Posted by: Susan Loken | October 16, 2018

Lessons From The Grand Canyon Adventure

Do you want to know what attracted me to the marathon? Crossing the marathon finish line for the first time changed me and drastically improved my life. That single event taught me to believe in myself more than I ever had before. It was as if I instantly realized that if I could complete a marathon, I could do anything.

 

Overcoming obstacles and accomplishing something so difficult gave me the confidence to chase big dreams and lead a healthy lifestyle. The goal, the journey, and the finish line gave my life purpose and infused my heart with passion.

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Grand Canyon

This weekend, Tracie Rogers, Renee Hodges (+ 4 others) and I accomplished something pretty big. We hiked Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim across the Grand Canyon, a beautiful and challenging 42-mile adventure with over 11,000 feet of elevation gain. Similar to the marathon, I’m not sure how you can finish an epic adventure like this and come out a changed person (or at least take some time to reflect).

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Our Grand Canyon Journey provided us with so many life metaphors. We recognized several of these similarities, many of which we sometimes take for granted. However, when Tracie and I finished our adventure alone in the cold night of an empty parking lot, entirely exhausted, it didn’t matter that there weren’t cheering crowds and or medals at the finish line. We smiled, screamed, and hugged one another–our hearts and souls felt completely filled up.

 

It’s said that life is about the journey. After reflecting on this trek, here are five lessons that I learned or beliefs that were reinforced on my journey.

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Susan, Renee, and Tracie

 

Lessons From The Grand Canyon Adventure

 

  1. Life is all about the journey, not the destination. When you focus solely on achieving your goal, you forfeit the lessons and wonderful experiences that lie in-between. The mental battles you face when thinking of the long journey ahead and the hard work required can be mentally taxing. You have to combat those thoughts and fears by taking one step at a time towards the destination, enjoying every step along the path. We looked up to the top of the Canyon–our finish line–and realized the journey to achieve that goal is governed by the skills acquired, the connections made, the inner growth the takes places, and the person you become along the way.
  2. Oh, what a blessing it is to be healthy. We sometimes take our health for granted or fail to realize how truly blessed we are to have our good health. As we hiked the Grand Canyon, we honestly felt deeply blessed to have our health and fitness. The gift of health is what allowed us to enjoy such moments. Imagine, for just one moment, losing any ability you currently possess–like the ability to hike over rocks, to see the changing leaves, to smell a nearby campfire, or to hear the birds singing. Our health is not guaranteed, so we must wake up each day with an appreciation for our health, fitness, and life itself. We should also take time to pray for those who are currently ill or living with disabilities.
  3. You will never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. The biggest challenge of running a marathon is that you hold the switch to stop the pain–just slow down and the pain lessens, or quit and the pain stops. We have to know and trust that we are strong, and not give in to the temptation of slowing down or quitting when the option is available. However, hiking the Grand Canyon gives you no choice but to be strong and keep going. No one is going to carry or fly you out. When you feel like you can’t go on, you have to keep going; there is no other choice. The next time you are racing toward your dream goal, remember that you can do hard things. When you have no choice but to be strong, you can and you will keep going.
  4. Nothing is more calming than connecting with God through nature. His beautiful creations, gifts, and blessings we should never take for granted but enjoy.” As Rachael Sazon-Reyes so eloquently puts it, full immersion in nature is a beautiful and powerful way to reconnect with your faith and blessings in life. As we hiked through one of the seven wonders of the natural world, we couldn’t help but feel God’s presence. My faith is strong, but after 16 hours of hiking in this awe-inspiring beauty carved out by God, my faith felt deeper, stronger, and more tangible than ever before. It reminded me that, with God, all things are possible. It’s my duty, as a recipient of all His goodness, to give thanks to my Creator.
  5. When joy is shared, joy is doubled. When we share our struggles our burden is halved, but the same is not true of happiness. We all embark on our own unique journey through life and no one else will ever fully understand just how amazing, challenging, brutal, and beautiful your life has been. However, sharing a journey with a close friend or loved one allows you both to experience the joy, beauty, and special moments offered by life. Perhaps even more importantly, sharing our struggles with a trusted friend makes us feel stronger and–believe it or not–brings joy to the struggle. As Tracie and I hiked up South Kaibab alone in the dark having already put 37 miles on our weary legs, we agreed to keep smiling and moving forward until we made it. I’m not sure we would have been smiling quite so much without each other.
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Susan and Tracie

 

In closing, I hope you choose to bravely pursue adventure, savoring every step of the way without worrying about the destination. Remember, we’re aiming for progress, not perfection. Be grateful for your health and fitness, and take advantage of every opportunity to help others who are going through health struggles. When you ask yourself whether you are strong enough to keep going, the answer is always “yes.” Give God the glory and take time to appreciate life’s small gifts. Share your joys and your struggles with others for an instant happiness boost.

Keep Believing,

SL


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