The Mind Game.

Chances are you’ve found yourself stuck in a rut, backed into a corner or neck deep in muck. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Your flashlight is dead. Heck, is there any light?

Life doesn’t come with directions. Finding your way off-course is inevitable. But finding your way back on-course is possible. There is light. You might just have to hike a little farther or climb a little higher to find it.

5 years ago on Thanksgiving, I was alone. It was the first time in my entire life that I was completely alone. My kids were in Seattle with their dad for the holiday weekend. I had no family in Vegas. My friends were all with their family. I was solely and completely on my own.

Not sure what to do, but knowing I couldn’t just sit home alone all day and wallow in my sadness, I put my big girl panties on and decided today was the day I would finally climb “The Mesa”.

This wasn’t just any mesa. This was the mesa I looked at with trepidation each morning as I strolled my two boys around a 3-mile loop near our neighborhood. This was the mesa that I hiked through the canyons below, but never up to the top of. This was the mesa I told myself I couldn’t ever climb.

With nothing to lose and all the time in the world to spare, I grabbed my water bottle and laced up my hiking shoes. Not sure how I was going to get from the bottom to the top, I stared at the mesa for what seemed like forever. I spotted what I thought looked like an easy route, right up the face. I visually mapped my course and I started my climb.

Now if any of you have explored off-grid in Las Vegas, Nevada, you know our rocks are like razor sharp shards of glass. Cactuses have needle-like spines. Snake holes pock the desert like prairie dog holes do in Badlands National Park.

The number one rule in hiking is to never hike alone. Call me a rule breaker, call me stubborn. I didn’t care. I had my sights set. I was on a mission. And nobody was going to stop me.

I needed to prove to nobody but myself that I was okay. Okay starting over and creating a brighter future, all on my own. Okay stumbling, falling flat on my face and then standing back up again. Okay laughing at myself and learning from my mistakes. Okay doing my own thing and not worrying what anyone else thinks about it. Okay with my life as I knew it. Okay with what would become of it.

As I climbed, I got hot. And sweaty. And lightheaded. I was literally the only one out climbing “The Mesa”. Partly because it was Thanksgiving and partly because I was free climbing. Little did I know, there was an actual trail that took a nice casual approach to the climb. Here I was climbing the face of it, with no trail in sight and all alone. It seemed smart in the moment! Rocks constantly slipped out from under me and I’d slide down two of the five feet I’d just climbed. Finding a handhold that wasn’t going to rip my skin to shreds and wasn’t the entrance to a snake hole was nearly impossible. I’d look up to see how close I was to the top and somehow it looked even farther than the last time I checked. How was that even possible?

Thoughts ran through my head telling me it was too hard. That I should be proud of how far I’d made it and go home before I got hurt. That I’d never make it on my own. But then, as I was beating myself up, I felt a strange sensation come over me. It was like a warm blanket was being thrown over my shoulders and I was being embraced in a big hug. Maybe it was just the sun getting to me, but I vividly remember crouching down by a boulder with tears uncontrollably streaming down my face. I sobbed like I’d never sobbed before. And then I looked up. The top was close. I straightened up my shoulders, wiped off my tears and, determined to prove myself wrong, I finished that climb. When I got to the top, I stood there amazed. Amazed at how powerful the mind is. Amazed at how much stronger I felt. Amazed at the beauty all around me. I stayed up there most of that Thanksgiving Day. And when I climbed back down, I felt a new calm confidence come over me. I knew without a doubt that I was okay. Now and forever.

Whatever mind game you’re in right now. Stop. But NEVER GIVE UP. Prove to yourself that you’re okay. Because you are. And you will be.

✔️ Focus on this step. And this step only. Don’t worry yourself with how many steps you have left to go. Take it one step at a time.

✔️ Remind yourself that you’ve survived every challenge you’ve been through so far. You’re living proof of that! Don’t give up.

✔️ Give yourself credit for how far you’ve come. Gosh dang it, you’ve made it through some tough times. Savor your successes and use those to buoy you up and over your next challenge.

There is light in your darkness. You will win this mind game. You are made for more. I’m 100% sure of it.

Step outside with me and I’ll walk with you every step of the way. Because that’s what friends are for. And also, because you should never hike alone.

Follow us on Instagram @where.to.explore

That’s Red Rock Canyon behind me!

That’s Red Rock Canyon behind me!

Overlooking the Las Vegas Valley (November 2014).

Overlooking the Las Vegas Valley (November 2014).