Arrival in the USA was accompanied by overwhelm. Rather than letting stumbling stones trip me up, I chose to let them strengthen and motivate me.

Flourishing and rising to the challenge of accepting the trail my life has taken with a more calm and clear mind, I boarded a flight from Lima with somewhat of a heavy heart. I felt my time throughout South America fostered movement towards embracing and developing more of a sense of purpose in my life. I left Peru feeling somewhat anxious about the impact leaving the developing world might have on my growth.

My authentic self wanting to wake up and continue to live with more self-compassion, self-acceptance and purpose was up against the challenge of North America’s fast pace, where kindness and compassion frequently seem to take a back seat to selfies, text communication and expendable human interactions. Despite the anxiety, I found comfort being en route to Colorado the state that reignited my fire and gave me the breath of life such a short time ago.

My travels throughout Argentina and Peru found me on a trail flourished with kindness. The heartfelt outreach and connections on my trails felt left me fearing what might be waiting in the intense northern hemisphere. Arriving in Denver landed me with more mountains of my mind than I ever might have imagined. I struggled to stay on the trail of confidence building and self-compassion in the early sections of the route.

With my arrival in the USA  so too arrived overwhelming feelings: size and noise, big and loud, large vehicles sitting in slow traffic, tactless comments, heartless questions, stares and triggers from every angle firing reminders of why I had been medivaced to Denver originally. Rather than letting these stumbling stones destroy me, I chose to let them strengthen and motivate me.

Amidst all the traffic that is USA, I am thankful to have found tranquility on trails. Time alone in the mountains is where I make sense of that which is possible; aiming to not let what I cannot do interfere with that which I can.  On a recent visit to a tourist information center, I walked in in search of trail maps and local insight; I walked out disheartened holding back tears. How dare someone be so inconsiderate of a disability? I was blatantly told that there is a gym with a treadmill in town. A few deep breaths,  a mindful moment for self-talk and my fire was stoked; ready to take the subliminal challenge and get myself on trails everyday as intended. I survived a traumatic brain injury, I can handle this incline. Adversity in another’s lack of empathy was not about to  impede my endeavour to tackle the mountains of my mind.

Time to flow with the current and not resist it. Time to  cease being shocked by the behaviour of others and embrace kind interactions. Finding my way to trailheads has led to connections I would have not made on the treadmill. There is a time and place for getting into random vehicles with strangers and I feel confident in my judgement. I the hitchhiker,  thanked for being an inspiration by kind souls who have got me safely to civilization when in reality I hold so much gratitude for their kindness and polite curiosity. A textbook example of how kindness leaves an impression on both the user and the experiencer.  A gentleman whose daughter had a spinal cord injury, a guy who wanted to help me by offering me a tent, a young girl who struggled with eye-surgery gone wrong, and reliable morning rides with Randy whose doesn’t let Type I diabetes stop his riding or running; strangers who I celebrate. Strangers who have been politely curious about my story and are now part of it. Kindness and empathy, not expected, yet are so wonderful when felt. By moving from a hurtful comment and not opposing possibilities, there came feelings of peace, flexibility and acceptance. However rocky the trail gets, I will embrace and remain mindful that this too shall pass; the sun will rise tomorrow.

Flowers need rain; now is the time to embrace storms, not allow the behaviour of others to destroy my inner peace and keep working through my thought traffic, the mountains of my mind, one trail at a time. Time for grace and patience; time to forget about the summit and relish in the climb.

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  1. Shannon says:

    Again, so beautifully written, relatable and a reminder that the storms may be different but how one chooses to weather them is the same. Thank you my friend!