Eeyore by Nature?

Hiking Kokohead while living in Hawaii was a wonderful experience, but not for the obvious reasons.

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The view was beyond beautiful overlooking Hanauma Bay. Being able to lookout over the marathon course from that perspective was mind-blowing. Hiking it with a dear friend makes it a forever treasured memory. The encounter we had with a man who hikes (runs!) this trail 3 times a day changed how I view not only this particular hike, but life in general. Seriously? A conversation with a stranger changes your life? Well, sort of. Perhaps life-changing is a bit extreme, but it brought to light a shift in perspective to which I refer often.

As we were going up, the man was coming down rapidly. Sprinting is a more accurate description. My friend and I marveled at his speed and asked him, “Don’t you worry about falling?” He replied grinning, “I think differently. I don’t think about falling.”

This little exchange comes back to me frequently. The daily prompt title was “Make Me Smile” and asked to discuss things that make us happy. While not exactly that specific topic, I immediately thought of this hiker and his wise words on perspective.

When we look at our Twitter feeds, Facebook walls, or even conversations with our friends, are our words peppered with complaints, sighs, and general negativity? If someone you didn’t know was to read everything you posted online, what would be their perspective? When spending time with friends, how do you come away feeling? Uplifted and content, or heavy and burdened?  If we focus on the negative things in life, that’s what we will attract to ourselves.

I’m not saying that every day is rainbows and kittens and life is always pleasant, because it’s not. Not by a long shot. Crap happens and life is messy. In general though, do we go through life complaining, resisting what is, or do we adapt and look for the good, seeking out joy despite circumstances? For some of us, I think it may come a bit easier as it’s in our nature to be positive, and in turn, if the natural tendency is negative, that’s what flows most freely.

What about you? What’s your perspective? Do you look at the world with a perpetual glass-half-full viewpoint or do you look for the negative, complain, but don’t really know why?  Perhaps it’s time to “think differently” like my hiker friend!

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God, Trails, and a Surprise

With two sick kiddos we’ve been a bit stir crazy staring at the same four walls all morning. We also were all awake around 4:30am…so lunch and nap time came around 10. What to do, what to do with the rest of the day?

We decided to head out to Washington Park again, but this time the kids were riding in the Bob and I was going to run the 3 mile loop road that runs around the camp sites. I haven’t yet run the entire thing since moving back. I remember it taking about 45 minutes to an hour to walk it when we lived here before so I was curious to see how fast I could do it now that I would be running (most of) it.

Let me just say that pushing 70lbs of kidlets in the stroller up those hills was no joke. At the steepest inclines I was essentially bent at the waist with my arms straight out by my ears pushing the stroller in a pseudo “superman” pose! I’m sure it looked ridiculous, but it worked! I got the loop done in 30:13 with a pace of 12:43. I always thought and the markers along the way indicate a 3 mile trek, but my GPS had it down as 2.31 or something. Hmm…..

Essentially I was doing intervals – sprinting as fast as I could and walking up the inclines. Here’s what one of them looked like over the top of Bob:

This really doesn’t do it justice – but take it from me – its a serious climb!
And some of the amazing views looking over the San Juan Islands
Running and wringing myself out after a stir-crazy morning, I felt great! After putting the stroller back in the car, we made our way down to the beach and playground area. Since it was the weekend, there were families grilling and picnics at every available table.  Acutely aware of Eric’s absence, I felt the familiar stab of “lonely in a crowd”. Happy voices all around, smiles, laughter and the wonderful smells of grilling foods were all around us. The kids played a bit, then we decided to check out some of the little trails that run along the loop road. Jake likes to pretend we are pirates!
Jacob leads the way!!! “Yo, ho, ho! Matey!”
BIG TWEEEE!!
Yep – it’s a big one! (And sadly this little phone camera doesn’t do any of this scenery justice! Gonna have to get out here with my REAL camera!)

After a while we came out into a clearing that overlooks the water. (One of many.) It’s been a cool day out, so the air is nice and crisp. I am currently reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. It’s about her journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from Mexico into Canada. She went on this trek as a sort of therapy after the loss of her mother. Since reading it, I’m finding myself drawn to trails lately as she describes the scenery on her journey. Much of her story is about the physical trials of being on the trail, but the deeper layer is about the spiritual nature and growth of her as a person.

Do you ever have the feeling that God is talking to you? Not audibly of course, but sometimes you just, well, you just know. Some call it our intuition, our conscience, our inner voice. It is alluded to in Cheryl’s book, and like most people, I’ve had experiences that I feel could come from no other place except a higher power. It’s those moments where you feel assured that you aren’t alone, and that God, the universe, does in fact see you. And cares.

In her book Captivating, Staci Eldridge describes a wonderful example of what I am trying to (albeit not as articulately) explain. I’ll briefly recap the story from what I remember of it:
She tells of her husband going through a trial of some kind. He loves the ocean and starfish in particular. After praying about the situation and walking a while on the beach, he comes over a crest and laid out before him are literally THOUSANDS of starfish. EVERY. WHERE. She describes this scene and while going through a trial of her own, prays for a similar experience – to see thousands of starfish like her husband did. She did not see any. Defeated, she walks back to her house but on her way is greeted by breaching whales. She describes that feeling you get when you know its just for you. Someone out there sees you and cares. (Even if it is seemingly a “first world problem”.)

In a sermon I heard years ago, our pastor likened our parenting relationship to that of our relationship to God. As a parent, most of us just want our children to be fulfilled and happy, well adjusted adults. Most parents don’t necessarily think, “Little Johnny can ONLY be happy if he is a mechanic.” (Or a doctor, lawyer, banker, etc.) My point is that it isn’t the specific occupation that a parent hopes for, but rather that the child be fulfilled by whatever profession they choose. And like God, parents “delight” in our children. We marvel awestruck as we watch the world unfold before them, seeing it through their eyes. How much more does God love us? Delight in us? Want to make us laugh? See us joyful? My guess is more than we can ever imagine.

While this may seem a little “twilight zone-y” for some or “whoo-hooey fluff” or “Oprah-y and new-age-y”, (Yes, those are all words!) I had such an experience today walking with my kids in the trails. The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster ride with the tragic loss of 3 of Eric’s family members and the deployment in general. Feeling a tad melancholy while amongst the families grilling, enjoying the last tidbits of summer we have left, I was comforted by the woods, the wildlife and the beauty all around me.

Most people that know me are familiar (if not tired of hearing about) my fitness journey. And of course it’s so much more than just physical fitness. I have a fondness for butterflies, and specifically the change they represent. (Even have a tattoo of one!) I feel like I have gone through, and continue to go through, a metamorphosis of sorts.

So coming into a clearing – I see this:

And it’s not just fluttering by. It’s literally hanging out with me and my kids while we all just kind of stand there in awe. If you know my kids – under normal circumstances their raucousness and sheer volume will scare away creatures of all kinds.
Not today.
Then – it landed on me.
And stayed…..
And flitted around and stayed some more….
I’m laughing because I have never seen a butterfly sit and hover in front of a person, land, hover some more and then land again. Long enough for me to fiddle with the phone to take these pictures!
Despite all the “stuff” going on, I am continually amazed that I am seen. Cared for.
Delighted in.

Kokohead, Battle Buddies, and Facing Fears!

So after hiking Diamondhead a couple of weeks ago, Katy and I decide that we are rockstars and we are gonna do Kokohead. It’s only 1,048 railroad ties or “steps” to the top – can’t be that bad! And we swam over a mile yesterday – lets climb a volcano today! Yippee!!
My rockstar battle buddy Katy!!!
These pictures of course aren’t going to do it justice, but here is where we start. Way off straight into the distance you can see the path that leads STRAIGHT UP!
A few steps in we see some people (and one crazy guy) RUNNING down the ties. Katy’s husband says there is some 70 year old that does this multiple times a day!

 

There are stretches where you can’t see the whole trail because of the incline. It’s INSANE!! Just keep climbing, just keep climbing, just keep climbing…
This was my view when I had to sit down for a bit….
Had to let my stomach calm down….

 

Katy had to lean in cause I physically could not make myself stand up  and look down simultaneously!
This was the AMAZING view from the top!

 

Way off in the distance you can see the last mountain we climbed! Diamondhead!

 

And this is Hanauma Bay from the top looking down!!! Never thought I would see that view!!
And from this view, it dawned on me just how far I ran during the marathon. Diaomndhead crater is there in the upper left corner and I ran all the way from the front of the mountain (actually where the Waikiki skyline is) to where the first little water inlet is on the bottom right corner of the picture. And back.
Seeing it from this vantage point really brought the accomplishment home in a remarkable way. And if I hadn’t faced my fear of heights, I would have never seen it.

 

Yeah, all I can do to stand there and not hug the mountain on all fours!

 

Battle Buddies Baby!!! We did it!!!

 

 

 

I am so glad I was able to do this. The crazy guy we saw running down the mountain (and a couple of others who did it twice in the time it took us to do it once!) made a comment as we passed him that stuck with me….
Us: “Can’t believe you can RUN down this thing! That’s awesome. Aren’t you afraid you are going to fall?”
Crazy Guy: Big smile, “No. We have different minds. I don’t think about falling.”
Hmm. Got me to thinking. Our main focus is what will be brought to fruition. If my main focus is fear, then I will be incapacitated. All the way up that mountain I had to keep telling myself some things…
No fear
All the way up – and all the way out! (What is chanted at us in spin class!)
Don’t feed the fears
Keep climbing
One step at a time
Baby steps
Look only in front and where your feet are going
Stand up and be proud of what you are accomplishing
Finish Strong
Victorious not Nauseous
Focus.
And we did.
And on the way back down when my stomach stopped flipping around, we ran a few of those last stairs too!