Why I Don't Do Crystals

Photo: Dani Costelo

Photo: Dani Costelo

“I feel like a child on the shore. Picking up one pebble over the other just because it looks more interesting than the rest. Yet the ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me.”
- Issac Newton

Some people know me to be quite the skeptic, especially when it comes to medical pseudoscience. There are tons of health and wellness trends out there. So many ways for us to become our best selves and find happiness. It’s exhausting. Full-disclosure, I’ve fallen victim to some of them because I wanted it to be true or I was too lazy to do the research. My problem is not with the people who buy into these trends. We are all after the same things; happiness, peace, and longevity. My problem is with the people who take advantage of this knowledge by making money off of our vulnerability by making false claims.

I’m taking it upon myself to provide you with as much information as I can on the topic of medical pseudoscience. If after receiving the information you still want to charge your crystals and sleep with them under your pillow then go for it! I’m not here to judge you. I’ve just seen too many people empty their bank accounts searching for something that they possessed all along. After reading this, you can decide for yourself if you still want to spend $70 on a rose quartz straw because it’s said to “radiate a heart-opening, calming vibes”.

First, we can all agree that the mind is indisputably powerful. It alone has the power to heal us. The placebo affect has been known for millenia to cure people of their pain and mental distress. This is an amazing phenomenon to me and so useful in demonstrating how the brain can both manifest pain and take it away. It also shows us that many things within the health and wellness arena, like crystals, have power because we give them power.

Neil Degrasse Tyson said it perfectly in one of his podcast episodes, “In the history of cultures is that civilizations tended to gather together and establish a higher curiosity factor for some things over others….over history what we’ve done is you pick up shiny things. We wear shiny things…Crystals are the worlds first solid transparent things. Take that fact and say can you do anything with it?”

He then goes on to talk about the birth of the crystalline sphere. During the time when humans believed the Sun revolved around the sun we needed an explanation of how the surrounding planets were held up. Something has to hold them there, something that surrounds the Earth completely but still enables you to see them. Thus the birth of the crystalline sphere.

“Crystal, not because it’s a special form of mineral but crystal because you can see through it.” says Neil.

Now, along with crystals not holding any real healing powers, the mining of them can also have a negative impact on our environment.

Opals, quartz, tourmaline, or amethyst are mined in conflict-struck countries with lax labor laws and environmental regulations, according to an article written by The Guardian. This industry is booming in Western Civilizations and endorsed by many celebrities. Crystals have turned into a multi-billion dollar industry and yet those that mine these “healing stones” are severely underpaid and work in dangerous conditions.

“Mining has an environmental impact, whether it’s for ‘healing crystals’, the copper in your phone, or the gold in your ring,” explains Payal Sampat of nonprofit organisation Earthworks. The quote marks are her own. “‘Healing crystals’ are mined in places like Myanmar (The New York Times did an article about the link between the mining of Jade and heroin in Myanmar in 2014) and the Democratic Republic of Congo where mineral extraction is linked to severe human-rights violations and environmental harm.” *cited from the Guardian

Don't Trust your Gut it's Full of Shit

Photo: Reta Boychuck

Photo: Reta Boychuck

You guys, self-sabbotage is a real thing! After my accident I wasn't sure when I was going to be able to paddle again. Paddling was such a foundational part of my identity and losing it would be truly devastating. Almost every part of my life was built around or a product of paddling. As a result, I needed to prove to myself that if paddling was taken away from me I would still be me and I would have other value to offer the world. So I went full steam ahead in my writing and creativity. And that has been wonderful, liberating, and eye-opening. But has caused me to neglect other things.

Now, with the first competition of the season just around the corner I found myself resisting it. I wasn't excited I was riddled with anxiety. I did not want to go and this was completely out of character.

You see, last season I felt like I was in my prime. I felt the strongest I ever had both physically and mentally. And just like that, within a split second, the rug was pulled out from underneath me. And there I was, starting from scratch AGAIN. At first, I thought my anxiety of going to Paddlefest was only because of some lingering PTSD, as this will be my first time going back to where it all happened. And while that may be a little true, there are two other major contributors to my anxiety....

1. Fear of these competitions being a harsh reminder of how far I am physically from where I was before the accident.
2. Fear of having it all taken away from me again. This is where the self-sabotage comes into play. I've been subconsciously detaching myself from that world. That way, if it is taken from me again it won't be as devastating. I never totally understood why people would run away from the thing they are most afraid of losing. You are, after all, creating the outcome you are trying to avoid aren’t you? And as someone who has often gone for what she wants without even considering the consequences of failure this concept just didn’t make sense. But now, I get it. The loss is much easier to swallow when there is an absence of personal investment.

Simply becoming aware of one’s fears automatically strips it of it’s power. It’s the first step needed to shift one’s perspective. With this realization and some coaxing from a good friend I was able to see all the positive about going to Paddlefest. My fear is still there but it’s not impairing my judgment.

I wrote this little haiku the other day,
”I was told to trust my gut
I trusted
But then I realized my gut was full of shit.”

It’s like my subconscious was trying to tell me something! I actually wrote it to be punny but now realize there was a lesson in there that I was about to learn. We always tell people to trust their “gut”, also know as the intuition. But I don’t think that’s always the most constructive approach to decision making. Our “gut” feeling can be one based on irrational fears, anxiety, spite, or biases. If I were to listen to my “gut” this week I wouldn’t be going to Paddlefest, because it didn’t “feel right”. Sometimes I think we use our intuition as a cop out to avoid doing things that scare us and to justify our actions. Especially living in a time where so many people are afraid of discomfort and being called out on their shit.

I believe self-awareness is the most useful tool in decision making. Taking the time to understand why we’re feeling the way we are instead of blindly following our intuition. Because sometimes our intuition is way off base! And if I followed my intuition all of the time I would be such a flake.

Thank You!


Yesterday was my 29th birthday. This one feels more significant than most having come out the other side guns blazing after a serious accident and recovery. My life has changed significantly over this past year and, I would say all for the best. But that may not have been the case if I had not had the mountain of support carrying me through my recovery. Every day I think about the people that were and are there for me. Every day I wonder how I could ever thank every one of them. And still, I’m not sure how and if any number of thank you’s will ever be enough. But what I do know is I would not be here without each and every one of them. 

I went from laying in a room of darkness and hopelessness to paddling class IV rapids in Costa Rica six months later. Since my accident I’ve overcome some major fears and met some incredible people while connecting on a deeper level with old friends. And I truly believe I wouldn’t be here without my support team. 

Natali was there with her Wilderness First Responder skills as I lay dazed in the alley covered in blood. Mike Harvey and Zack Hughes were there as I was being wheeled out of the ambulance and into the hospital. Mike got on the phone with one of my best friends and team mates Guillermo Loria as I was being airlifted to the St Mary’s hospital in Denver. And within an hour he put a Gofund me up in my name so I could focus on my recovery and not be worried about how I was going to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills I was about to receive. 

My time in the ICU was a blur but I remember feeling so loved as people moved in and out of my “room”. Faces I didn’t expect but was so delighted to see. Nadia Almuti did everything in her power to make me feel loved and cared for. Bradley Hilton looked after me when no one else could. And Gmo and Mike called me almost every day. Josh and Caroline built out there spare room for me so I could recover in the mountains. And my grandmother patiently let me use her car to drive myself to frequent physical therapy sessions.

And then there was everyone who donated money to help me get through my recovery. How does one say a big enough thank you to 100’s of people. Whether you donated $5 or $100’s I see you and I wish I could give each one of you a hug and a home baked plate of cookies. I’m still so humbled by your generosity and I’ve never felt so loved and cared for in my life. It’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for all of you. It’s because of you that I was able to take the time I needed to recover and it’s because of you that I am still able to live the life of my dreams. Thank you for believing in me, for loving me, and for holding me up when I couldn’t stand on my own two legs. You all are the glue that held me together over the past year. I LOVE YOU!