Michelle Lockhart Embarks in the Alps

Imagine you’re afraid of heights and the challenge in front of you is to jump off a 4500 foot cliff and paraglide to the valley below. Apprehension and fear run through your body. You are unsure you have the ability to actually do this. Maybe you should just tell the group you’re done. “You don’t NEED to paraglide off this cliff,” you tell yourself. “You have nothing to prove.”

In the early Fall of 2019, Michelle Lockhart, along with a group of 16 individuals from the US, Germany and the Netherlands, set off on a trek through the German, Austrian, Swiss and Italian alps. For 8 days the group backpacked over 100 miles, climbing steep and narrow mountain passes, sometimes the only security being cables bolted onto the mountainside.

For someone like Michelle who is afraid of heights, this was a huge challenge. Fear can keep a person from wonderful experiences and achieving a goal. Michelle says on the matter, “Pushing fear aside is largely an exercise of being in the immediate present and doing exactly what needs to be done in the moment. ”

Facing her fear, she pressed forward. But why put yourself into situations you know will force you to face your fears and test your strength?

“As with all adventures, the benefit for me is the opportunity to reset. I can step out of my day to day life and be totally in the moment. I can face my fears, do really hard things and come out on the other side renewed, confident and ready to take on the daily challenges of life.”

Michelle left for Europe having just recovered from a heel avulsion fracture and was battling Achilles Tendinitis. Even though she had times when the pain was severe, she was able to complete her journey; stepping out when recovery was needed and powering through when the pain was manageable. “I learned the importance of listening to my body, pushing as hard as I can, but working within my limitations.”

I interviewed Michelle after she had completed the trek and I asked her who the most influential person was in completing the trip. She quickly said her team members.

“When you do hard things with other people, you bond quickly and in a deeper way. One of the women especially impacted me. She, like all of us, was carrying emotional pain and trauma. She was also battling a knee injury. Watching her attack her challenges with determination was so inspiring. She made me feel like I could do it too. As we talked on the trail and during down time, we had many ‘aha’ moments together that I will forever cherish.”

Imagine again standing with your team on the edge of that 4500 foot cliff, “why am I doing this?” echos loud in your head. Then, with determination overpowering the fear, you jump and inside you scream, “because I can!”


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