Today was a huge day for me. I walked the whole loop at Natural Falls.
Let me back up to yesterday - We went there yesterday and walked around a bit but I stayed up top on the paved trail. Why? I was playing it safe. Actually, I was terrified. What if I wasn’t strong enough? What if I got dizzy and fell? What if I got to the bottom but couldn’t get back out? What if, while trying to push my limits, my heart gave out or airways closed off? Horrible, worst case scenarios circled around me as I decided to stay “safe”. After all, just being out there was an accomplishment for me. Walking from the car to the falls overlook is a big deal considering my journey and I “should” be happy about that. That’s what I kept telling myself.
I was and am happy about that and very thankful. It felt good to get out and do something I love and it left me wanting more. This morning, we decided to go back and hike again – this time taking Taylor with us. We hiked around the top and took pictures. We arrived at the point of the trail where you go off pavement and onto the rocks. There is a bench there for a reason. I told Josh and T to go ahead. I would be there on the bench waiting for them, but I hated how that made me feel. I struggled with the feeling of being thankful for the progress I have made but also feeling like I was settling in accepting the path to the bench was enough. They took off down the rocky trail and I followed. Shocked to see me behind them, my husband asked “Are you sure?” I simply replied “Yes.”
I’ll be honest, I had to have a few talks with myself along the way. Going down was easy. (Just writing that, shows me how far I’ve come. What was easy today was impossible months ago.) Coming back up, well...it wasn’t pretty. The sign explaining this was a steep trail didn’t help. Mentally, I was kicking my own ass before I started up the hill. Every time anxiety showed up with a “You can’t do this.” I fired back with “Watch me.” I huffed and puffed. I rested a time...or two...or three. I leaned against a tree to catch my breath and I watched as Josh and T waited for me at the next turn, silently cheering me on. About ¾ of the way up the hill, I could see the end in sight. I just stayed focused on the accomplishment ahead. Y’all, I almost cried when I reached the top. I did it!
It was a beautiful experience. From the rocky downhill trail, to wondering around the valley and taking in all that life has to offer, to the uphill struggle and the view from the top – all of it was beautiful in a unique way. I am thankful! Thankful for the people in my life, the progress I’ve made and for not settling for the bench.