Hiking the minor bucket list

It was a milestone that passed without fanfare; a sort of minor bucket-list item I had been working on since May of 2012.  I began work at the Colorado National Monument Visitor Center in mid-May last year.  At the interview, they asked me if I was familiar with  the many trails in the Monument.  I assured them I had hiked Serpent’s Trail and Devil’s Kitchen. Looking back, I am surprised they didn’t laugh at me outright.  There are at least 22 trailheads.


Walking is a favorite activity. I love mountains, Nature’s beauty, the out-of-doors. My first year on Facebook (2008), the end-of-year stats wrap up indicated “walk” was my most used word.  Not bad for a musician.  Not bad for a writer.  Walking is my meditation and inspiration time, an hour or so devoted to ironing out the kinks in my thinking or feeling. Somewhere around the time I moved from beach to high desert, my walks turned into hikes. It helped that my house was located on rigorous mountain bike trails. Then came the cashier job in the heart of National Park Service public lands.

As I drove to my job on Saturdays and Sundays last year, I became fascinated with the various historic trails and scenic sites I passed. Curious, I took detours on the way home and began to seek out new hikes on my days off.

Two weeks ago as one of our recent Colorado monsoons ebbed, I sat out to explore Upper Liberty Cap Trail – my last frontier. Seated back in my car 3 1/2 hours later I realized I can now say I have hiked every marked trailhead in Colorado National Monument. That is a milestone! Without further ado, here is picture proof.

Upper Liberty Cap Trail after the rain
Monument Canyon from Canyon Rim Trail
Independence Monument from Upper Monument Canyon Trail
The view from Otto’s Trail
Ute Canyon Trail
No Thoroughfare Canyon – above the first pool and heading toward the waterfall in May
Monument Canyon from The Island
A peek inside Devil’s Kitchen
Black Ridge in the winter
Liberty Cap from lower Liberty Cap Trailhead

Leadership and the New Kid on the Block

I completed my university degree later in life – focused on using it toward the goal of writing and teaching music. The formal words on my diploma read, “Organizational Management – Leadership.”  Over the years, I have observed and experienced the benefits of servant leadership / leadership with love and wisdom; as well as the opposite. Here is what I think.

No matter your rank on the leadership ladder; if you are the new kid on the block, you must learn “the way we have always done it,” before the old timers will hear what you have to say regarding the new and improved. 

No matter how analytical you are, nor how clearly you can see what needs to happen; cool and aloof, behind the scenes changes are probably not going to accomplish all you were hired to change.  You need to add some extrovert to your introvert. At some point, you will have to rub shoulders with the good old boys and build a social relationship.

Many things are taught by example, but others do need to be addressed directly. Just because emergency surgery is effective and must be done to eradicate some practices; there is no reason for becoming knife happy and leveling the entire organization.  Remodels take time.  You may have to model and remodel again and again. 

In the beginning, (when you are the new kid on the block) it’s going to take a bit more of your personal time – whether you are on salary or hourly wages.

You must eliminate perfectionism as your goal and replace it with excellence.  Then, as you model again and again; it will be necessary to articulate the goal in an inspiring way.     You may have to explain clearly.  The challenge becomes how to speak plainly without being condescending. 

And all the while, keep asking yourself, “Am I leading by serving? Just doing enough to get the job done? Demanding that others do it my way, at my speed? Am I constantly jockeying for position, or am I leading in love?


The laughter of Autumn

I love the fall.  Autumn is my favorite season.  Besides the break from summer heat; perhaps because of the break from summer heat, it is my most creative time of year.  In the fall, I begin to laugh again.  In the last 48 hours, two huge guffaws have escaped me.

  1. Listening to Colorado Public Radio while the female announcer was setting up a Bach Brandenburg Concerto. She mentioned the recent news that Voyager II is confirmed as having flown to infinity and beyond. You may be too young to know it, but Voyager II carries artifacts from our culture, expressing who we are as humans to unknown recipients of other stars and planets.  Bach’s music is on that space ship.  She then commented, “I wonder if the recording was vinyl or 8-track?”
  2. This morning as I carried out a quick perusal of Facebook, I came upon this little piece of wit:Image

The case of the tragic M&Ms

A handful of M&Ms sat side by side in a cut glass bowl.  They are tempting, and offered to me repeatedly – even urged on me.  I decline. But, everybody loves chocolate, you will say. And you are right.  Even I love chocolate, but I am allergic. Ah, you murmur, “that is tragic.” Not so. A simple, specific food allergy is something you can remedy immediately.  A tragedy leaves you helpless, wounded, hopeless. 

The M&Ms treasured in my antique heirloom bowl stand for misunderstanding and misinformation; miscommunication and misguided. I once knew an older woman who would attempt to mend broken relationships with the platitude, “It doesn’t matter. That was just a misunderstanding.”  To which I say, “It does matter!” It was far more than misunderstanding.  No amount of re-phrasing will clear up misguided misinformation!

A few weeks ago, Novel Matters linked up a video presentation on cultural misunderstandings of poverty vs middle class vs affluence. You might think of it as the tragic case of M&Ms and Money. It was hugely informative to understanding the differences in background we bring to relationships.  Listening to Dr Ruby Payne speak cast an illuminating spotlight back over the decades of my upbringing and subsequent relationships.   I found myself thinking, “if I had only known.”

Money, as researchers have told us over and over, is one of the major conflict triggers in  relationships. We could probably recite the list together:  Money, Children, In-laws, Sex, Expectations, Religion….  For this post the other one that makes the list of tragic M&Ms is Marital intimacy.

Rarely do I agree 100% with a speaker, book or movie. I wonder how many relationships could be salvaged, healed or immunized if the video that follows went viral?  True to the 2,000 year legacy of the name, Mars Hill, the video that follows clears up misinformed, misguided, misunderstood, miscommunicated belief.

If you are a woman who has been shamed for desire, suffered the contempt of those who were misinformed, or deprived by pornography; let the healing begin.

Let Him Kiss Me

Each season has its own melancholy

Yesterday, the unwelcome September heat wave broke in a big way.  80 percent chance of rain was predicted.  Yes, I am sure it rained for at least 80 percent of a 24 hour period.  The resulting rain caused occupants of tour buses to repine a visit to the Colorado National Monument on a cloudy day. Just the day before others had faulted western Colorado for the heat. 


We who enjoy 300 plus days of sunshine each year are not complaining. All over the internet acquaintances who have not baked all summer boasted of lemon meringue pies and savory stews. The resulting temperatures caused a spike in my own ability to think and act fast – and to long for travel. Apparently spring is not the only time that Zephirus has swete breeth and folk longen to “goon pilgrimages and palmers for to seken straunge strondes.” Creativity was ushered in by thoughts of fall. My qwerty keyboard and my piano keyboard are humming. 

Change is in the air.

Soon the glorious colors of fall will appear.

Each season has its own melancholy.

Little Things Mean A Lot

It is popular to speak of which star you were born under; but I was born under a song. 

The week I was born, “Little Things Mean A Lot,” was in the number one position according to Billboard Magazine

All my life I have loved small things, miniatures, tiny objects, little persons and entire microcosms encapsulated in a space the size of a walnut shell.  Details matter.  Little things mean a lot.  

I am not talking here about sweating the small stuff (although degrees fahrenheit is small stuff that makes me sweat). I am talking about enjoying the little things, appreciating the small stuff to the max.  A beautiful sunrise lasts a few minutes in a 24 hour day – but it means a lot.  A grain of sand is minuscule, but a few thousand thrown together make an unforgettable feeling between bare toes on a beach.

Smiles, good manners, random acts of kindness; are some of the little things that mean a lot.  These small things are riches, but not costly.  Trust me, the little things are worth the effort to remember. Don’t let it be said,

“And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth…(J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)”

When the little things that mean a lot are forgotten, relationships are lost.  Opportunities missed. The shire is never the same.