With Love, Merrell

I walk into the store wearing my favorite kind of shoes.

I'm not even sure I can actually call them "shoes."  Ode to the flip flop…a foot adornment whose name is an onomatopoeia.

Flip.  Flop.  Flippity.  Flop.  Flop.  Flop.  

My pink toenails are in full view as well as the sparkly, Swarovski crystal anklet.

Ohhhhh …. did I mention my flip flops are platforms too?  I need those 3 extra inches so that I can stand to a full 5 feet 5 inches tall.

Flip. Floppity. Flip. Flip. Flip. Flop.  

I walk across the floor to a rack filled with the world's ugliest shoes.  Seriously?

These shoes could win a medal with "HIDEOUS" engraved in all caps across the front.  You simply can't un-ugly a  hiking shoe, especially the high top kind.

What a shame to have to cram such cute, prettily painted toenails into the likes of these clunky, earthy, purely functional -- rather than fashionable -- highly unattractive, lace up, ankle protecting, dirt colored shoes.  I disdain them already.

Obvious to all those around me, I lack many character qualities that would qualify me as an outdoorsy kinda girl.

Outdoorsy Girl

Oh, sure, I'm outdoorsy when it comes to some activities such as beach bumming, scuba diving, toes in the sand-ing, snorkeling, boating, fish chasing, fish catching, body surfing, crabbing, lobstering, paddle boarding, open water triathlon-ing … you get the picture.

I'm not necessarily opposed to all other outdoor activities.

I simply have not sought them out or cared enough to feel the slightest motivation to even desire to pursue things such as hiking...

(I mean, really …. who "hikes"), camping (please God, kill me now), trekking (this just gets worse and worse sounding), bouldering (seriously … who are these people?), backpacking (ummm... why carry a bunch of crap on my back, walk around for miles on end only to empty all that crap and put it away when I get home?).

Again…you get the picture, right?

Seriously Boring

I picked out a pair of nondescript brown (I consider those 2 words to be redundant … "nondescript" and "brown" say exactly the same thing)  Merrell hightop boots.

I notice an attempt at a cute design when I see little sage green flowers stitched into the sides.

The backwoodsy fashion statement made me chuckle.  Mountain fashion … Oh, OK.  Sure.

These will do.  A pair of equally brown and equally nondescript wool socks would complete the purchase and I'd have to ignore the air of betrayal emanating from my prettily painted toenails.

Water Girl

For nearly 41 years of my life I've lived near the sea.

My mind is filled with snapshots of life from being a topless 2-year-old with towhead pigtails, golden tanned skin and bare feet in the sand to a long blonde haired 6-year-old hanging onto my dad's legs while he fished the rough surf waters of Hatteras on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

I see snapshots of my brother and me fishing off the side of the boat -- and even watching that same boat drift away from my little brother as he held on for dear life to a floating buoy.

There's more fishing stories than I can tell in one sitting and plenty of fun days on various beaches, in various water crafts, numerous shores in different states and countries.

The scent of coconut oil brings back a flood of memories of my life as a seafaring creature.  I've checked a few times to see if I have grown a set of gills.  I am the sea and the sea is I.


You can imagine the tantrum I had six years ago when I moved to the middle of the country.  All of a sudden I was landlocked on all sides with nary a speck of saltwater (or open water of any variety).

Landlocked, where one's boat travels in circles.  Or, unidirectional because the body of water is just too small to accommodate vessels much larger than a 1-man canoe). -- Sigh...

My tantrum turned into an inner resistance as it joined forces with my stubbornness.  I inwardly screamed to the world around me, "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!"

I know, I know … I hear your follow-up question, "The world can't make you … do what?"  I share with you now my list:


  • Love the changes taking place before me
  • Swim in a reservoir (I refer to it now as "sketchy beach" as in "Let's go to sketchy beach")
  • Wear Bermuda shorts with a knife attached to the belt
  • Find my solace in the Woods
  • Take my prettily painted toes out of the sand and put them into a rocky stream
  • Think that this dry air is good for anything besides good hair days
  • Don a puffy jacket and walk around like the Michelin Man … and like it
  • Prefer functionality over fashion
  • Wear a beanie and actually consider it to be cute
  • Walk out of the house covered from head to toe in clothing: hat with a head warmer underneath, 3 layers of torso wear, a couple layers of pants, socks that reach for the sky (and wool, at that), gloves (maybe with glove liners) and heavy shoes and coat
  • Appreciate anything about Mountain living
  • Make a picture collage of wild animals and display it in my living room
  • Etc, Etc, Etc

I was having none of it.  But bear with me.  The apparent negativity is about to receive a wake up call and a slap in the face.

Read on...

Despite my poor sportsmanship, narrow perspective on life and my ridiculous temper tantrum tendencies, my hiking boots were patient.

They sat on the shelf in my closet just waiting for the chance to take me places I'd never experienced before…both literally and metaphorically.

My stubbornness needed an attitude adjustment.   My new hiking boots were just images-2the means by which to accomplish this daunting task because, of course, no human being would be able to coerce me to get over myself.

I'm sure each time I walked into my closet those Merrells pulled themselves up by their ugly brown shoe laces, spit shined those sage green flowers and thought "maybe today is the day."

Only to have me walk right past them.  That's right.  Pass them over for another more favorable pair of shoes.

Not today.  Not tomorrow.  Not this week, this month or this year! 

You'll have to wait.  I'm not quite ready.

I felt sure it was absolute betrayal to my salt life roots if I didn't at least put up a fight.

I was a tropical weather "beach girl" displaced  --  and nothing or no one was going to easily change my perspective.

Ahhh …. that strong, Hungarian woman stubbornness has my mind standing tall, dukes raised and ready for a TKO.

Stubbornness is only the outward, quite visible character trait that actually masks the more deep seeded trait of contempt for change.   Which, in turn, masks the even deeper character flaw that is FEAR. 

Fear-Based Life

My entire life has been riddled with fear.

It has crippled me.  

Like so many others, fear crept into my heart at a very early age and justifiably so.

I didn't create the fear.  It was created for me. No need to go into the details, but at a young age  I developed a loathing for change, the unknown, the new to me.

No one could force change upon me without a battle.

My fear cornered me.  I felt safer when I was sitting there with my back to the corner.

And, if anyone attempted to pull me out, or taunt me or force their wishes or their timetable on me, my brick wall of resistance would surround me and there was no getting through it.

I Would Shut Down

As I got older I began to understand that if allowed to come out of my corner in my own timing --  under my own conviction  --  led by my own drive to step forth -- I could dispel the crippling effects of the fears of my childhood.

It would allow me to accept change and eventually let go of the air of stubbornness I carried around.

Voila!!  Maybe there was hope!

Perhaps this afraid-of-heights girl could find courage enough to conquer that fear by jumping out of an airplane.

What if my disdain for snow and cold weather could challenge me to dare the elements that held me back.

Maybe frolicking in the water could be channeled into mastery of an open water triathlon swim.

Perhaps a beach girl living at sea level could also learn to appreciate high altitude, mountains and rocky trails.  Maybe the fear of not trying something new could force me to reinvent myself.

The Possibilities

The heart of my Merrells skipped a beat, sitting on that shelf and reading my thoughts.

Someone I respect and who has joined me on numerous adventures as well as having a multitude of his own adventures once told me (and I paraphrase):

"Just think about it.  If you hike to the summit of that 14,000 ft mountain peak, leaving some blood, sweat and maybe a few tears along the way, you leave a part of your very self on a timeless piece of terra firma that will last forever.  When you are old and can't hike anymore, you can still go to that mountain and say, 'Part of me is still there'.  Your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren can find you there."

It took me a while to allow what he said to challenge my tendency to push aside things that are "out of the box" for me.

But I began to wonder if maybe I was missing out on something by sticking to my guns so tightly.

Maybe I could let down my guard and just see if I found joy in the unknown.

Maybe I wouldn't be betraying myself and my roots but would be adding to them.

Maybe, just maybe … I am meant to stretch myself in order to leave pieces of me in various places on this journey of life.

And the Merrells Smiled

And then one day I walked into my closet and reached for those Merrell hiking boots.

The gauntlet had been laid before me.

I was challenged to go on a hike and would most certainly need the Merrell hiking boots that were stashed in a dark, lonely corner of my closet.

When I picked them up, their shoelaces seemed to be shaped into a smile.

"Time to stretch yourself.  Time to grow.  Time to develop."  

They whispered to me.

"We have places to go, experiences to be had and people with whom to make memories.  NEW places.  NEW experiences.  NEW people."

As I put them on and cinched down their laces I thought I heard an audible, "It's about time" escape from inside them.

I share with you now, the list of some of the things my very functional and still ugly, dirt-colored, yet amazingly designed Merrell hiking boots said to me and some of the places we've been together.

And to Merrell I say, "THANK YOU." 

To all those who have had to tread lightly around my stiff-necked approach to change, I say, "THANK YOU."

And to myself... I grant grace through the journey, forgiveness during the tantrums and a renewed sense of belonging no matter where the tropical waters or the rocky trails may lead me.


"Getting out of your comfort zone takes work, grit and a kind of energy you didn't think you had.  But when you look down on where you came, you'll have no regrets.  Rely on good, like-minded people and a great pair of hiking boots to take you there!"                ~Love, Merrell


Gray's and Torrey's Peaks 14, 270 ft.  Thanks to my boots and my good friend David for helping me!


Gray's and Torrey's 1st attempt.  If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!  -with David and Rachael

"Cold weather doesn't have to be cold.  Get out there and show that cold who's boss and you'll be completely fired up!   Assist me with a pair of YakTraks and I'll make sure the snow won't be your nemesis anymore."     ~Love, Merrell


Snow Trail Running on Christmas Eve with a group of 50 other crazy people

"Being strong of mind and heart is the only kind of strength you need to put fear in its place and replace it with a willingness to take on things you thought you'd never try … and actually embracing and even liking the challenge!"    ~With respect, Merrell


Bear Mountain, Boulder CO.  12 miles roundtrip alongside 4 other adventurous maniacs

"Ain't no way you look like the Michelin Man in your winter coat, hat and gloves.  Go on with your bad self, Beach Babe!  And by the way, I look good in those snowshoes … just sayin'."     ~Love, Merrell



Snowshoeing Devils Thumb near Winter Park, CO with friends Marisa and Jo

"I can take you on such grand adventures, trekking across the rugged terrain, as you carry your 37 pound backpack.  I'll keep you balanced as you cross raging creek waters on a thin piece of wood.  I'll steady you as you hike up and up and up to thinner air 2,000 feet above where we made camp.  Then I'll bring you back to camp safely where you can rest those prettily painted toenails while sitting in the hammock.  I've got you.  You've got you!  We've got this!"                                                                                                                                        ~Yours Truly, Merrell



Girls 3-day Backpacking Trip in the Mount Evan Wilderness.  16 miles hiking roundtrip with Lezlee, Kim and Kim


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