My life has been devoted to challenging myself in the outdoors physically, mentally and emotionally. I thrive on long arduous days route finding in the mountains, pushing past aching legs and burning lungs, to reach a peak in the raging wind. The mountains continually dish out a variety of conditions that I have learned to adapt to; I find that the logical thing to do is dig deep and accept adversity. I know satisfaction when I make the most out of a potentially miserable experience and absolutely love it.
Physical challenges give me an opportunity to test myself and get a glimpse of the stuff I am really made of. Many athletes (extreme or not) become hooked on adrenaline and critical problem solving. In the face of danger our perceptions obtain a sharper quality and we feel more alive.
It’s not surprising that the rest of life can seem routine in comparison to living on this edge. As I get older, I examine the significance of making the most out of my everyday life and being able to find contentment in the simpler tasks. I now appreciate that another adventure exists within, an environment where I have the opportunity to dig equally as deep and find rich, uncharted territory. The same skills are required: patience, calm, perseverance and courage.
None of this occurs without being conscious of using effective tools. I’m grateful that my time playing in the outdoors does, in fact, apply to my day-to-day existence, phew! In the mountains this knowledge keeps me alive — in daily life, the same tools keep me happy.
Internal dialogue: “If you can’t change the weather outside, change the weather within you”. I learned this from a tough female ski patroller 30 years ago. She took me into the storm while others stayed by the fire. I witnessed how she willingly faced the wind and was delighted.
Learn to enjoy adversity: I ran my Chicks with Picks women’s ice climbing clinics in New Hampshire where it was bitterly cold. The first year I wondered “how on earth will we teach women to climb in these frigid conditions?” At the end of the day the women were buzzing with excitement and were noticeably happy. I realized it had nothing to do with learning to ice climb, it was their ability to take care of themselves and keep a good attitude in adverse conditions.
Who we are shows up in difficult situations: tough climbs and challenges of everyday life offer opportunities to see our essence. How do I behave when things are not going my way? It’s a great place to drop old habits and explore new ways of being.
Kindness to others: when we get moody, it’s easy to take our frustrations out on those closest to us. It is important to start here! Our spouse, children and family are the reflection of who we are and it’s possible we may not always like what we see. When we learn to manage our personal life well, our other commitments and responsibilities tend to come easier.
New challenges: there comes a time when we have to forgo the activities we enjoy for varying reasons…we lose the drive, we get injured, we change locations or heaven forbid, we age. Humans seem to become bored without new challenges. When we trust that different adventures will present themselves, we are more willing to see an opportunity when it appears. For me, it is important to find new metaphoric mountains to climb and feel grateful that I have the skills needed to navigate the varying terrain ahead.