Earlier this week, I joined up with two of my cancer-kicking friends, Mike and Bina, and snow-shoed from Mt. Bachelor in central Oregon out to Todd Lake – a cold, gray-shrouded trek.

Had I planned to snowshoe on my own, I probably would have canceled — because it was raining in town, which most likely meant wet snow and poor visibility in the mountains.

Sure enough, a moist, drenching snow fell most of the way out to Todd Lake. And on the return trek, the wind blew freight-train strong through the tall trees, dropping snow bombs on our heads. It was so cold that when we removed our gloves to grab a snack or shoot a photo, it was difficult getting them back on.

How much warmer and comfortabler (is that a word?) a coffee shop would have been, and why didn’t I go there instead to finish up a major writing project I’d been working on?

At first glance, one might assess that the trek to Todd Lake was less than successful.

Or was it?

I’ve been thinking how it takes a bit of pluck and tenacity to get off the couch (metaphorically speaking) in less-than-desirable circumstances and endeavor to conquer something in nature, or something in ourselves – like, the fear, discouragement, self-pity, hopelessness, depression that can come from a cancer diagnosis.

I’m reading a book by Chip Gaines of HGTV “Fixer Upper” fame, entitled Capital Gaines. A natural entrepreneur and risk-taker, he writes: “It’s never too late in your story to take a step away from fear. And the good news is that both optimism and courage are contagious. No hand washing necessary. Simply catch and spread.”

I heard no complaints from Mike or Bina on the trail. And each of us commented, at one time or another, how much fun this challenging trek was, and how good we felt after conquering it.

Yes, optimism and courage are contagious.

Sitting in warm, comfortable spaces is necessary for doing the paperwork of chasing down our dreams. We need to complete the projects, and hand in our homework, and fill out applications, and meet deadlines, and write business plans, and balance our bank accounts.

And then there are the days we need to stoke up our audacity to step into less-than-desirable spaces — even if it entails rejection letters, or the risk of a failed business, or denied scholarships, or snow bombs falling from tall trees.

Which begs the question: What uncomfortable, brave, gallant thing should you endeavor this week, this month, this year?

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Marlys Johnson is a cancer widow, author, speaker & blogger. We first met her through her work coordinating St. Charles Medical Center’s Survivorship Program and her beloved husband, Gary – a CHN Support Volunteer for many years. Her passion for helping others navigate life’s challenges inspires us every day and we are delighted to share her insights.

To read more of Marlys’ work – and discover her love of all things outdoors – visit her blog Cancer Adventures.