Friday, October 2, 2009

Getting a grip on life: you may not have a safety rope in the real world, but scaling the side of a cliff isn't so different from navigating the daily USA, LLC

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When I think about all the outdoor activities I've done--scuba diving, sailing, white-water kayaking, and triathlons--one sport is a thorn in my athletic side: rock climbing. I can't seem to get it out of my system, but not because I like it. On the contrary--every minute I spend up there on that rope is sheer torture. My mind is screaming, "This is too hard! This is too high! (Don't cry.) Your butt looks hideous in this harness!" But 1 keep trying on the off chance that the next time I'll actually enjoy it.

I've recently started thinking, though, that maybe the sport intrigues me because 1 need to overcome similar challenges in my everyday life. If I can conquer my fears when I'm hanging off the side of a cliff, perhaps I can transfer what I learn up there to situations that trip me up down on the ground.

For starters, it's clear that I need to work on my mental toughness. Intellectually I know my body has what it takes to climb--my arms, legs, and core are strong--but as soon as I'm off the ground, my emotions drown out my common sense. I see that same pattern emerge when I'm stressed or crazy busy at work. Having a mini breakdown 60 feet up in the air isn't going to get me anywhere, just as it won't when I'm up against a tough deadline. The only way out: calm down and focus.

When I climb, my rational side tells me to keep my body close to the rock. So when the guide explains that I have to lean away to spot my next move, I think he's crazy. But you are more agile (and less myopic) when you loosen up and unglue yourself from the slab. It occurred to me after one climb that a budding romance could benefit from the same "chill out and gain some perspective" attitude. Often times, I want so badly for things to progress quickly, but taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture before making my next move is what would probably help me (and him) relax.

When the route gets tricky, sometimes you have to release your grip on a handhold and launch yourself toward the next one, trusting that if you miss your mark, your partner (who's holding the rope) will keep you from falling. It's a lesson in taking a calculated risk--something I've always been good at. I've switched careers and moved cross country several times to take advantage of new opportunities. As I get older and have more responsibilities, it's getting tougher, but I still have the urge to throw myself into a new challenge. Perhaps that's what's so exciting and repelling about climbing--it forces me to test what I thought were my limits. Each outing bolsters my reserve and my toughness just a little bit more, and that helps me up there and down here.

Source Citation:Lee, Janet. "Getting a grip on life: you may not have a safety rope in the real world, but scaling the side of a cliff isn't so different from navigating the daily grind.(SHAPE'S GET OUTSIDE! GUIDE)." Shape 28.9 (May 2009): 48(1). General OneFile. Gale. Alachua County Library District. 2 Oct. 2009

Gale Document Number:A197670131

Disclaimer:This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.

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