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Posted in Blog, Encourgement

Hope – A Powerful Force

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This was for the most part written as an entry over on my outdoors blog “justabitfurther”.

But, over the past few days I’ve been thinking about the title, “The Hope Found in All of Us.”

I know that many of you who may be reading this are wondering “what hope.” You may be dealing with major depression or another type of mental illness and seeing any hope may be difficult, if not impossible at the moment.

I guess, the “hope” I’m talking about isn’t major hope(if hope can be classified as “major and minor”). But, just that little flicker that pops up every once in a while; once a week or whatever. Something that says, “Hey, someone cares.”

Big “hope” I would imagine when it jumps up in front of us it would be quite impossible to miss.

It’s the little hope I think we miss, if we’re not looking for it. Why?……because I think hope doesn’t come with a sign that says “hope.”

That’s why we miss it if we’re not looking for it.

Over the years, some of the things I’ve found from spending a significant amount of time outdoors are:

  • the summit views are sweet;
  • reaching the destination on a backcountry trip is satisfyingly great;
  • there is a beginning and ending to all adventures;
  • the part between the ends of the trip – is the adventure;
  • there will be times when you think – really?; this is what you call fun?;
  • the rewards of the trip are most times found within the small details of the above five points

But, sometimes you just got to look for them.; look for the small details and what they can teach you.

I don’t mean necessarily from a technical perspective like: I should have packed lighter;  or we need to invest in a new or better piece of equipment. All that stuff is good and important to have learned as well.

What I mean is – if we don’t look for; search out; or reflect after the trip on those seemingly small things; isn’t there the potential that we missed the lessons and growth the outdoors/nature longingly wants to; and catch this ………. give back to us.

I wonder, do we get so focussed and caught up in the journey; that we miss the essence of the journey? A follow blogger has suggested on several occasions, “You tend to over-think things a fair bit.” Now, she just says, “over-thinking!!” Maybe she’s right?

The above picture taken at one of the lookouts at the Old Baldy Conservation Area in the Beaver Valley speak volumes, but only if we allow it to.

A little bolt sticking out of the granite rock at the top of Old Baldy. Yup, that’s what it is all right. But….

Don’t we all go through those periods – were life, surviving and getting through it is comparable to trekking over a hard and broken-up granite path that comes at times dangerously close to the edge of a cliff; an endless and difficult journey at the best of times.

We stumble along worrying about what’s ahead and the danger that is just beside us. Perhaps we slip into a crevice or two along the way; get buffeted by extreme weather; maybe even twist an ankle or worse at some point.

We wonder to ourselves, will we ever be able to get off this cliff. It’s such a long way straight down if we slip and with permanent consequences if it happens.

But, as we traverse along cursing the heavens to get us off the granite covered path; that out of a seemingly hard and difficult circumstance we spy something.

Something to anchor to; something that gives us hope; a simple bolt.

Someone put it there. Maybe it’s not even an object, but a person.

We don’t even know who it was that did it. But, at that very moment they did it for us; for you; for me.

They have taken the time and effort to carefully drill into the granite of our lives. It’s obvious. They walked on the same granite and rocky plateau as we are now. But, they took time and did it anyway; they left us with something – an anchor; if we need to use it.

It’s what we were looking for……

They gave us; left us……….. hope.

That bolt anchored and drilled into that rock gives us something to attach to; an anchor  for a brief period in our life.

Now, we can screw on and attach that piece of safety equipment/protection we need  to move forward. That bolt gives us hope; a sense of security that we can climb safely down that rock face.

We now have some hope that we can get off this granite surface that has been such a difficult journey for us to this point.

Yes, the work to do it will be hard and difficult.

Yes, we likely will need some help to accomplish it.

But, we have hope. The hope that we can move off the path we’re on and onto something better. And most important….. that someone cares; cares enough to give me some hope; even if it is only a tiny little bit.

I have a friend who I talk with fairly regularly.  On a pretty consistent basis, maybe once a week or every two weeks, I get asked the following question or something similar, “Hey, how are you doing today. You okay?” I know the person pretty well, so the question asked isn’t the “I feel obligated to ask type of question.” It’s asked from a perspective of genuine caring.

To me, that is a little flicker of hope. knowing that someone cares.

Knows what you’ve been through and cares enough to make sure you’re okay. Most of the time I respond, “Things are good or excellent…..just busy as usual.” But, when I do respond perhaps that things aren’t going well, I never get the “keep your chin up” thing.

To me that, “keep your chin up” is well, kind of a slap in the face.

What I do get is, “Okay then…what’s the problem or what’s going on.” The neat part in this is I do the same thing back. I think we’re the types the just simply need to verbalize what’s happening or where we are and then we can move on and deal with it. One thing I must say though is all of this is based on honesty and trust. Even if it means asking tough questions, which I’ve been asked of and have asked myself.

I know it may not sound like much, but in my world, “Hey, how are you doing, you okay?” is an anchor that I can bolt to for a few minutes. Every time, or at least almost every time I get that question, one of my last responses is “you asking that made my day.”

Our lives are like a journey; one step in front of another. I’ve come to realize that living mirrors hiking and the outdoors in that it is the combination of the little things that comprise the adventure.

So, it’s important we look for those little flickers of hope. We may be sitting and waiting for the big “hope” moment; the summit view if you will and we miss that tiny one view; the tiny bit of “hope” that someone was offering up.

So, I my prayer would be that as each of us travel and journey along our own pathways during our life; we spend a bit of time and effort to drill and place a bolt somewhere that a perfect stranger or maybe a friend can anchor to. Or we search for and find that something or someone to anchor to for if just only a brief moment.

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A bolt that gives them hope. A bolt that we/you can have some hope in.

Only you know what the “bolt” you place will look like. Or the “bolt” you will find.

So, go out today; this weekend; or whenever and place a bolt of hope in someone’s life. Or maybe look to see if you may have missed the hope that someone was offering up. Remember, hope doesn’t necessarily show up with a sign saying “I’m here.”

A phone call; coffee with someone; maybe look at volunteering; make a donation to a favourite organization; maybe just talk to someone you might never talk too; be a listener; share your story – maybe there’s a person that’s needs to hear you found hope and so can they.

When it’s right, you’ll know the exact place and type of bolt that is needed. And if you look at the small details, you’ll find a bolt anchored into rock someplace; hope.

For, if there is one thing we all need in this world…… its …….hope.

You see, it doesn’t matter the size of the hope……just as long as it is hope.

Thanks for reading.

 

Posted in Blog, Encourgement, Stigma

The Chains That Bind Us

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Much like this picture of a chain around the base of a tree in Algonquin Park, we many times have a chain or chains that bind us to something.

These chains; the heavy weights we drag around with us each and every day are sometimes forged by ourselves, but other times forged by others.

It seems those who suffer from mental illnesses, or struggle with mental wellness have at times the chain of stigma bound to them.

But, as difficult as it is, we don’t have to be defined by the chains around our waist. Our health, be it mental or physical doesn’t define who we are. It may be part of us, but it doesn’t define us.

So, why let a chain; a rusty old piece of metal drag us down.

It’s hard enough dealing day-to-day with a mental illness. Why let a chain placed around our waist by the rest of society be just another thing that you or I have to deal with. Even worse, is if we placed that chain around our own waist.

In fact, the problem isn’t us; the problem is them; those who heap the stigma of mental illness upon the people who live with it day after day.  Unfortunately, those of us dealing with mental illness and all of the challenges associated with it, feel the full impact of the stigma and the scars it leaves every day of our lives.

Maybe to-day, we should start to unbind ourselves and get rid of these chains. The chains we think or that others think we are. Perhaps start one link at a time.

We’re not a mental illness or a mental health challenge; we’re people who have struggles with these. Same as someone is not cancer; they’re someone who has cancer.

Yup, chains can be nasty things.

Don’t be defined by a chain that doesn’t define the beautiful person you are. Cut the chain; let it drop to the ground; kick it to the curb.

Let’s work today to get rid of the chain that relates to the stigma surrounding mental illness. What if all of us worked today or even the next week to cut off one link on that chain?

Man, that would be progress!

Thanks for reading

 

 

Posted in Encourgement, outdoors

Finding Yourself

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This is something I wrote about a month ago on my other blog site about how nature may lead us to ourselves. Just click the underlined link. That should take you there.

I would encourage you to give it a read. It really has to do with hope. The hope that is in us all.

The hope that the darkness of depression and mental illness can be lifted if only for a short time.

This is what I do.

Part of my connection and mental health prescription with the outdoors.

Posted in Blog, Stigma

Are We What We Portray?

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My wife and I do a lot of outdoor adventures. If you want, you can follow along at our outdoors blog justabitfurther.

I love this picture she took of rapids on a stream from a recent hike along the Bruce Trail. She captured the smoothness and milkiness of this torrent of water cascading through a ravine and down a hillside.

But, this picture really doesn’t represent or correspond to the actual environment.

This is the picture I took with my phone.

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Same river taken from almost the exact same spot.

Here we are; looking at the same thing. One is the real view of it; while one is a more altered view of it.

Maybe life is like those two pictures for some of us.

We present a picture or portrait of ourselves to the world that is altered slightly. Maybe altered a lot!

Why?

Maybe its the stigma we face if dealing with a mental health issue. The shame heaped upon us from others who don’t understand. Maybe it’s what we do to survive?

It could be a whole host of things. Only you know for sure the reason.

The whole fake it to you make, doesn’t cut it for me; because I have never known when I’ve made it or if I’ve made it yet. The “made it”, I think is some  is some arbitrary ending that can’t really be defined.

The picture we present of ourselves shows the smoothness and silkiness of our lives, when in reality our life isn’t like that at all.

We present a veneer or “change the settings” to present something that we think is more beautiful. The problem is; it’s not really us at all.

On the other hand, maybe what we should be doing is embracing our broken bits and scars.

There is a Japanese craft called kintsugi, or “golden joinery.” From what I understand, the craftsman takes broken pottery and such and restores them using a lacquer that is mixed with gold, silver, or platinum.

The end result is a new piece of pottery that is more valuable and beautiful than the original.

Instead of altering the “settings” to present something that really isn’t who we are; embrace what has been or will be restored.

Because that new piece is more valuable and beautiful than original.

I personally think it takes a lot of energy to be something we’re not. I know, I’ve spent most of my life doing and living it.

Just a thought….