why I'm a rock climber @jojotastic

I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a long time, but after taking a bit of a tumble this weekend, I felt like it was a really good time to explain why I’m a rock climber…

So many people find it surprising that I’m a climber upon first meeting me, particularly when we’re meeting via the blog or social media. It’s pretty safe to say that the Jojotastic-version of Joanna is different than weekend-in-the-mountains Joanna… the latter version is much less girly, or as we call it in the climbing world, I’m a bit of a dirt bagger. I don’t mind eating an apple before it’s been washed (and after it’s taken a tumble down some rocks), I can go days without showering if I have to, and I really freaking love sleeping under the stars. I’ve always debated how much of that facet of my life to share in this space — I’m not exactly an outdoors blogger, nor do I want to be one. Mostly, I just want to share my store of how climbing fuels me as a person and as a creative.

why I'm a rock climber @jojotastic why I'm a rock climber @jojotastic

The fact is that I feel vastly more creative when I’ve spent time outdoors. During my time in Philly, I really struggled with this because I was doing amazing design work, but not filling my tank at all. I didn’t have friends who wanted to go hiking or climbing, so I just sort of… stopped doing what I love. This coincided with some really painful emotional issues like major depression, too. Eventually, I reached a point where I was totally depleted and just could not produce anymore. I was running on empty and it was a bad scene. It felt like I had nothing. My move to California definitely helped in this regard — as soon as I relocated, I was hiking a lot, spending time at the beach, that sort of thing… but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t rock climbing. When I moved back to Seattle in March that I resumed my pattern of climbing 3-5 times a week. Now that I’m back in the climbing gym and going on outdoor trips every weekend, I feel incredible, like I can tackle freaking ANYTHING.

And that’s the thing…

Climbing makes me feel insanely powerful. The feeling is super straightforward: if I can go up there, I can do anything. This gives me a sense of power, not just in climbing, but in every facet of my life. I’m confident in business, my personal worth, relationships… I know that deep down, I’ve GOT this because I climb MOUNTAINS. Put another way, I feel so much more secure and confident with myself as a person when I’m climbing consistently. There’s almost this brute force, primal element to it, to be honest. Kinda feels a bit caveman-y, actually. And I love it. When I’m not climbing, I start to second-guess myself and my abilities, something that never feels good.

why I'm a rock climber @jojotastic

Then there’s my happiness level when I’m climbing consistently and regularly. It’s not even just happiness, but zen. The best way to describe it is a feeling similar to how runners describe their high post-run or how yoga practicers feel totally blissed out after a good session. And I’m not alone in this thinking; the NY Times recently shared this article about how even just walking in nature changes the brain. Lots of food for thought.

And lastly, I’ve never really thought of myself as a person who ‘needs’ that adrenaline rush, but when I really sit and think about it… I totally am. I crave adventure. My bones and my soul and my heart need it in a very pure way. Combine this with my need to always push myself to be better and climbing is just what I’ve always needed. My mantra is to always be pushing myself, always be reaching for more and more, never letting myself grow complacent. Ever.

So really, it shouldn’t be a surprise at all that I positively adore being a climber. Even now, as I sit here writing this with an ice pack on my knee and an MRI scheduled for Saturday, all I can think about is when I can get back out there. Yes, I took a big fall this weekend, but no, it’s not going to affect how or why I climb at all. If anything, this minor setback will fuel me to get back onto the rock stronger than ever before.

why I'm a rock climber @jojotastic

all photos via my Instagram.

straight up girl talk // dating pt. 3

There are so many key components when you think about dating and what makes a relationship work or not. The one I want to talk about today is timing. For example, meeting someone and falling head over heels with him 3 weeks before you move across the country for a new job. Finally learning to wholeheartedly believe in love and trust someone and then having him break up with you a month later. Or meeting someone who goes north for the entire summer on a fishing boat.

That last one? Yeah, that’s the situation in which I find myself. (Actually, all of those examples have happened.)

As you may recall from the first post in this series (and the second, for that matter), I’ve found someone with whom I feel a connection. I’m into him in this kinda-scary, but also pretty-damn-awesome sort of way. And he’s leaving. We’ve only been seeing each other for a month and some change, so it’s not like there is a whole lot I can demand. From my perspective, I wouldn’t feel comfortable committing to someone I’ve known for a month. It’s too soon. So then where does that leave me/us? It’s a shitty situation and it’s stressing me out.


father's day gifts from Artifact Uprising + a giveaway!

This Father’s Day is a bit bittersweet for both my dad and me. It’s our first year of observing Father’s Day since my incredible grandpa passed away — not gonna lie, it’s gonna be a tough one for both of us. We still plan to keep him in mind and retell his amazing stories, but I also want to make sure the day is extra-special for my dad. One way I’m doing that is by creating memorable art for his home with Artifact Uprising.

father's day gifts from Artifact Uprising + a giveaway!

I started by sifting through stacks and stacks of old photos. Black and white… old Polaroids… you name ’em, I’ve got them and it was time to put them to use. I scanned two of my favorites: my grandpa as a young man on his farm in Maryland and my dad fishing in Wyoming. Both are in their happy place and that glow practically permeates each image. The simplicity of the Artifact Uprising [Signature Print] + Wood Cleat is perfect for my home, but I know will also work in my dad’s home as well — making these simple statements a gift for years to come.

father's day gifts from Artifact Uprising + a giveaway! www.jojotastic.comfather's day gifts from Artifact Uprising + a giveaway!

Artifact Uprising has also been kind enough to offer one lucky reader a gift card of $250, too! Enter below for a chance to win. One winner will be chosen at random by Tuesday June 16 at 10:30 am PST. Open to US, Canada, and international readers. Winner will receive 1 $250 gift card to shop Artifact Uprising. Good luck!

father's day gifts from Artifact Uprising + a giveaway!

Photography by Meghan Klein. Styling by Jojotastic.

This post is a partnership with Artifact Uprising. All opinions are my own and always will be! Thanks for supporting content that keeps Jojotastic going.

straight up girl talk // dating pt. 2

The last time we checked in, I’d shared a bit about the pitfalls (and fun) of online dating… and started sifting through some feelings I had started to develop about a guy I met. That was about 2 weeks ago and I’m excited to say that I’m still into this guy. Which, of course, is totally freaking me out. Or has been, until recently.

I guess I’ll start from the beginning. (more…)

one giant peony

Every once in a while, I need a mental health day… and today is that day. Mercury is in retrograde (more on that here thanks to my friend Elizabeth) and I am feeling it. Correction: I am feeling everything. So I’m taking the day to myself to be quiet and maybe even undo the crappy night of sleep I had last night. I’ll be back tomorrow.

photo via my Instagram.

straight up girl talk // dating pt. 1

[ Editor’s note: I was talking with a bestie about this and she told me it’s hilarious and charming and totally worth sharing on the blog… so here goes. I plan to be brutally honest, so if you’re not into that, maybe keep scrolling? ]

Here’s the thing… I finally feel like I’m ready to try my hand at dating and having a real relationship again. I’ve made strides in getting over my ex, I’m managing my work time wayyy better than ever before, and, honestly, I am just so freaking ready to share my life with someone, partner-in-crime style. What I’m about to say is not new, not at all: dating sucks. I know, not exactly groundbreaking news, but my experience over the past few weeks has kind of built up inside of me and I needed to write about it.


what happens when you slow down?

Remember when I talked about how the move would help me to reduce my hustle, cut back on my hours, and maybe take a weekend off? Well, it’s happening. Slowly, but surely I’m spending less time working and more time living. I woke up on Saturday morning and didn’t feel the necessity of opening my laptop, checking and writing emails, planning more shoots. And I just finished up a few projects that have always been on my mind, but I just never had time to actually execute. I am totally overwhelmed by this amazing feeling of IT IS HAPPENING.

On the weekends though… I start to realize how little I’ve focused on myself the past few years. My body is exhausted, but my mind is totally restless. I constantly worry that I should doing something, even if it’s not work… laundry, dishes, cooking, anything. So on Saturday I forced myself to sit in a chair and read a book (this is what I’m reading at the moment, BTW). It was a struggle and I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that. Not many people have the luxury to actually take a day off like that to just read, but I did and it was truly difficult. I couldn’t quiet my mind and it felt impossible put down the phone. My mind was all WHOA WHOA WHOA, what is going on here?! The same thing happened at the gym this morning: they have a strict no-phone interaction policy and I kept catching myself falling into the old habit of reaching for it to check how many like my latest Instagram got or what’s new on Twitter. Aka shit that is not actually important at all.

I’m aware that this isn’t an overnight process, but I am pretty damn shocked by just how difficult it has been for me to slow down. These few examples have made me aware of just how bad the problem has gotten. But as I grow my awareness (like this morning at the gym), I start to really explore what happens if I don’t immediately respond to that text or check Facebook comments. This practice has also given me a bit of clarity as to WHY I am so attached to my phone: many of my friends don’t live in Seattle, so that glowing rectangle is the easiest way to keep in touch. The barrage of texts and constant photo and video sharing essentially happens in place of real, live human interaction. As someone who says she places high value on one-on-one in-person interaction, I’ve instead begun conducting all friendships via social media and texting. It’s this weird feeling of never being truly alone with myself.

I’m left with lots of questions now: How much connectivity is too much? And how do I stay in touch without being constantly accessible? It’s a strange balance, one that I’m working on more and more these days. If you’ve got any insight or tips or even just similar stories, I’d love to hear them.

photo from my Instagram — follow me here!