Monday, 26 October 2015

Climbing Lone Cone Mountain: Realizations 2,434 feet Above Ground

On my final days in British Columbia, about three weeks ago, I spent two nights on Vancouver Island. One in Tofino, a small coastal surf town and the second on Meares Island, where the 2,434 foot mountain called Lone Cone stands. I got there by water taxi in the early afternoon and dropped my bags at the only human settlement on the island, a small campground and hostel run by native people. I was on my own and I had to get started ASAP. The sun would be setting before 7pm. The hike is meant to take about 2 hours up the mountain and this was my first so I knew I had to hustle.

It would be me and the mountain. Literally.

I was the last one to go up.

The climb challenged me in so many ways, physically, mentally and spiritually. I wanted to give up. I cried. I got back up. But the key was that I faced myself, found greater faith and grew as a result. It was a process and I want to share some it with you.

The first third of the climb was quite easy. A good workout. And then I questioned my ability. The phrase "You can't do this Julie" came to my mind. And at first, I listened to it. I stopped hiking and broke down in tears. The shitty voices of people who discredited my dreams because of their own limiting beliefs came. The stigma and judgement around mental health and sensitivity came flooding. And then I realized I had a choice. I could let those voices define me or I could choose to see that I am more than someone's shitty opinion. I am more than judgement that is said by people who don't have experience around that which they are judging.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,....who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

And so I chose to continue climbing. My legs hurt, but something in me knew I needed to do this. And if I wanted to get to the top, I didn't have much time to linger. I had a transformation to go through and it wasn't ending halfway up the mountain.

I ran into the last two people to go up who were now coming down. They said I'd be at the top in about 30 minutes. Phew! It was good to have some reassurance. I was almost there and super sweaty.

When I was about 10 minutes away from the top I wanted to give up. Again, a silly thought that I could choose to believe or not. From my breakdown further down the mountain, I was starting to realize that I was more than those thoughts. I had continued to climb and I was choosing to believe in myself and listen to the voices of those who have supported and believed in me.

And so I continued to the top. What a feeling of accomplishment. I was following pink tape tied to trees and finally the trees cleared to make way to a cliff that literally overlooked a straight drop down 2, 434 feet. It was scary, but here I was doing something pretty crazy and I was proud of myself. I reflected on how much I've grown in the past few years and how my journey of personal growth has allowed me to open up to so much. I'm so grateful. Going on adventures like these has challenged me beyond who I thought I was to become who I really am.

Being open to life experiences is the best advice I would give. 
We need real, raw, heart-filled life experience to grow and become more of who we are.

I remember hiking down the mountain, smiling to myself.
"We are more than our mind-created doubt and the voices of people's shitty opinions."

Yes, I had those thoughts. Yes, I remembered some shitty opinions. But they weren't about me. They were about them. Because I kept climbing to the top anyway. And what counts at the end of the day is our willingness to do the things that scare us, despite the doubt. We become stronger because we do and in the process realize that the only person who gets to decide what you can or can't do is you.

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