Second-Hand Fashion Gems in Toronto

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There was a time when second-hand shopping meant sifting through piles of worn and stained clothing, but these days are long gone. Clothes are no longer passed on primarily because they’re worn out, but for lots of other reasons:  frequently changing tastes, impulse buys that didn’t pan out, ill-fitting clothes (as mothers know very well, our bodies change), and unused gifts (lots of items still have tags on them).

The result is that there are heaps of high quality, lovely pieces that are being recirculated, and it is a lot of fun to get in on the game. With so many options are available for scoring unique, good-looking clothing, the fashionistas peruse the second-hand offerings right next to the bargain hunters and the eco-minded (buying second-hand leaves a smaller footprint than buying new) and on as regular a basis.

So what exactly are these options?  For those who want a gentle approach to second-hand and love high fashion and the brands that bring it, you can’t get much better than Thrill of the Find (1172 Queen Street East).  Clothing in perfect condition is neatly hung in this boutique shop, and the staff helps you get the perfect high fashion find at a fraction of the cost you’d normally pay.  There are a lot of beautiful dresses in the shop, along with a slightly imperfect rack for those among us who know our way around a needle and thread.

A little farther east is Gadabout (1300 Queen Street East), an overflowing vintage shop selling all kinds of old things, including some very interesting clothes.  Vintage clothing is an important part of Toronto’s fashion scene, and though I don’t belong to this world, I encountered it once at Gadabout when I was shopping for my wedding dress.  When trying on a beautiful vintage baby blue knee-length dress with an empire waist and cream trim, I caught the attention of two designers who were shopping there also; they promptly offered their advice for how the dress could be adjusted to be just right.  Like Thrill of the Find, Gadabout is not necessarily inexpensive because of how specialized it is (and the designers pointed this out), but it is a good shop carrying a wide range of things, and if you find something you love, you can be quite sure you’ll not find it elsewhere.  (And I probably would have gotten married in that baby blue dress (which cost about $200) had my husband not finally confessed that he really would prefer I wear a white one.)

Hands down, my favourite local second-hand haunt is my neighbourhood Value Village (924 Queen Street East).  This is your trusty department thrift store – the rectangular shop is stocked with utilitarian shelves and hangers, but there are some treasures among the more mundane offerings, and the prices are cheap (although they are not as cheap as they used to be, due to its increased popularity).  Clothing is organized by type (sweater, long-sleeved shirt, skirt) and size, but you are much better off going to browse than looking for anything in particular.  I have bought many things that I really like and use here, and my niece bought her prom dress here, confident that she wouldn’t encounter another girl in the same dress.

Do you have any favourite second-hand neighbourhood stores or experiences?

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Local Fashion Finds in Toronto

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We hope you’ve been enjoying our month of fashion and beauty ruminations.  To round off, we’ll be telling you about our favourite local fashion finds this week.

High end, thrifting, making your own – what’s your style when it comes to looking great in Toronto?  Does big city living boast so many options that the overflowing choice leaves you unsure of where to start?  Or do you thrive on the ever-changing world of fashion that graces our city?

This week, catch a glimpse of 4 Mothers’ varied thoughts on this, as we tell you about our experiences and what exactly it is that we’ve found – you might be surprised!

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Mike the Knight in the Great Scavenger Hunt Coming to Toronto on February 28

MK_ScavHunt_Artwork_NoWhiteWe’re excited to be taking our littlest boys to Mike the Knight in the Great Scavenger Hunt on February 28 at the Sony Centre in Toronto (it’s being performed in 45 Canadian cities)! Based on the popular animated series, this musical theatre performance promises to take audiences on an interactive medieval adventure complete with trolls and flying dragons.  What more can we ask for?

Mike the Knight pursues his chivalrous quest with friendly dragon companions Sparkie and Squirt, buddy Trollee, and his wizard-in-training sister Evie.  The show appeals to preschoolers who follow Mike’s on his many discoveries, including the importance of responsibility – after all, his motto is “Be a knight, do it right!”.

Our sons like this series, which is fun-loving and full of adventure, dress-up and imaginative play.  We’re sure the theatrical production will be a hit too.  We’re looking forward to take our littlest boys to a show meant especially for them – no tagging along to an event geared towards their older brothers next Saturday – we’re going to spend some great one-on-one time just with them and a musical little knight.

Learn more about show here. Tickets are available online at Ticketmaster.ca or by phone at (855) 985-5000.  

H20 Float Spa – Floating to Relaxation


float spa 2I first heard about the float spa from Beth-Anne.  The synopsis: you enter a large water capsule, close the lid and lie there in the dark.  I believe she may have referred to it as a nightmare.

I was like, “Oo, I want to try!”  And in honour of 4 Mothers’ reviews of interesting spas this week, I did. And it was really quite cool.

My local H20 Float Spa, conveniently located on Danforth Avenue, offers two float pods (with lids) and two open concept float rooms (large enough for a couple to float together).  I opted for the pod, which really is large water capsule with a lid, perhaps the size of a queen size bed, filled with 10 inches of water and filled with 1000 pounds of Epsom salts.  At this concentration (higher than the Dead Sea), the body naturally floats to the surface without any effort, which in turn is conducive to deep states of relaxation.

It was this selling point that got me: I am trying to meditate more, and was curious about doing so in the pod.  What would it be like?

The water in the pod is comfortable but not hot – you can’t float for an hour in water that is too hot.  It’s normally kept at body temperature (34 degrees) although when I mentioned to the attendant booking my appointment over the phone that I get cold easily, he increased the temperature a degree or two for my session.  I slipped into the water and immediately was buoyed up.

The attendant had asked me if I wanted cream to cover any cuts on my body, but I didn’t think I had any. Apparently I had small cuts on some cuticles though, and the high salt content of the water meant that the stinging was distracting enough that I buzzed the attendant (there’s a button in the pod for this) to request the cream after all.  I generously applied (and reapplied) this and felt better. (Luckily I hadn’t shaved before floating; I later learned this is not recommended because any little nicks in the skin will sting too.)  I also inserted little spots of wax into my ears; apparently you don’t want the salt water entering the ear cavities.

It’s possible to plug in music to the pod, which I think would be an amazing experience, but for my first try, I wanted just silence.  When I was ready, I reached up for the handle to close the capsule.  When the lid actually clicked shut over me, I had a moment of startled awareness of enclosure. And the sudden, completely absence of light. There was a subtle green glow in the pod when the lid was open, now with it shut, there was a short window of reddish darkness, and then just black darkness.  Pure sensory deprivation.

It was quite amazing.  Weightless, with absolutely no difference to my sight whether my eyes were open or closed, I began my mindful meditation practice.  With so little sensation, what was there was heightened.  I was very aware of the water, its temperature and mine, its texture on my skin (so very smooth), and also what parts of my body were covered by it or exposed. The sounds of my breath were intensified, and almost foreign as it got deeper. My mind wandered (it always does – my meditations are a work in progress), but there was very little external stimulus.  And I don’t think I have ever heard my own heartbeat so prominent and plain.

The one meaningful distraction was the periodic rumble of the subway that makes the location so convenient; in my sensitive state I could both hear and feel this.  I took this in stride with my meditation but could imagine a purer experience without it – some music might mask this beautifully.

I’m fairly sure I fell asleep and woke a few times.  Towards the end of my hour, my meditative state ended, and I very nearly opened the lid (although I didn’t – the lights came on just a few minutes later to signal the end of my session).  I began to wonder:  how much oxygen is in this pod, and was my breathing a bit more laboured than when I started?  In other words, I began to experience some mild anxiety. But I recognized this, and was not actually worried; I had just left my relaxed state.  I finished up with a leisurely hot shower in my floating room, and ended my spa with a hot cup of sweetened tea and an orange.

As Beth-Anne astutely observed from the beginning, the floating pod isn’t for everyone.  Even though there’s only 10 inches of water, I think you have to be really comfortable with water – no fear of it at all – to enjoy the experience.  Also, you have to be a-okay with the dark and small spaces (although it’s absolutely possible to float with the lights on and the lid up, but you’ll be missing the main experience of sensory deprivation).

If you are good on these fronts, by all means, give it a go.  I’m not sure I’ll become a regular, mostly because I rarely go to spas in general, but it was an unforgettable experience and a very good meditation session. The attendant told me that there are some excellent meditators who book three hour sessions. (I had asked him my oxygen question, and he explained that there is a filter inside the pod that is constantly monitoring oxygen levels and adding air so very long sessions are possible.)

And if the pod isn’t quite up your alley, the open concept floating rooms sound very accessible.  There were only couples in the waiting room when I was paying and wrapping up; a casual testimonial, I thought, that floating in the dark with your lover probably makes for an excellent date.  One thing is sure: you wouldn’t soon forget it.

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A Week of New and Unusual Spa Treatments

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Okay, it’s mid-February, Toronto is in the middle of a deep freeze, and I don’t want to leave the house.  Can’t we channel some wisdom from the animal kingdom – there’s a reason why they hibernate!

But February comes every year, and must be faced when the time comes, and we all must do the best we can with it.  This week, 4Mothers tries to cope with a bit of pampering, also known as the spa.  Most of us like a good spa treatment, but to shake things up a bit, we’ve decided to try some unusual and new spa treatments and report on our experiences.  Stay tuned and see what each of us turn up with.

Also, tell us – what are your favourite spa treatments?  Do you stick with the tried and true, or do you venture into novel territory?  We’d love to hear your thoughts, and we’ll get through February together!

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Maturity in Makeup: An Interview with Makeup Artist Boriana Karan

boriana“Every face has beauty and personality.  I see where my clients are and where they want to go and look for ways to get there.”  So says award-winning Boriana Karan, one of Canada’s preeminent makeup artists, whose work has appeared in a plethora of magazines, commercials, and videos.

It’s easy to get lost in her collection of dazzling work, yet for all the glamour of her profession, Boriana has a decidedly down-to-earth manner.  She is equally at home in the world of high fashion as she is on the living room floor playing with her two children. So it comes as no surprise that Boriana’s clientele includes not just models and actors, but also the rest of us who seek out individual consultations to help us look our best.

I’ve talked to Boriana a few times about her work, and each time it’s nothing short of captivating.  And since my beauty regimen consists primarily of an annual haircut and flossing, this really is saying something.  I think it’s because her approach to makeup is so thoughtful.  Listen to her:

Like a house, you need to build structure to a face.  I observe how women do their make-up – usually they focus on the eyes and sometimes the mouth.  But every feature of the face is part of the structure and needs attention, so emphasizing one or two features doesn’t create a balanced look.  Just as a good room is created from various pieces of furniture, or a recipe from different ingredients, a face is made of multiple components and requires a structure.  Some components are more prominent than others depending on the person – these components include hair, eyes, a nose – if a woman is lucky, sometimes a mouth – also fullness of the face and colour.  

It sounds very subjective but everyone has to look in the mirror and see what parts of her face’s structure are missing, and then focus on this first.  Maybe you have small lips or big eyes or a reddish complexion or lack of colour or healthy glow in the face – whatever it is, you must address this missing link first.  If you have only a few minutes to do your make-up, this is where you spend it by focusing by building a complete structure from all your features.  Creating these basic structural elements to the face is like creating basic visual manners.  Make-up should have a health and balancing to it before moving onto something more elaborate.  Then, if you have an extra minute, you can go on to something else.  But make sure that this translates into balance of the overall structure.

This reference to minutes is another reason why Boriana has the credibility that she has.  Sure, she can airbrush a naked body into almost anything, but she also knows how it works for most of us, on the ground.  Women are busy; mothers are very busy. “Three minutes – it’s what most of us has,” she says.  In which case you need to know how best to use each of those minutes.

I ask her whether she has any advice to dispense to the everywoman, and the biggest message here, hands down, is to take care with eyebrows. “There is a huge misunderstanding about brows,” she explains. Firstly, girls and women are too aggressive with eyebrows at an early age, and regrowth in the brow zone can be as little as 10%.  But the more we age, the more brow we need.  With age, the asymmetry in the face becomes more prominent and the eyebrows can compensate for that without surgical intervention and create the illusion of better symmetry in the face.   As eyes inevitably become deeper set and faces start to sag with time, clearing underneath the brow and working the top layer can give the face a natural face lift.

Another area that’s often overlooked is colour in general in the face. We’re not talking here about sucking in our cheeks and stroking an angular slash of blush under the cheekbone.  Boriana speaks instead about the apple of the cheek, the highest and roundest part of the cheek most prominent when someone smiles.  She’s seeking here to replicate the flush of youth, the glow that comes after exercise, an external showing of healthy, internal heat.  This is where “makeup can compensate for the lack of a look of health, including the lips.”

Finally, Boriana generally recommends that for women 30 and over, smoothness and softness to the features is usually more flattering than sharper lines. So, as we age, it can be helpful to shift from lipstick to a gentler lip balm, stain or gloss.  Move away from powders to mattifying creams; choose targeted use of concealer rather than a foundation over the whole face.  “Imagine a move from tempera paint to watercolours,” she tells me. “It’s maturity in makeup.”

Boriana is completely engaged as she talks and her energy is contagious.  She has been interviewed for magazines and other print media before but this is her first blog experience.  “Is there a way for your readers to ask questions?”  I’m surprised by this because she is a very busy woman, but I am meeting with her next week and she says she can answer questions then for me to report back.  It won’t be instant gratification, but her thoughts will undoubtedly be helpful, because this is a woman who not only wants you to look your best, but who can actually help you get there.

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                    Boriana shows how to match skin ton from a palette of rainbow colours from Make Up Forever

 

Yoga, lululemon, and The Remix – All in One Afternoon


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Nathalie’s one word for 2015 is attend.  I know she’s the one who authored a long, thoughtful post about it but her words resonate so well with me that I almost feel some ownership over them too.  At the least I am happy to ride on her coattails.  I want to attend and care for myself, and I want to get out and try some new things, and so far these two impulses have been quite complementary.

Most recently I accepted an invitation to attend Beats and Balance, which begins lululemon‘s involvement with The Remix Project, whose educational programs assist under-serviced youth from marginalized communities enter the creative industries.  lululemon hosted four fitness classes two hours apart at impressive Arcadian Court, paired with unusual live musical performances, with all proceeds going to The Remix Project.

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Enlisting my sister as company, I attended this event with little sense of what to expect.  Mostly I knew there would be yoga, and that it would be a unique way to get on the mat.

We rolled out our mats with hundreds of other people, under the vibrant purple lights illuminating all of Arcadian Court.  It was difficult to see the instructor but we managed to get along, and it really was a memorable class – there was something in the air from sharing a practice with so many people.

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The practice closed with an aria by an opera singer without accompaniment – it was all a bit surreal.  The delicious and healthy lunch that followed helped bring us gently back down to reality.

Good times continued as I got to talk to Ricky Bekzadeh, Director of Programming at The Remix Project and learn more about their alternative education program.  They’re able to accept 45 young people (of 350 applicants) for a 9 months semester in one of four areas: Recording, Business, Creative, and Film & Television Arts. Courses are led by industry professionals, and students also attend mandatory monthly workshops on diverse topics including resume building, social media, business ethics, branding, and financial literacy.  Some graduates pursue their education further, others get internships or jobs.

Their application process bears mention:  they interview everyone who submits an application (which can be done online).  This approach acknowledges that a disadvantaged but excellent applicant’s potential can be difficult to identify on paper.  Criteria for the program is three-fold:  need, determination/drive, and talent.

It sounds like a program doing great things, and Natalie Westlake from lululemon explained that the company wanted to support it.  lululemon will also further this connection by providing instructors to The Remix Project students over the next year.

My efforts to “attend” worked – I learned about this promising educational program and its partnership with lululemon, met some interesting people, had a rare experience in the city, and did my body a very nice turn.  Getting out does have its rewards.

Photo credits:  @botcomm

 

Feeling Great, Looking Great

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Last month, 4Mothers focused on fitness and health as the perfect way to ring in the new year.  Taking care of our bodies, hearts and minds can only lead to a heightened sense of well-being, and we all know that feeling great is the best we can strive for in any year.

Feeling great, looking great… we know they’re usually connected.  With the arrival of February, we’ll shift our focusto looking great through fashion and beauty this month.  Whatever that means for you, we’re delving in because we know that looking great can be both a reflection of feeling great or the pick-me-up that helps us get there.

So we’ll reveal some of our musings and favourite finds in the wide world of beauty, fashion and spa treatments.  We even have some do-it-yourself beauty fun thrown in – do you know how easy and effective it is to make your own lip balm?  Nathalie will soon tell you.

We’re especially delighted to present some amazing guests this month, like Iva, mom of four, who gives real style advice to real women at Falling in Style.  And if you haven’t yet found the lovely space at Joey and the Owl, we can’t wait to introduce you to it.  We’ve also got the goods on maternity style from Aly from The Newlywed Life.  I’m pretty sure my maternity days are over, but I currently have two close friends who are right in it (one pregnant with her first child, the other with her fourth!) so we’ll all be paying close attention to Aly‘s thoughts.

Stay tuned!  The days are flying by – it’s February already! – but we’re here for you everyday, for a few quiet moments amidst the busyness of our lives.  It feels great to us, and we hope you enjoy your time here too.

Image:  Beauty Fashion Shoes Silhouettes 

Loving Low-Sugar, Healthy Practices at School

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I was talking with two friends a few months ago about their children’s schools and they said that overall they were happy with them.  Then one woman added:  “Except for all the candy.”

What candy?  She explained that between the children’s birthdays, holiday celebrations, special events, bake sales, fundraisers, and teacher rewards, the kids eat candy at school all the time.  Neither of these women restrict sugar much with their kids; in comparison I’m basically the Sugar Police.  For them to complain means that their kids are getting a lot of it.

I’ve been sheltered from this.  My kids go to an alternative school where there is, for the most part, a shared understanding around treats and sugar.  There is an emphasis on what I think are very healthy snacks for most in-class events, which overall means low or no sugar, fruit-based, often gluten-free, often organic treats.  In this world, I am not at all the Sugar Police.  There’s no perfect unity – some teachers specify that they want no sugar, but most don’t say this; one parent’s candy kebabs were rejected (with offence) at a bake sale; another complained that the Toronto District School Board food and beverage policy should be followed more closely (ie. restrictively).

(Yes, the school board actually has a healthy food policy.  It doesn’t apply to food offered at school free of charge, which would include all the in-class birthdays and celebrations, but the fact that it exists could provide some needed guidelines about what is acceptable.  It rules out a lot of junk food and candy.  Incidentally I disagree with some of it – the sugar, fat, and fibre requirements means many home-baked goods are not acceptable, while non-fat store-bought processed treats would be.  I’d rather sink my teeth into a good homemade muffin any day.)

Where do I personally stand on all of this?  Usually if I need to bring something healthy, it’s fruit kebabs or home-flavoured popcorn.  For bake sales and special school events that are exempt from the food and beverage policy, I usually bring more traditional treats like cookies or brownies or pie (made with flour and sugar, but not piles of icing).  I like baking, and I think occasional treats are a beautiful thing.

But I am plain relieved to be at a school where candy and sugar are not the norm simply because it isn’t healthy, and for most people, it’s difficult to resist.  Fat, dairy, gluten – even alcohol and caffeine have their proponents who assert health benefits under certain circumstances – but there really are none for sugar.

My kids and I talk about food a lot at home, and I agree that what happens at home matters more than what happens at school.  At the same time, our aspirations at home are made infinitely more reachable with a supportive surrounding community.  When my son comes home on November 1 and complains that all of the kids have Hallowe’en treats at lunch except for him, I can ask, with some confidence, how many children he is talking about.  The answer is invariably one or two, and my child realizes, without me saying much, that he is not alone and he feels more settled than if the answer were 20.  (As do I; I don’t want my children to feel like social outsiders, and the need to belong is strong and important.)  Then we can have a treat at home or not, depending on what works for us, but we aren’t pushed along by a social wave to eat in ways that not only aren’t good for us, but that we’re not truly choosing.

What the debate on sugar at schools tells me is that there is no common culture of food in the society I live in, so people find themselves having to create their own and yet really hunger for a like-minded community.  I empathize with this and I’ve probably come to take for granted some of the things I don’t have to deal with at my kids’ school.  While I would prefer that the cafeteria not sell chocolate milk or that packaged cookies not come with the monthly pizza lunch, it’s easier for me to roll with it because it’s not the norm in my kids’ school experience.  If it were, I would consider it a detriment to my children’s health and would support efforts to change it.

There are many influential people in this camp, but I have to mention Jamie Oliver – have you heard impassioned Ted Talk/plea called “Teach Every Child About Food”?  His thoughts on chocolate milk at school are quite hard-hitting and provoking.

Do you have any food for thought for me?  I think about food quite a bit, and always want to learn more.

 

Life Lessons Learned on the Rock Wall

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My husband works at a big fitness club – there an indoor soccer field, indoor basketball courts, squash courts, three pools, lots and lots of fitness rooms and lots and lots of weights and machines to choose from.  There are spa facilities and a hair salon.  But my eyes were drawn from the beginning to the three story rock wall.

I don’t know why it’s taken me until now to give it a try.  Well, I guess I do…  Until recently, there’s been a baby attached to my hip or wrapped around my legs.  But probably more importantly, I’d never done it before and, unlike Beth-Anne who likes to try new things, I kind of resist them.  I’m not crazy about this tendency, so challenging myself to actually try that wall for none other than this blog became my mission over the holidays.

I went with my niece, an athletic 16 year old who had climbed before.  We had spent the entire day at the club, and she had played soccer for over two hours, and was then given a good workout on the squash court by my husband.  The day before she had spent skiing which, as a Californian, used her muscles in unusual ways.  This is all to explain that when she tried the rock wall of moderate difficulty, she got a fifth of the way up and had to let go.  Her legs were shaking; she simply could not go on.

My turn.  Unlike my niece, I had only gentle swum with my kids that day; however, also unlike her, I don’t have a teenage athletic body anymore.  We were climbing walls that did not require a lesson first, strapped in with a harness that gently bounces you to the ground if you slip.  Having never tried this before though, I discovered that I had trouble trusting the safety device would catch me if I fell.  Suddenly I feared heights where I hadn’t before.  With no advice before climbing, no experience, and ultimately, no confidence, I let go almost precisely at the spot my niece had and fell.

As it happens, the harness did work.

My attempt disappointed me.  It would have been quite alright to not get to the top (and when my husband tried, he fell at the same spot – it really was tricky) but my effort was not solid.

I gathered my wits.  Then, with the genuine encouragement of my niece and husband, I got in line for the beginner wall.

I think I was the only person above four and a half feet for this climb, but I ignored any prideful urgings and strapped myself in.  The climb was much easier than the other I tried, and I was comfortable enough to play around a bit with what movements worked.  I reached the top, and my husband boasted, with no hint of irony, that I sped by the nine year old to my left.

The question was whether to try something more.  There were two climbs at moderate difficulty.  I asked a boy there, who had obviously done these climbs many, many times (he looked like a little Spiderman scaling those walls), which of the two were harder.  He pointed to the one I hadn’t tried, and said he thought it might be slightly easier.

With no real aim except to make a better attempt, some minor success under my belt (ha), and more assurance in the harness, I tried again.  It was a much harder climb.  I think I was the most surprised of everyone when I actually made it to the top.

The accomplishment felt at least as much mental as physical and got me mulling, as I’m wont to do, about the broader significance of this singular experience.  I’ve since concluded that there are several useful life lessons to be learned from a rock wall.

1.  Confidence Matters.  

It’s not the only thing that matters, but my initial lack of confidence on the first climb was fatal to the effort.  If you don’t believe you can do something, you’re unlikely to manage it.

2.  The beginning is a good place to start.  

Sometimes I like to fancy myself a little more advanced than I am, a quick learner or something, who can maybe skip a step or two.  Occasionally this works, but oftentimes it doesn’t.  The beginner rock wall was not so physically challenging but I’m positive I would not have succeeded at the harder one had I not started at the beginning.  And experience can bolster belief to develop needed confidence (see above).

3.  There’s not much success without taking risks.  

At some points in the climb, I realized that I couldn’t find the next fingerhold or foothold not because I wasn’t looking properly, but because there wasn’t one.  The only way to continue at these junctures was to set my sights on my next best guess, and spring over to it and hope it would work. I had to let go without knowing what there was next to hold on to.   There was no going higher without taking the risk.

4.  Small things really matter.

I knew that rock climbing tests both agility and strength, but I didn’t realize the extent to success hinges on the smallest things.  Like little protrusions from the wall that your foot can’t really stand on, but that might help your other foot or your hands hang on just a little longer.  Or like fingertips, or the tips of fingertips – these really matter. When I got back onto solid ground after the moderate climb, I couldn’t move my fingers or wrists – they were both burning and throbbing.  My thighs and feet and back must have played a part, but I think my fingertips were the star of the show.

5.  Fear must be dealt with or it will be a block.

To climb that wall, I had to get over my fear of falling.  Probably by falling.  And getting back up again.

6.  Everything that gets done gets done one step at a time.

Many times on that moderate climb where I made it to the top, I didn’t think I would.  I’d look up and the way looked awfully long.  At those times I lowered my head to look at where I was and paused. I brushed aside the temptation to give up and instead agreed with myself to just look for the next step.  When tired, I thought of just the next step.  Stacking enough of next steps together got me somewhere.

I knew starting out that many rock climbers are diehards about their sport.  I think, in some tiny way, I may understand why.  It’s about a lot more than fitness and really challenges the mental strength of the climber, and this can only be that much more true when climbing an actual rock face.  At it’s core, I think rock climbing is about overcoming obstacles that you once wouldn’t have thought possible.  No wonder it’s got such a stronghold on its followers.

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