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I wrote this blog in 2016 when I was completing a personal goal of hiking/walking 365 miles that year. The content is still so timely that it’s worth recycling again. You can follow my hiking adventures on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/valerie_radu/
What I dream of is the art of balance. ~ Henri Matisse
I have a busy life. My work is challenging and requires me to be emotionally and mentally present on a deep level every day. I have struggled over the years to find a balance between my professional goals, mothering, and personal relationships. Self-care activities have balanced and unbalanced me at various times. The beginnings and endings of long-term relationships have always been spaces of deep change and challenge, especially for me because I reluctantly give up on people. Especially when I have carefully opened the door on my personal life and let them in. A universal truth is showing up in those spaces between transitions requires courage and sometimes I simply don’t feel courageous or confident. I’d rather go hike a trail rated difficult in the mountains.
Only one who wanders finds new paths.
This is why I walk and hike. These practices in the healing space of nature bring me closer to deep peace and the sacred. This year I committed to walking and hiking 365 miles as an intentional practice to find deeper ways to really show up for my life this year. To find signs and maps to navigate those spaces between showing up and taking a hike.
Yesterday I crossed mile 150 towards 365! I got up early and got to the trailhead about 9:30 – it was 67 cool degrees for July! Middle Prong trail leaves the Tremont area of Cades Cove and gently climbs on an old railbed for about 8 miles up the mountain to the intersection of the Appalachian trail. The trail follows the Lynn Camp Prong river and is full of rhododendrons in full bloom around July. This area was an old logging town and CCC camp in the 1930s; the intricate way the forest has rebirthed itself is a visual reminder of the healing power of nature. About half-way up, I met a couple who told me about the hidden trail to Indian Flats Falls at 5 miles up. In a review they’d read online, it was recommended as a perfect place for lunch and was supposed to be the most beautiful falls in this area of the park. I found the falls and the hiking couple found me again and the lady said, “You’re fearless!” She explained how she often felt afraid in her life; hiking alone like I was doing was a scary idea for her. We ate our sandwiches and talked about courage and showing up. We agreed sometimes you need a map or someone who can lead the way.
On the way back down the trail I thought more on our conversation about what courage looks like. One of the most courageous acts we can do is to show up for our life. To be present. To struggle through the transitions. To fully embrace the celebrations and milestones. To love someone. To love ourselves. To let go. To hold close. To deeply feel both joy and sorrow in change and growth. To forgive.
I hiked 11 miles in and back in the those Smoky Mountains and it was glorious. As Rumi said, the quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.
Mile 150 and I’m still developing my quiet. Step by step. Mile by mile.