In the summer of 2005, I went on holiday to the Greek island of Crete, with my then-boyfriend-now-husband, his brother and their dad. It was an amazing holiday: we explored the island, enjoyed great local food and sampled the entire cocktail list of the nearby bar(s).
One day, my father-in-law suggested we'd go for a hike in the Samaria Gorge. I don't remember my exact response, but it will have resembled: 'Uh-uh. Right. Hm.'
I was 30 at the time, overweight and in the worst shape of my life. A few months before, I had decided to turn my life around, quit smoking and started working out, but it would take me longer than a few months to see and feel the results.
In spite of those good intentions, when my father-in-law suggested the trek, I resisted. I thought of a hundred excuses why we shouldn't go, but they all came down to this: I was afraid. Afraid it would be tough, afraid I wouldn't make it, afraid everybody would see how weak I was, afraid to be confronted with how much I had let myself slide.
So a few days later, we got up before daybreak to take a taxi that would take us to a bus that would take us to the entrance of the gorge. Armed with brand new hiking shoes, a white hat and a bottle of water, I began my journey.
Let me tell you: I struggled and suffered, but I also conquered and cheered. I can't even remember how long it took me to get to the end (way over 6 hours would be my guess) but I made it.
The Samaria gorge was to my body what writing is to my soul: a perfect blend of beauty and agony. And after all that misery, when I reached the exit, walked through and turned around to look back, I felt happier, stronger and more proud of myself than I had in a long, long time.
This hike has taught me a few invaluable lessons about life: the importance of facing my inner resistance and fear, how strong (or stubborn) I really am, to put my money (or actions) where my mouth is, and that I never want to go back to the abysmal physical condition I was in - at least not before I'm 80.
Oh yes: and sometimes it's okay to listen to your father-in-law.
I said sometimes!
Here are a few more pictures of what I would have missed, had I stayed on the couch that day:
What was a big turning point in your life?