Success, Redefined.

I just finished reading Learning to Breathe by Alison Wright. While the book itself wasn't my favorite, Alison's remarkable story of recovery after experiencing what should have been a fatal accident is gripping at times, and she gleans some great lessons from her tragedy. Among her words of wisdom, this one probably screamed at me the loudest. I hope you find some inspiration from it, too.

Click on image to enlarge

10...no, 6...Places I Would Love, Love, LOVE to Visit!

Linking up with A Happy Girl for her Blogember challenge. Day 22: 10 places you would love to visit. Of course this is a prompt that I am excited to do! I reduced the number to six because these are the six places currently far and away at the top of my list; there are about a hundred more that are much harder to choose between for those last four slots.

1. Persepolis, Iran
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I think it might surprise people that the number one place on my list of places to visit isn't a mountain peak (though I would love to also trek through the Zagros Mountains), but I have wanted to visit Iran for as long as I can remember. I was an International Studies major with an emphasis in the Middle East, and although I learned Arabic (not related to Persian), I have even made my husband promise to take me to Iran before I die. Explaining this one might be a topic for another blog post, but suffice to say, sometimes you don't choose your adventures. They choose you. And Iran has had a firm grip on my heart for as long as I can remember, not only for its historical sites - such as Persepolis - but also for its modern culture.

2. Landmannalaugar, Iceland
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Iceland seems to provide some of the most beautiful landscapes imaginable. After seeing a friend's photographs from his time there, I just can't imagine my life will be complete until I go.

3. Krogerata, Telluride, Colorado
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The Krogerata is a via ferrata (iron road) that is accessible to even the most novice climbers. And what a backdrop you have as your make your way across the traverse! This is one that we have tentatively scheduled for June 2014 and I cannot wait.

4. Pichincha Volcano, Ecuador
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Who doesn't dream of bagging a beautiful mountain peak that doubles as an active volcano? With its most recent eruption being in 1999, Pichincha affords its hikers (who must double as rock scramblers) with incredible views and the thrill of coming face-to-face with a natural force to be reckoned with. I can think of no better way to feel small and powerless!

5. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas, Nevada
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Red Rock represents a departure from the fast life of Vegas and a little piece of natural heaven. While others may want to indulge in all that the Strip has to offer, I dream of going there only to escape to a rock climber's paradise. There are multi-pitch routes here that are accessible to the beginner outdoor climber, but there are also opportunities to establish new routes and challenge yourself physically and mentally on difficult climbs.

6. Huashan Trail, China
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Another via ferrata-style hike that has been dubbed "the most dangerous hike in the world" by some, though that has to be taken with a grain of salt. I've read some reports that the local people do this one like it's a walk in the park, but I imagine myself struggling, crying, and trembling from fear the entire time. Check out some of the scenery you could experience here.

What places would you like to visit?

I Choose To Sing

Today's Blogember challenge is to share a quotation that inspires you. Although I have many favorites, this one seems most appropriate for this blog.


The full quote is as follows:

"In this life we are all just walking up the mountain and we can sing as we climb or we can complain about our sore feet. Whichever we choose, we still gotta do the hike. I decided a long time ago singing made a lot more sense."

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I feel very fortunate that singing has never been a difficult choice, because I love the hike - and the more challenging, the better. Even so, I can't say I've never complained; in fact, my complaints can be downright oppressive to my hiking partner when coming down from a peak that took hours upon hours to reach.

But complaining doesn't get us to our destination any faster. It doesn't make our knees ache any less, and it certainly doesn't make the journey any more pleasant.

Enjoy every piece of your journeys. Happy hiking!

Life and Its Mountain Challenges Are Beautiful Teachers

Today I'm linking up with A Happy Girl for her blog every day in November challenge. (I may not post every day, but I love all of her prompts!) Today's challenge is to share one of the best lessons life has taught you.

It is only in the past few years that I've really taken to hiking. Words that come to mind as I consider a new challenging mountain hike are exhilarating, satisfying, healthy, and happy. But more than anything, hiking is humbling.

Being in the great outdoors has taught me one of the most important lessons I need to embrace daily: I am small. There is this great big glorious world out there, and I am but a tiny speck. As in life, mountains can seem insurmountable precisely because we are so small and insignificant next to them. Starting at the base looking up, we have to embrace the fact that what stands before us is a challenge that will be a lot of wonderful things - but easy won't be one of them. Not if we're aiming for an incredible view at the end. (Around here, a mole hill doesn't provide a lookout above the city smog.)

Mountains have been used as a metaphor for life's challenges for millennia. Without offering some cheesy Miley Cyrus quote here (it's the climb?), I'll just say that mountain pursuits have given me the opportunity to see life in all its fullness more clearly. While putting one foot in front of the other to make my way to the top, the beauty of the hard stuff (an uphill climb, for example) comes into focus. At the same time, I am humbled to realize (for the umpteenth time) that I share this world with such tremendous natural majesty, which in turn makes the hard stuff pretty insignificant. For thousands of years, people have struggled with minutiae, not realizing that that's what it really is. Meanwhile, the mountains look on - changing little - and demonstrate that there is nothing new under the sun, and if we would just extend our gaze upwards and take it all in, much of our anxiety would melt away.

So hike your mountains, be they real or metaphorical, and take comfort in the fact that you are small.


Juxtaposition

Sunrise from Mt. Whitney, wildflowers from Lake Winnemucca, clouds from Germany, and a bird from Mission Peak. (Click to enlarge)