Second Chances

I spent the afternoon at a climbing crag yesterday, where I climbed up—nay, clambered up one particular route. It was two or three grades above my climbing level. While there were some parts that were doable, a lot of it involved difficult moves and challenging sequences to figure out. After falling in some parts and hanging in others, I winged it to the top, sweaty, pumped, and tired.

When I got down, a friend asked what I thought of the route. “It’s really hard,” I answered, frowning. “And I wouldn’t want to climb it again.” Because it was out of my comfort zone, I quickly judged that I didn’t like it, that it was not for me, and that I would rather do something easier.

Many times in our lives, we approach challenges this way. Our initial reaction is to veer away from them because they make us feel weak or expose our vulnerabilities. And so we pass the judgment, and we risk the chance of growth.

Half and hour or so later—after belaying someone, looking at the route from below, taking a nap, and having a light snack, I was asked if I would climb the same route again. Something inside of me said to give the route a second chance—that maybe it wasn’t as bad as I had initially judged it to be.

And so I tied in to my rope, slipped on my rock shoes, and got off the ground. Funny how with a more open mind,  the hand holds and foot holds—so elusive the first time I climbed this route—were more obvious the second time around. I still fell in some parts, but instead of feeling frustrated, I figured out the sequences and taught myself the most efficient way to get to the top. As I got back down, I had this resolve to redpoint the route the next time I come back to this area.

Have you ever closed your doors to something because of an initial judgment of dislike? Sometimes our dislike for something (or someone) is made because we don’t understand them. But if you give yourself some time, take a step back and shake off the tunnel vision, you’ll discover something great about this new thing. You’ll learn something about yourself. You’ll rid yourself of fear and judgment. You’ll begin a wonderful friendship (with someone or even yourself!). And in the process you’ll grow.

Here’s to another week of learning, and of expanding you’re comfort zone.

 

My Latest Project: DIY Poms

My dear friend and talented artist Jöelle taught me a crafty thing this weekend: Pom making. I decided to document this process, because not only is it constructive and fun; its repetitive actions feels like meditation in motion. Plus, it’s a refreshing change from wasting time in front of the computer, or sliding your thumbs across your smart phone.

Step 1: Choose your hues. I opted for these yummy-looking colors, which remind my sister of Ladurée macarons.

Step 1: Choose your hues. I opted for these yummy-looking colors, which remind my sister of Ladurée macarons.

Step 2: Fold the paper into inch-thick sections, so you end up with something that resembles an accordion.

Step 2: Cut 12 sheets of the tissue in half, then fold them into inch-thick sections. You end up with something that resembles an accordion.

Step 3: Fold the accordion into two, then tie a string around the middle.

Step 3: Fold the accordion into two, then tie a string around the middle.

Step 4: Cut off the edges of each end into round borders.

Step 4: Cut the edges of each end into round borders.

Step 5: Unfurl the accordion.

Step 5: Unfurl the accordion.

Step 6: Carefully pull up one layer of tissue.

Step 6: Carefully pull up one layer of tissue.

Step 7: Pull up another layer. Take note: since tissue is a very soft kind of paper, it can easily tear, so be careful not to yank the layers up or you could rip some paper off.

Step 7: Pull up another layer. Take note: since tissue is a very soft kind of paper, it can easily tear, so be careful not to yank the sheets, or they could rip off.

Step 8: Eventually your pom will grow into something like this. This is about five layers up, so it's time to flip the pom over.

Step 8: Eventually your pom will grow into something like this. This is about five layers up, so it’s time to flip the pom over.

Step 9: Hey doesn't this look like a ballerina's costume? It's also the first layer of the underside of the pom.

Step 9: Hey doesn’t this look like a ballerina’s costume? It’s also the first layer of the underside of the pom.

Step 10: All layers have been pulled up, and I've fluffed them outwards to form this ball!

Step 10: All layers have been pulled up, and I’ve fluffed them outwards to form this ball!

Step 11: If you're going to make only one, then you're done. If you have to make 50 like we do, well...

Step 11: If you’re going to make just one, then you’re done. If you have to make 50 like we do, well…

Horticulture Shock

 

Thumbs up for horticulture!

It’s a long way before I build a sprawling garden, but hey, it’s a start.

My mother had a green thumb. She had a beautiful garden (three, actually) where she grew a variety of plants, flowers, shrubs, vines—you name it. She was up before anyone else, tending to the lush greenery: watering them, snipping here and there, planting and re-planting. It was a labor of love, and something I wish I inherited.

I’ve been quite unsuccessful with my horticulture practice, though. Every plant I’ve had has withered up or died. “I’m just bad with plants,” I tell myself and others.

The thing is, I don’t want to be bad at it, so I resolved some months ago to change my outlook. When my future mother-in-law gave Stefan and I several pots of pretty purple flowers to adorn our balcony, I took it as the perfect opportunity to shed my past life as a plant murderer and henceforth nurture my green thumb. Stefan and I bought organic soil, I cleaned out the old flower boxes left behind by the previous apartment tenant, and re-arranged the new flowers in nice little beds. They looked perfect!

Until a few weeks ago, when the flowers on one side of one flower box looked dry and unhappy, unlike the other plants that stood tall and lush. Unsure why, I kept watering them anyway, and hoped that the problem would take care of itself. But it didn’t. The weeks passed and I watered them, ignored the problem, and naturally, they got worse and worse. They no longer stood upright but leaned to the left, like they had fainted or even worse, like they were close to dying! “This was bound to happen. Of course, because I don’t have a green thumb,” I said feeling sorry for myself.

But I realized this was the same pattern that I kept repeating. I told myself I have to break the plant-killing cycle and face this horticultural challenge head on. And so over the weekend, I faced my crux: I stood in front of this troublesome convolution of leaves, dried stems and flowers, and quite literally, got to the root of the matter. I untangled the twisted and turned greenery and cut the wilted parts out. When I looked closely, I realized the plant was too tall for the soil that was holding it! No wonder it was falling over; its foundation was insufficient! I then added a fresh layer of soil, enough to make the plant feel rooted again. Seeing that it needed to be propped up still (after all, it had been unsupported and limp for weeks), I took some BBQ sticks from the kitchen and strategically stuck them in the soil. Like crutches, they held up the tired little plant. Today as I look at her (yes, I have decided my plant is a “she,”) she looks happy and hopeful. I may have my mother’s green thumb after all! It will take patience, faith, work, and believing in myself, but hey, isn’t that what growing is all about?