Over the recent Fourth of July weekend, my husband and I had the experience of road tripping to Colorado for 5 days. Our destination was Durango, CO. I did something I never pictured myself doing – primitive camping in the mountains of Colorado.
Here is a story about my experience, and I hope it will encourage you to build your resilience so you can check off the hard things on your bucket list.
Due to last-minute changes in our itinerary, our Friday overnight accommodations had to be rearranged and it left us to make a choice. Because there were no vacancies in a motel near our destination, it meant we would shorten our 5-day trip to Durango, or we would have to primitive camp in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) camping in CO near the Arkansas River. There were no refined campsite reservations to be had, so our circumstances soon became a dream come true for my husband the Eagle Scout. Yes, you guessed it, I helped him realize a “bucket list” item. His dream of primitive camping in the mountains of Colorado with me was soon to become a reality.
After I said, “I’m in!” excitedly, I began to wonder what was different this time. Why did I give an authentic “yes” to such a vulnerable and potentially scary experience for me when I had tried to avoid this experience for almost five decades of my life? My husband eagerly loaded the car with barebones camping equipment for the journey ahead. His excitement of a long-awaited “bucket-list” experience rubbed off on me and as we traveled across the prairie of Kansas to get to our destination near Salida, CO, I could feel my positive anticipation growing. What would we see? What was it going to be like to be in the middle of nature for the night? I couldn’t wait to see the areas that were suggested for us to locate a primitive campsite. Even on the Friday afternoon of the July 4th weekend, we only had to go to the third suggested campsite to find a place to set up camp and enjoy the mountain view until sundown.
As we neared the site, I knew something was different this time. I was not afraid of the unknown of camping; positive anticipation was growing. I was able to trust that Steve the Eagle Scout was more than capable of this outdoor adventure. When we parked and got out of the truck, I realized I was no longer in control but had surrendered to being a follower. I chose to trust that we could find a solution for what might be ahead throughout the evening and next morning. There was no bathroom, coffee shop on the corner, or medical facility nearby. It was the two of us in nature.
After spending time reflecting about the camping experience, I realized that I had expanded my resilience, overcome fears, and trusted my husband to care for my needs instead of needing to be in control. Being able to share this bucket-list experience with my husband gave him so much joy that it added more emotional capacity to endure the hardship that was ahead of us. Our intentional resilience-building paid off with big-time rewards.
The primitive camping experience has now entered one of the top 10 experiences of our marriage. Doing hard things together such as primitive camping, enduring a rainstorm, the blowing over of the tent, the use of a luggable loo, and the shining headlamps from wandering campers while sleeping in the back of the 4Runner became a few of the memories we continue to enjoy after returning home.
If you are wondering, does resilience-building work? I say “yes”. My new level of courage and openness is proof. Even one year ago, I could not have dared to stay in the barrenness of the mountain top accessed by a narrow gnarly gravel road with no streetlights to guide the way to civilization. I realize it is the intentional work of expanding my resilience and emotional capacity to do hard things that have supported this “bucket list” experience.
The sunset photo was from a trail walk. The portable changing tent is my evidence that I can do hard things! Resilience helps builds positive memories.
What do you feel is too difficult for you to overcome?
If there is something you do not have enough emotional capacity for, consider practicing this exercise. Write a brief two or three-sentence gratitude entry every day for 30 days consecutively and then share it daily with someone who would be glad to listen to you. This entry can be as simple as pausing to reflect on your day to recall a person, experience, or gift that you appreciate, then write it down. Consecutively writing 30 days of gratitude and then rereading it to yourself at the end of the 30 days will create resilience amplification.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you are inspired to expand your resilience as you experience the beauty of a sunset from the mountain top we camped on. Just think, I would have missed this beauty if I wouldn’t have said yes to doing something difficult.