When in doubt, take it to the mountain
Finding my center on the mountaintop. Navigating a difficult year!
One of the most beautiful things about committing to a healthy lifestyle centered around putting yourself in the equation of your own life, is the self-awareness and self-discovery that comes with it. I view myself as constantly growing, learning and evolving. I’m in a constant growth state — this time it’s a personal growth mindset NOT pant size growth! 😉
Over the past five years, I’ve learned to recognize what I need, when I need it and honor it with self-care and self compassion. It’s not always easy, but it’s becoming easier and I have many great mentors who’ve helped me along the way.
These past few months, I’ve been increasingly stressed, sad at times, and I’ve noticed that I’ve started to work a bit too much. I’ve become too isolated in my day-to-day life for this God-given Extrovert, and I’m starting to worry about things over which I have little or no control. The old “victim” voice has started to creep back into my conscience.
There’s no question that it’s been a tough year and I’m navigating some tough personal stuff, but there also are no victims allowed in this new Lori-in-the-equation life! So when the voice of the Gremlins — self-doubt, worry and that good old Victim appear, I know exactly what to do.
I take it to the mountain!
I live in Minnesota, so some would call our mountains — hills, but I don’t care. They are mountains to me. And, frankly, when you weigh 381 lbs. and you’re climbing in winter in snowshoes — it’s a frickin mountain! (Ok, I might have used a different “f” word a few times in boot camp.)
The point is that I know myself well enough to know that when I get stressed and worried and out of my centered space, I need to go do some vigorous hiking, preferably on a mountain. In Minnesota, I am lucky enough to work on the North Shore of Lake Superior where we have a few. And, I get the added bonus of being on my beloved big-water-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see Lake Superior. That helps with the psyche too.
So last week, in a short three-day work trip to my beloved North Shore, I packed up my heartache, worry and stress (including the “victim” as back seat driver) and took it to the mountaintop, twice. Both mornings, I awoke early and ventured to climb the mountain before work. On Oberg, my mountain, I was the only person on it before 7 a.m. — well, me and the critters. Just the way I like it. It was a gorgeous crisp summer morning and I asked my mountain to give me what I needed that day.
I expected to have an emotional journey on the mountain that might include tears, out loud self talk and a serious restart. I didn’t experience that. Instead I had this overwhelming urge to show the mountain my strength, my physical strength. So I started to climb hard and fast, and then this non-running girl ran most of the mountain trails all the way up, walking only on the switchbacks down to protect my knees and ensure a cool down. The trail running felt great! I felt alive and well. Strong! Stronger than any obstacle in my path.
The really cool thing is that I absolutely do not doubt that I am enough. Good enough. Healthy enough. Wise enough. Sexy enough. Beautiful enough. Courageous enough. Loveable enough… I was able to re-assure myself in my strong belief in my true goodness and my worth and stand at the top of the mountain in my power! My healthy Lori–in-the-equation internal voices were able to counter not just my own internal victim voice, but all of the naysayers, critical voices and harsh realities that I’ve experienced in my outward life that set it off. Cool! I was able to really embrace my gifts and my ability to chart my own course even when the going is really, really tough.
The mountain that day gave me a renewed strength in my healthy living path. It gave me a strong physical challenge and the message that I walked away with was this: “No matter how hard things are right now, Lori, you are tougher. You are stronger. You are beautiful girl and a gift to this world who has so much to give and so much more to do. And you’ve totally got this!”
There were no tears on the mountain that day, only a renewed commitment to my strength (physical and mental) and a strong understanding of the healthy girl that I’ve become, inside and out. And how incredible that feels, even when it’s hard! Even when it doesn’t feel happy. Even, and especially when, I am stuck between “no longer” and “not yet.”
The second day on the shore, I climbed the slightly more challenging Carlton Peak with my friend Jolita and her awesome dog, Spicy. We talked and aggressively hiked at a great pace. We caught up on so many things that I barely noticed the few times I lost my breath on the ascent. Jolita wanted to show me a new vista just off the Carlton Peak trail — the Tofte Overlook. I had not been that route before and WOW, was it awesome.
This climb is more challenging than Oberg and the vistas more rewarding. As we stood on the mountaintop and enjoyed the views and some quality time together, I realized that the mountaintop is where I belong when I’m feeling like a need a mental boost. When I need to get in touch with my new-found fit and healthy girl spark, and when I need to remind myself that this journey is not always rosy or easy. I chose to live a WHOLE life, and it can be hard. It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves, said Edmund Hillary. Yep! Feels awesome!
For each of us, life cycles between the really great or good times, the not-so-good times, the hard times and the pure sucky times. But it always cycles back. For a year now, I’ve been sitting in between not-so-good and really hard, with a dose of total suckiness. I get it! It’s okay. Because I know that patience, self-care and compassion, and “time outs” to take it to the mountaintop are exactly what I need to stay the course in a healthy way. And I know it will soon cycle back. When I am ready. When I have learned all there is to learn right here.
So, we forge on. We say, hello September. I love September! A new month, a new season and sure, why not, new beginnings! Not to mention GREAT hiking! In less than one month, I will take it all to my all-time favorite place on earth to feed the soul — Downeast Maine! I will absolutely take it to the mountaintops — again and again and again. It is my happiest place on earth and discovering new vistas and new climbs is the best thing I can do to feed this soul.
I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this mountain climbing gal in September and beyond.
Cheers, my friends. May your September bring health, happiness and mountains to conquer as you conquer yourselves.
Check out these related blogs, celebrating my journey to climb the mountain:
- A girl and her mountain (May 2016)
- An epiphany on my mountain (Oct. 2015)
- Mountain climbing therapy (July 2015)
- Honor the space between no longer and not yet (Aug. 2015)
- Three lessons I learned on the mountaintop (May 2015)
- From fear and dread to anticipation & love for my mountain (Dec. 2014)
- Climbing mountains, getting strong (Dec. 2014)
- Hiking! Mountains! Happy! (Sept. 2012)
- Tears on the mountain — an epiphany (Oct. 2011)
- An active vacation — a mountain climb with the sisters! Life is good (Aug. 2011)
- Oberg Mountain. My new quest (Dec. 2010)
- My personal journey to climb the mountain (Nov. 2010)