In my 20s I wore a necklace with a little pennant of mountains that resembled the Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I wore the necklace for years. I received many compliments and questions regarding the necklace. “I love your necklace” people would say “is that the mountains?” I would reply “yes, it is the Grand Tetons”. And then the conversation usually went something like this, oh I’ve been there or it’s beautiful there or have you been there did you like it?
Typically I would answer in the simplest way possible telling them I spent my college summers in Jackson. This often led to conversations about the town of Jackson Hole, hiking in the mountains, going to Yellowstone which is nearby, and many other things that either I, or the other person, had experienced. What I didn’t tell them, was that the pennant of the mountains meant so much more.
My freshman year in college was difficult for me. Really difficult. I experienced some personal change and loss which rocked me to the very core. By the end of my freshman year I was unsure of who I was, and I was definitely unsure of who I wanted to be. I felt hollow and empty inside. My friend and mentor suggested I go to Jackson Hole for the summer and work and a small campground nestled in the mountains. I knew no one, had already spent a year away from home, and was pretty unsure what I was doing, but being that I was in a state of life change, I knew I needed time and space to grow, so I decided to head west. For those three months I spent every day either hiking outside, biking through the mountains or just gazing at the view of the Tetons. I learned to trust in myself as I tried new physical challenges. I gained self-confidence as I made new friends. I even had time to challenge my internal need for other people’s approval. I also learned to identify what makes my heart sing. And as my sadness began to fade away, joy settled into my heart. I guess that summer I truly found myself, and probably for the first time, my true self.
So what do the mountains around my neck mean? If you ask, I will tell you that I love Jackson Hole, and we will talk about what a great place it is. But truly it means so much more. The pennant around my neck signifies a time of personal growth, personal challenge and personal amazement at finding who I really am. The mountains mean beauty, independence, adventure, challenge, and inner strength. The mountains also point to God, who carried me through the whole situation.
So yes, those are mountains around my neck!
The mountains around my neck remind me of all the challenges and growth that took place during that season of my life.
What are symbols or places that remind you of your own growth journey? How can you keep those pictures in your mind, your pocket, and your heart each day?