Freedom and Self Trust

I believe that everyone carries past hurt that creates doubts and fears in the present moment. But the past does not have to live in the present, and freeing oneself from that past hurt involves tapping into self-trust and authentic truth telling. We can all move towards freedom and away from past constraints.

My past hurt involved abandonment and years of physical and emotional abuse. This manifested into limited beliefs and a lack of confidence. I turned to outdoor adventure and sports to find courage and strength to get me through those tough times. But that was not enough, because I still carried constraints. I kept telling myself that I was not good enough, not smart enough and not worthy of love. If you have carried some form of constraint into your adulthood, then read on as I share how I have worked to overcome those challenges.

  1. Story Release - At the core, we have an original state of being called "your truth". Then, your story phase of life happens. For me it was abandonment and abuse. What story have you been telling yourself and for how long? How bored are you with that story? How limiting is that story? The story keeps you from being that person you came here to be: "your truth".
  2. Voice Finder - Finding your voice = speaking + authenticity. Math problems take time to get good at and so does voice finding. Without it we feel overwhelmed, immobilized, withdrawn energetically, our throat constricts and jaw clenches, we disengage from self-expression, and we crave sugar and salt.
  3. Connecting Mind-Body - Ancestral hurt becomes encoded in our DNA. What we think determines our mental health. This can be debilitating in the present moment. If I were a book my title would have read: "crusher mountain athlete and lover of life", but once you turned the pages and began to dig deeper into my story, you would realize just how debilitated I was by my thinking. However, I was able to shift my thinking and shift my energy. I began a mind-body practice to facilitate a recoding process. It worked!
  4. Sweet Secret Surrender - Shame, guilt, it all blocks "your truth". We have secrets, our family secrets block trust. These blocks become cravings. The untrained mind does not listen to what the body really craves - to let go and forgive the constraints - rather, the mind allows the body to consume sugar, salt and other self-destructive practices.
  5. Forgiveness - This involves letting go of judgment. Our field of perception is tied to our ego, but we can let go of constraints and get back to baseline - "your truth" your birthright. The body wants to heal and will heal if you give it the time to do so.
  6.  Reclaim "Your Truth" - I thought there was something wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with me and there has never been anything wrong with me. How did I come to this realization after years of shaming? It took time, but I let go of the concept that no one can take away who I was meant to be.
  7. Daily Practices - I gave away my power to those around me, especially my primary relationships. Giving your time and energy away can be unhealthy. How many times have you said yes when you really wanted to say no? How often do you give away your power? How often are you playing small, withholding your energy? Daily practices are how I say yes to me, how I found my power and how I committed to implementing radical self-care through mindfulness, exercise, nutrition and rest. Regular practices have given me extraordinary power.

Freedom is a choice. We have the ability to trust ourselves, to heal ourselves given half the chance. My experience finding "my truth" was not easy. Just like the mountains I climb, it requires deliberate and consistent steps. The process exposes many challenges and requires taking risks. You must be willing and motivated to go there. Each and every step is the present moment. Quantum Physicists say that there is a field of energy with unlimited possibilities that can only be present by being in the now. One thing I can assure you from my experience is that the journey of 10,000 unlimited possibilities and unknown outcomes has one heck of a view! 

I teach Daily Practices Monday - Friday at my Health Coaching studio in Belfast, Maine. Go to www.northernvertical.com to learn more about these offerings.

Dream big,

Ryan 

 

 

Blue Zones

Have you heard of Blue Zones? They are small pockets of the world where people live the longest. What does Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; and the oldest living world population of Okinawa, Japan have in common? The people of these regions, all living thousands of miles apart, are thriving well into 100+ years old and they share some specific commonalities... 

Here are nine concepts that the people of these regions share:

  1. Daily natural movement - their lifestyle involves low to medium impact, utilitarian movement. Not specifically exercise, rather functional movements and walking with friends and family.
  2. Prayer, meditation and napping - taking time during the day to lessen stress on the mind and body helps to reduce cortisol levels; this is a practice of intra-personal connection. 
  3. Sense of purpose - everyone has meaning in life, even grandma who spends her days loving and taking care of her grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren - she gets that distinction because she still thrives at 98 years old. She continues to work in the garden, growing food for her community.
  4. Daily wine - a high quality wine or saki in moderation, with its beneficial polyphenols is said to unclog arterial plumbing to support heart function.
  5. Plant-based diet - no, not vegetarians or vegans, however they primarily consume vegetables and fruits, complimented by healthy fats, whole grains, protein (maybe 5 servings/month animal protein), nuts, seeds, legumes and plenty of H2O.
  6. Food tapering - a big breakfast for energy and decreased food consumption throughout the day to aid in quality sleep.
  7. Family first - no child left behind takes on a different philosophy in Blue Zones. Positivity, support and love, are some words to describe their deep bonds with one another. 
  8. Faith - no matter what is the regional beliefs or value system, each Blue Zone group has strong moral code built on relationships and service. The 7-Day Adventists of Loma Linda, California follow the Bible's nutrition plan. God wants us to eat whole food.
  9. Social networks - children in Sardinia grow up playing with the same friends they go to school with, work with and grow old with. Lasting, positive relationships feed the soul.

What can we learn from Blue Zones? Well, upon observation and reflection, how are you doing with these nine concepts? Which concepts are lacking in your life that could both nourish you and your family, while improving your quality of life? 

In America, life expectancy is mid to late 70's for men and women. One important thing to recognize is that American's who live this long have a morbidity period that typically lasts three to six years. This is the suffering factor from built up stress and it is not pretty. Blue Zones do not experience morbidity before death. Studies show that the nine concepts are the reason why they live well past 90 years old with full movement and vigor. 

Want to learn more about Blue Zones and find out where you stand on the Vitality Compass? Check out: www.bluezones.com 

Best,

Ryan

December ice video...Parasol Gully, NH

Can you believe the wild weather we had over the last few days? The Northern Vertical kingdom is chock full of white and blue, the makings for vertical dreams and mountain adventures. I love this time of year because it brings so much cheer and gratitude for what is behind us. What lies ahead, #iloveiceclimbing is the journey of one step, one swing, one climb in front of the other. The continuous process of preparing for and executing the mountain lifestyle. For some, this exciting adventure happens just once a year and for others, every weekend. How will you make the most of your mountain play this 2016/17 season. Looking for some inspiration? Check out this video and you will surely find some motivation to get outdoors, or you may realize you need to purchase that article of clothing or climbing equipment to get you on your way. Whatever the case may be I look forward to seeing you outdoors this season. Happy climbing!

P.S. No dogs were harmed during this video, especially "Yummy".

The road less travelled

My training for the television show American Ninja Warrior continues to improve alongside my career as a professional climbing guide and health coach. Summer in Maine is a beautiful place to live. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to freely express my passions through climbing and health and wellness. My mission is to "Inspire, empower and support a sustainably healthy lifestyle." With regular mediation, exercise and quality nutrition, I feel my body, mind and spirit transforming. Join me on the road less travelled. Despite it being one where discomfort resides, it also brings great joy. The sweet victory of walking that path is why we were put on God's green earth. 

Daily practice

I want to introduce one of my daily practices: the Five Tibetan Rites. Because the rites take 10-20 minutes, depending on practice and skill, I can do this even when my hectic schedule says otherwise. The Five Tibetan Rites were developed by Tibetan Monks as a daily practice for mindfulness, strength, balance, flexibility and breath work. They can be thought of as moving mediation, especially when your practice takes shape, and, they are great for people of all ages.

I recommend performing the rites in the morning and do no more then seven to eight repetitions in the beginning, eventually building your practice to 21 reps per rite.

Rite 1: With the beautiful Belfast Bay behind me

Rite 1: With the beautiful Belfast Bay behind me

Rite 1 Begins by standing hip width apart with arms outstretched to the sides, palm down and hands level with your shoulders. Focus your gaze on a spot in front of you while rotating your body. Continue to focus on the spot as you do so. It won't take long before you get dizzy. Most people doing this rite for the first time will get dizzy by four or five rotations. Stop before you get too dizzy. Have an open space to do this rite!

Rite 2

Rite 2

If you fell on the floor from dizziness then you are in perfect position to begin Rite two, haha! Lie flat on the floor with arms extended along your sides. Place your palm against the floor or ground. If your lower back ails you, then place your hands under your sacrum. With legs together, you are ready to begin. Inhale, raising your head tucked into your chest. Simultaneously raise straight legs just past 90 degrees towards your head. Exhale and release head and legs to the ground.

The photo shows me approaching 90 degrees and I try to go to approximately 110 degrees. Go slow and feel the abs work.

 

Rite 3

Rite 3

Rite 3 is a real blessing to the spinal cord when done slowly and with proper technique. Kneel on the floor or ground. Curl your toes under (I cannot do this comfortably with shoes on so I recommend doing Rite 3 with shoes off) and place your hands on the upper thigh. Tuck your chin in towards your chest. Inhale as you slide your hands down your thighs as you draw back your shoulders arching your upper back. Let your head follow. Easy does it on your lower back so your spine feels good. Exhale and return to start.

 

Rite 4 starts seated on the floor or ground with legs straight in front of you with feet shoulder width apart. Palms flat on the floor or ground next to your sides. Inhale and drop your head back, while raising your torso so that your knees bend to a 90 degree angle making a torso table. Arms should be straight (see photo). 

Exhale and slowly return to start. Rest and repeat. Note: I like to flex all of my muscles as I reach my tabletop position. This feel really good. 

 

Rite 5 is my favorite because I have found it to be an abdominally active practice. Actually, you can engage your core muscles to move your entire body from start to finish. It is here that I have "found" my core muscles. The realization is quite amazing! 

Lie down on your stomach with palms next to your ribcage. Inhale and press up into an upward-facing dog. Notice that my toes are curled under. This is possible in shoes as you can see here. Look straight ahead and enjoy! Exhale and bend at the hips drawing them back into downward-facing dog. Repeat between both poses.

 

Practice these rights slowly at first. Engage your core and breathe. The more aware and intentional you are about these two crucial pieces the more enjoyable and effective your practice will be. Don't forget to stop before you get dizzy on Rite 1 and the number you do is the number you use for every right. P.S. it took me almost two months to achieve 21 repetitions.

Enjoy!!

 

 

Paleo Platter Breakfast Burger

Imagine making burgers for breakfast; what do you see? Likely, this image would impress your buddies but certainly not your lady. The beauty of the Paleo Breakfast Burger is that it looks like a proper breakfast item and it tastes amazing. It's also vegetarian and can be made vegan. Check it out...

This Paleo Platter is fun and easy to make and only takes 20 minutes. The following ingredients are listed in order of use and serves two. Photos are provided to help you through the instruction process. Good luck guys!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 Sweet Potato
  2. 3 Large Eggs
  3. Salt
  4. Pepper
  5. Coconut Oil
  6. White Vinegar
  7. Olive Oil
  8. Spinach
  9. Olive Oil
  10. Lemon Wedge

Instructions:

Peel off all sweet potato skin with a vegetable peeler and discard skin.

Shred the entire sweet potato onto a plate with a cheese grater.

Whisk one large egg in a bowl and pour onto the shredded sweet potato

Throw two pinches of salt and pepper into the mix.

Ready to get your hands dirty? Mix all of these ingredients with your hands until the s and p and egg are throughly mixed together, saturating the shredded sweet potato.

Evenly divide the mixture into four even clumps for a large sweet potato, or, two clumps for a small sweet potato as seen in the photo below.

Excessive liquid from the egg and sweet potato combo will separate from the clumps. This is okay.

Turn a stovetop burner on medium-high and put one tablespoon of coconut oil in a medium-sized pan.

Pick up each clump and work it into the shape of a bugger patty. Again, excessive liquid will release, this time all over your hands, and this is okay.

Place each patty in the frying pan, being careful not to burn yourself.

Flip over the patties after cooking for approximately four to five minutes.

They should have an evenly dispersed medium to dark-brown appearance.

Now you have approximately four to five minutes to prepare the rest of the ingredients while the other side cooks.

Pour four cups of water and a teaspoon of white vinegar in a medium-size sauce pan and place on stovetop. Turn the heat on high.

In a bowl, lightly mix two large handfuls of spinach, one teaspoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and a squeezed wedge of fresh lemon. Evenly place onto serving plates.

This should be fun - poached eggs! Once the water comes to a light boil crack the remaining two eggs into the water. They cook quickly. I prefer my egg yokes to be runny, so two minutes in the water is perfect. Note: don't let the water boil in excess, rather a light, rolling boil. After two minutes, I turn off the heat and pull them out of the water. Leave the eggs in the water for a more gel-like yoke consistency. Pull the eggs out with a slotted spoon.

It's time for the burgers to come alive. Place the patties on top of the spinach and the eggs on top of the patties. 

Season your eggs with salt and pepper for taste (I like to keep it simple) and liven your plate's aesthetic and flavor by adding Sriracha and fruit. These spicy and sweet flavors really complement this dish.

Serve and watch what happens to whom ever you serve up this Paleo Breakfast Burger. Bon Appétit.

Oops, I almost forgot about my vegan friends. Substitute apple sauce for the egg in the sweet potato mixture and stir-fried garlic and mushrooms for the poached egg.

Enjoy and let me know how they come out! 

-Ryan

 

Early ice in Tuckerman's Ravine, Mount Washington

There are times when all we can do on ice is suffer our way to the top and there are times when we cannot stop smiling our way to the top. The later sums up day one on ice this season with Matt. We have roped up several times on ice and rock. He has climbed ice and snow gullies on Katahdin as well, so he can relate to the wide spectrum of New England winter climbing conditions.

We met photographer Mathias Deming at my place in North Conway for pre-dawn breakfast of steel-cut oats, egg scramble, bacon and coffee. It’s always been my prerogative to feed my guests a-la-Ryan Howes-cuisine. We made a solid plan over breakfast before driving to Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. With a decent weather forecast we made a swift departure with micro-spikes in hand, knowing the inevitable verglas-covered rock could be slow going.

A recent warming trend knocked out all ice and snow in Mount Washington Valley. I wasn’t sure how much ice we would find in Tuckerman’s Ravine, but Matt is always interested in new experiences, because each one has a new lesson or two to add to the cadre. This day shaped up to be one that left him smiling and craving more…

Within two hours we stood at the ravine’s floor staring at possible routes. I discussed our options while the sweat evaporated. We kept the inner fire going with hot tea and snacks. Then we suited up and made our way to the base of the “Headwall” to climb two multi-pitch ice and mixed lines that you can see behind me in the next photo.

 

Matt and I did our best to tread lightly as we approached the Headwall. Early season conditions tend to have a limited snow pack. To gain the base of these ice climbs we tip-toed on stones, snow patches, running water and the occasional delicate alpine vegetation…sorry little guy. Matt was in stitches as I paid homage to the precious vegetation.

In no time at all we made it to the base of our first climb. We dawned our micro-spikes for crampons, roped up, and I was off. Pitch one was a casual ice smear that made a hollow thunk sound every axe or crampon placement. This sound was a little disconcerting for Matt and probably more so for Mathias, who was capturing this environment for the first time. Reading the nature of ice requires time in the field. There is theory involved and facts to determine in this environment like, running water, ice color, shape, size and direction are a few things to consider. “It’s fine,” I said, as the lightest swing buried my axes into the buttery soft ice. 

 

 

Matt and I quickly climbed two pitches, using both ice screws and some rock gear for anchors. Early season climbing here is good practice for future climbs because the initial three-mile hike strengthens legs and cardiovascular system, while the climbing involves a variety of ice routes that requires a variety of protections skills and descending techniques. At the top of our first route, I lowered Matt to the top of pitch one’s anchor, where he clipped himself in using a personal anchoring system. After he completely untied himself, I pulled up his end of the rope and used a v-thread to rappel. Our transition took five-minutes. This was good team practice and effective use of skills.

The next route was even better then the first due to steeper, more featured ice that brought us to a rock alcove with an old fixed piton anchor. Matt climbed to this point and chuckled after looking at the sad relic. He was grateful that we were attached to an anchor that I built with three bomber cams. After another quick transition, I was off to lead the final pitch with some fun mixed moves to gain a big ledge system.

Matt joined me on the comfy ledge. Both smiling and reminiscing about the climbing below, we couldn’t help but notice our final view before descending. The sense of accomplishment from climbing a technical route always seems to improve the view. “How are we getting down?” Matt asked. “Glad you asked,” was my reply. The smile on my face and the tone of my voice hinted upon something exciting and Matt knew that I would introduce another lesson. He said, “You always have something up your sleeve.”

We shortened the distance of rope between us to approximately 40’ using a kiwi-coil. This allowed us to walk simultaneously on 4th class terrain while the terrain itself served as good protection between us. At one point I asked Matt to look at the terrain up ahead and find the best way through it. I told him that the path of least resistance is not necessarily the shortest distance from point A to point B, rather the less taxing path. With that said and a little conversation back and forth, we navigated some snow slopes, cutting switchbacks as we traversed to the top of a snow gully. I saw this gully while scanning the base of the Headwall, knowing that it would be an excellent descent choice that would incorporate some “alpine trickery” as some climbers call it. With some terrain and body belays, we down-climbed the gully and took one last look at the Headwall before heading back to Pinkham Notch.

A couple days later, after the experience settled, Matt left me an email with these words, “Literally cannot wait for some more winter to come in and freeze up the front-country.” Well folks, that time has come. We have ice in the front-country so no more snowless slogs to backcountry ice climbs. Come join me for some smiles and lessons in the hills…Ryan

 

All photos by Mathias Deming