Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I Climbed a Mountain

A few months ago I got a wild hair to climb a mountain. Weird? Random? A totally inappropriate thought for my current fitness level? Yes, yes and YES. But there I was, looking at the trail map, facts and information for Sharp Top Mountain and picturing myself at the top of some absurdly massive mountain feeling as if I could do anything. So while we spent a week in Virginia with family a few weeks ago, I decided that was it, my husband and I were going to climb that craziness. 

Let's be real here: I hate working out. I'm not so much the outdoorsy girl and my idea of a hike is one from the car to the front doors of Nordstrom. I'll take that. I'm okay with that. But there was just something exciting about this whole "scaling a mountain" thing and the potential to see what exactly my body could do now that I'm 61 lbs lighter. I wanted a challenge. I wanted something that I could look back on later and think, "I did that!" So, to the mountain we went. 

While I won't go too terribly deep into the grueling details of the hike, I'll have you know it was both grueling and amazing. Ridiculous and SO incredibly worth it. Like any other avid hiker, I looked at what was around the next corner of the trail (that was straight up, mind you) with disbelief and the sheer knowledge that I may, in fact, die of a heart attack if I had to climb up one more rock that was half my size on my hands and feet. Yes. I was on all fours. 

One positive: the views were so incredibly beautiful once we were about halfway up the mountain and while I took lots of little breaks going up, having something beautiful to stare at while I caught my breath made all the difference. Another positive: the people we met going up and down were so incredibly kind and while they were 60 years-old and nearly lapping me, they offered the encouragement that I needed to keep going. Nothing like having a sweet, random stranger tell you that you're ONLY halfway there and & telling them to tell you that the top was really around the next corner. That may have happened. 

I'm not a genius but I am quite certain that this in no way shape or form should be considered a hiking trail. Exhibit A: 

For about an hour, I kept turning to Ben and telling him that they had no business calling this mess a walking path and he patiently, sweetly told me that it was, in fact, a hiking trail. Not a path. Bless that man! Let's also remember that he is 6'3", has legs for days and lived in Colorado for 25 years. So to him, this was just a little stroll through the mountainside as I gasped for air. 

Here I am at what I figured was the top.. spoiler alert: it wasn't. And what followed was the most ridiculous 1900 feet of my life. 

And we made it!

 The views were beautiful that day and so we did what any other hiker would do, we feasted on a Ziploc bag of nuts and I took about 298202840 pictures of myself from the top while silently freaking out about just how in the world I would climb down. Going up took a lot of work, but going down would require more balance than I feared I had. A bad knee + stepping down boulders half my size + leaves and no traction = a very nervous new hiker. 

Nevertheless, the leaves in the Blue Ridge Mountains have always been my favorite and the pictures I took on that hike are ones I will cherish forever. There's just something about the Fall that makes me feel like I can do anything and that there are no limits or boundaries to my dreams. So taking a grueling little stroll through a mountain in the middle of the woods in October was actually quite breathtaking (literally) and the entire experience was incredibly eye-opening for me.

On the way down, we met the sweetest man, who, after seeing me unbalanced and terrified of falling on my face on the side of a mountain, ran after me and my husband to hand me a walking stick that he found on the side of the trail. We stood on the trail for a good 5 minutes talking about Jesus and our faith. I know for a fact that he was placed on that mountain at that exact moment to give me the confidence and the boost I needed to complete that hike.. and that walking stick. I can't say enough how much that little encounter filled up my cup just enough to make that final descent to the bottom. And as I did, I got to thinking about connections and community and how much we all just need each other.

That kind gentleman chasing after me with a stick to help me climb down my mountain was the kind of encouragement, hope and reminder that I have needed throughout this entire journey. I have succeeded because of my faith. I've succeeded because of random people placed in my life who offer so much support and encouragement. I have succeeded because of those people who have picked me up and encouraged me when I literally wanted to sit out the last hike up my mountain. This will always be my mountain. My biggest battle. The mountain I will always have to climb.

I was reminded so much of my own battle and all of the obstacles that I have overcome and that will continue to stand in my way. There have been rocks that are half my size that have stood in my path and I have spent time wishing that I could just get to the end of my journey already. And in little ways, I have stood on the top of my mountain feeling victorious like a true champion. Mostly, it's all of those little moments, those little choices- choosing to guzzle my protein shake while surrounded by 25 colleagues in a conference room at work for 4 hours who are ever so enjoying the entire menu of Einstein Bros Bagels, donuts and other delicious and very off limits treats that have made all the difference. It's a daily and sometimes hourly struggle. But I have also learned that I know myself well enough to know that while I was at the top of that mountain in Virginia, I was excited and relieved for a good 5 minutes before freaking myself out over the trek down. That's just so me; not enjoying the little accomplishments and already thinking about the next challenge and thinking to myself that there was just no way that I was going to be able to do it. Thinking that, "ya know, there's a bus that I can walk to that takes people to the bottom of this thing and wouldn't that just be the perfect solution?" because I convinced myself that there was just NO way I could make it. 

I'm happy to say that I finally quieted that voice, walked by that bus stop sign and headed back down the trail knowing good and well that I would struggle immensely and that I wanted to do this for myself. About 20 minutes later, I regretted said decision. My inner voice had gotten the best of me and I wanted to quit. This is no different than my current health journey in that at every milestone, every non-scale victory, I spend about a minute feeling proud and satisfied before already freaking myself out over the next phase of my journey and convincing myself that I just can't do it. And this is where it ends. That mountain was the final page of that story.

Recent history tells me that I can climb that mountain.. and I can climb back down, no matter how treacherous the trail. Recent history also tells me that I have come such a long way and that I have so much to be proud about. The kind of pride that should last not just for a minute, but maybe just long enough to get me to the next sweet victory or destination of my journey. 

Happy Wednesday, friends! I hope that whatever comes your way today, you know that you're not alone and that you can, in fact, continue to fight whatever battle you are so very tired of fighting. You are worth it. And you are braver than you think you are.

How do you quiet that little inner voice in your head that tells you that can't do something? I would love to hear from you guys. 

1 comment:

  1. This was so encouraging, and much needed in my life. Thanks for sharing Liz. You inspire me and I am so glad to call you friend!


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