I had downloaded the trail to my phone and was using it to pick my way through the now two feet of snow.  Many wrong turns later, I finally found a single set of footprints that led the way into an area that had not seen any other humans since the most recent snow storm.   It was eerily quiet and the silence and view invited contemplation.

We were about four miles in and still had two to go before we would hit the lake.  My dog was so done.  He had not been on such a long hike in over a year and even though he wasn’t overheating, he was definitely tired.  One look at him using the snow as a pillow, and I knew we weren’t going to make it to the lake.  We pulled over, found a few rocks near the edge of a cliff and sat down to enjoy the view with some cold pizza for me and apple slices for him.

I started thinking about my life and what I wanted for the rest of it.  For close to 20 years, I have been on a crusade of defiance.  That crusade began when the ink dried on my divorce papers and I decided that men were not to be trusted.  I lost something very dear to me that day. I lost a piece of my heart, and I have wasted many years aiming blame and guilt at the person who took it from me.  I stood up, and spoke out loud to the trees and mountains around me and set an intention that I was ready to let all of that pain go.  I asked to be guided to release my anger and hurt and find a way to forgive him, and the Universe heard me.

As is oft the case, I promptly forgot the magnitude of my request, when first thing Monday morning, men from my recent past started popping up like forgotten popcorn kernels.  These were men I had met since arriving in Colorado, not my former husband, but they gave me some much needed closure and tested my resolve for forgiveness.   It was about this time that I realized it was 11/11 which in numerology is a power number sequence that is like a door opening in the fabric of consciousness that surrounds our forgotten awareness that we are creator gods.

“Angel Number 111 signifies that an energetic gateway has opened up for you, and this will rapidly manifest your thoughts into reality.” – Joanne Walmsley – Sacred Scribes

That evening, I found some instructions on how to use the power of the full moon and this numerological anomaly happening during Mercury Retrograde .  I wanted to wait until 11:11 p.m. to give this little ceremony an extra added boost, but started early because I knew this was unlikely to happen.  I made my list, burned it, and then wrote down the top three things that had stood out from it.  I took this list, put it in an envelope and went to bed.

The following day I was invited to participate in a mini Tibetan bowl sound healing session with some graduating students at Atma Buti Sound Healing School.  Sound is a powerful healer and one that I had not previously experienced in this way before.  Surrounded by bowls as I lay facedown on a massage table, another bowl was placed on my lower back and as it was struck, I felt a shot of energy rise up my spine and out of the top of my head.  That was the beginning of an even deeper shift that was soon to follow.

On Friday, I was gifted with a full body sound healing session from a very loving woman and healer I am lucky to call a friend and co-worker.  When she asked if I’d like to set an intention for our session, I knew that my request from the Universe on Saturday had come full circle.  I restated my desire to let go of the pain from my divorce and all the broken relationships that had followed.

During the session, I could feel this knot in my belly, right around the 3rd chakra/solar plexus area.  I knew that is where I was holding all the pain, and I knew I was ready to release it.  It is one thing to decide to let go and it is another thing to actually do it.  Knowing how to do it does not come naturally for me or most people I know, but when we do it, we definitely know it.  I pictured my former husband and I saw him as someone who came into my life to to be the “bad” one so that I could embrace radical forgiveness and know myself in a new way.

The tears poured out of me and I sobbed until I was empty.  I cried for everything that I had lost and for the hope of something that I know I will find again.  I visualized him surrounded in white light and I sent him a heart hug of forgiveness.  I don’t know if he will feel it, and I don’t plan on telling him about it, but I feel it.  I woke up this morning and as I look at my reflection, I see someone I haven’t seen in a long time.  In the act of forgiveness, I have reclaimed a piece of myself that I lost when I embraced the hurt from my divorce and planted it in my center.  My journey is far from over, but I think I am on the right path now, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

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How to be a Colorado Bad Ass

If you ever have an urge to really feel like a bad ass, and you happen to live in Colorado, then there are 58 ways that are guaranteed to do it.  Before I moved to Colorado, I had never even heard of a 14er, much less considered hiking up one.  In case you are new to this world of adventuring as well, let me enlighten you.  A 14er is a mountain peak that exceeds 14,000 feet, and offer views that will take your breath away, literally.

I turned 50 last February, and on that day, I decided that this would be the year to do all the ‘never say nevers’ and to make it as different from the 49 previous years as possible.  I’ve been following all the other 14er bad asses on their Facebook page for at least a year, slowly trying to build up my nerve while marveling at their accomplishments and thinking to myself, someday . .

With winter weather slowly returning, I had just about given up on the possibility of this goal being achieved before 2020, but then an opportunity appeared.  Another hiking group I follow posted that they were going to host their first ever 14er group hike.  I registered immediately, and only later realized I had less than 2 weeks to prepare.  Nonetheless, I did what I could when I could and as the date rolled around, I was totally ready to meet a group of strangers at 4 a.m. and hike up a gigantic mountain.

Unfortunately, the night before we were all set to meet, the group organizer abruptly cancelled the hike.   I was crushed.  My dog was already with the pet sitter, my gear was at the front door, and my snacks were packed.  I was trying to work out the details of getting up  at the crack of dawn by myself and hiking a 14er alone when I got a call from a guy I had recently met on another hike.  It turned out that he had been wanting to hike one more 14er before it got really cold,  so plans were made and alarm clocks were set.

We decided to meet at 6 a.m. at the base of the road that leads to the Grays and Torreys trailhead.  Numerous AllTrails reviews had warned that the drive was going to be slow and treacherous so we decided to park and drive together for the final 3 miles.  By the time we got all our cold weather gear and backpacks situated, the first morning light started to peek over the mountain.  The weather report had warned of high winds and cold temps and it was totally accurate.

The cold created ice crystals in the exposed tubing of our water bladders almost immediately, so we had to stop frequently to pull them out of our packs and drink without the tubing.  Although this hike is listed as “hard” it is considered one of the “easier” 14ers and can be a great way to knock out two at once since Grays and Torreys are next door neighbors.  I tried not to think about this as we trudged slowly up the mountain.  It was taking all of my energy not to reconsider my decision to be there.  I couldn’t let myself get caught up in anything other than the present moment.

As we made our way up the 3,556′ of elevation gain, we saw every kind of hiker imaginable.  My personal favorite was the guy who had shown up in no-grip Nike’s, ankle socks, a pair of acrylic gloves and a thin hoody.  To my utter surprise, not only did he make it, but he got there way before we did!  The hours ticked by and my hands and feet took turns being miserably cold.  Every time I managed to look more than two feet in front of me, all I could see where colorful dots zigzagging up a seemingly endless mountain top.

After 5 hours of non-stop inclines, I wanted it to end and was ready to give up.  We had seen several other hikers turn around without summiting and their disappointment was tangible.  As much as I wanted to give up, I also didn’t want to give up.  It was a bizarre dichotomy.

I kept sighing in an effort to catch my breath and when that didn’t work, I would just stop walking and stare off into space until I felt strong enough to continue.  I didn’t know we were close to our goal, but my friend did.   He stopped and waited for me to catch up to him and said, “Come on Logynn.  It’s not much further, and we are going to make it to the top together.” That’s when I almost lost it.  I could feel the tears welling up and they almost got the best of me.  I ducked my head so he wouldn’t notice, and within a few more steps, we were there.  All the struggle, all the baby steps forward and suddenly we were rewarded with a view that must be seen in person to fully appreciate. It is something extraordinary to be so small and feel so big all at once.

The top is actually pretty long as it turns out, and it was humming with activity.  People were walking around, smiling and taking photos.  While my first instinct was to collapse and sprawl, savasana-style like a sunbathing starfish, I headed for the rocks and a barrier from the wind.  I was in a daze.

As more and more people popped up over the edge, the realization that I had actually  done it hit me full on.  A complete stranger patted me on the shoulder and congratulated me.  Just like that,  I was home.  I was among this unusual new family of people with one thing in common, an unquenchable thirst to experience the beauty and bigness of this planet.

I was leaning back on my rock observing the exquisite cloudless sky, trying to find the energy to eat, when a lone raven flew overhead.  I snapped a few pictures of him trying to remember what my animal totem books say about ravens.  Turns out, its fitting that he flew over when he did.

If Raven shows up, it means: “Magic is in the air, and something special is about to happen . . . You’re gradually shape-shifting to a more confident, powerful and spiritually based you that will continue to emerge the more you let go of your old self.” (Animal Spirit Guides by Steven D. Farmer, PhD.)

When I looked up the meaning of Raven the following day, I was stunned.  I’m a big fan of signs and the Universe sends them frequently.  Seeing that Raven at the top of that mountain was a beautiful reminder that I am on the right track.

Once we had rested enough to stand up, the temptation to “swing” over to Torrey’s and bag a 2nd 14er in one day was strong, but I was in full body fatigue and shivering too much to take that thought serious.  The trek down seemed twice as long, and as we came off the trail, the once full parking lot was nearly empty.

One of the dangers of hiking 14ers is the weather and how quickly it can turn deadly with thunderstorms and lightning.  Aside from the 22 degrees and even colder wind gusts, we had been blessed with a 100% chance of sun.  The sunny drive back to the main road revealed all the golden aspen that were hidden in darkness when we had arrived several hours earlier.

Once we parked, my muscles were aching from sheer exhaustion.  I had one of those slowly expanding headaches and started shaking again.  I gathered up my gear, and prepared for the infamous bumper to bumper traffic on I-70 on my way back to Boulder. I thanked my friend for encouraging me to keep going and we hugged each other goodbye.

I am reminded of a quote I recently saw by Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer and explorer.  He said, “It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”  I conquered one mountain along with all kinds of fears and excuses as I hiked my first 14er.  I realize that in doing something so previously unthinkable and foreign to the life I once had, I am opening the floodgates to a life unlimited.  It’s a little scary but it is also exciting.  Change is inevitable, and I’ve decided to embrace it.

 

The Moments That Change Us

This past Labor Day weekend, I went to a retreat near the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park that has changed me from the ground up.   I was there to work and be of service, but as is often the case, I was not immune to the energy of great minds and hearts, powerful speakers, healing services, ancient ceremonies and early morning hikes and sunrises.

I was able to experience a Puja Blessing and Kirtan, an early morning Silent Zen Bell Walking Meditation,  a pre-dawn Harmonizing Nature Hike which included a full sage clearing and sunrise grounding and a Thunder Drum Circle in the lineage of the Plains Indians.  Aside from the stellar cast of speakers, writers and musicians, I was introduced to over 30 men and women involved in Sound Healing using Tibetan Singing Bowls, some of whom were also Reiki masters, therapists, doctors, fellow rock and crystal hounds and of course, loads and loads of yoga teachers.

With that many different healers under one roof; positive and gut-wrenching change is guaranteed.  It was like we all took turns having an emotional meltdown including unstoppable tears that came out of nowhere, stream of conscious journaling, the healing balm of nature and lots of support and hugs.

After a particularly emotional day, I connected with a woman who specializes in past-life regression, and I was all over that one.  We did a mini-session that took me back to a life that showed me the “mask” I’ve been hiding behind out of fear of revealing my True Self. I was surrounded with love and support from my deceased loved oneIMG_2032s during this process and I can still feel them near me.

The following day found me awake before dawn, hiking up a mountain in the dark with a small group of new friends.  I had been given two pieces of beautiful pyrite and told to keep one and give one back to Mother Earth.  As I stumbled up, tripping over roots and rocks, I was on a silent mission to be led to the place where I could plant my gift.

After the sun finished its rise, our small group wondered off to explore and connect in our own way.  I saw a hidden area with lots of little birds hopping around and chirping, so I went to investigate.  I was admiring the intimate relationship between the sun and the mountains when I glanced down and saw a feather on the ground.  I knelt down, picked it up and held it to the sun.  Just then, I knew this was the perfect place to plant my stone.  A silent bond was formed in that moment, with the sun, mountains and my ancestors showing me the way without saying a word.

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Swipe Left or Right . . . The Truth about Dating

For starters, dating apps have absolutely taken over.   If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Swipe left or swipe right”, you can thank a dating app for that.  For anyone who hasn’t had the “opportunity” to date through a dating app, prepare yourself, because it is not for the weak, and most definitely requires a thick skin.  I’ve been dating off and on since my divorce, and I can say that online dating and/or dating apps has evolved, a little.  However, it has also devolved.

I have tried a few different dating apps in the past year, and the thing I have noticed is that meeting potential dates and mates this way feels like a job interview with one purpose and one purpose only, to determine your desire to have a meaningless and untethered sexual encounter . . . preferably on the first date.  

The vast majority of men I’ve met on dating sites have one thing in common; they are looking for a low-investment connection.  Trust me, you haven’t lived until a guy tells you he is looking for this type of connection. I remember when I first heard a guy say something like this to me.  We were at a cute little speakeasy, standing at the bar when he leans in, and asks, “So what are you looking for?” I had literally known this person for two hours, tops, so I really wasn’t sure how to answer that question.  He helped steer me through it by telling me that he had just ended a nine month relationship and wasn’t looking for anything serious.  Ding! A light bulb suddenly went off as I realized what he was really asking.

In my head I did a flashback to his profile that said he was looking for an adventure and travel partner who lives life deep, but loves to laugh, is into keeping it real while having a good time.  He also mentioned that he was spiritual and interested in the metaphysical.  That was the thing that made him stand out to me.  I rarely meet men who have an interest in this topic which is very close to my heart.  Something wasn’t lining up.  Turns out, either he hadn’t updated his preferences lately, or he was lying about what he was seeking.  Hold that thought.

We later made plans to celebrate my 50th birthday doing something totally cool and new which I had decided was the theme for the upcoming year, but a conversation we had in between those plans almost derailed things as I admitted that while I wasn’t looking for a serious relationship at the moment, I also don’t like to carelessly hook up and have random sex with men that I have just met.  In order to save face, he did his part and made sure I had a fun birthday experience, but he disappeared, as I knew he would, because he was really only there for the sex.

If I am going to spend time picking out a cute outfit and making myself look as if I just nonchalantly woke up this way without any effort, than believe me, it will take some effort!  If I go to all that effort, it means I care and want to make a good impression because something about the guy’s profile made me want to know him outside of the virtual world. Call me old-fashioned, but I can promise that if we meet in person, it isn’t because I just want to fuck.  It appears however, that I am in the minority on this one.

Take for example, a guy I met on a dating app whom we will call the,  “I’m Super Motivated to Date You Guy”; and before you ask, yes, he really said that.  This guy went from zero to 60 in less than 24 hours.  Here’s his strategy.  First, he stalked my Facebook page and tried to emulate things he thought mattered to me. Once he realized that wasn’t working, he decided on a new strategy.  He begged me to give him my number and message outside of the dating app, and it went downhill from there. Here’s a sample of one of our texted conversations:

Him: I’d also like to hang out with you on a regular basis.

Me: I’d like to meet you to see how compatible we are in person. 

Him: Or we can just talk on the phone prior.  That whole compatible thing, im gunna need you to work with me on that. Honestly I prefer older women for this very reason. (spelling and punctuation his)

Me: (in my head . . and what reason is that? ) I’d like to hear your voice so talking on the phone ahead of meeting would be nice. (I have a thing for voices, the deeper and sexier, the better)

Him: Anytime babe (in my head: So I’m your babe now am I? Phfff!)

A few texts later, and by later, I mean a few minutes; I get this doozie:

Him: I may even insist on a commitment beyond one date.

Me: Wait, What?! You barely know me.  . . . 

Him: I know you pretty well, its mostly documented on FB and this conversation.

(Me, in my head: Hahahahahaha!) Well again, how about we meet before we start making too many plans for the future . . .

Him: Oh im already sold. 

(Me, in my head: well, I’m not). Yeah, I’m a little more cautious with my heart. 

As if all of this wasn’t enough to ignite a major red flag, I kept playing along. Honestly, by this point, I just really wanted to see what the hell he was going to say next. And he did not disappoint! Within minutes, he managed to bring up sex, but first he made sure to soften it by mentioning that he was only looking for a monogamous partner. That appealed to me, but then he launched into this dialogue:

Him: I do like to have a fair amount of sex, fair warning. Again, not my primary thing, just something I figured id mention. (He went on to mention it 3 more times that night)

Me: (in my head, WTF?!) 

It was about to get really interesting, and this ladies, is your on-line dating public service announcement . . .

Him: I’m toying with idea of committing early on to like a 2 month commitment, that way sex early on won’t wreck it.

Me: Wait, what? (Me, in my head, OMG is this guy for real?!)

Him: Right so if i commit for 2 months you don’t get hurt, we can grow into the relationship and have sex while doing it. Its genius really.

(It’s like watching a train crash in slow motion . . . but I just can’t help myself, I’ve got to see how crazy this guy truly is)

Me: And what happens after two months?

Him: So after 2 months we keep building the relationship. if not well we’ll both of had a lot of fun, no regrets. I’ve cleared the next 8 weekends for you.

Me: literally speechless

A few texts later, he was feeling pretty confident that I had just bought his entire line of bullshit so he lobs one out into the stratosphere . . .

Him: Night baby. You should just swing by tonight, thatd be baller.

And that ladies, is how a narcissistic predator sounds when he is trying to “date” you.  I shared this particular encounter because it was the most absurd and over the top version of what dating via phone apps has become.

I am also sharing this because I have to admit, even though my defenses were cued up and I was immediately suspicious of this guy’s game, a part of me started to get sucked into the vortex of it all.  It was that quick.  Seriously, as soon as he started talking about sex, the boundaries started melting because I mean, sex is nice when it has some intimacy and emotion mixed in with a nice orgasm.  And talking about that via text makes us drop our inhibitions because it doesn’t seem real.  It’s like talking to one of your girlfriends, and then you realize that you AREN’T talking to one of your girlfriends and it’s like ummmmmm, who is this again?

It suddenly makes perfect sense why guys so often lose interest if we don’t immediately give out our number. I have lost count of the number of men who deleted me when I refused to give them my number after they said “hi”. That’s how you know what they are all about. Is it too much to ask to meet for a coffee or a fancy water before I let you start blowing up my phone with inappropriate questions? Or worse, dick pics?!

So how did dating become such a field of virtual landmines?  I think it started with an app designed to locate a person you’ve just met online so that you can “hook up” for a quickie. When this happened, the world of dating started to devolve. The other factor that makes dating today more difficult than ever is age.  I was 49 going on 50 when I started dating here in Colorado, and let me tell you, nobody is dating in their age group.

My first Colorado date was in July 2018, and I finally took a break in March of 2019.   In the space of 9 months, I went on 22 dates with 16 different men and their ages ranged from 25 years (don’t judge!) to 51 years old. Obviously, based on those numbers, a few of these men warranted more than one date; very few.  Out of all of them, only one has become a friend, and that says a lot about him and his character.

One of the things that I noticed and cannot deny is that all of these men were mirroring a blatant truth back to me.  I am not ready to be in a serious relationship right now, just as they aren’t.  I am enjoying the hell out of my life, and for me, being in a serious relationship just feels like a trap full of compromise, topped with compromise.  Not too long ago, I was in a 4-year relationship that was nothing but compromise on my part.  I think I still have a little PTSD from that experience.

At this point in my life, I am not looking to marry anyone, but I do want the opportunity to get to know them, go on a hike, see a movie, talk, walk around Pearl Street, experience something new together, and hold the space for something to potentially develop.  I think people have forgotten how dating used to be.  It wasn’t always like this.  It used to be exciting to just talk to each other and take things slowish.  That little flip that your stomach would do when he called, or you saw him and smelled his cologne, the sparks that would fly when you held hands or kissed for the first time; I miss that.

As much as I would like to tell you that the example from above was the only weirdo I’ve had to deal with over the past several months, I have much more hilarium to share.

Next, is a guy I nicknamed GQ, or Fifty Shades of No Thank You, because quite honestly his photos looked like they were straight out of Vogue.  So when we matched up and did some texting, I was thrilled when he asked me out.  I mentioned that I was craving some Tex-Mex, so he invited me out to Chuy’s, one of my favorites.

We had a great conversation; he was very charismatic and just as good-looking in person as online, (not always the case).  After he walked me to my car, he turned away with his hands in his pockets, and mumbled something over his shoulder about how we should do it again sometime.  Well, I’m no psychic, but with body language like that, I figured I’d never see him again.  Turns out the Universe heard my frustration, and we matched up a second time. That is when I finally discovered the real reason that he hadn’t called for a second date.

We were texting a little about Halloween and such when he messaged me with this little shocker:

Him: So, you do know that I am a Dominant right?

Me: (in my head . . and how would I know that?) Are you talking about 50 Shades of Grey dominant?

Him: That’s the one doll. (Me: I hate it when men patronize me with names like doll.  I’ll show you doll, asshole!)

Me: (momentarily speechless) Alright, well, I actually hated that book and couldn’t even finish it but  . . . out of curiosity, how long have you been into this dominant/submissive thing? Do you get a lot of positive feedback? (The journalism student in me suddenly came to life).

Him: A long time.  And it’s hit or miss. Some are into it and some not. I consider it a filter.

Me: (in my head: Funny, I’m using this conversation as a filter) Um, probably gained some traction with the books and movies . . . I just take issue with being required to give up control. Is it about one night stands or mutual pleasure?

Him: Not a one night stand. It’s about pleasure through giving up control.

Me: Yeah, I can see how that works for one person, but you’re not giving up any control; you’re taking it.

Needless to say, I never saw him again.

I’d like to point out that I did not start dating again in order to gather evidence of the weirdness out there in the dating world, that just happened. I started dating again because I was tired of spending all my time alone and curious to see if guys in Colorado are different than the ones I dated in Texas. (They are).

I would also like to say that I am grateful for all the men that I met during the past 9 months.  Even though a vast majority of them were only there for the sex, they were men I never would have met otherwise.  I had some good conversations, discovered some cool new restaurants, and felt that flutter in my belly when I saw a few of them and smelled their cologne. I also learned a lot about myself and my needs right now.

I guess what I am saying is that if both parties are only there for the sex, that’s one thing, but don’t ask me out and pretend that you care, only to instantly lose interest when we do have sex. That’s just rude, even if you do apologize for it later.

Dating is not a complete waste of time, but it is something that requires intention and mindfulness. If you are brave enough to dive in, I applaud you! I hope that you meet a kindred spirit and have some fun together. Whether that fun involves a sexual connection only, or something deeper is totally up to you. Just be prepared and know that dating has changed, and not necessarily for the better. Knowledge is power and is a requirement today more than ever, as we try to understand ourselves through the process of dating.

A “little” hike called Mt. Sanitas

Today, I decided to re-visit my old nemesis, a trailhead called Mt. Sanitas.  If you’re from around here, you know all about this little gem.  It’s where locals go for a quick and dirty workout.  In fact, the girl that blew by me with her Labrador puppy, mentioned on her way back down that she was going on a 16 mile run afterwards.  WTF?!  So anyway, depending on your fitness level, and how often you have to stop to catch your breath, this 2.6 mile out and back with an elevation gain of 1,253 ft. is considered a moderate level of difficulty, and could take an hour or three.

I call this trail my nemesis, because I hiked it for the first time a year ago after living here for less than a month.  I moved from Austin, TX which has a elevation of 489′ (as in above sea level).  In case you are wondering, the elevation of Boulder is 5,328′, so just a little bit of elevation gain from my previous stomping grounds.

I personally was very naive about the effects of such a vast change in elevation, and I showed up to meet some friends with nothing more than a bottle of Ozarka water and unbridled excitement to be going on my first real hike since moving to Boulder.  It was a sunny and clear January afternoon, the kind that starts out chilly and results in sunburn, dehydration and the inability to catch one’s breath.  At least that’s how it was for me.  All I remember is that the trip down the mountain was actually more difficult than going up, if that’s even possible.  In fact, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I did not make it all the way up to the top.

Fast forward to July when some other friends were in town visiting and we all decided to go for a hike.  Now, these friends, just like the others, are hard-core hikers, and very fit.  They were kind enough to pause while I stopped frequently to catch my breath, and this time, I made it all the way to the top.  We took a photo so I have proof!  We ended up going through to Lion’s Lair Trail which was a nice reprieve from the rocky climb up Mt. Sanitas. It is not however, a dog-friendly trail, not even if you have the special sight and sound tags required in Boulder City limits. If you didn’t know this and you brought your pooch, you have two options: go back down the way you came, or turn your out and back  hike into a loop by following the Mt. Sanitas Valley Loop.

It took almost six more months before I got the urge to hike this trail again, and this time I brought my dog.  I swear my dog is a better hiker than I am.  He’s also pretty old for a dog, but you wouldn’t know it based on his energy and enthusiasm for dragging me up the mountain when I was hiking too slow.  This time, I noticed that I had way more endurance than before and the stops I took had more to do with photo ops than for catching my breath.

I was also much more prepared, a bit too much actually.  After many hikes all over Colorado this summer, I learned a few things, with one of the most important being that a picnic at the top is a necessary treat, and alcohol tastes better the higher up you go.   Nowadays, my backpack is always in tow and filled with at least one, if not two 32 oz. Nalgene water bottles, snacks, micro-spikes, lip balm, sunscreen, a sweat rag, Kleenex, and a blister first-aid kit.

On this cloudless Saturday, the thing that challenged me the most was to need to avoid the rush.  Instead of rushing up and right back down the mountain, I allowed myself to sit at the top, eat, take some more pictures, rest completely, and savor the warm scent of pine trees.  I let myself get grounded and I let nature heal the stress and tension of the previous week.

Living in this beautiful place is a gift that I do not take for granted.  I moved mountains to get here and took a massive leap of faith that it was where I was supposed to be.  I left family, friends and a lifetime of traditions because I felt the pull of this place where I was born, but never really lived.  Mt. Sanitas is no longer my nemesis.  She is my teammate. and the first of many stepping stones along my path to reconnect to my most authentic self through nature.