This week, I am celebrating 64 years of life! Or, as Linda Miles would say, the 39th anniversary of my 25th birthday. But really, my 64th year and I are on friendly terms.
Several years ago, I went out on my favorite cycling route through the wine country of the Temecula Valley which is 25 miles and includes a long, 12% grade hill. I had only done this twice before, and that was several years before and a couple dozen pounds ago. It was a gorgeous summer morning with hardly any traffic, and I had a new album to devour on my headphones. As I pushed off on my bike and entered the first intersection, it occurred to me that it was only four short years before that the thought of being clipped into a road bike was outrageous, but after a couple of skinned knees I had made friends with it. At that time the thought of going out alone without Tom, a much more experienced rider, was out of the question until one day when he couldn’t meet me for a ride as we had planned, and then I made friends with that idea.
So, clipping in, setting off alone, and cycling for 22 miles was a piece of cake. As I paused in the shade to hydrate and munch on my favorite “bonk breaker” bar, I noticed I was at the bottom of the afore-mentioned hill. As I considered taking the flatter, longer route or possibly this shorter, steeper one, it looked menacing, daunting, and yet in some way… beaconing and friendly. I decided to do it, but within seconds of the ascent I was worried. It was hot, and I was already struggling. It was then I remembered the value and instant attitude-adjuster of making friends with the challenges which are right in front of you.
Making friends with challenges and fears just means stopping the current mind chatter about how hard, bad, or scary it is while simultaneously not denying the pain, fear, or difficulty. For me, it involves seeing the challenge itself welcoming me, embracing me, and rooting for me. I see it cheering me on to what it already knows is victory, advancing my confidence, courage, skills, and health while expanding my view of what is possible. We shake hands, become friends, and the challenge itself helps me up.
This week, make friends with your hills. Make friends with your age, your body, your relationships, your goals. See them as benevolent supporters of you proving to yourself what is massively possible in your life and your experience.
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
~ Abraham Lincoln