It is not my nature to push myself. I'm not naturally athletic or coordinated. I don't love pain.
But something about this summer has made me want to do things I've never done before.
My father-in-law (aka walking companion) is on a birthday fishing trip with the Scout Master, so he hasn't been able to walk with me in the mornings. Luckily, my good friend has happily filled in for him. The only catch with her is that I have to get up an hour earlier and she pushes me harder than I would normally push myself. Last night she texted and asked if I wanted to go on a "real" walk this morning. "Say YES to everything" was shouting in my head, so I texted back, "Sure!"
We walked "the loop" this morning. I have only ever been on this trail once in my life and it was not easy or fun. The trail itself is beautiful. But it goes straight UP for almost a mile, and then, just when you think you're finished, you make the turn and find that there's another shorter, but much steeper hill left to climb. The good thing, though, is that once you make it to the summit, the last half is all down hill. It's like the most fulfilling reward EVER!
All of the excitement and enthusiasm I felt when I initially responded to that text was replaced this morning with fear and anxiety. I was sure I was never going to be able to make it. And I was nervous that I was going to slip on those gravelly parts of the trail on the way down. But I kept hearing this quote in my head:
"Gradual, safe exposure to whatever makes us anxious is always the most powerful way of eliminating anxiety."—Martha Beck, O Magazine- July, 2003
So, in my morning prayer I asked for endurance and really good traction on my shoes (because sliding down the hill would not be a good way to end a successful walk.) And guess what! I wasn't speedy, but I did it! I made it (slowly) up to the top and then I walked all the way back down with no harm or injury to myself or anyone else. It was miraculous!!
It felt great to have accomplished something so scary and difficult. My legs have felt like spaghetti noodles all day, especially because I also fit in an Aquacise class this morning, but it's a good feeling. And guess what! I'm going again tomorrow. Back up the hill. Back for more confidence-building exercise experiences. Back for more spaghetti noodles.
I'm so glad to have friends who keep pushing me up the hill even when it's hard and even when I complain loudly.