Mountains of mindfulness

11174026-943C-4692-BDA5-0759E2402818.jpgI was just part of a running and mindfulness retreat in breathtaking Colorado.  (The views and the altitude were both breathe-stealing!)

Coming to this thing was Spencer’s idea well over a year ago.

We embrace events and opportunities like this as growing our cache of skills and connections for our business as well as helping each of us stay accountable to our own lifestyle choices and changes. Building our business while spending the weekend running trails in the incredible Colorado mountains and learning about mindfulness/meditation?

Why not?

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Spence and I on Green Mountain. Some folks on this hike/run were on their longest run ever, some were seasoned ultra runners and some had never been on trails. SO FUN!

I had a meditation practice coming into this retreat; barely.  I manage to eek out about 2-3 minutes of ‘mind-quiet’ time most days. I use the time, pre-coffee,  to set an intention, frame the day in kindness/compassion.  It was a hard habit to start, but I have managed to get it done most mornings for the last 9 months or so.  And I see results.  It works.

But going to a full 3 day retreat focused on meditation and mindfulness with some yoga and group runs throw in?  I wasn’t sure how ‘into it’ I was going to be… I told Spencer, I was absolutely going to listen, learn, observe. I didn’t arrive to Colorado with too many expectations, yet I did arrive with an open mind.  I was ready to meet some great people and just enjoy the experience — whatever it was all about.

Spoiler alert?

It was deeply impactful.

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Beth, Jason and I cruising down the hill and feeling GOOD.  Uh make that GREAT! Happy to be right there, in that moment, exactly as we were, doing exactly what we were doing.  Such goodness captured in a picture.

I loved the running, people, food, mountains, conversations. That’s kind of what I expected — or more accurately — was really hoping for.  What I was not expecting was how much I would deeply, truly love the workshops and the group meditation.

We talked NOT just about what mindfulness was, but what it looks like, how it plays in our lives and how to actually DO IT.  We were guided through meditation in the morning and then we went on group runs.

Abundance of laughter and pictures and meditation and great food and mindfulness and breathing.


I am sitting at our friend Matt’s house staring at the vast and rugged Colorado landscape. Jaw-dropping.  We’re waiting for the eclipse to get started! I’m thinking about what I get to practice and play with moving forward, thanks to the Olson’s and my other retreat-mates, that I didn’t have in my ‘tool kit’ just last week. I realize I’m slightly dreading the return to ‘normal’ life and routines.  I mean, this was an amazing, eye-opening, heart-filling experience.

Who wants to go back to work after this one-of-a-kind experience?

But than again… The point of mindfulness is that THIS moment is all you have and it’s all wonderfully, genuinely, exactly as it should be – every breathe, every moment.

Just enjoy the moment.

THIS moment.

Quit worrying about what could happen and just enjoy what IS happening.


Anyone in the ultra world will know the name Timothy Olson. Talented athlete with a really long and impressive list of accomplishments.  It turns out he is also a damn good daddy and hell of a nice human being on top of it all.  He and his wife, Krista (she’s an equally amazing human, momma, runner, businesswoman) and a cast of other incredible humans are the hosts and leaders for this weekend.

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Tim’s the one waving. 🙂

While I’m still processing things and figuring out what the key take-aways were; I didn’t want to lose sight of the few that were BIG for me… (And maybe they’ll resonate for you too!)

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Selfie skills for the win! I told them I could get all of them in one selfie.  We did it! SEE SPENCER…  When I randomly pause my Garmin during a key workout — it has a bigger purpose. 🙂

Fueled by love.  We often run or engage in some kind of physical activity and let it be fueled by fear, anger, resentment or some other not-so-great-emotion.

I have to run, I don’t want to gain weight.  

I am PISSED at something in my life, so I’m going to go pound it out on the trails.  

I ate XYZ and I have to go work it off as punishment because I shouldn’t have eaten it.

So we’re essentially using that predominant negative emotion as ‘fuel’.  WHAT IF…  What if we used love and compassion and kindness to ‘fuel’ our runs instead?  This epiphany hit during a casual bonfire circle Q & A.  And the message isn’t entirely new to me; I love the idea of re-framing and positive self-talk, etc.  But this simple answer hit me hard, like… I understood it like I’ve never understood it before and could pull context from that very days’ run of having used fear to fuel my strides. I always run with an edge of fear. ALWAYS.  What will people think?  What if I gain the weight back?  What if the whole group has to wait for me? What if diabetes creeps back in my life? LOTS of what if’s floating around that are fear-based, fear-laced.  What if I were to set the intent of the run and simply choose to fuel that run by counting blessings, harnessing love, recognize the good in life? That’s a ‘what-if ‘worth pondering a whole more deeply.

Breathe. (Breathe deep.)

Open-hearted curiosity. Tim gave us his working definition of mindfulness.  And the piece that resonated deeply for me was ‘open-hearted curiosity‘.  In fact I didn’t hear what he said after that for a few moments because the idea struck me hard. Just that moment of pure wonder with no judgement attached…  His example to illustrate this idea was perfect.  He said to think about that moment when you stick your head outside the door to see what the weather is before heading out on a run.  You are not JUDGING what the weather is going to bring to/do to your run or your day, it’s just that instant/moment of wondering how the air is, what the skies look like, what the weather really is like at that moment…  THAT moment of suspended judgement is ‘open-hearted curiosity’.  I fell in love with that idea… 🙂  Coupled with open-hearted curiosity is the reminder to suspend judgement.  Just be curious.  I’m a harsh self-directed judger and conclusion-drawer and a story-builder.  I take one data point and can easily build the apocalypse in my head; convince my heart to go along with my head and the day is suddenly headed in another direction…  So suspending judgement and just being consistently, genuinely open-heartedly curious, is a BIG ONE FOR ME.  Just be curious.  Period.  Stop right there.  I’ve been eagerly practicing this one a lot already.

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Kindness. The world just needs more kindness. Ample and gentle reminders for us to find ways to insert kindness when we see the chance, when we’re given the chance. Smile at people on the trails. Help a fellow runner/hiker/outdoor-goer.  Take the kindness off of the trails and into life.  Kindness conquers a whole lot of ills in our world.  Kindness costs nothing.

BREATHE. (In through the nose, out through the mouth…)

Accepting pain. Instead of fighting pain and discomfort, accept it. Lean into it and accept it, feel it, acknowledge it. Breathe through it. I always figured part of what we were training for with all this dang mileage and ‘time on our feet’ was to abolish the pain; get stronger and fitter so pain was less and less of an issue.  Uh… Not true.  Pain is actually strengthened by our reaction to it. Fixating on things rarely ‘fixes’ them.  WHOA!  So reacting to the pain actually makes it stronger. Damn. That’s not good. This is true for physical pain and mental pain as well. The idea that accepting pain, facing it and not fighting it is what actually helps it diminish or be put into perspective was a pretty startling reminder/re-framing for me.

And just breathe…


Heading home with tired legs, full lungs, happy heart, new friends.

This adventure delivered more than I could have possibly imagined.

Full and happy heart.

#runmindful

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