How I Fell in Love with Hiking

How I Fell in Love with Hiking
My first hiking trip was taken on a whim.  It was an idea that arose from a discussion between my husband and myself regarding what we should do for our upcoming Anniversary.  My husband can be quite accommodating when it comes to letting me chose a locale for a trip or a night out, but the idea that I had in my mind at that time was one that I wasn’t sure that he would be willing to agree to. Yet, much to my delight, he agreed, albeit his agreement was not without some hesitation.
I wanted to visit the desert for a considerably long time.  It’s a landscape that I am often drawn to and have always had a fascination with. Although I would have also loved another quintessential night on the town, complete with a delectable dinner at a lavish restaurant, that option could not contend with a trip to the desert. More specifically, a trip to Joshua Tree National Park or the Mojave Desert – Not this time. I guess you could say that the desert was calling me and I could not say no.
After further discussion about our choices, my husband expressed that his less than enthusiastic response to my request, (at first), was because of his disinterest in desert landscapes. This just happened to also be when I learned that he’s more of a forest kind of guy. We laughed at a few of his jokes about there being absolutely nothing in the desert to do or see and I begged to differ.  He acquiesced,  I smiled and then we proceeded to make our trip reservations for Joshua Tree National Park.
I think people thought that we must have lost our minds when we told them what we planned to do for our Anniversary that year, and maybe for a second, we too, began wondering whether we were making the right decision. Who wants to jeopardize spoiling their Anniversary? We had never been hiking before. Nor had we ever done anything outdoorsy for any special occasion, so this was something that was unusual, but I really wanted to do something different and my husband agreed that maybe it was time for us to start trying things that were different. We were definitely up to the challenge and looking forward to discovering what the desert had to offer.  Little did we know at the time that we had just made one of the best decisions that we have ever made during our many years together as a married couple.
We conducted a bit of research on the park and learned that Joshua Tree National Park is considered to be a highly spiritual place. We were skeptical, but still very curious to know if this held any truth.  That element alone played a big part in making this trip exciting.
We went during the spring, so the weather was hot, being that it was the desert, but it was also moderate and not as hot as it would have been had we went during the summer. This made for a comfortable visit. Going during the springtime also made the desert seem more like a desert oasis because we got to see a lot of wildflowers, the bright colors of the flowers on the cacti and the landscape was a lot more verdant that we expected due to the previous season’s rains. My husband was surprised to see that it did not seem like the typical desert he had in his mind and I was amazed at how beautiful everything was. It could not have been more perfect.
The first trail that we ventured to was the Split Rock Loop Trail. I was in awe of the rock climbers and we were both so fascinated with their skill and bravado that we had to stop and watch them for a while. Moments later we decided to try the 2 mile loop trail there which was very invigorating. That was the moment that we began feeling like we were suddenly hikers.
Next we visited two popular spots known as Skull Rock and Elephant Rock. Skull Rock is exactly what it sounds like. The trails here are relatively easy to hike, but they are filled with large boulder like rocks that we spent a lot of time climbing to the top of to enjoy the many gorgeous views of this area, especially during  a sunrise or sunset.   These became one of our favorite spots and we revisited this area several times that weekend. Not just because of the views and attractions, but it was one area that we felt the most spiritual energy. The energy here was magical.
I love nature, so I had to stop at the Arch Rock Nature Trail.  This trail has one of the most unique rock formations in the park. The namesake Arch Rock is a slab of rock shaped like an arch or a bridge. This is also another popular spot in the park and is often quite crowded most of the time. We weren’t able to get a good view of Arch Rock during that visit but we did get to enjoy the other sights of other odd rock formations as well as the .5 mile hiking trail.
The last trail that we ventured through was the Cap Rock Trail.  This was a short .4 mile trail loop with extensive views of Joshua Trees. It was quite picturesque during the twilight time during the spring, and it presented us with more stunning views of wildlife and wildflowers.
As you can see, we chose to hike short, easy trails during our first hiking trip. We did this because of our inexperience and because we wanted to take it easy until we were able to learn more about hiking and hiking safety.  Initially, we had the impression that hiking is very much like walking, but it isn’t.  Especially when you are exposed to the elements and wildlife that you would not ordinarily be exposed to on an average walk. We also, at the time, were not prepared with enough supplies should we had made the mistake of wandering too far out into the desert and lost our way back to where our car was parked.  That would have been devastating, not to mention irresponsible on our part. Safety is key when hiking.
Still, that trip back in 2016 inspired us so much that hiking has become a favorite pastime for us.  It is a way that we’re able to spend quality time together and stay healthy as we grow old together.  It has also been a very helpful outlet for us during our bereavement, so we are both very glad that we took on this hobby before losing our son.
What I love the most about hiking is the way that it makes me feel. I love how it centers me. I love the way that it reminds me of how connected we all are to everything. It is exercise for the mind, body, heart and soul. It’s also the only exercise that I can think of that is mentally, spiritually, visually, audibly and kinesthetically stimulating while also being relaxing at the same time.  If you’re looking for a way to stay healthy that doesn’t feel completely like exercise and that allows you to also enjoy all the beauty of nature and life, I recommend that you try hiking. Get out in the open, enjoy the fresh air and discover all the ways that this form of adventure can excite and inspire you.
Until the next post,

Take care + Be well,
Carol

Balanced Healing

Balanced Healing

“The waves ebb and the waves flow, and yet I never tire of watching from the shore, the way the waves rhythms show their intensity, then inactivity; as if to remind me of what I already know in my heart and in my soul, which is that to life there must be balance, and happiness is empty if sadness we must forego.”

– Carol C.M.

Love’s Burden

Love’s Burden

“Your burden is already so heavy, so be light with yourself. Look at the way you take the pain from your heartache and allow it to sustain you through the rough waves of mourning – Never once forgetting that your reason for enduring it all was and will always be love.”

– Carol C.M.

Staying Strong After Loss

Staying Strong After Loss

When we experience loss we tend to become internally disoriented. That internal disorientation comes to us in the form of sadness + anger + misery + regret + trepidation + (because we’re often hoping that the person that we lost could come back…) wishfulness.

We’re often affected physically as well, which is where those things like losing your appetite (or having it increase ), being unable to sleep or feel rested, and having an overall sense of discomfort + uneasiness takes over. I’ve learned that these are all normal responses to the process of grieving.

Having to bear the weight of, (what at the time seems like), almost unimaginable tasks such as adjusting to a new relationship with with the person that you have lost + trying to fully understand the loss + trying to develop a whole new way of being in the world after the loss adds to the burden and oftentimes we are not prepared to manage all that has been placed before us.

Yet, finding a way, (or ways), to adjust to our loss can help keep the pain from consuming us.

Learning to adjust is necessary because life is going to keep revolving around you – and if you don’t find a way return to life you are going to have a very hard time with those internal and physical symptoms – making it much more difficult to heal and live your life.

Some of the things that have helped me return to myself include:

• Showing myself a little compassion by resting when I felt as though I needed to…and not feeling guilty about doing so.

• Asking for (or accepting) help from others when I needed it. This helped me feel less overwhelmed, but it also gave others the opportunity to feel good about helping someone through a rough time. It’s so important to not push these “beautiful” people away.

• Trying to laugh again without feeling as though I was dishonoring my lost loved one. Remembering that he wanted (wants) me to be happy. This helped me remember to keep looking for the joy in life and to not take it too seriously…to always remain open.

• Giving my loss meaning by focusing less on the fact that my loved one is no longer here…and more on how he positively impacted my life + that of others + keeping his legacy of loving life alive.

• I am a nature lover so getting out and enjoying the sights + sounds of nature was a given for me while on my healing journey. There are so many lessons in nature that can help with trying to understand + learning to appreciate loss of life. Nature tends to offer a neverending abundance of beautiful comparisons.

This list of mine is not exhaustive and as always we all have different methods that we can apply. These are a few that helped me through the early days when I was days + weeks into my loss. Please feel free to try any of them for yourself and if you do – let me know how it worked for you.

Until the next post…


Take care + Be well ♡

Carol

Shattered

Shattered

It was a very long night. I didn’t sleep at all that night.  It was 6:14 a.m. on that early August morning that I took this photo as I sat in this room staring at the white walls and these deep green seats, waiting for someone to come and tell me that I could smile again.  I kept thinking about how just twelve hours beforehand, my youngest child and I were enjoying one of his favorite meals, while conversating as we got our “little nerd fix while watching the show Battle Bots.  Ten hours beforehand we had, unbeknownst to us, said our last real goodbyes right before I reminded him to drive safely as he opened the front door to leave to meet up with friends out of town.  The moment that I took this photo I had enough hope for the world. However, evidently, some plans are much greater than our own wishes, hopes, dreams, efforts and prayers.

It often begins with shock.  That initial feeling that sends shock waves and copious amounts of cortisol throughout your body, filling every part with enough stress to make your hands shake and your entire body quiver.  Then the numbness seeps in ever so slowly.  So slow, in fact, that you’re barely able to recognize that your body is being possessed by some strange form of extreme sadness; and for a minute you begin to wonder if you’re losing your mind.

You’re in disbelief.  Yet, you somehow know that this may not end well, so you reach deep down inside your heart and gut and pull out as much strength, courage and hope for a happy end result as you possibly can – and even so – you still don’t feel as though that effort will be enough.

Now all that you feel is fear.  You are still numb and outside of yourself, but the hurt that you feel is now becoming so overwhelming and all that your heart and mind are telling you is that you absolutely cannot lose this person.  Suddenly, you start doubting that this is actually happening and hope that you are just having a really terrible dream.  You can’t believe that this is even possible. How can it be possible?  Nothing feels real at the moment.

You can’t seem to stop the tears from falling from your eyes and down your cheeks. Nor can you stop the ache in your chest. You’re antsy and you want to do something to help, but you are told repeatedly that there is nothing else that you can do. That they can do. That anyone can do. That doesn’t stop you though. Each day that you return to this place you keep asking and trying to find solutions. All you know is… this hurt likes like hell.

This was my experience and I cannot speak for all parents who have lost a child, but there is not doubt that when someone you love loses their life, so many feelings and emotions rush through your mind and you have to mourn the loss in order to help you process it.  Mourning is essential to the healing process and there is no time frame that one can be expected to “get over” their loss. That is always personal.  It is as personal as the relationship that you had with the person that you lost.  This is why bereavement healing times tend to vary from person to person. Bereavement should not be rushed.  So, the next time that you encounter someone who is grieving, show a little patience, kindness and be genuinely supportive because that is what is going to help that person overcome their grief in the healthiest way possible.

Until the next post…


Take care + Be well,

Carol