Making “Someday” today…

Well, it seems that news travels fast and my last Facebook post revealed more than I intended, so I think it’s time for this post. I have decided that this is my last year teaching at Eaglecrest High School. It’s a bittersweet decision, but all I can do is trust in my ability to make good decisions for myself and have confidence that making my someday happen today is the right decision.

I think I tend to make a lot of life decisions based on feeling and not on weighing “known” and “unknowns,” (which is probably something I should work on…) and my move to Colorado was definitely one of those decisions. I had taken a couple of trips to Colorado and looking back at one of my journal entries from that time, which contained the words “fun, excited, awesome, pumped, great, etc.” approximately 12 times, I obviously had some good feelings. The “knowns” were this: I loved climbing, I had become recently obsessed with the outdoors, I knew I had to work in the outdoors in some capacity, Colorado had mountains, and Colorado had people that I really liked to spend time with. So the decision seemed pretty clear to me. But I really didn’t know anything about Colorado. I knew about Denver.

I was so lucky to land my “dream job” before I even moved out here. Because of my lack of Colorado geographical knowledge, I was just applying anywhere and everywhere for a teaching position. So I applied to this school called Eaglecrest High School, in Centennial, for a PE position. When they called me back informing me that they would “love to interview me for the outdoor ed position,” I was ecstatic. In my head, the plan was to get a regular PE job during the school year, because the dream was to be a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) instructor during the summers. So I could not believe it when I had found a full time job that essentially combined both of those things. After the interview and some good feelings about a really cool lady named Kelly, who was one of my interviewers, I was sold.

It’s been a wonderful six years at Eaglecrest and in Denver. I have invested so much time and energy into that school, I love the adventure program, and it has been a huge part of my life. I have fantastic co-workers and friends, an administration who is extremely supportive of my program, a lot of freedom to create the curriculum that I think is most beneficial to students, and have met and built relationships with, in my totally biased opinion, the most amazing teenage humans on the planet. I could not have asked for a better first job out of college and first job in Colorado. And it has been a great home.

But sometimes it’s time to move away from home and step outside of our comfort zones. I try to teach my students to do something out of their comfort zones every day. So I have to look at my own life as well and make sure that I am living with integrity and following my same teachings. In the decision-making process, I have been asking myself, “why do I live in Denver?” and I keep coming back to the same answer- my job is comfortable. I have security in the fact that I know I do a good job, I know I am supported, it is full time, I have benefits, and the list of comforts goes on… But I realize that I don’t actually do a whole lot in Denver. My social life basically revolves around climbing, mountain biking, skiing, “mountainy” parties and events, good friends, and of course good beer. Every weekend that I can be, I am in the mountains, probably sleeping in my van.

In my comfort, I have let some of my dreams fall into the category of “someday,” and that is a dangerous place for dreams to be. I’ve always said, “someday I want to be a NOLS instructor” and “someday I want to live in the mountains.” As I was perusing my favorite blog, Semi-rad, the other day, I stumbled across an article from 2012 called “The Importance of Big Dreams” that I remember reading and still invokes the same feelings as it did back then. There’s a section in it that says,

“If you start a sentence off with, “I’ve always wanted to …”, you either

  1. aren’t going to do it, which means it’s not really your dream, or
  2. just haven’t done it yet.

Procrastinating, putting it off is fine as long as you’re 100 percent sure that you’re not going to die in the next year. Because you’re going to die someday, and if you’re honest with yourself, you will admit that you never once as a kid said to anyone, When I grow up I want matching drapes, or a riding lawnmower that mulches too or a cozy living room. You wanted to be a cowboy or a polar explorer or Amelia Earhart.”

I’m not 100 percent sure that I’m not going to die in the next year. And this year, I turn 30 and will be starting my endeavor on the Iron Belle Trail in Michigan. So why not now? I don’t know what I’m going to do to make money to live and pay off those hellish student loans, but I know that in the words of one of my NOLS instructors, my dreams aren’t going to realize themselves. It’s time to move to the mountains. They are calling, nagging really, and I must go. It’s time to make my someday today.

A good ole fashioned sandbag could be the start of it all…

My body is sore, but it’s that good kind of sore, where even though my joints ache, I want to foam roll every muscle in my body, and all I crave is meat (says the former vegetarian), I know I am getting stronger.

I had the opportunity today to go on a hike with my good friends Rachael and Mike in Boulder. I totally sandbagged them when I said “it’s just going to be a short hike, I think like 3 miles total, enough so we feel like we worked, but it doesn’t take all day.” 6.8 miles and 2,951 feet of round-trip elevation gain later, the trail that Protrails calls “the shortest but most strenuous route to Bear Peak” proved to be just that. I had completely forgotten how difficult the trail was, but it was absolutely worth it.

It was an amazing day and as we were hiking up, we passed this group of three young teenage girls who had obviously just crushed it and were on their descent now. We said hello and asked them how much longer to the top and they cheerfully said, “Only about 30 more minutes and it levels out in just a bit!” Even though the next portion of the hike I was still sucking air, I could not stop smiling for the next 20 minutes. I was so excited to see young girls choosing to spend their Saturday outside and doing something challenging.

I am so inspired by young people who choose to spend their time doing something so positive because Lord knows when I was their age, I definitely was not always making those choices. I’m pretty sure I spent most every Saturday playing volleyball at all day tournaments or overnight tournaments, or doing all of my chores so I could go hang out with my friends. No where on my adolescent radar was the idea that taking a hike with friends could be a great Saturday afternoon activity. I’m also pretty sure that I didn’t even know such thing as a trail existed, let alone in Michigan. It just wasn’t something I was exposed to.

This is why I am so excited to go on this journey. Many kids these days are committed to doing something at a really young age and while I think that things like playing an instrument, playing sports, etc can be really positive experiences, there is also a part of me that wonders if, given the opportunity, would the outdoors have been something that I really connected with at a young age? Who knows.

All I know is that I had a wonderful family who loved and supported me through anything that I was interested in and I am lucky enough now, to have experienced the outdoors in a way that has forever left its mark on me. I hope that on this trail, I can at least give young girls an opportunity to see or do something that maybe was never on their radar and give them exposure to a trail that is right in their backdoor. Maybe one day, one of those girls will sandbag their friends and leave their bodies sore, tired and hungry for more adventure.

A quick update on the Iron Belles Initiative….

My friend Kristina and I have officially partnered together and submitted our paperwork for “Iron Belles” to be a trade name and a registered company! Once that goes through, we will be submitting our paperwork to be an official non-profit organization! We could not be more excited! Here’s our mission:

Iron Belles is an organization devoted to shifting the paradigms around women in contemporary society. Our mission is to challenge traditional gender roles and help each woman push past her perceived limitations. We want to create a positive community of women who empower each other, and we are dedicated to helping individuals create their own stories.

Here’s how you can help! We are going to be starting the process of developing our logo and if you have a creative idea, let me know! (bethany.gleason@gmail.com) You can also start to follow us on our facebook and instagram accounts and start tagging your woman adventures with #ironbelles.

Facebook: “Iron Belles”

Instagram: @ironbelles