The fire will eventually cease to be stoked

Hi friends! Happy Monday.

I feel like that’s an uncommon phrase, “happy Monday”. I guess I’m just feeling overly giddy still from this past weekends adventure. Said adventure is also going to be the gateway I use to get into the overarching topic of this post.

I posted a picture on instagram last night of my hike from Saturday and added a quote to it. While I absolutely am in love with each quote I use on social media, write down, screenshot, ect., some get me thinking much more than others. I feel like this is something everyone can resonate with? Certain words and phrases attract our minds on a different level. I might have a quote that motivates me, one that makes me look back, and one that is just completely eye opening and a holy crud moment. This one was the latter.

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“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

What about this strikes home so much? I think it’s a combination of the words used and the way it’s worded. For me, snow is calming. It’s mellow, beautiful, peaceful. Fire is flame. It’s fighting, angst, negativity. There is also fire as in “live with fire” (e.g passion). But, here, I’m talking about literal fire. Even with the storm will eventually come the calm.

Dragons are demons. They are the things which create and stoke the fire. They create and fuel the havoc, the struggle. While in the moment, which might actually be a moment or a day, month, year, decade, dragons seem never-ending, but they aren’t. Dragons will eventually cease to continually stoke the fire. They end and comes the calm.

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This hike wasn’t one of firsts for me. For starters, it’s the second time I’ve done it. 12 miles (though my GPS said more like 14 hehe), over 5000 ft. elevation gain, a heck of a lot of steep rock scrambles, having to ascend 1500 ft. post summit. It’s a challenging one, but one well worth every.single.step. Additionally, I’ve had plenty of hikes where I’ve questioned my ability physically, primarily post stress-fracture, which this one still qualifies for to a degree. Regardless, what I’m trying to get at is that nothing was particularly novel about this hike.

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What was novel? What I realized after which is what that quote flawlessly describes.

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

For so long I was fighting. Fighting to be the best, to never quit, to never let go, to keep pushing and pushing no matter what, to not accept that things may go differently. While I’m definitely not a completely relaxed, at-ease, free-spirit… things are different. I no longer have this uncontrollable urge to control every single aspect of my life. I realize that some things will remain out of my control and that is entirely OK. It’s more than OK… it’s great. It challenges me and makes me grow.

I honestly can put hiking at the number one spot on the list (if I were to actually make one) of things which have helped me move from struggling with my dragons >>>> allowing the uncontrollable and just ebbing with the flow. It’s nuts. I started hiking July 2016 and the positive benefits I’ve gained from this hobby are unimaginable. Not ever have I found something that helps me process, work through things, teaches me patience and respect, and that I find so much enjoyment from.

I think that change often occurs when we don’t even see it happening. While I was aware that I loved hiking (especially long hikes, the 6-10 hour ones), and that it was a positive influence in my life, I wasn’t truly aware of the change which occurred and is still occurring until this past weekend and the one before. I feel so freaking at ease in the middle of nowhere. It’s a calmness I don’t feel otherwise. It’s a place to process. It’s a place that pushes me both physically and mentally.

During last weekends I hike it was an easier one. Something that when I began hiking I would have felt guilty about. The “I can do so much and should do so much more” mantra. However, I enjoyed every second. It was great. It was casual and full of deep belly laughs and candid shots at the summit. It wasn’t about the physical hiking, it was about being in touch with myself, spending time with Amanda (hiking pal), and just being outside. There were no standards expected other than to just have a solid fun day. This past Saturday’s hike was more of a physical challenge but instead of being in my head, I just went with it. I trusted myself. I didn’t concern myself in what I was fueling my body with (from the ED perspective) once. I just went with the flow of the day. I accepted the unexpected (coming down in the dark because shit does happen). I realized that just because things are out of our control, this doesn’t mean the world is ending. I realized that I’ve accepted this. I realized that after a decade of trying to control everything, that accepting not everything is controllable is the most I’ll ever actually be in control.

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I want to get into the mental challenge that hiking presents. There is the obvious ascending of the mountain(s). But this is also so much deeper. It’s the process. I don’t just think “shit, can I do this?!”. It’s a long time to get from base to peak and back to base. There are a lot of feelings and thoughts. It’s a lot of time to process. Since beginning hiking I’ve noticed that my clarity both during the hike and in my day to day life has increased tenfold. Daily, I notice I’m less anxious, less likely to automatically jump to the most catastrophic option, less likely to have a total meltdown/panic attack. I rarely have ED urges (something that prior to hiking was a definite prominent thing in my life, regardless of acting on them or not, I still had them very very frequently).

Learning to be one with the process has helped me grow and accept who I am and what I’m doing in life.

This acceptance has helped me put out the fire, kill the dragon, and let the snow fall.

The most important thing I’ve learned in the past year (and a few months, to be technical)?

 ↟    ↟    ↟    ↟    FOLLOW YOUR OWN DAMN PATH    ↟    ↟    ↟    ↟

XO, S

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