Sunday, October 3, 2010

What a gift it was ...

October 1st marked six months, to the day, that I summited Georgia's Springer Mountain and began my trek north on the Appalachian Trail. It also marked the conclusion of my journey, at least for this year.

While the terrain in Massachusetts and Connecticut was certainly more gentile, it was still more than my knee could handle. Bottom line, I simply can not continue to hike this year due to injury. It's not for lack of desire or will or motivation or passion that I leave the trail ... it's the true inability to physically complete the task.

As I walked (okay ... hobbled) the last 3.3 miles, down a mountain, to a road leading into Kent, CT I felt peace. Peace in the inevitable decision to turn left, towards town, instead of crossing the road and continuing the trail up the next mountain. I felt peace and calm and understanding radiating from within. The walking portion of my journey had concluded. I had truly given it my best and that's all anyone can ever ask of themselves. It's for that reason that I am not forlorn, nor disappointed, nor angry with myself, God or anyone else. I gave this hike everything I had, left it all on the proverbial field, so yes, I'm proud of myself and my accomplishments. I'm proud of the fact that I hiked 1,700 miles. I'm proud that I faced a million fears, challenges and obstacles ... and overcame them. I'm proud that I transformed my mind, body and soul ... in only positive ways. Yes, even the knee injury is something I look at as a positive ... a gift. Admittedly, I didn't feel that way about it at first or even until late in the game, heck maybe not even until the very moment I realized my hike was over ... but it is a gift. All of the turmoil, strife, pushing forward and times of questioning were gifts because within each moment, good or bad, is a lesson. My life, my experiences, are not the exception ... they are the rule. While the circumstances by which I uncovered, discovered and learned from these experiences over the past six months may have been well outside most people's "norm" it's not to diminish the fact that each of us has the opportunity to learn from the experiences in our "normal" lives, every day. In fact, kudos to anyone who already gets this didn't have too hike the Eastern Seaboard to figure it out! It's much harder to seize upon life's true lessons when they're wrapped within the daily stressors of a typical Tuesday.

Wouldn't it be nice if all of life's lessons were learned exclusively from happy and fun times? Of course! But for me, as I believe with most, I learn some of my biggest lessons from the challenges I've faced, examined and overcome.

I am proud of my efforts even if the outcome wasn't how I envisioned it to be. My experiences have changed me in ways that are too vast to recount now ... but I am a better person for pursuing a dream, my dream, and living life with passion, excitement and authenticity.

I've made new, lifelong, friends. I've witnessed nature's beauty and its wrath. I've pushed to, through and past mental and physical barriers. I've learned what it means to embrace life in the moment, the very nanosecond of the present. From that place I understand, and accept, the gifts bestowed upon me ... including joy, peace, stillness, wonderment, acceptance, forgiveness and love. It's my new goal to cling to those gifts instead of stress, frustration and annoyance. It's such a calm place to live, in the awareness of the present moment. I encourage everyone to try it. :-)

One of my favorite saying has always been, "Leap and the net shall appear." You know what? It always has and I have faith that it will continue to do so. Faith has been such an important component of this trip and will remain a constant component in my ongoing journey of life.

I've been honored that so many people have followed my travels and joined me in this experience, via this blog. Your words of encouragement, gifts of support and prayers have lifted me up over the past six months. I thank each of you for the gifts, jewels really, that you've given me. Indeed, some of the lessons I mentioned earlier were delivered to me right here, from your comments. It's not always a gigantic ah-ha statement that carries the lessons to us ... sometimes it can be a subtle as the smell of wildflowers on a breeze that can pull our attention, just long enough, to see whatever it is that we're supposed to see.

My lessons from this journey will continue. I look forward to experiencing how they will unveil themselves. I may, from time to time, pop on and post an update ... and share some of those lessons with you, that is if people seem interested.

For now, I'm on my way back to re-entering "normal" life. That said, I refuse to allow "normal" to mean boring. Ahhh ... I guess that will be my first "post-hike" lesson for ya.

** Boring is a choice ... and so is failure. True one's plans may not turn out as intended but if you TRY - and give it 110% - then I can almost guarantee that, at least, you won't be bored and you certainly won't have failed.**

May all of your dreams be lofty, may all of your steps be made in purpose and may you experience joy as you pursue YOUR life's journey.

With blessings, love and thanks to all,

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

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