Vulnerability has led to conversation, connection and immeasurable growth that would not have unfolded had I kept my falls and fears within.

One year ago I took a giant leap into the face of vulnerability.  From keeping everything inside because it was the safest place to hide the mountains of my mind, to responding to a gentle nudge in a Nepali tea house, to exposing myself  and all that has come in the wake of my traumatic brain injury to the virtual world, growth one year on feels mountainous.

Sharing my story, persevering through chapters of darkness, feelings of failure, descents of doubt, discouragement and shame has led to immeasurable growth and connections never made possible had I kept my story, my falls and fears, to only whispers in my journal. Publishing Mountains of My Mind has challenged thought patterns, stirred up chaos, insecurity and wonder. Learning, growing and changing from experience, I embrace impermanence.  No feeling, be it wondrous runner’s high or weariness of writer’s block, lasts forever.

Complementary and opposing passions, running and writing at times seem mountains apart, yet in reality have many similarities in my recovery. Mountain running with limited vision and articulating blog posts take risks and face potential self-defeat. Both need consistency, push my comfort zone and naturally foster personal growth. Where running requires endurance and physical demands, writing calls for cerebral demands. Mental focus is essential yet an extreme challenge for me post-accident leading to falls on the trail and falls at the keyboard. Falls I see as opportunities to stand back up. Falls that every human can connect to.

One stride followed by another, one word followed by another sometimes blissful other times painfully slow. Though physically on a trail, I am often mentally working through the mountains of my mind generating or editing a manuscript. Reflecting while running then fusing thoughts into words, I want readers to be on the trail when I stumble, with me facing Rocky in the mirror, at that table when the meal feels gluttonous, in the airport when strangers are shoving or on that bus where stares are piercing. Articulating a vivid picture is not helpful to anyone if there is no authenticity. As though standing on a startline with nerves, insecurities and doubt, sometimes I feel there is no language to describe my feelings, my thoughts are too irrational to share and that no one could possibly relate to my struggle.

Change is the only certainty of life. Nowhere as much as running on serene mountain trails am I more mindful that the fear of exposing myself to the world-wide web, like everything in life is momentary, passing, fleeting, temporary, transient, forever changing. Seasons change, storms come and go, trees adapt, they flourish then shed, animals hibernate and birds migrate yet despite the impermanent, often harsh nature around them, mountains remain resilient. Perhaps it is their strong, stable and resilient nature that connects me to mountains. They represent tenacity. Persevering through vulnerability, feeling at times amidst a storm pouring doubt, I breathe, release my grip from illusions of permanence, mindful that this too shall pass.

Publishing a new post, a podcast or a magazine article can feel like marching off the edge of my map into a dark storm. My mind is an incredibly convincing persuader. It creates persuasive stories that have no backing. Countering such insecurities with equanimity, I keep mindful of impermanence and hope that my authentic sharing might spark inspiration for someone struggling to see light as I did for so long.

Accepting how my life has changed has been an ungracious ascent that has had me tap into strength and courage I was once unaware I had. In times of doubt on a rocky technical trail, in that chaotic restaurant, the dark crowded street, squished between strangers, or clicking publish on a blog post, I am able to remind myself of that which I have overcome. I found courage to move ahead from the adverse in the darkness of my recovery. I tap into such courage to share each chapter authentic in my words.

My story is far from a local, isolated venture. Every human can personally connect to adversity. Like mountain running, writing eloquently presents challenges that did not exist prior to my traumatic brain injury. I aim to remain equanimous, accepting and embracing the challenge of articulating the chapters of my story. What feel like failures in my recovery and falls on the trail are opportunities to grow. Vulnerability is the essence of connection. Every human can connect to frustration, fears and falls.

Social Media can easily hamper connection, distort reality, trigger comparison, crush courage and steal joy. By authentically captioning images my audience learns what is actually happening behind the lense and within the mountains of my mind. Every day is not blue sky and steady sunshine inside and out. I embrace impermanence and stride ahead on my trail in the ever changing winds.

In the early months following my TBI, journaling was beautiful mess of reminders written by others, hearts and cheers from visitors, pages torn in frustration, stained with drinks accidentally spilled and food I tried to hide, mind maps, questions and sketches of disbelief. Reflecting, collecting my innermost thoughts all in one place, assimilated into my morning routine. Taking that routine, along with a pair of trail running shoes everywhere I go, helps keeps me connected to myself. Exposing those innermost thoughts, going with a choice that scared me, helps me grow. Keeping myself on an exposed trail, embracing who I am without pretending to be someone I am not, I let my true self be seen.

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  1. Rita Ehrman says:

    Wow…that may be the most beautiful post you’ve written yet – but hard to say since they’re all so beautiful! Thank you so much for helping others, for helping ME, by sharing your triumphs and troubles and perseverance. xxx

  2. Tom Stevens says:

    Exercising your body and mind builds character and self-awareness. These activities polish the lens we look at life through.

    • mountainsofmymind says:

      Absolutely Tom! The heart and the mind – Life’s most important lenses!
      May your day’s writing and your run flow uninterrupted keeping your mind open, your heart happy and your lense polished.
      Thank you for continuing to keep me company and encouraged on my trail.

  3. Nancy Fairburn says:

    Thanks for continuing to share your innermost thoughts. So inspiring! Heading out the door now for some quiet contemplation! x