Jumper: Catherine Houser

Town: Salt Lake City, Utah

Quote: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

About Catherine: I first read the Steve Jobs quote after my friend Sawyer passed away from speed flying accident. He kept a small book by his bed, filled with inspirational thoughts and sayings from everyone from Gandhi to John Muir. I clung to those words, reading them over and over, searching for genuine meaning not only in the quote, but Sawyer’s death. I constantly thought about how Sawyer avoided the trap of thinking he had something to lose. He was always the first one up the mountain, whether on skis, in a harness, racing, or flying. He was also always the first one down, seeking his next adventure. Sawyer perfectly married his passion for the outdoors with his stubbornness that his ideas were always the right ones, which made for pushing the physical and mental boundaries of anyone he dragged along with him. In the short 22 years Sawyer spent on this earth, he was undoubtedly confident that there was no reason not to follow his heart.

A very short amount of time has passed since Sawyer left us, but it’s been enough time to make me realize the jump I’ve always needed to take. Growing up in SLC, I had continuous access to the outdoors. My parents enforced family time in the mountains biking, skiing, hiking, or camping and although I was always spending time outside, I was complacent with staying in my comfort zone. I didn’t like being embarrassed when I wasn’t good at something and I was stuck in the trap of thinking I had so much to lose.

I’ve always put school and work first because I knew I was good at them. I was nervous of ski injuries so I stayed on groomers, scared of sucking at climbing so I never left the bouldering wall, worried of intense mountain biking so I never left the road. It took two bachelor’s degrees, acceptance to law school, my friends and family, and Sawyer’s death to make me realize that what I was putting all my effort into wasn’t making me sincerely happy. I was just giving myself reasons not to follow my heart.

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I began to realize that the untainted joy I experienced while outside trumped any joy I found from working 50-hour weeks or stressing about an A-. I made the jump to let down my guard, stow away my fear and embarrassment, and have enough self-compassion to accept that I’ll never be the best skier, climber, biker, or runner, but that I can still push myself and enjoy doing so. I hear Sawyer everyday telling me that I’m already naked, so there’s no reason not to follow my heart, ski powder, climb routes that look way too hard, crash on my mountain bike, and run up steep mountains. He gave me a wisdom and confidence about the outdoors that I am forever grateful for. The mission of SheJumps is providing the same wisdom to girls and women everywhere and I hope to spread that far and wide!