I don’t even know where to begin with this weekend. I think I’ll work backwards and share in two posts. So let’s start with Sunday, a day I will surely remember for a long time. Our group began our five-mile hike (one mile down, four miles up … I know, it doesn’t add up, but that’s sure what it felt like) at 5:30 a.m. through the canyon to reach a beautiful outlook where we could watch the sunrise and meditate.
Typically hiking for Rick and I consists of a nice wide carved out path, some hills, but in most cases just a nice Sunday hike by the river. Let me also say that as I’ve aged, I’ve come to fear some things I did not fear in my youth, such as jumping from rocks into the water below and … wait for it … climbing rocks, especially a rock hill that from my vantage point looks to be about a 90-degree climb.
I was in the group bringing up the rear, so most of the tribe was already half way up the hill, maybe more. I literally stopped in my tracks when I realized I was being asked to go UP the hill. I glanced around for the trail that most assuredly must be off to the left for the peeps who don’t mountain climb. No such luck, no trail, and time to climb. Oh, and by the way, careful cuz there’s moss and water in quite a few areas.
It’s been quite some time since I can even remember reacting like I did yesterday, I just dug my heels in and started crying. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a crier, but not usually because I’m afraid. I cry when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m grateful, when you cry, when the sky is pretty, you name it, I cry … but not usually because I’m scared. In my head I was screaming, “No, not happening! I didn’t sign up for this.” (Yoga … yoga is what I signed up for, not mountain climbing.)
But you see, yoga is about self-discipline, moving beyond what you believe you can do, into what you actually can do. I feel certain our teachers thought long and hard about the group and its abilities before they chose this hike, and in the end, they were accurate in their assessments.
I had a handful of angels surrounding me, as always, but these were the kind that I could physically touch and lean on, which came in handy. I told them in no uncertain terms that I was not going up the hill, and that I could sit on the rock right where I was and meditate and watch the sunrise and that I could rejoin them when they came back down the hill. My classmates, Kyleigh and Molly, reluctantly informed me that the group was not coming back this way, it was up and out from the lookout. (Seriously?)
I’ve never really liked being left out of something, so thank goodness for that yesterday. And thank goodness for my angels. They just went into action like a team, Kyleigh and Molly offering their hands to hold, climbing ahead of me to pull me up, Molly giving me her headlamp to light my way, Kyleigh supplying the Kleenex for my running nose thanks to my tears, Patrick taking my backpack to lighten my load and offering a shove up on the first rock, which was a large rock to climb for these short little legs. He offered hesitantly, as the only way to shove me was putting his hands on my ass. My answer, “Shove away, Patrick. No room for modesty at this point.” (I later joked with him that it was the highlight of the hike.)
I cried probably the first five minutes of the ascent. I’m not sure what was worse, my fear, or my bruised ego. I’ve always been a doer, and not let too much get in my way. And having grown up an only child of two alcoholics, I learned at an early age to count on myself, so it’s not easy for me to ask for or to accept help.
My inner voice was screaming at me, but as I negotiated each new rock, she started to quiet down a bit (man, is she ever noisy when she’s upset.) And by the time we reached the midpoint of the hill, I found myself welcoming the help that was being given. It’s nice to receive without resistance, but not easy. Many of you who are also independent might relate to that tendency to want to decline accepting help, in whatever form it might take. It’s so much easier sometimes to say, ”no thanks, I got this,” than “yes, that would be nice, thanks for the help.” Right?
Kyleigh’s mantra every few minutes was “Only five more minutes, Sue. Only five more minutes.” It had a nice rhythm to it, with a hint of humor, and she made me smile every time she said it. We ascended and rested, began again until the next break, and slowly but surely, we made it up the hill. I was greeted with applause and hugs by the tribe when I finally got to the outlook, and of course, Scott, our teacher, with the all-knowing “I told you so” look. Amazing, my team of angels.
The vista was amazing, and as we sat facing a gorgeous sunrise, each of us in our own silent worlds, I couldn’t really meditate because my inner voice just had too much to talk about, but I was content to listen to her in that moment. Meditation would be saved for another day. She was proud of herself, and very happy she had taken the chance, defied her self-imposed limitations and conquered a fear. That’s a lot of work to have accomplished by 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning.
As we began our jaunt back to the cars, we again were faced with the same type of rock climb , but this time I just found my girls, grabbed their hands and up we went with no hesitation, taking breaks when needed along the way. The difference for the balance of the hike A) I wasn’t afraid any more, and B) I continued to hold their hands not so much because I needed it, but because it felt good to stay connected. As adults we grow out of some lovely behaviors like friends holding hands. We shouldn’t.
Close to the top, Kyleigh slipped and fell. And guess who was holding on to keep her from sliding down? Interesting? They had listened to me all the way up thanking them for helping me. In contrast, she said, “gee, if I hadn’t been holding your hand to help you, then you wouldn’t have been able to help me.” Great food for thought. I believe in life, we are all teachers and we are all students … it just depends on which lesson you are studying as to who is teaching who.
Our day was to continue with a 90-minute yoga class at 8:30 followed by observing a second 90-minute yoga class at 11:00. As we gathered at the cars discussion was had within the group about all of us actually participating in both classes instead of just observing one. Again, I thought … well, I think you guys can figure out what I thought.
But … once I got in my car and relaxed for the 20-minute drive back to the studio, I found that I wasn’t really feeling all that tired, and that if they could do, so could I. By 12:30 p.m., much to my surprise and delight, I finished my second yoga class after a five-mile hike. The second class was a restorative yin class, which if you’ve never taken a yin class, is an amazing experience. Lots of deep stretches for longer periods, so relaxing. Toward the end of class in what’s called a pigeon pose, I was lying on my stomach face down on my folded arms, soothing music filling the space. The tears rolled down my face for the entire pose. My heart was filled with so many emotions, pride, excitement, relief, wonder, but most of all … gratitude … for this day, for my angels, for the sunrise and for my body which has infinitely more strength than I give it credit for.
Saturday was an equally powerful day, but I will save that for my next post.
I will end with this thought … when you think you can’t … think again … and then do it even if you have to work through tears to get it done. We have the power to create amazing possibilities in our lives.
P.S. Getting closer to that skydive.