Climb Rock. Find Self. Follow Bliss. ~ Jill Wheeler

Via Jill Wheeler
on Sep 2, 2013
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Jill Wheeler.Climb

“Every day I am thankful for the walk in the woods that led me to the rock; and to the rock, that led me to myself.” ~ Craig McGillivray

Next year will be 20 years since I first climbed and fell in love with it. As I ascended the billion-year-old rose-colored Redgarden wall in Eldorado Canyon State Park in Boulder earlier this summer, I was filled with love, wonder and gratitude.

Climbing with a partner is a funny thing. We have our lives, literally, in each other’s hands, yet 90 percent of the actual experience of climbing is solitary. Eldo’s boisterous waters pour through the valley and most of the communication is through tugs of the rope—a climber’s Morse code—an unspoken language I know well after 17 years of ascending routes with my climbing partner, Christopher. I had plenty of time to think while we climbed Redgarden.

Considering millions of years that went into shaping and forming such a masterpiece playground of rock, I finally had a little compassion for myself and my own growth and formation over the past 20 years. I’m evolving just as I should in my own time, no matter how slowly and unrecognizable at times.

I used to be in such a rush. I worried too much that I was missing something. I had a serious FOMO (fear of missing out). I often second-guessed what I should be doing, instead of just following my path, my bliss. I pressured myself to be productive. I questioned myself more than I would have liked. I listened to stories (sorry, Mom) from my family that climbing wasn’t a realistic profession and it was time to grow up.

Climbing Redgarden reminded me that there is a place for everything in nature. There is a place for me and I don’t need to over-think my purpose. As I evolve, I find more joy and ease in my climbing and myself—on and off the rock.

Not long ago, I believed that I had to leave Colorado to get serious, to get things done, to work, to be an attentive mother. I was too distracted here by my passions. I could easily slip into these mountains and disappear for hours or even days. Now I know I can better balance the growing needs of my family and my desire to adventure, whether I live in Colorado or not. Key word: better (not sure I’ve nailed it, yet). I actively work towards blending the two, not having to choose one.

For a long time I wondered how I was serving the world by retreating to the wilds of rock and mountain.

My mother told me it was selfish (she was scared for my safety) and I felt I needed to do more for society. Now as I achieve more of a balance it’s not so much what I should be doing but how I am being in the world that makes a difference. I know I must live my passion for adventure and I am fortunate to be able to share my passion authentically and wholeheartedly, and to inspire others just because of who I am. The more I appreciate who I am, the happier and more at ease I am.

Some of my Wellfit Institute women’s group members and adventure participants have affectionately called me “Fearless Leader.” But the truth is, I am afraid. Not afraid of normal things—heights, surfing in shark-infested waters, getting too much air on my kiteboard)—but of growing up, paying bills, not being a good enough parent, spending too much or not saving enough. I grapple with the need to climb, kite, play, adventure and explore and to also do my life’s work, serve and at some point “settle down.” I don’t think I am alone.

“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve the purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.” Does Joseph Campbell mean all our doing in the world is unnecessary? Is the simple pleasure of engaging in our most passionate pursuits enough and the rest of the doing is the cream on top?

I am not sure, but as I sat on the tiniest ledge crammed into a summer-sun warmed rock corner belaying Christopher, I watched the slow pace of the world unraveling and felt no rush.

Throughout the day I counted five pairs of climbers inching their way up a classic route across the valley. I noticed the human trail of chalk and polished rock all over the face of the wall. From across the valley the climbers looked small and peaceful, quietly dancing their way along the ancient rock.

I got to thinking about the foot and handprints humans have left on the rock and how some purists think it’s an eyesore. We do make an impact, but it’s a simple and beautiful exchange up here. We leave little trace, just rubbed-away microflora from decades of climbers crimping, hand-jamming, tiptoeing, scraping and scaling their way to the top. To climbers, these vertical trails are our inspiration, a path of kindred spirits that made their way before us, now inviting us to come along and share the adventure.

The question of whether my doing (or simply being) will pay the bills from this vertical world remains unanswered.

But, one thing is for sure: when I am in the moment, on the rock, living my truth, engaging in my passion, I am not concerned about my worthiness. I know I am enough in those moments. My existence is essential and mediocrity doesn’t exist.

My journey as a climber is much like the journey I wish for my children, my clients, and for you—to relinquish the need to make everything make sense, to be more free and follow your bliss. I hope that your journey informs your purpose and guides you to your own rock.


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Assistant Ed: Leace Hughes/Ed: Sara Crolick



About Jill Wheeler

Jill Wheeler, M.A., LPC, Professional Passion Seeker + adventurer. Therapist, life coach, speaker, writer + lululemon ambassador. Teaches yoga + SUP yoga. Climbs. Kitesurfs. Breathes. Owner of the Wellfit Institute. Connect with Jill on her Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram at WellfitJill.





37 Responses to “Climb Rock. Find Self. Follow Bliss. ~ Jill Wheeler”

  1. Kelly Bell says:

    Such a privilege to experience the aura and energy of Jill. As she follows her bliss, she takes me along, through her journalling, tweets and Facebook posts, I admit, I enjoy marveling at her strength while living a little vicariously through her. Thanks Jill!

  2. Casey Panepinto says:

    1Great article Jill!!! You touched on some points that hit home for me on a monthly if not weekly basis, especially the FOMO part 😉 I learned alot about you that I didn't know from this article and you're a very talented writer. Great job and I'll hopefully see you guys at the beach soon!

  3. Ondine Hefley says:

    Jill, the statement “relinquish the need to make everything make sense” is bringing me great awareness and the reminder that MY CHOICES create peace or worry. I don’t have to make events, others’ comments or choices MEAN something. Beautiful article and illustration of what being in the NOW moment can feel like! Ur a rock star!

  4. Melissa Kahn says:

    Jill’s lyrical writing captures the serenity and joy of her physical achievements but it is her ability to straightforwardly confront the true fears in her life that make this article such a powerful read.

    Raising children means requires working ceaselessly to make the right decisions …admitting that this can be more of a challenge than scaling mountains is not an easy statement but its an honest and important one. Thanks, Jill, for this fearless share.

    Wheeler confronts her fears and shares her experience

  5. Kristin Smith says:

    Sometimes the Universe gives an individual voice to not only speak from their own heart, but draw forth the uneasy words and rustlings others are pressing to pull forth while on the same path. Thank you my friend for giving voice to my inner struggle.

  6. Aly H says:

    You are such an inspiration Jill! It was a privilege to have met you, immediately I could feel your positivity and energy… you are an amazing strong woman. You encourage and inspire so many of us just with your presence!! Thank you for that:)

  7. Claire Deery says:

    Great article. Jill eloquently relates climbing to the everyday fears that we all grapple with. She inspires at all elevations . .. on the water on in the mountains . ..

  8. @Wellfitjill says:

    Kelly, it is an honor to hear from you and your experience traveling along side my journey! We are ALL in this together and I thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate you and so glad to be able to share my story and love! XO

  9. Rocio says:

    Every time I read Jill’s writings about her adventures I feel inspired! Follow your bliss…that’s what i’m doing! Great article! Thanks for sharing your experiences with the world! Your energy is contagious! Namaste!

  10. @Wellfitjill says:

    Thanks, Casey…and yeah, where is the wind, anyway? As a climber, wind was my nemesis and now…well, I stalk her. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. To the beach, soon!

  11. @Wellfitjill says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and reflection on this piece…as I wrote to Kelly above, we are ALL in this together! Right here, right now! XO

  12. @Wellfitjill says:

    Awwww, Claire I LOVE what you just wrote…"She inspires at all elevations…on the water or in the mountains"…THANK YOU!

  13. @Wellfitjill says:

    Aly, thank you for YOUR positivity and support! I love sharing my passion for the outdoors and in groups, especially, so will continue to play where ever Iand in the moment and hope we play again together soon! Hugs!

  14. @Wellfitjill says:

    Melissa…thank you for sharing your thoughts and making me feel less cuckoo crazy as a mom!

  15. @Wellfitjill says:

    Rocio…I will most certainly learn from you and YOUR vital, loving, positive source of amazing-ness…bliss out, mi amiga! Thank you for reading and sharing!

  16. @Wellfitjill says:

    I feel encouraged and supported by your struggle and journey, my friend…thank you for sharing…hugs!

  17. Great article Jill! Eloquently narrated I believe so many of us can relate to your experiences.

    Keep on writing and inspiring all of us.

  18. Mimy Valenti says:

    I have never climbed anything unless you count stairs or a ladder. I don't even like to be a passenger in my huge safe SUV on a major interstate bc I'm afraid of how my husband drives. I do NOT even do roller-coasters bc they are too fast and potentially "dangerous " for my taste 🙂 And yet, Jill Wheeler who does everything and then some, completely "gets" me. Her words and her spirit are so often an important reminder for me that we are all on a journey in this life and just bc mine is a wee bit tamer than hers(to say the least!), its still one of passion and purpose and that's the most important thing for all of us who are wives, mothers, and survivors of our own climbs every day to aspire to every day….

  19. Nina says:

    So eloquent and beautifully written… It is such a gift when we can follow our passion in life and in doing so, arise each day knowing that we have a “blissful” place, both internally and externally we can retreat to or advance from…the journey is always perfect and yours is very inspirational. Congratulations & thanks for your insight

  20. @Wellfitjill says:

    Miss Mimy (amazing) Valenti, you blow me away…love this and yes, I "get" you. I get how amazing you are and I feel encouraged on my journey because of how you shine and share with me. Thank you!

  21. @Wellfitjill says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts…our joy and struggle is one. Simply life!

  22. lllsquared says:

    Great job Jill!

  23. Ashley Solomon says:

    Thoughtful, truthful article Wheeler. I will continue to ponder the concept that the world/life/time slows down when we're deeply engaged in following our bliss…that way we don't have to turn the corner and forever be *grown up*, we can allow it to come in waves…chase our dreams AND pay the bills :-)))

  24. Alexa says:

    Jill!!!! So awesome! Great article 🙂 way to crush your bhag!!!!!!

  25. Mikaela says:

    Beautifully written, as always, Jill! I'm always amazed by the insights we gain from nature, whether it is on a rock or on the beach. Thanks for sharing!.. and great photo!

  26. alison says:

    Beautifully written article. So happy you are following your bliss!

  27. @Wellfitjill says:

    I like that Ashley!!! Thank you for your post!

  28. @Wellfitjill says:

    Awww, yah! Thanks, girl!

  29. @Wellfitjill says:

    SO true, Mikaela! Nature is our greatest teacher!!!

  30. @Wellfitjill says:

    Thank you, Alison! Some days are more blissful than others, but the intention is sure there!

  31. crazyintherain says:

    Jill I have always admired your incredible writing skill. I feel privileged that my first two times climbing were with you and the girls. I have always believed that if you follow what you are most passionate about that the rest will fall into place. I can see that clearly in your life over the years that I have known you and your family. Thank you for sharing.

  32. @Wellfitjill says:

    Thank you, Anna…YOU are the testament to living your dream and inspiring the world with your adventures. I am so honored to know you and for my girls to call you their role model! Thank you for reading and posting!

  33. @Wellfitjill says:

    Oh, my reply to Nina posted on yours, Lucy! Will have to repost to hers! Have a great day!

  34. @Wellfitjill says:

    Nina, thank you for sharing your thoughts…hope you have a blissful day!

  35. Mary says:

    Wow, what a surprise to read elephant journal and see a face and name I know locally. You continue to amaze me.

  36. Jill says:

    Awesome, Mary!!! Which local? Boulder or Naples? Thank you and big hugs!!!