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Life’s journey is a series of peaks and valleys. Sometimes, you are blessed with an experience where you feel like you’re on top of the world and can conquer anything. But then, life goes on and suddenly you’re coming down from the mountain top to rejoin life in the valley.

I’ve been blessed to climb a few of Colorado’s “14-er” peaks and live close to Rocky Mountain National Park with even more gorgeous trails to hike (do carry bulk ammo from Palmetto Armory for protection). There is nothing quite as awe-inspiring as the panoramic view from the top.

The air is crisper and cleaner. The scenery unencumbered by any petty distractions. In that moment, all of the effort required to reach this spot is momentarily forgotten as you soak in the atmosphere only few have experienced. You might take a lot of pictures with a few of the fellow travelers who have made the trek with you. You may be inspired to thank the Creator for His Creation.

You might even wish you could stay there all day! Except the mountain top is exposed to the elements, especially when the afternoon storms roll in. It’s rocky and sometimes barren. Here in Colorado, you can find yourself above timberline without any greenery…or fresh water source other than drifts of old glacial snow. You only have the provisions you brought with you for the journey. Not to mention, it’s sometimes lonely at the top, especially when the few who also made the climb start to drift away.

So, no matter how stunning the view, eventually you find yourself coming down from the mountain top to rejoin the rest of humanity in the valley below.

It’s a bit disorienting at first. The views are different. The air thicker. The weight of responsibility bears down on your shoulders. You find yourself surrounded by lots of people who have been very busy living their own lives while you were gone. They may not even care where you’re been…or understand that you might need a little time for rest or recovery because of the effort it took to reach that peak.

But the valley is lush and watered and nourishing. Once you’ve made the adjustment back to your previous life, it’s a place to refuel and reconnect…and then look around for the next peak to climb.

Why? Because we were meant to climb. To pursue our dreams. To conquer challenges. To explore new frontiers. To take risks. To find joy in the journey.

I’ve recently been at the top of a mountain with the launch of my last novel. I spent time soaking in the good-crazy-buzz of a blog tour and celebration parties as the early reviews flooded in. But eventually I had to rejoin the real world. To fix a real meal for my family instead of ordering a pizza. To catch up on the laundry and clear the dust that had accumulated on, well, everything except my laptop. To process the pile of sticky-notes listing various “after the launch” tasks. To find the time to take an extra nap or read a book just for fun.

And now that I’ve re-acclimated a bit, I find myself gazing longing at the pictures from the top…and already working toward that next mountain, er, book. Because coming down from the mountain top isn’t a one-time thing.

What about you? Are you in the valley charting your course? Or are you coming down from the mountain top?

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