#30PostsBefore30 Day 3: Resilience is My Biggest Strength

Group photo near the beginning of today's walk.
Group photo near the beginning of today’s walk.

I wanted to start off 2015 with a Walk2Connect long walk since I hadn’t been on a long-distance walk in awhile and also because I hadn’t seen my friend Jonathon (owner of Walk2Connect) in quite a long time. When I had originally signed up for the walk, I brushed off the disclaimer that the weather might be wintry. I also didn’t let the fact that the trip was twelve miles bother me since Ryan and I had done many long walks together last year.

Frozen Standley Lake in Westminster, Colorado. Shot taken by Ryan.
Frozen Standley Lake in Westminster, Colorado. Shot taken by Ryan.

The weather in Denver has been snowy and cold for the past week, so we walked mostly on packed snow/icy patches today. We also did not anticipate there being any snow forecast for the day, but snow fell hard toward the end of our walk. The whole time during our walk, Jonathon checked to make sure I was ok, since I had attempted a nine mile walk a couple years ago with Walk2Connect and had to quit early due to back injuries.

However, today I powered through the walk and was fine up until the last stretch: let me tell you, walking over twelve miles in the snow is quite a feat for most people, but it was a bigger feat for me even more so due to my history of long-distance walks and that even though it looked like I was going to give up any moment, I never did (not even at the end–I was forced to stop my walk early because Jonathon was afraid of me catching frostbite and hurting myself). Later, Ryan told me that Jonathon and the other walkers were impressed with how I did not give up at all, that I was determined to finish the course.

Trooping along the 12-mile walk. Photo by Ryan.
Trooping along the 12-mile walk. Photo by Ryan.

Hours have passed since the walk today, and I’m reminded of one thing that others have always noticed and respected in me (and that I only realize for myself right now): one of my biggest strengths is resilience. There have been many setbacks in my life these past five years, and not once did any of these cause for me to throw in the towel and give up–not even the time I nearly died on my birthday.

After reflecting upon today’s walk, I also remembered another time from 2011: I was participating in the University of Denver’s MBA retreat and during the last day of our weekend, we had to complete a mission as a team, which included a lot of hiking and rock-climbing. I was repelling down one part of the obstacle course, and I made the mistake of looking down and seeing how high up I was (I have a fear of heights, despite enjoying activities such as roller coasters, sky-diving, and even hot air balloon rides). I immediately freaked out and started crying, afraid that I was going to fall to my death or seriously injure myself. My classmates watched my meltdown as the instructor tried to calm me down and tell he was not going to let go of the rope.

Something inside of me stirred and suddenly, I snapped out of my meltdown and calmly repelled myself down the rock as if nothing had happened. Right afterwards, one of my classmates walked up to me and said, “Helene, that was amazing to watch: the transformation that just happened before our eyes! You are a strong person.”

What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, and I am glad I have resilience on my side.