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hope

How to Climb The Mountain That's Staring You in the Face

Have you been to hell and back a million times in your life? Have you felt like you were standing at the base of a mountain, your destination the other side of it, but not seen one bit of figurative climbing gear to be seen? - not one harness, not one descender, nope, not even one little crampon?

I know what it's like to look up at the top of that mountain. You feel like you'll never get there - but you know you have to do it; there's no turning back. So now what?

If it's too much to look up, turn your attention to the base of the mountain. You'll feel a little less pressured if you just focus on what you can achieve right now in this moment, and leave the rest to unfold as it will.

I know that sometimes when I've glanced up at that mountain top, I've felt immobilized. I've wanted to give up before I started. So I just grabbed onto the first bit of rock I could reach, picked up a foot and found a little step up. As long as I continued to do that, I made progress. Looking up was not an option. I could afford to look only at what was directly in front of me.

Whatever it is that you're facing, find the first rock that you can handle and take that small step. Leave the biggest, scariest rocks if you can, and get some of the smaller ones out of the way first.

Soon you will feel a bit of relief. Your anxiety will diminish; you will feel stronger. It will reinforce your belief that you must not, under any circumstances, look up, not just yet. To do so might be paralyzing. Forward movement and momentum are paramount. So just keeping grabbing for one small rock at a time, and don't look up.

Before long, you will feel ready to tackle the most challenging rocks. They might not put you at the top of the mountain right away, but you'll be well on your way to reaching it. You might even be able to look up after that. Because the beauty of it is, you'll also be able to look down and see how far you've come.

Crank That Wheel Away From the Skid

"Oops."  (Photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

"Oops." (Photo courtesy of freerangestock.com)

You know that heart-stopping fear that fills you with ice water when you're driving along, and suddenly you find yourself in a skid? Your car fish-tails back and forth, back and forth, spitting gravel or spinning on ice and visions of a rather messy and imminent death race through your mind.

Your stomach flips as adrenalin floods your taut body. You grip the wheel in white-knuckled terror, and you wonder if your mouth is really filled with cotton balls all of a sudden.

Those seconds hang like years, and you're sure you've lost a few off your life after this too-close-call that leaves you shaken and trembling at the side of the road.

Growing up in Western Canada where the weather can be brutal and extreme, I learned how to drive in some pretty vicious conditions. There's nothing like plowing through tons of snow on several inches of solid ice, with a raging snowstorm obscuring your vision - by night.

Many of Canada's country roads are gravel, which can send you into a nasty skid and land you in the ditch in as big a hurry as that ice under your wheels will do.

What makes it worse is the instinct that some people have to crank the steering wheel into the direction of the skid. A big no-no! And on top of that, some people find themselves staring at whatever they're trying to avoid. Another vehicle, a wall, a sharp embankment that drops off and will send them plummeting below and into a raging river... And whatever they're seeing is where they are heading.

I "came out of the chute" in the middle of a sharp skid, born to a frightened young teen and after a time was taken from her and adopted into yet another skid. Much of my life was spent fish-tailing back and forth, back and forth, every heart-stopping moment spent cranking the wheel hard in the opposite direction of that skid, and doing my best to stay focused on the road, and not on the ditch, the wall - or too many times, the cliff above the river.

I was not always successful. In fact, I was very unsuccessful on far too many occasions for far too many years.

With the passage of time and continued practice and focus, the skids are now a lot fewer and farther in between. They don't usually land me in the ditch any more either, because I've learned to stay focused on the road.

And if you don't already know how to do it, you can learn, too.

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Wisdom

In the garden of silence

Seeds of Wisdom are sown.

 

In the soil of listening, they sprout.

In open mind, they flourish.

 

In compassionate heart, they blossom.

Graceful understanding is the harvest.

 

In stillness, Wisdom shines,

Illuminating blackest night.

 

Sharpest eye, keenest ear,

Wisdom gathers, nothing lost.

 

Eager student, Wisdom is.

Teach me all, Wisdom cries.

 

It will be taught

In the garden of silence.

 

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A Little Faith, A Dash of Hope...

Things might be awful for you right now.  I hope not, but of course Life does have a way of being miserable sometimes.  And in some cases, it can go on a very long time.

It's not as miserable when you have some control over the situation, when you can actively do something to make it better, to change it in some way and get back to a happier place.  But it really sucks when it's pretty much out of your hands.

In those cases, all you can really do is change yourself, your own attitudes about what's happening.  Trust me, I do understand complete and utter despair.  I've endured some of the worst heartache, the worst illness, the worst fears (but thank heaven I've also been spared many others).  I do know what it is to suffer, so I'm not just talking out of my hat (such a bizarre expression).

When it gets like that for you, you've got to hang onto faith and hope.  And if you've lost them, you've got to dig deep and find them again, even if it's just the tiniest shred of each.

Although it doesn't always feel like it, you have control over what goes on in your head.  You can choose to think about how awful it is and how dark and miserable things are right now and how they're just going to stay that way.

Or you can look ahead and have faith that things will change, that the Wheel of Life will soon begin to turn in your favour again.  You can trust that there will be a bit of good news tomorrow or next week, that you'll see the first signs of improvement in your situation.  Because it will come, you know.  Nothing stays the same forever.  And if you're like I used to be, you'll say, "Yeah, I know.  It can get worse!"

And yes, that's true.  But equally, it also means that things can get better.  If you're gonna give some time and energy to the negative, the positive deserves at least the same attention.  Be fair and give it equal time. Or more.

Then find a little hope.  If you've lost that too, then make some more.  You do it by remembering other times when things were dark and horrible, but then they got better.  C'mon, don't tell me that every single minute of your whole existence since birth has been awful.  Even if there has been a lot of misery, if there have been many hardships, some of them will have made room for brighter days in the past.

And I'll bet that when you were in the soup back then, you might not have thought it would ever get better.  But it did.

And it'll get better again.  You create faith and you create hope by choosing to welcome them into your thoughts, by opening your mind, your heart, your life to them and telling yourself - no, by insisting - that your situation will improve.

Even in terminal illness there is room for faith and hope.  Have faith in the strength of your spirit's ability to face what lies ahead, to accept the situation and find peace.  Have hope that your suffering will be eased, that you will find comfort in your spiritual beliefs or in being with loved ones during this very difficult time.

The Universe doesn't always give us what we want.  But it always gives us what we need.  And if you need courage, strength, faith or hope, even if you have to look for them, you will always find them.