In the past three months, I’ve had the blessing of traveling to New York twice–once to Lake Placid with my dad and once to New York City with my mom. Both trips gifted me with great memories including being b*tch-slapped by the Universe to learn some important and long overdue lessons.

Lake Placid

My dad and I met up with one of his best friends and daughter in Albany, NY, for a father-daughter hiking trip. This was our second trip as the “A Team” and I was excited for our next adventure together. My family and I tend to do things all together (a definite blessing), so I don’t get a lot of exclusive time with Dad. When I do though, I thoroughly enjoy it! The last time the “A Team” got together was four years ago to hike the Grand Canyon, rim to rim, in a day. The hike in Lake Placid was supposed to be FAR easier and more enjoyable…I’m fairly certain I’d rather do the canyon again!

Months prior I started training: lifting weights, weighted walks, eating clean, etc. During training, however, I wasn’t recovering like I thought I should. I was incredibly tired, sore, and could hardly function on less than 12 hours of sleep (naps included). I had a number of tests done, and it turned out my hormones were so out of wack that my body went into a massive autoimmune response. To make a long story short, I was going into adrenal failure with a side of Hashimoto’s–not good. I had to essentially stop all of my training and do very light (really light) exercise, because the harder I pushed my body, the worse my body felt. I then had to do a complete detox in the hopes my body would reset. By the time all of this was discovered, the trip was one month away. Needless to say, by the time the hike came around, I was no where near in the shape I needed to be, and I was miserable.

I’m proud to have a number of Dad’s great qualities. One in particular is he doesn’t back down from a physical challenge. Ever. He’s in better shape than most half his age–with a freaking broken back nonetheless! He’s an animal. I’ve been a competitive athlete and competitiveness still proudly runs through my veins. However, Dad and I don’t tend to say a whole lot beforehand if we’re not feeling up to the challenge. I’m not sure Dad’s reasonings, but here are mine: 1. I truly believe I’ll be able to do it, 2. I don’t want to appear weak. Though I don’t have this same belief when it comes to sharing emotion or asking for help–just for physical tasks, and 3. If my body previously did [insert hardest activities done prior] then surely it could handle [insert current challenge]. Sigh.

What was supposed to be an eight-hour hike, ended up at 12 hours. I ran out of water, daylight, and sanity. There were a number of times I sat on the trail and cried. I was in so much pain, I didn’t think my body could go any further. Clearly, had I actually been dying additional support could’ve been arranged. Sadly, my body just wasn’t ready for this particular hike. While I reached the summit and completed the hike, I didn’t feel successful. I felt ashamed and disappointed: ashamed that I couldn’t muster the courage to tell Dad before we left that I was sick and wasn’t going to be ready, and disappointed that my body couldn’t do what I wanted it to do.

New York City

I’ve been to New York City a number of times, and each time I’ve felt the same way as the plane approached and I saw the city from my window. I would get butterflies and think I must have done something right because this is the city where successful (and therefore rich) people thrive. This is the thought I’d have just for visiting. Kudos to every magazine ad, movie, and popular song that helped me arrive to this conclusion at an early age.

I was moderator at a conference and was slotted to receive an award for work I did at a previous employer. Since Mom and I were staying at the same hotel as the conference and award ceremony, there weren’t many, if any, concerns on my radar. Until I found out moments before we boarded the plane that the payment I made for the award ceremony wasn’t matched with my registration that was supposed to be on file. The event was sold out, and therefore, no additional seats were available. We weren’t going to be able to attend the ceremony and I was crushed.

In the process of figuring everything out, a number of emails were exchanged with the event owner, and each email from him was more snotty, condescending, and rude than the previous, which only added to my anxiety, frustration, and sadness. Eventually, he dismissed me altogether and a new person resumed contact. In the end, Mom and I attended the event and I received my award, but no apology was ever extended in regards to how I was treated.

Mom and I made the best of the times in between the chaos. We took in a fabulous Broadway show and ate at a couple of incredibly delicious restaurants. Regardless of the fun, I was still met with some type of resistance: a blizzard, clogged streets, rude people, two sleepless nights because the hotel was so noisy, and puking into a Ziploc bag in the taxi because I caught a bug. All of which dissolved my allure of the city. Indefinitely.

The Lessons

Looking back, I picked up a few fabulous lessons from these two trips. Though I chuckle as I realize I often don’t learn the easy way. God tends to need to put boot to ass and kick me through the door. Eventually, I hope to learn to walk through, nicely, on my own. Regardless, lessons learned are always good in my book. The experience may have sucked, but lessons learned create priceless, positive growth. So let’s wrap this up and come full circle!

Albany taught me to be upfront about my physical shortcomings–accept myself as-is with no judgment. Dad wouldn’t have thought less of me or loved me any less, so by not sharing I only hurt myself (literally and figuratively). While it can be great to push your body to new limits, you also have to listen to it.

New York City reminded me that successful people and those who have financial abundance are not necessarily the same people, nor are they necessarily kind, nor do they only live in large cities. Also, just because I’m happy with quiet streets, space, a commute not filled with excessive honking and shouting, and being able to see the stars at night, doesn’t make me less than those who live in NYC (or anywhere else for that matter). It simply means I have preferences, just like everyone else. I can be as successful and financially wealthy living in the suburbs as I could living in large city, and by honoring my preferences I will more likely be a happier and healthier person.

Sometimes life’s lessons are obvious yet take longer to grasp, others are easy peasy. No matter how the lessons present themselves, accept them as gifts–gifts of enlightenment and further self discovery. Often times we stop the process of dissecting a situation for nuggets of wisdom, because we fear staring ourselves down in the mirror and admitting our faults, shortcomings, or feelings. Uncovering uncomfortable emotions is simply a part of the process in understanding the lesson and the role we played in the situation. Lean into the discomfort and don’t judge yourself (or others) for what you discover. Give healthy helpings of grace, and remember learning life’s lessons is a beautifully-terrifying, life-long process.

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