29 September 2016

One Year - With Gratitude

One year ago, I made a commitment to myself to write one new blog per week. I didn't really tell anyone, and I doubt any of you noticed, but I'm happy to be celebrating my 1-year, 52-post blog-iversary today. This also happens to be my 300th post. I'm pleased by this unplanned happenstance.

I started writing this blog in 2008 after an inspirational trip in Patagonia. I wrote it for no one in particular - more as a public diary of stories and photos. Through the process I discovered my passion for story-telling. I've always been prone to verbal outbursts of ridiculous exaggeration, why not write it down too?

Like most people who start a blog, I've gone through periods of writing fanatically followed by months of silence. I mostly wrote about travel, then branched out into climbing and skiing. Inspired in 2005 by one of my favorite writers, Brendan Leonard, I slowly started branching out with blog topics with more relatable messages. I wrote about being someone who uses 100% of my vacation time, talked about why everyone needs an action figure mascot, and shared the importance of the pivotal choices we make in life. Each one of these posts helped me find my voice in this cluttered landscape of churning content.

On average, each of my blogs will get a few hundred page views, most of which come right after I write and share on social media. As you'd expect, the posts quickly fade from view, and only a few get occasional 'hits' from a Google search. I'm thrilled when a blog gets more than 500 page views, and have been floored lately by a few folks who wanted to share my words on their own sites. Really, nothing makes me happier than knowing something came out of my brain and landed on a page in such a way as to resonate with someone else. When something that's so very personal to me means something to someone else.... well you can't find better fulfillment than that.

Your views and likes and comments and shares mean the world to me. Really. Thank you. I am so grateful.

To celebrate this milestone, I pulled together the 10-most viewed blogs of the last year. I also pulled out three honorable mentions: blogs that weren't posted this year, but still get a high number of views. In looking at this data, I discovered people tend to gravitate toward the stories that were often the most difficult for me to write - the ones that are intensely personal. I guess that makes you all sick, dirty voyeurs. Thank you for being you.

Top 10 Most Read Posts This Year

#10: How To Be A Beginner
Learning as an adult is hard. We have inertia behind us, and any deviation from the path is difficult. Personally, I've stopped and started piano lessons more times than I can count. I've had my heart broken when I didn't know how to let go and all but given up on learning how to cook a half-decent meal. Spanish still eludes me.

#9: Outdoor Toilet Fails
I don't think I need to summarize what this is about.

#8: How To Paint a Mountain Mural
I painted a mural in my bedroom. It turned out pretty good I think. At least one other person was inspired to paint their own as the result of this blog. I call that a win.

#7: How To Be  A Good Adventure Buddy
Whether you are new to the outdoors or a grizzled mountain-man, follow these guidelines to be a good adventure buddy for your partner(s):

#6: How To Get Into Outdoor Sports (Or Pretty Much Anything)
"Maybe you want to buy a house, write a book, or become a professional road cyclist. Put $20 in the bank instead of buying coffee. Join a book club. Attend a cycling Meetup. Even if you don't know the totality of your end goal, you can still take one small step in the right direction. A little momentum can go a long way."

#5: A Technical Review: Unicorn Onesie
I don't like to play favorites, but I had a really fun time writing this irreverent blog about how wearing a Unicorn Onesie will make you more badass in the backcountry. Related: Reasons to Buy An Adult Onesie

#4: The Unglamorous Reality of an Adventurous Life
My blog is called "The Adventurous Life" because I liked how that sounded years ago and kept it around. A dark, ugly side exists to this life style though. This is the story of how I ended up strapping a 15-20lb bag of literal shit to my backpack and carrying it up the hill.

#3: How To Layer In the Backcountry
"Mastering your personal layering comfort is one of the most difficult aspects of backcountry travel. Too many clothes and you're soaking yourself from the inside out. Too few and you're freezing your little tootsie off. No bueno either way."
#2: How To Get Started Backcountry Skiing
A lot of people ask me how to get started, so I took a stab at writing 10-Step list. I felt like I was too harsh in the blog, but my friends thought I could have been stronger to discourage people getting in over their head. Read it an decide for yourself.

#1: Set Up Your Emergency Contact Information
Two of my friends have died in the mountains. The worst possible thing to happen is not being able to get in touch with their parents because of a locked cell phone. Solutions exist. Please just set up your damn phone already.

Top 3 Honorable Mentions

#3: Why I Embrace Being Ridiculous
I love wearing tutus. They make me happy, and inspire others to start a conversation and have more fun themselves. Learn how it all started.

#2: How To Be Happier
"Recently my friend Jason made another trip around the sun. He wasn't overly excited about this particular milestone, and instead of celebrating he chose to quietly remove his birthday from Facebook, and had planned to spend his "special day" ignoring the fact that he was now one year older. I had other plans."

#1: Dear Climbing: I Quit
People were shocked when I announced that I was quitting climbing. I believe humans are capable of having more than one passion in their lives. It doesn't make me happy anymore and I'm done trying to force myself to love it again.

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