November 6, 2011

The Autumn of My Life, Mountain Bridges

On my recent mountain trip, I'd planned on taking a silent retreat, with ample time for Reflective Thinking. And time with my journal. Oh well, there was not much time for reflection, what with setting up camp, sequestering food from vermints, fetching and purifying water, cooking, developing strategies to stay warm,  de-cramping muscles and well-deserved sleep.

I did get to begin to read The Tao of Pooh (by flashlight)  and finally, finally understand that this was not a funny book, but rather a series of serious lessons using the "apparently" light children's story of Winnie the Pooh as a teaching tool.  

On the trail I actually spent most of my time in Reality Thinking.  It was a lot of focus to stay steady on the trail, attentive to each leaf-covered step over rocks and roots.  By gumbo, hiking and camping is a lot of work.   Instead of "om time", I was talking inwardly to myself.  "Hmm, haven't had much time to write or groove on nature and the exquisite beauty around me. I am not sure I like this time alone. Are we having fun yet?" 

There were humble moments of accomplishment--not only doing all the things of camping on my own--but finding safe and sane balance and remaining compassionate. Looking at the days in hindsight, I used Reality Thinking to modify my plans and honor my limitations. I had to admit I had a pack that was a bit too heavy, had chosen trails that were a bit too rugged, and accept that I was not quite in shape for my heavy load to be carried up 1-1/2 miles of 1200 foot elevation gain.

This was a "Do-your-inventory-with-kindness, "Easy Does It (but do it)" kind of trip. Every campsite I hiked down to, I had to climb right back up the following morning. To do that effectively, I had to be kind and affirming of all my efforts.

The trip was also about applying Step Eleven, being grateful for good timings, chance meeting with people (angels),  who redirected my route. I came to gracefully accept changing plans around each of my limitations. I even learned to appreciate my best efforts and stop comparing to trips taken over thirteen years ago. When I was only able to take 30 steps at a time, I did not let my Inner Critic (the voice of a former mate) get the upper hand.  Instead of pressing on, I took rests until I felt emotionally ready to move on, something I have never allowed myself to do before.

There was no Gremlin on my shoulder, telling me I was not good enough!

I am very very proud of how much better I take care of God's gifts to me--especially the gift of a body that has healed enough to allow me to take trips like this!  Especially appreciative when I imagine back to a year and a half ago when I could barely walk at all. This trip, I was able to drive myself three hours without pain, and I did not have the problems with my shoulder that I'd anticipated. 

Instead, I had the most panful hips in my life thus far!   The painful hips got my attention, like warning lights.  How grateful I am for mixed blessings--I traded my shoulder pain for painful hips and some new muscles  to learn about and heal!  


  1. I did some reality thinking this week end, and find it quite helpful, since I usually carry around rose colored glasses.

    I'm going to check the library this week for the book. Appreciate your interpretations.

    Good for you on the trip. Camping (alone!) is difficult, you have to pay attention.

  2. Just checked out Maxwell's books on Amazon, and decided to start with "Encouragement changes everything." I'll let you know what I think of it, or perhaps you have read it.

  3. I am very interested to hear your thoughts on this book. I have not read it, but the title has been on my mind ever since reading your comment!


I welcome your thoughts. Keep me honest~