Landing in LA on Wednesday, June 22, I was full of excitement for the coming week. I had been to LA with Mad Rock once before, and it was one of the most fun, exhilarating experiences.First, Los Angeles has an automatic enticement to it – glowing with tanned bodies, shiny cars,and sunny haze. Second, the people I had met were very special, surely to become friends for life. It was awesome to be surrounded by what felt like family on a supposed to be business trip. Third, I found a passion in connecting with the people I presented and taught my clinic to. I found a sense of community in mutual understanding. We all related experiences and lessons through diving into the depths of the mental side of climbing – something that makes climbing so motivating for me.
Now, if you know me, you know I am a big proponent of the idea that positivity all the time is unrealistic, uninteresting, and unhelpful. It’s true that I had a great time my first trip, and I had a great time this trip. However, there were things I needed to go through this trip that were not so glamorous. Everyone has low moments, and it’s all right. I am here to tell you that my name is Molly Mitchell, I like climbing hard, scary trad routes, and I also deal with heartbreaks just like everyone else. So I am going to be as real as possible in this blog post because it’s important to me to be transparent.
Kenny picked me up at the airport, and the first place we went was Santa Monica Boulevard. Yep. That’s right. We went shopping. After spending about an hour trying on everything at the Rip Curl store, we drove off with several bags of clothes, and went to dinner with friends back in Pasadena. These friends are so valuable to me. Manny, Emily, Nofio, Kenny, and I all spent the evening catching up and poking fun at one another – something I love about them. They always know how to make me laugh at myself. Everyone needs to laugh at themselves. “Molly do you looooove the fear factor?” said by my friend, Isamer, became the catch phrase of the trip. Maybe I should make it more clear next time… 😉
The next day was exciting – we went to the Mad Rock HQ and I spent the day picking out new gear – fawning over everything that was made of metal or had rubber on it. Really cool to be at the place where my favorite products are born. Learning how to hoverboard and doing my first Facebook Live were the hits of the day. It was fun to spend time being my goofy self around people I knew love me for this slap happy, twelve-year- old side of me.
That evening we did my first presentation and clinic at The Factory, a cool bouldering gym nearby. It was a bit crowded so it was hard to set it up correctly, but after doing the first clinic of the trip, I felt confident in my ability for the rest of the clinics. I love speaking to people, and helping others with their own struggles is incredibly rewarding to me.
Well, sometime between then and the next day, I suffered a very personal struggle. It brought out insecurities in myself, and I found myself crying most of the day. I am a big believer in allowing yourself to feel sad through hard times, but the timing is not always ideal. I had to present again that evening at Aesthetic, and it was very difficult to see myself pulling it together. I really just wanted to crawl in bed and sign off for a while.
Honestly, I will tell you all that I was crying about ten minutes before I had to present. Thankfully, one of my good friends, Victor, walked through the door of my clinic. Seeing him made me feel a bit of relief. It is always good to have a friend that is hilariously real. We talked about random things climbing, laughing at my tendency to scream when I talk to him “V!!!!!” I would shout as he said something slightly mean but totally funny. I don’t think he even knew that I was upset, which was kind of a relief. It was like the refresh button had been hit and I saw myself come alive again.
I feel that this clinic may have actually taught me more than it taught the people attending. It was truly one of the more difficult things (non-climbing) that I have done in a while. I had to use every ounce of my energy to stay focused on the moment – to do exactly what I was teaching. Isn’t it funny that sometimes those who seem to have things under the most control, actually still struggle? It just shows that we all can relate to these desperate moments – where allocating focus to the observational side of your brain becomes the ticket to endure. Watching my videos, seeing my accomplishments, speaking my mental training tips, I was brought back into myself. I felt comfortable in my own skin. I basically talked myself into a stronger mindset for about an hour. I knew, just like I said in my latest video by Three Peak Films, that I am on the right path. When it came time for the clinic, I was so focused on everyone and everything in the present moment that I sidestepped my sob story. And for the rest of the night, I was in tune again.
But, like all hard times, the rollercoaster of ups and downs went on again throughout the weekend. There really is no “Aha!” moment when it comes to overcoming a hardship. I just focused on defusing from uneasy thoughts, and taking care of myself the coming days. And I had a few adventurous moments to distract me. Luckily, all of my friends were supportive, and I did not have any clinics to do over that Saturday and Sunday. So, I had time to recuperate. My friend, Isamer, and I even went to the beach late one night to play on the carnival rides and talk for a while near the ocean. Him and Manny are two of the few people I know who can make fun of me even when I am sad, and I will still laugh hysterically. It’s the best sense of humor – it brings me back to reality and out of my own pity party. Isamer poked fun at my weird tendency to scream along to all pop songs, and we ran into an English Bulldog – my absolute favorite kind of dog. I saw it as a good omen. And Isamer and I also quickly discovered that Rice Wine is seriously awful. We reluctantly took tiny sips, while the waves drowned out my thoughts.
By the time Monday came around, I was actually feeling quite a bit better. I felt more aligned with my values – I still feel sad every now and then, but I feel empowered by my passions once again. I went to climb with Isamer at Stronghold Climbing Gym, which is a phenomenal facility. I really enjoyed training and felt in my element once again. I think training is a great way to refocus yourself. Actor, Tobey Maguire, was at the gym with his kids. He came up to me and told me I was “amazing.” Like a deer in headlights, I looked into his enormous blue eyeballs and muttered, “thanks,” while my mind reminded me that Spiderman just told me I was amazing. Ha!
That evening, Kenny and I got back to our tour of the LA gyms, hitting one of his favorites, Topout. This gym was so fun and comfortable to be at – the presentation was interactive and the participants were so eager to learn at the clinic. The youth team was a part of it, and all the kids were bursting with psych. They had been climbing all day, but that did not stop them from trying every exercise I suggested. A few of the younger kids seemed a bit shy at first, but when they accomplished something on the wall that they did not think they could, their faces lit up with visions of potential. The manager, Howie, messaged me later telling me that the kids in the clinic were talking about the event for days after. It always puts a smile on my face to see kids stepping into their own journeys with climbing.
We also made an appearance at Cliffs of Id and Rock City. Cliffs of Id was a fun night – the group was very dynamic and we all worked our butts off during the clinic. Rock City was probably one of my favorite places to visit – the gym is currently undergoing expansion, and we had a huge room to ourselves to do the presentation. I felt the most confident in this presentation and clinic simply because I was finally feeling fully myself again, and the gym community was one of the most inspiring communities I have been around. They were all so supportive, kind, and grateful. I will definitely make it a point to visit Rock City again. I also got to see my friend Devan, from Gear Coop. Watching him, a strong climber, help beginner climbers alongside me, was super refreshing and humbling. I love our climbing community when we help each other.
On the last night I was there, Kenny, Christine, Isamer, Dave, and I all got together one last time for a night of dancing and singing at Kenny’s place. I felt ready to get home and move forward in my climbing, but also knew I would miss these amazing people. Mad Rock really is my family. They have seen me at my best and at my worst, and they take me as I am. I am proud to be a part of a company that aligns so much to its values. After all, that’s how I live my life. I never try to align goals with feelings because they come and go and chasing happiness actually makes you more miserable. I align everything with my values.
This trip still had those amazing qualities that made the first trip so special, but I also learned a ton from it. I can honestly say that I walked away from this trip knowing myself even more than before, revealing another layer of my journey, and finding strength I didn’t know I had. I am now reminded of my achievements and self worth, but also that I still have a big career ahead of me. I am ready to look forward.
Ten_15 for life!