Saturday, March 2, 2013

Choosing Your Mom

I am feeling much better after taking some time to chill out and get over my cold. It ended up snowing most of the day that I had decided to stay home, so I'm definitely glad I didn't go out. 

After I posted my sick-day-freak-out, I felt a little silly. Really, do people want to read about my insecurities? If I want to be some bad-ass guide, shouldn't I hide the fact that I'm a total worrier about everything? I should be tough and stoic and unaffected by silly things like anxiety. Right?

The next day, I met Cristin Julian, one of the new owners of Fox Mountain Guides - and I had the answers to my questions. She had actually been reading my posts, and she LIKED them. And what she liked about them was the fact that I DO spill my guts about my insecurities. I'm not some stoic, emotionally void mountain stomper. She helped me realize why I do want to keep sharing this whole process, even the parts where I'm being a total nincompoop. 

I want to share it because it's the whole story. I could hide the fact that I get really major test anxiety, but that is part of the journey for me. Of all the obstacles I've faced to pursue rock climbing, anxiety has been the biggest one -- not my own physical limitations or lack of technical skills. Anxiety. And it's when I master that anxiety that I feel the most accomplished.   

So, in honor of my sick-day-SPI-Exam-freak-out, here is the next phase of the story:  my SPI-Course-freak-out and how I dealt with that...

The SPI Course

I woke up for the first day of my SPI Course in a state of blind panic. I was wrapped in my sleeping bag in the back of our Toyota Matrix, where I had camped out for the night. It was still chilly in the pre-dawn morning. I forced my breathing to slow down as I reminded myself that I did know what I was doing, and I was prepared for the course, and it was only the course! I wasn't taking the test... yet.

I got myself under control and got dressed in the dark. I had laid out my clothes the night before and my bag was already packed with all of the gear I might need along with plenty of food and water. I was prepared. But I was still anxious.

The wasn't just about the SPI course. I had harassed and nagged two of the other participants into signing up so that the course would definitely run. I felt responsible for them and the couple hundred bucks they dropped to sign up. It would be beyond embarrassing to have convinced them to sign up for the course, then not do a good job myself.

I was even more nervous due to who was teaching the course – my husband's climbing mentor, AMGA Certified Rock Guide and all around bad-ass Ron Funderburke. Now, Ron is an awesome guy and I consider him a good friend. I've enjoyed spending time with him and his beautiful family with absolutely zero feelings of intimidation. He is also a great instructor who excels at putting his students at ease so they can learn as much as possible. 

Despite all that, I was still ready to puke at the thought of being his student. What if he thought I was dumb? Or really, what if I actually was dumb and this would be the glorious moment during which my dumbness would be revealed?

To top off my anxiety attack, there was always, of course, the fact that I'm Derek's wife. Derek, who despite the short number of years he has been climbing, has developed as a rock climber and a climbing instructor with an excellence and speed that boggles my mind. I took him for his first day of outdoor rock climbing just five years ago and now he is an AMGA Certified Rock Instructor who owns his own guiding company. And I'm that guy's wife. What would folks think when they learned that I'm really not all that good at rock climbing, despite my own 10 year history and being that guy's partner for half of it? And what would Derek think of me when Ron reported to him that I'm an absolute dumb-ass and a total lost cause??

Right. Because that would actually happen.

Ignoring my queasy stomach, I began my walk through the woods toward the building where I could get breakfast and coffee. I was the first one from the course in the dining hall, but was soon joined by Ron. He made a huge plate of food and dug in while I continued to sip at my coffee. As the other students filed in, I felt my anxiety start to dissipate in shuddering spurts. All of these men were my friends. None of them were here to judge me. We all came here to learn and maybe even have fun. Just chill. Breathe.

I still needed to break the ice, for myself more than anyone else. So, I did what any lady would do when surrounded by so many manly men – as soon as the opportunity arose, I cracked the worst “your mom” joke I could think of and sat back to enjoy the startled faces of my classmates.  

I have a hard time feeling freaked out when making lewd comments about men's moms.


My little stunt worked, for me at least. Of course, when Ron continued with jokes about my mom that made my ears turn red, I realized I needed to figure out a better ice breaker. Ron is much better at “your mom” jokes than me.  

Suggestions?  :)

Hanging out during the SPI Course. Literally. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh I so get all these anxieties! I had to retake my belay test at the gym because some goof never put it in the computer...I'd been climbing for a few months and was still nervous I'd mess something up. After already passing at that same gym PLUS another gym...of course I was fine.

    And the stuff about being that guy's wife...oh yeah. I was always worried about not fitting in with all of John's friends who expected this insane 120% rock love like he had. I just had to learn to be my own climber...it's a work in progress. But I love reading that other people have felt the same.

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