I spent my New Years with old friends in the California desert.

Joshua Tree reminded me a lot of Big Bend in Texas. It’s a surreal, almost alien like desert landscape. While Big Bend was red and mountainous, Joshua Tree was tan and filled with boulders. Both are beautiful.

My itinerary in Joshua Tree consisted of hiking with my friends and hanging out at the house after. There’s really no night life to speak of in the desert towns near the park, so every night we cooked dinner at the house and acted like total goofballs.

I also learned that “hiking wine” is a fabulous idea, and has dual functions in helping hangovers and giving a little boost of bravery when scurrying up boulders.

Why yes, that is hiking wine in a Diet Coke bottle in my left hand

Physically, the hiking was hard on me here and that’s not something I was excited about. Even in much better shape than I am now, I have never done well on an incline. All the trails here went up and down valleys and rocky hills, to the point where I was more winded than I wanted to be.

The views were absolutely worth it, but it gave me a reality check about my health and things I need to work on.

Still, I found that I pushed myself further on my own than I had in the past when hiking with Tim. I love all the friends I was with, but without the protection of my late husband I felt the need to be better than I had in the past. Tim was their friend first, and I the leftover from that relationship. I didn’t want to be the one member of the group who held anyone back.

So I stayed up as late as I could, acted as bold and silly as I could while playing Scattergories and downed Advil when my knees were upset at a particularly steep cliff.

I wasn’t perfect. I woke up super hungover and whiny one morning until my friend gave me a hangover kit to make it through. There was one big hill on the last day that I just couldn’t scurry up.

At the beginning of my time in the park, I found myself saying I can’t a lot. However every time I did, I turned myself into a liar by doing it anyway.

By the end of the trip, I did my best to stop saying it at all. Instead, I just did.

When I was little, my grandfather used to say that “Can’t” isn’t a word. I didn’t remember that until this second as I sit here at work typing up this post at the end of a long day.

He’s right. Can’t isn’t a word. It’s a contraction, but even more so I think it’s a mental state.

When I was hiking in the desert and now sitting here reflecting about that trip, I’m wondering how many areas of my life I’m still chanting can’t can’t can’t can’t can’t.

11 COMMENTS

  1. “At the beginning of my time in the park, I found myself saying I can’t a lot. However every time I did, I turned myself into a liar by doing it anyway.” THIS. I started making a habit of it when I left college/my first 5 year relationship. It’s funny what not being “protected” by a significant other does to bolster us to be better. Beautiful photos, Lauren.

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