This morning I rose with the sun, feeling open and super willing to embrace a free biometric screening provided by my employer. I figured the timing was right, given my recent Year 2 Oneyearland commitment towards improved physical wellness. I have to admit though- I was a little nervous for what the results might reveal.
A little background- I work in an intensive hospital environment, but despite being constantly surrounded by doctors, nurses, specialists, and more medicines than I could ever possibly comprehend, I have no doctor of my own. The last time I had a primary physician I was 18 years old, living at home, and seeing my life-long pediatrician. And yeah, that was an impossible 17 years ago. Aside from a few very manageable hiccups, I have been fortunate to enjoy a healthy life, which is also my go-to excuse for not seeing a doctor regularly. (I’ll do better on that, I swear.) But based on the significant weight gain I experienced a few years ago, and now finding myself somehow suddenly out of my omnipotent 20s and well into my how-the-hell-did-I-get-here 30s, I really wasn’t confident that I could trust this health luck to continue.
Entering into the screening, I felt vulnerable and a bit self-conscious, which I suppose appropriately reflects the neglect I’ve imposed on my physical self lately. My results, however, were not terrifying at all. Although my body mass index, body fat percentage, and waist circumference all confirmed that I am indeed carrying a high excess amount of weight, my results also showed that I am otherwise quite healthy. In this regard, my HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, and blood pressure all measured well within healthy ranges.
This information was the assurance I needed to feel confident that I am truly on the right track. Taking these Year 2 steps towards improving and protecting my physical health by building strength, endurance, and managing my weight truly does feel manageable; especially since I now know that all of the other underlying pieces are already functioning well in place. I feel empowered in knowing that this body of mine is resilient and is ready to keep climbing. Despite everything, this body has still cared for me in the most relentlessly loving way that it can. Now it's my turn to give this body that same care back, and in some way, get to know what it is really capable of.
Throughout this coming year, I will be applying consistent effort towards building strength and endurance, and reducing that excess weight that I am carrying. I want to explore farther, connect more deeply, and live in a way that feels fully free to me! And the really cool thing- this is only Week 1, and these things are already happening! Just by sharing these intentions, I have already connected with an amazing squad of women from all across the country who are also working towards some of these same, shared goals. So far we have virtually run together, cheered each other on, and even signed up for a 5K “together” . . . in different cities all across the country! How cool is that! It really is amazing the connections and community that can spring forth just by making your intentions known. And I suppose that’s really the true power of Oneyearland; once you decide you’re all-in the support and possibilities are absolutely endless!
If you are reading this right now and feeling like you may be interested in joining in on this wild pursuit of wellness, running, and adventure, follow along and comment on the Adventures in Oneyearland Facebook page, or better yet- become a Oneyearland member and commit to a year-long adventure of your own! This is the year of community, so let’s get out there and build it! Sky high is just the very tip of our beginning!
The day that I packed my bags for my first ever overnight backpacking trip, I weighed in at a very hefty load myself… 214.2 lbs to be exact. That day wasn’t 5 years ago, or 7 months ago, or another lifetime entirely; that day was actually TODAY. Although this past year of near constant adventure, travel, and hiking has kept me moving, it did nothing to reduce the weight that I had collected in the several years prior. If anything, all of this adventure only seems to have added MORE weight to my 5’6” frame. Because after all, with all of these amazing memories, comes all of the post-hike drinks, all of the gas station road trip snacks, and all of the less than 5-star car camping cuisine (hello spray cheese!!). And yet, here I am, being and feeling all kinds of awesome while doing it anyway! Well, mostly.
The truth is, I love to hike and all of this extra weight hasn’t come close to stopping me. But what it does do is slow me down. Slow is great when I’m on my own, but what I’ve also learned from my first year of Adventure in Oneyearland is that I really do love, enjoy, and desire the company of others out on the trail. Sitting here at my desk preparing mentally for this awesome group backpacking trip, I feel filled with the insecure thoughts of being the one that slows the group down, the one who isn’t quite strong enough to make it, and the one who really just doesn’t belong. I know these thoughts are not true, and that if any of my Hike Like A Woman sisters could hear them floating through my head right now they would shake each one out immediately. And yet, those thoughts ARE true; they are my truth and my experience in living this wild, adventurous, empowered, and sometimes still entirely insecure life I am living.
So, for this next year adventuring through Oneyearland, I’ve decided to do something about it. Actually, I’ve decided to do several things . . .
First, I would like to take a big giant step out of my solo comfort zone of Year 1 & trust fall my way right into connecting with others in a much more vibrant way! I intend to do so by joining local hiking groups, by actually showing up and attending local group hikes (the part I usually talk myself out of), by volunteering with regional outdoorsy organizations, and maybe, just maybe by partnering with a fellow HLAW amBADASSador (Let's do it Helina!) to lead some local group hikes of our own! This past year, although originally designed to be a year-long solo adventure, also so very magically connected me with a wonderful tribe of women, whom I absolutely could not imagine doing any of this without! Those ladies and the HLAW community will continue to be my primary inspiration, and if I’m lucky, my forever friends & trail sisters for life! This coming year of connecting, is also less about hiking specifically, and more about just being open to all adventure possibilities- so stay tuned for me doing a handful of outdoor things I’ve never done before and a whole lot of just sitting back and enjoying the view too!
The second part of this Year 2 master plan, is to amp up my personal fitness so that I am open, ready and able to leap into taking these adventures with others. My body right now can do a lot, but it definitely can’t do it all, and that is something I’m ready to change. I want to move with confidence wherever this next adventure takes me, and most of all- I want to let go of a whole lot of heaviness that once held me down. I gathered all this bulk in a moment of survival, which ended up lasting 2 long years. Emotionally and spiritually I’ve moved beyond that hard place and life has since exploded with a whole lot of joy, but physically, that burdened self still somehow remains. I’m ready to release her, to set her free, and to watch as she dances away into that peaceful place that was so impossible to find so long ago.
To make fitness happen, I have recruited a long-time gal pal from 1,300 miles away (Love you Em!) to be my long-distance running buddy- starting TODAY! We’ll each be using an app to train independently, but will reap the wonderful benefits of accountability and support by taking every single one of these steps together . . . Thanks modern technology! As the year progresses, I may also reach out to some local trail running buddies (I've been watching you Tara!) and the plentiful trail running groups that exist here in the Albuquerque area too. In addition to building cardiovascular endurance, I feel super compelled to showcase my internal strength in an external way, so will also be committing to a daily yoga and meditation practice, as well as a 3 times per week at-home strength training routine. Just imagine all the places I will be able to backpack to with THAT kind of wellness! Mountain motivation makes my world go ‘round!
Finally, and most terrifyingly, I think I want to DATE. Yeah, that’s the tough one. I’m a super independent lady, but when thinking about the concept of community as being my full focus of Year 2, I cannot overlook the factor of partnership. It’s absolutely true that I can do it all myself- I know, live and breathe that daily, and really, sometimes I prefer life that way. But sharing that life and sharing grand adventures with another doesn’t take away any of my own glowing strength or independence, it only gives more and more abundant flavor to my already robust mix! I don’t know exactly what this area of my Oneyearland will entail just yet, or how much I will feel compelled to share, but I do know that I pack a mean picnic, would love to hop into a two-person canoe with a dashingly bearded mountain man, and can toast the stars like a champ! I’m open to unexpected magic and am a true believer that love is not only a deep and precious feeling, but more importantly, is a state of daily, hourly, and presently existing . . . so really, what could go wrong!
I want community, I want connection, and I want partnership, so that’s what Year 2 is going to be all about for me. At least I think it is, one never really knows all that a year has in store until we've lived it out completely! To make sure whatever experience that comes is both memorable and measurable, I plan to post weekly and monthly progress updates right here and on Adventures in Oneyearland Facebook as well. I am really looking forward to documenting whatever kinds of personal transformations this next year brings, and even more- I want to know what is happening in your Oneyearland too! Have your own year-long outdoor adventure goal in mind? Join me, share your story, and let’s build an inspired community together!
Well, I DID IT!
On the morning of June 18, 2017, I completed my 52 Hike Challenge, a bit ahead of schedule and in the absolute most perfectly unpredictable way possible. For weeks I had been nervously anticipating the end of this simple, yet most personally enriching, year of my life yet.... Would I really finish all 52 hikes in time? How do I even get this shit done with work & school & the whole rest of life?? What will my final hike be? How do I make that moment meaningful?? As it turns out, I did complete in time- well ahead of schedule in fact & that hike that I chose to end on completely chose me.
My final hike was based in Fort Collins, CO- A town I absolutely adore, yet hadn't set foot in since moving away over 4 years ago. I had been planning a return visit, but nearly canceled following an entire month of constant life upheaval. Yet, even with the changes and endings and compounding disappointments, I found those trails calling me home even louder than before. Like every steep incline & every sudden storm, I chose to push on, knowing that I am fully prepared to face these challenges, as well as whatever else lies ahead. What I found at the top of this epic adventure was 4 full days of the greatest hiking & new friend memories I have had in a very long time!
This trip that I almost never took, this homecoming, was unknowingly the closure I hadn't allowed myself to have before & the reboot I needed to carry on wherever it is that this life path leads. My final trail, Horsetooth Rock, had been a favorite of mine for over a decade & as I sat atop it all alone in all of its power & freedom, I felt only the greatest possible love for this town, its people, and most importantly, myself.
Just week prior to hike #52, this trail & these experiences were not at all even an idea on my expected route. But in the end, they were the most perfect & necessary things possible. If all I ever manage to do in life is compassionately convince you to bounce back & continue along your life's stormy, unexpected adventure, please let me do that. It's time to find the beauty in the brokenness, the magic in the madness, and the peace in the pieces.
Thank you so much for cheering on my constant life ridiculousness! I hope you know you've sat on each of these gusty mountain perches right along side me & supported every single boot step along the way. Now to feel out what adventure the coming year has calling . . .
SO MUCH can happen in just 2 short months! Here's a glimpse of my past 2 on the 52 Hike Challenge =
14 more hikes gathered
3 multi-state road-trips in 1 resilient car
4 separate states adventured in
snow up to my waist at times & desert heat over 106 degrees
2 familiar favorites & many more new discoveries
. . . and ONLY 6 MORE HIKES LEFT TO GO!
It's hard to believe this adventure is about to end, yet I have an unrelentingly wonderful feeling that the TRUE, underlying adventure of it all is just now about to begin!
For more information on the hikes seen here, visit the Year 1 log, or join AIO on Facebook.
Wow, these adventures are just flying right by! Two more months have passed, and 6 more hikes have been added to my 52 Hike Challenge collection!
When I started this process in August, I intended to complete the entire year solo, but as it turns out, these trails have led me an entirely different direction! From forming awesome trail-buddy friendships, to connecting with fellow adventurers from near and far, to unexpectedly re-envisioning my ENTIRE life path, these past 7 months have been incredible!
I have a total of 20 more hikes to go before I complete the challenge, and am pretty sure these last remaining trails will be the best ones yet! So, here I am, open & ready for the adventure to show me the way this time & ever so excited to embrace all that is waiting at the end!
Yesterday for my 35th birthday, I celebrated by doing every single thing I wanted to do last year, but didn't. Last year I let a relationship take priority and allowed someone else to own the day. . . my day. Sure, it was fine and all, but it wasn't me. A year makes a mountain of difference, and as it turns out, a birthday spent alone really only sucks if you do.
Step 1: Pack a slice of cake to-go, then toss in a little fun! Sure your cake might get smashed to bits riding along in your pack all day, but trust me, it will taste even better that way!
Step Step 2: Fill a baggie with frosting, then snip the end with scissors before you leave home. This will make building your cake easier once you've reached your mountainside celebration spot. This option also adds less bulk to your pack and is far more forgiving of trail mishaps.
Step 3: Wander off to your happy place. This is mine- Kitchen Mesa Trail at the Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center, located in Abiquiu, NM.
Step 4: Assemble the moment. Then listen carefully as the birds, the wind, and the subtle creature sounds sing you nature's rendition of the "Happy Birthday" song.
Step 5: Wish for nothing more than the beauty all around.
Step 6: Then enjoy your day and this whole entire new year to come!
Just days after the start of this great new year, I hit the halfway point on my 52 Hike Challenge!
At 26 hikes in, for me this means:
All of this while working full-time & attending graduate school full-time too! Yes, truly LIVING can be done, even with all the demands the rest of life serves us. But even greater than myown adventure recap, is the announcement that we've had another new member commit to her own year-long adventure, and many more actively following along!
So, what is it YOU will do with this one wild & ridiculous new year? Consider joining and celebrating all of your great adventures with us too!
2016 was absolutely the most alive year I have ever experienced. Yes, it was tough, as all years are. I ended a relationship, grieved the deaths of several young patients and one very special family member, and questioned my life's direction a million times over.
365 days is a very long time to expect all to go right, and to be truly alive means far more than to go about your days blissfully unaffected. Who among us would really wants to spend an entire year not feeling, not being challenged, not understanding any deeper truths?
So thank you 2016. You brought me tremendous freedom, tons of travel, fantastic reconnections with friends, family, and colleagues, and through the hardships that came, you reinforced just how important all these winding trails & ridiculous solo adventures are in keeping me sane.
Now to invite our sun to formally set on this chapter, with my favorite sunset picture from this whole entire year. The picture above was captures on a trip to the FL Keys in May 2016... Thousands of miles away and just days after the ended relationship and my decision to decline a wonderful new job offer; both of which just didn't feel right. Proving yet again that beauty doesn't stop existing when things get challenging, it's always available to us, if we choose to tune in to it.
Wishes of love, warmth, beauty & adventure to you all! Happy New Year!
Month 4 took me on an incredible solo hiking and camping adventure into Grand Canyon National Park for the Thanksgiving holiday. While there, I filled my days with dusty, glorious trails, and my nights with campfire-made hot toddies and endless sky stargazing. This short trip has made a huge impact, both challenging and inspiring me in powerful ways that only the canyon can. I may have just 34 more hikes left on my 52 Hike Challenge, but I surely have a lifetime of equally grand adventures to come beyond that!
Next week Adventures in Oneyearland will be heading off for a Thanksgiving adventure in
Grand Canyon National Park!
Where will you be spending your day of thanks? What will you choose to give your time, attention & energy to? Will you be defined by rules, rebellion, or the limitations of distance & pant seams? Make the day an expression of that which you are truly thankful for, and as you sit around the family table, don't forget to leave some space for Mother Nature.
Above: A glimpse of visit #1 to the Grand Canyon on Christmas morning 2015.
At Adventures in Oneyearland, you don't need to be a pro to have a passion for the great outdoors, all you need is a plan to get you there.