Trust your feet

I’ve been on this journey of weightloss for over a decade. I’m finally down to my lowest weight since college. At the beginning of the summer I made a “skinny bucket list” which sounds silly but it was full of adventurous things that I’ve always wanted to accomplish. #1 on the list was climb the South Sister.

 

I grew up in the area and many people I know have climbed the South Sister. I read up on it and everything I found said that it was difficult only because it is steep and long (and at a high elevation) but not technically difficult.

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I took the day off work, a Tuesday, so I could avoid the summer/weekend crowds. I left my house at 5:00am and got to the trailhead around 6:00am. I have never been much of a hiker. Car camping, sure. Occasional day trip hikes. But never embarked on something like this and ALONE. I was excited and nervous.

 

The first couple of miles were through a dense forest. Uphill. Tons of mosquitoes. They made me miserable. I walked with my bug spray in hand, spraying as I went along. At one point I stopped to get my water bottle and was swarmed. Luckily about three miles in the scenery changed to an open alpine meadow and the mosquitoes subsided.

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There were plenty of people on the trail. While I was alone, I never felt in danger of getting lost of being completely by myself. Plenty of friends and family members got upset with me for doing such a thing alone. I assured you, I was never truly alone.

 

The next three miles were extremely pleasant. The views were incredible. The trail was easy. There were no bugs. I found myself so pleased to be on this journey. I loved seeing the wild flowers that peppered the landscape.

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The trail started to climb and I could see the top of the mountain. As the trail got trickier I started to worry. At one point I was climbing up a rock, hand over foot. I stopped, shaking and trying to gain the confidence to proceed when I gentleman who was probably 75 years old sped past me. He yelled back to me, “You’re doing great!” I snorted and replied, “Thanks! I’m terrified. How the hell do you get down this?” He told me I took the hard route up but told me, “You just need to trust your feet.”

I thought that was a pretty powerful thing. TRUST YOUR FEET. I reflected on those words. With my hearing, I have horrible balance. I don’t trust much of anything or anybody. But my feet? They betray me a lot and I stumble and fall. Trusting them seemed the most absurd thought. But then I really thought about it. I might stumble and fall but I’ve always landed well. Those three words became my mantra.

 

TRUST YOUR FEET.

 

I continued up the mountain laughing at myself and wondering if hysteria from the thin air had set in. The trail evened out a bit and after one more scramble up some rocks I made it to a small glacier-fed lake. There was still about 1/4 of a mile to the summit but I decided to take a break at the lake and reflect.

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By “reflect” what I really mean is, “Consider calling it a day and going down from here.” I was sweaty. I was tired. I was running out of water. And I was SCARED. I watched people climb up to the summit from my spot by the lake.  The trail to the summit didn’t look to bad. Narrow and steep but not like the rocks I had to scramble up. On the other hand, what could be so great about the top? It was smoky out and the views were compromised. I briefly wondered if maybe there was a secret route down at the summit that only people who go ALL THE WAY UP know about. Maybe it was the thin air, but that last thought coupled with the fear of going back down are what got me to my feet and made me decide to contiue UP.

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And up I went. On all of the websites I looked at and all of the books this part of the trail is NEVER documented and I quickly found out why. It is loose and slippery lava rock the whole way up. There is no time or space for pictures. THIS is the part that only the people who get to the top don’t talk about. That AND it felt like if you took one wrong step you’d land 10,000 feet down in a lake. My legs were shaking. I just kept uttering to myself to TRUST YOUR FEET.

And it was SLOW going. Step, slip, step, slip, stop, catch your breath…but finally I made it to the top. There was another glorious glacier lake and spectacular views. I sat down and enjoyed a granola bar and drank greedily from my water bottles that I filled up in the glacier lake.

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A dear friend reminded me to take time to enjoy the top and reflect on the journey. He said, “You will never look at the mountain from your town again without thinking, ‘I walked to the top of that!'” And he was so right.

 

As amazing as the summit was, I’d say the trip back down was definitely the most transformative part of the journey. I can’t even explain how scared I was for that trip down the mountain. I sat at the beginning of the trail down shaking. People asked me if I was okay. Physically I was fine. Mentally? I was petrified.

 

Some kind people stopped to help. They offered words of encouragement and tips. They let me follow them. It was exactly what I needed. Before I knew it, I was past the scariest part of the climb and sending the kind people who helped me on their way.

 

I arrived home that evening at 5:00pm. The roundtrip adventure took twelve hours. I destroyed by toenails and my muscles were sore for a few days but I’ve never felt stronger and more capable. Cheers to many more adventures!

Cucumber Cocktail

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A few weeks ago I was introduced to Pernod anise flavored liqueur for the first time. Be still my heart. Ever since, I’ve been slightly obsessed with adding the flavor to my cocktails. This particular cocktail features Glacier 45 Distillery’s Cucumber Vodka. If you haven’t tried their cucumber vodka, it is absolutely incredible. Smooth, slightly sweet with an absolutely true cucumber flavor. I love this stuff.

I shook the vodka with some ice and a bit of my honey syrup, strained into the glass and then topped with a float of Pernod. It is simple and unbelievably refreshing.

Oh, Honey Be…

I’ve been back in the kitchen scheming up new ideas for cocktails. I’ve decided to start using mostly honey based sweeteners. I’ve been making my own honey based syrups and having a blast making botanical, rustic cocktails. You can follow my cocktail pictures @oh_honey_be on Instagram.

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My first creation was this blood orange, ginger, honey and vodka cocktail. Absolutely superb!!! Honey is such a welcomed treat. I’ve never enjoyed overly sweet cocktails and honey seems to add just the right amount of sweetness. Turning honey into a syrup allows it to mix more easily with the cocktail.img_4079

Cheers!

 

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the new farm

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This year has been full of changes. The biggest, by far, has been the big move. An opportunity presented itself this year for Mr. Cassidy and I to move to our dream home. At first it didn’t seem possible but we found ourselves signing our names for our own slice of heaven before we knew it.

The only way to describe it is: a dream come true.

 

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The horses have come to live with us and we inherited chickens, an amazing garden, a grape arbor, an orchard, a pond, a hay field…and honestly the life I’ve always imagined for myself.

On one of the first days we were here during the chaos of moving I looked outside and saw our daughter chasing after the chickens. My heart felt so full at that moment and I told myself to remind myself of that image every time things got rough.

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It isn’t all sunshine and daisies. There have been fences to mend, the mess of trying to sell our old house, figuring out how to work irrigation and keep all of the animals and plants alive. It’s a lot of work but it is rewarding work. I love being outside with the animals and taking care of the property.

 

 

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One of the biggest surprises has been the chickens. I had no idea how much fun the chickens would be! I agreed to taking them from the previous owner only because my daughter has always wanted them and I figured it would be a good learning experience. Chickens are the best. Every time I’m outside they come running to greet me.

 

 

So overall, farm life is fantastic. I’m looking forward to learning the ropes more and producing more of our own food in the future!

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Thirsty Thursday: Vanilla Martini

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After a scortching hot and smokey summer, Fall finally decided to grace us with her gorgeous blue skies, beautiful leaves and crisp weather. It also puts me in the mood for some of my favorite things: cozy clothing and cozy cocktails.

 

 

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Our new farm (more on that later) has so many trees with leaves. I find myself outside every morning staring awe as I discover new beauty that I haven’t seen before.

I absolutely love being outside with my horses and chickens and sometimes find myself out well after sunset and with the chill in the air, this cocktail that I came up with the other day was the perfect pairing for the fall weather.

 

The Vanilla Martini:

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Fill a shaker with ice and add:

  • 2 generous shots of vodka (I like Crater Lake Vodka by Bendistillery)
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a splash of simple syrup (to taste)
  • a splash of sweet vermouth
  • a couple of drops of cardamom bitters

Shake and pour into a martini glass and garnish with half of a vanilla bean.

Cheers!

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try

I don’t watch much TV so I don’t follow many of the shows that people watch. The day after Mandy Harvey performed on America’s Got Talent I knew about her. How? Four different people sent me a link to her performance and said, “Cass, you HAVE to see this!”

And I watched, tears streaming down my face. This woman.

Over the years I’ve come to terms with my hearing loss. Coming to terms with it doesn’t mean I feel any less resentment for it. I never hide my loss or my experience but the resentment I feel every time I put my hearing aids in is strong. I can feel that little prickle in the back of my throat every time it comes up and while it hurts a lot less to think about now. It still hurts.

Her song, Try, has one particular lyric that struck me hard. “I don’t live the way I want to. That whole picture never came into view. And I’m tired of getting used to the day.”

After hearing that song and really letting myself feel that lyric I realized that my acceptance has also been complacency. While I have no desire to go back into much, I am absolutely tired of my complacency. I decided to go out and purchase a ukulele and learn it without any expectations. I was surprised how fun it was and immediately set out to learn Mandy Harvey’s song.

I told a good friend about an idea I had. Every year my parents host a big party with a talent show. I thought it would be fun to play Try and have my friend sign along with me. It was symbolic to me in many ways. shedding my complacency and putting myself out there…and having the sign language along was a big part of not only accepting the situation but also allowing it to give me strength. I almost backed out. “It’ll be too sad.” said somebody. “You’ll bring the party down.” said another. But my friend came and urged me to do it.

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I can’t describe how meaningful this experience was to me. It was just on a silly little stage in front of mostly friends and family but it was empowering beyond belief.

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Mandy Harvey has also written a book called Sensing the Rhythm: Finding my voice in a world without sound. That has also been changing my life. She speaks about her journey with such succinct truth. I find myself nodding and crying along. It’s so personal, I almost wonder if a hearing person would feel the same way.  I keep trying to find excerpts that are especially important and can’t chose one without the other. I encourage you to read this book if only to marvel at what she has done. But also to seek understanding about people of all different abilities.

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The bravest thing I can do…

I decided to start this blog after an epiphany during a long roadtrip. I tossed around ideas in my head trying to figure out what I wanted out of life. I’ve had the “Cassidy Be Brave” idea in my head for awhile. I want to be brave.

 

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Sounds very romantic, doesn’t it? I’ve been clinging to that quote all year. But what does my version of brave look like?

In many ways 2017 has been, by far, my bravest year ever.

I think the common underlying factor in it all is that I’ve been honest about things I want rather than focus on what other people want of  me or from me. And that’s really the scariest thing I can do. Be unapologetically ME.

This is difficult for me to admit because I don’t want to make anybody feel bad (oh, the irony) but I always have assumed that there is something inherently wrong with me that makes me less worthy as a human. And I’m admitting that not to ask for any sort of pity or apology. I’m just on a mission to be honest about who I am…even if I don’t really understand that fully just yet.

I’m terrified that once I uncover that person completely nobody will like her. Is she too demanding? Too vain? Takes too many selfies? Likes cocktails too much? Has too many tattoos? Isn’t kind? Isn’t trustworthy? I hope not.

This year has been pretty epic. Big moves, changes in employment, adventure around every corner, new cars, new found confidence. The changes in friendships are the hardest to take, though. I cherish people over experience or things and even though changes are part of the evolution of friendship, I will always fall back on feeling as though it was my fault.

All of that is to say, I hope to work through some of these feelings and motives and changes on my blog. That’s what it is here for, right?

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#NoMoreVoicing

Some of y’all know that I am hard of hearing. I wear hearing aids. I read lips. It isn’t something I hide or feel even an ounce of shame for. I function mostly normally for the severity of my loss. Hearing aids help a lot but they are far from perfect. I’ve found ways to cope with most of the difficult situations. In social situations I’m usually either dancing or bar tending.

I do struggle with movies or videos of any sort, usually. If I know the person, it’s easier to understand their lips and mannerisms. But most of the time in conference calls or any kind of video conference situation I’m stuck hoping that the notes and email/chat exchanges will shed light on topics so I don’t get too lost. It’s embarrassing, to be honest.
This has been a part of my life for a few months now. I’ve been doing training at work which is heavy in video/phone conferences. I’ve been complaining to my bosses about my extreme dislike for the trainings but even I hadn’t realized why until one of my bosses walked me through what the classes are like. And it hit me. He said, “Is that why you don’t like it?”
Tears instantly filled my eyes and I nodded. It hadn’t even occurred to me that the reason why these classes  had been so awful was because of my hearing. I feel like an idiot sitting in the classes, unable to participate.
You can imagine how excited I was to see the #NoMoreVoicing movement!
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This is a movement I can get behind. Captions are amazing. I love watching TV with no sound after my daughter goes to bed and even my husband admits he catches stuff he wouldn’t normally hear with captions on! My daughter loves reading along.