The Mountains We Face

If there’s one theme for the past season – it would be the season of challenges.

No matter who we are, where we’re from, our background, our life situation…COVID has been the great equalizer. It has presented us all with incredible, life altering challenges.

Be it health, be it financial, be it loneliness or isolation, be it fear, be it job loss, be it separation from loved ones — COVID and the repercussions it’s brought have touched each and every one of us.

I was thinking about that when I was in Maine a few weeks ago. My friends and I had set out to hike Conners Nubble in Acadia National Park.

It is considered one of Maine’s “mountains” – even though I don’t even think it breaks 1,000 feet. But that is besides the point.

But to be honest, we had had quite ~the evening~ the night before. Think: a few bottles of wine, dancing to the Spice Girls, and tearful heart-to-hearts that are shared between friends only past midnight.

Well, anywho – we had set our alarms to hike at the crack of dawn the next morning.

And standing at the base of that mountain, a little groggy and a lot sleep deprived, the climb to the top seemed a bit insurmountable.

But once we got going, I realized – this climb is literally just putting one foot in front of the other. One step at a time. And about two hours — and probably close to ~I’m not kidding~ THIRTY stops for photo-ops later, we finally reached the top.

And let me tell you, the view was absolutely magnificent.

And on the way down, I realized how that was an exact allegory to my recovery from anorexia.

I think one of the biggest hurdles to adopting recovery in the first place, is how overwhelming it seems from the onset.

You’re at the base of this huge mountain, and you’re just completely intimidated — paralyzed, even — with the monumental task in front of you. How will I ever get to the top? It’s going to take an eternity to get there! Where do I even begin?!

Walking into inpatient with over 35 pounds to gain, the job at hand seemed insurmountable. I was terrified of gaining weight, petrified of butter, entirely addicted to exercise, and to top it all off, I refused to even admit that I had a problem, period! To say that I had my work cut out for me would be the understatement of the century.

That very first night, when I was trying to fall asleep in my makeshift cot at the nurses station, which they required me to sleep in so they could monitor my heart overnight – I read a letter that my mom had left with me when she dropped me off that morning. She and my dad flew across the country with me to Arizona where I would be in treatment for the next three months.

And lying there – wide awake: partially because I was terrified, but mainly because I had horrific insomnia because my melatonin/serotonin/Adrenalin levels were on the fritz because my nervous system was so compromised, I opened her letter.

And inside was the greatest advice I’ve ever received, that not only was the foundation for my recovery, but has become a motto in life:

Just do the next right thing.

Just like each little step led to climbing that mountain, so too does each small decision add up to reaching that seemingly insurmountable goal.

What was the next right thing I had to do that day? Finish my snack? Ask God for help? Take a deep breath? Give thanks for a second chance? Go to a meeting with my therapist?

Baby steps add up to big steps, which add up to leaps, then bounds. And with every decision I made towards my ultimate goal, I was training that muscle to act positively. Each decision got easier and more natural and less scary, and the next thing I knew, I was looking back at how far I’ve come, with the top of the mountain getting closer and closer than I could have ever dreamed at the onset.

And standing here 13 years later – 13 years strong into a recovery, and life I never thought possible, it’s safe to say that that little phrase has been a truly life changing mindset to adopt.

And so now, with COVID’s new reality presenting daunting challenges we’d have never foreseen, I have to remind myself that same advice from so long ago: just do the next right thing.

Maybe that looks like reaching out to a friend. Maybe that looks like revisiting the budget, or getting creative with financial allocations.

Because the mountain we’ve been presented with is unlike any we’ve ever seen, and truthfully, we don’t exactly know what “getting out of this alive” looks like. We’ve got to be flexible. Adaptable. Able to pivot at a moment’s notice. And for sure – be able to exercise incredible fortitude and strength in the face of relational adversity – given distance, isolation and loneliness.

And one final thing: it has been chiefly helpful to remember that, though we can feel all alone facing our individual “Goliath” — the fact of the matter is that we’re all in this together.

You, me, our loved ones and neighbors – are all collectively journeying through this frightful unknown together. And what a blessing it is to have little communities like this one to rely on – to realize that you’re not alone, and to draw strength from one another, and the bonds that unite.

Because at the end of the day, we are all one body in Christ. One family of believers. Sisters and brothers, united by crimson ties that can never EVER be broken.

I’m praying for you, and am cheering you on as we’re all putting one foot in front of the other, just doing the next right thing.

Hugs and love xox Caralyn

To hear my story, you can watch a video of one of my talks below.

And to order a copy of my recovery resource, “Bloom,” a 60-day recovery guided journal, click here.

In the words of my mother, Just do the next right thing!

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

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90 thoughts on “The Mountains We Face

  1. Amazing! Just do the next right thing! I will not forget that one as well! Thanks for sharing this post Caralyn. Anytime you talk about your recovery from Anorexia, I can’t help but feel that you remind me so much of God’s promise of turning our mourning into dancing, giving us beauty for our ashes. God used you and your struggles for His glory. He’s still using you. Thank God for you Caralyn! I hope you have a wonderful week. God bless you.

  2. Wow, this was so good to read. I love the scenic photography, Caralyn. Beautiful! You are so blessed to have such good friends in your life too. COVID really is a mountain, but one we can climb and summit! Be safe and well. 🙏🏻😎

    1. Hi John! oh good! i’m so glad you enjoyed the read! aw, thank you 🙂 you’re right – i have been blessed with incredible friends! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you so much Alice! i’m so glad it resonated with you 🙂 yes – we’re hanging in! Hugs and love xox

  3. This is what I tell my daughters whenever the going seems impossibly tough; just put one foot in front of the other. Just one step. Once you’ve done that, gather yourself and take another. I know that’s often advice meant figuratively, but I’ve faced times where it was the literal truth. Just going into the next room was a challenge!

    Here’s your key statement tonight…for me anyway: We’re all in this together. I just wrote a few “Quote of the Day” contemplations for my blog (I work ahead!!). One was from Ephesians 2:9 about our membership in the household of God. I looked at that as having a perfect membership in heaven where we are greeted, and everyone knows and greets each other. Then the following day’s verse just happened to be 1 Corinthians 12:25-27. St. Paul wrote how there should be no divisions in the church. We are all of the same body, but different members with individual talents and responsibilities.

    Membership on earth can be tenuous. Membership in heaven is a relief. Belonging on earth is a necessity. Belonging in heaven is a blessing!

    1. I love that, Jeff — just put one foot in front of the other. one step at a time. That is such an empowering mindset. because we are all capable of one step. And one step turns into two, and so on and so forth. Yes! We really are all in this together! I will always remember how you were there for me during my mom’s stroke – like i said – all in this together 🙂 And amen – no division in the church! i read a similar reading yesterday from Eph 4: “striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one Body and one Spirit.” How easily we forget that we are all brothers and sisters. Amen – it will be a relief and a blessing! i hope you and your girls have a beautiful week, my friend. thanks for stopping by and blessing me with such powerful insight! big big hugs xoxo

      1. I was blessed to be able to help! We are all well here. Julie is thinking about bringing her work computer home for awhile. She’s been putting in some very long hours, and the office is a long drive from here. Hillary is doing her externship for her phlebotomy practicals at Methodist Hospital and is meshing very well there. God is good…as always! Prayers and hugs for you!

      2. 🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰 oh that’s such great news!!!! Glad to hear. And that would be an exciting shift for Julie for sure!

  4. This is such an awesome reminder of how we each have to overcome our fears of Coronavirus. You have reminded me of how important it is to do the right thing. And with so many things left on the table to do, you have inspired me to fearlessly tackle them all.

    I will be 69-years-old in October, so I am in the “worry about Covid-19” bracket. Not to mention the fact that I live in New Orleans, one of the nation’s biggest tourists attractions. So I encounter people from around the world quite often. I also suffer from insomnia and chronic pain, so almost everything that I do is difficult most of the time. Your blog makes me feel so close to others who are also overcoming their fears.

    You said something profound when you said, “…at the end of the day, we are all one body in Christ. One family of believers. Sisters and brothers, united by crimson ties that can never EVER be broken.” Thanks for reminding me that moving forward is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.

    1. aw thank you so much Eric! you’re right – we are all able to face the goliaths in our lives! one step at a time! happy early birthday, my friend. I will pray for your protection from COVID. God’s got you in the palm of His hand, this I trust! that warms my heart to know that you find comfort and closeness here. Know that you are close in my heart in prayer! sending massive hugs. and if i’m ever in new orleans, i’ll look ya up! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  5. Reading your awesome (as always) post, brought to mind this scripture:

    By yourself you’re unprotected.
    With a friend you can face the worst.
    Can you round up a third?
    A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. Ecclesiastes 4:12

    Of course your rope is over 47,000 strands strong!

    1. aw thank you David! oh wow – what a powerful verse! thank you for sharing that with me! i love it, and i have a few close girlfriends in mind that I”m going to send that to this morning 🙂 hahahahah you’re too funny!!! thanks again 🙂 have a wonderful day, my friend! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you so much Laura! i’m so glad this resonated with you! have an awesome day! Hugs and love xox

  6. When I saw the Mount of Olives, Mount Moriah and Mount Zion in Israel, and when I saw where Jesus preached the sermon on the Mount, those mountains looked really low.

    1. aw thank you so much 🙂 yes! i love that photo too 🙂 they are my besties! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  7. Scenery is beautiful. Makes me want to visit Maine. But no Spice Girls for me haha
    You are so cute on the mountain top. If I tried to do it, I would need helicopter evac

    1. thank you so much! haha ok, maybe some classic rock or Jazz then 🙂 hehe aw thank you! hahahahahh too funny!! i believe in you! you could totaly scale it! Hugs and love xox

  8. Hi there, to Beauty Beyond Bones. This post is a sweet recollection, of having had something tangible you handled in your recovery, the letter in your story. That is the kind of thing I like to know about how it has been in recovery.

    In case you’re unsure who this is, given the sea of faces who visit, it is your Canadian friend, who enjoys reading your blog, for the last few years now. Extraordinary! Your blogging style always demonstrates your strength.

    I am just taking in the video, and I am sure to feel moved. Hope all is well, and God bless you. I realize that we all need The Lord’s assistance this season.

    1. hi Odell! oh gosh what a beautiful response, thank you so much!! 🙂 yes – i was so blessed to have parents that supported me through that difficult time. and gosh – you are incredible — THANK YOU for your readership! i always get a smile on my face when I see odell01/findingenvirons1 pop up on my notifications 🙂 you have brought me a lot of smile over the years! sending you so much love and hugs xoxoxo

  9. beautiful words to go with beautiful photos. Although the picture of the four of you with your feet dangling over the edge does make a me a bit nervous… 🙂

    1. thank you Jim!! what kind words 🙂 hahah oh gosh — well rest assured that there was no cliff below! it was actually a bit of an optical illusion — just a gentle slope to another flat surface rock! hahah Hugs and love xox

  10. That picture of you and you friends sitting together in peaceful contemplation is the way God originally intended His creation to be. We need to interact and support each other. Heaven is a place of mutuality. So the devil invents pandemics, wars, racism and social exclusiveness as a way to deface that image of God we were originally graced with and drive us apart. We need to resist that and will our faltering steps onward in our climb to heaven. 🙂

    1. aw thank you so much Ian! yeah, i love that photo of the four of us. those are my besties!!! and you’re so right – there is darkness orchestrating the current global climate, i do believe that! we must be fervent in prayer!!!!! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you so much! hahaha oh my gosh i’ve never heard that saying before, but i LOVE it, and i’m cracking up!!!! hahah Hugs and love xox

    1. thanks Matt. You’re 1000% right – she is absolutely awesome! and i am so blessed to have her in my life. so glad it hit home with you tonight 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  11. Caralyn, what an inspiration you are. I praise God for you and your story. As I’ve watched you grow and overcome over the past few years, I’m amazed at our God and all He’s done. And all you’ve accomplished through His strength in you. Keep climbing those mountains and telling us about them! It’s an amazing view from here.

    1. thank you so much! oh my gosh what generous and kind words! i am so touched 🙂 Yes!!! God is so so so good, and I am so grateful for the transformation He’s been orchestrating over this past decade, truly. I am humbled by His mercy, forgiveness and grace. Thank you for your readership, and for being such a great friend!!!! Sending you so much love and hugs xox

    1. Thank you Tonya!!! 🙂 God is so good, and gosh, do we have so much to be grateful for! love you, my friend! thanks for being so awesome! have a great week ahead! Hugs and love xox

    1. yes! thank you Chris! you’re right – one step at a time! i like that – Rome was built step by step (and defiitely not in one day!) haha Hugs and love xox

  12. “Just like each little step led to climbing that mountain, so too does each small decision add up to reaching that seemingly insurmountable goal.” Great advice for everyone.

    I think for the longest time I was fighting this whole experience, wanting it to fade away. For things to return to the way, they were. As the weeks and months roll on, I realise that as bad as 2020 has been, the world needed this. We all needed a wake-up call.

    Materialism gets a lot of bad press but for me life is all about balance. The world, however, was out of balance. It’s so easy and natural to think, me me me, at times like this because YOU are directly affected by events but if you look at the macro picture, you will realise that our level of consumerism could not continue.

    People were living on fake money; many people have a deck of cards in their wallet, with no question of who foots the bill.

    Look at the raging fires, and floods, droughts all over the planet, 100s of animal going extinct, the wounds of how we live our lives. Nature is all-powerful and what is happening is the balance that is needed.

    “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

    1. thank you so much for your wonderfully kind words! 🙂 you’re really onto something there – this world needed a wake up call for sure. it is my deepest prayer that we will emerge from this stronger, with a greater appreciation for family, faith, personal relationships, and gratitude for things we took for granted (health, job security, being able to worship in person, the ability to see loved ones, etc)

      Thanks for making me think!! Hugs and love xox

  13. Thank you So much for posting the link to your story. You are very brave, and so much grace is evident in what you share. Giving thanks to God for you. (Just learning to own my story and share my recovery. (different issues but same grace)..you are an example and an encouragement.

    1. thank you so much Teresa! 🙂 your encouraging words really mean a lot! yes! own your story, my friend, because in it is victory, and courage, and God’s GLORY!!!! i am humbled by your kindness. Hugs and love xox

  14. I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict. A common phrase among both AA and NA is “just do the next right thing.” My best friend– my Soul Sister– heard that during her stay at a mental health facility as well. Very wise words, indeed. It warms my heart to know that you have such an amazing support system with your family and friends.

    1. oh my gosh thank you so much Sally, you’re too sweet! thank you for reading! have a beautiful week! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you Kreemer! yes, you’re so right about that – but those steps add up! Hugs and love xox

  15. And sometimes that first step comes in the form of an encouraging word. Thank you so much for sharing! As I approach the one year anniversary of my dad’s passing, I am finding myself just going through the motions, moving with no movement. This is just a reminder that nothing is impossible no matter how difficult it seems. This is also a reminder that I cannot and will not feel sorry for myself and get down about my circumstances. One step to moving forward in living my best life.

    1. you’re so right about that – steps can come in all different shapes and sizes! thank you for sharing your heart. I will be keeping you and your family in my prayers as that monumental day draws closer. Yes. know that you’re close in my heart. i love you friend. Hugs and love xox

  16. Yes, Caralyn, your mother’s advice was spot-on what my parents taught me even before your parents thought of you, probably before they even met: “Do the next right thing and do the next thing right.” love and daily prayers, your friend always, c.a.

  17. I love your mother’s advice. She is wise. Don’t just do the next thing; do the next Right thing. That is always with one hand in God’s.
    What a beautiful hike. Memories to cherish!!

    1. Thank you Linda – you’re absolutely right. She is one wise woman! Amen the Right Thing! Hugs and love xox

  18. Caralyn, your testimony had me in tears, the grace in your speech and words is so beautiful. I could of heard you for much longer than you actually spoke. You are definitely a chosen vessel of the Lord, to carry this ministry BBB to the next level. There are so many more young woman that need to hear what you have to say. You have an anointing and grace upon you that comes only from the Holy Spirit of God. You’ll be much more in my prayers now that I got hear you speak live on this video. Praise God!!!

    1. oh gosh, thank you so much – i’m so glad that it resonated with you. God has really seen me through a lot of dark days. i literally owe Him my life, and am grateful every day for the second chance He so generously blessed me with. thank you so much for your prayers, your incredibly kind words, and for taking the time to watch my video! sending so much hugs and love xox

  19. What more can I add. it is for his glory, you shared an awesome testimony. You also brought back a proper perspective about a togetherness that requires having spiritually healthy people in your inner-circle. Then to put the icing on the cake with the quote from your wise mother. It takes faith to take a step with uncertainty and to begin to believe in a way that one never believe. Therefore, I can recognize that God has his hands on you. thanks for sharing. I now have a beauty view too.

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderfully encouraging words. Yes – togetherness is important!! Hugs and love xox

      1. Surely, you are welcome! and the hugs well received with love and returned with the joy they were sent! May the peace of God remain with you, upon and his love continue to work through you. That my fair lady is the essence of your beauty!!!

  20. Maine is beautiful. My mom’s family lives there. I have been hiking in Acadia National Park. It’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing this. It was really good. Also, I saw your video. Really great to hear your story. I live in Memphis. If you ever make it back down here, please give me a heads up. I would love to hear you speak live sometime. I love to run. One of the things I love about running is being outside and taking in all that God created. I have never ran in Maine but I have run in the mountains in Birmingham, Al. It’s tough! But so beautiful running in those surroundings. Even though we have been in this pandemic, it’s been great to be able to run and focus on God and my surroundings instead of everything else going on. When I am running, I listen to christian music and focus on God. It’s a great way to spend time with the Lord. By the way, I don’t know if you run or now, but even if you walk regularly, check out RunforGod.com and RunforGodrunclub.com. For run club there is a monthly membership but if you use the code MikeP you can get a free 30 day trial. It is great to connect with other christian runners and get coaching from a RRCA certified run coach among other great benefits. Take care! And thanks for sharing this post! It was great to read! ~Mike

    1. thanks mike! thats such a great tip with the run club! i’ll definitely check that out! thanks so much! Hugs and love xox

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