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My 6 L's to Happiness

Found again at last

rain 45 °F

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Over 2 years ago in the summer of 2009, I spent 3 weeks in a place called Philmont. For those who aren't familiar with Philmont, it's a Boy Scout high adventure base in New Mexico just south of the New Mexico and Colorado border. I took part in an 11 day backpacking trek there in the summer 2007 and fell in love with the place. It's been nicknamed "God's Country" by many, and I'll tell you, they don't call it that for nothing. I returned in 2009 as part of a 3 week Rayado trek with 7 other guys who I had never met, but are some of my best friends now because of the things we accomplished together during those 3 weeks. Those 3 weeks were the best experience of my life to date, and has only been rivaled since by my study abroad experience. We'll see where the two stack up when I get home in a couple weeks and can have a chance to reflect. On this 3 week experience, our two staff guides immersed us in what would be known as the "Solo" experience.

During the morning of this solo experience, all maps, compasses, watches, and GPS devices were removed from our 8 person crew. We soon veered off a trail and down ravines and over some hills. I still to this day don't have the slightest clue where in God's Country (or in God's name for that matter) we were taken. The guides split the 8 of us up, one by one, in complete and utter silence. We were all taken to random places and given a water bottle, sleeping bag, journal, and tent rain fly. Nothing more. With the exception of when they brought me small amounts of food, I passed the next 48 hours until they returned alone. I knew we were at around 10,000 feet altitude, but that was about it. It rained twice, and was a constant struggle to keep the shelter I built from blowing away to keep my down sleeping bag dry, essential for warmth during the night.

During these 48 hours, I wrote a lot in that journal, which I took with me to Europe during my semester abroad. Unfortunately, one of the things that I did not write down were the 6 L's to Happiness that I came up with while I was there during that solo experience. I remembered them for the rest of that trip but for some reason never wrote them down. I couldn't remember them when I got home months later, and then they came back to me at one point, but I forgot to write them down, again. I told them to an old girlfriend at one point, but she doesn't have them anymore either since they were erased when we parted ways last year. Every now and then I try to remember what they are, and all I can come up with is Live, Love, Laugh, and Learn, which is all over Google and every high school girl's tumblr page. But for whatever reason when I was in Paris with my family last week for a few days, they all came back to me. All six. So I quickly wrote them down, and I wanted to write a short blog about them in the hopes that you'll save them somewhere too instead of losing them for 2 years like I did. This was one of the greatest things I got out of Rayado, one of the greatest experiences of my life, so I hope you'll get as much from these as I did and still do.

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My friend caught me sleeping on a beautiful morning on Rayado

Live

One of the questions that keeps coming to mind as a wrap up my time in Europe and my study abroad experience and look back at these 3.5 months is, would I be happy with what I did today and the way I lived today if I died tomorrow? It seems like an extreme question to ask sometimes, but I try to remind myself of it as often as I can now. Instead of taking all the short cuts in life to get to where you're going faster, why not take the long road? Why not see what's around that other corner instead of walking home the normal way. Sometimes life's greatest adventures and experiences are right around the corner, and you'll never find them if you don't take a chance and look. Take chances, take risks, and do your best to make sure that when you wake up tomorrow morning, you don't have any regrets about today.

One of my favorite quotes from my 800 page Ralph Waldo Emerson book reads as follows, "My life is for itself and not for a spectacle." I think you should strive to live your life every minute of every day exactly the way you want it to be lived. You should live it for what you want it to be and not for what anyone else thinks it should be. When I look at my life sometimes, I question myself for how true I am being to myself. And if you're not and you're letting other people make decisions for you when you know you'd rather be doing something else, you aren't living your life, you're living the life someone else would rather see you live. It's something worth thinking about to me, and I do my best to make sure I live my life the way I want it to be lived so when I get old some day I don't have a lot of regrets.

Someone read me a quote recently and I don't remember where it was from exactly, but I found it to be especially useful to me as I'm preparing to graduate from college in 6 months: "Don't be so concerned with making a living that you forget to live." It's pretty simple honestly, but it's something that so many people forget about in this rush to work society we live in. Everyone is so concerned with making a living, getting the highest paying job they can, and falling into a routine of constant work that they forget to live sometimes. I hope to have a decent job when I graduate, but if I'm more concerned with the monthly paycheck than enjoying what it is I'm being paid to do, something isn't right to me. Remember to Live.

Laugh

They say that life is better if you just remember to smile every now and then, and I think it's true. (How many of you just smiled?) Laughing is part of smiling, and I think it's important to laugh as much as you can. Life is meant to be enjoyed! So if you're not laughing and smiling, you're doing something wrong. I also think it's important to laugh not just at the world around you (in a good way) and funny moments, but it's important to laugh at yourself sometimes. Don't be too hard on yourself and don't take life too seriously that you forget to laugh at yourself and have some fun. Remember too that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. If you make a mistake, try to laugh at yourself next time, learn from it, and move on. It's good for you, I promise. I never met a happy person who didn't know how to laugh from time to time, so try it.

Love

This goes hand in hand with so many things. Love your family, love your friends, love what you do (if you don't, find something else to do), but I think when looking at those things, you first have to love yourself and your life, and love it for what it is. If you can do this first, the rest will follow and be infinitely more rewarding. Love your family because when everything else in life falls, they'll still be standing there with you. Love your friends, because they've always got your back, and you learn so much from them. You only get into something what you put in, so love your family and love your friends and you'll be loved in return. And if you're not, you've got the wrong friends.

Listen

This is one of the ones that I came up with on my own to add to the L idea, largely because I was alone in the woods for 48 hours by myself. You listen to things around you subconsciously, and you learn a surprising amount of things sometimes if you just take a minute to stop and listen to the world around you. With listening comes learning too, which I keep mentioning and will get to at the end. I think it's important to listen to not only what's around you (for me that was in nature at the time), but also to listen to the people around you. Friends. Family. You learn from them more than you think. Listen to what they have to say and value their insight, it will benefit you later in life. Listen to your parents too. You won't always want to and you won't always agree with what they have to say (I know I still don't), but they have your best interests in mind and are there to protect you. So whether you want to or not, listen to them. Sometimes listening to friends, family, or nature around you brings peace too if you let it in, so I think it's important to listen to what's around you to find happiness.

Lose

This is the second of the six that I came up with on my own during that solo time, and might seem kind of odd to some. How is losing a step to finding happiness? But for me it's like a lot of other things in life, when you're broken down you tend to build yourself back up stronger and better prepared for next time. You learn from nearly everything you'll ever lose, whether it's a family member you wish you could have spent more time with or a your keys at a party because you drank too much. If you never lose anything, you'll never learn how to be better prepared for next time, and you'll never build yourself back up as a stronger person in the future. It's also really cliché to say, but if you never lose something you'll never know how much (or how little) you really had in the first place. So I think it's important to lose sometimes to find happiness, especially at those rare moments in life when you lose something and realize how much happier you are without it. But you wouldn't have known that without losing something in the first place. It breaks us down but allows us to come back stronger and better for it. Part of losing though is learning to pick yourself back up.

Learn

Everything I've already mentioned seems to come back to this somehow. You have to be willing to lose to learn how to pick yourself back up. If you listen to what's around, you'll learn from what's around and hopefully learn how to take from those experiences and incorporate them into your own life. You learn from your family and you learn from your friends, and you learn from loving them in many ways. You learn from your own mistakes and you learn how to avoid them in the future. You learn from everything you do in life, and knowledge is power. The more you learn and know, the happier you can be. Try to learn as much as you can from the people and the world around you, it'll help you figure out who you are a lot of times and will make you happier as a result.

Find Happiness

So in summary, if you want to find happiness, it starts here with these. Live, laugh, love listen, lose, and learn. I don't think I've found anything that made me happy in my life that can't be somehow traced back to these simple ideas. They serve as a nice reminder and reality check sometimes too. I try to continually reevaluate my life week in and week out to make sure I'm where I want to be and if I'm not happy with something I want to know why so I can understand it and hopefully fix it. It always comes back to these. I hope people have enjoyed reading this, and if anyone has any feedback or comments on this idea I'd love to hear them too! Too cliché? Funny? Dumb? Thoughtful? Enlightening? Different?

Au revoir!

--Scooter

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Posted by la vita bella 07:04 Archived in France Tagged landscapes waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises mountains churches skylines people trees snow night rivers paris hiking france travel colorado trekking river backpack aspen ski friends philippines life live country family love man creek rome hike eagle smile happiness mtn denver international college god student abroad american boulder experiences sherman relationship lose learn scout solo study iphone laugh learning prepared shavano princeton scouting scouts girlfriend esc listen rayado philmont Comments (5)

One week.

Europe here I come!

overcast 65 °F

There are really only a few things on my mind as I write this, so here we go.

Yesterday, I was honored in Salida by the Sheriff's department with an Award of Distinguished Service. After months of being in the press, newspapers, telling the story of how I saved a man's life while hiking to friends, and receiving more attention than I'm used to in general, I was able to accept the award yesterday. I was interviewed after the ceremony by a very nice gentleman from the Mountain Mail, which was cool. I was in their paper the week everything happened, and it looks like I'll be in the paper again. I hoped that they published papers on Sundays, but they don't so I'll be looking for something in the next couple days online I guess. The Sheriff's office put me up in a hotel for the night too, which was very nice. Not the nicest hotel in town, but plenty nice and the gesture was very much appreciated. I was also lucky enough to have my best friend Zach and my family there as well, which was amazing. I was very happy to have all of them there, and for them to be able to meet the people who were part of the story that day I was out hiking. For pictures of the ceremony, visit my Facebook album: http://t.co/tjQl4eI

The other major things on my mind: France and the new girlfriend. It's been a while since I've been in a serious relationship with someone, so it's both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time I guess. I can't remember if this is what it always feels like when starting out with something new, but either way we're both excited to give it a try. I'm a little nervous given that I leave for Europe in 7 days, fresh into a new relationship, but we've both agreed to give it our best and set it aside for later if it doesn't work out right away. I'm pretty excited and hoping for the best. That said, I leave for study abroad in 7 days. I'm terrified, excited, nervous, anxious, and so on. I feel like I'm walking off a cliff into the unknown on my own on this one because I'm the only DU student headed to Dijon this fall, so it's scary, but exciting. I realized the other night that I thought the train from Charles de Gaulle Airport went to Dijon, but was wrong, so now I'm scrambling last minute to sort out how to get from Paris to Dijon when I arrive. I am very much looking forward to my studio when I arrive, and am pretty excited to have my own space and live on my own for a bit. I also can't wait to travel. The overnight train from Dijon to Milan looks pretty tempting for an every weekend trip, but we'll have to see. There are too many places to visit and explore across Europe, so we'll just have to see where I end up. Either way, I'm planning to take and post lots of pictures here, so stay tuned! I'm definitely going to miss these mountains of Colorado, but the travels ahead promise to be equally amazing. So until then, here's a picture of a sunset over Mt. Shavano from the town of Salida taken last night. IMG_1491.jpg

Posted by la vita bella 16:29 Archived in USA Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises mountains snow france ski mtn dijon vista buena vail 14ers shavano buena_vista scouting Comments (0)

Playing Catch Up

60 °F

I realized today that it's been a while since I've written with everything going on, so I figured I'd try to write before I leave town and technology for the weekend.

Life up here in Vail has been going really well. It's such an awesome place to live, work, play, and simply reside. I'm so much happier up here than was was months ago. The freedom to live and pursue my dreams without things holding you down is amazing, and I finally feel I have that freedom to make this life everything I want it to be and more. It's a powerful and awesome feeling. Work has been going really well up here too, and I think (it's kind of implied) I may have earned a job offer up here again in a year when I graduate. Nothing is written in black and white, but I think it's there and I couldn't be more excited about it. I'm thoroughly enjoying the concierge work thus far and the perks that come with it and hope the rest of this summer is just as much fun here.

Study abroad is rapidly approaching. As I am writing this I'm officially 59 days out from departure. All that remains is getting that Visa in LA and my train ticket from Paris to Dijon. Housing, classes, flight, Campus France, are all completed. I'm having way too much fun living and playing up here in Vail to realize how soon that is, but the excitement is starting to build. Having never been to Europe before and about to spend 4 months there by myself, it's a pretty terrified excited feeling, but I'm ready. It will put me one step closer to that goal that I set for myself at the beginning of college and the end in sight.

Last weekend I was unable to hike due to a torn (we think) ligament in my right knee, but I still went down to Buena Vista with my good friend and drove up part of the mountain where I saved the man's life. He has a lifted truck so I thought we'd see how far up we could get, and ended up at 12,200 feet. My car couldn't go any further at 10,600 for reference. It was a fun little drive, and we cruised around Colorado on US24 the rest of the day as I pointed out all the cool history and things there are to see. We enjoyed lunch in Leadville at a small little Italian place that is now on my list of favorite lunch spots. Definitely worth the stop if passing through.

I spent the next two days in Denver, briefly, with my family, grandparents, and aunt in town. It was my grandmother's birthday as well, so it was great to be able to be down there and celebrate it with her and see the family for a bit, even if brief. I got a lot of business wrapped up while down there and settled some things with my parents too since it had been a month since home. After things were done I headed back to Vail, thankful to be heading westbound on I70 on Monday and not eastbound, that traffic looked brutal. I've never been in or seen traffic so bad in my life on that highway.

The man whose life I saved called me last week and I spoke with him briefly. Good to hear from him, and I'm glad to know he's going to be making a full recovery. He told me he still has some nightmares of drowning from the accident and can only go for 60 minute walks (this was last week Wednesday) since is oxygen levels are still too low. I haven't spoken to him since, but it's great to know he'll recover fully.

This weekend I am planning to hike some more 14ers, hopefully without a hitch this time. Every time I've gone out this summer something has happened, for better or for worse, so hopefully this weekend will be better. My knee feels recovered, and I was able to bike on it the last two days without pain. I'll be hopefully climbing Mt. Yale Saturday and Elbert Sunday, possibly for Sunday sunrise from Colorado's highest point. If anything changes, I'll probably be meeting up with Zach for some food and catch up since he's in town for the weekend. Either way, it looks like a fun weekend ahead. Stay tuned till next time!

Here's something cool to look at until then, these are the kind of stories and people that inspire me to do what I do, and remind me that anything is possible even when you think it might not be: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=10266

Posted by la vita bella 19:50 Tagged mountains snow hiking france aspen ski bells hike eagle mtn dijon vista buena scout vail 14ers shavano princeton buena_vista maroon antero elbert Comments (0)

Solo No More

sunny 60 °F

I know I just wrote an entry the other night, but I wanted to write again because of the events that transpired yesterday. First, I am all moved in up here in beautiful Eagle Vail Colorado. I am biking distance from Beaver Creek and this area is just beyond gorgeous. Wow. I'm heading out today to explore the villages of Vail and the Teva Mountain Games and perhaps try a new restaurant or two, and after a few more weeks like this hopefully I'll soon feel like a local here in Vail. PS, I'm learning that there are discounts for "locals" all over the place up here, especially in Avon. Definitely good to know!

Now, for yesterday. I won't post any pictures here because I think most of you awesome subscribers are friends on facebook as well and can see them all there. Yesterday was the first, and probably last for at least a while, time that I attempted a 14er solo. I thought with my level of experience I'd be ok going solo. I know when to bail, weather, rules of early starts, and so on, and I now have a PLB in the event of something catastrophic. I got up and was on the trail by 4am to try to get out early and make good time, and I knew doing two in a day I would need the time. I reached the base of the Angel of Shavano at 6:15am, climbed the snowfield (with no crampons or microspikes, I was proud), and summitted Shavano at 8:45 including breaks along the way. So, trailhead to summit was about 4 hours of solid hiking. I was feeling great. Took the necessary pictures, enjoyed the views, refueled and rehydrated, and pushed on for Tabaguache. I made it to the summit of Tab in just over an hour, which I was again pleased with given the snowfield I went up and the time I was making. It was barely ten, so now all I had to do was re-summit Shav and head back down. Easy, right?

I glisaded back down to the saddle and I gained the summit again up Shav, and decided to take the summer trail down because I figured it would be faster, easier to follow, and somebody on 14ers.com claimed it was ready for summer. False, false, false. Somewhere around 12,500ft or so, it turns into a mush of snow, sinking to your waist regularly. At this point, I lost total track of where the summer trail was, but not to worry, I went down the gully to the base of the Angel of Shavano with the intent to follow that out. The trail out of there is hard to follow and at times there are many, and so I continued down hoping I'd find my trail from the morning. No luck. Eventually, about 1pm, I realized I was definitely lost. Out came the GPS. Stay calm. I marked the location of the car that morning knowing if something happened I'd still make it out ok. But, my GPS batteries were fading fast, and it doesn't pick up signal well in dense trees. No matter, it must work at this point.

Sure enough, I'm 1.5 miles away from my car. I set it to go to car, and away I go, bushwacking through everything in my path. I get .9 miles form the car, and the GPS batteries die. Dear lord, no, I refuse. I get it to come back on again for another bit or so, reach .5 miles from the car, and it dies again. At this point I have a much better sense of where the trail is in relation to me, but still I try to turn it on again. Luckily, it works, and at .2 miles I reach a dirt road that goes to overnight camping sites and overflow trailhead parking. I'm almost there. Batteries die again, so I head down the road in the direction that makes sense, turn the GPS back on again, and find my way back to the car. Exhausted, beaten up from bushwacking through everything to get out in one piece, my rain paints now have two solid rips in them from bushwacking, I twisted my ankle three times, and a few scrapes and bruises, but at least I know I can head home now. There is no way I was hiking the next day as originally planned, and I made my way back here to Vail. I learned a lot about myself and composure yesterday when some people would have panicked feeling lost, helpless, and alone. So now, back in sunny Vail, I am heading out over the next few days to check out the Teva Mountain Games and maybe get some skiing in.

Some people say you never learn not to play with fire until you get burned, and I guess you could say I learned my lesson.

Posted by la vita bella 09:48 Archived in USA Tagged france vista sherman massive buena vail shavano tabaguache princeton antero elbert fairplay Comments (1)

It's Time!

sunny 80 °F

Well, it's that time. For months I've been telling all my friends that I'm moving to Vail for the summer for an internship. That day is tomorrow. It's amazing how time flies, and I couldn't be more excited! I finished finals this morning, packed up, moved out, and am now at home with family for a few hours before hitting the road for Vail in morning. And get this, the house all the interns are staying in is located right on the Eagle Vail Golf Course, just down the street from Beaver Creek, Avon, and West Vail. Hard to beat if you ask me. Can't wait to actually see this place tomorrow, even if only for a bit before I leave for hiking. And my roomate situation got changed slightly so I am no longer rooming with the gay guy from Boulder. (I have nothing against gays, but that could get interesting to say the least knowing nothing about the guy going in.)

HIKING!!! I could not have asked for a better weather forecast. Sunny, highs of 75 every day, and only two days with a 30% chance of rain out of five days total, meaning an early start should beat that rain. That said, I'll be heading to Buena Vista tomorrow afternoon following moving in in Vail. Below is my agenda and goal for those wondering, curious, and perhaps worried about my safety. All friends I have invited on this trip have had to bail or not gotten back to me, so it'll be a solo trip all the way. Pray for safety, adventure, and some of the best moments of my life, after all, sometimes you just have to live life on the edge to keep things interesting and continue to learn and grow, and who knows where you'll end up?

Agenda:
6/3: Angel of Shavano and Tabaguache.
6/4: Princeton
6/5: Antero
6/6: Yale
6/7: Who knows. Sherman maybe? Oxford and Belford? Elbert? La Plata? R&R day? A Basin? We'll see. Princeton Hot Springs for the night for sure.

What happens on day 5 will be dictated by weather, melting snow conditions, fatigue, and what peaks look like form other summits. We'll see. Regardless, I'm excited! And hopefully, my mom isn't too upset when I get back and she finds out I did all this solo, because I just told her I'm still doing it all with Zach. Oops...

France? Still no room confirmation, no class confirmation although I'm sure I've registered, still working on that damned visa. Still work to be done.

That's it for now. Next post will hopefully have lots of pictures or links to pictures from this hiking trip and the beautiful Sawatch Range 14ers of Colorado!

Posted by la vita bella 20:29 Archived in USA Tagged france vista sherman massive buena vail shavano tabaguache princeton antero elbert fairplay Comments (1)

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