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The Desert is a Great Exfoliant

Ocotillowells Sand WashThis Thanksgiving weekend I spent time in the desert with friends, family and new acquaintances.  Part of our personal family tradition has been to go out to the desert for the days after Thanksgiving to ride, play in the dirt and relax.

During this weekend I made the comment to my husband that the desert is a great exfoliant! 

At first I was talking about the sand on my face. It was windy at times and I was recalling that each time I return from a desert ride, after a hot shower and cleaning off of all that sand, my face and skin were always softer and brand new. The sand is a natural abrasive, so when you wash up, it gently removes old skin cells leaving new, baby soft skin that has been underneath to the surface.

As I was reflecting on the adventures of the weekend, I had some insights on just how much ‘exfoliating’ was done- and how important this concept is for your growth in many areas.

Big Hills, Soft Sand and the Ultimate GPS System

When you ride in the desert- if you don’t pay close attention to visual markers of where you are, it’s really easy to get lost. In fact, there’s more than 80,000 acres of desert to get lost in where we ride!!

mom and quinnOne of the things I was teaching my youngest son, Quinn, about this weekend was “Always be aware of your surroundings”.  I told him- “You can’t always depend on other people to lead you and know where you are going.”

It’s important to pay attention to the path you go on, notice the fine details and landmarks, so that if you ever get lost- you can lead yourself (and others) back to safety.”

Quinn gets very funnel visioned, as do many people.

I decided to take him on a special ride, to get him out of his comfort zone and learn how to watch for the cues that can keep you on course.

He focuses in on certain details, but misses others, so this was a great exercise for him. The first part of our ride, we didn’t wander too far. I was getting him to practice identifying and remembering ‘trail markers or identifiers’ that he could use to get us back to camp.

He kept choosing markers that were common and easy to get confused on. He chose fire-pits, trees, and even parked vehicles (campers).  I shared with him that the fire-pits and trees may not be big enough to notice quickly. He saw right away that the campers wouldn’t always work because some moved! (They drove away and left to go back home.)

We kept working on this and then he started to get it. I pointed out that for best safety and direction, sometimes you need to find the really big markers with distinct unique characteristics. Something that will stand out at a moments notice. The ones that have always been there- but now you look at them from a new perspective.  We looked at shapes, dips, divots of the big hills. We looked at the coloring of the sand. (Some was white, some would be orange, some was very soft, others areas were very filled with big rocks.)

The change in terrain helps you navigate the pathways as you can memorize or recall patterns in the sand. (Patterns that reoccur are opportunities for us to learn great lessons on and off the dirt.)

The biggest ‘aha’ that came to Quinn was when we got up high on hills and saw the really big land marks that you could see for miles around. They had always been there to guide, but now he saw them from a different viewpoint. We were able to use these as part of tracking our way back to our campground.

So here’s the beginning of real learning lessons:

I knew where we were, where we needed to end up at, I knew the markers and I was decently familiar with this chunk of land.  However- I left with out my cell phone (risk taking) and I got lost on purpose.


To push myself into a new level of trust of the benefit you get when you step outside a comfort zone. Also, to teach my son that he too, can lead – and does.  We had to rely on each other for team work and support. We had to rely upon each other to endure.  (We rode for a very long time- and for an 8 year old on a smaller bike, this ride was quite a trek.)  We had to have confidence that if our quads broke down, we could figure out how to fix them on our own. We also had to be ready to do what ever it took to get back to camp safely, before dark- no matter what.

This trek in the desert is starting to sound a lot like daily life…..

There are real obstacles and threats in the desert. At night fall, it gets cold- quite cold. When the sun goes down, it goes down fast. There are real threats with wild animals out there.  Yet- in the desert, like in daily life- you cannot change those obstacles. Obstacles will always be there. It’s how you chose to overcome (or prevent being injured or sidetracked from) those obstacles that count.

The Big Hills and Soft Sand – Take the risk or ride around them?

the desert we play in 2I used this ride to exfoliate a few hang ups I still had about big hills and soft sand.  On many rides in years past, if I saw a big hill (looked like a ‘mountain’ in my mind) early on, I would choose the safe road and ride around the bottom. I always got to the other side safely, albeit, I missed the adventure and camaraderie of the guys who took the hill. My logic was “I didn’t mind going up them- I just didn’t like the ‘coming down’ part.”  In taking this attitude, yes, I was safe, but my rides gave me minimal change to grow.

In recent years, I’ve become much more confident in my riding skills, so those big hills  and soft sandy areas were still sometimes nerve wracking- but I would do it. I would follow others up the hills and through the sand. I watched where they placed their wheels so I could still be safe. I could see what to do.. and what not to do.

On this trip though… I was the leader. The only way to get back to camp was to, on my own, go over ‘them big hills and through the vast amounts of soft sand (soft sand makes it easy to fall on a bike).   I had to lead myself and my son back to camp.

So… I exfoliated my remaining nervousness concerning the threats and potential dangers with those obstacles and just went for it.

Funny thing… those hills and patches of sand were only scary in my head. Going for it, I proved to myself that I can still push through those comfort zones, remove fear and increase confidence in my skill sets along the way.    I had no one to rely on to follow their path. I had to cut it on my own. At the same time of exfoliating any remaining hang ups I had about that, I taught my son that he could do the same. Learning lessons like this show no respect to age- it’s all about attitude and a heart that is willing to try.

Just like in life, when presented with a big choices- do you take the easy way around the bottom of the hill, never learning anything new – never giving yourself a chance to grow… or… do you bite the bullet and ‘go for it’? What is it in your life you need to exfoliate? What can you gently wipe away the layers of old thinking on to reveal new, healthy perspectives and attitudes around to help you achieve your goals?

The Ultimate GPS System

About ½ way through our ride, my son and I paused for a moment. I was looking around at the markers, choosing our next path. He pulled up beside me and asked “Mom- do you have your cell phone?” He was asking me if I could call back to camp and ask for help.

I told him, “Nope- I do not have the phone. Instead, we have the Ultimate GPS system” otherwise known as the “God Protective System”, the “God Planning System” and the “God Positioning System”.

My son is learning the Word, and he knows that God’s word says that we can be in direct connection with God at all times if we walk by the Holy Spirit. On this ride, I had been in constant prayer with God, thanking Him to show me where to go. I simply talked to Him with thanks, kept my belief strong that we were safe, and then paid attention to the markers that God showed me.

God is with us at all times- we should not just turn to Him in times of trouble, sorrow or desperation. If it takes us breaking down (emotionally, physically, spiritually) to come to Him- then that’s great. (We get ego out of the way.) However, God is there for us ALL the time- if WE go to HIM.

HE is the ultimate GPS system and can help us navigate through, over, around obstacles of any size, any terrain under any circumstances if we let him.  It takes us being still in the moment, being willing to step out of our comfort zone and go for it!  Walking with God takes the willingness to take a risk and trust in Him and His logic. HIS logic is not mans logic. HE will show you the markers you need along the way to navigate your path with safety and success… and you will be able to exfoliate those layers of fear, worry and doubt along the way!

Here’s to more sand in your face as you choose to ride the big sandy hills!








By | 2018-01-09T07:23:28-07:00 November 29th, 2010|Faith, Family, God, leadership, Mindset, Personal Growth, self development, Success|2 Comments

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  1. debbrasweet November 30, 2015 at 5:57 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on Debbra Sweet Entrepreneur Leadership Training Blog and commented:

    Just came back from another weekend in the desert. Been a few years since I really got to ride out here. As I was coming back home, reflecting on this Thanksgiving ride, this blog kept coming back top of mind. As we approach 2016, are you willing to exfoliate things that held you back this year? What path will you take? The risk of adventure – or will you still choose to take the safe path and ride around the obstacles?

    After you read this post, share one big goal you want to accomplish for 2016!

  2. […] you read this post, share one big goal you want to accomplish for […]

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