“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged… to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” -Nelson Mandela
I did not set out on my hike last week to face any fears or challenge my mindset or do anything adventurous even.
It was a gorgeous Spring day here in Tennessee so I packed a lunch, some work, and my goal planner in my daypack with my only intention being to get a little exercise, enjoy the sunshine, and spend the afternoon outdoors working on my goals.
I didn’t venture far, just 20’ish minutes away from home, with my mind set on a big flat rock I know of that has great afternoon sun – and no distractions. 🙂
My pack was quite heavy (for me anyway) with a couple of extra books, and enough extra food & water in case I wanted to stay until sunset.
I’m not used to packing an extra 10-15 pounds on my hikes, so that made for an even better workout – especially with all the inclines!
I did take a moment to stop and admire Twin Falls, but I was pretty focused on hiking out to the rock where there is NO phone signal so I could dig in to my work.
First though I ventured out onto a rock ledge hanging over the river for another view of the falls, where I almost lost my balance and ended up IN the river. 😛
This was my first hit of FEAR.
This was also the moment I realized I am NOT the same fearless trail-blazing adventurous woman I used to be. (lol)
(Yes I was alone on this hike, as usual. I took these photos using the timer delay & interval shots features with my Samsung Galaxy S7 phone.)
I came down, walked a few more feet down the trail past the ledge, then climbed back up on the rock again.
I stood there facing the raging waterfall above the swirling river and focused on my CORE, summoning my inner balance to steady myself physically.
I remember how hard I worked to build that: my core strength, my inner balance – and my confidence. I remember what it FELT like to have those things for the first time. (It felt amazing!)
I realized while standing there… how different I feel NOW.
Why is that? Maybe I’m just having an off day…
I pondered those things as I continued down the trail, which turned into a very narrow path on the edge of a steep bluff. I watched my footing cautiously, as one clumsy move could easily land me in that crazy river way down below. 😛
The river may look innocent enough, but I assure you it is NOT.;)
I finally caught a view of my destination. 🙂
This spot is known as The Blue Hole, and while swimming is not allowed and warning signs are posted everywhere, people flock here in the summer to jump off the cliffs and brave the currents.
My grandfather used to tell me crazy fish stories about “the blue hole” which has probably been a hot spot for who knows how many generations!
I love SO many things about hiking: the views, sunshine, fresh air, the amazing beauty of nature’s million little details.
Being unplugged (out of range with no signal) definitely tops the list too. 🙂
And for exercise, hiking is such a great workout. Definitely an “upgrade” from my usual walks because the natural terrain requires a wider range of motion from various muscle groups as you navigate rocks and turns and inclines.
I hiked around to the top of the bluff overlooking the blue hole, and stood there looking down… contemplating whether I *really* wanted to climb down there – just to sit on a rock. 😛
I did want to, though – woozy feeling in my stomach from the heights and all. I’ve climbed down it before so I knew I could do it.
Besides it was HOT and I worked up a sweat hiking at a good pace with a full pack, so cooling down by the river definitely appealed.
And then… I couldn’t do it.
I had another hit of panic. I’ve had a fear of water for as long as I can remember. Mostly a fear of what’s IN the water. What might swim up on me, or come slithering out from under that rock I was sitting on.
The fear was dizzying and I sat there for a LONG second debating whether I was THAT hot (yes!) -lol.
Did I mention there were spiders running all over my rock?!
I felt paralyzed.
I realized I was holding my breath and let it out slowly.
This whole fear thing – fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of water – it felt so weird but also very familiar. I grew up deathly afraid of this river, and while I still have a deep respect for it, I definitely worked through and mastered all those fears.
Yes, this is me: “Ms Fearless and Adventurous” jumping off a similar bluff (also crawling with spiders) way upriver a year or so ago:
So what the heck is going on now?!
If you stop pushing yourself toward who you want to become, do you start becoming who you used to be?
I forced one foot into the water…
… and then the other.
I felt awkward and uncomfortable and all too aware of the spiders crawling all the way around me. But I sat there anyway, with both feet in the cool water, and forced myself to breathe and just BE.
I felt utterly ridiculous and seriously annoyed with myself. 🙄
I looked over to the right, across the river, and remembered the day I scaled that opposite bluff – all the way from the bend in the river to the Blue Hole Trail – which took me HOURS of death-defying determination, and tons of courage! 😛
It was wet, covered in green slime, every hand and foothold was slick as snot, and I was wearing a DRESS -lol. If you missed that story, read it here. I went back and read it today myself – and wow, was that message ever perfect timing for me!
I was feeling very out of sorts at this point…
I remember scaling this gorge, I remember being that strong, and I remember facing fears FAST and pushing through them with an inner strength that matched my physical strength.
Where in the world did all of that go?!
As I turned to climb back up & out, because I’d had ENOUGH of the spiders and imaginary sea creatures (lol), I remembered how much I used to LOVE to climb.
I used to climb anything, anywhere – sketchy bluffs, crumbling rock formations, slippery waterfalls. I can’t even count the times I looked up at something and said, “I want to climb that!” -just because.
Now? Not so much. It just happened to be the only way out. 😛
It’s a gorgeous day in a gorgeous spot, and all I can think about is spiders and snakes and “a fish the size of a volkswagon” my grandfather told me he saw with his own eyes, falling and breaking a leg – or worse, busting my head open – and in that case, are my affairs in order? Um, no…
I didn’t want to stay there though, so up I climbed.
I made it back to the top and found a big flat rock in the shade, way above that “scary water” (lol) and sat down for a snack and a break – and to try to sort out the thoughts swirling through my mind.
This Sunniva Super Coffee was pretty good. It came in one of my March Keto Boxes last month and I had it in my pack. It had a bit of an aftertaste to it but not bad at all, only 1 carb, and a very nice pick-me-up on the trail!
As I sat there drinking my coffee, with lizards & spiders taunting me no less, I felt totally defeated. Actually, I felt like hiking out and going to get a cheeseburger.
I pulled out some snacks (peanut butter & cream cheese) and forced myself to sit there for as long as it took for that feeling to pass.
Why was I craving junk food? Why did I feel afraid? Why did I feel off balance and unsteady now? Why did I worry about falling or getting snake-bit?
I never used to feel afraid or worry about anything!
I used to just let all of you do that for me. 😉 haha
I was perplexed. and frustrated and feeling defeated. and tired.
The day felt like a waste, other than getting some decent exercise. I wasn’t in the mood to work on my goals anymore, or anything else really… so I just sat.
Being too wrapped up in your own head out on the trails is NOT a good thing, by the way. “Dog Training 101” has served me well in nature: you have to be in your Alpha state, hiking on the offense (not the defense).
I was definitely NOT in the right frame of mind on this hike, obviously.
That was bothering me, considering I just came out here to do some work – mostly just mapping out strategies and action plans for some ambitious goals I’ve been brainstorming.
Note: anytime you’re focused inward, on internal thoughts & feelings (mostly: irrational thoughts), instead of focusing forward on your goals and the life and reality around you – you are getting sucked into the dark hole.;) -source: Mindset & Motivation: Focusing On What Matters To Achieve Your Goals (Faster)
I realized that ^ so I forced myself to focus on my surroundings.
I looked up at the river in front of me, I looked down and around at the moss and rocks and insects, and then I looked over my right shoulder toward the sun…
The sun was beaming through the trees and highlighting the new Spring leaves in an almost magical way. It was so beautiful… beautiful enough to pull me out of my muck of thoughts long enough to realize how focused I had been on myself – and to stop it.
That’s when I was finally able to get up and get back on the trail.
My butt hurt from sitting on that rock SO long, lol – but I was determined to sit there until the “crazy & cravings” passed, which is exactly what I did.
Unfortunately I blew out one of my shoes tripping over a stump or a rock or something earlier in the hike, but I still managed to hike out well enough.
I got back to the head of the trail feeling MUCH better, feeling determined to work on facing my fears and building my strength & confidence back up, but TIRED – and still not 100% trusting myself NOT to stop for that cheeseburger on the way home. 😛
I stood there at the bottom of several flights of stairs up to the parking area, feeling pretty spent, but then just took a deep breath and RAN all the way to the top.
My hike was short, less than 4 miles, but I hiked both there and back at a fast pace with some extra weight in my pack.
The 26 floors my Fitbit recorded equals 260 feet of elevation – climbing up only, it doesn’t count going down – so there were some pretty decent inclines. 😉
My shoes being ruined aside I felt MUCH better, a bit accomplished after the stair run even, and ready to get home to make a healthy dinner and tackle my goals. 🙂
That was last Thursday.
Once I got home and rested and then back to work, something crossed my screen that really threw me for a loop. Something from my archive of stories here actually, which took me down a rabbit hole reading story after story I’ve shared with you here throughout my weight loss journey over the years.
I’ve known for awhile now that something is “off” with me. But it became glaringly obvious as I continued reading my own stories, and realizing how drastically they had changed over the last year and a half.
I mentioned feeling a total disconnect on my Foster Falls hike in December. I talked about losing my joy for hiking and forcing myself through it back in September.
Ugh. Everything about that post ^ written one year ago made me SICK when I read it again last week. Not just because of what I wrote, or the horrible pictures I shared, but also because of the things going on in my life then that I didn’t share.
Coming back around to what we’ve been discussing lately, my year-long weight loss stall, THAT is where it all started. I had just come off my last round of antibiotics after being sick for three full months – and the medication had thrown me out of ketosis, and totally out of whack.
Reading through my stories here made me realize that over the last year while I’ve been struggling with this weight loss stall… I’ve been stalled in many other areas of my life – TOO.
Which now has me questioning whether it’s all tied together.
I would guess: YES.
I kept hiking. I kept eating low carb consistently. I kept working on and through it – and honestly thought I was doing good at that, until all of those old FEARS hit me so hard on this last hike.
I’m proud of myself for continuing to hike, and pushing myself to keep doing what I love, and I’m glad that I’m forcing myself to work through all these things.
Even on this last hike…
I got back up on the rock I almost fell off of. I forced my feet in the water I was terrified of. I forced myself to sit still and let the spiders play all the way around me. I pushed aside the dizzying fear of heights and pushed through my hesitation, and climbed down that bluff and back up again.
Absolutely none of this has to do with hiking at all.
Hiking is simply where I work out my thoughts, work on my mindset, improve my confidence and self-image.
It’s my therapy and my “me time” getaway. It’s a place where I can disconnect from the constant buzz of life… and reconnect with what REALLY matters.
So the fact that I’ve been experiencing a total disconnect on the trails is kind of a big deal.
It has taken me an entire week to write this because I have struggled (hard) to process what exactly is going on, and how to put it into words, or whether I even should – or want to.
What I’m realizing is that I seem to have lost my drive, ambition, enthusiasm. I lost sight of my goals, and can’t seem to get motivated again.
I haven’t had any problem sticking to my low carb way of eating through all of this, but you’ve heard me mention wanting to get back to my workouts and exercise goals.
I have FUN ambitious career goals too, and big home improvement projects I want to do, yada yada yada. I’ve just been having a really hard time with the energy & interest lately… for ANY of it.
Excuse me, self *ahem* Aren’t you the one that said: motivation is on the other side of commitment? Why yes, that WAS you. Another hiking insight, no less!
The thing is, I’ve been “doing the tasks.”
I’ve been forcing myself through the motions, just without the energy & interest. It’s like I’m still driving… but I’ve lost my drive.
The whole point of the challenge program is to blast through mindset issues and get EXCITED about your life & goals again.
So that’s where I’m at, and that’s where I’ve been – figuring out what’s holding me up and holding me back, and working through those things so I can get back to being super focused on my goals… and HAPPY again.
“I’m doing good. Everything is fine.”
I’m back to my workouts, getting back to some of my creative projects, back to traveling (which I had put on hold for awhile), I’m healthy – and have stuck to my low carb lifestyle persistently and consistently.
I feel gross though, just being honest.
I’m still carrying maybe 5 pounds of weight, but it’s more the change in my body composition than my actual weight that makes the difference.
I miss feeling lean and strong and confident. I miss my muscle tone and core strength, and really dislike feeling afraid – and uncomfortable in my clothes again.
Those are all things I can fix, of course…
And so I will. 🙂
One of my favorite quotes of all time, which stays in front of me here at my desk, is this one:
“Set your mind on a definite goal and observe how quickly the world stands aside to let you pass.” ― Napoleon Hill
I’ll close by saying that the return of my old fears & phobias is not without reason. I thought about those this week, and I’m figuring out the best way to deal with them.
I think it’s perfectly okay to be totally freaked out about the Caney Fork River. I grew up on it, and I’ve seen some of the stuff they’ve pulled out of there. 😛
It’s totally normal to be scared of heights. Plenty of people have fallen to their death. In fact, just last summer a young girl fell from a bluff I used to love to sit on with my feet hanging over the ~150′ drop.
Spiders are just icky. I do better than most with them, but I wouldn’t crawl into their nest or anything (on purpose).
As for my horrible mood and oh-so-sad heart-wrenching week I talked about in my post last year, with my pain and anger being obvious in both my posture and the look on my face in every photo… how very shallow that seems now, given two women died in that very spot this past year in a freak flash flood incident that came out of nowhere on a hot sunny day.
So yes, nature is to be respected at least, if not feared.
I also realized while reading back over my stories that I allowed certain things (that were too personal to disclose in those posts publicly) to totally derail me, or hold me back. A “confidence crisis” if you will, that became so obvious on the trails last week.
I think in one of my 56 revisions of this post over the four days it took me to write it, I had some brilliant insight or wonderful wisdom to share with you – but I think I lost that somewhere along the way. 🙂 My apologies…
I need to get back to work, catch up on my 100 Day Challenge lessons, and probably get some sleep.;) Oh, and I have a fun “recipe fail” to share with you that had such GREAT potential. I did manage a great “save” though, so stay tuned for that (back to food talk!) in my next post.
I think with anything you want to accomplish in life…
The solution is simple:
1. Make the decision.
2. Do the actions.
It’s easy to set goals, and it’s easy to make plans. Putting those plans into action though, and doing the work to see your goals through to the FINISH is where most of us fall short.
Lack of enthusiasm or interest = lack of motivation. You really have to get EXCITED about the end result to stay committed to your goal.
And of course taking action (doing the work) brings results, and those results ignite your enthusiasm – and your motivation to keep moving toward that goal.
That’s what I’m working on.
I’m not who I used to be.
I’m not who I want to become yet either.
I’m also not so bad as I am. 🙂
My life is pretty good actually, and I love the direction I’m headed. I’d like to get there faster of course, like anyone else – but things are okay right here and right now.
What bothers me most is that I feel bothered at all.
I feel some kind of inner resistance or “hold” and I really want to shake that because I have SO much I want to accomplish! I’ve been trying HARD to push through it lately, without much luck. Does it have something to do with fear? That seems obvious now. Fear of what I’m not sure…
Anyway, that’s what I’m working on.
I miss the pure grit and determination I had when I hiked the other side of that river…
Reading that post again was such a good reminder to live every single day with that level of desire & determination to succeed – at whatever you want to accomplish.
I think I keep writing in circles, so I’m going to quit now. 🙂
I feel excited and motivated and stalled and stuck and content & happy and sorta lost and all sorts of other things -lol. I think my little trip down memory lane brought up way too many things I don’t even want (or have time!) to deal with right now. 😛
Meanwhile, all of this DID spark some motivation and I’ve been working out and working on strength building every single day since my hike last week.:)
Wherever you are on your own goals, whatever you’re going through right now, I hope you’ll join me in getting OVER THE HUMP or getting unstuck or just getting MORE motivated and MORE ambitious.
I feel a major turning point coming on, which is usually preceded by one of these phases of total resistance -lol, ugh! I’ve worked through them before though, and it’s high time I powered through THIS one.
Are you with me? 🙂
p.s. I now need a new pair of summer hiking shoes.:) I’m torn between replacing my favorite & faithful Nortshide Burke II hikers, switching to the Northside Trinidad Sport, or trying KEEN shoes this time instead…
I have my eye on these: