Sunday, April 19, 2015


Today I was privileged to watch this TED talk, which really resonated with me.  Do yourself a favor and watch it, then keep reading.

What unravels connection?


Whoa.  That is poignant to me.   She said, "shame is the fear of disconnection."  And THIS.  This:
"Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?"

That is me, to a T.  I cannot tell you how much I identify with that fear.  I distance myself from people even though I literally CRAVE connection with others.  I try to hide in corners.  Hide my body so that people who might not like it won't have to see it if they don't want to.  Then I hide any character flaws (or even character traits) BEHIND that body so they won't have to see or dislike those either.  I try not to laugh too loudly, talk about anything controversial, or offend anyone.

I have accidentally offended people before, and the SHOCK of them telling me I did something so horribly wrong, was so debilitating that I would do anything to avoid that happening again in the future.  It's whenever I get what I sometimes call "confident", and I tend to let my personality loose a bit more, that I get smashed back down by a negative experience of someone getting offended by me in some way.  So I get the idea that there is something inherently wrong with my personality.  And I swing back the other way to humility (or is it humiliation), curl up in my cave, and try to be as small and as quiet as I possibly can.

My therapist told me the other day that he thinks I would naturally probably be more open and free (and extroverted) than I ALLOW myself to be.  It's true, I hold myself back a lot.  I also worry about lack of wittiness and intelligence.  When I am too free to talk, I too frequently say stuff that is stupid cause I didn't think it through, I didn't get the punchline, I don't have the cultural knowledge to understand it, etc.  I think I'm just pretty socially awkward a lot of the time.  I hate that feeling of being laughed at or not taken seriously because my lack of intelligence hindered me in the conversation.  I am afraid to talk about my ideas in case there is something in them that might show a lack of knowledge on my part and I will look like a fool.

I want people to like me, so I try to be a people pleaser.  But do they end up liking me for that?  Not really.  Is it actually possible to please everyone?  Hell no.  (Like my recent usage of the word hell is displeasing to many people I know.)  It's not even possible to completely please the top 5 people I admire the most, all of the time.

Do I have any really close or "best" friends?  No.  Have I ever had any?  Not really.  I've actually thought about talking about this topic for a long time, but here again I was afraid of offending those who were pretty close friends and might feel bad that I didn't think we were really that close.  But if they are honest with themselves, I'm sure they'd also realize we were never really that close.  At least certainly we aren't now.

I don't think I have ever had a best friend.  Not in the way I want at least.  I see other people who have a best friend they can call up anytime and both vent about whatever, they hang out and want to spend time together frequently.  They support each other through hard times and love each other no matter what.  They don't let much time go by without contact.
I have had elements of these things, but never the full thing.  I have even felt like a few different people were MY "best friend", but I knew that I was not theirs.  And I will tell you the truth that it hurts to be in that situation.  I usually tell myself that I'm expecting too much and being ungrateful.

I feel like a whiner to even want this stuff.  I'm a grown woman, why would someone my age and status in life want or need or think she could have a "bestie"?  That's something you either had in high school (or college) or you didn't, and that stage of life is over.

Well, I'm sorry, but that's stupid, and I hope it's not true.  I'd like to have close friends.  Even if I don't have one "bestie", I'm sure a lot of my friendships could be a lot more than they currently are.  But in order for that to happen, both parties have to be willing to be vulnerable.

Now let me be grateful for a minute.  I have a good number of awesome friends.  I love them.  They are wonderful, and I'm so glad to have people that will do things with me, come to game nights, go swimming with me, encourage and support, etc.  I'd like to see some of these grow and blossom into even deeper, more meaningful relationships.  I can't be the only one who wants more connection.  At least I hope not.  I know that logistics and practicality prevent a lot of connection- we're busy people with families, jobs, etc.  But I think we can do better.  In my case at least, technology also gets in the way, and that's really unnecessary to let that happen.

I want to talk for a bit about dating as it relates to this too.  I have had people I felt well-matched with but they didn't agree.  I once kind of asked a guy out and was pretty harshly rejected.  He literally looked me up and down really quickly when I said he should keep me in mind for going hiking with sometime cause I'd love to go with him, and he said "alright" very half-heartedly.  Yeah that went nowhere, and that hurt.  Maybe it was his way of saying, "you don't look like you can do much hiking."  So here's the interesting thing.  After doing that I felt like 100 bucks cause I had been brave enough to (kind of) ask a guy I liked to do something with me.  As I thought about it later I was sad about the rejection, but realized he was being a little bit shallow and I was glad I never did anything with him, cause it would not have been a good match.

So TERRIFIES me....but I think my strategy is going to be one of genuine vulnerability and quick action.  If I like a guy, I'm just going to ask him to do something with me.  And those guys who aren't interested will reject me in one way or another and I will more quickly move on.  Instead of my old strategy of waiting around forever for something to happen, hoping it will, and it never does.  If people can't naturally see the value I have, I am going to have to be more proactive about showing it to them.  And if they are then unwilling to even take a look, they're not worth my time.
I think a similar strategy will work with friends.  In fact, I started to do something kind of like that last summer, spending some fun one-on-one time with a bunch of different friends.  It was really fun and helped me determine better who I would like to be closer to.

Can I also say I'm on the lookout for some 2nd moms?  My mom is gone.  I need great women in my life who care about me and will advise me.  There have been people I would love to take this job.  I'm going to try to be less shy and just pursue those relationships.

Vulnerability means to be authentic.  It is courageous.  Courage is, as Brene' Brown put it, "to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart."  There are a couple of distinctions between people who suffer from shame and lack connection, and those who have deep connections to others.  Those with good connection with others know that this vulnerability is important and their vulnerabilities are what make them beautiful.  They also believe they are worthy of love and connection.

So as a person who desires more connection, I am working on these things and will be seeking more and better connection with others.  I am working hard on believing I'm worthy.  I'm not there yet, but making progress.  I think it may be the biggest hurdle of my life.

I do believe that vulnerability is important, but more in theory than in practice.  I think I am more okay with being vulnerable with my weaknesses than with my strengths.  (Weird.)  I don't like to let my personality show a lot in case it's too weird for people, even though I like it just fine.  I don't let my thoughts and ideas show.  But then how will I ever find people who are similar to me and I get along well with, if I'm not being genuine?

This has been a very disorganized post- more of a journal entry than a blog anyone else would really benefit from reading.  Normally I would edit it to be nicer, or even start over from scratch.  But since I'm talking about vulnerablity and authenticity, I'm just going to leave it as-is.  I don't expect there will be many who actually read it to the end.  But perhaps those that do will have some interesting things to say, ideas to talk about, and time to spend with me.  Or perhaps the thoughts here will just get you thinking about your own relationships, ability to be vulnerable, etc.
If I know you and you too are seeking more connection and if I am worthy to be in your inner circle, please do let me know.  I think this life can be much more fulfilling, pleasant, and peaceful than we let it be.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hiking Plans

This week has been quite the baptism into what I have decided to call my "active season."  I am just finishing up a very sedentary season because I have had to commute to where I'm working and haven't even ridden my bike for weeks.  This week I went to Capitol Reef with some awesome friends from school and did stuff like this:

I scrambled up the rocks from the bottom of that ravine to this vantage point (and a little past that).

Then I went backpacking up a pretty strenuous trail to a campground, which was crazy and full of unexpected adventures.

This summer- as it has been many previous summers - it is my goal to hike my favorite peak and the only one I have ever scaled before - Mount Timpanogos.  It's a very high and very popular mountain peak to hike in my area, probably the most popular in Utah.  (Click here for info on the hike.)

It is not just a goal I've had for a while and want to finally check off my list, but I feel it is a metaphor that will be rather fitting as a way to celebrate the completion of my college degree that took me 10 years.  I've done a lot of personal growth (and am still in the middle of doing that), so it will also be a good culmination of that and a way to express my appreciation for all the good things that have happened in my life.  Plus it'll be wicked fun and beautiful!

So, in order to work my way up to that strenuous 15 mile hike, I have plans to do a lot of fun hikes this summer leading up to the Timp hike in August.  Two I for sure want to do that have also been on my list for a while, are Squaw Peak and Big Baldy.  So here, I am going to list information for many local hikes I would like to try some day, and several of which I will do this summer leading up to the Timp hike. I suspect this will be useful information for many people in my area anyway, so here you go.  (Work in progress...I wanted to get this published but I will add more hikes to this in the near future.)

Sites with good info on lots of hikes
Provo Trails on - lists 6 easy, 2 moderate, and 2 strenuous hikes in the Provo, Utah area, with info on each hike including pictures, directions, etc.

Salt Lake Trails on - lists 5 easy, 9 moderate, and 3 strenuous hikes in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, with info on each hike including pictures, directions, etc.

6 Family Friendly Hikes to Waterfalls - article from KSL

I am going to categorize these hikes to my own specifications of how I will work my way up through them, obviously others will want to do it the way that works well for them.  By "kid friendly" I mean preschool/ school-age kids.  Depending on what your kids are used to, toddlers and infants should probably be in a carrier for most of the kid friendly hikes because I'm not really listing here what I would consider to be strolls rather than hikes.  "Moderately kid friendly" are a bit longer or steeper, so probably wouldn't work for most preschoolers if they've not already been conditioned for that kind of thing.  All the moderate hikes I plan to do without my school-age children.

Easy: Kid Friendly
Devil's Kitchen
Location: Nebo Scenic Loop in Payson Canyon
Distance: 0.5 miles round trip
Info: Sounds like it's a bunch of rock formations! :)
Additional Info and directions to trailhead:

Bridal Veil Falls
Location: Provo, Utah
Distance: 0.2 miles round trip
Elevation: 150 ft. gain
Info: This is a short little hike from the pool at the very bottom of the falls to the base of the big waterfall.  Very short and kid friendly, although the trail can be a little narrow/ steep in some spots so you'll need to watch little ones closely or carry them in a pack.

For added exercise or fun, you could hike or bike up the Provo River Trail from wherever- it's a really nice paved trail that is well used.  If you park at Nunn's Park just south of Bridal Veil Park, it would add just 0.8 miles each way.  Going from 800 North in Orem via the Provo River Trail is just 4 miles to Bridal Veil which makes a fun family ride.  The pool at the bottom of Bridal Veil is a fun way to cool off.  If you have good water shoes/ sandals and are adventurous, you can even hike straight from the pool up the waterfall itself rather than taking the 0.2 mile trail.
The pool is just in front of where my son is standing, and those are the rocks you could climb straight up to the waterfall.

Additional Info:

Grotto Falls
Location: Nebo Scenic Loop in Payson Canyon
Distance: 0.6 miles round trip
Info: Sounds short and easy!
Additional Info & Directions:

Battle Creek Falls
Location: Pleasant Grove, Utah
Distance: 1.2 miles round trip

Battle Creek Falls
Info: This is an easy little hike with a pretty waterfall at the end, very kid friendly.  It's a tad steep at the beginning, but nothing unmanageable for kids.  Might take an hour to get to the falls, and it's fun to take a picnic lunch or snack to have at the falls.
Additional Info and directions to Trailhead:

Warm Up: Moderately Kid Friendly

Scout Falls
Location: Timpooneke Trailhead, AF Canyon
Distance: 2 miles round trip (or 2.8?  The site was a little confusing)
Elevation: 700 ft gain
Info (from source): When you leave the parking lot, pass the outhouse to pick up the trail, then immediately go to the right. The other trail will require bushwacking to find the right trail again, so you might as well take the right trail to start with. You meander through trees for awhile. At the next junction after 1.4 miles, go left to see Scout Falls or left to continue to the summit. Scout Falls is only 100ft off the main trail.

Timp Falls
Location: Provo Canyon, on the Aspen Grove trail up Mount Timpanogos
Distance: 2 miles round trip

Timp Falls

Info: This is a fun little hike and at the right time of year, you will see a lot of bonus waterfalls from mountain run-off.  It is the kind of hike where you could go as short or as far as you want.  I'm putting it under moderately kid friendly just because it is slightly steep at times, so if you go all the way to the falls, it could be a little harder on little tikes.  You might find for your family that it's actually plenty easy.
Additional Info:

Stewart Falls
Location: Aspen Grove in Provo Canyon
Distance: 3.5 miles round trip
Elevation: 100 ft gain
Info:  Beautiful waterfall that is over 200 feet tall!  It's a fairly even up-and-down hike on a slightly narrow trail.  Once you get to the waterfall, you can hike down a pretty steep part to the bottom of the falls and there is a nice area to sit and have a snack, and if it's hot outside, enjoy the spray from the waterfall.  This hike goes off from the same trailhead parking area as Timpanogos Falls, Emerald Lake, and Timp Summit- (Aspen Grove TH).  This has a separate trail to the south of the other.
Additional Info and directions to trailhead:

Fifth Water Waterfalls & Hot Springs
Location: Spanish Fork Canyon
Distance: 4.5 miles round trip
Info: Locally known as the "hot pots", this is a popular destination.  I've heard people tend to hang out in the pools nude, so be prepared for that if you're bringing kids, or try to go at off-peak times.
Additional Info & Directions:

Timpanogos Cave
Location: American Fork Canyon, Utah
Distance: 1.5 miles, steep
Elevation: 1,092 ft elevation gain, total elevation: 6,730 feet
Info: strenuous, steep, but paved and short.  Smaller children may struggle a bit or take a longer time.  To take the tour of the cave, you have to buy tickets.
Additional info: Cave tour and stuff (National Monument website)

The Y
Location: Terrace Drive in Provo, Utah
Distance: 2.4 miles round-trip, steep
Info: Fun hike for kids cause they get to climb on the Y, and it's fun to eat lunch up there.  The trail is pretty wide and well-maintained, but it's rather steep so beware of that.  Nice views of Utah Valley and Utah Lake from up there.
Additional Info and directions to trailhead:

Moderate: Steepness Practice

Big Baldy
Big Baldy is the large round peak spanning between Battle Creek Canyon and dry Canyon (labeled)
Location: Orem/ Pleasant Grove, Utah
Distance: about 5 miles round trip
Elevation: 3200 ft elevation gain
Info: This can be hiked from either the Dry Canyon trailhead in Orem, or the Battle Creek trailhead in Pleasant Grove.  When I do it, I'd like to start at one and end at the other to get the full range of scenery.
Additional information:  On

Y Mountain
Location: Terrace Drive in Provo, Utah
Distance: 6 miles round trip
Elevation: 3346 ft gain, 8,522 total
Info: The hike to the Y can be extended to go to the summit of the mountain.  The trail sounds a little complicated, so be sure to look at the directions and maybe see if you can find a good map.
Additional Info & directions:

Mount Olympus Summit
Location: Wasatch Blvd, Salt Lake City (about 4500 S)
Distance: 7.5 miles round trip
Elevation: 4100 ft gain
Info: Beautiful hike, very steep
Additional Info & Directions:

Moderate: Distance Practice
Squaw Peak
Location: Provo, Utah
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation: 2709 ft elevation gain, 7876 total peak elevation
Info: This hike heads up the popular and beautiful Rock Canyon in Provo, Utah, and then goes around the back side of this peak until it comes to the front and heads to the peak.  I have gotten about 3/4 of the way up this when we ran out of water, so make sure you take plenty of water!  I'll be taking my 3 L Camelbak and maybe a bit more.  (I drink a lot of water!)
Additional Info: Directions and trail info at rockcanyonutah.

Squaw Peak is the jutting point to the left of Rock Canyon, right about the middle of the picture

Emerald Lake
Location: Aspen Grove Trailhead, Provo Canyon
Distance: 9.6 round trip
Elevation: 3500 ft gain
Info:  This is going up the Mount Timpanogos trail but ending before heading to the summit.  (Only 2 more miles/ 1100 ft elevation gain from here to the summit of the mountain.)  It is a pretty area, a great "practice run" for the real thing.
Additional Info: This link has great details on the hike to timp, including a bunch of stops on the way.

Strenuous: The Goal
Mount Timpanogos Summit
Location: Aspen Grove Trailhead in Provo Canyon, or Timpooneke Trailhead in American Fork Canyon
Distance: 15 mile round trip, Timpooneke
Elevation: 11,700 total, 4,800 ft gain
Mount Timpanogos

Info: I plan to take the Timpooneke trailhead.  The difference from what I understand is that the Timpooneke is 1 mile longer each way but less steep than Aspen Grove.  That is one reason I will take the other trail, but also because I plan to take a separate hike to Emerald Lake via the Aspen Grove trailhead earlier in the season, so this way I will get to see pretty much all the scenery both trails have to offer.
Apparently I only have pictures of Timp with snow on it!  I look forward to getting some new pictures when I go. :)
Timp in the early winter- view from Alpine Loop

Additional Info:
Timpooneke trailhead:
Aspen Grove trailhead: