Busy Happens

I have been fortunate enough to have a lot on my plate the last few months. At least that's how I'm trying to look at my busy schedule. In early January the Connect With Smith Rock event in Boise was a great success, and later that month my boyfriend and I successfully delivered the painting to Redpoint in Terrebonne. 

I figured out what size I was going to make my limited edition prints, remembered how matting works after a few attempts, and finally got my first giclee print framed and mailed! Totally felt accomplished after that was out of my hands. 

It seems like my list of things I would like to get done is never ending, and I struggle with that. My character is not one that likes to leave projects undone or in progress for very long. I stress about deadlines, and worry about how my timeline is effecting others. I need to just relax because I know the stress doesn't help, and maybe by putting it into words I will be a little better about it in the future... Fingers crossed.

For tonight, I'm going to allow myself an extra glass of wine and watch climbing videos. 

Connect With Smith Rock Project Update

I haven't done a good job of posting updates on my blog, but I'm trying to get better at it. I have been posting time lapse videos and photos on Instagram and Facebook so I guess that's something. 

So far I have learned a lot about myself and my process during this project. Creating is scary! It makes me feel vulnerable and exposed and has led to some semi-humorous little freak outs. As I complete or start each new phase of this project I'm overwhelmed with the terror of screwing it up, doing it wrong, and failing... For the most part these fears are completely irrational, and I'm aware of that but they are still part of my process apparently. 

The little freak outs aren't entirely obvious in the time lapse videos, but the visual part of the process is fun to see...

Here are a few of the videos, and the rest are published on my Youtube channel! 

What a wedding!

I have been to a handful of inspirational and touching weddings, but the wedding I went to on the 29th of July was without question the most unique and appropriate for the couple. Gwen Hobbs and Eric Bostard who own Redpoint Climbers Supply in Terrebonne Oregon tied the knot at sunrise on top of the Monkey Face pillar in Smith Rock State Park. Gwen's mother and sister surprised her the day before the wedding and my boyfriend officiated the service. As if that wasn't enough awesome, Gwen and Eric swung on the 100ft pendulum Monkey Swing together just hours after exchanging their vows. 

It was awe-inspiring to see the community come out to support them especially given how early it was! 

The officiant and I decided it was probably okay to also step off the cliff on the Monkey swing after the newlyweds tested it. Among the others who jumped; a mother and her 7 year old daughter, Gwen's mother and sister, and a handful of other brave guys and gals. 

I have personally struggled with the idea of marriage for most of my life, but seeing more of my friends come up with unique and brilliant ways to represent their relationships and the lives they want to have, makes the idea of nuptials slightly less terrifying.

Thank you Gwen and Eric for being the pinnacle of what is possible in a functional fun-loving relationship and for setting the bar high.   

Official West Face Variation Trip Report!

“Breathe. Breathe. Just breathe,” I say to myself in a reassuring loop as I get frustrated and scared trying to place an orange number 3 cam in the crack, my legs shaking and tired.  “Breathe.” My breath is one of those simple things I constantly take for granted when I’m at dirt level. “Breathe.” I let my body relax, soften my focus, slow down, and gently arrange the cam back to its happy place. I am on the second pitch of the West Face Variation on the Monkey Face and this is the first time I have ever lead a trad climb in it’s entirety from ground to summit. That orange cam I was freaking out over was a good placement before I started messing with it and shaking myself silly. I’m still learning.

I make it to Bohn Street and belay my boyfriend Mike up to me. He’s one of my favorite climbing partners. Mike knows when to shout encouragement, when to keep his lips zipped, and makes me feel strong and powerful on the sharp end. When he reaches me at the belay station, he gives me a positive critique on my pieces, and takes a seat next to me in the bright spring sun. It’s empowering to switch roles. Normally I’m following Mike up the harder trad pitches, or we will swing leads on sport climbs, but this is new territory for both of us.

The next two pitches are challenging for different reasons. The aid ladder that leaves Bohn Street and finishes in the Monkey’s mouth is an exhausting cluster of webbing, draws, beaners and cursing topped off with a not-so-graceful flop to the anchors. The next pitch, aptly named “panic point,” is a highly-exposed, airy sport-pitch to the nose block of the Monkey. This is where breathing comes in handy again. The climbing isn’t difficult, but the obvious 170-foot drop to the ground out the Monkey’s mouth instantly puts my head in check. My breath and I keep our composure, though, and are blinded by the sun as we met the Monkey’s nose. One more little pitch to the summit and I had successfully lead my boyfriend up a classic route of trad, sport, and aid climbing.

At the summit, Mike laughed at me, blissed out and vibrating with joy as we soaked up my victory in the sunshine.  Before we rappelled down, I had to do a handstand on top to seal the celebration. Once our soles were joined with the dirt again, I stared back up at the Monkey. I just climbed that! I lead every pitch--all of it! I placed my own gear, got scared, took my time, trusted my pieces, and belayed up my second. I stood on the summit, was blinded by the sun, the skyline, and soaked in the warmth of my achievement. With the exception of borrowing my boyfriend’s rack, that was all me, and it felt exceptional.

I have felt empowered at other points in my life: When I sent my first highball, when I went through security at PDX to start my solo travels around the world, and when I cursed at a man in perfect Italian who had been harassing me for an hour. I think everyone wants to feel powerful. I think everyone needs that sense of invincibility with just the right dose of reality. I find that sense of empowerment by challenging gender norms, challenging cultural expectations of what I “should do,” and of course, challenging my perceptions of what I think I can do. This process of seeking empowerment is not always a smooth one. But, when I get scared, frustrated, or start to shake, all I have to do is remind myself to breathe.    

Spring Thing Slideshow

I can't believe it has almost been a month since the Smith Rock Spring Thing! I still have rocks stuck in the treads of my shoes, sage stuck to the back seat of my car, and photos on my camera that still need to be processed, but I have done a quick edit of my slideshow presentation!   

The Smith Rock Spring Thing is a rad fundraising and park maintenance day that rewards it's volunteers with food, goodies, raffles, and a live auction of awesome gear. This year Mike Doyle also gave an entertaining slideshow on his Smith Rock climbing endeavors and his epic battle and eventual triumph over Necessary Evil 5.14c in the Virginia River Gorge. Congrats again Mike!

 Thanks again to everyone who showed up to volunteer and if you missed my part of the slideshow, here it is... Sorry about the few "ums" I was a tad nervous. 

Smith Rock Spring Thing

The Smith Rock Spring Thing Volunteer Day is the annual fundraiser and project maintenance day for Smith Rock State Park. The park has over 1500 established climbing routes, and boasts a proud 651 acres. There is an educational Welcome Center open a few days a week, and a great staff of rangers and volunteers that keep an eye on the park year round. This year at the Spring Thing there were almost 200 volunteers! Cyber high fives everyone!  Dozens of projects were tackled throughout the park in just a day! Including: rebuilding rock walls, replacing steps, widening trails, building trails and putting in stair risers, just to name a few. 

The event has been going on for over two decades, and this year I had the pleasure of participating and presenting my new project. 

I sweat and played in the dirt building stairs and moving rock with my Voyage of the Cow Dog crew and met some fantastic energetic people who all care about making a difference and giving back to the park. After-which, we all enjoyed some tasty beverages, food, more good company and sunshine. 

Communities like this are what recharge my batteries and give me hope for the world. I have traveled in and out of the Smith Rock community for almost ten years. It was the first place I roped up outside, it has been the birth place of some lifelong friendships, it has fostered growth, helped me heal, made me laugh, curse, cry and scream with joy. Smith Rock is a special place, and it's people are just as special. 

photo credit Ian Caldwell

I cannot wait to spend the rest of the year putting as much intention and energy as I can possibly muster back into this place, and this community that has given me so much. 

With leagues of gratitude,

About the #ConnectWithSmithRockProject

My two most prolific passions are climbing and art. I have the big dream to combine the two to promote state and national park awareness, aid in their conservation, and connect more people to their parks and resources. I also want to give back to the parks that have supported and fostered my growth as an artist and a climber.

Specifically I want to give everyone who visits Smith Rock the opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves. Everyone from the dirtbag climber, to the weekend warrior, to the wheelchair-bound person, can share their park story and photos by using the hashtag #ConnectWithSmithRock.

The final piece will be a 4 x 8 triptych mixed-media painting similar to my Traveling Mountains piece, highlighting both the people and the place that define Smith Rock State Park. The final piece will be finished by the end of 2015 and will then be on display in Red Point for several months before it is sold and 100% of the proceeds will then go back to the park.

If you would like to participate in the project, please submit your photos telling your story of our park by using the hashtag #ConnectWithSmithRock on Instagram or publicly on Facebook so I can find your photos. If you prefer, you can also email me your photos at connectwithmeg@gmail.com. 

Live stream from the Instagram hashtag #ConnectWithSmithRock