vulnerability | strength | softness | discipline | surrender | devotion

These six words came together during a life-changing experience I had three years ago. A mash-up of energy, attitude, approach – thrown together unceremoniously in a way I could never have predicted. Nor would I have ever agreed that they would become the perfect recipe for true transformation… in the end, they were. Pure and utter perfection.

They are contrasting. They are contradictory to each other. They don’t make sense, put together.

Even as I write those out those six words, side-by-side, my left-brain wants to shriek – ‘Oh, no you don’t!’ But my heart, my soul… it remembers. It knows they don’t make ‘sense’ but it remembers that when

  • you are trekking the Inca Trail in Peru
  • you are at such high altitudes that you think you may have been drugged
  • you are communing with the divine all whilst sweating, battling and pushing beyond your own personal (and perceived) physical limitations.

… these words take on a deep, potent and ancient wisdom, an intuitive nature that would become my lifeblood, my lifeline.

Today, I know these energies, attitudes and approaches are meant to be united – I know they are amplified when they are teamed up.


It was November, 2010. My partner and I were about to embark on a dream we each had. To trek to Machu Picchu… something we had both felt the yearning for years before we ever met. Here we were, about to ‘tick’ something off our bucket list. Together as a team.

This was the biggest adventure we would ever take together or individually. 4 days. 45kms. 14,000ft.

How little did we know on that very first day… eagerly awaiting instruction from our guide. Itching to take those first few steps of ascent towards the heavens. Ready. Pumped up.

We didn’t know that ‘adventure’ would take on a whole, new, soulful meaning.

It didn’t take long for me to grasp that I needed to tap into some deep well within – I had to find an equilibrium, juxtaposition and interplay of those six energies, attitudes and approaches.

vulnerability | strength | softness | discipline | surrender | devotion

At the time I couldn’t ‘see’ those words – but I could feel them, coming to life and guiding me. Almost as if they said to me “Claire, we’ve got this, leave it to us”.

Vulnerability as we relied on our guides and  fellow trekkers, as we faced the challenges and in being ok ith feeling small against the backdrop and power of mighty Mother Nature.

Strength to physically muster up the resources and ability to put one foot in front of the other, in high altitude conditions.

Softness as we soaked up the mind-blowing vista of Mother Nature, in awe.

Devotion – maintaining a steady breath, quiet mind and life-affirming discipline.

Surrender to feeling weak, to falling down and to facing our demons on those mountains.

Determination to dig deep – really, really deep – and keep going despite those demons.


We didn’t expect that our ‘team’ effort would quickly become two very private and separate journeys. Shared, but independent. My partner and I walked side by side, but emotionally, spiritually, psychologically we took separate roads.

We each came face to face with the lessons that could only be learnt on those mountains.

I watched my husband walk alone, as I waited at the top of the mountain. I sent silent words of strength + surrender, I pulled him up the mountains with my eyes. I cried as he cried. Eventually, we sat together overlooking great, open-mouthed valleys.

Crying and holding each other as we cracked open, a little more, feeling deep respect for humanity, for life, for beauty, for love.

Each day I dug deeper and I softened more. Each day I cried uncontrollably, as I walked – a combined outpouring of love and gratitude married with a deep release of unknown (and ancient) sadness.

Each night I dreamt of snakes. Calling me, beckoning me. The guides told me Pacha Mama (mother nature) was inviting me to her mountain. She was calling my soul home. When I arrived in Machu Picchu I sat alone, on the edge of the mountain and meditated. Butterflies perched on my arms.

I felt like I was cradled in God’s hands.

Through the tears, the exhaustion, the inner battles, the joy, the devotion, I felt something powerful. I felt…

Wild. Free. Alive.

Drenched in soul.

I never knew that through such a physically challenging, adventure filled experience that I could journey into spirit, connect with the divine, commune with nature and ultimately create an unbreakable bond with my own true self.

I’d never felt saturated with soul and spirit, until I’d pushed my limitations and yet, simultaneously surrendered to the present moment.

The lessons on that mountain taught me that in every moment we are called forward we must draw from a deep pool within us. And from that, we harness the energy, attitude and approach needed to carry us towards, through and out the other side of the lessons we are meant to learn – so we can reach new heights (literally and symbolically!)

Love + light,

Claire x

This blog post is part of the Skinny Dip Society Blog Tour. Katie De Nouden is the beauty behind this incredible Blog Tour and the Skinny Dip Society. I am honoured to be one of 25 international bloggers – real women, living and loving life fully. These stories are all about feeding your soul, freeing your body, loving your life.

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Click here to check out the Skinny Dip Society Blog Tour.

Check out yesterday’s post by Sarah Adler from Simply Real Health.


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Tomorrow you can continue the SDS Blog Tour with Sarah Ann Noel.


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