Apr 11 2017

Outside Magazine and Being Vulnerable

A few years ago I wrote a piece about our beloved dog Max, who had just died. It was the most personal piece of writing that I’d shared with the public since my divorce. To say I was nervous and afraid to share my emotions so openly would be an understatement. But Max had had such an immense and positive impact on me that I almost felt as if I owed it to him to write down my thoughts and feelings and put it all out into the world, regardless of the response.
Shortly thereafter, I found out I was pregnant. It took me several months to summon the courage to write about my worries, fears, excitement, and feelings. After the initial post, I received a flood of encouraging messages. The many comments on this blog created a positive discussion, and it suddenly felt like I had been accepted into a new, incredible community.
This blog has been a way for me to openly face some of my fears about being vulnerable—and what it has given back to me in the form of a connection to other readers, moms, and climbers around the world has been not only surprising, but truly amazing.
Brene Brown, in her TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability,” says, “In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.”
Since Theo was born, I’ve tried to become more comfortable and accepting of my own worth. That includes accepting all of it: the usual ups and downs, the totally avoidable messiness, and all of the glaring imperfections about myself, which usually makes me want to just shrink up into my own shell.
Life is a struggle. Even when life is really good, life is a struggle. Everyone has bumps in their lives—why not embrace it? This is how we learn and grow from those that really make us who we are.
I have a piece in the new “Women’s Issue” of Outside Magazine and it covers a big portion of my life—my career, Kyrgyzstan, my marriage and divorce to Tommy, my marriage to Randy, and the birth of Theo. This feature is probably the most open and vulnerable I’ve been in a piece of writing, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous to put it all out there for such a large audience. But if climbing has taught me anything it’s that sometimes the scariest things to us can be the most rewarding. Brown says it even better:
“Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness,” she says, “but it appears it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”
I owe an immense amount to Liz Weil for helping get this story out there. Also special thanks to Andrew Bisharat for giving me the confidence to open up to everyone over the past few years.
If you have a chance to read the story, please check it out. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Outside Article
Photo credit: Annie Tritt for Outside Magazine

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  • John l.

    Just read your story in Outdoor. You’ve packed more into your life so far that most will never achieve in a lifetime. You should be very proud of your accomplishments!

    April 12, 2017 at 1:56 am
  • Just finished reading your article in Outside. It was excellent. Leaving perfectionism and embracing messy is so hard– even if eventually it feels better.

    April 12, 2017 at 4:29 pm
  • Amy

    I cannot stop thinking about your article. I am not a climber and found your article via the Firn Line Podcast Facebookpage. Your piece touched me so deeply. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading more of your work.

    April 13, 2017 at 7:59 pm
  • Eugene

    Your article was the most powerful piece of climbing writing I’ve ever read. My girlfriend and I were both deeply touched. Thanks for having the courage to share the absolutely unvarnished truth with all of us. I only hope I can be as honest with myself as you have been.

    April 14, 2017 at 4:36 am
  • Leslie

    Thank you so much for sharing your story in Outside. Your openness and vulnerability is really inspiring!

    April 14, 2017 at 8:01 pm
  • Kevin

    Just finished the article in Outside a moment ago and came to your site because I saw it listed at the end. I just wanted to say how moved I was by what you wrote. It was so raw and honest and the emotions poured off the page – it took real courage to put that out there. You’ve come a long way since you went off to Davis. I know it’s probably not so easy, but you should be incredibly proud of yourself. Thank you for this piece of yourself.

    April 14, 2017 at 10:17 pm
  • Azi

    I just finished reading your piece in Outside and was really moved. I’d often hear about you because my brother-in-law used to climb with you on the rock climbing team at Rocknasium. But hearing about your life in your own words was really powerful. And now that I’ve discovered your blog, I’m reading through all the entries. Thank you for writing and opening yourself up! Wish you all the best.

    April 15, 2017 at 9:01 pm
  • Anonymous

    I just read your piece. I’m a climber, married to a climber, divorcing him because I want a child and he doesn’t, terrified I won’t be able to climb any more after I have one. You help me see it’s possible. How do you find the time to train, with a young child? Like your husband, I work full time and climb for fun. Do you think it would even be possible to work full time, climb, AND be a mom? How do you go to the crag with a young child? Any insights are so welcome! Thanks! I have always admired you as a climber and now I admire you as a writer, too!

    April 18, 2017 at 1:04 am
  • Katja

    Dear Beth, thanks for sharing this article and being so open on these personal insights. I’m a mom of a 1 1/2 year old girl and as me and my boyfriend love climbing as well, I highly enjoyed reading your blog posts dealing with this and other topics. Keep up the good work and keep sharing your insights! Greetings from Germany, Katja

    April 21, 2017 at 8:38 pm
  • Rick Burtt

    Like many, I just finished your piece in Outside and was blown away. My daughter is 8 and has just started climbing. Being a dad, I’m all about trying to find positive role models for her, especially women. She’s too young to read your article, but I’m going to tell her about you. She needs to know there are strong, vulnerable, unrelenting, and imperfect women out there who are worthy of her admiration. Thanks, and good luck.

    April 25, 2017 at 4:35 am