Going Into the Shade

When I arrived at Shoshoni, I immediately felt my blood pressure fall and my heart rate slow. I left my turned-off phone and all of my “valuables” in the car. Locked it. Walked away. It was the definition of tranquility. Perfectly quiet, cool, clean mountain air. Coming off a complicated few months of changing jobs, questioning my relationship and pretty much everything else in my life, I needed a reprieve. I needed to sit.in the shade. My shadow and the incessant pitter-patter of the footsteps of my mind needed to be quieted. They were driving me insane. I was driving me insane.

I am not someone who finds sitting in the throws of internal chaos easy. My natural reaction is to make a plan. To move. To take “control” of the situation.

Going to Shoshoni, an Ashram about an hour north of Boulder was part of this “plan.” Surely, after I practiced yoga and meditation twice a day for a week while camping in the blissful peace of the Rockies, I would have all of the answers I needed. 

After setting up my tent in the beautiful pine forest, I noticed my heart rate already increasing, thinking “when was yoga?” “would I have enough time to set everything up and make class?” Not having my phone, I did have my watch. I noticed myself check-it obsessively. Then 4:00 rolled around. With yoga mat in hand, I walked out of the woods. Watch left in tent. 

Our teacher opened up the class my sitting in silence for about five minutes. With only three other people there, it immediately shook me out of my stupid stupor of thoughts and time. She was not focused on starting the class at 4:00, she was focused on being there. When she spoke, she said frankly that she had started yoga a few years ago because she was focused “externally.” Focused on all the things she wanted to have and be. Surely then she would feel complete. She didn’t. Her transparency and honesty was as rejuvenating as the mountain air. I felt the same. 

Over the course of the next few days, I dropped into the shade. No one had phones. Everyone came for different reasons, from different backgrounds. What little words were spoken were intentional, thoughtful, kind, honest. I did not speak for the first few days. I listened, observed and sat in the shade of my mind. There was no pretense or concern for who anyone was on the “outside.” Literally and metaphorically. Everyone breathed consistently, walked slowly and lived in the present. 

A Tibetan leader, Kharma spoke to us before our evening meditation. He told us that when he meditates, he focuses on kindness and compassion. Kindness to one another and to ourselves. Compassion in our language and in our thoughts. To speak only words that make others feel good, that are productive and sincere. To cleanse our minds of the footsteps that haunt us. To rid ourselves of the ghosts that cling to our wounds and weaknesses. To profligate with love. To smile with our hearts and minds. To live like we knew that everything would be okay. He was humble, funny and the personification of enlightenment. 

On day three, I woke up and my jaw wasn’t tight from clenching. Although my subconscious was stirring up some very creepy, stressful nightmares. I was purging ghosts in my sleep. Soaking in the present moment while awake. At 5:30 AM, I walked out of the woods again into the Fire Temple. Over the course of a few hours, I threw rice in the fire to physically cleanse myself of all the feelings and thoughts that did not serve me. Initially, I was skeptical of all of these morning rituals. This one proved me very wrong. I walked away on clouds. It all came up, out and away.

As I drove down the long dirt road away from Shoshoni on my last day, I couldn’t stop smiling. I was filled with pure gratitude and happiness that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I shed my skin. I knew that coming back to “normal” life and continuing to live lightly would take work. And it has. It is much easier to be super zen when you’re in the middle of the woods with other zen people and absolutely no.stress. The real test is applying it to everyday life. So far, it has not been perfect. I have regressed. I have had to catch myself not breathing. I have had to focus on going into the shade and quieting the footsteps of my mind. I have had to really focus on being present and taking note of things that now seem toxic. I still do not have the “answers” I thought I needed. Instead, I have the tools I didn’t know I needed for a plan that does not actually exist.

On Not Being There, So I Can Be Here

It has been widely proven that social media and the compulsion to stare at phones and not faces is a leading cause of depression and anxiety for most modern humans. In my humble opinion, I think it will ultimately lead to the downfall of humanity, but I digress.

I think most people are aware of this fact (it’s fucking everywhere), but are faced with the conundrum of how to “stay in touch” while intentionally disconnecting. But here’s the ultimate irony. When you’re “connected” on social media you’re disconnected in reality. If you’re someone who would prefer living in reality rather than a Black Mirror episode, then this matters.

A couple of weeks ago while talking to my mom, she asked about an old friend from elementary school. I immediately replied, “oh yea, we keep in touch,” which is totally not fucking true.at.all. The only way I know anything about her is from stalking the fuck out of her on Instagram (she’s a babe). So, basically while scrolling through the inferno of Instagram, I have been telling myself that I am “keeping in touch” with people that I had actually not communicated with decades. This delusional sense of connection is what disturbed me the most.

I don’t want to live my life and maintain my relationships through a screen. To do so is far easier, but also less rewarding. Having both real and “virtual” relationships is possible, they are not mutually exclusive, but if given the chance to interact with real people in real time, why would you do anything else?

So, I deleted my personal Instagram account to force myself to actually call/text/email people that I thought about. I know, it sounds basic, but I have successfully reached out to more people since being off it than I have in years. That said, I have never really been a big use of social media in my personal life since I do it as a profession and at the end of the day – I want nothing less than to look at a screen.

Ultimately, I decided to keep @ColoradoWhiteGirl profile because it’s the only way to find this blog – but also because most of my following are strangers who I don’t give a shit about (I’m sure the feeling is mutual). Therefore, I simply post and then forget it. Hopefully, someone gets a chuckle or a “hmm” – that’s good enough.

I tend to do things to the extreme, but I don’t think that’s the only solution. But, if you think about your favorite people to stalk on Instagram (omit the famous ones unless you actually know them), think about the last time you actually talked to them.

Does your time on Instagram make you happy or cause you stress? If you feel like it’s all detracting/distracting from real life or from being fully present, consider if the trade off is worth it. What are you giving, versus what are you receiving.

You can’t be here and also there. That is mutually exclusive.

Can’t We All Just Relax?

A couple of weekends ago, I attended the first-ever Habit Hackers Summit in Denver. The idea and the people behind it were totally awesome. A full day of inspirational speakers from financial advisors and health coaches to a former NFL player, and tech entrepreneurs – all sharing how they have hacked their life to maximize their potential.

About halfway through the day, I took a quick “safety meeting”(aka hit my vape pen) and was chilling on a lovely floor cushion in the corner of the room – when I got hit with a warm wave and a whole new perspective. (I promise, it was less weird than it sounds – there was a lounge area for people who hate traditional chairs – like me).

I contribute this warm wave not only to the lovely toke session, but also to my literal position in the room. Ground level.

With this new perspective, I saw the situation is a totally new light. As I admired all the pink faces in the room, I realized that I was surrounded by type A, perfectionist, over-achievers who might have benefited more from a conference on how to just chill the fuck out.

And…I am totally one of them.

Not only do I shamelessly admit that I’m one of them, but I find that I am drawn to these similar personality types. The type who sets intense daily routines, compulsively makes to-do lists, keeps daily journals, dives head and heart first into Tim Ferris books, obsessively monitors their finances, experiments with cleanses and micro-dosing, takes long trips abroad, and of course… has an “epic” meditation practice. (Read that in your douchiest voice).

None of these are bad things, in fact all of them, no doubt, lead to personal growth. But they are also all often done in an effort to do more shit, more efficiently with the hope that one can maximize life’s potential. But, at what point are we doing wayyyyyy too much shit, too quickly and coincidentally missing out on life’s details in the process?

For me, it is all too often.

So, in a twist of coincidence, the biggest lesson I learned from paying $150 to listen to perfectionists tell me how to do more, better – was that I want to do less, more often and slower.

I also do not want to spend my life thinking of only myself. Modern day self-help practices often verge on self-obsession. In fact, I sincerely think one of the reasons a lot of people obsess over improvement is that they are seeking something that they will not find at a conference or in a book. They’re often seeking purpose which humans derive from giving back and being compassionate with one another.

Bottom line? Let’s all live life to the fullest, think more about other people than ourselves and just chill-the-fuck-out.

Where to Eat, Drink, Ski and Chill in Aspen

If you love great food, swanky wine bars, world-class skiing, and oodles of beautiful places to smoke – Aspen is your jam. During a recent four-night trip there, Wyatt & I made an unspoken, but unanimous decision to eat, drink, ski and do all of the things we possibly could. After all was said, done, drank and ate – here are my personal faves.

Ski Snowmass

Here’s the deal, every Colorado white person loves to talk about how they skied Breckenridge, A-Basin, Keystone and all the others. But, if you haven’t skied Snowmass after a huge snow storm, you’ve simply never skied at all. I know that sounds elitist (welcome to the ski world), but I promise you its the truth.

Snowmass is simply a different world of snow and ski. The runs are long, the tree terrain is beautiful and the best part…it’s practically empty.

I highly recommend Going in February, since it is typically Colorado’s snowiest month. Not to mention, Wyatt and I happened to find some incredible little smoke huts off the beaten bath in the trees. I would tell you where they were but I would have to kill you. I also don’t remember. You’ll just have to ski off into the trees (don’t pull a Sonny Bono) and find them yourself!

Après Ski Hang at St. Regis Spa

First things first, you do not have to be Oprah to go to the St. Regis Spa, but I guarantee that afterwards, you will feel like Oprah. You also do not have to purchase an over-priced service to feel like Oprah. A little known secret? You can get a day pass for $75 and then loiter there foreverrrrrrr.

But, before you go MUST get high. I’m talking like either hot box your car with a sativa hybrid joint (Flo), high school style high, or eat some edibles. I would strongly suggest Stratos time-released THC capsules for an insanely relaxing time.

So here’s the deal, put in a full day of skiing an then head over to the spa at around 3 to soak your freezing cold, sore lifeless body and just relax. I promise you, it will be worth every dollar.

The St. Julian is rated one of the nicest hotels in the world, so being anywhere in the building is extravagant and the people watching is off.the.charts.awesome. Not surprisingly, the spa is gorgeous. There is a hot tub, cold plunge, warm pool with waterfalls, steam room infused with eucalyptus oil, a “relaxation room” filled with comfy couches, cozy blankets healthy snacks, tea and fruit infused water. Then there is the oxygen room.

At first glance it will seem weird (it kinda is). In a dimly lit, cozy room, there are a series of chaise lounge chairs around a fireplace… with people hooked up to oxygen tanks. Initially, I was creeped out to see everyone in total zombie mode, but then I laid down and never wanted to move my body again. It turns out having oxygen pumped into your body at 8,000 feet above sea level feels incredible.

This time, I balled out and got a facial and as a bonus, they let Wyatt in for free. (Or they forgot to charge him, but either way it was a win).

Dinner at White House Tavern

We ate at nearly every restaurant in town and the White House Tavern was by far our favorite. The ambiance is cozy chic, the menu was exactly what you want after a long, cold day of skiing and the prices were reasonable. We got the Macho Salad and the French Dip Au Jus and they were absolutely perfect. As a bonus, they don’t take reservations, but were very quick to seat us for a Saturday night.

Après-Ski at Meat & Cheese

Before you get dinner, but after you get off the slopes, you must head down to the Meat & Cheese Restaurant. From 3-5 PM they have their version of Aspen happy hour, après-ski. As you could imagine it means nothing about discounted fare or drinks, just another reason to eat and drink. We got the Thai Coconut Soup and Roasted Brussel Sprouts which were on point and their house red wine was my favorite.

We also got to sit at the table by the window, so we had the most epic people watching perch of all time. To be honest, that might have been the icing on the proverbial cake.

Drinks at J-Bar in Hotel Jerome

If you’re looking to check out a fascinating piece of Aspen history, while getting kind of wine drunk, check out the J-Bar at Hotel Jerome. Founded in 1889, Hotel Jerome has been a social hub for Aspen. As is typical for this era of Colorado hotels, the interior looks like the Titanic’s and I’m sure if walls could talk, they would scream all kinds of weird shit. But, I digress.

There are at least three bars in the hotel and we frequented them all, but J-Bar takes the cake. It was super packed the night we went, but well worth the 20 minute wait. For a cool, quaint, cozy, spot to sip on red wine and feel like you’re in a time capsule, be sure to check it out.


How to Pack Less As A Lady

Wyatt and I are taking off for a long weekend skiing in Aspen (I know, so white). Since I’m expecting a full blown snowmageddon up there (they’re getting two feet as I write), I have to pack as if I’m going to a stylistically savvy, posh as fuck arctic tundra. Every time I pack for a trip, I try to be as efficient as possible. Most of the time, I totally fail.

That’s because I am not naturally one of those minimalist people (I’m a Taurus, we like our stuff). But, it is truly one of my missions in life to improve the way I pack because I think it is representative of a simpler, more focused state of mind. Plus, the more shit you have when you travel, the more shit you have to haul around with you. Plus, the more shit you have the more decisions you have to make. Anyways, you get it, less is always more.

I have read countless blogs about how to pack like a minimalist or at least someone who is relatively reasonable. I am almost positive none of them have been written by women. Women just have a lot of extra things that we “need.” I say that jokingly, but also seriously. We just need more shit, I don’t know why, it’s just the way it goes.

But, if you’re like me and want to have your proverbial cake and eat it too when it comes to packing, check out these tips.

Toiletries

I used to pack so many toiletries that I purchased a Patagonia toiletry bag that could fit a newborn baby (not that I’ve tried). Of course, I need to bring a full-sized thing of facial scrub, four different kinds of moisturizers, sunscreen, hand cream, a hundred tampons (just in case), eye make-up remover, cotton swabs, electric toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioner.

I wish I could tell you I have found the magic elixir to not packing so many toiletries, but I really haven’t. The only thing I’ve done is cut down on the quantity of each item I brought (ie tampons), bringing travel sized everything and using packing cubes. I know, it’s not rocket science, but packing cubes are a game changer since they compress and organize everything inside my infant sized toiletry case.

Clothing & Underwear

Watching Wyatt pack his clothing is almost more infuriating than watching him pack his (three) toiletries. He literally threw some socks, boxers and pants in a bag and called it a day. FML.

Meanwhile, I’m losing my mind thinking about all of my options and then of course, there’s the underwear that has to go with it all. But, after all was said and done and packed and repacked and packed, I think I kept it simple enough after all.

Shoes!

Every lady knows how hard it is to be reasonable about the amount of shoes you pack for a trip. I always stress out about how to avoid bringing at least five pairs on every trip. What if it’s cold? Or if it rains? I want to be comfortable, but stylish. What if I want to dress up? What if these give me blisters? All of these stupid thoughts. All the damn time.

This time around…I had all of those thoughts, but ultimately chose well. I successfully only brought three pairs (ski boots don’t count).

  • UGG booties – the pair I have are discontinued which sucks because I’m pretty sure they are the only functionally cute shoes UGG has ever made.
  • LL Bean Wicked Good Moccs – ’nuff said, am I right? These babies are perfect for après ski chill sessions.
  • Korkease booties – for the fancier evenings out, but still incredibly comfortable. I have multiple pairs of this brand bootie and they never fail to amaze me.

Post Trip Packing Reflections

Reflecting on your trip is almost as important as preparing for it. When I return from Aspen, I’ll go through everything I brought versus what I wore and take note. Typically that helps me to decide what to bring next time.

Another tip: don’t watch your boyfriend pack. Ever. It will drive you insane.


How to Be More Present

I firmly believe that I had a greater attention span when I was twelve. The only digital technologies that were possible distractions at that time were AOL Instant Messenger and Frogger on my parent’s original green Apple iMac. I wasn’t allowed to do either often and my parents forbade most TV. Friday nights was special – it was TGIF with Family Matters, Full House and Dinosaurs!

Nowadays, as a 31 year old, I find myself having to force my brain to focus on one thing at a time, all the time. I open my laptop at work in the morning and find myself trying to do ten things at once immediately. Or I’m at my local ski mountain, Eldora and I find myself thinking about filing my taxes while this is in front of my face. (Yes, that’s Wyatt having a private moment, now made public).

That said, I do not want to be someone who is always on my phone, distracted by everything around me, focused on nothing at all. Time passes too quickly. To try to practice more focus, mindfulness or whatever you want to call it, I started doing the following everyday.

Meditate Every Morning

Meditating is something everyone knows they should do, but actually doing it is a very different story. The big game changer for me in the actual successful practice of meditation was downloading the app “Waking Up” with Sam Harris. The app is free, as are the first week of meditation lessons. I find that the lessons are short enough to be practical (max 3 minutes) and very relaxing. It also helps set me up for the rest of my day. If I can focus first thing on a Monday morning when I have a million things to do or think about, anything is possible.

Then, whenever I’m feeling stressed or distracted throughout the day, I try to take deep breaths, close my eyes and think of the image that brings me peace. The ocean tide going in and out. The ocean feels like being warm, care-free, and small.

Read For At Least One Hour A Day

By “read” I don’t mean stare at the words thinking they might magically communicate to your brain (without you) what they mean. By “read” I also don’t mean owning books so that they can collect dust next to your bedside (guilty). I mean actually sit for an extended period of time or a short period of focused reading time. Really consume the words so that if someone was to quiz you right after you read a page, you might pass.

The part of your brain that allows you to concentrate is a muscle. It needs to be worked otherwise it gets smooshy. No one wants a smooshy anything. Every evening before I go to bed, I read for an hour to relax me to sleep, but also to give my prefrontal cortex a good little jog.

Coincidentally (or not), I’m reading “Focus” by Daniel Goleman and it is blowing my mind. I am intentionally reading it slowly so that I absorb every morsel of content and because I’m in no rush.

Intentionally Forget Your Phone

This is not a drill. I started doing this a couple of weekends ago and it has been a game changer for so many reasons. The most recent time I intentionally left my phone at home, I went out with Wyatt to play ping pong (I know, so white). Even though this move was totally conscious, I still checked my pocket for my phone about ten times that night. However, I did not actually need it a single time. I just wanted to look at it it’s stupid face.

Because I did not have my phone, I also did not have a stupid time-kill distraction in moments of silence or boredom. You know what I did instead? I actually talked to the humans around me! I know, crazy.

I didn’t turn my phone on again until the next morning and alas, the world was as I left it. Full of stupid distractions and notifications that really do not matter.

I dare you to try it. This weekend when you go out with friends (assuming you’re safe and can get home without your phone) leave it. You’ll have so much more space for the humans around you that actually matter. Plus, you’ll find yourself relieved to not have to constantly tend to the master that is your phone. You can be present, in the moment with you and the people you love around you.

Life Lessons from Bumble

Before I met Wyatt, I was Bumbling hard for about a year. It was exhausting, interesting, depressing, exciting, but most of all hilarious. For all the single ladies out there Bumbling hard, just know that what could seem like horrible experiences, can sometimes be softened by these two thoughts: when you’re 80, you’ll reflect on this time and think, “Those were the days…” and this, like everything in life, is temporary. Might as well laugh about it while you can. Here are some of my favorite journal entries about my Bumble experiences.

How to Spot Red Flags on a First Date

I’m eating sushi with an unmemorable guy. I tell him that sushi is my favorite food. Despite the fact that he took me to sushi, he says he actually hates it. He then says “all meat tastes the same to me.” Cool.

How to Hack Bumble Dating Code

Normally, none of the following questions suck. For some reason, in the seemingly scripted land of Bumble all of them are cringe worthy.

“What do you do for fun?”

“How long have you been in Colorado?”

“Do you ski or board?”

How many fourteeners have you climbed?

How to Avoid “Cross-Pollinating”

Me to my girlfriend.

Me: “I met this guy, an engineer from Michigan.”

Friend: “Oh yeah? What’s his name?”

Me: “Matt.”

Friend: “Hmm…what’s his last name?”

Since he’s one of six “Matt Bumble” in your phone and getting last names is strictly forbidden, you compare phone numbers. It is indeed, the same “Matt Bumble.”

Moral of the story, if you live within five miles of your best friend and her Bumble radius is the same as yours, you can guarantee that your Bumble game is overlapping. Just how much is what really matters.

How to Spot Guys Named Chad

When you walk into a bar in Denver looking for a tall, bearded white guy who tells you he’s “wearing a plaid button down” and you walk up to at least two other people.

“Chad?”

“No, sorry, not Chad.”

Walk away, think to yourself, “Hopefully that was the last time I ever have to ask a random lumbersexual if his name in Chad.”

In a world full of Chads, I’m just looking for the Waldo.

Bumble Life Lessons

Believe it or not, this story ends less depressing than you might think.

After very apathetically dating a Bumble dude for a couple of months, I was on the brink of total psychological, romantic, and emotional exhaustion. I knew this guy was not “the one” and all of my friends told me so very candidly (thanks, Casey).

One night one on what I told myself would be our last date, we went out to sushi with his friends. Wyatt sat directly across from me. We talked about real estate (hot, I know).

I approached that night like I was meeting a friend of a friend of a guy I was planning on never seeing again. Nothing to win, nothing to lose.

Three months after I broke it off with Bumble dude, Wyatt and I both got back on Bumble for one last shot.

Now I’m just trying to be more open knowing that monumental moments (good band name) can happen anytime.