How to Win an Unbeatable Game

Every so often, I can’t help but wonder if I’m trying to win an unbeatable game. Have I set myself up for failure? Is my plan for my life more than I can possibly accomplish? On a scale of one to ten, how crazy am I really? (Don’t answer that.) Is it bad to have a constantly growing to-do list? Isn’t that normal? A few weeks ago, when I decided to go try out the nearby hiking trail without doing much research on the difficulty level I was committing to, I got a new glimpse at the issue. Gazing ahead at the extremely steep, loose gravel trail, I sighed and said, “Yep. That’s the type of goals I set.”

I hadn’t climbed any hills beyond the inclines and stairs I traverse between home and work for more than a year. I knew my lungs were in worse shape than they had been when I slowly but surely climbed far less treacherous paths. Of course, despite the fact the trail looked a bit dangerous for someone with my current capabilities to forge, I didn’t hesitate a single second before moving forward. I essentially knew that walking this path would cause me pain and I didn’t care. I thought it would be a good way to grow stronger, one baby step at a time. I felt it was likely to teach me something about how to win.

The trail was much longer than expected and my far more in shape friend was also nervous about the descent, so we turned back at the first viewpoint (about an hour and a half in). Even though I had two walking poles to help me balance, I slid and fell about halfway back down the mountain. I was so weak that I had to take off the backpack I was carrying my cat in before I could lift myself back upright. The cat was completely unphased by the slip, but my knees started to ache immediately. I inched my way back down the mountain, not fully admitting how much I was hurting until I was steps away from my car. I iced my aching knees once I got home and took a warm Epsom salt bath later… and did a bunch of stretches and applied multiple specialty ointments to help soothe my pain… but I still needed to wear a knee support brace and a wrist and thumb stabilizer for several days to help my body recover. A week later I went on another hike (on a relatively flat, mostly paved trail) despite having barely recovered.

Each step made me both proud of myself for pushing so hard to make the climb and a bit embarrassed that I was hurting (again) from falling on trail. (I injured my thumb and wrist multiple times while hiking in 2020 and 2021. I wasn’t using walking poles those times, but it also wasn’t nearly as steep.) While struggling through the added pain, I couldn’t help but recognize that the experience truly is a great analogy for the way I have tried to find a way to make a living as a writer and artist. I set huge goals, pushed myself hard, stumbled and bruised myself along the way… and I haven’t given up… and each tumble has made me stronger. I have experienced high points and low points, both of which helped me determine the peak I want to climb now. The fact I haven’t taken the easy way does not mean I won’t reach my desired destination.

Furthermore, the thing about climbing mountains is, when I struggle to reach the top, the view once I arrive always makes me grateful that I pushed through the difficult journey. I have a hard time believing that I would appreciate it equally if it wasn’t hard to get there. The other thing about climbing mountains is: eventually, you have to come down. You could sit up on the peak in one spot forever… but, chances are you’ll decide you would rather descend and climb another peak, even if that journey hurts a bit too… because you know how great that view from the top makes you feel and you know that there are many great sights you could see if you just take it one step at a time. That one tough hike helped me remember that I should be less bothered by the way I traveled here over the past 20 years and prouder of the fact I haven’t given up. It reminded me that, in life and on trail, there are many less spectacular views to be enjoyed during the journey. It’s not all about the view from the top.

I could let myself get down by all the things I did not accomplish in 2022 – the vlogs I started but haven’t kept up, the poker studies I continuously push to the backburner, the fact I said I would blog more regularly and haven’t, the many product ideas that I haven’t yet found time to work on – or I can be excited about the fact I know where I want to go in 2023 and the precise steps I think it will take to get there. I have already greatly expanded the number of keychains, rings, necklaces, hats, t-shirts, hoodies and more in my Etsy shop… and added digital download greeting cards… and made printed greeting cards and return address labels available on Zazzle… wrote a free e-course to share my fortune telling knowledge, designed a survey to determine the effectiveness of tarot, and began inviting people to help me compile data about whether or not the cards speak to them through my Fortune Telling Tiny Art Playing Cards. Last night I (finally) ordered a sample deck of my fortune telling playing card designs. After I get caught up on my bookkeeping, I will start on a few other top secret awesome ideas I can’t wait to show you but want to keep as a surprise for now… and then, after that, I’ll concentrate on all the great videos I planned and/or have started making for my YouTube channels. I will reach the top of this mountain… someday. That’s the kind of gal I am.

P.S. For “fun” I’m trying to win a game many would say is truly unbeatable: penny poker. I decided just before New Year’s to start over at trying to build a bankroll from scratch in 2023. I’m hoping to grow my online piggy bank enough to be able to play at the casino on profits alone. I was up nearly $100 at one point but ended the month of January down a bit over $30 despite having 30 wins and only 18 losses. February has quickly tipped that win/loss ratio for the worse, but there’s still time to turn it all around. I’m pretty sure that, if I can get my ego out of the way and be patient, I will get back on track in no time. I’ve ended quite a few poker sessions lately feeling that all I need to do is stop paying to learn what I already “know”. Sound familiar? Maybe I haven’t learned my lesson… but, perhaps, right now I’m just busy remembering how to enjoy every moment I get to play the game.

Go here if you need an inexpensive way to keep track of your wins and losses.


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