• Be Wild. Go take a hike!

    Abrams Falls, Great Smoky Mountain National ParkI am not only an exercise enthusiast, but a voracious reader. When we decided recently to cut the cable to our TV, I barely noticed. Even though I consider myself to have a pretty short attention span, I can sit for hours with my sniffer stuck between the pages. Yes, I still prefer “real books,” but I digress…

    After having two kids, I let the books collect dust for a while. However, as the kids are more independent now, I have become a ‘regular’ in my local library. I think the librarians would know me by name, but I imagine they know me as “That-crazy-woman-who-cannot-possibly-read-that-huge-stack-that-she-can-barely-carry.” Little do they know, I lift weights.

    Last year, I read a stirring memoir by a woman named Cheryl Strayed. The memoir is entitled “Wild,” and vividly describes her decision and experience of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexican border to Oregon. She begins by hurling her too-small hiking boots off the side of a mountain (and also hurls vicious swears simultaneously). I knew right then that she and I would get along famously.

    Her hike idea was borne out of a personal crisis. As I consider all I meet to be on their own difficult journey, I was sympathetic and appreciative of her honest “no holds barred” life story. I haven’t hiked across the country in despair, but I can certainly understand why she was compelled to begin a fresh chapter for herself.

    Why am I professing this blog-slash-book report? Because I was inspired to begin more hiking after reading this book. Cheryl can teach all of us about finding ourselves in, as her late mother said, “the way of beauty.” In fact, studies show that hiking is actually more healthy than other types of walking. Trails bring an uneven surface, creating small and unexpected “interval trainings.” Walking outside provides fresh air and Vitamin D. Hiking also brings a renewed sense of connection to nature, which I believe provides an element of mindful meditation.

    Now that the weather is getting more and more ripe for adventures in the woods, I will be taking myself and my family on more and more hikes. In fact, our spring break this year was in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We hiked up and around the rugged mountains in search of cascading waterfalls.

    If anyone is looking for me, I will be hiking…but I will call you back when cell coverage reappears.

    Note of Gratitude: Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing your uplifting and sensitive story. Even though you will probably never read this, I hope that you know that this wild lady was moved to tears and laughter (sometimes on the same page!). I know that I was moved by your entire journey, but this quotation sticks to me: “Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.” I must admit, I visit this room as often as I can, for it is a place of peace and security. 


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