I don’t think I’ve ever cried and felt so much emotion, in such a positive and moving way, as I did on this day. If I go back home and never shed a tear again, I can successfully say I cried all I have to cry in Spain. We are all individuals that have experienced life in a different way, good or bad, that’s allowed us to be where we are today. By no means, am I sorry for any tear I’ve shed and shared with these extraordinary people.

This picture was taken at the top of Montserrat. I felt so content at this moment.

The day of the excursion, I woke up feeling like a 3 out of 10. I woke up feeling heavy and weighed down by emotion.  For someone who is very active, I had no energy to hike. After about five alarm snoozes, I managed to get myself out of bed. On the walk to the bus, I felt sluggish, slow and exhausted. “Happy thoughts” is all I kept thinking to myself, today will be a good day. In a life where you live a battle between feeling drained by life itself, and constantly overthinking, ‘happy thoughts’ from time to time can feel impossible.


As challenging as the hike was, the views on the way up made it worthwhile.

Finally, when we arrived at Montserrat, my mood slightly changed. The stunning view put me in a better state-of-mind.  As we started hiking up this trail, I was motivated by the music flowing into my ears. I felt at ease. The deeper we got into the hike, the hotter it got and the slower I became. When we took a quick break under some shade, I noticed Brittany had stopped further down. I watched from up above trying to make out what they were discussing. I saw her wipe her face and I couldn’t tell if she was wiping sweat or tears, suddenly, I started to cry. I felt a warmth in my heart, when she concluded that she was not going to continue the hike. Hats off to you, Brit. I’ve lived an unselfish life for many years, where I’ve felt the need to constantly please people, or I was too afraid to have my voice be heard. When I was sixteen, I woke up one day and thought no, I will NOT allow this man to sexually assault me any longer; no, I will not feed into the opinions of what people think of me; and no I will not live my life to please others. I’ve learned that sometimes there’s a greater strength in saying no, than there is in saying yes.


Happy state-of-mind, as I absorb all this beauty.

Layla gave us the thumbs up to continue the hike. We trekked along, fighting the heat and pain. As we approached the final stretch, I felt numb and almost defeated. Once again, I started to cry. This is not me. I am not weak and I will not be defeated. I wiped my tears, drank some water and with some solace from Rachel I found some strength to finish this hike. My stress levels started decreasing and I felt less anxious as I overlooked an astounding view of mountains and greenery. My mood went from a 3 to an automatic 8.

The beautiful monastery at the top of Montserrat.

I differentiate Chicago and Montserrat by mood, feeling and emotion.  In Chicago, I wake up confident, feeling happy and exhilarated. When I stood at the top of Montserrat, I felt accomplished, euphoric, reflective and empowered. I stood listening to the choir and at that moment I felt so at peace.

The intensity throughout any workout teaches me to push my body, but to be aware of my limits. The intensity of the urban life, back home, teaches me to work hard to reach goals, but also to stop and smell the roses. Life is so short, we should enjoy and live in the moment.

Admiring the breathtaking view.


“ And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul” and that is exactly what I accomplished on this hike.