I remember waking into the death zone, >26,000 feet, on Everest (video ). I'm constantly asked about life and death on Everest, and this week is summit week, so the questions came rolling. What's an acceptable death rate for such a mountain and why do people climb? Two quotes come to my mind when I get these questions and I tend to put up an emotional shield - I love Everest, I loved my 5 weeks on that mountain. I love the Sherpa and the culture. I love the absolute solitude of this mountain. The quotes come from George Mallory and TA Loeffler, and go like this: "People ask me, 'What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?' and my answer must at once be, 'It is of no use.'There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever ... If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. . . We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.” And the next quote, which is so powerful: “My Everest is not your Everest. Your Everest is not mine. We all have an Everest. Each of us. Sometimes the peak is literally Mount Everest but most times it lies deep within us, figuratively occupying a mountainous inner space. It calls us to rise up, to do what we formerly labeled as impossible, and to be who we deeply and desperately want to be. I know that I have found an Everest when my soul furiously pokes me repeatedly until I listen. Heeding this call to passionate adventure of any sort initiates a journey of intense immense proportion that changes every molecule of my being.”
"listen to the wind, it talks. Listen to the silence, it speaks. Listen to your heart, it knows." This is my refuge- Indian Creek- North and South Six Shooter- I've climb six shooter multiple times and it never gets old, only sweeter. @lukeallenhumphrey took this picture some time back while we slept in the side of the tower (well, he slept on the top- only room for one, and I slept one pitch below in a crack in the legde- seriously best night sleep- sort of ). This was our view in the morning!! I always feel like there is something speaking in the wind here, something in the silence, some ancient wisdom. . . #indiancreek #climbing #radiatinghope #bearsears
BLAZER ON! "Hey Brandon it's Mickel. . . Been through some life changes. . . Life is pretty crazy. . . Are you planning another trip. . . " Mickel summed it up perfectly. . . We have been friends since our premed school days- studied together, fought through tests together, helped each other, volunteered together and then went our seperate ways into med school and residency. Now 20 years later- we met up for an adventure!!! "Climb that hill, stay on your feet. Scramble for your footing when it gets too steep. The storm is passing through, lay down your sticks and stones. The struggle's over now, we're all just flesh and bones. The shadows cast were only light and dust. That three wrong turns can really make a right. So why not be like me? be proud of all your crimes 'Cause when I screw up once, I do it two more times!!! You got your nice shades on, and the worst days are gone So now the band plays on, you got one life, blaze on. And we'll be dancing in the fields, running through the moor Tripping on the barbed wire, buried near the shore Blazing like a comet, brighter than the full moon. You got your nice shades on, and the worst days are gone So now the band plays on, you got one life, blaze on You got your nice shades on, and the worst days are gone So now the band plays on, you got one life, blaze on" BLAZE ON!!
It's not all mountains. . . " One second, my phone's ringing It's my friend Habibi. . . Hustle hustle hustle. Grind grind grind. Why has everyone got hustle on their mind? You think it's tough now, come to Africa! You think it's tough now, come to Africa. . . Hello, my friend. Hello, my friend. Yes it's me 4 by 3, 3 by 3 Buy one song, get one free Maybe me, a bootleg CD, colour TV or DVD We got barrels in the sea It's big enough to take a whole family We drum on it Jun cha cha gegujun cha Jun cha cha gegujun cha Come sit by me, let me tell you, we. Don't do bling but we do white tee. Up some jungle, up some tree. . . " Background: punchline after punchline- something I think about often- the global struggle- for cancer care @radiatinghope (and so much more ). The English Sri Lankan artist M.I.A. @miamatangi (if I was a musician I'd want to write songs like her ) wrote the above song on the album Kala, which is a glimpse into the struggles of the world- "struggle, how do you work, feed your children, nurture them and give them the power of information?" A brave album and one that should be listened to with intent and action. The picture is by @jacomstephensphotography And was taken while me and a wonderful group of people were touring a small village outside of Puebla Mexico- we toured the city, saw how they processed produce, made bricks (even made a few ), farmed, grew seed, played soccer with locals (they won ), rode motorcycles on the back roads and even tried our hand at selling things out of the back of a truck on the street corner- nothing like experiencing a culture to better understand our tribe- the human race!
Hunched over, breathing heavy, headaches, vomiting, cramping muscles, and freezing extremities with some exposure and a little bit of fear- that's sometimes how the story goes as we get up mountains. . . We tread new adventures! I tell you, it's a beautiful life! #climbingforcancer #climbing #webeforeme
Last week, with a group of incredible people, we climbed Pico de Orizaba (North America'$ highest volcano ). The mountain, amidst the charming Mexican cultures makes for one of the best experiences you can ever imagine. So many times the people said, "we are your Mexican family now", "when are you coming back", "please stay longer" and so on- so much love in Mexico!! One of my favorite quotes from the trip, which really summarizes Orizaba, was: "we are all made of star dust" #climbing #Mexico #stardust #radiatinghope #orizaba #mountains #orizaba #picodeorizaba #vivamexico
For the full mood of this picture, you'll have to turn on the song Pleader by Alt-J - - - so brilliant!!! "How green, how green was my valley? To be told of such hills To be held in such spots To behold such warmth Call to arms these harmonies! And in happy agony we sing How green, how green was my valley? How green, how green was my valley? Oh, your deeps and your shades Where the wild roses pray Such heat from pride Glorious, the voice! we sing How green, how green was my valley? How green, how green was my valley? Clear softness in our hymn Soft, like coming rain Soft, like Bronwen Victoria! Victoria! Voices our queen might envy How green, how green was my valley? How green, how green was my valley?" #mycity #bountiful #beutahful #utawesome #climbing #howgreenismyvalley !!!
'Create The Future'- two weeks ago I was in Johannesburg South Africa (Jo-berg ZA!!! as locals say ) and came across this graffiti piece stating, Create the Future! I like that statement- create, mold, build, shape, reconstruct, put in the doors and windows, bricks and mortar and just simply make each day as good as you can create! During the conference one of the doctors, who I absolutely love, from ZA said, "there's no capacity building. No bricks and mortar, no doors and windows. How can we have a real impact and build capacity. We all deserve, when it is our time, to die with dignity. How can we die with dignity?" ? ? ? . . . . . . . . . . . . "I fear chiefly lest my expression may not be extravagant enough, may not wander far enough beyond the narrow limit of my daily experience, so as to be adequate to the truth of which I have been convinced. Extravagance! it depends on how you are yarded. " #thoreau #yardedmoldedshapedcreatedtransformed #brickbybrick #biscosmith #southafrica #radiatinghope #thinkaboutit #cancercare
I believe in lucky pennies! This weekend I was in DC as part of a panel for global cancer outreach advocacy- with the International Cancer Experts Corp. During the visit I had to go visit the guy on the lucky penny! Background- I really do believe in lucky pennies, no freakin joke. Almost 10 years ago I climbed Kilimanjaro and our guide was named 'Good Luck', yeah, I know, interesting name. After the climb, I bought an ebony bowl and since that day, I have put every Good Lucky penny (heads up only ) I ever find in that bowl. The bowl is starting to brim full. I find lucky pennies at all the right moments, after board exams, after big decisions, when I feel peace, when I arrived at the airport today, and so on. I kind of feel like they symbolise to me, in some strange and irrational way-- that I'm in the right place! That I'm doing good things! That the world looks at me and smiles!
Remembering that time @lukeallenhumphrey and I decided, "what the heck, let's climb the Dent du Geant", ha. . . (Not so much what the heck as 'how are we going to do that', and 'hold on for a wild ride' ). . . "Play it seven times over, it's the seventh time, seventh day. Gimme seven lives, when I'm done with seven, gimme eight. Seven colors in the rainbow, what happened to grey? 2007, chose a path and decided my fate, facts. Mind's blown. . . Rolled seven prayers but had eleven in my brain Feeling stranger things every time that I bring the forcefield light I'll be Snow White with my seven dwarves, can't lie Runs through my mind, meetin' heaven's door Oh, I cannot get through life showin' no remorse, no time What if you roll seven hundred dice? What if you get to know me and find out I got seven sides? Wait – will you wanna be free? Watch Aladdin with your third eye, you'll see Never got three wishes from a genie In the real world, not your dreams be way too deep Beginning, middle and end, everything is me Beginning, middle and end, everything is three Mind, body, and soul; birth, life, and death Past, present, and future, goin' over your head Too ahead, too much of anything be bad for you, need balance The yin and yang is never bad for you The good and the bad, men and women, they unite Everything is everything, everyone is too alike Way too similar, need individuality to strike Too much chat, not enough, doin' whatever is right Am I right or am I right? Right?" Little Simz #france #italy #mountblonc #dentdugeant #climbing
"if you want to yurt, yurt it up" Last summer my kiddos and me stayed in the goblin valley yurts (they have AC! ). Each night we would adventure over to the hoodoos for a sunset session of hide and seek. Have you ever played hide and seek here? Probably one of the most wonderful places to play hide and seek. #goblinvalley #utawesome #bebeautiful
"all men are prepared to accomplish the incredible if their ideals are threatened" ♥️ #mayaangelou and Mathangi Arulpragasam- - - "Borders What's up with that? Politics What's up with that? Police shots What's up with that? Identities What's up with that? Your privilege What's up with that? Broke people What's up with that? Boat people What's up with that? The realness What's up with that? The new world What's up with that? Queen What's up with that? Killin' it What's up with that? Slayin' it What's up with that? Your goals What's up with that? Bein' bae What's up with that? Makin' money What's up with that? Breakin' internet What's up with that? Love wins What's up with that? Livin' it What's up with that? Bein' real What's up with that? Freedom What's up with that? Your values What's up with that? Your beliefs What's up with that? Your families What's up with that? History What's up with that? (Your future ) What's up with that? My boys What's up with that? My girls What's up with that? Freedom What's up with that? Your power What's up with that?" . . . Background of picture- still working on catching up on some of my 2018 adventures. Here we are at 12k in the Himalayas hiking above #namchebazar picture by @rasmuspreston
Can you spot us?! Scanning through Instagram today I came across a great post by @coryrichards , brilliant artist, the part read, "even more interesting to me is the many different shades that a single event can be colored. Good. Bad. Right. Wrong. We try to shove our experiences into binary containers when in fact all experience has the capacity to be all things" I love that thought!! I try to avoid at all costs binary thinking, as there are indeed so many shades. Background of pic: traveling in southern Utah last summer with my kids, we saw this random dirt road and thought we should see what we could find. There's some pretty funky stuff out there!! We explored this ridge and ran down the dirt hills!! See us run!
New Zealand is magical- last fall I was able to visit New Zealand and give a talk at one of the cancer centers there. One of the first things I wanted to do was visit the famous Mt Cook, the training grounds for Ed Hillary. The place and views reminded me to "Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth." #mtcook #newzealand #climbing
Honor him!! Last fall my little puppy decided to get old (14 years old ) and die. Before he died I wanted to find a way to honor him. Few places speak to me like the Bears Ears National Monument area- to me it is the ultimate peaceful place, I seriously think I can hear native American spirits whispering in the breeze. This seemed to be the perfect spot. We found a big flat rock, stood on it, held up our little guy and said a few things we love about him. It was so priceless. I rarely post pictures of my kids but this picture is the essence of love towards our little doggie. We definitely honor our little doggie, Khylo!!! #bearsearsnationalmonument
3 thoughts and some background (pic- last summer, my kiddos and I went to Montana ): I just watched 'Bohemian Rapsody' and there was a line that really stood out to me, "come find me when you love yourself". This reminded me of something @drmayaangelou said, "success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it". Two huge and not so easy tasks!! I was thinking how this is accomplished and in my mind it comes down to 'self compassion', and not holding ourselves to perfection or to too many expectations. I think the Dali Lama nailed it when he said, "hatred, jealousy, and excessive attachment cause suffering and agitation. I feel compassion can help us overcome these disturbances and let us return to a calm mind. Compassion is not just being kind to your friend. That involves attachment because it is based on expectations. Compassion is when you do something good without any expectations- based on realizing that the other person is also just like me" or that we (including ourselves ) all are just doing the best we can, which may include a lot of screw ups . . .
The places you will go with your best friends!! Last April, Larry and I made another trip back to Nepal (pic above by @rasmuspreston ) which will now be an annual tradition for us as we work with the cancer center in Kathmandu. More than 10 years ago Larry and I met-never did I think that we would travel the world together helping advance cancer care with a nonprofit we love, @radiatinghope and climb the world highest mountains (Everest, Aconcagua, Elbrus, ect ), next being Alpamayo in the Andes. Our friendship has seen all kinds of life struggles and some amazing victories. Can't tell you how much this connection means to me and how grateful I am for this great and adventurous soul of Larry's!! "The language of friendship is not words but meanings."
So much dirt to explore. . . And salt!! Background of picture: last summer, my kids and I went to explore the great salt lake and the spral jetty. This was our second trip to the spiral jetty. There are so many things I love about Utah-- visiting the great salt lake is top of my list. We usually visit the lake 1-2 times a year. The views always seem so surreal. #greatsaltlake #beutahful #explore
"small becomes smaller and smaller becomes insignificant" - said a doctor at a recent conference I attended in Africa. I also thought the reverse is also possible, the small can become big and big becomes bigger. . . And bigger becomes huge. . . Good, light and Potential is always there. . . Background of picture: last summer, while driving with my kids to southern Utah, I really wanted them to see a place that has always blown my mind, Indian Creek. I wanted them to sleep in a tent there. It is so far from any big city making the starts really pop. So, we turned off the main road, drove an hour out of the way and visited this place for one night and a short climb. We slept in this @cotopaxi tent. While setting it up, a freak wind storm rattled through our camp blowing dust everywhere. It was fun to watch my kids move into action, one jumping inside the tent to hold it down and another holding the corners while I staked it down. In these moments, I feel the bigger become bigger. . .
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” . . . Background on the picture: I was told I need to give more background on my pictures, so here you go. This was a trip I took with my kids to Mesa Verde, however the picture is a bonus side trip we took to Castle Rock in New Mexico. My kids are literally the best travelers, we could travel several hours in a car, finally get to our destination and they have said, "can we stay in the car just a little longer and finish listening to this chapter". We took advantage of their travel skills and went all over last summer, seeing a huge chunk of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, Montana and even a trip to Mexico! This trip alone, we spent about 20 hours driving, sometimes down remote dirt roads, like this side trip. We found Castle Rock on Google Earth. It looks so weird on the map that we had to drive down to New Mexico and see what it was all about. We were in native American Land and passed by some real humble homes. After a few hours of exploring I realised there was a better road, but we enjoyed our bumpy ride, plus we had tacos. We hiked all over this spine like ridge, threw rocks and acted like explorers, letting our imaginations run wild. We just love to explore (as long as I don't tell them we are hiking ). #newmexico #castlerock #explore #nevergrowup #adventureon
9 of 25- Mountain Series- Rain Drop Progression- Forming Mountains: I have been thinking of this title for a while and it really came to life while walking around the 'City of Gold' -Johannesburg South Africa, after a wild rain storm. The kind of storm you want to throw your hands in the air and run! So here you go. . . Take a second and listen to the rain- the irregular beats, hit, pause, hit hit hit, pause, hit hit! So chaotic at first but stepping back, it’s a pattern of balance, perfect sounds, of progression- making canyons, gorges, and shaping mountains, hit hit, hit hit hit! So we progress too, carving our own path, never to return down the old, but how many times are we held upstream, but we push and forge on! "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." I definitely move to the funky beat!! We learn from the carving- being mindful of the effort to forge ahead, being present and then keep moving to the beat we hear, however irregular that might be! This painting is all about forging ahead, progressing, forming and climbing mountains and being the best self you can, mindful, compassionate, and golden! we take the best parts of ourselves and make the GOLD!! #climbing #mountain #mountains #raindropsbeat
8 of 25- Mountain Series- I will let Dr Dog and the Beatles explain this painting (two music groups who had a similar impact on me in two different but similar ways, haha ). I don't think I can even share the title or give background for this painting, some things I just hold in secret. I share pieces of the stories because mountains taught me courage and being vulnerable is the most corageous thing we can do. Everytime we can choose courage, we can make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver, AND our little world can be a little kinder and braver. . . . . ."Do you like things the way they seem? Or are you looking behind the scenes? Well, if you've gotta know What it takes to make it sow Just believe Are there dark parts to your mind? Hidden secrets left behind? Where no one ever goes But everybody knows It's all right Do you get dizzy on the ground? It must be something going 'round What blows us here today It'll blow us all away, The breeze" Blow us all away!!! The Breeze!! . . . . . .“There are places I remember All my life though some have changed Some forever not for better Some have gone and some remain All these places have their moments With lovers and friends I still can recall Some are dead and some are living In my life I've loved them all But of all these friends and lovers There is no one compares with you And these memories lose their meaning When I think of love as something new Though I know I'll never lose affection For people and things that went before I know I'll often stop and think about them In my life I love you more”
7 of 25- Mountain Series Through thick and thin- Ever been in a white out on a mountain? Ever been in a white out on a mountain at 17,000 feet? On a knife edge ridge? With '2,000 foot drop on one side and 3,000 on the other'? How about a white out when all climbing teams turned around but you felt you needed to forge on, just you and your partner? When we seek out full aliveness, we scale mountains and can then lay claim to our own grandeur, despite what is happening around us, despite external pressures, what others do, say, or are, we get to stand among the thick and thin- sometimes filled with risk, challenges, and even setbacks and sacrifice, the Mountains gives us our heroic edge!!! . . . . . . I remember this exact moment- a climb when there were white out conditions, winds that were soul destroying, a ridge that had sheer drops on both sides, crampons doing all they could to hold on, all team turning around, but our team of three had to push on, it's what we had to do. It made all the sense in the world to turn. Midway along this ridge one of our teammates started getting really cold, body temperature dropping, and beginning to crash. We hunkered down in the shelter of a big rock and said, "what do you need. . ." I think he just needed a warm drink, and some words of encouragement and yes Tom, a hug!! We boiled some water, put on our warmest coat, talked ourselves through what the next two hours would look like and off we went- making it to our destination, and this made all the difference for our little team! Through the thick and thin- Thin wins when we separate the thick. Thick wins when you fail to forge into thin air and the summit will never be seen. Climb on!! #climbing #hug #thickandthin #climbon #radiatinghope
6 of 25- Mountains Series- i thought Everest was the ultimate mountain, but found it was, to some degree, small in comparison to some of the ugly and more treturous mountains of life. This painting has Everest, found dead center, as sort of a 'small mountain' while the torturous, steep, high rising mountains of life, tower overhead and RAGE on! And rage on! EACH DAY, the climb is on! May we all be free from suffering, may we all be healthy, may we all have joy, may we all have happiness, may we all have peace. That is my desire for you as you climb your mountains, whathever they may be!!! I also want to share this poem- by TA Loeffler "My Everest is not your Everest. Your Everest is not mine. We all have an Everest. Each of us. Sometimes the peak is literally Mount Everest but most times it lies deep within us, figuratively occupying a mountainous inner space. It calls us to rise up, to do what we formerly labeled as impossible, and to be who we deeply and desperately want to be. I know that I have found an Everest when my soul furiously pokes me repeatedly until I listen. Heeding this call to passionate adventure of any sort initiates a journey of intense immense proportion that changes every molecule of my being." Climb on!
5 of 25- Mountain Series And out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. . . And we all have them. I love words, poetry and how the words can just play around and dance on the page. Words are however quite impermanent. Somewhere in my life I stopped believing words- lips speak impermanence, but can be a lifeline for the sufferer, the exhausted and quench thirst, however have a short half life. I'm quenched with action, movement, memories of words put into reality-- My friend Dan, who knew me from the first day we met, saw my goodness and light, saw my flaws and honored me- told me once in Junior high, ha, that I was like a Jane Addiction song about the ocean, 'few words but all movement and action'. I love the visual that that song makes and find it rings true to me and my life, they go like this: "Wish I was ocean size They cannot move you No one tries No one pulls you Out from your hole Like a tooth aching a jawbone I was made with a heart of stone To be broken With one hard blow I've seen the ocean Break on the shore Come together with no harm done It ain't easy living I want to be As deep As the ocean Mother ocean, yeah I want to be As deep As the ocean Mother ocean, yeah Some people tell me Home is in the sky In the sky lives a spy I want to be more like the ocean No talking and all action No talking and all action" So show me your words as we get out and climb that Mountain, take on the storm, and enjoy one wild ride.
4 of 25- Monsoon Series Om mani padme hum- This is an ancient Om that is supposed to represent- the practice of generosity, pure ethics, tolerance, patience, perseverance, concentration, and the practice of wisdom. This is written on thousands of rocks in the Himalayas and is a life source of energy for the people who draw from it. The painting is supposed to look like it's taping into that. I wrote a song and lyrics about the Om after living in a tent for several days and hearing the Buddhist Lama chant this every morning, and then some (want to to hear the song? ). The lyrics I wrote are nothing spectacular but they work with the sound, here they are: The Om The Om, the ancient Om Ommmm Written on the rocks Said from the mouth Fused, as is most the world Connected, as we are to the Mountain The Om, the ancient Om Now we leave the valley Leave the base Into the falls, up Om, the sacred ice, cold That ancient Om Om mani padme hum #ommanipadmehum #nepal #mountains #himalayas
3 of 25- Mountain Series: Discomfort and Vulnerability and the True Measure of Courage: This painting is supposed to seem a little chaotic, a little intense and push the boundaries of what feels comfortable, and yet feel corageous! What secrets does the mountain teach us? Here it is, lean in, a little closer. . . learning discomfort and vulnerable. That’s it! If we can take that into all aspects of life, climbing, relationships, parenting, that discomfort and vulnerability, and then learn to sit with it, learn from it and grow from it, that is how we make it to the top, top of the mountain and top of life. Leaning into that discomfort, allows you to push through, feel through the emotions, own them, accept them, take responsibility them and then ultimately see the views we were meant to see! Lean into the vulnerable and this will be the greatest measure of courage! #mountains #keepclimbing #art #bebeautiful #climbing #courage