10 Things I Learned During My Week in Colorado

IMG_9408This past week has been full of beauty, friendship, rest, and sunshine. All the good things. Here are 10 things I’ve learned during my time here.

  1. God will bring clarity at the right time. As I shared in a previous post, I’ve been talking about this sabbatical for a while. And for most of that time, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I’m so grateful that he allowed me to wait on him and wait for this month of writing and refreshment and restorative friendships.
  2. View roadblocks as protection. My trip didn’t start off as planned. Just as I was about to hail an Uber to the airport, I got a text from Southwest saying my flight was canceled. Unfortunately, their website was down, so I had to rely upon a jammed up phone line to get help…until I have the (God-inspired?) idea to Tweet at Southwest. I got help in minutes and got the last seat on a flight out the next morning. While the bump in the road was unexpected and a bit frustrating, I’m grateful that 1) I did not fly into a tornado (yes, Denver gets tornadoes!), and 2) God provided me with yet another example of his trustworthiness and provision.
  3. When life hands you thunderstorms, make cocktails by candlelight. Sometimes plans go awry or things get in your way (see point 2 above), and you realize just how little is in your control. The only thing you can control is how you react when the ground shifts beneath you, what you choose to do when the path ahead of you is blocked. Last week, Colorado Springs was hit with a massive thunderstorm. Lightning struck the power grid by my friend Becky’s house where I’m staying, and we were without power for several hours. Rather than bemoan being rained in, we lit all the candles we could find, made cocktails with fresh basil and cucumber, and pulled out a game that brought us back to our childhoods: Sorry. I wouldn’t have changed anything about that evening. Our conversation and laughter was so life-giving, and there was something truly satisfying about making our own fun.
  4. Stillness can feel uncomfortable, but it’s also a gift. As I shared last week, settling into stillness felt awkward at first. Shouldn’t I be doing more? What should I focus on next? But once I laid aside the should’s and must’s, I was freed up to enjoy the space God’s given me in this month and receive unexpected joys as well as inspiration for my writing. In slowness, we don’t miss the gifts that God’s placed on the road we’re walking, and we can learn from the bumpy places (see point 3 above).
  5. Focus on the process, not the end product. Writing gives me life, but only when I’m not worried about what I’m accomplishing. As humans, we have this tendency to get tunnel vision by focusing only on the light ahead, forgetting to look around and enjoy our surroundings. This is true in writing, relationships, work, and even literal journeys like the trip Becky and I took to Glenwood Springs this weekend. We were unhurried, taking time to enjoy the beauty of the canyon we drove through, not just concerned about getting to our destination “on-time.” By enjoying the process, we experienced peace and joy in the present moment.
  6. Go easy on yourself. When you’re in a new place, give yourself time to adjust. One of the pinnacles of Colorado’s beauty is its majestic mountain ranges. This also means a bit of a change in elevation from my sea-level San Francisco. On a run Tuesday morning, I had to allow myself a couple breaks to catch my breath and grab some water. I’m not used to the altitude, and rather than push through the entire run along the river without stopping, I gave myself grace through rest.
  7. But also push yourself when needed. Sometimes it’s best to just forge ahead instead of stalling out of fear. I’m glad I didn’t worry about the intensity of our hike to Hanging Lake or freeze at the top when I saw the sheer drop-off into the canyon. God’s brought me a long way from the timid, shy girl I once was – something I’ll talk about in my book “Enough.” He’s shown me that he’s with me always – in the rocky places and the rushing streams of water. He steadies my feet and guides me along the path ahead of me.
  8. Let your expectations go. One of the best parts of this trip has been the ability to go wherever we wanted, wherever the day took us. On our way back from wine tasting on Monday, my friend Becky drove me through Garden of the Gods instead of rushing back home to make dinner and would pull off the side of the road whenever there was a good view. Later that evening, we finally made it over to The Principal’s Office and discovered they were showing my favorite movie, The Princess Bride, on the rooftop that evening. It was the best kind of adventure: unplanned.
  9. Let others’ expectations go. Well-meaning people have asked me about my expectations for this trip. What do I want to do? How much of my book do I want to complete? How far am I in my writing? On the face of it, these are harmless questions, and I truly appreciate the accountability. But I have to remember to let God guide my time and not stress about how much I’m getting done. As I shared in point 5 above, if I simply focus on one thing at a time – one chapter, one piece of my narrative – then I really enjoy the process of writing. I’m not worried about what’s coming next. I’m fully present and able to receive.
  10. The best friends are the ones where you can pick right back up where you left off. These friendships develop over time. Because you have enough history, you can dive back in to the deepest parts of each others’ lives without it feeling invasive. And you can forego pretense and just be silly together. This is definitely true of the friends I’ve visited here in Colorado: Becky, Katie, Laura. We feel completely at ease with other, we don’t have to ask permission to ask the tough questions, and we can offer the encouragement and humor that makes friendships and life so worthwhile.

I’m so grateful for the week I’ve enjoyed in Colorado, and I’m excited for all that I’ll learn in my next destination: Oregon.

I’m writing a book on what I’ve learned while recovering from a life of performance and perfectionism. Subscribe here for sneak peeks and insider updates I only share over email. XOXO.

2 thoughts on “10 Things I Learned During My Week in Colorado

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