I ignored all of it and continued on. One foot in front of the other.
A year ago, what I did yesterday wouldn’t have been possible. A year ago I could barely walk around my house without agony. My legs have been one of my greatest weaknesses since I was a child. Starting when I was seven and continuing on my entire life; they have limited me and brought me daily pain. Some days worse than others. Some days I had all I could do to walk even the shortest of distances. Multiple surgeries when I was younger helped some but the damage I had done over the years would be permanent. I learned to acclimate. Do things differently. Not do a lot of things. I hid it as much as possible, not wanting to be seen as weak, and listened as others judged me as lazy, overweight and unmotivated. One gains weight when one can’t exercise and going into my thirties, I was the heaviest I had ever been
I thought, after my mother’s suicide almost five years ago, that I had dealt with everything and let it go. I thought I was healed. But, I had only just started the journey. I had only just begun the real work. My whole life to that point just before her death was taking care of family ripped apart by mental illness. Seeing to everyone else’s needs and wants and completely ignoring myself.
I’ve spent the past five years getting reacquainted with the woman I was supposed to be before life and all of its crap got in my way. Everything I have been doing, everything I have been learning and trying has been a journey deep inside myself that culminated with what I accomplished yesterday.
Yesterday, I climbed a mountain.
Which, in itself is a huge accomplishment for me. I made some serious life changes almost a year ago. Cutting out sugar, processed food and limiting myself to a very healthy diet, I’ve lost over eighty pounds. I started using some essential oils and a blend from a company called DoTerra that turned out to be a game changer for me. I could go days pain-free. I could walk, climb stairs without wincing with every step. I started setting distance goals within my neighborhood. Walking to the farm down the street and back, walking to the stop sign even further on. Over time I built myself up to doing five to seven miles daily. However, it wasn’t just my legs that were healing. With each mile parts of who I am shook free. Who I was destined to be. Who I never allowed myself to become because I had others to worry about.
I started this journey more broken than I even realized. A stranger to myself.
Yesterday, the final pieces fell into place with every step I took up that mountain.
I realized how horribly I talk to myself. How many times a day I chastise myself and talk down to myself. Instead of words of encouragement, words that I would quickly give others without pause, I failed to say to myself. I would always say how weak my legs were. How awful they were. I would think to myself how much better life would have been with different legs. I had to change my thinking to change my life. On all accounts.
Halfway up the mountain, I became so focused on how much farther I had to go. It was daunting. The incline steep and rocky, filled with millions of tree roots, so many obstacles to work around and go over. When I stopped for a few moments to catch my breath and drink some water, it occurred to me that I was thinking backward. I should have been looking at how far I’d come, instead of how much further I had to go. I should have seen all of the obstacles I had traversed to get to right where I was.
All of a sudden, I felt empowered.
Change your thinking. Change your life.
I whispered words of encouragement to my legs and continued on. The climb got even more challenging. The fear set in on my next break. What had I done? I was stuck on the side of a mountain with my dog. I felt trapped. The way back was too steep a descent and the climb ahead of me intimidating. Just like life sometimes. We see things we know we need to handle. We are aware of the things we have to confront once and for all. We don’t want to go backward but going forward is terrifying in that we could fail, we could never get to the summit of everything we are dealing with. We focus too much on the big picture of what we think life should look like and not look closely at all the little things that make up that mountain. Fear stalls us. Self-doubt hinders us. The horribly discouraging words we whisper to ourselves when faced with a challenge stops us before we even start.
So, I reminded myself that going backward was far scarier than digging deep to keep going. Just like in life. I began to use the goal method like I did when I first started walking my neighborhood. I would pick a tree to make it to. Then, a moss covered rock. One piece of the trail at a time. Was more manageable that way. Just like life. With each goal I reached, my confidence grew.
The final quarter mile was incredibly steep with many, many rocks. I was weary. Breathing heavy and sweating profusely. I wanted to give up. Then, a thought shook loose from my mind; how many of us give up when we are so close to completing something so incredibly important to our lives because it got so much harder than we anticipated?
I dug even deeper
I am the culmination of all the broken, neglected parts of my entire being. Parts, that though I grew weary, I never entirely gave up on. Parts I have finally come to see the value of. Parts I now believe in. I am a beautiful mosaic of brokenness that I have finally brought together into a strong, powerful woman who will not shrink from challenges life throws my way. A woman who will dig deep, find a way past her fear and continue on regardless of how daunting a climb, for one reason, I am worth it.
The moment I crested the summit and walked out into the sunshine my whole world changed. Physically, I am the strongest I’ve ever been, and I proved it to myself in making that climb. I’ve busted my ass to get to this point and am proud of this.
But what I am most proud of is that I even had the faith in myself to try.
Many times throughout the course of our time here on earth, we will be faced with our own formidable mountains. We will have to carefully examine if how we are living is both how we should be living and how we want to live. The pure happiness I felt when I made it to the top was something I’ve not felt in many, many years and that saddens me. The time I lost neglecting someone who should have been of the utmost importance. Me. Because, when you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t care for others. When you don’t triumph over whatever is holding you back, face your fears and do things you never thought possible, you aren’t living life, you’re merely surviving life.
I don’t know about you, but I want to live and thrive not just survive.
One mountain at a time.