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Ian Stauffer

The Ascent

santa claus is real and so is your summit

I have a vision board, just like every other person out the womb after 1990. I keep mine hung up in a corner, about halfway up my wall (eye level, and I’m a tall ass bitch), facing the backside of my opened door. You bet your sweet ass I didn’t put it there by accident. I despise clutter and when my door is open, I can’t see the busyness of the board, which helps maintain the minimalistic feels. I also placed it in a location which would only be visible behind the closed door (the strategy) because I had myself convinced for the longest time that the only person it needed to matter to was me. My eyes were the only eyes who had to see; I was the only person who had to believe. The thing is, shit doesn’t work if you don’t believe in it. I didn’t believe at all. The board was only a compilation of a bunch of pretty pictures. No magic there!

I haven’t always kept my dreams so secret. I burned myself in the past by sharing with the wrong types of people before I really believed in myself. I shared my dreams with people who I think gave up on themselves, perhaps even if only moments before they fully realized their own potential. I was still working with deep and unresolved self-esteem and self-confidence issues, so their dismissal shut me down altogether.

Everyone in this bitch knows how insanely difficult it is to wrap their head around big, expansive dreams when they’re stuck in the muck. When you can’t see five feet in front of you, all you see is impossibility, and you say, “That’s just reality.” We’ve all been there. The trick is to not to take permanent residency there.

I feel incredibly lucky because I have been blessed enough to experience true limitlessness a number of times in my life. I’ve made the climb. I’ve seen the view from the top of the mountain. Each time I make that summit and catch that view, the easier it becomes for me to Know what I’m climbing for when I’m back at the bottom. René Daumal said it best. I stumbled upon this bit a few years back in Estes Park when I was in the throws of one of my tougher climbs.

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: what is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”

I think it’s hard to believe in limitlessness when you haven’t experienced it, even if only for a moment. If you’ve never reached your summit and there are no pictures to prove to you it’s going to be beautiful and totally worth it, are you really going to make the climb?

Maybe not. But I hope you do.

I hope you make that climb one million times over. And I hope you get better with every attempt, honing your skills and climbing with more confidence and grace each time. I hope you’ll allow yourself to shake shit up and create more challenge for yourself each time. I hope you go in the morning and at night and in rain and sun and snow and sleet and hail. I hope you have to conquer some shit. I hope you learn more and see more with each summit. I hope the view becomes more expansive every time you make it. I hope you keep trying, forever and ever, because those who are diligent and persistent about repeatedly getting over and beyond themselves in order to understand their full potential are the most blessed humans alive. And most of all, I hope you’ll have fun. I hope you’ll have the most wonderful time.

Something to remember is that nobody can do it alone. Nobody. Everyone needs support and support requires that you ask for help and asking for help requires that you share your heart and soul with others.

So, I have three wishes: that you can support me in my climbs, that I can support you in yours, and if you have not yet made your summit, I hope to show you that just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it’s not real. It’s there…waiting with infinite peace and patience for you to make your ascent.

Your summit will always be there. It always has.

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On that note, here are the goals and dreams that are paving the path for my next five-year climb, effective today. 31 goals for 31 years! Woo! I am scared to share them. Isn’t that the whole point?

  1. Attend Burning Man. I would love to attend once every year…but at least as often as I need.
  2. Skydive.
  3. Skydive into Burning Man.
  4. Become a top writer on Medium.
  5. Waltz into 2020 debt-free! Have a solid AF savings account. Total financial freedom.
  6. Be courageous enough to allow myself to love and be loved. Embrace and dive into honest, deep, romantic love.
  7. Learn to love kids.
  8. Take up a sport or three.
  9. Intentionally and mindfully create and participate in a like-hearted, like-minded community in which everyone feels seen, heard, and fully supported. This community is vital and thriving because of the individual overflow of each individual. Everyone is a teacher and a student.
  10. Maintain geographical resonance. I am in love with the mountains. I love where I live. Perhaps I could be in love with another landscape in addition.
  11. Costa Rica. It’s Costa Rica. I’ve never been to Costa Rica. I’ve been dreaming of living there for years and years. Eat at Cafe Mono Congo. Monkey balls!
  12. Own a treehouse. Live in the treehouse at times. AirBNB the treehouse at other times.
  13. The treehouse is in Costa Rica. It is so beautiful.
  14. Feel fully aligned with my work. Love what I do, do what I love. I am undoubtedly carrying out my God-sent mission. My work supports me — mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially — in equal or greater proportions to the extent that I support my work.
  15. Learn and practice different types of writing and hone my writing skills.
  16. My entire life is a win-win.
  17. Earn a faithful, strong, confident handstand through dedicated, persistent practice.
  18. Complete a 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training.
  19. Hike eight Colorado 14-ers.
  20. Visit Yosemite National Park.
  21. Attend the Yoga Journal Conference in Denver, Boulder, and/or Squaw Valley.
  22. Earn a $2,000,000.00 check…written to my name for my own personal and professional use.
  23. Write a New York Times Best Seller.
  24. Learn how to public speak. Give a Ted Talk with a message that reaches millions.
  25. Visit Machu Picchu.
  26. Participate in plant medicine ceremonies.
  27. Participate in a meditation retreat.
  28. Witness the Aurora Borealis at peak activity.
  29. Have a nice, long stay in Europe.
  30. Live in a beautiful mountain home. Oh, how I long for a mountain home!
  31. None of this can be made possible without: grace, compassion, love, truth, infinite trust and patience, allowance of total soul-guidance, unshakeable belief, and a boatload of sass.

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Fanny Dooley hates scary movies, but loves scary dreams (if you get this, you’re the real one). I want to hear yours! The juicy ones (and the mundane ones, if you so wish). You know, the ones that make you squeal with excitement and poop your panties with nerves. Those ones!