S1 E2 Latasha Dunston - A Fresh Perspective


Hey everyone. Thank you so much for joining me on the BIPoC Outside podcast. I'm Kris Cromwell. And today we're sitting down with the Latasha Dunston. She's an artist designer, a muralist, and an ambassador with Coalition Snow. So let's get into it. Latasha. Thank you so much for joining us today. I'm really excited to have this conversation. So can you tell us what was your introduction to snow sports?


First of all, thank you for having me. I'm excited to have this conversation as well. And my first introduction to snow sports?

When I moved to Denver in 2017 that was really when I realized that was a thing people did. I wasn't really tapped into that culture when I was living in Richmond. But when I started working in the outdoor industry in 2018, I met the owner of Coalition, Snow, Jen Gurecki

And she's the one who kind of like. Helped me get a foot in the door in that kind of realm.


Right, right. And that was one of my questions. How you became an ambassador for Coalition Snow. So it was through your meetings with Jen Gurecki.


Yes. So essentially I've met Jen before. I really even had any work in the industry. It was when I was just snooping around. January, 2018. And she did an interview with Amanda Goad from Bold Brew in this little gallery during a whole like separate segment of like talks that were happening outside of, or open to the public.

And so I met her there and I guess I asked a good question. I don't remember what question I had asked. They were doing a live podcast recording. Funny enough. And I forgot, I have asked a good question, I guess, and we kind of got to talking afterwards and then I would say by the end of that year, by the end of 2018, we were having conversations around, you know, me wanting to try it out, but not really knowing where to start.

So she offered me an ambassador position from the perspective of a newbie, because she feels like she felt that perspective was not, I guess, showcase enough or praised enough, whereas like you can start something new and like be a part of this community and like learn from the veterans within it.

So I would say probably like a year later from when I first met her, it was. 2019, like February or January. She invited me to go to Mammoth Lakes California. I think that's what it's called. There was this like small town conference going on. What was it called? So don't remember the name of the conference.

It was a conference centered around small mountain towns and how they could like better their economy and their tourism or whatever. And so she wanted me to come and do a little talk with her about being like minority business owner and like, and working in mountain towns, even though I live in Denver, I do work.

In other mountain towns around Colorado, like Breckenridge and Frisco and et cetera. So that was definitely for me, one of those moments where I was like, like imposter syndrome could have set in, because at that point I was only really like a year into. What I thought I was trying to do, like with my business.

And like, I was just like, who am I to speak on these terms but I was like, you know what? I'm just going to trust. Cause I always tell myself this, just trust the timing, trust the opportunity. Jen wouldn't have asked you this. If she didn't feel like your opinion was valuable, just be quiet and go ahead and do it.

So along with that conference that you got a free. What'd you call it pass a free mountain pass. Now at this point, Jen had already sent me a snowboard. Cause this is like January, February. She had sent me a snowboard probably like last October or November, but she had only sent me the board and she told me it was up to me to get everything else, understandable respect.

So I had like, fished through Craigslist and different like used gear shops to like find everything else I need. And I had only. Got like, I think I only, at the time had like a jacket and the boots and the bindings, I got all that stuff used. So I go on my board, I was renting everything else. So I go out to this conference and I was like, all right, this going to be my first time, like trying it out.

I had not, I guess I hadn't done anything yet. And she was like, okay, well, We'll go in and like help you get a lesson. And then you can just ride around with some of the other girls who were like ski patrolmen and stuff like that. They had like a lot of experience. So this story is really so crazy because um fricking United lost my bags.

On my way over there. Okay. It was a mess and because I was flying on an employee pass because my fiance is a captain or a pilot or whatever with that company, they don't care. Like, I'm really sorry to say, like, literally I landed, my ski bag was gone, you know, like I call it the, the people at the airport, they were like, oh, call the companies.

They will reimburse you. Like this happens, dah, dah, dah. Oh, okay. I call it the company they're like, Oh, you're an employee now you you'll, you'll be fine. You know, like, we're not sending you any vouchers. We're not. We're not apologizing. Like we'll find it. We'll send it to you whenever we send it to you. Okay, cool.

So now I'm there with nothing and I'm just like, well, this sucks, but it was actually so interesting. How many people came together to like, help me have this experience. Like when we got to the little condo we were staying at, I went and walked around. We were in June Lake area at that point and walked around and I found this like random bar. I went to like ask the bartender. If there was like a gear shop that could rent some clothes from or something like that. And he said, no.

but he was like, oh, what do you need? And I was like, well, like I don't have anything really. He was like, well, when are you going to the mountain? And I was like, I have a lesson tomorrow at nine.

And he was like, well, I can just meet you at the mountain. And like, let you borrow all the things. And I was just like, Okay. Random stranger. So he like gave me his number and he met me at the mountain at like June Lake, mountain that morning. And he let me, his name was Art I remember his name was Art and he like was the bartender at the one bar and


Art at June lake.


I know he let me borrow some like padded compression shorts so that I wouldn't fall hurt my butt pants, jackets. He was like, you need a helmet. Like he had, like, he had opened his trunk. He had like all the things in there and I was like, people are so nice. But then I get to the counter. And apparently one of the instructors had called out sick or something like that.

So they didn't have enough instructors to accommodate all the people who wanted to take a lesson. So I couldn't take my lesson. It was like a two hour lesson I paid for them. Well, I'd like they helped me pay for, and so the guy was like, oh, let me call somebody and figure out what we can do. I ended up getting a free private one and a half hour lesson the next day.




I literally, I didn't put up a fight. I literally was just standing there. Like I didn't, I didn't act like literally we were not upset. We were like, oh, okay. We'll just come to another one. He was like, let me see what we can do for you. He was like, literally, because like, I guess for the inconvenience, I didn't even have to pay.


That's amazing.


Looking at God. So I ended up having my first lesson at June Lake mountain, which is a little family mountain apparently, and in comparison to like Mammoth. And it was so nice. And my instructor was like this young dude who was from Virginia, which is so funny because I had just recently moved from Virginia and.

So we had a good time just talking about Virginia stuff and like you him teaching me. And I don't really, I never had experience with any board sports before, like I've never skateboarded or long boarded or surfed or anything like that. But I, I would say I'm an athletic person, so I caught on like, fairly alright that during that lesson, but when I came back home to Colorado, There's a local mountain here, Loveland their

bunny hop mountain is like 30 bucks. So I was going out there for the rest of that first season. I think I probably went out there four or five times just to practice the basics and like get comfortable. But that was my long-winded story to my introduction.


No, that's, that's beautiful. And a lot of people who are listening to us, like either are brand new in board sports, or haven't even tried it yet. You know, they've seen videos or they've seen people on the internet and they're like, man, that looks pretty cool. Maybe I want to try it, but where to start.



And for me having zero experience on a board, it is a different type of mindset and muscle memory. So I always recommend to people when they ask me, if you don't have any type of board sport experience, absolutely get a lesson. If you do have some boards per experience, and you're like really good at it.

Maybe you can get away with not taking the lesson, but I recommend everyone to take a lesson because it's just different when you on snow. It's just, it's a different mindset, but like my fiance, he took a lesson last season. He had never really snowboarded before, but he's a long boarder. Picked it up like this.


Oh, yeah.


He was putting on the boots standing up his first round, just like completely like doing 360 jumps, standing still like I'm looking at him like really, really.


Quit showing off.


Really, but also like, but I have to remember, it's like he has experience on a board. So like that, that mindset of like having that center of gravity and like knowing how to move in that way is the same, in my opinion.

And a lot of ways in some ways, not always, but in some ways,


So beyond a lesson, which I totally agree with. And I still take at least one lesson every year and I've been skiing for a long, long time. But beyond taking a lesson, which I completely agree with. What other advice would you have for people who are, who are just starting out?


I will try and find some type of like, group to go with or, and like, and even if you don't go out with them, like the advice that they can give to you on like, You know, where to get certain gear or maybe they have stuff that they're giving away. Right? Like if those like little Facebook groups, I'm like, there's a group here in Colorado called Ski Noir, which is a group of, you know, black and brown awesome folks who go out to.

It's a mountains. I've not joined them yet because I'm really alone Wolf. Honestly, if I can be real honest with you, like not that I have anything against groups, I've just always been a singular person. That's just been my MO my whole life. Like I dip in and out of friend groups, but I prefer to be like, I spend a lot of my time snowboarding by myself.

My vibe, but yeah, that like finding groups and having people who know what they're doing, I think is really, really pivotal. Like if you don't have any type of community, cause this stuff is expensive too. So like, I have to take advantage of having friends who do this for, and I take advantage of all the freebies that they be given me, like, or even advice that they'll give me.

You know, buddy passes when you first started out?

it was like it's really awesome. So finding some type of community, which the internet makes very easy to do nowadays

is I think really, really helpful. And then take advantage of second hand stuff. I think every single thing that I have right now for my snow gear is secondhand or gifted, except for my helmet, which I bought new because apparently I just know what I'm playing old games.

You don't know what. The helmet previous trauma is, and you just want something fresh and sturdy to protect your brain.


That's such good advice like safety first. You don't want to mess around with the helmets.


Yeah. Everything else though, I feel like is fine.


Totally, totally. You talk, you've talked a lot so far about community, about, you know, Art from June Lake just stepping up and being a good person to a stranger and seeking out community groups on the internet and on Facebook. So have you found the community to typically be pretty welcoming?


I I think in, I think it depends honestly, like, luckily I live in a place where access to this type of community is abundant. I already have friends, like, I guess, work colleagues and stuff who do these types of things that there could, they kind of became more of my community, but I've had, you know, uncomfortable and like really crappy things that, like I said, I go out by myself quite a bit.

So like, by when I've been, I've been by myself at certain mountains and ended up I've left because I was just like, you know, what, if one other person. Cuts in line in front of me, or like, does, you know what I'm, it's just like, things like that happen, but things like that happen everywhere. So that's not, that should never be anybody's reason to like the deter from anything.

Cause that happens that kind of see at a grocery store gas station, whatever. But yeah, I would say that finding community has been really pleasant. And again, just the privilege of living in Colorado makes that easy, but you know, some mountains are better than others, in my opinion, like at least when it comes to inclusivity.

So like Loveland, like I brought up before that the one I had the cheap bunny slope they're only an hour drive from Denver. And I would say my experience with kind of hopping around these front range mountains. They have the most diverse demographic skiing there because of that, because they are closer to the city and because their prices are affordable, like you can get a three pack for like a little over a hundred, sometimes $84 or something crazy like that.

They do sales. I can barely get you one day at Vail and you get three days. I love them, you know? So like there's the accessibility, what the cost and stuff like that. So go into some of the more expensive mountains. Like the, the culture is just a little different people, a little bit more uppity. And sometimes that vibe is like, Do you really want to be around?

I don't know. That's just me, especially when I'm, especially when they start, it starts affecting me like the mountain that I went to. I don't remember which one it was at this point, cause I never went back, but I made the mistake of going on a weekend. That was my fault. I normally am. Like weekday morning person. But I made the mistake of going on a weekend and then I had been cut in line and like rudely bumped into, by like four or five different people, men and women, children, one, a little girl did it. I was like, well, you know what they know of what. The little girl was like 12 and straight slit. She swerved me so hard and unnecessarily too.

It was like a lift line that had seven gates. It had like five or seven. It was a long lift chair. This little girl it was like a family of three on one. And I'm on the whole other end there's mad space. There's so she could have chose three other lanes. And literally as I'm about to go, like move myself onto the chair, she comes flying past me and like bumps me out of where I bumped into the pole when, after I was like, all right. yeah.

Nope. I'm going to go ahead and head out because when the children started disrespecting me, like, that's just something else. I don't want to be around that. So Yeah.

it's just, it was a mess.


It sounds like a mess. So you saying that you, you spend a lot of your time alone and I get that. I I also spend a lot of time on the mountain by myself. So when you're out there, What's your mindset? What are you thinking about? What, what are you enjoying?


Man. I'm just like Groovin, listening to music, especially this most recent season where it was, I guess my third season, I felt way more comfortable. Like the first few seasons, the first two seasons I was going alone because I was new and I was going to the bunny slopes. I was just a bunny slope, frequenter I didn't really have a a pass or anything like that.

Cause I didn't want to invest that money being new and not feeling comfortable enough to like take advantage. So I would just hit the bunny slope every once in a while. And I was just, I was, I had like a very athletic mentality at the beginning. So when I was out there riding, I'd be thinking about like, the things I wanted to focus on, which is always like one skill at a time.

It'd be like either, you know, today I'm a work on connecting my turns or today I'm going to work on picking up speed or like, and so I would kind of just put my music on and get into that mindset and just practice skills. But now that I'm Better and like can flow and like actually do real runs. It's really just looking cool.

How cool can I look? I just looked to look cool. I feel cool. Cause I've never really done any type of sport where you move fast. Like that, like, you're like other than like bike riding, which is another kind of like euphoric, not that you feel cool, but you just get this like floaty feeling. Like, I really love that feeling on a snowboard.

And I never thought that I would be doing a type of sport run, move fast, like that. Cause that is very scary to me. Like I would think that I think that the skill of. Learning how to control your speed and giving into speed or was the hardest part for me, I think. But once I got it, I got it. But yeah, it's just like, I chased that feeling of just feeling free and just vibey and like, Having fun, honestly, like I don't even really get too deep on it.

I sometimes I'll keep a little sketchbook in my jacket pocket if it's not too cold, I'll try and like draw on the lift. But I have that thing where like I have like skeletal fingers, there's zero, zero installation, bones and skin so when I tell you I suffer like that, I can not take my gloves off. Like I suffer my hands, like even on a day where it's like, not even that cold, like I'm just one of those where my hands are always my, my extremities, my hands, and my toes are like extremely cold all the time for like no reason, even when my, my body is not.

So, Yeah, I can't take my glove off too much to like, do the things I want to do. Like take fun pictures and stuff the best. And that's why going with friends is really fun. Cause you? can get pictures and video and stuff, but I can't do that when I'm alone, because I cannot take my gloves off. My hand is going to break and fall off.

That's literally what it feels like.


I'm with you? Gloves are the one thing I do not skimp on at all.


I need some warmer ones, apparently, because I learned the hard way last season, apparently. And that, and that's another thing where it's like, I'm constantly learning stuff even now. Cause I didn't even realize that. Yeah. I mean, I guess it makes sense, but I didn't realize that there were gloves for different types of winter, you know?

Cause like the gloves I have was not working when I went out on this one day where it like started snowing and it was like really cold and kind of wet my hands were, it felt like I was not wearing anything and I was wearing two pair of gloves and I was like, what is going on? And my friend was like, you can't have.

It was almost like a leather glove with like these cloth patches don't want to it's like the seems it's like, if you had a bunch of seams and different fabric changes, the weather just gets right through that. Apparently. So yeah, I was, I'm still learning. So I need to get some cold, cold weather gloves because the gloves I have right now are useless.

It feels like useless.


So what's the best day you've had on the snow. So far


oh, that's easy. I got engaged in February on the ski lift, which was pretty surreal and awesome. And he's sneezing up. Yeah, it was really, really awesome. And again, it was one of those moments where it's like, I couldn't even feel the ring going on to my hand because my hand was so cool. And then he also was like, don't drop the ring

I don't know why he decided to do it on the lift. I mean, it was pretty epic and like very like bold and unconventional, but like. My hand was fricking freezing and it was really fun to like take victory laps, like, like screaming in celebration. It was so much fun. We had like, had a whole day skiing. We were there all day and he asked like, I think it was our last run pretty much.

We were like going up for the last run and yeah, that was the best day.


What an amazing story. I don't know how you're ever going to top that.


I don't know either. I don't know. I don't know. It was really epic. It, it has made like that.

experience has kind of made snowboarding a little more special for me, I think. And for us, like, because. It mark's our engagement now, I guess. And that's something and now we can't not do we can't like never not do snow sports now.

Like it's engraved in our lives now.


It's a part of your life forever. I love that. So you were saying that you typically have your sketchbook, and I know when you're not on the snow, you're creating art. You're trained as both an artist and biological and in biological sciences and, and folks have described you as always having a sketchbook with you.




I mean, what catches your eye? What do you, what do you, what types of things do you like to represent?


Well, I think the easy answer is plants but as an artist, like, and that's just right now and that's because as an artist, our subjects matters, our interests are always changing. And that's kind of the exciting part about being an artist as well. Like I'm, I'm looking forward to when my style, like my abstract phase or like, you know, things like that.

Like, but right now I'm really into. Painting plants and nature and figures again, because I used to be really it's portraiture and drawing figures and people. And that's when I dove really heavy into landscapes, but now I'm trying to bring the people back in. So like the stuff that I've been working on recently has been showing people in nature and like the show that's at the Denver art museum right now.

is specifically showing Black people in nature. And. Just simply being just simply enjoying the view just being black and being in nature. And that is a commentary that I think a lot of Black outdoorists have in their mind, there was a painting that's actually still in my head that I was unable to finish to put in there.

But this concept of like us being a part of the land and having a relationship with this land, but a lot of us Not understanding that relationship with the land or like not realizing that that's a relationship that we innately have is kind of why I think that these paintings show it's like the representation.

I wish I had type deal. And they show people like,

There's this one painting, particularly of it was inspired by my cousin when we went on this really cool road trip that I planned in 2019. And he is this like six, five, like 250 pounds, like big ol' like Rick Ross looking dude. Right. And when I tell you that he just seamlessly. Enjoyed himself like, and me and my girlfriend Montrece would like live out here. We had him fly out from the Baltimore area. Like the DMV area. Cause he kind of goes in between cities and my girlfriend Montrece and I, we we're just enjoying watching him just so effortlessly. Like, uh, his wife, beaters and gold chains just like chilling in the hot spring.

And we're just like, look at this man. Just be him. And we're just love it. We love it. We're here for it. So like the painting is like him. He was wearing like a bucket hat. Wife beater gold chain some like Adidas shorts and some Jordans. And we're just like in grand grand staircase, Escalante. And he's just like hands crossed, you know, like resting on his belly, just like chin up, just like taking his picture, like, yeah.

Look around that. Like having such a good time, literally like. He was just like pointing out faces and all the rock walls. And like, he's like, oh, I saw a road runner. And like, it was like, he was like listing all the animals. He was like, I want to see a road runner in real life. I want to see a scorpion , I won't see a mountain lion.

Like he was like naming all of these animals. And when I tell you, we saw everyone, you thought every single one that he, that he listed and he just kept manifesting these things. And he's a guy who loves. To read and like absorb information. So he was actually schooling us on a lot of stuff, but he had learned from just watching, like planet earth and like those like nature, documentaries, like he loves stuff like that.

So he was like, oh, did you know? Like when he was telling us why he wanted to see a road runner, he was like, did you know, they're actually way smaller than people think they are. And dah, dah, I was like, no way. And we actually thought I was like, whoa, mind blown. Like you just taught me something. And I'm supposed to be the one who's outdoors-y.

And so that, that trip really inspired me to like, create this body of work really, because it was just so much fun. Seeing him like live his best life in like a week long van life trip. And it was just the best. And then I'm like addicted to doing that. Now it's like taking people on these, like. Awesome experiences.

I'm I want my family specifically on these awesome experiences that they've never done before and just seeing how they so effortlessly, and then they shock themselves to that, that they, so effort effortlessly loved it, or just like, you know, jumped right in. Because that's like innately where we, you know, started out, like we know these things in our bones and And it's just really, really cool to see it like unfolding in people.


I think it's really interesting too. If you're saying, you know, him coming from the Baltimore area. And you being the outdoorsy person in Denver, showing that like being an urban person, being an urban body doesn't doesn't distance you or divorce you from the outdoors.


Totally. No, no, no. Cause like, even when, like, cause I grew up in Baltimore city, myself, and even there, I was looking for small pockets of nature. Like I used to like collect caterpillars and try and like help them become butterflies and like climb trees and things like that. Like I always had an adventurous spirit, but I just didn't know where to funnel that because I was in like this, like gridlock, concrete, like ratchet, poor city.

And it really wasn't until moving to Richmond and like enrolling into VCU. And being taken on my first hiking trip, like my first like day hike in the Shenandoah valley, I was like, whoa, that's crazy. And then it's just such a full circle moment because this year I was in Baltimore for a few weeks, this summer, and I was using hiking apps to find trails.

Like in the Baltimore area. And I was just like, if I would have known, like, I had so many moments where I was like, if I wouldn't have known this stuff as a child, if I would have known, I could be hiking on a trail 20 minutes from my grandma's house, like. what,

Just so crazy. And so, I'm really inspired by, you know, just showing other Black people that they can reach higher and that there is more outside of their neighborhood and their, you know, Kind of tunnel vision cause that's the type of community I grew up in very tunnel vision.

Everybody wear the same stuff. Everybody listened to the same radio station, the same TV channels. It's like everybody do the same thing. There is no, oh, Black people don't do that. But I put every, that was, if you did anything outside of the little bubble that everybody in the neighborhood did, it was weird.

You were, you were being white, you were doing this, doing that. It's just. No. And so I just feel like that narrative was fed to me so much as a kid that my paintings, I hope will help kids like me. If they see them be like, you know what? I don't want to go to where those rocks look red. Where is that?

Because I didn't even know that place existed. When I was growing up in Baltimore. I was like, what is what you don't learn about that?


Well, and it seems like, you know, every, every big city I've been to, if you dig deep and you find the person, you know, you find a person or a community that's involved, you can find those trails. You can find those nature spaces, but they're not easy to find.


No, it's not. And and it's not obvious either. So like out here, I find that you'll see a lot of like commercials for outdoor recreation. It's so different. I'm constantly comparing my lifestyle in the west versus my lifestyle to the east coast. It's just different. They don't even advertise stuff like that to people.

Whereas here they advertise, like. Oh, come to visit Utah, do this, do that. Dah, dah, dah. It's like you have some type of tourism and like commercially stuff out on the east coast, but it's not centered around outdoor recreation. At least it wasn't when I was growing up, granted I've been gone for quite a long time, so it could be different now it could be wrong, but it's just a different mindset and culture out there.

Obviously it's a lot more hustle and bustle. And it's just sad that those green spaces and wild places get overlooked, but there are people who are trying to share that stoke, like I've met this really awesome dude named Justin, who is a part of the American hiking society's next generation trailblazers.

And he has a YouTube channel and he goes on. Multi-sport days and he lives like, and it was so funny. I met this guy, Justin, we are the same age, went to the same rival schools and the same school district, our whole lives. So I was standing on the corner of his middle school, waiting for the bus to go to my middle school

yet we never knew each other. And like we were, when we got to talking and we've learned that we have mutual friends because friends from his middle school,went to my high school friends from my middle school went to his high school, stuff like that. It was just very such a small world. And to see like watch his videos, I see him like, oh, I'm gonna like wake up before sunset and do this bike ride.

in Annapolis and then go paddle boarding and then, you know, drive to the Patapsco state park and do this hike with my friends and then go to the climbing gym and do all this stuff. And it's like, you're doing that in Baltimore. I didn't even realize, I didn't even know. So like there's definitely people out there now who are like, embracing that stoke and like trying to share the.

Beauty that the east coast has to offer outside of all of the like urban communities. So I'm, I'm looking forward to life continuing to explore that as an adult.


So this, the sharing, the stoke and, you know, introducing people to new ways to explore where they live was that sort of the inspiration behind illustrating 'How to Suffer Outside: a Beginner's Guide to Hiking and Backpacking'

hiking and backpacking.


that definitely was an exciting. Like opportunity where I was like, this is something I wish I had. I would be honored to illustrate it. That's pretty much how it was. Cause they, the publishing company contacted me. And so I am very grateful to be at a point. Where I can pick And choose my work. So, I think if it was something different, something that I was less interested in, I probably would not have done it because the work just don't translate the same.

Like I'm not a machine, I'm an artist. So I can't just pump out stuff just cause you want me to, like, I have to be passionate about it and interested in it and like excited about it. So. Luckily, I only accept things I'm excited about. And I was so excited when that came across my desk. Cause I was like, this is a clever, humorous down to earth introduction to hiking and backpacking.

And like, I love that. Like I need this because I'm a S I'm a scaredy. I've never backpacked. I hike, but I've never backpacked. Cause I'm scared. Just. scared. There's that's there's no big excuse.


And that's a totally valid thing.


I just feel like I have lived a life where I tend to be tend to fall in the smaller percent of stuff. something's going happen, it tends to happen to me. So I'm just like, I'm just not I don't want to go out there and be the one person who has a bear be like, Hey, I don't, I don't. And then after hearing that story about that poor woman in Montana, where the bear like in her tent and mauled her no, no, even though they were like, that's un-normal, that's not normal.

We gotta, we gotta find that. I don't want to be that one person to find the abnormal bear. I just can't it scares the crap out of me. So if I, when I do do my first trip is going to be in an area with very minimal wildlife. Like I really have to find a place that is not going to have bears or mountain lions active at the time, because I just can't.


Well, and the outdoors is not a contest. And that's, I think one of the things that when people finally get out, they realize like I. I can decide what I want to do based on my own comfort level. It's not a contest. It's not a team sport. It's unstructured and I'm in charge.


Totally and I, and I believe that 100%, like even with the little activities that I enjoy trying, I'm never trying to be the most extreme at it. Like my fiance wants to take lead climbing classes and I'm just like, Do I really do. I need to do that. Like, I may only do it just so I can be your partner, but I don't feel the desire to like, Be more extreme than what I'm already doing.

Like I enjoy climbing around on the rope. That's already there. I enjoy doing my little bit of bouldering, only little high up off the grounds. And, and I just have fun doing that. And I float around in the beginner area, not really looking forward to like training or trying to like, you know, bulk up. Like I'm just not, it's fun to do at the level you do at, at, and.

I just feel like people shouldn't feel pressure to like, become an Olympian at every hobby that you have.


Totally fair and I'm, I will never, I was never going to be on the path to the Olympics. That was never, that was never my area. I I make up for my lack of skill in enthusiasm.


And then here's the thing, right? It's like finding people who will take out beginners and like have fun was beginners. Right? Cause like I find that a lot of people get turned off to activities. Cause they going out with the wrong people, you're going out with people who have done this a whole lot and they probably don't have patience because I have friends who are experts and they take me, but they tend to have.

They they'd have no expectations. Like they go, they go with the mindset of like centering my experience, not centering their own experience. Like why would you bring along a beginner to like bag peaks? Like that don't make no sense, like in like, I, I can barely bag a curb and you're trying to make me go this high.

Like, you know what I mean? So like, just being sure that like you communicate with whomever is offering to take you out. Are you okay. If we take a lots of breaks, like, like, do we have enough time to alot that like a very long break we get up to the top or, you know, like, would you be okay if I decided to turn around, like ask them that question because some people feel a type of way, if you done put them halfway up the trail and then you decide, you got to turn back around, like, you know, like. That could lead to something awkward. So just like, as a beginner, being sure that you're either going out with people on your level, or if someone who is above your level is taking you, you communicate to them, like I'm going to want to take this very slow. I may not even want to finish the whole thing.

Like no expectations. Like we're just going to have a good old, solid college try and like leave it at that, you know? So Yeah.


That communication is critical. So important, no matter how you address it. And I think you've got to, you've got to have confidence in yourself and show up as yourself. And that's really the only thing that you need to make sure of that's where your skill needs to be in. Everything else can be developed.

And, you know, you've described yourself as showing up as unapologetically yourself in all the spaces. Like, what does that mean to you? How do you do that? How do you encourage other people to do that?


I think