5 Things Hiking, Life Have in Common

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hiking-life

I never cease to learn or experience something new during my hikes in the mountains, and this past weekend was no exception.

  1. If you want the trails to yourself, you must make tracks: the early bird still gets the worm.
  2. Not every hiker is on a mission to burn calories or achieve a cardio workout: be patient with those in the slow lane (you might end up there).
  3. When you focus less on the ‘mountain,’ you appreciate your bite-size accomplishments: take it one step, one goal at a time (and hydrate often).
  4. Life is about the up (hills), the down (hills) and, sometimes, the smooth sailing: don’t get too comfortable on the latter terrain because this is not where we commonly grow.
  5. You will never know how strong you really are if you don’t push yourself the extra mile: choose a life filled with ‘oh wells’ rather than a life of ‘what ifs.’

What have you recently learned while enjoying a favorite pastime?

Go the distance: identify, conquer your personal ‘peak’

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personal peak

The tip I offer in ‘What *not* to do while hiking’ can be applied to any area of our lives. Getting cocky, comparing myself with others, elevating my importance—these are character flaws with which I struggle from time to time. A week after that infamous trek, I climbed back onto the mountain—my proverbial horse—and conquered a 5.1-mile hike, again discovering my muse and solving a plot problem in the novel I’m writing. Although I tripped a couple of times while on the trail, I remained upright, albeit a bit more cautious. I also reflected on how tiny I am—a speck in the middle of a vast desert. And that, in light of my recent fall, the mountain symbolizes a personal ‘peak’ of mine. Returning to the scene of the accident—or failing marriage or dead-end career or spiritual fallout or whatever we’ve identified as a challenge to change—affirmed to myself I’ve got what it takes to go the distance.

What’s your personal peak?

Road rage and running on empty

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Road rage_empty

In my last post, I talk about slowing down, listening more… and bringing muffins. After that, I merged into the fast lane, full speed ahead. The problem? Road rage. I’ve cut people off (usually those closest to me) and my tank is running on empty. I also question the direction I’m headed and can’t seem to see the forest for the trees. Or, rather, the cacti. Only, I hope once I make it to the top of my mountain, I may glean a better vision for where to refocus my attention and fine tune my course. Because lately my dreams appear fuzzy, unattainable. Maybe even unrealistic. I might just take a break from chasing Someday and allow my passions to take a backseat. This way I can move into the regular flow of traffic and allow the natural rhythm to carry me along without a struggle. Yet what I could really use more than anything? A hug.

When is it time to change the course of your dreams?

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Asking for help

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Asking for help

[Image credit: digitalart]

Asking for help is not something that comes naturally to me. For example, at work I’ll routinely wait until I’m drowning in deadlines before raising my hand and begging for a lifeline. And after four weeks of suffering through labored breathing and laryngitis, I finally saw the doctor for help managing my allergies and asthma. When I am unable to work through something on my own, I feel like a failure, although I know that is the furthest thing from the truth. When we acknowledge our need, we validate our humanness and connectedness with the world outside ourselves. I think we’re inherently designed to help others carry their load and vice versa. It draws us closer and, I believe, ultimately strengthens us for the task at hand. Who doesn’t want to feel needed … valued … worthy? Even an encouraging word may make all the difference in the world to someone who doubts their ability to tackle a mountain.

Is there someone who could use your help today?

A mountaintop experience

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[Image credit: Michal Marcol]

Last night I met up with a girlfriend and four other women on a southwest desert mountain where we enjoyed sprawling views, a cardio workout and I learned a few things.  First, it doesn’t seem to matter that I hit the gym six days a week.  Hiking — uphill and on uneven and rock-strewn paths — is vastly different from spin class or lifting weights.  Additionally, wearing a headlamp is a practical way to remain hands-free, as well as make a bold fashion statement among your peers.  I also realized meeting new people not only can lead to new friendships, but you may even discover you have more in common than a mutual love of the outdoors.  (Speaking of which, I never really considered myself an “outdoorsy”-type person, but it turns out I can count on more than one hand the number of activities I delight in beyond my typical four walls.)  And while the sun set in the desert, blanketing the six of us in dusk as I thought out loud next to my hiking partner, I learned I can be happy and content while I’m in this new season of self-discovery despite frequent detours to the waiting place.  I’m definitely thinking a regular meet-up with this group of hikers is in order because I, for one, have so much more to learn.

Where do you experience your best epiphanies?