My happy place is very specific-the Colorado Rockies. I lived in Colorado for a short 3-year period as a youth and try to get back as often as I can. This trip I had the opportunity to spend 8 wonderful days hiking and taking in the Colorado Rockies. The trip was amazing and caused me to pause and reflect. So here you have it, my mountainous musings. What I realized as I journaled is some of these musings are actually life lessons that I’ve been practicing for a long time. They are the ‘keys’ to my fulfilling life. The interesting thing is when I’m not in practice of any one of these keys-it impacts my ‘whole’ life and things becomes chaotic! So here we go, climb a mountain with me using these keys and the reward at the top is a clear, serene body of water that will reflect your beauty.
1. Unplugged and Untethered
I did not intentionally set out to completely unplug, however I was having so much fun exploring, discovering, hiking, creek walking, caving (yep-found some awesome caverns) that it didn’t even occur to me to be on Facebook, check emails, look at apps, or any technology for that matter. I was completely unplugged, untethered to anything other than the present moment in nature. I have to say, the feeling of ‘freedom’ was amazing, and I believe a huge part of this vacation’s success.
I’ve been practicing presence for about 10 years now but this took it to another level of not only being present in the moment but being present to myself. We really don’t need our attachments as much as we think we do! The key is to build the intention for self-presence, listening to our head, heart and gut while silencing the noise around us.
2. Create Community
I was fortunate to spend this time with my best friend and life partner. And we also became a part of the ‘hiking community’ as people shared their experiences, knowledge and expertise. There is something powerful when you belong to a group of people that share a common interest or passion. The key is to build community in whatever you do. We need one another and thrive through shared experience. Community helps bring awareness to things we are too close to or that we have not explored as yet. Community can also serve as the encouragement we need when stepping into the unknown. Running across hikers that let us know the next ‘resting place’ was just around the bend was extremely helpful!
3. Break it Down to Build yourself up
I’ve learned from past experiences to break down my ‘hiking experiences’ to shorter hikes to start with to give my lungs a chance to adjust to the elevation. I’ve learned the value of the breaking down process in many areas of my life. When learning a new skill, break it down; When in conflict, break it down; When facing an overwhelming project, break it down; and the list goes on. The key is to remember: The more I’m able to break something down into little parts, the easier it is to take the next step……
4. One step is all it takes
There was one day where we were going to do a 9-mile hike-really not that far in one day. However, you add an elevation increase of 2,000 feet and all of a sudden, the landscape changes! There were moments where all we could focus on was the next step, and then the next. Looking back, I think it was a good thing that we did not know what was before us-there were some dangerous parts of the trail. We just kept focused on the next step. The thing is, sometimes in life the hardest thing is to take the first step! The key is to Step in, and when it gets a bit overwhelming, focus just on the next step.
5. Rest Often
This is the lesson I struggle with the most! I like being in movement-both physically and mentally. The hike mentioned above required periods of rest. With such a steep incline, every part of our bodies was being taxed. It’s easier to recognize this on a physical level. But what about when we are mentally or emotionally taxed? For me, rest caused more anxiety than it was worth until I experienced an immense period of burn-out! Boy did I learn my lesson; The key is to rest often and allow for rejuvenation and you will get to where you want to go and enjoy the journey more!
6. Breathe it in
The views were magnificent! And it was also the smallest mountain flowers or cascading water, or small critter, or not so small critter, that had me appreciating the cumulative beauty around me. How often do we Breathe it in – the magic of our lives, the big things, the small things, the complex parts, the simple parts? To Breathe it in, for me means a deep awareness and gratitude for everything life brings across my path. It is the lesson, the gift, the journey. This is key to a fulfilling life.