I think you can stop using a muscle for so long, much like many parts of my lower back, that it loses its strength, it locks up, and when you finally decide to use it again, it causes soreness. That's where I'm at in my writing journey.
So, I deal with a lot of chronic back pain due partly to how I’m built, my anatomy, and the rest is due to me not stretching and getting active like I should. If you’re like me – a person who happens to juggle many hard things "well" – you can understand why I say most wouldn't even notice I’m in pain. I use the word, "well," very loosely. Follow me for a second. I naturally "do the most." I'm constantly trying to stay productive, so much so, I have to remind myself to slow down. It's good and bad. Let's reuse the stretching analogy: imagine I’m used to going beyond my toes when I do a forward fold stretch, and the average person can only go as far as reaching their toes. If I become injured and can only reach my toes as well, my “new” range of motion appears normal. Although, the whole time to me, it's still an injury and something is still off.
I think I've hidden behind the content creator title too long, and it's time I finally quit.
We all have a natural born call deep within us. Sometimes it's intertwined with our occupation - the way we bring in income - but sometimes our impact on this world is not limited to a job, a title, or a position. You can run, you can deny, you can delay this "pull" you feel spiritually, but it will only grow and keep calling.
As painful as the reality is, this is often a solo journey of discovery. There's no entourage of support behind you as you work out the kinks. Much like our purpose confuses us in the beginning, it will do the same for many loved ones. We are left with the dilemma: stay stagnant in comfort or press forward alone.
On October 16, I completed my first-ever hike to Strawberry Lake in Fraser, Colorado (experience provided by Full Potential Wildnerness) As exciting as everything was, I never took the time to fully reflect on how much of a feat this was. This Louisiana girl hiked an 800ft. elevation change (it was 9,000ft. at the top) to Strawberry Lake. A 3.93 miles roundtrip journey, it was. I've never hiked before. Ever. I'm used to sea-level air. I started this hike with a small group of women from a retreat, mostly strangers except our host named Brooke, my mom, and my sister.
My mom is a recent breast cancer survivor, and my sister-in-law has a pacemaker. Though we packed compression socks and oxygen and had CPR-certified hikers, we had to turn them around at 0.25 miles. I was so proud of them, but as a medical professional, I wanted them to live to tell the story. Just knowing they attempted a hike in the Rocky Mountains was celebratory enough.
That left me with a choice. Do I turn around and keep them company? Do I keep going so that at least ONE of us gets to the top? I didn't fully like either option, but I was determined to finish on their behalf.
Sometimes the paths God will call us to are only meant to be navigated by specific people with us. It's not always malicious, sometimes it's just about the big picture.
The big picture here was that we were doing things we had never done before on this trip; why limit myself and miss this opportunity that I may never get back? Up ahead was another 3.75 ish miles. I was not an experienced hiker, so I had to pace myself. Hiking is a full-body workout going up and down. Going up the mountain is all cardio and stamina while going down is balance. We had to bypass mud, ice, sketchy pathways, and plenty of steep switchbacks. For much of this, my family had no way to contact me. They had no idea if I was safe, scared, struggling, or anything. They had no idea what the path was like ahead. How could they know? Their journey was different. For at least two, or three hours they had to trust strangers to bring me up and down a mountain.
I could've stayed at a level that was comfortable for all of us, but there was so much more left in me.
As it is in life, it hurts to have to leave people behind when there's a strong pull deep within us to go further – to pursue purpose. The next person's journey is not your journey. You may leave some loved ones and free them to go do other great things. Someone has to be willing to break away, be fearless, and tell the story. A lot of times, you don't get this clarity until you reach the top.
So, I'm stretching myself...
These days it is so easy to get caught up in what people, especially social media, define your niche as. As a content creator, I'm supposed to post three reels a day, demand engagement, and all of the things that will get me "to the top." However, I've seen a glimpse of the top as a "Content Creator," and how hard it is to get there, and all the things that you have to leave behind, and I'm choosing a different path. My purpose is so much further, and it's not limited to the confines of an algorithm. To get there, some things, and sometimes some people, will be left behind, but it will be done with intention, wisdom, and integrity.
(Click to read picture.)
When I left my family only a quarter mile into the hike, I left them with their water bottles and an oxygen can. Earlier that day I packed a drawstring bookbag, so it was easiest for me to carry the supplies on my back. Not sure if you're aware, but water is one of the heaviest things to carry for hiking. Leaving them at their level freed weight off MY back. As much as I didn't mind carrying the weight the whole way if it came to it, the weight lifted only helped the rest of my journey and allowed me to go further FOR MYSELF. We're so used to stretching ourselves thin for others that stretching our talents healthily for ourselves feels unnatural. We should heal that. ❤️🩹
"The windshield is bigger than the rear view mirror for a reason." -Jonah Williams