I like my hands now. I didn’t always used to. They were never long and dainty like the models’ hands that I saw in dishsoap ads growing up. They weren’t sinewy and powerful like the climber chicks’ I spent years hanging out with, either. They were…hands. Didn’t hide ‘em. Didn’t flash ‘em. Didn’t think they looked really cool with rings on.
Once, I got a manicure and I thought they looked pretty cool, but I was 11, and even then I knew that I wasn’t going to be spending my time getting manicures. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with manicures. But with the things I do every day, a manicure would get messed up pretty quickly.
In any event, during the last few weeks, I’ve been noticing I catch a look at my hands and I think of one thing, and one thing only – my dad.
I really see my dad – who died at the age of 83 in the year 2003 – when I gaze at my hands. My mom used to comment on how she was glad I got his hands. She liked how they weren’t bony, or too rough. He played the acordion and the harmonica. His hands were musical. He wasn’t much of a handyman, but he could hug. Big time.
I’ve been spending the last 3 weeks on the Island of St. Paul in the Pribilofs, a remote archipelago in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. I usually scatter some of his ashes when I go someplace cool – someplace where I think he would have liked to have gone with me. He was an older dad and so by the time I had discovered the outdoors, his mobility was decreased by age and cardiovascular disease (or shall I say, 60 years of smoking?) and he couldn’t come with me on many adventures that I would have liked to have brought him on. But I forgot his ashes this time.
Perhaps that I why I finally saw him so vividly in my own body. I had a need to share all this with him on a physical level, and it wasn’t until now – at 39 years old – that I saw how much of him was a part of me. I suppose 50%, to be exact. But I didn’t get it until now.
I smile deeply as I watch the fur seals at their rookeries on St. Paul and think of how he used to marvel at even starfish, gazing at them and running his fingers along their legs.
When I pause to watch the wind waves that form in the tall grasses as they are blown in every which direction, I recall how he used to ask me to pause when I pushed his wheelchair under a grove of old growths in MuirWoods and say, as he gazed up at the suns rays peeping through the branches and took hold of my hand, “This…this is my cathedral.”
As I hang out in the clinic laughing boisterously with my patients in the waiting room, people wondering why I was hanging out there and not in my office, and chatting with teenage girls about their sex lives (in private!) and asking them questions that bring a look of shock to their faces, I remember my dad pretending to be a squirrel in a park once, looking really stupid but making me laugh so hard. He didn’t care what people thought. He just wanted ME to be happy. And that taught me a big lesson early on in the importance of not caring about what people thought of you if it meant compromising your values. That gave me courage to do things that may seem inappropriate or uncomfortable for the greater good.
Living Full On these past few weeks has been a lot about slowing down, breathing, paying attention – to my heart, my head/thoughts, my body, my friends, my partner…the guides that exist in all forms around me.
I’m glad I slowed down enough to look at my hands long enough to recognize my dad in them. I wonder what else I’ve been missing?
Have you noticed anything lately from slowing down? If you’ve been going going going, what do you think you might be glancing over without knowing?
Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Freedom Junkie™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting anaverzone.com
I know you all have seen photos that I’ve posted about backcountry skiing trips in Alaska and Colorado etc. What you may not know is that I’m relatively new to skiing. I’ve owned skis for a long time…but actually using them on a regular basis has somehow eluded me. I think it is that “fear of falling on my face at high speeds” thing. But admittedly, there’s more.
This year, Alaska got dumped on (where as the lower 48 got barely anything for most of the winter), my partner is from Alaska, and he definitely skis. So, I strapped those boards on more than ever this year, and it was a true experience in being humbled, and getting over my perfectionism (which had conveniently forgotten about).
You see, I’m actually used to big mountains. Lots of skiers, when they come to Alaska, are at least temporarily overwhelmed by the largess of what surrounds them. The largess, I am used to. I’ve guided in the Himalaya and even in Alaska itself. The massive glaciers and peaks are awe-inspiring, and at the same time, I am more accustomed to them than most outdoorsy peeps. But with slippery boards attached to my feet, I was freaked out to be in those big mountains, to put it mildly. And beyond that, if I were being truly honest, it wasn’t even fear that bothered me so much, because I adapt that way pretty quickly.
What got to me was sucking at something.
I am all about growth. After all, Full On 365 is about me pushing myself to grow in every humanly way possible, not just through physical challenges, but spiritual ones as well. And Alaska – as big mountains often do – pushed me to stretch in both ways this winter.
I know how to climb (rock snow, and ice), I know how to carry big heavy packs and suffer for the inevitably epic reward at the end of the adventure, and for the amazing times to be had on the journey itself. I know how to assess mountain terrain and cross big rivers and manage being in grizzly territory and plan big adventures in foreign countries and how to stay warm with very little clothing.
But, my dears, I know not how to ski very well. And that fact has kept me from doing it – often.
I have often spoken with my clients about how perfectionism, and needing to do something uber well every time can keep you from actually experiencing life – and more importantly, from enjoying it! Who cares if you don’t do it perfectly, right?
I’d like to not care, but I do. And it has taken me a lot of work to move through that, which is why I think I can speak about it so well to my clients, and help them through it as well. So when perfectionism reared its ugly head again on this recent trip, I was taken aback.
Pretty much every trip to Alaska this winter involved skiing. And not just every trip, but every day. And I went along, a somewhat reluctant adventurer this time around, wanting to learn and get better (the only way to get better is to DO it!) and hang out with my tribe in beautiful places having an awesome time, even if I did fall on my ass (and face) all day.
However, every one of my friends is a really good skier. I mean REALLY good. Some of them don’t even climb, but many have been skiing for the larger part of their lives, and telemarking at least several years. I was on tele skis as well, which are trickier that alpine skis because your heel isn’t locked down to the ski itself, and it involves a refined technique to make downhill turns. The tradeoff is that because your heel isn’t locked down, it allows you to strap skins on and hike uphill – to big mountaintops and to remote places. Sahweet, and totally worth it for me! Plus, making a good tele turn is a high in and of itself. But falling on your face when everyone else is rockin’ it seemingly effortlessly down the slopes doesn’t feel so awesome.
On this last trip, my partner and I happened to also go sailing – an absolutely stunning trip with incredible views and fortunate weather. We brought skis, too. We were going to be out for 2.5 days, and we skied for the first day above Jakalof Bay on Broken Knife. It was hard going uphill in funky snow for me (oh yeah, I forgot to mention – not only was skiing hard, but being out of shape hiking uphill in skis didn’t help either. I didn’t do much of that in Oregon the last few months). Then it was sketchy coming down in crusty heavy wet snow and I fell every two turns. We had to navigate through trees and gullies to get back to the road before hiking back down to the boat. But it was gorgeous at the top, and I felt satisfied back at the boat and relieved after having survived.
The next day, my partner suggested we go for a beach hike, or a sail into some other bays. I was pleased at this. To have a day when I wasn’t struggling up – or down – a mountain was a lovely thought to me. It sounded so…relaxing.
Then, a boatload of people (literally) pulled up in skies at the dock we had slept at, and two of Thai’s friends (Thais is my partner – I always forget to just say his name) showed up inviting us to ski. He looked at me and said, “So what do you think?”
And I wanted soooooo badly to shout back, “WTF do you think!!!!! NO I don’t want to ski. I’m tired of being stressed out and feeling lame and sucky at something. I am tired of struggling uphill and feeling out of shape and clumsy. I would like to do something I am fucking GOOD at today!”
But I didn’t yell that. I just said calmly, “The last thing I want to do right now is go backcountry skiing with a bunch of strangers.” And he understood.
But you see, I think I WOULD have liked to have gone. What I didn’t want was to feel all that incompetence and struggle and other icky feelings. And I realized that was ALL MY SHIT. Thai didn’t care if I was slow or if I fell. He loved being out there with me no matter what. And I felt a sadness that I was keeping myself from having another adventure. If I didn’t care what other people thought, if I didn’t compare myself to others, I would have gone, at my own pace, in my own way.
So I took a walk to the end of the dock after everyone left for their kick-ass adventure, and I sat on the edge, looking at the mountains and at the reflections in the beautiful water, and I cried. I didn’t like feeling embarrassed or scared to do something. I didn’t like feeling like I was holding my partner back (I told him to catch up to them and go, while I hung out and read and went for a hike or something, but he wanted to stay with me). Whatever was going on, I didn’t like it. But I let it wash over me. It was so obvious to me that it was my shit, my deep feelings of self-worth and all that shtuff were getting their buttons pushed. So I opened to it all. I was surprised by it, but attentively watched it all move through me like a movie.
Then I allowed myself to receive my partner’s hugs and words of love and encouragement, and we set sail. The water was stunning and perfect and we had porpoises playing around us, views of the marine volcanoes across the water, and watched sea otters and loons and it was just…life at its finest.
The next day, we met some friends at a mountain cabin for a work party, and we almost didn’t ski because it was drizzling and there was a lot of work to be done on the cabin. But then it got a bit warmer, and it was decided that skiing was the thing to do. Ugh.
I had left my skis at the car for these last two days in Alaska. And I was going to continue to leave them there. I was with a group of guys, all of whom go backcountry skiing almost every day after a long day at work, when most people make dinner and go to bed. Hell no I was not going to ski again. Especially after my messed up epic falling every two turns at Broken Knife.
But these guys are convincing, and kind, and oh so sweet, and they repeatedly told me how it didn’t matter, that we wouldn’t be doing anything epic and that I could turn around whenever I wanted. But what really got me was when our friend Cliff said, “You have to get your skiing mojo back, You have to remember that skiing isn’t about the falling or the crappy snow. Come out and get your mojo back.”
Again, the reluctant skier, I went.
And IT WAS FREAKIN’ AMAZING!
We hiked up to this gorgeous broad face of snow, hung out at the top and shared some scooby snacks, then we skied down. I fell once, but before and after that, I linked beautiful turns in perfect spring snow, and took in the views and laughed and smiled a HUGE smile because it was so incredibly fun.
So, I am not saying one should push themselves to being uncomfortable every day in order to grow. I am also not saying that wanting to just rest on the sailboat was in anyway “wrong” on my part. But what I do want to remind myself of is that I cannot let my desire to be good at something (let alone kick-ass at something) keep me from doing it imperfectly.
Do it imperfectly. The imperfect moments in life are TOO MUCH FUN.
Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and FreedomJunkie™ She helps individuals awaken their lives of freedom and personal success with confidence, clarity, self-love, and passion. Her monthly Jedi Juice ™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her Full-On 365 blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting Anaverzone.com (note: it’s new look will be up to rock your world soon)! Sign up for her next FREE Jedi Juice Training call on the Law of Attraction at Anaverzone.com/jedi-juice
Alaska has done it again. Won my heart. Lifted my spirit. Grounded me in my body and my being and to this earth.
This weekend we were going to go to Portage Glacier for an adventure. But it rained (and blessed be the friends and thei iPhones with good reception that let us know what the weather was like before we drove all the way over there!).
So we put on the breaks, drove north to the Matanuska River Valley (I always wondered where Matanska was…for realz!) and did the most epic and adventurous…CAR CAMPING! We set up a HUGE tent in which there was a kitchen table and stove. We had a portable wood burning stove (it even had a tall stovepipe that threatened to fall over on us and melt our fancy gear) that kept us toasty, and there was fiddle playing, trumpet trumpeting, and iPhone tripping (listen here: iPhone wawa). Even a mandolin. And wine and rum and LOTS of stars.
The next morning, after blissful sleeping in, I got bit by my first mosquito of the season (yes, they are the size of birds here, even in early spring). We then skied in our “backyard,” and visited some friends across the valley before skiing back home to our Bibler tents.
That eve, we ran into Anchorage and had an epic Vietnamese dinner cooked for us by Thai’s brother, Tonio, before crashing out in our cozy yurt (which is much more cozy now that it was last month…like 10-20 degrees cozier).
Yesterday morning we drove back to the Matanuska Valley and I had a day of amazing Full On client calls. After our workday, we skied to Granite Mountain before having an incredible dinner cooked for us by friends here in Matsu (and the most ridiculously yummy havarti and parmesean cheese biscuits ever!).
Today, I woke up seeing a breathtaking view (see below). Then Thai went to his clinic while I worked on Full On, and we paused mid-day to make lunch along the Matanuska river bank (cheese quesadillas with egg). After that I had an uber fun Question and Answer group coaching call with my Ziji Up Mastery Program peeps.
Tonight? Arctic Entries storytelling back in Anchorage. The theme is “Pioneers: stories of sourdoughs, homesteaders, and self-starters.” Psyched! And tomorrow we head out for a sailing trip to Homer and beyond.
The best part is I have caught up on sleep, and am finally feeling like myself again. I’ve got ENERGY!!!! Watch ouuuuuuttttt world!
Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and FreedomJunkie™ She helps individuals awaken their lives of freedom and personal success with confidence, clarity, self-love, and passion. Her monthly Jedi Juice ™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her Full-On 365 blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting anaverzone.com (note: it’s new look will be up to rock your world soon)! Sign up for her next FREE Jedi Juice Training call at anaverzone.com/jedi-juice
Yesterday was a mellow day of sleeping, fixing up the yurt, then eating pizza with friends as we watched footage from our epic weekend (see below). There was such an awesome sense of community all weekend, and it was nice to fade into the rest of the week with a nice eve with amigos. It would have been even better had I not had my little uber-sensitive gremlin come up again. It had been awhile, so I was taken off guard. Can I pretty please blame it on my new birth control pills? Arrrgh.
I got all sensitive about how hard I was having to work the past few months and as a result, how I wasn’t as fit as I normally am (because of so many various reasons that we have all made up in our heads about that one before) and not being as, well, fun because I didn’t have as much energy as usual. I did that whole “I’m going to compare myself to other people” crap and that is never a good idea. Then I blamed my partner for comparing me, which he totally wasn’t (You should have seen me try to pull off that one! Good thing he’s on my gremlin’s* ass). Then I felt shitty about all that. Then I felt shitty about feeling shitty because deep down I know my life is sahweet and life is too short for feeling shitty!
Then I did the full on thing and said to my partner, gulp, “I’m sorry for freaking out,” and totally owned my crap. Then today I did my mental Jedi juju stuff and told my gremlin to get the fuck out of my head and heart and let me live the bad ass life I am destined to be living. Yes, sometimes you need to be that harsh with The Gremlin. Sometimes it is good to say something sweet, like “Thank you for trying to protect me, but I don’t need that anymore.” And sometimes you just need to tell it to shut the f#*k up (I am trying to minimize my swearing for my mother…at least for this paragraph).
*What’s a gremlin? A fancy coaching term for it is also The Saboteur. The gremlins/saboteurs are the voices that tell you you are not capable or deserving enough to be happy and fulfilled. Like when one of my Freedom Junkie coaching clients says she wants to write a book, her gremlin says it is too expensive, or that she has nothing original to say. Another client’s gremlin tells her she can’t possibly have a career with her art because that is not “realistic.” One of mine (and apparently of many friends and clients) is that we aren’t worthy of love because if someone really knew who we were, they’d realize we aren’t perfect.
WTF! How crazy negative is that??!!! Very. And we ALL have them. Watch. Just for a day. Or an hour, even. You’ll notice them a lot. But don’t get down on yourself about it. It’s the way our brain works, and it is re-wireable. And you’re not broken because you have them. You are human!
It is best to learn about and acknowledge your gremlins, maybe even personify them (like have them look like the mean schoolteacher or a troll) and then come up with a system to shut them up. Where saboteurs speak from is fear, NOT TRUTH. You MUST remember this. NOT TRUTH.
When you hear a voice of TRUTH, it is very different. It speaks in a compassionate and clear voice. It is not one of fear or anger or belittling.
And know that saboteurs come up right when you are about to do some seriously bad-ass living, like right when you are about to be totally content in your relationship, or right when you are about to feel confident enough to quit your job, or right when you are about to come completely out of debt. Or right when you just had an epically fun weekend with your boyfriend and awesome friends skiing in the Alaskan backcountry, for example. They often cause us to (duh) sabotage our own happiness at these crucial moments.
So get out of your own way, and tell your gremlins to shut up so you can get on living you awesome life. It can be tricky. Trust me: this morning, when I decided not to drop into my saboteur’s story, I had to dig deep to believe that I was not hearing truth in those words, and I had to dig deep to come up with what I knew to be true. It was more difficult than usual because I have been so tired. But thankfully, I’ve had years of practice, which makes it much easier over time (I promise!). If you need some help with your own gremlins, let me know! A team often helps;)
For now, I am going to resume my bad ass life and head out for another ski. Did I mention the sun sets at 8:15 in Anchorage these days. Supah sahweet!
PS: As promised, here is more footage from the past few days:
Above is a video of one of our earlier runs
Below is a video of Tony and his dog, Pup Pup, on the first run off the summit of HaleBop (after you’ve admired Tony’s moves, rewind and watch Pup Pup run in his fresh tracks…awesome!)
Note: Ana Neff is known as the Freedom Mentor™. She helps individuals awaken their lives, their businesses, and their success with radiant inner confidence. Her monthly Ziji Up! eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting www.FreedomJunkie.com
Yeehaw! When you need to rest, rest. It’s so much easier living full on when your have the energy to do it. I did NOTHING Days 44 and 45 except sleep in, get a massage, read, and drive to a sweet backcountry Alaskan powder hut. I went to bed those nights and slept HARD.
The day after driving to the hut, we all slept in because the shutters were still on the hut windows blocking out the light. Once up (at 10??!!!) the 8 of us (plus two dogs) made an epic breakfast of eggs, coffee with Bailey’s Irish cream (for breakfast?! Yes! St. Patrick’s Day!). We then donned our wigs to eat breakfast and head out to ski. But before that we had a morning work party and chopped wood, brought it back to the cabin with sleds, and put in a new door on the hut.
After all that we hiked up epic backcountry terrain (BTW if you’re ever cold put a freakin’ wig on your head. They are WAY warmer than hats!) and skied down amazing fresh powder. And I mean AMAZING. Plus the views were epic, the weather was spectacular, and the company was hilarious. Not to mention it was awesome to have two other women along the trip to balance out all that testosterone.
I am not a big skier. When I was younger it was too expensive and when I was older it seemed scary to fall going so fast. But I’ve slowly grown into it after I picked up a pair of tele skis, and am digging spending a lot more time on snow this season;) Plus, Alaskan powder makes in much less scary to fall!
I have a cool videos of us skiing (with me singing really bad operatic soundtrack on one), and will post here in an update. In the meantime, all I’ve got are the wig pictures above.
When I speak of resting, I can’t describe how key it was for me to take time for myself and listen to my body. Rather than forcing myself to go go go
the first day of skiing, I decided to sit atop a ridge as everyone did a lap up and down. I sat there and took in the views, the utterly beautiful silence, the glistening sparks of snow in the sky that looked like fairy dust, and felt the sun warming my face. Granted I was wearing five jackets but it was surprisingly warm on that Alaskan ridge in winter. It felt so good to REST. Plus at the end of the day I wasn’t too tired to don the wigs again and laugh for a few hours. I really was tired at the start. I could feel it intensely. Hiking was so hard. It was barely fun that day…but that all changes soon!
By the end of the day there were 9 of us and 4 dogs in the little hut. That wasn’t quick breeding – we just had more visitors. It felt so cozy falling asleep with every inch of the hut – including the kitchen floor – strewn with my friends and their pups. Even though there was no running water, we cooked on a wood-stove, and heated the place only with wood, it was relatively light work with so many friends.
The next morning was an earlier rise. But I felt fantastic after having a relatively restful day. So fantastic that I boot-packed (aka hiked) up to the summit of Hail Bob peak with everyone even though there was NO WAY I was going to ski down the steep corniced chute from the top (at this point in my skiing life, at least). I instead climbed back down, which many of the skiers said would be scarier for them than skiing down. Just goes to show its all relative!
We got back and there was an Alaskan moose meat chili ready for us after slow cooking on the wood stovetop all day. We all packed up (at this point there were 12 of us and 5 dogs) and I managed to have kept track of all my wigs (thank you, Ashland friends, for lending me wigs for this event;).
We toasted my 8 years of being cancer-free from renal cell carcinoma, gave group hugs, and headed back to Anchorage. That was after falling flat on my back and ass on ice as we packed up the truck. THAT was the most painful part of the whole trip! I always seem to injure myself in the front country.
Pretty full on for a weekend. But that’s kind of how it goes in Alaska;)
Note: Ana Neff is known as the Ziji™ Mentor. She helps individuals awaken their lives, their businesses and their success with radiant inner confidence. Her monthly Ziji Up! eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting www.ZijiLife.com
Here I am. Starting Day 1 of this epic challenge, and I am a bit nervous – yet also super psyched!
Today I lived full-on by getting this blog up. Taking on this challenge acknowledges – very publicly – that I believe it IS possible to have at least one moment, every day, of living full-on, being fully present and fully authentic.
Oh yes, there are naysayers. There are those who told me my whole life that my positive philosophy was rose-colored and not “realistic.” That if I “really” experienced the “real world,” I wouldn’t be so optimistic.
Yet when I found beauty as I slept by my dying father, honored to midwife him to the other side; or when I marveled awe-struck in the depth and complexity of feelings that welled up from a broken heart, grateful for the spectrum of human emotions; or when I sat silently next to a fellow human who lost their child in labor and felt the powerful connection and compassion between two humans fully present with one another, I knew I was right. I felt that Ziji – that radiant inner confidence – in what I believe.
It is all a part of a full-on life. Feeling it all, fully. Living it all, fully. Knowing what you want, fully. Receiving it, fully.
Here I walk my talk. And I also open up to the possibility that I may not be able to do it every day. But my goal is to inspire you…to find that moment in every day and to have more and more of them. And I’d rather at least try than not do it at all for fear of failing.
Well, here we go. 365 days of real.
To Your Freedom,
Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and FreedomJunkie™ She helps individuals awaken their lives of freedom and personal success with confidence, clarity, self-love, and passion. Her monthly Jedi Juice™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her Full-On 365 blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting FreedomJunkie.com (note: it’s new look will be up to rock your world soon)! Sign up for her next FREE Jedi Juice Training call on the Law of Attraction at FreedomJunkie.com/jedi-juice