5 Handstand Lessons

Three years can seem like a long time to be on this weird Alice in Wonderland journey into the world of handstands.  But really my acrobatic training age is barely out of it’s infancy.  It stands in contrast to my triathlon training age.  I just did my 21st consecutive year of the Heart Of the Lakes Triathlon (HOLT).  While I love finding new ways to make mistakes (like the other week when I kept trying to put on my goggles for the run) I’ve racked up more lessons than I can count.  In handstands, I can finally count the three most critical things I’ve learned.

1) Fucking log it. You’d think I’d know this from logging time, miles, meters… but this training is so different I wasn’t logging in a productive way for the first two years.  Progress is microscopic, incremental and not linear. Without logging the training and having some measure of progress it was way too easy to get discouraged and then sidetracked.

2) It’s more skill than strength. It’s like learning an instrument, or a new language, or swimming. Some people get lucky (or have previous relatable experience) but mostly you can’t just throw yourself at it blindly over and over and hope to master it. I wasted a lot of time attacking it as a purely fitness goal. Also, like most skills, it’s hard to self-teach. Getting into the community of acro/circus/gymnastics and making friends to train with was critical.

3) It’s about my HANDS. Shocking right? Even when people are challenged by balancing on one foot, we take for granted how well trained we are to balance on our feet. You’ve been training your feet to automatically keep you upright since you were 9 months old. Even when it’s hard you generally don’t have to consciously command your foot muscles to respond in the correct pattern or to lean one way or another. Babies spend nearly all their time developing the strength and control to balance and walk on their feet. And it takes them nearly a year to master it.  I spend 2-4 hours a week doing things to learn to balance on my hands. Of course it’s going to take more than a year to train my hands to hold my whole body upright.

Took a long time just to be able to do this hand/wrist position.

4) Visualization and focus damn it! The first time I made any progress at all was when I spent time truly visualizing my goal. Then I added imagining the sensory experience of balancing on my hands. Then I added watching instagram videos and then imagining myself in those videos. It makes a difference. When I’m practicing and I find my mind wandering if I take time the to visualize it always improves the outcome.

5) Active flexibility is strength work. I scoffed in disbelief. I’m plenty strong. So when pursuing flexibility I was told or read repeatedly that lack of strength contributes to lack of flexibility I was like “Well, that’s not my problem.” And in the beginning my flexibility journey was best done with passive methods. But now I understand how strength is involved in ACTIVE flexibility training. Using my muscles to get into and control my body at the end of my range of motion is HARD and I get sore, and it’s AWESOME.

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Garlic Scape Salad

They’re here!  After weeks and weeks of anticipation and asking the produce people at my co-op, they are finally in stock.

Garlic scapes are one of my favorite very seasonal items.  If you love garlic you need to get some now!  Their season is short so don’t delay.  You can eat them raw or cooked.  Just do some googling and you’ll find a recipe or idea that suits you.

This is my go-to garlic scape salad.
img_0196I’ve had all the ingredients in the pantry just waiting for the garlic scapes to arrive.
I start with mixing up the dressing.  It’s mostly:

  • maple syrup (and I also used honey)
  • fire cider (which you could also use apple cider vinegar)
  • a bright fruity hot sauce (so not Sriracha)
  • And of course salt.

I don’t measure anything and just keep adding stuff  once it’s all together until it tastes right to me.

I chop and add all the stuff:garlic scapes

  • One whole bunch of garlic scapes
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can small red beans (drained and rinsed)
  • grape tomatoes

And mix it up really well, and keep tasting and seasoning.  img_0195

In a separate container I have fresh mozzarella. Which I add for serving.  In the past, when I mixed the cheese in and let it sit in the fridge all that acid broke down the cheese and the texture was all off.  The mozzarella is a nice mild creamy balance to the really assertive tart-spicy-garlic flavors.  img_0200 It’s pretty potent, so don’t go kissing anyone after eating it.  Unless your sweetheart is also eating it 😉


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Type 1 Fun in the BWCA

It was so easy, and so much fun there is no story, but there is video!
(It’s best with the sound on.)

Last October, 2017 we had our traditional BWCA paddling vacation.  It was our five year honeymoon anniversary and everything went strangely smoothly.

Five years ago we paddled and portaged 245 miles of the Canadian border in 19 days and most of it was not fun.  It was fantastically type 2 fun; filled with being dirty or tired or cold or hungry.  So while 2017 didn’t give us any paddling stories, I still love our epic adventure stories from 2012.

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Handstand Goals. So Far Away.

I took on this goal because it was something I always dreamed of.  I had no idea how difficult it would be for me.

My journey officially started in January 2016.  I wanted to be able to do many amazing
things but I thought I’d focus on the simple stalder press to handstand.


I was utterly naive.  I just threw myself upside-down against a wall a bunch and figured that would do it.  I had no idea what was actually involved or how far away I was. Like a toddler declaring that she would be an astronaut tomorrow.  Then preparing by eating freeze dried food in her snow suit. Continue reading

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Well Above Zero


There are nice things about camping when it’s way below zero.  No one goes through the ice.  Everything is dry.  All the gear feels appropriate and well used.

And when you asked “Hey, what temperature is it?”
“Well above zero!” said Will.

And it was actually 3ºF

There was so much laughing on this trip.

Will and I had done five winter camping trips just the two of us.  This year included Annalesa.

It started on Monday September 18th at Lakes and Legends Brewing Adventure Film showing.  Will and I were preparing to go on our annual BWCA paddling trip when Annalesa said “I’ve always wanted to go on a trip with both of you.”
I said “You could come on the winter trip.”  But I was probably a little drunk and didn’t think it would really happen.

First, there is so much gear involved.  It’s quite a commitment to acquiring things that are unlikely to be used for anything else.  I sent her a document listing all the needed gear.

Second, it’s really not fun.  Will and I spent a front step evening trying to communicate how much work it is to winter camp.  How it’s really not like camping at any other time of year.  How much risk is involved and how the planning and preparation to make it safe is serious business.  How it’s really not a vacation.

And then she bought the most expensive item on the list.  So it was real.  She was coming.

And it was so much fun.
Or at least it was in hindsight, which makes it classic Type 2 Fun. Continue reading

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Winter Camping, Continued

Last week I began the tedious timeline of winter camping.  Some read it as if it were a horror story.  I can feel them cringing yet somehow they didn’t look away because I got plenty of aghast comments.  Other hardy winter lovers read it almost nostalgically; reminiscing over their own adventures in hardship.  Then there are the people who’s eyes brighten with naive interest and then narrow as they ask specific questions.   I can see the gears turning.  It’s both heartwarming and terrifying that I might inspire some to take on these challenges.


The story started at 2am, and last week left off at about 11:45am as we were finally pulling our pulks away from one camp to find another.   It was slow but fairly easy.  That day there were no portages.  The ice was thick.  The sun was bright.  The wind in places was uncomfortable but manageable.  We’d stop in wind protected spots to adjust layers, drink our warm water, snack out of our lunch bags (oat buckeyes, salami, cheese, date rolls, unwrapped candy bites), and pee.

Apparently somewhere in here Annalesa quietly got her tongue stuck to her metal zipper pull.  Later around the fire she explained; her hip was hurting from the previous day of snowshoeing and “I sometimes stick my tongue out when I’m concentrating.” And that’s why her tongue hurt now. Which we all got a lot of giggles out of.   Winter camping provides so many opportunities to laugh at yourself.

We started considering camp spots.  Our first choice turned out to be windier than ideal.  Moving on we ran into overflow (wet slush over the ice, but under the fresh snow).  Looking for spots we kept checking the map and the ice and snow conditions.

We finally found a good place for camp.  We unloaded the pulks.  These are the tasks that get done: Continue reading

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Winter Camping Timeline

A week ago Will and I had our sixth winter camping adventure together.  We’ve had all sorts of experiences out there.  Warm years, wet years, hard years, easy years… It’s always interesting.  This year we took Annalesa and I’m working on telling that story.  In the meanwhile…

There are two types of people when I share that I winter camp:

Some people are immediately horrified by the concept.  They recoil when I tell them as if I was sharing that for my vacation I was going to be suspended on cliff edge in a tank of snakes and spiders while publicly speaking naked.  Not only can they not imagine wanting to do something like winter camp, they don’t even want to hear about it.


Some people are intrigued and drawn to the idea.  These are the people I’m nervous will get inspired and head out there unprepared and end up in Type 3 fun (where someone dies, or close to it.)  They ask what it’s like and how things work and I often struggle to explain how much work it is.

Perhaps a timeline of a typical day would help.

I always have to pee in the middle of the night.  It’s extra hard if it’s -30º out there.  I got mentally prepared, and then found and put on my liner gloves (so not to get contact frost bite from touching things outside my sleeping bag) I unzipped both zippers of my sleeping bag, slid out of my liner bag, pulled out my big puffy jacket and put it on, swiveled around and slid my boots on, wobbled over to my pee spot, undid my fleece onesie, peed.  Then reversed the whole process, pausing only to reinflate my therm-a-rest.  Back in my bag I released one of my two hot water bottles (Nalgeens that were filled with boiling hot water right before bedtime) from their fully encapsulating koozies.  Ahhhhh.  So warm and cozy!  I fell back to sleep.

I woke up because I’d been sleeping for over eight hours.  But was still dark.   Continue reading

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