Tag Archives: Hiking

Finding Determination Through Fear.

19 Oct

A few days ago I was talking with a friend of mine, and he asked me to explain my absolute worst fear in life. Though some classic answers popped into my head, like ending up alone and losing the people I love, I knew my absolute worst fear. I tried to say it, but couldn’t. I felt like I was about to cry. However, after a period of silence stretched over us like a blanket, I finally spoke.

“I’m afraid of the day when I’ll no longer be able to walk.”

I spent my entire childhood learning to walk so I could be as independent as possible, despite my Cerebral Palsy. Before my intense operations, I learned to walk in my own way, my knees knocking together as I put one foot in front of the other. During the years I spent on a t-ball team, I loved the feeling of running to first base. Even though I typically got out before making it to first base, I ran with all my heart just like everyone else on my team. I ran in my own way, but it never stopped me from trying.

After my first operation at the age of 10, I had to completely relearn to walk after having my femurs straightened out and kept in place with rods. One year later, when I got the hardware removed that was placed during my first operation, I had to relearn to walk yet again. See, not walking was never even an option for me. I wanted to be like the other kids my age, and to do that, I had to be able to walk. I had to be as normal as I possibly could. Even when I was faced with physical pain that made me want to curl into myself and give up all together, I kept going. Every day, I literally walked towards my own independence, one step at a time.

Because I spent so much of my life struggling, and ultimately succeeding, to walk, the thought of reaching the day when I’ll no longer be able to walk is completely terrifying. In so many ways, when I reach that day, it will feel like a kind of giving up. Though I plan to walk for as many more years as I can, I am scared of the day when the pain will just be too much, when walking will be putting too much strain on my body. It’s especially frightening because I know how much physical pain I’m in on a daily basis currently. The realization that I am in so much physical pain and I’m only 21 is terrifying. Trying to imagine my level of pain when I reach age 30 is nearly impossible.

That is one great thing about fear though. It has the ability to help us find the determination and strength we didn’t know we had. Yes, my worst fear is seeing the day when I will no longer be able to walk. However, I’m not there yet. I am a long way off from that day. Today, I am able to walk and do the things I love, despite being in pain. Today, I am able to push through the pain, because the result…the view at the top of the mountain…is worth it. The happiness, joy, and pure bliss of the destination weighs so much more than the pain of the journey.

The fear lingers in the back of my mind, the fear of knowing one day I won’t be able to get to the top of Max Patch, my absolute favorite place in the world. However, the fear also gives me the strength and determination I need to continue doing what I love. Yes, one day I may not be able to walk because of the amount of pain I am in. But I’m not there yet. I’ve still got plenty of fight within me.

At the top of Max Patch (October 2013)

At the top of Max Patch (October 2013)

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Natural beauty in a fractured world.

18 Oct

Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Sometimes it takes my breath away that I live in such an incredible place. However, more than that, it seems surprising that I’ve only lived here a year. When you consider how attached I’ve become to all the natural beauty that’s around me as well as the wonderfully accepting people who live in Asheville, you’d probably assume that I’ve been living here for years. Truthfully, that’s how it seems sometimes.

I’ve had very few times in my life that I could honestly say that I have completely loved the way my life seemed to be spanning out before me. However, I would definitely consider now to be one of those times. No, things aren’t perfect. Today just felt close to perfect. For instance, I got to campus 30 minutes earlier than I normally do on Thursdays just so that I could take pictures of the fall leaves that are finally fully bursting with reds and oranges, I went to my favorite used bookstore to buy Life of Pi (which I started on Tuesday while I was at work but wasn’t able to finish obviously), and then I just spent some “me time” driving around town looking at all the incredible natural beauty that I’m fortunate enough to see on a daily basis. So yes, today was pretty perfect.

I’ve always loved natural beauty. Since I grew up making frequent trips to the mountains and went camping and hiking with my family starting at a very young age, I guess you could say that it was pretty obvious that I’d become a mountain/nature girl. However, despite having all that exposure when I was young, I love it for all my own reasons (even though all the hiking and camping definitely helped). I love it because it shows that even through adversity, there can still be beauty. Yes, that’s cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason. I think nature in itself has always reminded me that there is something to smile about in every situation. Though it may be something small, like a red leaf that has landed on the asphalt in front of you, it’s reason enough to stop, take pause and breath in the beauty that surrounds such a fractured world. Even as I write this, it seems sad to think of our world as fractured. However, when you consider all of the bad things that happen in the world for unknown reasons, I think it’s an accurate description. Despite its fractured nature, there is something to love about the persistence of natural beauty. No matter what, autumn always comes. Even if things seem like they are falling apart around us, we can count on the seasons. We can count on looking out before us and being overcome with love for the mountains we call home.

Sunday’s Snapshots: Max Patch Summit.

14 Oct

Finally made a trip up to Max Patch, my favorite place on Earth!

The books that saved me.

2 Oct

Due to Cassie’s most recent post, Dear Fear and Judgement:, I’ve been inspired to discuss the books that have changed my life. I’ve been reading for as long as I have had the ability to hold a book in one hand and a flashlight in the other. After all, all of us who love books know that even when darkness falls, we don’t necessarily put down the books that have grabbed us so strongly out of our reality. Sometimes the arrival of darkness forces us to grab a flashlight, get under the covers and escape into a world that seems just as real as the world in which we are living.

Pippi Longstocking is one of the first books I remember reading from cover to cover countless times. I don’t know if it was the independence Pippi portrayed due to being a nine year-old girl who lived without the constraints of adults or her red hair that she always wore in pigtails that caused me to be so drawn to her. Either way, I remember a particular summer in which Pippi went everywhere that I did. Even when I went on a week-long trip to Edisto beach with my family, Pippi came along for the trip. Though I didn’t take the book with me everywhere, it sat patiently on my nightstand every day, waiting for night to come so that the pages could be turned once more, causing Pippi’s world and my own to collide through something as simple as words.

 

Even though Halfway to the Sky was introduced to me much later than Pippi Longstocking, it was yet another book that became very well-worn in a relatively quick amount of time. Halfway to the Sky tells the story of Dani, a 13-year-old girl who runs away from home in order to escape the recent death of her brother and the break-up of her parents’ marriage. However, Dani doesn’t run just anywhere. She runs to a place that she believes her parents will never find her to do something amazing: hike the entire Appalachian Trail. Even now, I know why I loved this book so much. It involved hiking, which I did a lot of with my family growing up, and it involved the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is a place that I haven’t been able to fully appreciate until coming to live in Asheville last fall. However, Halfway to the Sky created the strong connection I’ve had to the mountains for so long. Even though I have been coming to the mountains ever since I was little, I definitely think that Halfway to the Sky is one of the main reasons that I have felt the desire to fully experience the mountains. There are days that I find myself driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway looking at the overlooks or hiking up to Max Patch Summit, which is an hour above Asheville, just to simply feel the mountain air in my lungs, and ultimately, feel alive.

 

It may seem strange that I’ve included The Bell Jar in the books that have saved me due to the fact that it is a very dark and depressing novel. However, I believe that it saved me in the sense of helping me realize that we all have our own inner struggles that we are battling, and therefore we shouldn’t be quick to judge others because we don’t know what they have to face on a daily basis. Also, since The Bell Jar is essentially the autobiography of Sylvia Plath’s plunge into madness, I think this book may have been one of the first examples of my desire to be a counselor. Even though I may not have realized how much I wanted to be a counselor during the time that I was reading The Bell Jar, I know that if I were to read it again now, it would most likely affect me in a completely different way due to my new-found passion for psychology and counseling.

 

John Green’s newest book, The Fault In Our Stars, came out in January of this year, so it is probably the most recent book that has deeply affected me. It is the story of Hazel, a 16 year-old cancer patient, who is forced to attend a support group where she meets and falls in love with 17 year-old Augustus Waters. Even though it would be easiest to say that this book saved me because the writing is simply amazing, that only scratches the surface of how this book has impacted my life. Through reading The Fault In Our Stars, I have learned what it means to love. However, more than that, I have begun to realize that a huge part of allowing yourself to be loved by someone else is by placing yourself in a vulnerable position. The concept of vulnerability has scared me my entire life because in my mind, it places you in a prime position to be emotionally hurt. However, over the past few months, I’ve realized that the road to love involves being vulnerable. It’s scary, but it’s the only way to truly let someone love you fully. The concept of vulnerability also applies to writing as well because the truest and most raw pieces of writing are those in which the writer is completely 100% vulnerable.

Even though these books may not have necessarily saved me, they each have helped me realize something new about myself that has helped me get closer to who I truly am. For as long as I can remember, books have been the one place where I can go to escape. However, I never realized that they’d end up helping me find myself. Yes, I’m the girl who reads all the time, the girl who always has a book with her no matter where she is, the girl who would rather curl up in bed with a book instead of going to a party. Words have taught me about love, strength, hope, pain, and adversity. However, they have also been the way that I have expressed all of those emotions as well, giving me a way to be as authentic as possible. They are something so simple. And yet, for me, words have always been enough.

 

A Jar Full Of Stars.

25 Nov

“Dark clouds may hang on me sometimes, but I’ll work it out.”-Dave Matthews Band.

Pacolet Falls, NC

Though I feel like many of my posts have been about finding happiness in the simple things, tonight it was true example of doing just that. I had a hard, but rewarding day of hiking to a nearby waterfall with my family. The waterfall was just as pretty as I remember it being as a kid, but the trek there and back was difficult for me. Yes, I did it, but I’m definitely feeling the effects of it now. However, that’s beside the point. Anyway, when my parents and I got back to our mountain house, I got out of the car. The first thing I did was look straight up to see a dark sky filled with stars. Since we live out in the woods and not many people live near us, it’s dark enough out to see the stars, and it honestly took my breath away. I felt like I could just reach up and grab some stars and put them in a jar. A jar full of stars all for me.

Yes, star-gazing is a very simple act, but it brought me happiness today. I had a hard day of hiking, and I feel like it was all worth it because at the end of a good day with my family I got to see a sky full of stars. No, stars are not foreign to me, but since I live in Asheville, I don’t see the stars much. Though I love Asheville, I didn’t realize how much the city lights can obscure your view of the stars. So, it was a nice treat tonight to gaze up and be able to just be filled with happiness.

What simple thing has brought you happiness today?