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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Last Sunday, I hiked the Turkey Hill Overlook Trail with my daughter, Peyton.
As we started the hike, the initial ascent didn't require much effort. We chatted and she pointed out things along the way. But as we climbed higher, the pitch of the trail grew steep forcing me to lunge up it. It also became littered with rocks and slick inclines that caused me to lean over and secure my hands on the ground so I wouldn't slip. The trail became narrow and these precarious areas edged along drop-offs.

I found myself focusing only on the very next step I had to take, negotiating my footing and exerting myself. At one point, I had to stop to catch my breath. When I did, I looked up and out and saw a beautiful view. The sun leaked through the trees and cast an incredible hue over the woods and the colorful foliage. I realized in that moment that I'd allowed the difficulty of the climb to shift my focus from the beauty of everything surrounding me to putting one foot in front of the other, pushing myself forward, and trying to literally catch my breath. Instead of navigating the trail at a pace that allowed me to not lose sight of the beauty of where I was and who I was with in that moment. I'd seen the trail as the means to an end (the Overlook), rather than a beautiful journey of its own.

Recently, life has felt like a series of footsteps. Days upon days of putting one foot in front of the other, trying to push forward, without pausing to look up and realize the beauty of my life. Problems and situations can quickly consume our energy, our conversations and our thoughts. We shift into an emotional survival mode that causes us to see each moment as something to merely survive. And sometimes, that's necessary. Sometimes, we live in days, weeks or even months where survival--mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even physically--is the singular goal we confront each day. But even as we're living in those times, we need to stop and catch our breath. Even in those times, we can pause--however briefly--to look up and remember the beauty of everything else in our lives. To remind ourselves that these steps are only a few on our journey and that, no matter hard they might be, we will keep moving forward. We will reach the Overlook. And that the journey along the way has beauty and breath if we're willing to look up from the struggle to see it.