We are celebrating women in the outdoors through REI’s #ForceOFNature project. This is not a sponsored post, we just want to keep sharing our thoughts and feelings about what it means to be a Force of Nature. There are affiliate links in this post. Thanks for shopping through them to support our team.
How do you make negative thoughts disappear? You know, the one’s that always begin with “I’m too (fat, dumb, ugly, slow, useless, awkward…insert self-defeating talk of your choice here). We need to learn how to tell those thoughts to go to hell and maybe replace them with words like “I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m beautiful. I’m important. I can do it!”
Today we have Jill on the blog with a few thoughts on how to become a force to break through limitations that we impose on ourselves.
Photo courtesy Jill Dunbar
To me, being a force of nature means busting down those walls of limitations that we, as women, have set for ourselves.
We are our own worst enemies when it comes to self-doubt.
I’m too old.
I’m too fat.
I’m not smart enough.
I’m too slow.
I can’t write.
What if I fail?
What will people think of me?
They’ll never want me.
As women, we have a tendency to be so very hard on ourselves.
I realized just this past week, how very hard I am on myself.
For the first time in a long time, I doubted my ability to write this article ~ What makes me a force of nature?
I’m not anything special. I’m just a woman who loves everything about the outdoors and I have a passion of wanting to share it with others.
Being in nature has helped me to overcome the self-imposed obstacles I have unintentionally put in my path.
I used to gaze at the beautiful mountains in my backyard here in Colorado, wanting so very badly to hike to the top.
I stared at pictures of the Grand Canyon wondering how cool it would be to cross it.
Ever since my first visit to Yellowstone, I’ve dreamed of hiking through the park.
Every idea I had, every dream I dreamt, I squelched with my negative thoughts of self-doubt.
I can’t hike up a mountain.
It’s too far to the top.
I’m out of shape.
I’ll hold everyone back.
What if I don’t make it to the top?
I’ll be a failure.
I can’t walk across a canyon.
It’s too hot.
There’s no water.
I don’t like snakes.
There are prickly plants with spikes.
It’s too far from one rim to the other.
I can’t hike through Yellowstone.
It’s full of wild animals.
It’s too far.
I’m getting too old for this stuff.
I set myself up with every excuse in the book on how to not enjoy being in the outdoors.
A few years ago, I had the realization that my life was passing by too quickly and the window of opportunity to accomplish what I have always dreamed of doing was vanishing.
Why was I worried about being the slowest up a trail?
Why was I worried about having to take more breaks than others?
Why was I worried about what I look like in hiking gear?
Why was I worried about what other people think of me and my insecurities?
Why was I worried about my age?
Nature doesn’t care nor does it judge me.
At age 52, I was acting like a teenager.
I needed to take control of my life or I would never get to accomplish any of my dreams and at the end of my life I would have many regrets.
And that scared me.
That was the slap in the face that I needed.
I took control of my feelings of self-doubt and I stared them down.
My husband booked our trip to the Grand Canyon.
We got into shape and I hiked rim to rim of the Grand Canyon.
As we were hiking out of the canyon, people who were younger than we were and in much better shape, stopped us and told us how much they admired us for what we were accomplishing.
I came out of the canyon a better woman than when I went in.
I came out a confident, strong and motivated woman.
It was a tremendous victory for me and a huge swing in the direction of boosting my self-esteem.
I had found my inner wild woman!
For the first time in a very long time, I felt validated.
All my hard work paid off.
I felt like I could take on mountains.
And I did just that.
Later that year, I hiked up my first 14er.
It was a 5 hour round trip, but, so what?
I did it!
The next year, I took on the Bechler River Trail in Yellowstone.
I was slow, but, so what? I did it!
One of my life goals is to hike the entire length of the 500+ mile Colorado Trail ~ I’ve already knocked down 45 miles of it, and I know I will eventually finish it. I’m on a mission.
Those trips were the beginning of the path to being a stronger woman both physically and mentally.
I began to include my girlfriends in hiking adventures.
I wanted to show them that to enjoy the outdoors, it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how slow you are, or what you look like.
What matters is that you get outdoors and embrace who you are.
Because of my new found passion, I applied for a Hike LIke A Woman ambassadorship, hoping I could make a difference in women’s lives who needed help in looking past their own barriers.
I was one of the lucky few chosen for that position.
Another victory for self-esteem!
The other day, my dear friend described me as a “purveyor of the outdoors.’
I never saw that coming.
She went on to say that I now help women to go big, but at the same time, make sure they are safe and prepared for all contingencies, making sure they never bite off more than they can chew.
I bring the outdoors to women so they may learn to “hear” the call of the outdoors and heed to their inner wild woman.
I am passionate about using nature to help them be forgiving of their own self imposed obstacles, no matter what they might be.
Because of my new found confidence, I now stare down challenges and help other women to do the same.
I still have a way to go myself, as up until about an hour ago, I didn’t think I had what it took to be a force of nature, but I persevered ~
And I believe, that is what makes me a Force of Nature.