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As I’ve watched Ellie climb from infancy and into her early toddler years, one thing that has impressed me the most is how methodical she is with her thought process and decision making while climbing on the rock wall. She has patience, she takes the time to explore all of her options and if one doesn’t work she backtracks, grabs the other side of the hold or tries a different foot placement. Chris Sharma, one of the world’s best climbers, once said that “Climbing is like moving meditation. To focus so single-pointedly that pure awareness, energy and emotion are the only things left remaining.” Zen emphasizes the connection between body and mind. Zen brings together awareness that blossoms without effort and surrounds the moment with serenity. I often see this beautiful process in Ellie’s climbing, in my own climbing and the climbing of others who have mastered the sport.

As for the “monkey” component in the name, the intent was to incorporate an element of energetic yet carefree and playful athleticism. I LOVE monkeys and specifically gibbons. My husband and I have been known to disappear at the zoo and the only place you’ll find us is at the gibbon exhibit with our noses pressed up against the glass as we watch the magical creatures effortlessly glide through the trees. We’re envious as we marvel at their natural strength. It is a strength that I yearn for as a climber and not only because it seems endless and effortless but because they also move with such elegance. As Ellie grows into climbing I want her to find that strength and elegance and be as the gibbons are.