A Year of gifts
SOMETIMES THE ROADBLOCKS, SETBACKS, AND HEARTBREAKS OF LIFE TURN OUT TO BE THE GREATEST GIFTS OF ALL . . .
“Do something that scares you every day.”
“Push beyond your comfort zone.”
We hear the advice all the time but how often do we take it to heart? How often do we genuinely push and challenge ourselves? I suspect your honest answers to these questions will give you a good indication of how much growth you're seeing in your own life right now.
If we don’t test our limits, we’ll never know how far we can go.
I had the opportunity to push myself, physically, last Monday during a quick trip to Arizona. If I'm being sincere here, I feel like I drive myself mentally on a daily basis, but I admit I’ve been slacking on the physical side.
Friends we were staying with suggested a hike. Unlike me, they are dedicated to their own physical fitness, and I admire them for that. A hike with them would not mean a leisurely stroll. Was I up to the challenge?
Absolutely! The weather was beautiful. In less than 48 hours, I'd be back at my desk at my day job while temperatures outside would start with a minus sign. It was time to get out and enjoy the beauty of the desert.
We headed to San Tan Mountain Regional Park, not far from their home. The park has numerous trails, and our friends have hiked them before. Which did we want to try? One of the easier ones? Or the one that would take us to the top?
Gulp. Would I hold them back and embarrass myself if we opted for the tough trail? Probably. But these were good friends, and I was confident they'd make sure we got out of there alive. They'd already shared a picture of one of their parents reaching the top. If a man twenty plus years older than me could make it, I couldn’t wimp out. They’d also mentioned another friend that chose not to push all the way to the top. So if I couldn’t physically make it, I had an out. I wouldn’t be the first to wait on the trail for them to finish.
At the fork in the path, we took a right, following the arrow toward the more challenging route: Gold Mine Trail.
The first bit wasn’t bad. My confidence was building. But then the route started climbing. I was getting a little winded. Then a lot winded. But we know what to do, right? I kept telling myself: head down…one foot in front of the other…don’t look up. Every journey consists of one step at a time. Yeah, yeah, yeah. How long could I keep it up, pretending I wasn’t dying to sit down and rest?
I finally confessed I needed to take a break. And here’s the deal. Our friends were great about it. We stopped, visited a bit, and enjoyed the scenery. Our goal wasn’t to get up and down as fast as possible. They were fine adjusting the pace. I was the only one being tough on myself. All I had to do was ask.
They’d followed this trail before. They knew the path well—where it would be tough and where it would get easier. Telling me this as we went along helped. Their guidance was encouraging.
I'm happy to report that despite shaking legs and labored breathing I did it. We went to the top of the trail together and enjoyed a spectacular view that stretched to the far horizon. The natural high of reaching the peak trumped the pain of the upwards journey.
Then it was time to go down. A piece of cake, right?
Turns out, coming down was a bit treacherous in spots. At one point my feet slipped right out from under me and down I went. I popped back up again as fast as I could, my pride hurt more than my butt. The small scab on my hand is nearly faded now. Bless the little kid climbing near us that witnessed my fall and assured me that he’d seen lots of people tumble right in that same spot. It wasn’t just me!
Once the trail leveled off again, we strolled back to the parking lot, stopping for pictures by a tall cactus, and stepping out of the way for mountain bikers heading up the trail. The conversation was lively and the path became busier, littered with little kids and families.
Our three-mile hike was a combination of excitement, pain, exhilaration, and reminders.
If we don’t test our limits, we never know how far we can go. Pushing ourselves reveals areas we may need to focus on more if we want to improve.
Important reminders I gleaned from our outing:
That trek through a beautiful state park in Arizona served up powerful reminders for me.
We can accomplish so much more than we think we can. Don’t worry about convincing anyone else that you can do something, but you do have to prove it to yourself. Strengthen the faith you have in your own abilities. Challenge yourself every day, do the tough things, and sit back afterwards with a smile, knowing you can do those things you set your mind to. Then do it again the next day. Quiet the fears in your own mind with daily reminders of your own strength. I have faith in you. Kim
We have an unsolved mystery at the office. Nothing significant, but a mystery nonetheless. After some time away over the holidays, I was back at the office on the second day of the new year. As I filled my coffee cup and prepared to face a full inbox after nearly two weeks away, I spared a glance at the still-decorated Christmas tree as I made my way back to my office. I remember thinking I should find twenty minutes to pull off the ornaments and stow the tree away until next year. I’d get to it if I could.
Later, when the light faded outside my office windows, I realized it was time to head home. I flipped off the lights as I was the last one to leave, again passing the still festive tree on my way out the door. Maybe I’d get around to it the next day.
I didn’t have to. When I returned the next morning, the tree stood bare. Someone had taken down all the decorations and stowed them away. No ornaments remained except one lone little bulb, still hanging on a lower branch. There was something about that single bulb that spoke to me.
Curious, I asked around. We only have a small group in our office area. No, none of them took down the decorations. Perhaps it was the woman who does such an amazing job cleaning our offices after hours. But she wouldn’t know where to put the tub of decorations. Whoever it was, they left a little something behind.
That one little gold bulb reminded me of how we almost always leave something behind us as we move through life, even when we don’t realize it.
Think about how many people we interact with each day. Regardless of whether our encounter is brief or lengthy, the quality of our interaction has at least the potential to impact us both. A kind word or a smile may be all it takes to brighten someone’s day. We’ve left a little something positive in our wake. On the flip side, if we’re having a crummy day and get impatient with someone, we can pass those bad vibes on, too.
It’s like we leave a little trail of breadcrumbs behind us, everywhere we go. We seldom leave things exactly as they were before we pass through. Sometimes the impact we make will be fleeting, sometimes it will endure.
We see this in nature, too. A dropped candy wrapper here, a trampled flower there, and suddenly a tiny bit of beauty is lost. Over time, the effects of carelessness can compound. We need to tread carefully, doing what we can to nurture and not destroy.
Nearly everything we do will leave at least a small imprint on the world. Our spoken words have the power to have an immediate impact on someone else. Our written words record our thoughts and could impact others, possibly for years to come. A kind gesture that perhaps seems almost inconsequential could literally save someone's life.
I’m saddened and mystified by the dilemma we find ourselves in right now in the US due to the partial government shutdown, but it warms my heart to see men, women, and children stepping forward to help others who suddenly find themselves in difficult positions through no fault of their own. Stories abound of people and businesses doing what they can to help. I heard about a restaurant in an airport offering free meals to TSA workers. I saw an interview with a woman who's faced hard times herself in the past, and now she's providing financial assistance to people who gave her a job when she needed it the most.
There are many similar examples, playing out all across the country. I hope the media continues to focus on the positive stories because, as we all know, what you focus on grows.
We’ve seen strangers helping strangers, countless other times. People helping people in times of struggle. Whether it’s a fire, a flood, or horrific acts of violence, people come together in times of need.
These are the kind of footsteps I hope we can all strive to leave behind us as we travel through life.
Make someone’s day, don’t ruin it. Plant a tree, don’t cut it down. Write a funny story and make someone laugh instead of dashing off a scathing comment meant to force your opinion on someone else.
Attitude is everything. Your own attitude can make or break your day. Just as importantly, it can make or break someone else’s, even when you don’t mean for it to.
We still don't know who undressed our tree. I could keep asking questions, but sometimes a little mystery is fun. I took the tree down and stowed it away later that morning, but I brought the small gold ornament into my office. It will serve as a reminder to me.
Everything we do leaves something behind. Make it count. Kim
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a self-published fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!