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.

Today is our fetuses 6month birthday and I’ve completed a mini quilt that I had started a few days ago.

When people see my projects they think “wow, you just whipped that together!” Or “I could never do that, I don’t have the time. ”

The thing is I didn’t “whip it together.” It took me 30 hours over four days with early mornings and late nights of sewing and a crap load of Net Flix – and it took patience.

The other thing it required was accepting imperfection.

While I was sewing away I tried my best to keep my cuts straight, my lines straight and my measurements as accurate as possible. However as the quilt got bigger and bigger every millimeter off became an inch and everything started to shift.

Similar to life we often begin new challenges thinking we’ll learn step by step and do everyone perfectly, but as we invest ourselves – whether it be climbing, paddling, painting or singing – we tend to make, what seems like more and more mistakes along the way.

It can be frustrating, yes, but this is what separates those who say “they can’t” from those who “I can, I am, I will.”

I look at my quilt as each phase passes me by and I think to myself well it’s one little thing that’s off here, will the quilt still function? And what will it look like in the end ? The big picture. I come to the conclusions over and over again that’s it’s going to still be awesome and I’m okay with the hiccups.

I wasn’t always this forgiving with myself. Even with my progress, I sometimes I still get frustrated when I fail, but I realized while making this quilt that over the years in my learning I’ve become more of a big picture person.

Instead of giving up when I make crooked stitch, I make the next one a little straighter. Or I take it apart and try again. Instead of going home after failed attempts at a climbing problem, I take a break and try again.

Life is like making a quilt. It’s a long hard road to get to the end. Often times monotonous, with clumps of knots along the way and crooked lines that take you places you never expect. You can choose to keep making new quilts and quit every time you mess up, but where will that get you?

It’s often better to continue on the same path, the same quilt and accept those mistakes because in the end… the big picture results in something quite amazing.

As a great mean once said (insert quilts instead of kicks):

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. Bruce Lee

What was the last thing you tried and pushed through to the end ? Share your growth story with us!

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?

I began methodically painting Bob Ross paintings. Every few days or so I paint a Bob Ross while following one of his Netflix episodes and I offer an open door policy to any of those that wish to join me.

My facebook album the #BobRossProject states:

I do not know why this began or where it is going, but I do know it has begun and where it will take me can only be good places.

I have always been a lover of painting but only in the past few years I really started spending more time committing to the art. It started in Fort McMurray and it seems every year I double the effort.

It came from a time of loneliness and reflection and it grew into something so much more. I became inspired by my community and became involved in art project I never dreamed of.

Now in this new phase I’ve begun to share my love of painting with those around me and hope to inspire and teach my community the power of healing and growth

that painting can bring.

WHY the Bob Ross Project ?

Only 6 sessions into the project I have already felt a change. People are reaching out to me to bridge the gap between the unknown and known. People that never believed they could create and be artists are suddenly inspired to try something that is universally familiar and yet new. I have always believed that one of the most important aspects of life is to challenge growth. In oneself and in those around you, for it is a cyclical thing and if you can inspire someone to do something they will in turn, re inspire you, and life will then be meaningful.

Thanks to Bob Ross I have been able to provide a platform that gives those around me the confidence to be an artist. We all grew up knowing Bob Ross and his “happy little trees,” and he brings comfort into all our hearts. All I do is provide the necessarily materials, the love and kind words and viola! People are growing all around me!

This was one of the great motivators to begin the Bob Ross Project. To get people to learn something new.

Why Else?

The other element of this project was to motivate myself to paint more regularly and to explore new methods while growing my own artistic style.

I have been dabbling in painting for the past 5-6 years now and I’m only beginning to understand what types of painter I want to be. Though I know I have a long way to go, I am finding this approach to prioritizing my art is very conducive to accelerating my progress.

Now What?

Well I’m only beginning this crazy new thing and there are still lots of Bob Ross Paint Nights in the days to come in “Melba’s Studio,” so ask yourself are you ready to “make some happy little trees?'”

Oh and Fun Thing Bob and I have in Common.

(Though I don’t have a little squirrel like Bob Ross, I have a little chinchilla named Cactus that serves as my painting mascot.)!

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. 

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. 

How to Farm Awesome. 

Lately I’ve been incredibly elated knowing that my circle of people are so amazing. I have the best people in my life. People that give it their all and constantly challenge themselves to grow.

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