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Travelling home from the hospital, I worry, “How will I finish preparing to go away?”  “How will I pack if I’m hopping around on crutches?”   I wonder, “Will I be able to enjoy my vacation?”  Taking a positive approach, I decide to release expectations and learn to relax. 

The following day I assiduously ice my sprained ankle and send it healing energy.  As the day progresses, it gradually responds to my ministrations.  My ankle starts allowing me to put some weight on it without screaming in pain.  I graduate myself to using a cane, and manage to pack. Then, thanks to airline wheel chair arrangements, and my husband’s assistance, we’re able to fly to Salt Lake City the very next day. 

By the time I arrive in southern Utah, I’m able to walk unassisted by either the cane or the air cast.  Having looked forward to hiking in the area’s red rock desert landscape, I excitedly decide to give one a try.  Wanting to honor my ankle’s limitations, I review the three morning hikes being offered and sign up for the easiest, beginner level one. 

Our “Explorer” hike goes at an easy pace, with a guide ahead and a shepherd in the rear.  We frequently stop to admire the scenery – red and white rock formations contrasting against black lava areas.  The guide fills us in on geological history and points out interesting plants along the way.  I feel deeply grateful to be able to hike amidst these wonders of nature.  

After two such hikes, I feel increasingly confident in my ankle’s ability to negotiate the terrain.  My mind toys with the idea of signing up for a more challenging hike.  I yearn to ascend to higher heights and wonder whether to take the risk.

Observing my thoughts, I remind myself – “learn to relax.”   I sign up for the easiest hike. 

I religiously continue applying ice to my ankle.  And though tempted to take tai chi, or another class in the afternoons, I focus on relaxing.  I position myself outside, facing Red Rock Mountain with my leg propped up on a chair.  As I absorb the beautiful panorama, I count my blessings, feeling grateful for the experience. 

Now and again, though, the old thoughts pop up, I start debating about trying to do more.  I treat these thoughts like meditation.  Each time my mind wanders to thoughts of doing, I let go of the thought and focus my attention on being, on learning to relax. 

On my last day there I briefly feel tempted to take a more challenging hike.  Attuned now to my pattern, I immediately release the thought and open my heart to the pleasures of a slower paced hike. 

After a truly relaxing vacation, I return home to piles of mail and a to-do list filled with organizational details. 

Now the real challenge begins – continuing the practice at home.