What recovery feels like

Hi all!

Before I even get into the depth of this post I’m adding two disclaimers… one for myself and one for many of you whom may be reading this.

  1. This is one of the more vulnerable yet freeing blog posts I’ve written. It’s also likely the longest.
  2. If you currently are struggling with, are in recovery from, or feel at risk for an eating disorder please read this post at your own discretion.

No introductory paragraph needed, this post is a long one as is. Let’s go…

A few weeks ago a close friend asked me something I’ve not yet been asked – “what does recovery feel like?”

An on the spot question that I didn’t feel prepared to answer. Crap. I wasn’t taught this in therapy or treatment. I was given tools to work with myself rather than against myself in my journey to become “whole again”, whatever the heck that means. I wasn’t told how to respond to what this all feels like…

My response: well, uhm… challenging, freeing, comfort-zone breaking, and well, really really terrifying.

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Let’s talk.

Recovery is messy. But, on the other hand so is actively living with a raging eating disorder. And, for those of you reading this despite the disclaimer who may think “but my ED is under control, not raging”, this applies to you too.

Before I can even begin to discuss what recovery feels like, which will take up the bulk of this post, I must briefly discuss what living with an ED feels like. Rather, what did this feel like to me, because everyone’s experience is unique. I’ve written about this before, even posting a journal entry which I’m going to take an excerpt from…

The manifestations inside of my brain are a complete madness. The voice which leads me to follow down the path of habitual maladaptive and self-destructive behaviors. It’s a complete psychosis. All I’m trying to do is prove myself to the voice inside of my head. It’s pathetic.

Living with an ED is hell. It’s having two voices inside of your head, one which is you and wants to see you follow your path, your soul, and fulfill your dreams. This voice is who YOU are, it’s the one which you will hopefully become friends with in recovery. The other voice is “ED”, it’s the devil. It’s the voice which tells you the despite your hardest effort you will never be good enough. No matter how “sick” you get it’s not enough (but, remember, it’s your loved ones that are saying you’re sick… ED says you’re stronger than the rest, that you’re better, that they’re all wrong). Sickness can be felt as strength in an ED. Sickness being following the commands of the voice inside of your head that is trying to kill you but also the voice that is followed because it makes you feel put together although in reality you’re crumbling apart by the second.

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In the same post, from the same journal entry (just go read the post, it’ll make much more sense), I get into some of what recovery feels like… especially the being triggered part.

Recovery is messy, but relapse is deadly. In recovery the voice partly subsides. It’s weaker. Your now not completely starving. Memories begin to feel more like imaginations, almost as if the eating disorder doesn’t actually exist and you haven’t played around on the fine line of life and death for the past however many years. But you have to remember that’s a lie and you did. Then you question yourself. Was I really in that deep. Did I actually do that to my body, my soul, my life. I know it happened but it feels so surreal. Almost as if it’s someone else’s story that I heard before. My mind doesn’t want to remember the past. The pain. The struggle. It wants to make it better.

Then you remember. What’s worse than remembering the truth is that your mind begins to feel the same way as when your head was in the toilet or as when you could count with your fingers what you consumed last week. It’s sick. But it wasn’t that bad, right?

My recovery has been going since 2012. It’s had some pot holes and some speed bumps. I would be lying if I said recovery is easy, simple, free of hiccups. I think the bumps are what have made it, at least for me, “work”. I think the plethora of hiccups have made me stronger, one by one, in fighting the ED voice in my head.

I wrote a few months ago about having had a stress fracture earlier this year. This was my first major injury (the type that kind of makes you press the pause button) since treatment. I was nervous. I felt like part of my identity was being taken from me. I told myself to just go with it. Day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. Cliche but it helped. I won’t say I felt entirely in control throughout the whole healing process, that’d be a full-on lie… BUT, I trusted my ability. I trusted all that I’ve been through in the process of recovery and that I could get past a slightly larger speed-bump. I was honest with loved ones about what I was feeling. I jumped on the fu*king do this bandwagon and went with it.

Arguably the most useful skill I’m cultivating is to ebb and flow.

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Writing about recovery is equally as hard as writing about what living with an ED is like. In one way I think it’s more challenging because everyone experiences recovery differently, and that’s what makes it last, it’s individualized. That said, ED’s come in all forms and affect people differently. I don’t want anyone to take my journey as an instruction manual. That can go both ways, I don’t want me writing about my darkest moments to become a goal to get sicker or deeper into the illness. Conversely, I don’t want anyone to follow my recovery path step by step because it worked (is working) for me. Moreover, out of all of my friends with similar struggles, all of our ED’s and all of our recovery processes are quite different.

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It’s not sunshine and rainbows. I think most know it’s not. While sometimes the image of being recovered may seem like this magical place where the demons are gone and you’re no longer sick… I’ve yet to come across someone where this holds true. I won’t say it doesn’t exist, I’m just saying the process is much more raw and you have to get your hands dirty. It’s a process. Recovery, or as I prefer to call it, remission, is a continual journey of triumphs, road bumps, setbacks, painstaking realizations, a whole lot of crying and accepting. It’s wanting to throw in the towel, and maybe that does happen. Maybe somewhere in the process it’s too much for that moment and a slip up happens or a relapse happens. That doesn’t make it any less real. It doesn’t make it a failed attempt. It doesn’t make you weak.

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” – Banksy

Getting past the darkest moments is what made me stronger. They are what made me believe in my ability to keep going, even when I don’t want to, don’t feel like it, or feel like my remission is an inconvenience to my life (and yes, that’s present tense… because  it’s often a lifelong journey). Trust me when I say I can count the number of times I’ve been pissed off that I’m in recovery, mainly in the beginning stages. I used to feel guilty for having to put my mental health first. I felt ashamed to need to make sure that I was having my personal needs met because that meant I would (hopefully) take care of myself. Still from time to time I feel this way, like when I say no to helping out at work because I have a plan for a hike that day and I know that hiking is the most amazing thing I’ve found for my mental health. I’m better at knowing my needs now, understanding what is within my capacity and what is absolutely going to lead to a meltdown. Just because I “know myself more” doesn’t mean I don’t still feel guilty about it no matter how much I’m told I shouldn’t.

I wanted (and tried) to throw in the towel at-least a half dozen times but something kept me going. I had the slips, the near falls, the desire to just be like “I’m over it” or “I’m better at managing an ED than dealing with the insanities of remission”. I literally felt like I was losing my mind, that everything I worked for was slipping away. In reality it was the opposite. Everything I worked for was everything my ED wanted me to work for. It needed to slip away. I needed to let it go for the sake of healing. I needed to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. NO. I needed to get comfortable with being really uncomfortable. NO. I needed (and have) accept being uncomfortable with being really uncomfortable.

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Undoubtedly the most uncomfortable I’ve been in this process is dealing with the mental discomfort associated with the physical discomfort. Let me clarify in a rather abrupt manner… Gaining weight because I medically needed to → ED telling me I’m a pathetic piece of shit; dealing with the 5-6 month pregnant look of bloat because my body didn’t understand how to properly digest food for about the first YEAR of recovery AFTER regaining weight → everyday wanting to crawl out of my skin and feeling like I was; having a tooth break because you “floss too much” → well maybe something caught up to me; having blood work come back abnormal → equally terrifying (healthy voice) and amazing (ED voice…. the “you’re finally sick”); being 24 with osteopenia that you’ve had since 17 → still processing this one; being 24 and spending upwards of 2-3 hours a day in the bathroom because my GI is still not fully comprehending what eating to fuel my body means → I sometimes study in the restroom because #aintnobodygottimeforthat.

Coping with the physical aspects which arise is challenging especially considering I’m working my way through a mental illness and my coping mechanisms are kind are what got me into this lovely mess (sarcasm). I think that sarcasm and sass helped me cope. They were two of the things I was good at that weren’t necessarily maladaptive. Sure, lessening or making jokes of my tendency to annihilate myself isn’t super positive, but it sure beats crying for an hour, in my mind that is. It worked for me and that’s what I care about. It helped me ignore a lot of the noise going on between my ears which would otherwise destroy me.

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When I entered my last treatment (IOP) I was well into weight restoration. I was working out, not excessively but I was working out. I had previously taken months off during my relapse, I’m the person who hates working out when I’m in the throws of a relapse… will discuss hold tight… I was told to stop going to the gym, running, ect. To let myself heal – mentally and physically. After some solid counterarguments I did what I was being asked told. I hated every second of it. I wanted the release, the passion, the excitement. I wanted something I felt good at because I felt pretty bad at the whole “getting better” thing. This was a major turning point for me because up until this point, if I was at a stable weight and food intake (and no I don’t mean “healthy”), I would exercise. In my mind I felt like it was safe and totally okay for me to continue working out in the program I was in. NOPE. Taking time off to really separate things and work on my health without the addition of external stressors was key. In hindsight, I agree completely.

On why I wouldn’t work out when I relapsed in 2011 – exercise and sports were a part of my life prior to the development of my ED, and I like to keep them as separate as possible. While yes throughout the years they have become intertwined, but as I like to make a counterpoint of, everything in my life has become intertwined because my ED started at 11, my last relapse was at 18, and I’m now 24. For me, fitness is a positive thing. I LOVE IT. I, as in me, as in Sarah. The ED voice tries to rear it’s head in and overdo it but it’s me that enjoys it. It’s taken years to disentangle this mess. I’ve learned, rather felt, that when it’s the ED voice in control of over 50% I workout because I feel like I need to, not because I necessarily want to. If life gets in the way I lose it, crumble, I can’t manage NOT working out because at this point it’s a compensatory behavior. When I’m in a good place, I want to be there, I take more days off and accept the “shit happens” better. The mindset difference still blows my mind, night and day.

Throughout the past few years I’ve worked tirelessly to reach a point where I cherish off days, and instead of making off days into active recovery days, I now just take OFF days. I’ve embraced changing my workout plan up when it’s needed, deciding on a whim to head out for a ride on the bike versus lifting if it’s what my brain needs for positive mental health. As much as I despise the saying about balance being key, balance is key when it comes to my lifting, biking, running, hiking, yoga-ing. There’s a line, I respect the line. Not saying I don’t ever cross it, I am human, but I acknowledge it’s existence.

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During my time in IOP I was working, taking a full class load, and then going to my group 4 nights and 1 weekend day. It was a lot. I find myself sometimes thinking that I don’t know how I did it but then I think that’s why it worked for me. I didn’t try to solely focus on getting better, my life didn’t revolve around just that. It was the major focal point, but I was also a student and employee. I learned how to work getting better into my daily life versus being given skills and then thrown back into my life. I’m grateful that I was at a point in my illness where this was an option. IT WAS NOT fully supported but I did it. I’m not being like wahoo yay me, but we’re all different. Some people need the recovery process to be a bit less hectic, and some, like me, find the hecticness is almost healing. However, now, I choose to live a slightly less hectic but very supportive of my needs lifestyle because it’s good for me.

This taught me a large lesson in choosing what to add and subtract from my plate. One of the most valuable life lessons I’ve taken away is that while I might be entirely capable of doing something, that doesn’t mean I always have to do it. Just because we as humans have this interesting ability to shove things down and keep pressing forward to get everything done, doesn’t mean we need to do this. What if something needs to be removed from the daily routine? It doesn’t make you any less worthy. It doesn’t mean you can’t handle it. Maybe it just means it’s not best for your well-being. Routines ebb and flow, busyness comes and goes. Just because we had a hectic routine for a few months or years doesn’t mean it need be maintained for life. Breaks are allowed. Your worth is not defined by your capacity to drive yourself into the ground.

You have innate value because you’re alive.

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I think that while when I was in treatment and the beginning stages of recovery, the time when I absolutely feared the bumps, the hard-times, the triggers – that these are actually the things which made me resilient. I’m not perfect, nor do I wish to be. Trying to be perfect almost killed me, so I’m actually rather against that notion. This entire process is learning to understand yourself. As simple and as complex as that is. We are all built on a foundation of sunshine and thunderstorms, positives and negatives. We all have our own personal shit sandwich. WORK WITH IT. Don’t work against yourself by fighting with the summation of things which comprise your foundation, your story, as a human.

A lot of the work is done by yourself. Sure there may be loved ones in your life, or a therapist, who can help you by supporting you on your path. Ultimately though, it’s you for you. It was me for me. I am the one still making sure that my mental health needs are met because I know what happens when they aren’t. I’m still watching out for that. Nobody else knows how you’re feeling, even if you tell them. Our understanding of the world is entirely up to us. Our ability to flow with life is entirely up to us. It’s hard. The continuum from sick to well is a long one and it’s different for everyone. Some of the times when I felt the sickest were when I looked the “healthiest”. Mental health doesn’t always show up in a physical capacity. We are the only ones who realize the depth of the demons inside of our heads and are the only ones who can choose and keep choosing to fight the fight.

The ED voice, it’s almost as if it’d hardwired into my mind at this point. It’s still there, it’s less frequent and has much less power, but it’s there deep down in some form or another more than I’d like to admit. A major focus area for me has been working to stop the habitual pathway of thoughts in my mind. Right now I’m going with the flow, I’m doing what feels right to the voice in my head which supports me and helps me grow as a human being instead of the one which wants to send me back down the rabbit hole. Not all days are of the positive type where I end the day thinking “I can do this, I’ve got this”. There are plenty of times still, 4 years later, where I want to just be over it. I accept that while I’m past the major hurdles, my remission is still the most important thing in my life because it’s the closest thing I have to feeling like I’m being the “best” version of myself. It’s what makes me, well, me. I’m enjoying not being in control over everything and you can sure as hell bet I’m going to continue winging it.

“You must want to spend the rest of your life with yourself first.” – Rupi Kaur

XO, S

Yes, I’m alive and kicking

HI GUYS!

Holy crud.

I haven’t posted since May.

It’s been over three months.

I’m here. Alive. Kicking. The stress fracture is healed and I’m healing/working through the soft tissue crud that comes along with overuse. It’s been a long summer. I worked and took multiple classes – sports and performance psychology, cognitive psychology, and abnormal psychology (this one actually is still going, finishes September 1st!), in addition to the usual frolicking up mountains and casually lifting weights. Fall classes start today and I have a unique semester ahead (I’ll get into this). Overall, it was a good summer. I had a TON of realizations, experienced a lot of feels and definitely grew as a person (depth, comfort zone, aka the tough stuff).

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View from North Twin

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View from South Twin

Okay, so let’s delve a bit deeper, shall we?

The stress fracture. It’s healed. It was a long couple of months, taking time off from running/hiking/kickboxing/lower body lifting (except non weight bearing… e.g leg ext, hamstring curls, GHD, monster walks – which btw, NEVER EVER get easier), and partaking in usual physical therapy, massages, stretching, and RESTING. But, I’m happy that it was just a stress fracture and I only had to take a couple of months off. In the big picture, this isn’t the end of the freaking universe. I lived despite thinking I was going to spontaneously combust out of lack of endorphins and anxiousness. I learned that I can take time to heal and that this is 100% entirely acceptable and even welcomed by my body. I learned that just because I am injured and “out” for a bit doesn’t mean I will never be back. It doesn’t mean I can’t continue to fuel my body. It doesn’t mean I will become un-fit or un-healthy. All the injury actually meant – it was a wake up call.

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I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. This could be because I’ve done enough questionable stuff in my life that I need a solid explanation for (running head on into a tree I was just sitting against (it was night time mind you), having a stress fracture and relapsing and then having another one and relapsing again (2008/2012), spontaneously signing up for an ultramarathon in 2011 and falling in love with the sport/community, changing majors to then change back again, quitting a job to then go back because they are actually super awesome/flexible with school, ect.). We learn from what we go through. We GROW through what we go through. Anyways, I’m going off on a tangent… Everything happens for a reason. I got injured for a reason. It took a lot to process this one and it took even more to not fall back entirely into my eating disorder because this is the first injury in my life (since ED) that I haven’t severely struggled with ED behaviors because of the uncertainty and unshakable sense of fear with being injured. My ED is a coping mechanism, a shitty and maladaptive one, but a coping mechanism nonetheless. Exercise is also a coping mechanism, a better one, but still inextricably meshed with the ED. This is why, in the past, I’ve flip-flopped back and forth. Exercise, injury, relapse, repeat.

However…

This time was different.

What changed?

Simply put, I’m more removed from my ED (in terms of years out of treatment), I have better coping mechanisms, closer relationships/a different social life, and I am more self-aware/confident in my abilities and trusting my judgement even when my judgement tells me to ask for help/to reach out to my closest homies. I also attribute some of the business with summer classes and keeping myself busy to be helpful in the healing process.

I will do an entire post detailing this process (might vlog?! we will see). Ultimately though, this time was different because my circumstances were different, my outlook was different, and my introspective abilities are stronger. Additionally, I think that now at 24 versus 15-20 years old, I have entirely different experience with the world. Don’t get me wrong, I had those nasty thoughts rearing their heads and they were loud as loud can be. I stumbled a bit a couple weeks into the injury, specifically once I learned it was a stress fracture and not “just” a sprain. But I’m learning how to take care of myself rather than destroy myself. I decided that my long-term health is more important than my short-term ability to feel in control (not to make it sound like an easy choice… it isn’t… it’s incredibly difficult and takes YEARS to accept). Heck I still haven’t fully accepted it but the majority is in favor of wellbeing.

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Presidential Range

Until I blog… vlog. Until I discuss details, I’ll be keeping myself busy with school. SO what constitutes a “unique semester”? Well, my course-load is a follows: online general education course (environmental change), ASL 1, capstone (senior project) which is TA/independent study for psychobiology, and then TA/independent study for sports nutrition (working towards nutrition minor). I’m honestly pumped. While I am petrified of learning a language, it will be a good change of pace, interesting, a helpful skillset, and eye-opening.

This was a longer update than I had anticipated so I’m going to close the curtains on this post. I also want to go eat lunch before heading back to campus for the TA positions 😉

“Don’t let the expectations and opinions of other people affect your decisions. It’s your life, not theirs. Do what matters most to you; do what makes you feel alive and happy. Don’t let the expectations and ideas of others limit who you are. If you let others tell you who you are, you are living their reality — not yours. There is more to life than pleasing people. There is much more to life than following others’ prescribed path. There is so much more to life than what you experience right now. You need to decide who you are for yourself. Become a whole being. Adventure.” Roy T. Bennett

The act of self limitation

Hey guys! Back on the blog today with a post that will hopefully light a fire under some of you. That’s the goal.

First off… it’s Tuesday. My day so far has been on the productive side – breakfast and coffee, lifting session, genetics quiz, read a chapter for my genetics class tomorrow, created a playlist for my group ex class tonight, more coffee (with butta), fresh pressed blog post… All before 9:30am, I’m taking that and running with it. My last post was a brief check-in with you guys.. I talked about how my school schedule was all messed around last minute and that after some time with feeling like ‘what’s the point’ I got my sh*t together and jumped back on the bandwagon. Thumbs up to that. I’ll be completely honest here, I’m so glad I have a semi-easy semester. I found myself somewhat apprehensive to admit to that and have since said to myself “so what”, everyone, and I mean everyone, needs a break in the hecticness of life at one point or another. School isn’t easy, it’s worth it (for me), but that doesn’t automatically make it a walk in the park.

On a side note, my favorite part of school definitely is my ability to write the smallest, neatest notes. Insert all the sarcasm.

11939647_932341966852404_527046680_n Ancient MesoAmerica class. Lovely university requirements. It’s actually pretty neat though.

SOOOO, self limitation. Self sabotage. Working against yourself. Whatever wording I just listed hits you the hardest – go with it. Boy is that a concept. It’s also something most people do on the regular, whether or not they are actually aware of it. It’s hard not to. We are brought up in a society that tells us as children that well, we are amazing and can do whatever we set our minds to. Which if you ask me, that’s great. But what’s not so great is that as kids get older the support and the “you’re the greatest” start to leave the scene, and rather quickly. We end up with young adults who are trying to find their life path and also simultaneously being bombarded from every angle with messages about how to be richer, prettier, skinnier, how to succeed, how not to succeed, what you’re doing wrong, why you’re not X/Y/Z, how to be “healthy”, and the list goes on an on. Then of course there are the more important things like actually being a responsible adult, having and maintaining a job, college, graduate school, starting a family, ect. It’s a lot of pressure, so it’s natural for people to be hard on themselves and doubt their abilities. Things cost money, it’s easy to question if something is worth it and subsequently talk yourself out of things. It seems safer to go with the flow of society rather than carving you’re own path. Note I said ‘safer’ not ‘easier’.

What we are not taught? How to listen to our inner fire and let go of our inner critic. Now that’s a concept worth actually pursing.

98440793abf3767125091e02c2185440 Just incase YOU weren’t aware. 🙂

Lately I have found myself all up in negative Nancy’s space. For real though, when I say I was having an anxiety attack on a daily basis… I’m not kidding. It was bad. There was a lot of crying. There was a lot of questioning of “what the heck am I doing?!”, “why do I feel like this?”, “why can’t I be happy?” Then it hit me. I’m not happy because I don’t allow myself to be happy. I find myself just going through the motions, following directions, trying to please everybody. That right there, that isn’t living.

I’m not perfect. I have my issues. But the more I think about my life and where I’ve been and where I hope to go the more I realize that I need to be a proponent of my life, my goals, my dreams, and ultimately myself as a human being. I can’t be against them if I want to achieve them. Heads up Sarah, you can’t please everybody and quite frankly trying is probably going to drive you off the deep end.

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I quoted myself last night on Facebook:

“The one thing I have learned over the years is that it’s best not to run from your demons. Running from the negative doesn’t typically create a positive. It creates a void, a void that most people don’t know how to work with. Instead, work without them, accept them, be at peace with them, and if you really must – use them… but, don’t let them use you.” –me 🙂

I don’t know how to work with that void, and lately I’ve been trying to. I have been trying to work with that void since I got out of treatment in 2013. I kept telling myself that I could just drop that part of my life and pick myself up and be a’ok and good to keep on trucking. That’s not the case. Maybe it is for some people, and that’s fabulous, but maybe it’s not. Maybe you work with what you have and who you are. Pursue your goals, listen to your inner fire, but don’t run away from who you used to be or what you have done. It’s the past. It’s part of life. Accept, be at peace, move on. Work without it, don’t run away. Now, there is another take home message. Learning how to work without something without actively running from it. That folks, is being at peace.

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Everyone has their story, and each story is different. My story, the real short three sentence version is that I’m a work in progress and I’m learning to work with myself rather than against myself. I’m working on listening to my fire because that is what makes me thrive, even if that means doing things my own way against what society calls “normal”. As the above image says, “…my life has already almost slipped away from me…”, past-tense, but it has, and if I managed my way through that you damn well be sure I’m going to figure out a way to do things my way, and to keep following that fire.

We’re all different in our methods. But what is a shared truth: work with your fire, not against it.

Hiking and just living in a ‘flow’

Hi there! I hope you’re all having a good Thursday thus far and ready for a nice weekend ahead. Hopefully good weather in the forecast wherever you may happen to live, NH is looking like solid string of 80’s and sunshine this weekend – so that’s definitely beneficial for that vitamin D requirement. Can we just talk for a quick second about how it’s almost the third week of August and school starts in less than three weeks!?! Uhhhh. OK. Not sure how I feel about that, more to come on fall happenings later, but for now… I’m just leaving it with the fact that I am convinced time actually is moving faster and there are only 20 hours in a day. Plausible theory in my humble opinion. Thoughts?!

Onto hiking. It’s something I’ve enjoyed since a fairly young age. Being outdoors for me is insanely therapeutic, add in a mountain and I’m blissed out for days. Growing up my family went camping regularly (close to every weekend May-October) and even took some week-long trips. These always included kayaking, hiking, and general exploring. Having not been involved at all in the past few years, it’s safe to say my craving for some major outdoor time was high. Last weekend I had the chance to head up just north of Conway NH and hike Mt. Jackson with a good friend. The weather was phenomenal (sunny and 70’s), there weren’t a ton of people, and the hike itself was gorgeous.

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It was a weekend that helped me remember why I am doing the things I am doing. For me, hiking is both an escape from reality because you literally are in the middle of no-where climbing a mountain, but also a grounding. It takes me back to what I refer to as my ‘core being’ and gives my soul a hefty dose of excitement. There is just something freeing about being in nature, using nothing but your own two feet and energy, and setting out for a day of adventure. It’s an experience that I’m grateful I’m able to have and partially bummed that I haven’t taken the time over the past couple years to take day trips for myself. Definitely an eye-opening weekend in terms of balance, mental clarity, physical health, and future goals.

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The hike itself was awesome. Mt.Jackson is one of NH’s 4000 footers with a 360 view at the summit. From the trailhead the path is fairly windy, lots of roots, and some rocks – highly typical. About mid-way up the mountain the path takes a lot of corners, there are considerably more rocks and some rock scrambles, and even some down-hill areas (minor, but, in which my friend and I kept looking at each other like “really, this again?”…). The final bit leading to the summit was fairly short however a pretty steep rock section, but once you are up there boy the sights are so incredible and worth it. Hiking, for me, is a love-hate relationship. Starting off at the trailhead, I’m excited, inspired, and ready to have a great day. In the middle of the hike when I start to get a little tired and just want to get to the summit I find my mind will wander a lot, I’ll lose my focus a tad, and even get a little anxious to summit. When very close to the top, I usually find myself having bursts of energy because I want to finish so badly. Then finally, at the summit, I’m just purely inspired and full of joy. It’s a process. It’s a process which reminds me of life. Life will excite you and motivate you, but it will also tear you down and that is when you absolutely need to just KEEP GOING in order to reach your goals.

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Crow pose on the summit, had to do it. 😉 #meatheadyogi

Living in a flow… To me this is having the ability to go with the flow on a day to day basis. It’s not panicking about the little things but rather accepting them as they come. It’s not planning every single second of every single day which is something I fall victim to verrrrrrrrry easily (and often, to be honest). While I completely dig the concept of living in a flow, it’s not natural for me even as much as it would be a huge benefit for me. It’s a philosophy that I’m working hard on adopting but that feels so incredibly impossible because it is not what I am used to. However, I will say that I find the days when I’m less anxious and more focused on my goals – those are the days which are less intensely planned. They are the days which motivate me on keeping an effort going on living in a flow.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “wasn’t she just talking about hiking? What does living in a flow have to do with hiking?!!”. Good question. I found that on my most recent hiking trip, while it was still amazing, I really tried to have it all planned out. This definitely removed a lot of the enjoyment from this trip because I was so wrapped up in my own mind and unable to fully accept and enjoy the moment at hand. With hiking being something that I grew up loving so much it really got me thinking about my life, my priorities, and my goals. This trip was definitely one that I needed, it helped ground me so that I could take a broader look at my life. Why do I feel it’s necessary to plan everything (and I mean everything) out? Why do I always need to be in control? Questions to ponder. Questions that I am still working on answering. I think a lot of it comes back to my childhood anxiety and that need to feel in control. I’ve been on this self-healing journey for a while now, and I’ve come miles, but still have miles to travel. And that is OK because as I like to say… progress is a process. You learn by living through hard times and working through them. Living in a flow, living true to your soul – it’s easier said than done especially when it’s the complete opposite of how most of my life has been played out to this point. But I’m not giving up.

 

You will either step forward into growth, or back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow