WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

October 29, 2013

The Power of WordFood Exchange

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 4:25 pm

Anyone who has ever gone on a long trip is familiar with all the final details that annoy, crop up, and land at the last possible moment. Today was no different. At about 6 am tomorrow the shuttle is going to carry me off for a month in Tanzania, and the amount of preparation for all the adventures has been enormous. The last week has been a flurry of getting bills paid, including pulling out funds for tips for porters, chefs, shuttle drivers et al, meaning that pretty much all my accounts are on fumes. Naturally, two days ago I got a notice that my car registration required an emissions test, and my car insurance payment came due, along with a slew of other payments that just happened to land at the worst moment.

Here’s where I got taught a wonderful lesson, in the form of the basement flooding that happened back in September. My USAA adjustor and I developed a relationship wherein I kept him in stitches about the repeated floodings, and I continually told him to take care of the Coloradans who had more need than I did. And I meant it. We talked football and since he’s from Texas I razzed him about the Texans and especially Tony Romo. Now it was time for me to ask a favor. I compiled and sent him a list of my damaged goods- some pretty big and pricey. When there was question about a value he gave me the benefit of the doubt and that meant, in some cases, several hundred dollars more. In about five minutes he tallied up the total, asked for my approval and sent it up the pole to get me my payment ASAP. That check will make all the difference between meeting or not meeting my responsibilities while on travel.

This is not to say that John wouldn’t have done this for any USAA client, because they’re good that way. But my guess is that I might have earned a brownie point or two because of the exchanges we had during September, and because I made him laugh repeatedly during what I knew to be a very high stress time for the USAA adjustment team. You pay into the bank of good will and when you need to draw from it, there’s an excellent chance you may be able to get what you need.

This just goes to show that even when we are in extremis, it’s good to keep perspective, and when people are trying to assist us, to appreciate and honor them. I didn’t expect USAA to do what they did today. I am beyond grateful for this help. We are not necessarily “owed” over and above service, but John reminded me today that we can most certainly earn it.

October 21, 2013

What We Say It Is, Is the Way It Is

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 3:50 pm

Towards the end of a long and utterly magnificent series of adventures in Argentina last May, I had the chance to share a dorm room with a charming American woman about a third my age at the Hotel Estoril in Buenos Aires, where I had first landed upon arrival. She was energetic, happy, bright, and hugely enthusiastic about being on the road, the kind of person you really want to bring along for an adventure. We struck up a conversation that lasted several hours.

This woman had already been traveling for months, exploring through Uruguay and Chile, Colombia and parts of Argentina. She was full of stories and laughter. Buenos Aires was a stop along the way towards more months on the road, and many more adventures to come. My kind of girl indeed.

At one point she regaled me with a story about a young man she’d met who verbally attacked her for her enthusiasm. He was also an American, but he was bored with his travel, and according to his view, “she’d get tired of it eventually.” He most certainly was. He was put out, annoyed and inconvenienced. After a few months in a foreign country, he wanted his McDonald’s, “people who spoke English,” and Starbucks.  This young man sat in his hostel and read books while she headed out every day to explore the countryside, rappel, river raft, hike and eat local food. What he called boring, she couldn’t take in enough.

We had a good chuckle, and considered how many people would have given anything to be able to go on the same trip this kid was dismissing as a bore. To have the funds to see the world and be exposed to another culture. Then we considered how one man’s trash is another’s treasure, and how in this case, an opportunity was being lost. The way this person was couching his experiences determined his experiences. His self-talk, “I’m bored, I’m annoyed, this doesn’t interest me” all led to his way of  viewing what could otherwise have been a terrific adventure.

The words we feed ourselves are very powerful. The experience, an event, whatever it is, is just what it is. What changes it is how we choose to frame it internally. My friend saw every travel day as a succession of amazing moments to be savored.  Some more so than others (eating a bug might count as a slight negative).  But her acquaintance had already decided to resist anything that his opportunity abroad could offer him. With his toxic WordFood, he’d already decided that nothing could please him. Time for him to go home, which she suggested. I hope he did before he ruined someone else’s sense of wonder.

Someone said recently how they hated the phrase “It is what it is.” Well, it’s true- it’s what we make of it, how we speak of a thing to ourselves that creates the impact. We tend to call unsinkable people Pollyanna- yet it is their extraordinary ability to seek the silver lining, the lesson in a disaster,  what a bout of cancer taught them about life- that’s what uplifts the rest of us.

I have a ninety year old friend precisely like my buddy in Buenos Aires: eager to live, learn and experience. Her joy for life is just as infectious because she takes nothing seriously, or personally. She’s had plenty of terrible things happen. But it’s how she chooses to see these experiences that keeps her young, mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s the choice that makes all the difference.

What WordFood will you use to describe your life today?

October 14, 2013

WordFood of Win at all Costs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 9:28 am

The other night our local news channel ran a story about a Vietnamese woman who had come to America years ago. Happy to be in her new country, she worked to earn citizenship and joined the Army to serve for a number of years. She was honorably discharged with several significant medical challenges. She found work with the Federal Government. Today she has three kids, and is furloughed. While she can still get care from the VA, she doesn’t receive full benefits which would help pay all her monthly expenses. And like many of us who are 100% disabled, she is looking with real concern at the third week of October deadline when the VA says it will run out of money to pay its VA benefits.

This young woman is in much worse shape than I am. I have savings put away, a good chunk of which I just put in my checking account so that if worse comes to worse Wells Fargo can get its mortgage paid the first of the month. But millions of us vets, and Federal workers, and many others in similar situations are not so well off. And my savings bucket isn’t that deep. Republican or Democrat, Independent or Green, whatever your politics, I suspect we are all planning to throw the idiots out come next election. Except for one isolated little county in northern Georgia where they are quite happy to fight the good fight as long as Obama and immigrants and Obamacare and women’s rights and anything that looks like progress or change is stopped in its tracks.

Countries all over the world have long looked up to us for leadership and right now we are an international laughing stock. No matter who you blame- and it really doesn’t matter- this is about enormous egos and the stupidity of politics- those who are getting hurt are the people who put these morons in office. Gone is any semblance of graciousness, common sense, care for the common man. They wield words that say “the American people this or that” but their pocket and benefits aren’t being affected. We’re paying the price for their inability to talk to each other.

Obamacare doesn’t affect me- but it will give much needed insurance to a number of people in my life who didn’t even know about it. When I told them they were immensely grateful: to wit,  a 68 year old grandmother who is bringing up her grandkids. She’s been without insurance all her life. Take it away and she’s back in the same boat. I support it for those who need it.  But on the largest scale, to hold an entire nation ransom because you have an issue with a law? At a time when America is just now getting back on its feet financially? Then spend more time talking about your position in the press instead of genuinely trying to find answers?

I don’t know about anyone else but I look forward with glee to getting to the ballot box next election cycle. My suspicion is that all of us who have had to live in terror of losing homes, not being able to pay for food or basics due to Congressional shenanigans are going to become outspoken activists. Finally. If that’s what it took to get us involved in politics again, then I say terrific. We’ve needed something like this to wake us up to whose up in Washington having way too much say over our lives anyway.

October 9, 2013

The WordFood of Wide Horizon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 9:16 am

Wars are started over petty insults, which small egos take as great offense, and pretty soon millions of lives are being lost over what amounts to nothing more than a stung sense of self. On a much smaller scale, every day the little wars we wage inside our families or in the confines of our lives take terrible tolls because we feel we are entitled to be treated as special.

“Don’t you know who I am?” We want to shout to an annoying customer service agent. To him, we’re just another rude customer. He’s thinking about lunch, and you’re between him and his Big Mac.

Several weeks ago I was at my riding stables, taking lessons in the big arena because rain had forced us inside. I was with my trainer at one end, where we had some room to work. Another trainer was setting up obstacles for her student. Suddenly the place was swarming with girls on their mounts, blocking my way, and I couldn’t work. The other trainer, in a voice dripping with condescension, told me that I “didn’t own the arena and would have to learn to share it with others.”  The hair on the back of my neck prickled at the tone. I don’t mind learning the rules, I do mind, at 60, being spoken to like a 2 year old.

I later mentioned this to the head office, and indicated that if I were part of the problem, I would own it. However I didn’t care to be spoken to in such a way (hear: my tender ego was insulted). I followed up with an email to my contact about the situation, which instead of going to her, the trainer in question got it. That trainer sent me a tart, even more condescending note that said that I should get there early, and if I needed help with my tack, I could ask for help, both of which were unnecessary swipes at my skill level. Since  a simple conversation with my trainer would have told her that I am there an hour in advance of my lessons and that I not only own my own tack and am quite competent at setting up my horse, these insults could have been prevented.

I wrote, rewrote, and rewrote a response four times before I deleted it. Then I bought some tack at the store where I had been referred to this outfit, and did my due diligence. I found out that she does this to everybody and that her father is exactly the same way. So was mine. In other words, she probably got plenty of condescension growing up, and this is just how she vents. It’s not about me. It’s just what she does. A little research reveals a great deal of how much we share with others if we’re not looking to make ourselves right. It’s so tempting to make it all about us, when it’s not.

So the other day some confusion caused me to lose half an hour of lesson and she stood in to give me my other half hour. After a sharply worded start, she did an excellent job of providing skills training. She softened as we worked, and gave me terrific guidance.  She asked personal questions and related her points to what I do to give them meaning. She went out of her way to provide value. In fact she gave me another 35 minutes, which was as close to an apology as I would ever get. This is a proud, strong woman, the kind of woman I am normally drawn to as a friend. That door is now open.

As we walked back to the tack room I expressed my appreciation for the extra time and the excellent training. And I meant it. We’re now fine.  When we can see the wide horizon of a situation and see ourselves in it, it’s much easier to let go of the need to be right. And in that path lies peace.

October 4, 2013

The WordFood of Chicken Little

Yesterday morning dawned bright and early, and it was a perfect day for a good long Epsom salts soak to take care of the sore back I’d gotten from Archie the horse (previous post), so I filled the tub. And soaked. Drained the tub. Then came downstairs to work in my office for a while. When I hit the bottom step, my next step into the basement was into water- for the third time in the last several weeks. This time there was a bubbling pool of it, coming out of my laundry room drain. I got the camera, and copped a wonderful shot of the bubbles of dirty water coming up over my bare feet.

Now you have to put this into context. A few weeks ago my toilet overflowed, putting three inches of water into my finished basement, ruining my carpet, my desk, my filing cabinets, damaging the walls, and much more. The floor under the carpet is also in trouble. USAA, in my opinion the best insurance company for us vets, had already just sent out the contractor to estimate the damage after the water mitigator folks had smashed a few things, left my desk sitting in the water, and basically acted like gorillas. Mind you, the floods were going on so I was last on the totem pole, for good reason. Sam, the contractor, had patiently gone through the house and informed me that the whole basement would need to be redone.

Now the other side of the basement, with the new linoleum floor, was sitting underwater.

There are many ways to look at this. There’s a part that can holler poor me, why did this have to happen just before I leave on a big trip, oh woe is me! Oh the inconvenience, I won’t get this fixed ’til spring, gripe, whine, complain. On the other hand, there is a part that can find this very funny. I’ve been in constant contact with my guy at USAA. Yesterday after I sent him the foot photo, I commented that I once considered buying beachfront property but now I won’t because surf’s up in my basement.

There are people all over Colorado who have no basement at all. Mine happens to be a little damp. I told John at USAA to take his time, and put my house at the bottom of this list. As long as there are big machines down here drying things out so I don’t have mold, I’m fine and dandy. How lucky I am not to be a flood victim. How lucky I am this happened before I left for Tanzania. How lucky I am to have USAA for a supplier. How lucky I am to have a deductible of only $500 and I’m going to get completely new basement, a new desk and other new furniture, new paint job and who knows what else. Come ON, I didn’t like the Berber carpet down there anyway.

This isn’t about being Pollyanna. This is about stepping back and seeing the big picture, and realizing that there are multiple ways to view what happens to us. Having a wicked sense of humor goes a long way. John has been overwhelmed with working with flood victims, and I’ve been making him laugh while working with me. So when spring comes along and I need something, chances are I’ll get right away. We’ve been having fun with this.

We all have a Chicken Little part in us. The sky falls on every one of us at one point or another. Whether we run around in circles yelling about it or put on the wellies and dance in the puddles is up to us. People survive cancer by using laughter. I have a sign over this computer that says “Put your big girl panties on and get over it!” Just reading it makes me smile.

My friends who are aware of my basement issues are all sending me condolences. Heck, I can’t wait for spring, when I’m going to get a brand new basement, courtesy of roots in the city sewer, and also because I installed a toilet handle backwards. Now that’s funny. Chicken Little can go lay eggs. I’m going to go choose new carpet.

September 24, 2013

WordFood’s Four Footed Conversation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 6:52 pm

September brings golden aspens to the hills, and this morning at 8 am I was up at AA Stables in the chill and breezes of a pretty fall morning getting a sorrel named Archie ready to ride. Ginger, the stable owner, allowed me to set up the tack with minimal assistance from Chris, who was feeding today. I set an old, tough Aussie stock saddle on Archie’s back and he blew out his gut- something every rider is familiar with, a trick that ensures that the girth isn’t so tight later on the ride. This can have disastrous circumstances if you don’t tighten it several times. So I did my best. The saddle was very old and the leather recalcitrant, but I was finally able to get one more hole out of the cinch. I asked Chris to check and she gave me the go-ahead. However, Archie didn’t want to head up alone, and he resisted me every step of the way.

Archie and I walk-trotted up the rocky, aspen lined lanes of this mine-dotted territory, taking short canters where possible in the warming air, and enjoying the distant snows against perfect blue skies. We passed an abandoned mine, and I asked for another canter. Suddenly I felt the world go sideways, and I started to slide overboard as my saddle went south.

Anyone who’s ever had this happen can recount how this happens in perfect slo-mo. Over you go, helpless, and there’s the horse’s belly, BAM. Unfortunately all my 120 lbs landed square on a single rock in the lower back, and I tweaked my recently-repaired left knee in the process. Ouch.

Of course Archie now had a saddle under his belly and was lurching about, we were on a rocky lane that dropped off precipitously, and I had to get the heck up and calm him down as well as get the tack back on his back. I tied him off, and while this 1000 lb gelding was body blocking me against the trees I did my best to quiet him while at the same time manhandle the saddle. Archie was ready to head back to the stables NOW.

He’d done what he wanted, all right. I was dumped. However, the cinch, that part of the saddle the goes under the belly to keep the saddle on, was now snugly around his manly horse parts. Archie was not happy at my attempts to move the cinch- to which he responded with a powerful circular swipe of his left rear hoof- or my attempts to move the saddle forward without touching said manly horse parts. I already had one angry knee, and that hoof can do the same devastation as a 6’9″, 400lb linebacker.

I danced out of the way and looked for inspiration. Up here there wasn’t much, but there was my answer: big tufts of nice green grass. I led Archie over, tied him off, and while he was busy munching I pulled up and loosened the cinch in one quick move before he knew what happened. In no time the saddle was back on.

The cinch was now two holes tighter, and Archie had copped two mouthfuls of grass. Ten minutes of inconvenience. And for his craftiness, Archie got his tender bits repeatedly tweaked. Archie turned expectantly towards the stables. I turned him uphill, and on we went. He was most unhappy, and bucked three times to prove it. We had quite the conversation.

I could have walked Archie back to the stable.  Riders fix the problem and keep riding. There were so many lessons in this little adventure ranging from the constant reminder to ride a while and check that cinch once more time, to how like a personal relationship this is. The more I thought, the more I laughed. In every way, it was a gift. Sure I have a sore butt. But as I continue to train for my adventures in Tanzania, including a six-day horse safari, Archie’s argumentativeness gave me the perfect opportunity for problem solving on the trail in a relatively controlled environment. Better learn here than first time in Africa with a predator close by.

Those of us who love horses know that accidents, spills and bruises are a part of riding. Archie had his own agenda, and he paid a price for wanting a looser girth. I paid a price for not double checking. Great lessons all around. I’m going back next Tuesday, a little blue in the butt, for lots more. This time, I’m triple checking the girth. Thanks, Archie, priceless lesson learned.

In every aspect of our dealings with children, dogs, horses and those we love, the friction that we encounter is the place where we learn the most if we are open to it. If we own our part of it, and are willing to have a horselaugh along the way.

September 16, 2013

WordFood of Perspective

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 8:11 am

When bad things happen to us, it’s easy to think you’re being targeted. “Why me?” comes to mind, as though God or the Universe has specifically pointed a finger at this one human being for punishment out of the billions on the planet. It’s supremely egotistical to think this way, especially when at any given time on this globe there are plenty of folks having a hard time of it.

This past weekend I was working on a project in my basement office. At one point I’d used the downstairs toilet. After about an hour or so, my coffee was barking at me so it was time to make a pit stop again. This time my stockinged feet landed in about three inches of water surging out of the bathroom- so I rushed in to find that the entire room was floating in a small ocean. In fact, my basement was in the process of being flooded. I was able to get the toilet to stop running, but not in time to stop the water from creeping into my office, the extra office, the extra bedroom and pretty much everywhere else. Sigh.

I called my insurance company which was quite happy to open up a claim. Within minutes I got a call from a guy who politely informed me that while they were also quite happy to help, there was no water mitigation contractor within their system to help me out. Anyone who’s been following Colorado news is well aware that there are a whole lot of folks who not only have a bit of water in their basements right now, they don’t have basements at all, much less a home to sleep in. I called the alternate they provided, and was told that I might get a phone call later this week, long after the water has done much more serious damage. It already smells hinky down there. But the truth is, I still have a basement, a roof over my head, and I live on high enough ground so that the flooding isn’t a danger to me. The inconvenience of a stinky carpet is nothing by comparison and hey, I didn’t like the Berber down there anyway.

Last December, my girlfriend Soni and I had met for dinner. My boyfriend had just ended our relationship for the umpteenth time and she was unattached. We were bemoaning the fact until I pointed out that – it was December 14th- there were a great many people in Sandy Hook who would never, ever have a Merry Christmas ever again, and that perhaps our little issues weren’t that big a deal by comparison. She agreed, and we went on to discuss more important issues.

The chaos of life is just that: chaos. There is no unpredictable Greek god sitting amidst the clouds pointing lightning bolts at out butts to annoy us out of spite. Life just happens. Here in Colorado Mother Nature is wreaking havoc with many lives and she’s taken some from us. By comparison, a capricious toilet is nothing. It pays to keep in mind that no one gets singled out for special treatment. It’s how we talk to ourselves about it, gain perspective and wisdom, and especially a sense of humor about life’s vicissitudes that make us useful to each other. Invariably we will encounter others who have undergone something worse, or who need our perspective. And that’s when we will understand why we experienced the challenges that we did: they help us to serve someone else. Our WordFood of perspective to someone else who is suffering makes all the difference in the world.

September 1, 2013

The WordFood Ballpark Diet

Whether you’re a Mike Trout or a Mike Vick fan, fall is a tough time of year for non-sports fans. Then there are those for whom it’s Miller time, as the days start to cool a little, the NFL is here to stay for a while, the baseball season starts to get really interesting (Dodgers anyone?) and for people like me, the football channel is on pretty much 24/7. Others begin to salivate for hockey- remember the playoffs? or basketball- remember THOSE playoffs? and in general, we sports fans all have our fixes as fall brightens the trees.

For those who know me well, only my closest and dearest friends are allowed to call me on hallowed days like Sunday, Monday and Thursdays when games are playing. If I recognize the number, I’ll pick it up. Otherwise, I’m buried in the game. Off game time I’ll discuss fumbles and pick sixes and game winning drives with any fool dumb enough to start a football conversation with me. And here’s my point. There are times to turn this off. Despite my love for the game, which my girlfriend Lori knows will dominate the Thanksgiving table when her husband Brad and I get going, there are times you need to flip the switch for others.

Whatever you’re crazy about, be it sports, your toy train collection, your IT expertise that you love to obfuscate conversations with or the fascination you have with stilettos, when others glaze over, shut up. Listen. There are those who don’t share our passions. And sometimes we simply don’t realize that we are steamrolling- and isolating- others in our world when we overwhelm and overtalk what we love.

Guys don’t appreciate it when a group of women gather and take over the conversation to discuss the latest sales at Neiman’s or the latest news about baby clothes. Any more than women like it when the guys overwhelm a business meeting with a play-by-play that completely leaves out most of the women in the room (unless of course they’re as avid as I am). Sometimes it’s a ploy to take over the conversation. Sometimes people have no clue what they’re doing. And sometimes, they most assuredly do know, such as when an expert wields highly technical knowledge that they know you don’t only to make the point about how little you understand his specialized knowledge. It’s offensive in all cases.

There are lots of ways to respond. You can stomp out and be angry. You can join in. You can learn the language. My friend Meg was married to a sports broadcaster, and to her advantage she learned the language and the issues. It served her well- she sat for years on the boards of the country’s biggest banks, including Wells Fargo. You can gently change the subject, or ask good, intelligent questions to learn more. Be curious. Getting uptight is the worst response.

What’s perhaps most important- and I have to remember this as much as anyone in my football circles, that not everyone shares my passion for pigskin. Certainly not every man, but increasingly I find women who do. The point is to be aware of when you’re being overbearing. When someone is starting to overwhelm you, the meeting, the party, find a lighthearted way to redirect. Depending on the circumstances you may learn something new, make new friends, discover a new passion yourself.

So as we enter into my favorite time of the year, I have to remember that fall doesn’t mean football to everybody else.  Let’s stay open to other people’s interests, and gently remind them that we have a few of our own.

August 29, 2013

WordFood to Fool Ourselves

The State of Colorado is one of the most gorgeous in the lower 48, and among our great gifts are the fourteeners, the many fourteen thousand foot mountain peaks that dot our landscape. These magnificent mountains provide terrific opportunities for tourists and those of us who live here to enjoy the high country, whether we’re out for a day hike or pushing ourselves hard for training.

Lately, after a long time away from hiking, I’ve dug into my basement and pulled out all my gear, added some cool stuff to update my collection, and started a weekly program of one big hike a week in the high country, usually midweek, such as a Wednesday or Thursday. Since I’m training for Mt. Kilimanjaro, this is a serious practice because the only way to get ready for a long hike is to, well, hike. That means breaking in your boots (absolutely positively of the utmost importance) getting familiar with your water supply system, learning what works and what doesn’t, finding out how often you need to replenish your body on a long hike.

These hikes have been instructive. Those of us who have lived here a long time all know that going up into the high country means being prepared for anything at altitude. That means absolutely anything, any time of year. Ask any resident who’s been caught up  high in a t-shirt in a snowstorm, in flip flops, and been intensely grateful that another seasoned hiker had enough gear to save his life. He was sure it was going to be a a beautiful day all day based on the morning’s weather. Sure.

So last week I was on my first hike up Gray’s Peak. I parked at I-70 and climbed the road to the parking lot. The point is to hike the miles, not necessarily to summit. By the time I made the parking lot, it was about 10 am. After a food and bathroom break, I noted the gathering clouds, and figured I had about an hour of hiking before I’d have to turn back. Sure enough, I made it to the sign that said I had 2.7 miles to the summit, and the clouds really started to gather.  There I picked my break rock for lunch, a big bottle of chocolate milk, and decided to head back.

As I made my way down I passed two couples. Couple number one was college kids. Tank tops, no backpack, flip flops, short shorts. I pointed upwards and said kindly, “Might want to watch the clouds.” The young man snapped at me, “Nothing’s going to happen for another two hours!” O-kay. Next I passed an Asian couple, similarly dressed. Said the same thing, politely pointed at the sky, they just looked at me like I was a dolt.

About half an hour later I barely made it under the  lip of the ladies’ bathroom in the parking lot to avoid the pouring rain, hail and snow that was pounding the trail and everyone’s cars- and those two couples up the hill 60 minutes up the mountain. I took out my down vest, my rain pants and jacket, my neoprene gloves, tightened up my Goretex mountain boots and blithely- and completely dry- headed down the mountain.

We fool ourselves all the time with thoughtless WordFood. No worries, we’ll be fine up there. No problem, we won’t need a jacket. Today as I hiked down James Peak, I passed two young women in extremely light workout wear headed up the mountain. I had just been rained and hailed on. Neither was carrying any protection, including SPF.

As people move to Colorado, Montana, Arizona and other mountainous places, they see these spots as playgrounds. Fine. But they are also deadly. Those two couples and the young women I passed could easily get wet- and with a good wind whipping through the hills they’d lose heat fast. With body heat plummeting they’re ripe for hypothermia. Suddenly a day hike isn’t so fun anymore.

These people probably think I’m an old fuddy duddy when I note the clouds or ask if they have a jacket. But it’s our tax dollars and our rescue teams that have to scrape them off the mountain in worsening conditions because folks fooled themselves into believing that the Colorado high country was a walk in the park.

There are excellent guide books and resources available everywhere in Colorado and in every state that has mountains which provide a list of things you must always have with you. Never ever head into the hills without adequate supplies of food, water, sun protection, footwear and warmth. Yes, the mountains are breathtaking. And they are utterly unforgiving of those who don’t respect their power.

August 20, 2013

The WordFood of Permiso

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 6:17 am

Ever since a friend inspired me to commit to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro a number of months ago, I’ve been putting in longer hours at the gym, at Red Rocks, hiking around the neighborhood, hitting the hills, cycling, swimming, and taking on all kinds of athletic challenges to up the game in preparation for this adventure. Part of what that’s done is put me in contact with body parts that I’ve not spoken with for a while, and it’s also given me a chance to see a great many other people who are in various stages of training, at all ages, shapes and conditions.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a learning lab for anyone who is curious about exercise physiology. There are those who do the three hour free boot camp that is held from 8-11 on weekend days for anyone brave enough, and then there are the folks who bring their entire families to simply climb once to the top and watch everyone else sweat. As a journalist, and someone who has come to love Red Rocks for the beautiful surroundings it provides for my exercise routines, I love the place for the people I meet and their stories, especially about how they’ve learned to work within their limitations. Hence, Permiso. Permiso is about permission- when we learn to politely ask our bodies whether or not we can do this today, in this heat, at this age.

For example, the other day I met Lisette, an African American woman. She’s about 5’3, runner’s body, energetic and enthusiastic. A few years back, Lisette weighed 305 pounds. Astounded, I asked her how she did it. “No special diets, no pills, nothing,” she said proudly. “I just started out slowly and steadily, watched what I ate, and exercised as I could.” That’s what Permiso is all about. Not demanding that our bodies do what they cannot, but working within the limits and asking them to perform as they can. With respect.

Another woman, Annie Bitsy, comes out regularly. Annie is one tough cookie. Afflicted with cancer as a child, she lost her left leg. Annie does the stairs on crutches, smiling all the way up and down. Nothing slows her down. When she gets tired, she takes a shade break. That’s Permiso.

There are days that I get to Red Rocks after 8 and the sun has warmed up the concrete stairs. It gets hot fast, and running eleven laps or going up with a weighted vest is demanding. You need to slow down. One part wants to be the drill sergeant and push on. The wiser part says, “take a 30 second break here. Have some water.” That’s Permiso. You ask your body permission. When we treat ourselves with respect, feed our physical machines with food for fuel as well as pleasure, they will respond magnificently.

It is humbling and inspiring to see so many amazing people take on Red Rocks- octogenarians and Millennials alike. But what I admire most are those who tackle the facility despite a challenge, and they are working within a limitation. They teach the rest of us humility, and courage. Physical fitness is all about working with what we have, not some unreasonable and unattainable ideal. That’s Permiso, asking ourselves what we need, for a bit more effort. It’s astounding what we can do when we treat ourselves with respect- the mountains we can climb, the marathons we can run, the fitness levels we can achieve.

Ask yourself Permiso today. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Then as Nike says, just do it!

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