Reaching the Peak

The look on her face is chiseled into my brain. It fills me with glee. The tears leaking down her face as she laughs and cries simultaneously is a tangible image of usually unseen, invisible thoughts. Her adrenaline is palpable. If I were a sculptor I would try to freeze that moment, to capture the raw emotion. But it’s too fluid for anyone to do it justice. She is feeling so many emotions at once.  I am excited. I am inspired. I want what she has and I now know what it looks like.

A few days ago I am scrolling around Facebook and a person talking on Facebook live pops up. I don’t usually hang out long on Facebook live sites but something about this one has me intrigued. She is speaking quickly, almost in a manic way, and is mentioning that this is her third post of the day. That sounds intense. She is asking the audience to stick with her because she has something big to share. I’m curious. I’m willing to wait a bit. She is fiddling with her computer, trying to pull up a message.  She keeps connected to her viewers by asking us to wait just a little longer; it’s going to be worth it. She turns to the camera and shares her news. Her agent just informed her that her brand new book that was released that morning, is already an Amazon bestseller. I hadn’t realized she had even written a book. She starts laughing and crying. She seems to be in a bit of shock. She’s filled with gratitude and is thanking all of her followers. She’s a beautiful mess. I am filled with happiness for her, this person I do not know personally. And I think, “That is what I want. This is what it feels like and looks like when your dream truly comes true. I am witnessing something rare and valuable.”

A few days before that, I was awed by a different person in my life, who also reached her own tremendous goal. A person who is living with cancer, and who is more motivated than ever to challenge herself and fulfill her aspirations. Her dreams included climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. It seems crazy that someone who may be compromised health-wise would put themselves through the grueling training and trek to reach this destination. She was completely determined, never wavering. And she did it! All the way to the top! When she shares her pictures and her stories, I feel honored to be in the presence of someone with so much faith, courage and determination. She has allowed herself to fulfill her desires without letting anything get in her way.

So now what? Do I sit back and feel badly about myself? Resentful? No! I become inspired and motivated. If I want to be that person whose smile is so big that it hurts, who has tears and snot running down her face and is laughing and crying from disbelief that my wildest dreams are coming true, then I’m going to have to take some actions to propel me forward.  Because neither of these awesome women had their goals come to them. They made them happen.

I acknowledge that I’ve been experiencing a stopover from my own metaphorical journey to reach the apex of my ambition. I have been on a scenic train ride that is meandering its way through beautiful vistas, slowly around a steep mountain, as I acclimate to the change in altitude. Sometimes the train has gone faster and gathered more speed than other times. As the season changed to summer, I took advantage of my ticket that allows one to depart and return as desired. I decide to stay to explore the village for a while, instead of continuing to move further up the slope.

While not regretting this choice, I do know that once I feel comfortable in this resting space, it gets more difficult to symbolically pack again and board the train for what promises to be new adventures, but holds a lot of unknowns. I am nervous that I will let myself down by choosing what feels safe over what is going to eventually thrill and fulfill me.

So I start small. I don’t leave my safe village abruptly. I just start including some things that will lead me toward that jump-for-joy feeling. I start hiking instead of riding the train. I realize that one step will turn into another step. I know I don’t have to see the top of the mountain to hike a little further. I have faith that the more I hike, the closer I will come to the peak. That’s how life works!

I write down a list what I want in my life. I then figure out what has prevented me from having each desire right now. I take ownership of what I can (more than I initially realized) and I create a first step for each of these yearnings of mine. I then continue the process, now closer to each goal than I was before.

None of this happens automatically. It takes work. It takes practice. It takes a bit of talking back to the voice in my head, my ‘gremlin’, who tells me why I should remain exactly where I am. This is the voice that paints a picture of everything that could go wrong, the voice that tries to stop me from potential failure or embarrassment. I’ve named that voice, that gremlin of mine. He is ‘Old Man Sam’. And when I speak back to the voice by name (he responds to Sam, we’re that comfortable together), I remove the power. Instead of feeling anxious that my thoughts are Truth, I say, “I appreciate, Sam, that you are trying to protect me. But if I listened to you, I’d have no chance of realizing my true greatness and experiencing the ultimate joys in life that I am seeking. So I am going to ask you to move aside, and I am going to do it anyway.” Or, sometimes the shorthand of this is, “F You, Sam! I’m ignoring you! Towanda!” This has never yet backfired on me.

When we have a clear intention of our objective, and the ability to ignore our inner doubts, we are going to succeed. Upon publishing this post, I am now one action further along the path that is leading me to burst with gratitude over the accomplishments I’ll have achieved and the life I’ll be leading. The reward upon reaching the mountain top is beckoning. I can hear the train approaching and when it does, I’ll be ready to climb aboard.

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