I’m honored, truly honored, that you want to get to know me a little better, but before I dive into my story, I want to see if my assumptions about you are on track. I feel like if you landed here, we might just be long lost kindred spirits. And here we are finally (virtually) meeting and I just have a strong feeling that I might just know a little bit about you already. Let me take a guess...
HERE’S WHAT I KNOW ABOUT YOU
1) First of all, I can tell that you value experiences and adventure over having your life filled with more things, clutter, and stress. You are a firm believer in the simple life. The life where good friends, mountains, and staring up at the stars are core to your happiness.
2) You value challenges, personal development, and pushing yourself to be the best that you can be. You have an unquenchable curiosity! The outdoors have awoken a passion in you... a passion for adventure, a passion you didn’t know existed, but now you just can’t get enough of it.
3) You appreciate the simplicity of it all, the way it takes you away from the craziness of life and makes you feel like nothing else in the world matters. You are finally able to escape the overwhelm, and just get lost in the beauty of it all. Being outside feels like going home. Your friends and family may have started to worry about you a bit, because you seem to be dashing away every weekend on a new adventure. It’s hard to explain it to them, but you just can’t stop.
4) When you go outside it’s like your stress and worries just fall away. Life all of sudden feels easier... simpler. You feel calm, focused, and everything feels just right. Adventure is everything you’ve been looking for, and for once in life something doesn’t feel meaningless. It feels rewarding, challenging and fulfilling.
5) You are ready to learn everything you can, push yourself, and put your fears to the test, because you know that deep inside you is a courage that you never knew existed. You’re ready to experience that courage.
If any of that rings true to you... keep reading. I think we may have a lot in common.
I WANT TO BE HONEST WITH YOU
I’m not this knows-it-all-not-scared-of-anything adventurer. It’s really easy to come to my website or look at my Instagram and think, “Damn, she must live on a mountain-top” or “Shit, I’m too much of a ‘newbie’ for this chick.” And while I try to be a straight shooter on social, I know how easy it is to get wrapped up in the comparison game. I’m guilty of it too. I compare myself to other people sometimes too and think, “Who am I to be talking about outdoor adventure?”, “Who am I to be teaching others how to embrace and kick their fears outdoors... to backpack and climb with confidence on tough trails and terrain? I’m still scared half the time too.”
I recently read this book called Daring Greatly (I highly recommend the read), and it talks all about vulnerability. It talks about how vulnerability is essential to trust and how vulnerability is synonymous with courage. I want both of these connections with you. I want you to feel like you can trust me, and I want to lead by example and show you that it’s OK to have a “history,” and to feel “inadequate” sometimes. It’s OK to not know “where to start.”. I want to help you cultivate courage, not only outdoors, but everyday.
So I’ll start by sharing my story with you.
And if it inspires you to share yours with me, I would LOVE to have that conversation with you. But if it takes you more time to feel like you trust me, I GET that. I’ve always been sort of a skeptic myself. What is this internet vulnerability bullshit anyways?
IT ALWAYS COMES BACK TO FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
I think as a kid I always had this sense that I could do absolutely anything that I wanted to in life if I put my mind to it, but at the same time, I had this intense resistance and fear of the unknown and of taking extreme risks. Actually, this is one of my key weaknesses really. I have the tendency to overanalyze things and think of every possible outcome. I can talk myself out of almost anything. I’m really good at it. Some people call that, paralysis by analysis.
There was always some “logical” reason as to why I should behave a certain way or do something a certain way, and to this day that is something that I continually have to check myself for. Because shoot, it’s SO EASY to talk ourselves out of things that we are unsure of. It’s so much easier to give up on those dreams and ideas that we have, than to wrestle with the uncomfortable feelings that “going for it” gives us.
Going for it is hard y’all. It’s real hard.
What if you fail? What if you get hurt?
What if... What if...
You’ve got to turn that shit-talker in your head off though. It ain’t helping you sister. Trust me, I know. I’m very good friends with that shit-talker. We’ve had a toxic relationship in the past.
SO, I’M (ORIGINALLY) FROM TEXAS!
I grew up in Texas (flat-with-no-mountains Houston, Texas), and lived a very safe and “secure” life. I grew up with a conservative, religious family, and I LOVE my family. I had a great upbringing, but I think (like all of us) I developed my own personal fears, my own safety-nets. I played it safe, got good grades, got accepted into Engineering school at UT, married (yes, married) my high-school boyfriend (so I wouldn’t have to face the world alone). I had a big fear of being alone in this world.
I reached this point in my early twenties where I just was getting so tired of my “resistance” to being shy, being alone, and being scared to try new things. I wasn’t experiencing life the way I thought I wanted to experience it. Instead of channeling that in a healthy way though, it all just sort of exploded at once.
I ended up disconnecting from my relationships and ultimately getting divorced young because I felt disconnected from myself. I felt like I had been living life in a bubble, and I needed unlimited borders. I took carpe-diem to the extreme. I don’t actually regret the way things happen, I think it’s exactly what I needed. I needed to take it over the edge, to feel the pain of captivity and also the pain of absolute recklessness in order to really figure out where my “healthy” medium was. Can anyone really ever avoid this? It all seems to happen to us at some point in our life, but just like nature intended, we will all eventually seek equilibrium. We need it, it’s just a matter of finding out what that is for us.
I found my equilibrium with outdoor adventure.
But we will get to that in a minute...
MY FIRST TASTE OF THE OUTDOOR adventure LIFE
I moved to California after college with my degree in Engineering and a job offer, but I chose California with the intention of really nailing down who I was. I had a hunch that my purpose was somewhere there in California, somewhere in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I had this deep gut feeling, that California would be where I’d find my equilibrium.
As I mentioned above, I am originally from Houston, Texas and went to college in Austin, Texas and so, as you can imagine, there wasn’t a whole lot of mountain climbing going on in my childhood, but I was still a fairly active kid. I really got a taste for the “outdoor life” though when I had an internship one summer during college in Denver, Colorado.
(below are some OLD AF photos from that time I was in Colorado, my first taste of the outdoor life. You’ll have to pardon the quality. I knew nothing about photography back then. Also, look how tiny Lincoln is!)
I was married at the time still, and when we moved to Colorado we were determined to “make the best of our Colorado experience,” and at the top of my list was to “try outdoor rock climbing” for the first time. I remember it being this insane sounding idea, and also like this thing that would only happen once in my life… you know like, “Sure I’ll try bungee jumping once”, but you never expect it to turn you into a full-time bungee jumper. It was novelty. People who climbed outdoors, on real rock, were a novelty. I was seriously in awe.
That outdoor rock climbing trip was the first piece in my broken puzzle. I was awakened by it, like stupidly, romantically awakened.
I bugged that climbing tour guide so freaking much! I was asking him so many questions
“So people do this regularly?”
“How do the bolts get on the rock”
“The rope isn’t already on the climb? Who puts the rope up?”
“How do you get down, once you get to the top?”
“What is the proper phrase again? Rock on? Be-hay? On-belay? Belay-on? Super-cali-fragil-belay?”
“Can I be a real rock climber?”
The seed was planted.
AND THEN GUESS WHAT I DID!?
I did nothing. I went back to college, was too shy to go to the climbing gym because I didn’t think I was “any good” and that I’d be embarrassed to climb in front of “real-climbers” and I made up a lot of bullshit excuses and made minimal strides in the direction that I knew deep down I wanted to go.
I wish I could shake that girl back then and be like, “go to the freaking climbing gym!” It’s the best place to make new friends! Join the freaking climbing club, channel your inner climbing badass! But I didn’t do it. I went on the occasional outdoor trip that was coordinated with my college, and that kept me loosely connected to climbing. I started hiking more too, which was something, but mostly I just let myself get swept up in my fears, school, and let’s be honest... partying.
Moving to California was no end-all-be-all solution either. My life and mental state were a mess when I first moved out here. I was divorced, I was trying too hard to get people to like me, all my best friends (at the time) lived in different states. I got caught up in another brutal cycle of work the 9-5, drink on the weekends, watch a lot of tv, and repeat. Instead of boring you with the details, I’d rather fast forward to the light at the end of my tunnel.
THE LIGHT – MY “REBIRTH” SO-TO-SPEAK
Moving to California was a big step in the right direction of learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. The next big step I took was deciding to take my first “solo” trip to Thailand. I found a company (Rock-and-Sun) that lead rock-climbing vacations in Thailand and so I signed up to join a bunch of strangers on a trip that truly set my sails in the right direction.
In Thailand, I got two weeks of being immersed in the outdoors every day, rock climbing every day, time to think, and space to be a new person. The group I met there and my guides at Rock-and-Sun couldn’t have been more perfect for where I was in my life.
I wrote myself a few letters during that trip about who I wanted to be when I got back to California, what I wanted more of in my life (specifically, climbing, hiking and the mountains), and when I made it back to California I started changing who I hung out with as much. I stopped drinking after work, and instead went to the climbing gym. I found climbing partners and started climbing every weekend. People started inviting me hiking, and a really big positive shift in my life happened.
I also made a friend at work, his name is Jake, who was part of a mountaineering club in Utah, and instead of being fearful of my “inability” to keep up and my “lack of knowledge” of mountaineering, I decided to just freaking go for it. (For the record, I had NO CLUE what mountaineering was at the time... another one of those things I didn’t know “real” people did.)
That was 2014, and that year rocked my world. I went from saying things like, “I can’t hike fast, and I’ll just slow you guys down” to being the person planning all the hiking trips and booking all the permits. I got over my stupid fear of being slower than other people, and started really recognizing my strengths.
Ya, I was not (and am still not) the fastest runner or hiker ever, but I’ve got freaking resilience. I can go the distance, I can keep up, and if I had never given myself permission to be OK with the fact that I won’t be the best at everything, I would’ve missed out on so much growth!
You can go so far with a little bit of training, determination, and passion. Really you guys, that’s what this whole blog is really all about... if you dig into the core of its birth. I want to break down those barriers for people, the ones that kept you in a state of fear and a state of resistance. I want people to realize that their big dreams are so attainable.
I had mentors that pushed me and helped me reach the place I am today. My friend Jake, the Climbing Club team and leaders Darren and Jen, those people changed my life. To this day I still try to surround myself with people like this. Surround yourself with people you can learn from, who can help you overcome your barriers. Surround yourself with people who are freaking kicking ass... it will rub off on you.
I believe that we are all capable of great things and that by pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones and into trying new things, we learn so much about who we are and what our true identity in this world is. We are not stuck in our identities, we have the capability of changing who we are.
“It's not always necessary to be strong, but to feel strong. make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt.”
I want to close by saying all this with a grain of salt. It’s so easy to sit down and read someone’s story and be like, gosh man, they have their shit together, and what the hell am I doing with my life, and then you are just going to put yourself down another long battle with Resistance and Fear and Self Doubt.
I still daily struggle with my why. It’s not always this beautiful hippie, I love the mountains and the mountains love me sort of exchange that we all get caught up in when we look through social media. No, it is seriously a lifelong journey.
Sometimes “The mountains are calling” and I just want to stay at home in bed with a pizza and wallow in my self-pity.
The upside is that now I know myself a little bit better, I know my tendencies a little bit more… my weaknesses. I also know what really makes me happy, and sometimes when I am in the worst mood, and the last thing I want to do is go outside or to travel or to be with people, I’ve learned to just force myself to do it, because it’ll bring me back. Nature is now like an old friend, a mentor.
Travel and mountains, these are the tools I use to help shape me into the woman I want to be and force myself out of my box and my comfort zone... so that in being the best version of myself I can be a force for good in this short time here. I can look back and think that I have not wasted my life, but I have enjoyed it, tested it, and left it better than it was.
If this resonated with you in any way, I’d love for you to reach out and connect with me whether it be a DM on social media (@shedreamsofalpine) or shooting me an email (My email is email@example.com). These journeys and experiences are so much richer when shared with each other.
I love the quote at the end of the book “Into the Wild”, that says, “Happiness is only real when shared,” and I really think this just goes back to the whole human experience and our humanity. We may take solo adventures and have experiences that our uniquely our own (and I think they are very important!), but what makes them even more special and brings us joy is the ability to share that with people, to share our stories with those who get it. It’s being able to laugh at ourselves ta the end of the day when we’ve had a massive fail in the mountains and being able to work through our pain with others who give a shit.
So I’m here to tell you... I give a shit.
Let’s do this together. No girl left behind.
So do you want to join me? Looking for a friend? Aspiring to get outside more? Aspiring to break through to new levels? Let’s be friends. Let’s make a kick-ass-no-girl-left-behind tribe. Let’s support each other. There are no stupid questions. There are no stupid goals.
And because I think we are going to be fast friends... I made something special for you. It literally took me one whole weekend to create (+plus editing with friends to make sure it was perfect!). It’s probably up there as one of the best things I’ve created so far on this blog, and its free for you. Because I think you and I have a great friendship in store and journey to embark on.
I created an awesome Outdoor Adventure Starter Kit for you (for FREE). It's filled with 14 pages of tips and inspiration to help you hone your outdoor adventure skills and become the ultimate outdoor badass. Consider this guide my first (of many) gifts to you in our outdoor adventure friendship.
I hope you love it!
It’s time to move yourself beyond the day-to-day. Envision yourself as the masters of your body and your mindset. Let’s get back to the basics and truly get to know ourselves through our experiences with the outdoors, adventure, and travel. Let’s embrace being uncomfortable, scared, and vulnerable.
I look forward to getting to know you better.
Allison – She Dreams of Alpine