Here’s What Backpacking in Big Bend Taught Me

By Dr. Isabel Meijering, DACM, L.Ac – June 1, 2022

At the beginning of April, I went backpacking in Big Bend National Park. This trip was a gift and fell on my one-year anniversary of opening my business.

If you have your own businesses, you know year one is full of emotions. I’ve learned my beliefs, blocks, strengths and weakness are the business’s as well. It’s a gift to look at both my shadow and light and choose how I want both me and my business to show up in the world. I reflected on this over my 4-day trip where the mountains taught me four invaluable lessons.

1. Keep Going

In any challenge, you have two choices — give up or find your rhythm and keep going. 

On day one of backpacking, I carried a 60-pound pack 4.5 miles up the mountain. It was warm, barely shaded and incredibly steep. The switchbacks became my meditation. When it was hard, a voice in my head said, “You can quit or lean into this experience, see what it has to offer and keep going.” I chose the latter. 

I use that realization of having a choice in both my business and life. When things get hard, you can quit. However, when you keep going, you’ll notice how far you’ve come. Even if the trail was rough, it led you to the top. Drop your self-judgment, keep going and you’ll get there. Who cares how long it takes?

2. Stay Present

If we were supposed to know exactly how we’d get to every place, we wouldn’t be living. The best tactic is to have a rough plan and evolve as you go. Opportunities will come when you trust the process and follow your intuition. 

On the trail, I tried to not look too far ahead. If I stared at the mountain, wondering how we’d get to the top, it riddled me with anxiety. That is me living in the future, somewhere I’m not supposed to be yet. 

I must trust I’ve prepared for this experience. I have the map; the details will reveal themselves. Once you let go of micromanaging your journey, the universe rewards you with opportunities. 

Isabel with partner.

Photo courtesy of Isabel Meijering

3. Perspective

On our third day, we summited Emory Peak, the tallest point in Big Bend. Beforehand, I didn’t know this involved free climbing. I’ve been climbing a few times, but I’m by no means a good climber. 

After our first round of climbing, our friends stopped as the rest of the way was jagged and terrifying. My partner wanted to summit, and I knew I could physically do it, but I kept hearing this voice saying, “It’s hard.” And I thought, compared to what? Sitting at a desk? Yes. Running 13.1 miles in 95-degree weather? No. For me, it won’t be harder than that. So, we climbed. 

The top was breathtaking but small and jagged. I started to freak out, so I asked this feeling its purpose and realized this was yet another choice. The voice in my head said, “Sure, freak out, but where will that get you?” 

Freaking out was a choice; I’m choosing to lean into this uncomfortable feeling of doing something new and difficult because I’ll feel good afterward having worked this hard. We all have our own Emory Peaks but your reaction to them is a choice. 

4. You Can Unplug Anywhere 

Being a new business owner, I’ve learned a lot about boundaries. When I worked for someone else, I could easily ignore messages after hours and unplug until my next shift. After opening my business, that went out the window. I thought I needed to answer my phone and emails at all hours to keep things running. 

But how you do one thing is how you do everything, and this mindset of being always available applied to many areas of my life. It led to flimsy friendships and me being overworked. Some friendships were good as long as I was available. But when I asked for help and set a boundary, it wasn’t met well. And I allowed that; I thought I had to constantly give to be worthy of love. 

This realization led to incredible healing. When I noticed I ran my business the same way, I caught it, investigated, healed and moved forward. People will respect you for your boundaries. When you choose yourself, it profoundly transforms you.

I thought about this on my trip; I was craving to unplug here while I had forgotten one simple truth: you can unplug anywhere. Turn off your phone for the night. Use Do Not Disturb mode while with loved ones. If you’re looking for permission to unplug, this is it. 

This summer, remember these lessons. It’s time to do things that bring you peace and joy. I know you’re worthy of that; do you? 


About the Author

Isabel Meijering.

Dr. Isabel Meijering is an acupuncturist and life coach in Austin and is the owner of Admiring You Wellness. She has her doctorate in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and specializes in cupping therapy, pain management, psycho-emotional support, menstruation support and allergies. She also has a B.S. in biomedical sciences with a minor in psychology and has a deep love for both eastern and western medicine.


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