To Grow is to Accept Imperfection. Life Lessons from a Quilt.

The last few months I’ve been slowing down my activity level, due to a human brewing inside me. Instead of hitting up the climbing gym or going on big day trips I’ve been downsizing my adventure days and incorporating more handmade homemade days. Continue reading

The Bob Ross Project

I recently began a journey that will hopefully result in growing an aspect of myself and community we never imagined possible.

What Did You Do? Continue reading

Just Try Harder. 

Several years ago my friend Roger Fage spoke three words to me that changed a huge part of my life. 

“Just Try Harder.” 

I had met Roger in Halifax around 2010 and  then during a random climbing trip to Kamourska, Quebec our paths crossed again.

We spoke of all the things and none of the things, but the one thing that stuck with me was this particularly conversation. 

He told me for a long time he was stuck. He was unable to progress in his climbing and seemed to feel like he had plateaued. Then one day, one of his friends told him the secret to success. “Just try harder.” And from then on he was surpassing his current climbing ability. 

I don’t know what it was about this moment because I’ve heard those words so many times before. However, perhaps was just the right time, the right place and the look on his face as he turned away from me and stared at the climb above us. 

Just. Try. Harder.

Ever since then it has been one of my top 5 mantras in achieving things. Whenever I feel stuck in something and feel as though I have plateaued in my own ability and skill, I take a moment to reassess what I am doing wrong. 

I look at the factors and the variables and I start making excuses. 

Then. I catch myself and it dawns of me. The words of an amazing, even keeled human…

Just try harder.

Then I take a deep breath and do you know what I do next ? I try harder. 

Since my recent ACL tear, I have felt like I have fallen backwards in so many aspects of my life. My strength, my flexibility, my will power. 

Prior to my injury I was just barely maintaining my fitness and then suddenly, goals that were already barely within arms reach had become insurmountable. I look at my before photos and now I’ve gained weight, gotten soft, lost endurance. 

I stopped writing blog posts. I stopped stretching. I stopped trying. 

I stopped trying. 

This is the moment I assess all the factors and variables again. Cloud my mind with why I can’t and why I won’t. Fill my heart with excuses.  This is also the moment that I stop doing that and get my soul together and once again realize the answer to all my recent setbacks is to,

Just Try Harder. 

Coming soon. The new and improved Melba Fucking Seto. 

When Life Pops Your Knee… Make Lemonade.

I’ve never been good with remembering idioms but as long as you’re picking up what I’m putting down then it doesn’t really matter.

Three weeks ago my knee went “pop” when I landed a tiny jump from setting a volleyball. I remember contacting the ball, hearing the pop, thinking “omg my knee is dislocated,” and then curling into a fetal position clutching my right knee trying to force myself to breath but not being able to. 

I remember hearing voices far away “are you okay?” “What happened?” “Can you move?” It seemed liked an enternity before my head stopped spinning and for me to realize I was holding my breath. 

My team mate Mel assessed my knee and being experienced in orthopedics she quickly informed me it wasn’t looking good. 

I booked an appointment the next day to the Acute Knee Injury Clinic and then went straight to my family physician to prescribe me radiographs and an ultrasound.  Initially it seemed it may have been a minor tear and my heart was happy.

A week later at my Acute Knee assessment I was informed that it was confirmed as a full anterior cruciate ligament tear. 


I don’t think I heard her correctly. She said the MCL and LCL looked great and then she said something about something. 

“How do you know? Do I need an MRI?” 

“No you don’t need an MRI because we knows it’s fully severed.”

I don’t know why but I’m pretty sure my eyes started tearing up. All the hopes and dreams of the summer … climbing…. paddling … surfing, seemed to collapse around my little heart and squeeze.

I gritted my teeth, shifted my jaw and tried to absorb this new intel. 

I asked what was next. What the expected healing process was and how long. 

Apparently many people including athletes can continue life without an ACL as long as they wear a brace whenever they are engaging in sports. Some people choose to have the surgery and it could take 3-9months for surgery and up to year to fully heal. 

You can imagine what was going on in my brain. Math. I was mathing out the next 2 years of my life.  3 months to heal from this initial tear. Then surgery. Then  healing all over again. 

Over the years I’ve trained myself to better deal with obstacles thrown in my face. I give myself time to absorb and process the information, grieve and then onwards and upwards.

The first week and a half I spent elevating, icingy knee and taking anti inflammatories. I ordered a K2 Comfortlite custom knee brace immediately, which arrived a few days later.

The second week I began to increase mobility with the assistance of a hiking pole and resumed playing discgolf. I went back to work. No word of a lie I think disc golf helped expedite the rehabilitation of my knee. Low impact activities to promote mobility. It’s easy to want to stay in bed and feel sorry for yourself but the stiffness that follows is what is truly debilatating.

Now in the third week, I’ve begun to climb easy routes, hike short easy to moderate terrain and continue disc golfing. My followup appointment to see my progress and initiate a consultation for surgery will be happening in the next couple days. 

I’m more motivated now to actively develop my leg muscles and push hard to strengthen my legs before my upcoming surgery, and also so I can climb and paddle this year. If all goes well I’ll have surgery booked for the late fall of 2017 and I’ll spend all my off time making chalk bags and painting

All in all for those going through the same thing, I want you to know yes, it sucks but if you want it bad enough you can get back to where you were before and maybe even become stronger than ever. 32 is going to be the most epic ACLrecovery year ever. 

Follow me on Instagram @Melba_Seto and Facebook to see what someone without an ACL can accomplish. 

The Road To 12a – Part 2.

January 11, 2016 Blue Fin became my first “real” 12a Red Point (I’ve often climbed routes that have been downgraded from 12a to 11d, so this was a big step to become a part of the 12a club.)  Red Pointing is when you’ve been working on a climbing route (sometimes multiple attempts) and eventually climbing it is while you lead the rope from the bottom to the top of a climb without taking a fall or a break on the rope. 

This is the year my planets have finally aligned to allow me to pursue my goal of sending 12a’s consistently. I started The Road to 12a – Part 1 a couple years ago and it’s been a slow journey. 

Like any sport or skill there’s always benchmarks and plateaus that we reach as individuals. Whether it be playing the guitar or beating your best personal time in running or cycling. We all have at least one phase in our specialty that hits us in the face and says “you shall not pass.”

When it comes to climbing I haven’t quite reached that plate yet, but mainly because I haven’t been able to climb consistently over the past 4 years. I started actively climbing almost 7 years ago in 2010 and for the first two years I climbed nearly 200 climbs each year. Then the last four years, due to life, work, money, and excuses… I’ve probably climbed maybe 30 each year. It’s been hard, mentally and physically to always be starting from the ground up each time I went out.

2014 however, started with a bang and I  put in probably about 40 days, though not as impressive as the first two years, it’s a step up. Starting out in Potrero Chico in December of 2015 also was a tremendous boost to my mental game.

Personally I don’t count myself as a 12a climber until I’ve Red Pointed at least three 12a’s, and even then I probably wouldn’t tell people I’m a 12a climber for fear of being undeserving.

#2 12a Red Point

June 13, 2016. Humming Bird Arete was the second one under my belt. It took about 5 attempts, the first one being the previous summer and the last ones within last spring. I’ve always found that as long as I can do each of the moves, I will be able to Red Point it. Thus far. People often say I have a good mental stamina. I think this only applies to climbing for me though!

Adam and I had been alternating attempts and though we were able to do all the moves in the problem, it was just mustering the will to push through.  Our friend and outdoor videographer Calixte LeBlanc, was with us that day filming, which provided me even more of an incentive to get the Red Point.

I was feeling good and if I could just hit the moves just right it should go no problem.

I normally take maybe 2-3 burns on a project before I’m totally deflated and I was working up to the last go before closing up my hands for the day.

I remember thinking “if it goes – it goes, if not it’ll go next time.”  I tied in, velcroed up and took a deep breath.

For me, there’s always a point in a climb when I can feel my heart race because I know it’s going well, so well that it takes everything to remind yourself to take a breath and not get too excited.  It’s often at that point where you piece the crux moves seamlessly or when your feet cut loose but you somehow manage to hang on or when your hands start to lose strength and slowly open, but somehow you push through the burn and keep moving.

On Hummingbird Arete the moment was at the top out. The last few moves pulling up and over with slopey holds for hands and foot holds that seem to disappear. I always seem to hold my breath for fear of jinxing myself right before clip the anchors, which at that point I never fail to give a “Whoo!”. Yes I’m a Whoo Girl.

The Next Step.

The Next Step is now that I’m finally in Calgary full time, with an annual gym pass at The Hanger, I can train.  No more off the couch climbing trips. From here on in there’s no excuses for not being to reach my goals. I hold myself completely responsible for whatever outcome I may achieve this season.

I’ve been climbing 30 – 60 min at the gym, 3 times a week. Diving once a week and trying to increase flexibility in my shoulders and improve my core 3x a week. I’m going to try increase my cardio to 1-2 runs a week and maybe… just maybe… eat less Sausage Egg Mcmuffins… maybe.

Well now that this is posted, I’m going to have to keep myself accountable. See you on the sharp end.

YOU Have To Be the Source Of Your Inspiration. 

I just ran 7km off the couch and didn’t die. 

Often times we look to others to inspire us, push us, challenge us. Though it’s important to use others as a nitro boost, the most important place to look is in yourselves. 

I’ve been raised to compare myself to those around me. People who are smarter, taller, stronger. Where did it get me? Well for a long time it cultivated a creature who was low self confident, insecure and unsure. 

Somewhere along the way the real me emerged and I started comparing, myself  to myself and things began to change.

When I do things now, I work to outdo myself and in doing so I am solely accountable for my successes and failures. 

When we compare ourselves to someone else we can then easily make excuses for why we didn’t succced. “Oh well he can run farther because he’s a guy.” Or “they’ve trained their whole life to play sports.” 

Today I ran – like an old lady turtle – 7km.  My only goal was to get outside. Get to the next tree, the next bench, the next Canadian goose.

” Can’t Rush This. “

Shuffle step shuffle step. On more than one occasion starting from leaving work I was making excuses “ugh it’s getting late.” “I’m hungry.” 

When I parked the car at Edworthy Park I looked around and thought one thing at a time. 

I put on my heart rate monitor. I strapped my knee stabilizers. I filled my little hip water bottles.

I started to walk towards the trail. Set my playlist. Turned on my heart rate monitor. Took a breath. Here we go. 

The first 100m. Ugh I’m so awkward, my breathing is off. My legs hurt.  Then I would take a moment and look around. A train passed. I watched it and smiled. “I love trains.”

Shuffle step shuffle step. One step at a time. 

It’s a lot like life. When you look at the whole picture, we get overwhelmed. Work, bills, life, success. If we just try to look at one thing at a time, just the things in front of us. Time will pass, things will get done and before you know it your knees no longer hurt. Your breathing is steady, the world is less scary and 7km seems like something totally doable.

I only had myself to compete with and whether I finished or not I’m just happy I make the effort to show up. However since I DID finish!! I now have something to look to when I need to inspire myself. 

Now. I eat. 

Facing Fears Is Harder As an Adult 

There are many of us that spend our time always wishing we could do the things our adventurous, outdoorsy friends seem to do so easily. There’s always that person in your circle of friends that’s traveling or jumping into some crazy new activity or artistic endeavor. There’s a secret to how they do that, and I’m going to share it with you.

Last year I bought a used set of cross country skis. There’s two styles classic skiing (where you typically see skiers slide forward by pushing their skies parallel to the snow) and skate skiing (they kind where you see biathletes push off to the sides to propel themselves, similar to how one would skate on ice – hence the term “skate skis”).

I wanted skate skis because long, long time ago I competed in biathlon, for one season, when I was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

I’ve often thought back to those days, the first time we put on those skinny little skis we fell left and right trying to balance ourselves.  It took a few training sessions before we could even ski on them. I ended up competing in a short race somewhere in Edmonton and somehow placed high enough that I made it to the provincial competition.

We were the laughing stock of all the other competing squadrons. The little misfit squadron with second hand clothes and skis and none of us matching. I remember everyone else was wearing these spandex racing suits and here I was in my neon pink Sun Ice jacket with tights. 

Provincials were at the Canmore Nordic Centre and I threw up before the race. Nerves. I don’t remember much, except being passed a lot and having to take penalty laps because I couldn’t see through my glasses when shooting at the targets. 

I ended up getting mild hypothermia because apparently tights aren’t the same as racing spandex. 

We raced as individuals and as a team. It was called the Patrol race. Where the team comprised of three members that had to be within a certain distance apart at all times. It was a long time ago but all I remember is that Carie- Ann and I and the third girl came in third. It was definitely one of the most memorable times of my life. 

Then the individual places were announced… Cari-Anne came in 10th, I came in 13th and the other girl 15th in the entire province. Turns out little misfit 699 Jasper Place Squadron was holding out! 

Fast forward to now, I guess I’m hitting the mid life crisis kind of stage. Wanting to relive the old glory days. 

It’s been a year since I bought those skis and besides piddling around with them a couple times I really haven’t used them. 

It’s because I’ve been scared. Intimidated. There’s a huge part of me that knows my body is no longer conditioned for it and I’ll probably not be able to go very far.  
I guess I’ve felt like “what’s the point?” “Why would I drive 45min to a trail to only ski for 30min?”

Why? Because you have to. 

This is the hardest part of being an adult, we develop these insecurities about our abilities and we no longer can be swayed by others that we can do it. We’re set in our ways and afraid to fail. So why try? 

In children we promise them success and support when they try their hardest. We give them love and hugs and they trust us. Somewhere along the way of becoming an adult we often think it’s too much work to try and we tell ourselves that we’re happy staying where we are as we are. We no longer trust others when they say we can do it and often dismiss their encouragements as false promises.

That is why facing challenges and fears are so much harder as an adult. Ultimately you are responsible for motivating yourself to grow. 
Pining for things will never bring you joy. The outcome of your happiness is directly related to your effort. 

Take a page from my little experience today. There was no one there to pack my hot tea and lunch. No one there to drive my ass to the Nordic Centre.No one there to buy my trail pass and no one there to clip in my boots and says “let’s go.” 

There’s was only me. I know it’s not easy getting off our asses and doing things but we have to. If we want to become that person that inspires us to be better, stronger, healthier we have motivate ourselves and push ourselves. 

In the end I finally got myself onto the trail into my skis and though I was as graceful as a baby giraffe, I’m happy that I did it. 

New Years Resolutions Don’t Work. 

First off Happy 2017 to all you amazing humans! Let’s spend another year doing stuff and things together.

Now for those of you getting over the Holiday Hangover and hoping to kick start the new year with all your “resolutions” and new changes, let me say this. New Years Resolutions don’t work. 

Perhaps for the mighty few, keeping these private promises actually result in success, but for most of us they never work. 

Instead of making a list of resolutions, this is what I do. I have a list of things I want to do in life

A bucket list some may say. This list isn’t confined to 2017 and it constantly has new things added to it. It also constantly has things crossed off of it. 

I’m going to show you the secret of how I manifest my destiny and how I challenge myself to grow.  In 3 super duper simple steps. 

1. Put it on the List. 

When something comes up and you want to achieve it put it on the list right away.

E.g. Quitting smoking. Lose weight. 

2. Make reasonable benchmark goals.

Most people want short cuts so they make extreme goals,  like “lose thirty pounds in a month or “quit smoking cold turkey,” or “run everyday.” 

The problem with making New Years resolutions is that it suddenly only gives you one year to get there which really isn’t that long. So instead, treat it as a bucket list and make it a lifestyle change, rather than a “get rich quick,” kinda thing. 

This step is crucial so keep checking with yourself and recalibrating! For example with quitting smoking. Instead of telling yourself you want to quit smoking, start telling yourself that you will smoke one cigarette less a day. 

If you’re trying to lose weight, STOP telling yourself your trying to lose weight by trying to measure a lb/ kg value. Instead put away the scale… and every day just make ONE healthier choice. This is a lifestyle change. 

Trust me if you can change how you perceive these bucket list goals you will reach them faster.

3. Start Today. Day by Day. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s January 1st or June 19th. The day you put that thing on your list you have to start today. 

You also need to stop telling yourself “in three weeks I want to be done.” You need to instead make choices day by day, minute by minute. 

Achieving goals starts in the present not pining for the future. If you focus on the present these goals will manifest. The only time you look to the future in achieving these goals is in Step One when you add it to the list. 

Don’t look back and sulk on your failures. Don’t look forward and count down to how many days you have left to get this thing done. Look to now and ask yourself “am I going to do ONE sit up now?” “Am I going to smoke THIS cigarette now?” 

“Can I do this ONE thing NOW?”

The choice is simple. Yes or no. 

Now that moment is over. When the next one comes. Repeat. Ask yourself one question about doing ONE thing, and then you either say yes to it or no. 

I’m off now. My thing on my list today is 

1. Do a free handstand push up. 

My benchmark goal today is:

2. Do chest to wall push up and stretch.

3. “Am I going to do a chest to wall push up now and stretch?” YES.

To Feed You is to Love You.

There is nothing I detest more than feeding someone I do not respect. To many this probably seems like an odd proclamation but to those who know the meaning of food, it is not so crazy a statement.

I learned this particular aspect of myself a few years ago. While travelling with an organized climbing group called Hot Rock, in South America. We all had certain daily duties to perform as well as a rotational roster for cooking duties. I won’t go into details but essentially over the course of the trip I learned that there was one particular person I absolutely resented cooking for. She was the one non – climber on the climbing trip whose sole purpose was to cause trouble and tension between everyone else. Yeah… you know the one.

Anyways, we always shared our cooking duties with one other climber so it would be less laborious for one person. Every time it was my turn to cook the mean girl would never thank me for my food and would exaggerate her gratefulness to the other cook, (on top of other mean things she would do). Thus began my realization of how much love I put into my food and how hard it was to feed someone I did not love.

I began cooking at the age of 6 and I have always loved to feed other people. Since that experience on that trip, I have interestingly enough, put more love into my food than ever before. It has become increasingly apparent to me how much I value people in my life. I have always tried my best to recognize and verbalize the great qualities I see in the people around me, but in recent years I have redoubled my efforts.

This Pies for You.

Lately, I’ve been addicted to making pies. Not the sweet pies but the savoury ones. I love savoury food and even more so savoury pies! However, these aren’t your traditional pies. It has suddenly dawned on me that I can put whatever the heck I want inside a flakey pastry. ANYTHING! Mind blown right?

Today I have made three different kinds of pies.
1. Beef Stroganoff with Wild Shaggy Mane mushrooms picked by yours truly.
2. Butten Chicken with A Twist (Cottage Cheese instead of Paneer)
3. Cream of Bacon, Beer, Aged white Cheddar and Shrimp.

I spent the morning making the pastry, using a dumpling technique I saw a the Ginger Beef Restaurant. I cut the butter, crumbed it into the flour and gently kneaded some milk into it. I made large coils of the dough and tore off little balls of dough, of which I made into flat circular pieces. I stuck those babies in the fridge while I began making the Stroganoff filling. The butter chicken was already ready from the day before.

Thinking of you.

While all these amazing things were happening, I started thinking.

I thought of you. My friends, my family. I thought about what you were doing for the holidays and I was hoping that maybe i’ll get a chance to see you. I thought about how wonderful you were and all the good things you have done and all the things you have achieved thus far in life.

I thought about how excited you would be to see me and let me put yummy things in your belly.

Time to chill the fillings. I put these out on the balcony as I prepare to wrap the first batch of pies. I thought about who would love the wild mushrooms in the Stroganoff. I also started to think about how lucky I was to have so many creative, loving, adventurous, open minded and intelligent people in my life.

I started to preheat the over to 400 degrees F. I began to wrap the butter chicken pies. I thought about who would like these and that I better make sure there’s a little piece of chicken in each one. Crap that ones leaking. Oh well someone will eat it.

I thought, crap I didn’t make any vegan or vegetarian option. I usually do. Exactly, I usually do and in those cases those people get special treatment so this time the meat and dairy people get a turn! I still feel bad.

Then I started thinking about the Veggie people in my life. I wonder what kind of pies I can make them next time. How will I make the crust? Im starting to fill the Stroganoff pies. I tried a coconut oil crust last time but it was so dry. I’ll figure it out. I miss my Veggie people. One of my best friends is a Veggie and she’s all the way down in Texas. My other Veggie friends are Kiwis and they’re so far away too. I hope they’re all having a good time doing stuff and things right now.

I realized I still had a bunch of pastry left, what else could I do? Bacon. Everyone loves bacon! Then I began to make the third filling. Bacon with mashed yam in a creamy cheesy filling. Yum. I put the other pies in the oven.

By the time I finished the third filling I was getting fatigued from all the cooking and wrapping. Instead of waiting for the filling to cool I just started spooning the hot creamy stuff into my pastry. I forgot the yams. Damn It. Ouch! Crap I’m burning my fingers! I modified my technique and finished the Bacon pies. They look a little wonky but thats okay it will make them easier to distinguish.

Finally Pies.

After a few hours, my pies are almost done. I am sitting here sharing this odd post with you all because I wanted to share a glimpse of what goes on in my mind when I’m cooking. You.

I think of you when I’m cooking. Cutting, Simmering, Boiling, sautéing and burning myself. I think of you when I put in spice or no spice. Meat or no meat. Onion or no onions. I think of you when I wash all the many dishes that come along with cooking, so that when you come visit me there’s a nice clean kitchen. And when I pack these up, I’m going to try make sure they don’t get crushed or broken, because I’m thinking of you.

This is what it means to me when I feed you. Every time I cook I think of all the people I enjoy feeding and how mush happiness we have brought into each others lives. So next time you take a bite of my food. I did it because I love you, and when I say I feed you because I love you, know that it’s true.

The secret ingredient is Love – of course – but it’s not a secret. I feed you because I love you. End of discussion.