Before it gets too far away from me, I'd like to reflect on yet another wild ride of a year before screaming into the next one. Time does fly when you're having fun. Come along if you'd like :)
First of all - thank YOU - to everyone who was a part of my year, in mind, body and/or spirit. The reflections below do not tell all. Above all YOU made this my best year yet...
This year I moved. A lot. For the first half of the year my lifestyle was active; my work was active; daily outdoor adventure was the norm. My mind was challenged more by physical tasks than intellectual stimulation, which perhaps was why it went into overdrive for the second half of the year with the conceptualization, creation and launch of FEET FREEX - a movement to inspire a greater understanding and use of feet and footwear innovations designed to suit them.
Threads that weave their way through my day to day these days...
Love. Curiosity. Fun. Being aware and fully alive. Incidental education. Traveling to new places. Meeting new people. Experiencing and learning new things. Adventuring. Becoming one with nature and acknowledging our animalness. Exploration. Movement. Exposure. Adaptability. Self-reliance. Endurance. Serenity. Challenge. Being present. Being truly in the moment...which I now understand more thoroughly as free from the known. Making a positive impact along the way.
Exposure is a concept that, after reading this article toward the end of this year, I realized I was already doing, however having it defined, described and even prescribed - I find myself seeking it out, enjoying it and spreading the good word even more.
After looking back on the photos I've included below it seems WATER was another huge part of my flow this year :)
A shout out to my Grandpa, Stephen Valentine Clyde who quietly passed away at 89 on Valentine's Day this year. "Love and respect," he'd say, "All I ever need." Miss you!
From Costa Rica to Nicaragua, Joberg2C to Sodwana in South Africa, Squamish to San Diego, London, La Gomera, Gran Canaria and Rome, New Jersey of course and now Portland, OR...here we go:
COSTA RICA - PURA VIDA RIDE - LAS CATALINAS
I celebrated the new year in the land of pura vida, Costa Rica. Living the simple life, unplugged, attune to nature, with mostly mild, but beautiful adventures. I was working full time at Pura Vida Ride, a seaside multisport shop at Las Catalinas where we could be barefoot, footloose and fancy free while guiding mountain bike, SUP, kayak and snorkel tours, pouring espresso and scooping gelato. I took the opportunity mix things up a bit offering SUPFit workouts on the water and killer group workouts in the natural surrounds: on the beach, in the water, on the grass, in the sand, on the trails and through the neighborhood. We called it Work Hard, Play Hard and we did! My 4km commute to and from work was self-powered daily by either walking, running, cycling, kayaking or coasteering. Out on the water gusty winds spiced things at times. My newly-acquired-and-still-evolving open water lifesaving rescue skills were put to use on the water more than once. I enjoyed the challenge: knowing how to read the water and the wind to make preemptive decisions to avoid catastrophe; to be self-reliant when on the water, physically strong enough to help others when needed and mentally clear and confident to keep them calm and motivated when it became challenging out there. I loved the opportunity to become evermore one with the open water, mother nature and a boat and paddle!
SCUBA! and some exposure...
I completed my PADI Open Water certification just in time for the new year. During my very first open water dive during the course we came across a sandy patch on the ocean floor where at least 10 white tip reef sharks were gathered. It was wonderful to become more familiar, and relaxed, with such an iconic animal in its environment. Oh but the nudibranchs! Thankfully my instructor introduced us to these decorative colorful tiny creatures - sea slugs - most small enough you could easily miss. They were just the start of my new fascination of a whole new world under the water that I had never ever considered much about.
I tend to surround myself with people who like to push my limits. My boyfriend at the time was one of those. In this case it meant that my very first open water dive after the course was, of course, an advanced dive - a night dive. We were on the boat as the sun set - such a beautiful scene. As we arrived at the dive spot, instead of the calm, handheld overexaggerated cues and procedures I experienced during the course, all of a sudden there was a flurry of activity, a quick abbreviated run down of a safety check, a mention of a negative entry, which made me rattle thru my mental roledex of new SCUBA terms. It means you don't wait at the surface for the group to gather and signal "OK" before descending. Instead, we jump in one by one and follow eachother down, or in this case, follow their little glow of their flashlight down. I wasn't sure how I would react to the deep, dark water where the unknown would be all around, let alone while doing this new thing called SCUBA diving. As I tend to do however, I simply prepared my gear, took a few breaths to lower my heart rate, relax, and remind myself I DID know what to do and if I simply stayed focused on the task at hand, step-by-step, moment to moment, on what was right in front of me, and NOT focus on the unknown, it would be easy. So that's what I did. And it was magical; the bioluminesence the most memorable of all. I did have to take a few moments from time to time to regulate my breathing and calm my heart rate, finding the right rhythm and depth of breaths my body needed. The dive ended without a hitch. Mission accomplished. I chose not to go on the second dive, preferring instead to complement the crazy with the peacefulness of the lull of the boat and the moonlight shining on the water. Satisfied and stoked for more another day.
NICARAGUA - OMETEPE - MADERAS
It was just a quick jaunt to make a border run and renew our visas. In 48 hours we managed to catch a bus, cross the border, catch another bus then a taxi then a ferry across Lake Nicaragua over to the island of Ometepe. There we hitched 2 rides, walked a lot then rented a beater motorbike to make it around the island to Merida and our little lodge on the lake. Hopped in a kayak, paddled through the nearby isthmus, ate a delicious fresh caught dinner, slept and then woke up at 5am to start hiking up Maderas, the inactive, very wild, very green and very alive, volcano. It was wondrous. We were so excited for the feeling of running up something so steep that we nearly left our guide gasping. We made sure he made it up ok! At some point near the top, it was like being in a cloud forest: misty, breezy, cool and incredibly lush and green. At times our whole surrounds seemed to have a life of it's own: moving under our feet, all around us and overhead. Memorable. Made it down in time to motor over to a local coffee plantation, return the motorbike, and grab a bus, a ferry and a taxi back to the border. Paid our dues, grabbed another taxi and made it home in time for work the next day. I know there's a lot more to see in Nicaragua, but it was fun to jam that all in during our precious 2 days off of work!
WATER, WATER and more WATER: KAYAKING, CANYONEERING + WHITEWATER RAFTING
LAS CATALINAS TRIATHLON
With the transition area just steps from work, trails I knew like the back of my hand and the whole town and then some out in force racing and/or cheering, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to race, especially when sponsored by Pura Vida Ride! It was a blast to be out there. My race recap is HERE.
Suprised MOM in NJ for her 60th!
Say what? No way. This is a favorite shot of us at her first triathlon a couple yrs ago. Staying strong. Love you!
JOBERG2C - SOUTH AFRICA
Indulged in an epic 9-day 900km MTB journey across the country from Johannesburg to Scottsburgh. My reflections on the event are in the post HERE.
SODWANA BAY - SCUBA DIVING! - EAST COAST OF SOUTH AFRICA
Spoiled with some of the best SCUBA diving on the planet...on the east coast of South Africa not far from where the race ended. A welcome reprieve from 900km on the bike!
5 SUPER VISITS TO NEW JERSEY
My family is super active...never a dull moment. Gym workouts, runs, 5km races, yoga, bike rides and now even parkour!
AHHHH SQUAMISH BRITISH COLUMBIA
Steep hikes, wonderous mountain bike rides...and lots of running around in the forest. The photo below was the biggest day of the summer. Started at sunrise by bike, crossed the river by raft, hiked up to this lake and onward up toward one of the peaks. See the top of the snow line behind me in the photo below? I ended up getting as far as there on an attempt to summit one of the peaks. It was a pretty treacherous scramble up to that point. On my limit. My buddy ventured on solo for 2 hours and made it up while I somehow took a nap on the scree above the snow :) We were home around 9pm just after dark...
A little moving picture glimpse of a typical free run of mine these days:
FEET glorious feet! And footwear that leaves something to be desired...
Somewhere around this time I reached ZERO TOLERANCE for ill-designed footwear. I decided that no matter how much I loved mountain biking I wasn't willing to continue to deform my feet in mountain bike shoes. And so this happened:
See more of how it went down, and why, in the video below:
ARIZONA - Hiking and biking including an early morning crusher up CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN...
And then there was FEET FREEX...
FEET FREEX was born! It was around March 2015 that I woke up with a reignited burning desire to be a part of making a positive impact on the health of feet, whole body human potential and footwear innovation. Upon arriving in Squamish the story unfolded as I wrote and wrote and wrote what I knew to be true how I envisioned it would be most impactful: Introducing people to feet (Please Meet Fred); what they are truly capable of; and the vital role they play in health and human performance. I launched the site, the movement, without hesitation and then learned a lot. Since then it has been in a bit of a holding pattern as the vision and action steps become more clear. Much more to come this coming year...stay tuned!
LA GOMERA / GRAN CANARIA - SPAIN
Whale watching, trail running, parkouring, a little snorkeling...and mostly just chilling. On the wild island of La Gomera in a little village called Lepe followed by the bustling seaside boardwalk of La Palma on Gran Canaria.
LONDON and PARKOUR
I absolutely LOVE when I'm blown away by a transformative new idea or perspective, especially within my own expertise of human movement. This time it came in the form of parkour. Thankful to have been introduced to it by the best of the best in its original spirit and intended environment: the great outdoors. Life will never be the same :) Here's a little insight as to why: Parkour: More Than Movement.
ROME for Thanksgiving
Spent a little time in a city I'd never been where great friends had recently moved. Quite a few ex-pats gathered for a royal Thanksgiving feast. Thankful for the invitation. Ran and relaxed around town absorbing as much as I could in the ancient hustle and bustle that is that beautiful city...
And again AHHHHH SQUAMISH...
Back for the holidays and treated to Winter Wonderland! Snowshoeing, running and plenty of fireside chats...
The year ends and a new one begins in PORTLAND, OREGON.
I was drawn to Portland for a few reasons: the opportunity to collaborate with the footwear innovation world, namely guru Mike Friton, of Friton Design; the plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities nearby; and it's proximity to British Columbia Canada!
It will be a super home base for now.
Sitting here remembering such a playful year, part of me would love to run right out and continue that lifestyle of endless global adventure but at the moment, a bigger picture is gnawing at my heart and soul. I have no idea what the year will hold. Feeling happy to stay put for the time being. It will be different, that I know. The unknown and something new: things I love.
I am glad to know that wherever I am, all types of adventure, challenge and exposure are just few steps away in any direction!
Adventure on all...Enjoy your next 365 day journey around the sun...