It’s not about the destination.

I sat at the computer last week trying to write a blog about our week in Santiago but struggled to get anywhere. Not because Santiago wasn’t great, because it was, we thoroughly enjoyed our time there and were very impressed with the city and its people. I was struggling because I felt like I was typing an entry for Wikipedia. Santiago is the most modern city in all of Latin and South America, it has the seventh busiest metro in the world, etc. Anybody reading this blog can research a city. So after trying for a week unsuccessfully to write a boring short story, I’ve decided to just write what I feel. I’ve included pictures from two weeks ago in Santiago and this past week in the Atacama Desert. If you ever get the opportunity to travel to Chile, both are a must see (I’ll let you do your own research)!

We were on day two of our 19 hour drive from Santiago to Sand Pedro De Atacama and were listening to a podcast by The Model Health Show (AMAZING show if you haven’t listened to it before). The guest speaker was discussing his research on centennials, trying to figure out what qualities allow these people to live such long lives. He said one of the correlations across the board was their willingness to respect their personal limits. These centennials realized that in order to better take care of their family and friends they had to take care of themselves first so that they could give it their best. By respecting their own limits they lived longer, happier lives. It struck a chord. Anybody who has known me for a while is aware that I am that yes person in most circumstances. I tend to overbook constantly and run myself dry. Coming on this trip put me in the position of not having to say yes or no for that matter to anyone but myself and Shane. It’s an interesting opportunity that doesn’t come around for most people or at least not without a lot of conscious effort. For that I am grateful!

I started thinking about this trip trying to determine when I said yes when I should have said no or vice versa. There was committing to this trip in the first place, which has led to so many eye opening experiences that even though it has at times worn me down a little mentally, I still feel better for it overall. There is the hike that we did to La Ciudad Perdida in Colombia which was physically wearing. You would think it should have been a no after reading my blog saga, but if I was aware ahead of time how much it would push me I think it would still be a yes. Because my will and desire was behind it, I wanted to do it.

The part that I’ve always struggled with though is the no. Right after our hike to the lost city, Shane came up and told me that one of the guides was going to take us on a rock jumping hike down the mountain river to a waterfall that we would then repel down. Not like next to it, in it. My mind and body were saying NO but somehow or another I talked myself into it. Well if I don’t go, Shane won’t go and I know he will enjoy it so I should just go… All sorts of silly thoughts which eventually lead to me saying yes. I went and regretted it. I was completely wore out mentally and physically within minutes of the hike, was uncomfortable with the “techniques” to get down the river, and it set my knees back days on their recovery. It pushed me past the point of feeling good and lead me well past the point of respecting my limits. I was down for the count pretty much the entire next day.

This past week we were hiking in Valley of the Moon in the Atacama Desert. I let Shane go further up the trail once I was tired and just relaxed and took in the view. Normally I would have felt obligated to go with him. Not because of any pressure he puts on me but because I guess I just don’t like to be left behind. What if I miss something? But sitting there listening to the wind blow and watching the sun sink toward the horizon was without a doubt the right choice for me at the time. I felt accomplished from the hike and still fully energized because I stopped when I needed/wanted to. Did I potentially miss a great view? Maybe… but I’m ok with that.

The more aware I can become of those yes/no choices the better off I will be. Because when I respect what my mind or my body is telling me, I usually end up feeling better afterwards. Of course there are those times when push comes to shove and you just have to bite the bullet to get it done. But I know that personally (and I think this probably fits a lot of other people as well) I tend to take that mentality with things that aren’t important enough to necessitate drawing on those last reserves. Would it be helpful to bring dinner to a friend who just had a baby? Yes. But when your kitchen is half packed for moving, you’re starting to get sick yourself, and you have five other things to do that day which you can’t skip then maybe it’s time to respect your own limits. Give her call, send a card, or order delivery from her favorite restaurant. You will feel better for it and you still showed you care.

I love my family and friends dearly. That’s why I usually say yes to everything. But is unfocused attention, undeserved frustration, or a half assed attempt at something the answer? No. When I say yes to something, I want to make an impact. Because to me it’s all about making sure my mom is comfortable when she is sick or really making a connection when I’m playing with my little cousins. We are in this life for the long haul; we might as well make it enjoyable for ourselves and everyone we care for.