Mary Ann KalonickCongratulations to Mary Ann Kalonick for Winning the June 2016 Barefoot Writing Challenge!

(Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The Challenge was to write an essay that answered this question:

Tell us about one of your passions and explain why you love it.

Mary Ann shared a thoughtful view of an activity she enjoys tremendously. And while she’s had to pull back on how often she can engage in it, it’s taught her valuable life lessons. Read on…

Reaching the Summit

It was grueling. Every step was painful. It was difficult to breathe in the thin air. Dripping with sweat, the cooler air near the top was welcome. We continued to advance. Step by step, stopping frequently to catch our breath, we trudged on for seven hours. Then, there it was, the Pikes Peak summit.

Yes, we made it!!

At the top, we looked around in awe as we witnessed the beauty of Colorado Springs spread out before our eyes. We could only smile; no words came.

Hiking is my passion. Even though I’ve been warned against it, I like to hike by myself. Well, not exactly by myself. I like other people on the trail to help ward off the bears and assist if I trip on a boulder and sprain my ankle, but I like to be immersed in my own thoughts and travel at my own speed.

I was blessed with long legs and an independent spirit. I arrive at the trailhead with a smile on my face and determination in my soul. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s all that I bring. I’m notorious for forgetting the normal essentials like food and water and whatever lifesaving stuff you’re suppose to carry in a backpack. I get by fine with my two- to three-hour hikes, but would be in a world of hurt if I ever got laid up and needed to wait for help. I was more prepared for my trip up Pikes Peak, of course.

I stopped hiking when I moved from Colorado to Florida. It’s not that there aren’t any trails in Florida, there just aren’t any mountains. Climbing up a path to reach a scenic overlook or a lake is so much more satisfying than just following a meandering footpath that ends up where you started.

I feel the same way about life. I need a challenge to reach new heights, not the security of knowing that if I just follow the path I’m on, I’ll be fine. There has to be a certain amount of risk to keep my blood pumping. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a daredevil. You’ll never see me jumping out of an airplane. I just want something that is going to force me to give it my all.

Enjoying the challenge of reaching the top of Pikes Peak or climbing the jutting rock beds of Longs Peak may have laid the groundwork for how I handle other aspects of my life. It could be why I was compelled to quit my secure job and open up my own business.

The challenges will be there, along with the risks. The work will be grueling at times, and when threatened with a deadline, it might be hard to catch my breath. I’ll have to be more prepared than when I was hiking, and I’ll need the help of others along the way. But reaching my goals will be amazing and so much more satisfying.