The Time I Found Courage In The Most Unlikely Place

The Time I Found Courage In The Most Unlikely Place

Special moments do not come often and this was definitely one of mine.

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About a year ago, I took a once in a lifetime road trip with my roommates. We traveled 1,760 miles from San Diego to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Arches National Park in Utah, Zion National Park (also in Utah) and a weekend stay in Las Vegas, Nevada. During our adventures, I made some amazing memories that I will hold dearly for the rest of my life. One of them happens to be some runs I took during our stay in Moab, Utah. I've run thousands of times (not trying to sound arrogant) and there are not many runs I can honestly say were anything special. Trust me, I'm blessed to have run as many times as I have, but most of my runs have been what I consider any 'normal' run (if that makes sense).

There's just something about those runs in Utah that, to me, were unforgettable. It's no secret for anyone that knows me well about how much I obsess over running. It does not matter the time, place or weather; I'm always ready to lace up. So after all the hiking, sightseeing and endless walking on the trip, I was still crazy enough to go for my runs. By the time we returned to the campsite, it was just about sunset and nightfall was ready to make its presence known. There was this wide, large highway cutting down the center of the campground where I ran every day. About a 1/2 mile into my run, my entire surroundings would turn pitch black.

The nice thing about Moab is that it was a small town isolated from what any mainstream city is like. So there wasn't much light pollution and during my runs, the moon was my source of illumination. The run itself was nice but it honestly felt like I was running for my life. I had this heightened sense of running at a faster pace maybe because of the darkness. I guess it was human nature to feel that way when a person who is used to the city all of a sudden gets placed in the wilderness. It was almost that feeling you get when something or someone is chasing you. Like I was being hunted down by something I could not see.

I'm pretty sure anyone else would be freaked out but I was embracing the moment. The scenery was jaw-dropping with the canyons and overcasting cliff-sides. I was so intrigued with the experience of what it was like to literally run in the wild. I'd never seen anything like this before. I found myself craving that type of run every night since. I cherished those three days spent in Arches National Park. It's like when the opportunity presented itself I seized it and did not hesitate. I think what I liked about those runs the most was the courage I had to find within myself to keep going. Some people run for goals but I sometimes feel like I run for sanity. This is my time of prayer and absolute comfort zone.

There's that saying about every journey leading to a destination, I wonder where mine will end in my running career. I hope that one day I get to sightsee and come across more runs like the one I went through in Utah.

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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11 Reasons Why Hiking Should Become A Pivotal Part Of Your Life

It's good for the body and soul.

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I was lucky enough to grow up 10 minutes from a national park. This meant that some of my earliest memories were riding on my dad's shoulders through miles of beautiful trails. As a got older, the simple joy of enjoying the fresh air and getting away from the craziness of life that hiking offered only made me fall in love with it more. Now, whenever I have a rough day or just need a break from stress, the first thing that I want to do is hit the trails.

1. Fresh air

Emily Smith

Being cooped up inside for too long can take a toll on anyone. Being able to get out and breathe the fresh air and feel the sun shining can instantly boost anyone's mood!

2. Exercise

Emily Smith

Hiking is a great way to get those extra steps in, and many areas have different paths you can take depending on your fitness level.

3. No electronics

Emily Smith

I am so guilty of going on my phone way too much. Being outdoors allows a break from social media and time to focus on being in the moment and enjoying the amazing world we live in.

4. Scenery

Emily Smith

Hiking allows us to see some of the most gorgeous untouched pieces of nature. It is hard to not be amazed by how beautiful our earth is.

5. Vitamin D

Emily Smith

There is nothing that a little bit of sun can't cure. Being outside in the sun not only gives you a nice summer glow, but it can be so beneficial to our health! Vitamin D helps boost our immune system and gives us energy.

6. Way more fun than going to the gym

Emily Smith

Going to the gym and using the treadmill and other machines provide a workout but can become more of a chore than fun after a while. Hikes are an amazing workout that hardly feels like a chore. So, the next time you are getting tired of the same old routine at a smelly gym, think about taking a hike instead.

7. Stress reliever

Emily Smith

Being out in nature can be such a great break from the "real world."

8. Great way to spend time with friends

Emily Smith

The next time you don't know what to do with your friends, consider going on a hike! There are so many fun things to do, like bring a picnic or watch the sunset. It's a great way to switch up your typical routine of watching T.V. or Netflix.

9. Perfect way to exercise with dogs

Emily Smith

Instead of taking your dog around the neighborhood, switch it up and take them on a hike! It's a great workout for them, and oftentimes, a lot more enjoyable than the daily neighborhood route.

10.  It's free!

Emily Smith

What more needs to be said? Free fun is hard to come by nowadays, so going on a hike can help your bank account too!

11.  It's fun!

Emily Smith

What's not to love about the endless ways to enjoy hiking?

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