Being OK not being OK

I posted this on Facebook a few days ago…


I loved this quote because it reminds me of Kristin Neff’s work on self compassion…Self compassion includes these components, and this poster picks up particularly on the last one:

  1. Self kindness: “When I mess up, do I talk to myself like I talk to someone I love?”
  2. Common Humanity: Our struggles are everyone’s struggles.  We are not alone.
  3. Mindfulness: This is not pushing away emotion because it’s uncomfortable, but feeling it and moving through it.

I like the idea of allowing oneself to feel something…and not getting stuck in it, endlessly wallowing in the mire of the pain of it…but to feel it and then to move through it.  And moving through it isn’t even moving past it…it’s about moving to create space for more than just the sadness.

It was a quote that moved me…and when I created it into a poster, it rather caught fire with likes and shares on our Facebook page. (Friendly hint: I’d love it if you’d “like” our Facebook page to stay up to date on the current happenings and inspirations from our l’il neck’o’the’woods.)

Often…the posters that I post on our Facebook page are drawn from our blog posts…this time, it happened the other way around…because of an email I received.

The day after I posted it, I received an email from a dear friend.  M just turned 60 this week…and he is committed to living a full and active life that is rich with experience and substance. He has a list of things he wants to do…and one of them was to trek the highlands of Scotland and see them up close and personal…this was on his bucket list and he celebrated his birthday by being in the cold, damp wildness of Scotland (hey, it’s his dream, and I’m not judging his choice of dreams…I’d just pick something with more sand and crystal blue waters and palm trees…just saying). He’s been out in the hinterland of Scotland for the last 10 days or so, hiking by day, and eating in hole-in-the-wall pubs in the evening, sometimes staying in a little bed and breakfastl, but often sleeping in his hammock between two trees in the middle of no where, collecting rain water to drink in the morning.

M is hard core hiker in Scotland, learning about being OK even when he

M prepared hard core for this adventure.

  • The guy ran the Policeman’s Half Marathon several weeks ago with a 25 pound pack on his back as part of his training.
  • He slept on the shores of Lake Winnipeg in the early spring (which, given this year, can safely be described as more winterish than springish)

He was dedicated to making this a full and complete adventure at levels that I personally would question 😉 …but which have been regularly posted with great delight on his Facebook page.

So…after I posted the picture, I received an email in my inbox from M…

Hi Carolyn.  

I am currently in Fort William, Scotland, resting between walks.  I begin my second walk on Sunday, 75 miles to Inverness.  That will be a challenge because I am choosing to do it in 4 days with a full pack. The most difficult part of my journey is past me though , I hope.

I am not sure if you have heard or not, but I lost my glasses on my second day of my hike, when I slipped and fell on my way down a mountain.  I am/was physically okay, but I was not okay.  After spending several hours looking, in pouring rain and strong winds, from my elbows  and knees I finally gave up.  

I actually thought of your … FB post as I was looking, but after going over the same 100 sq metres at least 3 times, I had to give up and make my way down the mountain.  I was extremely dejected as I worked out how to make my way to my next stop with extremely limited vision.  It involved taking a ferry across Loch Lomond and then a bus and then walking, all to places I knew little about.  My night at the B&B was positive and I just decided the next day I would go on no matter what.  I used “This is the day that The Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it” as my thought that day. As I stumbled along I began to pray for family and friends…and just started weeping over them, not out of pity for the situation I was in, I’m not really sure why, but my prayers were deep with emotion.

A few hours later I stopped in a small rural shop to get something to drink, although I was initially going to walk by. I asked the lady serving me for help finding some milk and explained I couldn’t see well because of my lost glasses and about 5 minutes later she came out with 2 pair of lost glasses, one of which improved my vision by about 75% and gave them to me (It reminds me know of when Jesus mixed spittle and mud to rub on the blind man’s eyes).

It is hard to express how much my heart was lifted by that event.  I carried on and early the next day I met up with 5 men from Glasgow that I then spent the rest of my journey with.  5 new friends, one especially.  He was suffering incredibly from blisters so I stayed with him while the others moved at a faster pace.  We ended up being an encouragement to each other.  They are now gone and I am on my own again.  I have spent some time in an old church here, just sitting and praying and being.

Tonight when I saw what you shared on FB it really touched me. I had wanted to make my 2 week hike a pilgrimage.  I had no idea what God had planned.  I have no complaints. A long email to let you know I made a choice.  I was not okay – now I am.

Thank your your FB encouragements.
Praying for you,

This was the original poster he was referencing that he found on Bergen and Associates Counselling Facebook page:

Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, remember how far you have come.

I asked M if I could share his email…He gave me his permission.

Can you imagine being in the middle of an unfamiliar country, in uneven and foreign terrain, having to find multiple types of transportation.  I have poor vision without my glasses, and the thought gives me chills.

Can you imagine being in the middle of a long-planned-for adventure to see the beauty and the green grandeur of a place you’ve been prepping to see for months, and realizing that you can’t see anything except what is right in front of you?

Can you imagine the frustration of needing to look for something…but the very thing you’re looking for–glasses–is what you need to properly find something?

Can you imagine being in a country 1000’s of miles away from anyone you know when you’re discouraged and dejected, not being able to have somebody familiar and trusted be there for you?

Yeah…I woulda been sad, too.

And so I so appreciated how M taught me the lived version of this quote, as he let himself feel it, let himself talk about it…and continued to reach out for connection in the midst of it.  The days turned out so very differently from anything he could have imagined…and I’d imagine, from what he writes, that he wouldn’t have it any other way.  I suspect that there were moments of poignant connection and interpersonal beauty which will go down as highlights of the trip, as years later he looks back on the experience.

Thanx, M!

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