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What I Learned From Trekking

What I Learned From Trekking

I just got back from trek. Trek is a church activity that spans a couple of days. Teenagers along with their adult leaders dress up in pioneer clothes, put their very few items that they can bring in a 5-gallon bucket, toss the buckets in a two-wheeled handcart that they then pull for miles each day to hopefully help them understand just a tiny bit of what the early pioneers felt as they walked across the plains to get to Utah in the 1800s.

As you can imagine, most teenagers are not excited to throw on their bloomers or khaki pants to pull a wagon for several days in the summer heat, and I was feeling that same way. I realized the night before that I cannot have a bad attitude going into this because that will not help the 200 teenagers that are going to be dragging their feet. I thought to myself that I am going to smile and learn something!

I am glad I changed my attitude. I learned a few lessons from trek that I thought I’d share.

Make unexpected happenings into an Adventure

By the second day of the trek everyone was pretty worn-out. We had walked 15 miles in 2 days and we all just wanted to sit and relax at our campsite. We had just trekked into camp when we see the darkest clouds making their way over to us. Seagulls were flying all around in a frenzy which made all of us begin to panic, and just like a switch that gets flipped on and off, the rain was flipped on, and it was turned on HIGH.

Huge raindrops, loud thunder, and intense lightning came for us. We had 3 easy-ups that had been set up around our food area and it was a race to attach the side panels to create a more rain resistant shelter. One of the amazing youth leaders was running from side to side attaching the Velcro with the biggest smile on her face. She came back under the easy-up with her hair stuck to her wet face and her arms raised up in the air shouting “this is an adventure!”

If I was her, I’d have slumped back under the easy-ups with nothing but negativity. I would be focused on how wet I was and how dinner preparation was not going as planned, but this amazing leader took a completely different approach. Instead of being down-trodden she was excited to figure out how to prepare dinner in a different way than was planned.

Dinner was made and it was delicious.

I know it is so hard to have a good attitude when plans don’t go as we expected, but there is so much good that comes when we see “Plan B” as an “adventure” rather than a “back up.”

Wearing the right shoes is imperative for support

We had a sweet girl that decided to wear boots instead of her trusty tennis shoes and it showed by the end of the first 8-mile day. Her feet were covered in blisters. A member of the medical team we had there even said that she may not be able to trek the next day. Needless to say, she had a whole lot of duct tape and moleskin on her poor feet.

Yes, the combat boots went better with her floral skirt, but the tennis shoes would have been able to give her the support that her feet needed. While I was trekking along I was thinking about support systems as I was thinking of this poor girl’s feet. If we surround ourselves with the support system, we can avoid a lot of hurt.

My mind instantly went to the movie MEAN GIRLS. When Lindsey Lohan, the main character, hangs around the mean girls she just ends up getting burned over and over again. She finally learns her lesson and surrounds herself with her family and people that care about her. Now, life will not be easy, but we can definitely lessen the amount of blisters we get on our feet depending on the support of our shoes.

In short…

make the unexpected into an adventure! No more sitting around and ruminating over the changes – embrace it. Also, make sure to surround yourself with a support system that will prevent the blisters, rather than cause them.

You are Meant to Thrive

You are Meant to Thrive

On Sunday, Jessica Knoll wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times challenging the claims of the wellness industry, and—more than that—asking why so many smart women continue to fall for “its harmful, pseudoscientific claims.”  Amen, Ms. Knoll, amen. 

Hate the Body

She points out in her opening paragraph one of the great, sad truths of what it means to be a woman:  we connect in our self-hate, and it is perfectly acceptable to refuse to accept yourself, and specifically your body.  There’s even a name for it:  normative discontent.  Specifically, this is the idea that it is normal for a woman to be discontent with her body, and that it’s probably asking too much that a woman could—or even would want to—get to a place of peace with her body.  

Knoll talks about being indoctrinated to hate her body, and is it any wonder?  From a young age, as girls we grow up listening to the women in our lives complain about their bodies.  We see them restrict their intake, yo-yo diet, and measure their worth according to their pant size.  And that’s only what’s happening inside our homes.  

If we look at a screen or venture outside our front door, we are bombarded with messages touting the thin ideal:  in order to be acceptable, lovable, successful, and perfect, you must be thin.  And everything in our society reinforces the thin ideal.  Everything. 

Isn’t it just a little sad that as women one of the main ways most of us connect to one another is by self-flagellation, one-upping one another on the horrors of our cellulite, and in a general way agreeing that we are disgusting? I suppose this sort of dialogue is not too surprising if the expectation is that as women it is just asking too much that we get to a place of peace and acceptance with our bodies.  

Expect More

Really?  Is this really too much too ask?  Is it really too much to ask that as women we could live fully embodied lives, free of shame?  Is it too much to ask for a little peace within your own body?  I don’t know about you, but I just think the bar is a little low on this one.  

Maybe the problem is that we continue asking for permission from the same forces where the indoctrination has happened.  Maybe it’s time to expect more for yourself and for your life because you deserve to live a fully embodied life, free of shame and guilt.  

You are Meant to Thrive

In my invitation to hope more for yourself, I’m not trying to throw our mothers and sisters under the proverbial bus.  We’ve all done the best we can.  We’ve all been trying to survive in a hostile wilderness.  Survival often meant submission.  

But we know better now, and we can do better. We were meant to thrive, and in order to thrive we must be willing to reclaim our bodies and our voices.  You are meant to thrive!  Yes, you.  I’ve been so inspired by the incredible ways empowered women are reclaiming their voices on social media, supporting women in all our beautiful messiness, and encouraging authenticity over approval.  It makes my spine tingle!

You deserve to have an intuitive relationship with your body and with food in which you can truly eat in response to hunger-fullness cues rather than the dictates of the latest diet guru.  You can know your body better than any expert.  Yes, you, humble, fallible woman.  You can know what’s best for you. 

You don’t need to look outside yourself for the answers.  You don’t need to see what others are wearing.  You can wear what is most comfortable for you.  You can move in ways that bring you joy.  You can connect to desire in ways that are noisy and inappropriate and would make your mother blush.  You can reclaim your body.  Right here.  Right now. 

Because if not now, when? This moment, this life, is the only one you’ve got. Live it fully.  

 

Link to New York Times article:  

 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/08/opinion/sunday/women-dieting-wellness.html?fbclid=IwAR2aZXYfJkDxCVmM_7aKpzZV7ZBPUJVrZv1S0lgQuoPvrt2YcBQQf7Vr42s

Too Much Technology?

Too Much Technology?

I recently watched a new Ted Talk called “The Future of Happiness: Getting Unstuck in the Digital Era” delivered by Amy Blankson just a few weeks ago on May 4th. While acknowledging how technology could be a distraction in our lives, Blankson also spoke of its benefits. (more…)

Embodying Desire

Embodying Desire

Are there specific labels you deeply fear could be applied to you? Labels that are so aversive to you that you might spend a lot of time or energy engaging in your life in ways to avoid being perceived as those things? Maybe “lazy” or “incompetent” or “stuck up,” for examples? That label, for me, is “selfish.” I don’t know exactly where this came from but I have an incredibly strong aversion to being, or being perceived as selfish. Maybe it’s from the culture I grew up in. Maybe it’s from my family of origin. Maybe it was simply in the Kool-aid I drank. But I don’t think I’m alone in this experience.  (more…)

A Case For Solo Travel

A Case For Solo Travel

Last month I spent five days traveling around the North Island of New Zealand in a camper van by myself. Now whether your reaction is – “Epic!” or “But what about all of the things that could go wrong?!” – I’d like to make a case for why I think everyone should do something like this at some point in their life. (more…)

Quarter of a Century

Quarter of a Century

On May 1st, I switched my mom’s calendar for her and was taken back for a moment; on my birthday, she has written Josee “25”. 25. A quarter of a century. Half-way to thirty. Or as my grandpa so graciously put it, 1/4th of the way dead. (more…)

When Numbing Becomes a Way of Life Part 2

When Numbing Becomes a Way of Life Part 2

Though numbing is often used to avoid difficult emotions, such as pain, fear, grief, and shame, it can also be used to numb feelings of powerlessness, uncertainty, overwhelm, discontent, and disillusionment. Life is big, it is so, so big, and I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I consider the scope of life and all that it calls for, it leaves me feeling very overwhelmed and not at all up to the task. Churchill put it best: “Life is one damn thing after another.”  Truer words were never spoken. (more…)

When Numbing Becomes a Way of Life – Part 1

When Numbing Becomes a Way of Life – Part 1

 

Let’s get one thing straight at the start of this blog post: we all numb our pain. We may like to pretend otherwise; that we are somehow more enlightened, that we lean into our pain, that we are proactive about our coping skills, and that we are invested in understanding our emotional experience, and while we may believevery strongly in the value of these approaches to life, when it comes right down to it, when we are hit upside the head with painful emotions, most of us flee. We head for cover, reach for the nearest bag of potato chips, put ourselves in a Netflix-induced coma, or push ourselves to oblivion out on the trail. The mechanism of numbing may be different, but the fact remains the same:  we numb in the face of pain.  (more…)