Mountaintop Lessons


Africa is my home away from home. But so are the mountains. The crisp, fresh, quiet air relaxes me to my core. I breathe in and all the stress and worries of the day exhale with me. When I stand on a mountaintop I am reminded of two important lessons I had to learn somewhere along the way — 1. to take on immoveable mountains, the first thing you have to do is move; 2. it’s important to take moments of true rest.

I didn’t used to love the mountains. In fact, all mountaintops were my Everest — never seemingly within reach, a feat I’d never conquer. Back in junior high I went away to summer camp and settled into activities well within my comfort zone. I prefered the repetitive nature of the same activity day in and day out over trying anything new. But one day, my counselor put the kibosh, if you will, on my activity of choice and informed me I would be participating in an overnight hiking trip up a mountain.

If you read my memoir, “One Thousand Wells,” I go into more detail of this story. But to sum it up, the beginning of the trip was terrible. I was weak; I was not happy; I wanted nothing to do with the mountain. But fellow campers wouldn’t let me give up; they pushed me, and together we reached the summit.

I learned a lot that day — community, risk taking, reaching goals together. But most importantly, I learned that to take on immoveable mountains, the first thing you have to do is move. You have to grow used to the weight of your pack, adjust your lungs to the quality of the air, and build muscle for the grade of the incline.

We live in a world with an attention span climate that changes so fast many of us are too scared or too distracted to move in any one direction in particular. So we turn around in circles, never really moving. We must put down the comforts that are actually chains encircling us and step out of the repetitive activities we’ve cemented around our feet. We can climb our Everests together, but we must move.

I said at the beginning of this post that when I stand on top of mountains I am reminded of two lessons. The second may seem like an oxymoron to the first — it’s important to take moments of true rest.

Once we start moving or climbing, sometimes our momentum carries us so fast the world begins to rush on by. Priorities get whipped into the frenzy of deadlines and good intentions, that pieces of life begin to suffer. We can grind so hard at the mountain ahead of us, that we grow faint along the way and never make it to the top.

Just like moving is the key to taking on immovable mountains, so is resting.


This photo of me on a mountain was taken just yesterday. It’s in Estes Park, Colorado. I am currently on a 22-day journey across the country showcasing my new book. I’ve met amazing people along the way, and I’ve loved telling my story.

But plane ride, after car ride, after late nights, after early mornings begins to wear on anyone. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. But that mountain couldn’t have come at a better time. It was brief, but it was exactly the rest I needed to continue climbing.