Do what it takes to get through the tough times

It is difficult to avoid the hype around Memorial Day. For many people it is the kick-off of the summer season with parties, get-togethers and fun. For others, it is not a celebration. Rather it can stir painful memories of a deceased loved one, divorce, loss of a job or financial struggles. I understand all these circumstances because I have been through each one of them.

I built resilience through tough times which has allowed me to live a happy, joyful, and purposeful life.

One of my tools of resilience goes back to my childhood. As a kid, you could find me outdoors playing baseball, riding my bike, or pitching a tent in the backyard. I always felt grounded when I was in nature, outdoors with the sun in my face and the wind at my back.

Memorial weekend I spent quality time with my family. It was good to get together, eat some great food and remember those that served to protect the rights we are guaranteed as Americans.

I also found myself feeling uneasy. Uneasy is really hard for me to describe. It’s just that I’m off, things about me aren’t quite right. I have a yearning to be amongst the trees, breathing fresh air and moving my body.

Listening to my body and my heart, I decided to go for a hike about 1 1/2 hours from town. One of the things that I should have remembered is that the weather in Denver can be very different from the higher altitude in the mountains.

I wasn’t prepared to see a large pile of snow at the lower parking lot. It blocked passage to the trailhead which was another .7 miles away. I knew immediately that I was ill equipped to do this hike. I didn’t have hiking poles, snowshoes, or spikes. However, I didn’t allow not having the necessary tools stop me. I knew this was what I needed in order to take care of myself. I was determined to do my best, no matter what the conditions were.

After climbing up and over the 10-foot pile of snow, my dog Kahlua and I took off on our adventure. The trail started out with a combination of snowpack and dirt and rock. The official trail would disappear and reappear, yet I was able to follow the path of others who had gone before me. That is, until I reached a frozen snow field. Footsteps were not recognizable because of snow drifts and no signs of the dirt path. I headed up one side of the snow field and was unable to detect a trail. It was at this point that I had to make a decision to continue or turn around. Besides not having traction I did not know where I was or where I was going. I was hiking alone and the thought of getting lost in the woods made me consider my safety. It was at this point that I encountered a fellow hiker. He pointed me in the direction of the trail and suggested I follow his footsteps. With that, I felt confident to continue.

As Kahlua and I proceeded the snow changed from frozen and packed to melting and soft. I followed the ridgeline of the snow fields the best I could. Suddenly, I found myself up to my knee in the snow, creating something called a posthole. I had to scramble out of the hole and hope that my next step would not cause me to sink again. This occurred with more frequency the higher we went.

As I climbed and paused to look around, I was greeted with the beauty of the lake below. It was worth it to posthole!

I ascended above the tree line and reaching the summit was less daunting. I felt a sense of accomplishment. I started the hike without the optimal equipment, however I persevered. I overcame some obstacles with determination and grit. I knew I could make the top with the correct tools. It wasn’t going to be that day though. The time it took to get to this point was much more than I set aside. I had other family commitments and needed to start back down the trail.

I did not consider this a defeat. I was in control of my actions. I really felt that I had succeeded in what I set out to accomplish, which was being outdoors, testing my body and challenging my mind. My sense of uneasiness had disappeared shortly after starting my trek.

One tool in developing resilience is doing things and not letting them defeat you. Learn what you can from experience and act. I made a mental note to check trail conditions, always have my spikes in my backpack and download the trail map.

You may find yourself facing challenges whether getting through a divorce, the loss of a loved one, or life-threatening illness. Continue to persevere. It will get better. You may create post-holes and need to pull yourself out.







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