the best day ever.

Every day my five year old nephew returns home and happily announces, “this was the best day ever!” I am a bit in awe that he is able to find delight & magic everywhere, something that we often sadly lose as we get older. Should you ask my Dad how his day was, you will get a much different response.

This got me thinking…what has been my best day ever?

I seriously thought nothing would top this fabulous day…

2012 Olympicsbut, then this happened…


And then was followed up by my best day ever (to date).

first kiss.While every day is not necessarily the best day ever, I can honestly say there are still some pretty great days in between. I suppose possibly as you get older, the criteria to beat the best day ever gets a bit higher and that is why the “best” days are fewer. I do hope that my little nephew manages to harness his happiness and never lose his amazing outlook on each & every day.

And to my small group of readers, what has been your best day ever? Here’s wishing you the youthful outlook of Cameron so each & every day may be the best one yet!

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‘SMART’ in 2014

GoalsA fresh (cold & rainy) new year is underway. Instead of having the usual resolutions that I never seem to follow, I have joined a group of lovely ladies in setting “SMART” objectives. This seemed like a much better method to achieving goals for the new year. And to ensure that all members stay on task, we have quarterly meetings complete with points assigned  for meeting one’s objectives (yes, the competitive American in me is ready for this one).

What makes these objectives smart? Well, they must be the following:

– Specific

– Measurable

– Attainable

– Relevant

– Time based

Objectives were set across a varying range of categories: Travel, Finance, Relationships, Health & Fitness, Learning, Silly, Fun, Hobby, and Personal Achievement. In an effort to hold myself more accountable and achieve my 2014 SMART objectives, I am going to share them here on Clearing the Wake.

1. Travel:

  • Go to at least one new place (abroad or in the UK) per quarter.

2. Finance:

  • Contribute to my IRA
  • Obtain a UK credit card to begin building credit (even with perfect USA credit, this one is proving to be tricky)

3. Relationships:

  • Send birthday cards to my immediate family on time (sadly, they have a tendency to be a bit late thus far)
  • Keep in better touch with friends & family in the USA & abroad. Skype or Facetime at least 1x per month with family & friends (another task that also proves difficult, as the time difference often doesn’t help)

4. Health & Fitness

  • Ride my road bike at least 1x per month
  • Post a new personal best at Park Run
  • Climb a v4 boulder problem

5. Learning

  • Learn to drive a manual car and obtain a UK driver’s license (Look out UK roads, I’m coming to the left side!)

6. Silly

7. Fun

8. Hobby

  • Post at least one blog post per month (yippee, this ticks off January!)
  • Complete at least two Mary Berry recipes per month, all part of my quest to be on The Great British Bake-offIf you are lucky, maybe you will get to be a taste tester!
  • Finish one of my many started knitting projects

9. Personal Achievement

  • Complete a sprint distance triathlon (if you know of any excellent & flat courses, please let me know!)

And there you have it, my 2014 SMART objectives. I will try to give updates on their progress throughout the year.

What are your goals / resolutions for 2013? If you’re having a hard time picking one, I recommend following Ms. Joyful’s advice and fill your new year with joy!

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why do you climb? v2

Last week we dove into the topic of why do you climb? with our first featured guest writer, Gareth. This week we tackle the topic from the perspective of  Garry, an amazing climber (ranking among the top boulderers that I know), coach, and previous Clearing the WakePerson of the Month” recipient (a high honor, indeed). And now, over to Garry and why he climbs…

Photo credit: G. Candlin

Photo credit: G. Candlin

Why? Take the impossible by the balls.

Climbing is a time where you can find something which feels assuredly impossible for you; there’s no way, not now, not ever. Figuratively and literally bashing against a brick wall, it’s futile. For some reason you keep trying and there’s no way around it or through it. People notice and joke at the ridiculous optimism, sagely advise that it can’t be done; to sensibly quit and move on. Eventually through blind determination and delusion, auspicious forces coincide; it feels slightly less ludicrously impossible. It is still impossible to do, but maybe, maybe if everything is done perfectly to the micrometer, with instantaneous timing, you’d thrutch one tenth of the way. Psyche goes through the roof and spills onto the mat. The body is ruined but you can give one last go. Every go is now one last go. Each time compelled to get closer to the intangible possibility. What begins as inconceivable incrementally edges towards the realms of belief. Vain hope gives way to confidence and stubborn tenacity to ardent conviction. Now it’s just down to the easy bit, the one in a million go, the stars aligning, billions of perfectly coordinated neurons, power screams, disbelief and euphoria.

I think I like the preposterous flailing at the beginning best. The smug preception of a faint, wafer-thin possibility where the b*stard will go.

Wow. I don’t know about you, but I felt like I was right there climbing with him! Knowing Garry, the story ends with him making it past the crux and to the top!

So from Gareth’s top 10 (okay 7) list to Garry’s vivid portrayal of conquering a boulder problem, it is becoming evident that there is a wide array of reasons folks climb, but the underlying passion is undeniable across all.

Who’s our next guest writer you ask? Stay tuned to find out!

And to Garry, many thanks for taking the time to write for my humble little blog. Please hurry up and move back to Londontown because we miss you!

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the supermoon, 2013

Supermoon 2013Tonight at dinner my friend, Laura, informed me that tonight’s moon was special because not only will it be the fullest & largest moon of the year, but it will also be the closest to Earth for all of 2013. Yes, a supermoon indeed! As we walked to the bus on this third official day of summer wearing sweaters and coats, I seriously doubted we would even get to see the moon. Per usual, the London skies were covered in clouds. Fast forward a few hours and I received a text message from Laura informing me that the clouds had parted and the moon was watching. Hooray! Upon finishing the movie I was watching, it was time to grab the camera and head outside.

When I told a certain bloke that I had gone outside to take a look, he told me I was a big “soppy” and that I should go to sleep. I suppose I am a big soppy because as I was out there watching the supermoon, I couldn’t help but remember the many times my family had trekked into our backyard to gaze at the sky for whatever phenomenon was taking place, the most memorable being trying to view Halley’s Comet.

Also, as part of this ex-pat adventure living 4,000 miles from family and with friends scattered around the globe, I often look up at the sky to the moon and the stars as a connection to those so far away. I suppose it is nice to think that whether from land or heaven the loved ones that I miss could be gazing at that same amazing supermoon. Yes, I’m a soppy indeed!

Okay, tissues down. Sentimental time is over, I promise.

Soppy or not, you should put on your shoes (and coat if in the UK) and go outside to take a look because it won’t be this close again until August 2014, and it is amazing!

And special thanks to Laura for letting me know that tonight’s moon was extra super!

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why do you climb?

Why do you climb? 

Photo courtesy of G. Montgomery

Photo courtesy of G. Montgomery

This question was asked of me after telling a non-climbing friend about my adventures over the Easter weekend climbing Commando Ridge with two friends in Cornwall. I was telling her that during the seven pitch climb (was the lead on pitches 1, 3, 5 & 6) I had reached both my physical & mental limits as I sat straddling one of the peaks with the sea crashing below. As I finished telling her the tale, I could see the incredulous look on her face build as she asked the question, “why do you climb?” And this puzzled look was even more questioning when I said I wanted to do the climb again, as I knew there were many portions I could have done better.

This question got me thinking. Why do we climb? 

This then spurred my next thought of  what an excellent question this was to ask my climbing buddies for my first ever ‘guest’ style series on Clearing the Wake. And what better person to get the series started than climbing ‘hero’, Gareth.

I first met Gareth on my second outdoor climbing trip to the Peak District, and the rest is history. My favorite part about climbing with him (other than he is an excellent & safe climber) is that you are guaranteed a fun day out and will have many laughs, which is quite valuable on epic multi-pitch adventures and when stuck in chimneys.

Not too long after meeting Gareth, he set off to the western USA to go on his dream climbing adventure. I remember being a bit in awe of his bravery to quit work and follow his dream. Since returning from his adventure, Gareth has started his own climbing company, Momentum Bouldering. Yes, this guy loves climbing.

Finally, before turning it over to Gareth, it is important to mention it is very appropriate to lead with him, as he was one of two kind friends who came to ‘check-up’ on the three of us climbing Commando Ridge that Easter weekend, as we maybe were a bit slow in our pursuits.

And now to Gareth…

photo courtesy

Super Crack. Indian Creek, Utah.
Photo courtesy of a random French person (Gareth did not get his name)

So why do I climb……

Well that’s a question!

Okay, the simple answer is it’s fun, but that doesn’t really come close.  Let’s top ten it, in no specific order (after number 1.)

1. The people I meet – without doubt the reason I love climbing is the people I get to climb with, you find yourselves in such precarious positions (well when multipitching anyway) with people and I think that you get to know people really quite well in a very short period of time because of that.

2. Living in the now –  as somebody who lives 50% of my life in the future and 50% of my life in the past, it’s nice to come back to the present every now and again and leading trad routes definitely does that.

3. The places we go – You go places you would never think of if you didn’t climb. I often use climbing just as an excuse to go somewhere.

4. Brain quietness – My brain is noisy most of the time, when leading it is focused on only one thing, I like that!

5. The mirror effect – when you are really scared and very tired, you see what you are really made off.

6. Physical challenge – self explanatory

7.  Shiny things – Lets face it, cams are soooo cool!

8. hmm

9. eerrr.

10. ok I only had 7.

And that concludes Gareth’s Top 10 (okay, 7) reasons he climbs. If you share the passion and would like to be featured in this new series, please let me know.

If you need any new chalkbags, boulder buckets or a boulder pad, check out Momentum Bouldering. You’ll be guaranteed an item handmade by someone that truly loves this fine sport.

Thanks, Gareth!

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two years, a look back.

I’ve been struggling a bit as I’ve tried to sit down to write this post to commemorate my two years living in London (started writing this one many many months ago). My two year anniversary was on September 5th, the same day that I said good-bye to my Grandma Finley for the last time. Throughout my life, she was always one of my biggest supporters. And even though she disliked me being so far away, I’d like to think she was proud of me for following my dreams. After all, it was growing up watching her and my grandpa travel around the world that gave me my first travel bug.

The original post, which I had been fine tuning for months, was to have a recap of how life has changed, yet still remains the same. And how overall, this journey across the pond continues to be one of self growth & discovery. However, I’ve decided to scrap all of that retrospection (partly because thinking about my Grandma keeps making me cry) and just show the slide show. After all, a picture is worth 1,000 words.

So, to my second year across the pond, here is a look back (albeit a bit late). You had your highs and lows, but overall you were amazing (70% due to a little thing called the 2012 summer Olympics). And to Grandma, thank you for opening my eyes to this big amazing world to explore.

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Photos from September 5th 2011 – September 5th 2012

*If you happen to be in a photo and would like me to remove it, just let me know. Happy to do so.

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london after dark.

In November, I went for my first night shooting adventure with my friend Josh who was in town from the USA. Being reunited with one of my favorite people to shoot with was just the spark that was needed to get me back out there behind my beloved camera more. Therefore, when an email went around work asking who wanted to participate in a night shooting photo session, I jumped at the chance.

To me, shooting at night is a special time. Buildings and statues that you may walk past during the day are now alive with color as lights reflect off of them. With the help of your trusty tripod, bus tail lights become ribbons of color. The possibilities are endless. The only problem is outlasting the cold.

While my night shooting still needs some work (and my lens apparently needs a good clean, sorry for the dust spots. My lightroom skills aren’t the greatest at fixing them just yet), I hope you enjoy this round of photos from Londontown after dark.

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*all photos taken with a Canon 40D

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I heart snow.

Snow. I truly love it. It is amazing how millions of these lovely little ice crystals can transform a city, and in the case of Londontown, shut it down completely. Last weekend we experienced three days of the lovely white stuff.

After spending most of Sunday indoors doing chores & paperwork, I decided at 3:00pm it was time to go outside to play. A quick text to a fellow outdoor lover (who is open to all weather conditions, this one even likes hiking in the rain which is a bit nutty), and we were off to the park to join in the fun! The result: one climbing/tree hugging snowman, a few laughs, and new memories.

Here are my photos from a snowy Londontown. Enjoy!

*photos take with iPhone 4s

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Aujourd’hui, je volerai

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Last Wednesday I turned 34 years old. Normally, I am like an excited little kid when it comes to my birthday. After all, what is better than a day where you get to eat cake & ice cream? And despite … Continue reading

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2013, a fresh start.


Ah, a bright new year. A time for resolutions, optimism, and fresh starts.

In addition to my usual resolutions of exercising more, making healthy meals (of course not at the expense of consuming tasty baked goods), putting an end to over analyzing, riding my bike more, traveling somewhere new each month, etc., I have decided after a dismal showing in 2012 Clearing the Wake clearly needs to be added to the list. Therefore, the new (and hopefully achievable goal) is to have one post per month*. That’s right, photos, person of the month, and random thoughts from one lil’ ol’ me will again be coming your way. And no time like a new year to give things a fresh start.

Fingers crossed this is one resolution I can keep!

*Hmm, wondering if this should count as January’s post 😉

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