App. Trail : Part One (Carver’s Gap to 19E)

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The Appalachian Trail: Carvers Gap Parking. 

The day began with a two hour drive up the mountains (and a stop at Waffle House.) At around hour 1.5 we realized we should have heeded my mom’s warning and stopped for gas before we left… so we turned around to head back into town to fuel up which added about an hour to the trip overall. So in reality, the day began with a 2.5 hour drive up the mountains (and a stop at Waffle House.)

When we finally reached the parking lot, it was filled. Our hopes for solitude were questionable at that point. We soon found that once we left the parking area, being on our own became a usual occurrence. Groups passed us here and there, but for the most part it was just the three of us: my mom, my dad and me.

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We were met with this sign at the head of the trail.

I was beyond excited. I’d been reading about The Appalachian Trail for months now. I’d spent hours watching YouTube bloggers from the trail, reading posts from people who had been all the way from Georgia to Maine and using the AT’s interactive map (found here or if that doesn’t work, here) to scope out the trail virtually.

In short, this day hike was about to fulfill a new life dream. As we headed up the first peak I couldn’t stop taking pictures…

I was in full-tourist mode until I saw it – the first white blaze. For those of you who don’t know, the white blaze (or small white rectangle thing) is the Appalachian trail marker… it guides willful hikers all the way along the whole 2,190 mile stretch of the trail. Seeing it in person, on the path that I was hiking made it all real. 20170703_112850.jpg

The beauty of nothing but you and the task at hand, with no real way out except to finish- was what I’d come for. I’ve always been fairly good at letting fear rule my life, but I’m ever growing out of it… fear is the space between the life you know, and the life you’ve been waiting for. I was ready (am ready) for the life I’ve been waiting for. Hiking is the perfect way to face your fear of giving up, because once your in the middle of the trail, your basically forced to “nut up”. There is no magic way to get yourself back to the parking lot instantly. Your only way out is to push forward.

As we continued to ascend, I turned around and got my first good look at how far we’d come in just under the first half hour or so:

Turning back around, I realized how far we had to go. 20170703_111606.jpg

But I was completely okay with that.

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We continued on, ever-venturing further into the unknown of the trail and the capacity of our will. There were hills that never seemed to end, noisy groups of passing teenagers, and times when the packs we carried dug into our shoulders so much you just wanted to leave them behind.

And then it rained.

At first the light, pitter-patter of rain was welcoming. We were prepared with ponchos and the cold mountain rain felt good on a hot, sweaty face. But, as rain in The South sometimes (always) does…. the pitter-patter quickly turned into an all out downpour.

Torrential style.

And we were wet. About half way down our first tree-covered section of the mountain, maybe 4.5 miles in, we found ourselves turning around to head back. Relieved at the idea of getting out of the rain, but sad that we couldn’t have gone further. The trail of water rushing down the path ahead of us continued to grow. As we headed back to the car I found myself attempting to hop from rock to rock, but often succumbing to step in a mud pile since there was no better option.

The water level in the path deepened as we worked our way back up the mountain, at times taking what was left of my leg strength to push and pull my shoes through the mud. It didn’t take long for my running-shoes to become filled with water and the shorts under my cheapo-poncho soaked with rain. Between my mom, dad and myself, we kept saying we were going to find a semi-dry place to stop and rest… but we never did. The adventure pulled us forward.

When we broke out of the trees and found the open space (The “Balds”) again, the rain mellowed out to a light mist. I believe it was near Jane Bald that the clouds dissipated and we could once again see the beauty of the surrounding mountains.

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And then, while finally taking just a moment of rest at the top of the mountain we saw it. Out of no where, a tiny mongoose and baby rabbit appeared. The looked as casual as if they were out for an afternoon stroll, the mongoose just behind the rabbit. Then, just as quickly as they had appeared, the mongoose lunged at the baby bunny and started killing it. (Naturally, they were not in fact out for a stroll together and were in deed both apart of a hunt…but it did not appear that way at first.) We watched in horror as the mongoose continued to bite and cling to the rabbit, who desperately squealed to be let go… until the mongoose drug the baby bunny into the brush and the squealing eventually ceased.

Side note: rabbits are my all-time favorite animal. Ever since I was a baby.

I love them so much that I’ve got a rather large rabbit tattoo on the lower part of my leg…

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Essentially, i’m bunny-obsessed.

So the experience of watching not just a rabbit, but an adorable baby bunny be murdered by another animal – was less than ideal. I was so appalled at the sight and sounds that I couldn’t even talk about it (or anything) for the next twenty or so minutes of our hike. It was agreed that we were not to speak of “the incident” at all, but I figured that it was in fact a part of the trip… and so you should know about it.

[Remembering back now, I can recall that at the time of the incident, we had stopped for a snack and that unfortunately, we were eating Annie’s Bunny Grahams. Oh the horrific irony.]

Once I got over being heart-broken at the death of earth’s greatest creature… I realized that life is …at the end of the day: just a beginning, a middle, and an inevitable end.  I took a moment of reflection and looked around once again to see the beauty in my life at that very moment.

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Be apart of your moments.

As we drew closer to the car, I found myself breathing a little deeper. That deep kind of satisfying breath of an empty heart-spot finally being filled. A dream being touched, if only briefly. Surrounded by the loving company of my parents and the vast majesty of nature, I found myself feeling at home.

Nature is my home.

And I will be back again soon.

Though, I can assure you:
I’ll be leaving the bunny-grahams at home.

 

Much love and all things wild,

-H

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Truth Lies

I think technology has me convinced that my writing doesn’t matter. 

Even though it is the soul/sole reason I believe I was put on this earth…

Everytime I realize just how much writing is out there already- I wonder how I could possibly add anything of value.I quit in my mind before I’ve even touched pen to paper.

…I need to break this barrier.

This is not truth. And I will not let it shape my life. 

Truth IS what you see it AS.

-H

Fears.

You have to do what your afraid of.

You have to try to redo things you’ve failed at.

You need to look at those things that hurt to look at.

If you don’t, you’ll always be the same ‘you’ you’ve allways been.

Growth is found through facing fears.

Fights are a fear for me. Even the smallest kind. They leave me feeling like there’s no hope and there’s no turning back. Like the moment before you enter into a fight is the last moment you’ll ever have to cherrish with that person. The last time you’ll not be broken.

I learned something yesterday.. I can be a part of a fight and come out still whole. Not broken. I learned im capable of bringing up an issue and still seeing peace afterwards. I learned there is resolution in communication. I learned that if both parties are capable of forgiveness, anything is possible.

I learned that a relationship can sometimes become stronger through negative expirences than good ones. 

The world would like to make you believe that when something isnt perfect, you need to rid it from your life…

 The reality is:  you need to put in work..to make it work. 

And you need to face your fears to grow.]

-H

Dreaming of Doing

Somedays I just want to give up..

I want to come home from work, lie in bed, and stare into my phone or just fall asleep.

Today that’s exactly what I did. And am still doing. I’d like to say I’ve found the cure for days like this..but not yet. I’d like to believe that some day I’ll be better than this. But at this very moment..I’m still in bed.

Nothing wrong happened to me today, the week was a normal one. It was filled with ordinary events and regular life. But all week I’ve been held down by the feeling that my life isn’t my own. That im not doing what really feels important to me. I’m settling for the regular life other people want..instead of being bold enough to live the beautiful life I dream of living.

I took a walk mid-afternoon yesterday, on lunch break. Took 30 minutes and walked across the street from my work…and found my mind flowing with daydreams. I pictured myself spending a whole day outside. 

Making a cup of coffee in the morning and sitting down to write under the sun…writing until I felt full again. No time restraint to hold me back- no where I needed to be. 

Then I found myself gardening. Collecting tomoatoes and squash and  corn and purple cabbage (there was no logical growing season here- its my fantasy, let me be.) I tended to flowers and picked weeds. I gave food and water to my one dairy cow and picked eggs from the chicken coop. Then I found myself chopping wood, I could feel the warmth growing in my face with each muscle worked.. the sweat of  meaningful, hard work dripping down my back. 

I drifted off to later in the day and found myself in a pond. I was in a kayak, going in lazy circles  while breathing deep the early evening summer air. The wind cascaded across my face. I searched around the edge of the pond for a pair of turtles I’d seen the other day on a low branch, dipping into the water. I found them again, on the same branch then, lying next to each other in the sinking sun.

As the sun fell deeper, I built a fire by the stream. I boiled water in a pot and choppped the veggies I’d collected and made soup. I stirred it often and waited paitenly for it to cook. The way food should be cooked. A labor of love and time. 

When the sun had finally gone down, I ate. And I sat. I stared out into nothingness and allowed myself to think. For as long as I liked, I just thought.

…..

….

I was born for another time.

A time when hard work was a necesity, not a choice.

A time when doing was the norm…instead of watching others do.

A time spent outdoors – where we belong…..not under florescent light at a desk.

A time when things like eating real food, utilizing your physical strength and spending time in thought were just what was done. Not something you made time to do.
Sigh… 

Maybe someday. Tonight I’m in bed – dreaming of doing.

Feel.

I’ve become afraid to love, and far too quick to judge.

I have let the negativity of life sink into my soul…when I should have stopped it at the mere mention of it’s name.

I have allowed what ‘is not’ to be my ‘everything’… Never feeling like I’m whole enough. The edges in life were uncomfortable… So I belittled them. I made them seem small and unwanted, when really they were my truest self.

Find your edges, the corners of you that you only dare to dream about – and embrace them in the tightest grasp…love them. Love you.

Allow what your so desperately afraid of to fall away. It holds no power over you now. 

Your strength is growing faster than your fears can follow.

You are ready.

Ready for life.

Ready for the life you’ve been dreaming of..

And it all begins within loving yourself.

Let go of hate and fear. Let it fall from your heart and hands today. Feel it drop off your shoulders like the heavy burden it is. … Feel the lightness fade through….let the warmth of love find you….. Live for it now.

You are loved. Be love.
May you find release as you soar on the wings love, light and free.

-H 

Making Peace with Your To-Do List

This whole, “not doing my to-do list for a week” thing has been amazing thus far. Sure, it’s only been two days…but i’ve not felt freedom like this is a loonngggg time.

It all started with a realization I had on the way home from work the other night. After a long conversation with myself, I realized that 90% of the shit I stress about, is self-inflicted. Even worse? Its self-created.

I literally create the majority of the things that end up wearing me thin with stress.Endless projects that I’ve made my responsibility to handle to completion.

Thats fucked up, yo.

When I got home yesterday, I just simply asked myself the question, “what do I want to do?” (a simple question but incredibly hard to stop and actually do.)

Oddly enough (after first coming home and stuffing my face of course) I actually wanted to do yoga. Like, really felt my body yearning for the stretching and the challenge of holding the poses.

So I did yoga.

Then I wanted to shower..not because I stunk and it was shower night (I shower every 2-3 days. But I stopped to think about how a shower would feel in that moment and I felt my body craving the cool rush of the water.

So I showered.

Then I wanted a smoothie..which meant I had to do dishes. So I started doing them..but they felt less like a chore than before. (And I truely, deeply hate doing dishes.. so that’s saying something.) I felt a freedom in knowing I didnt have to do dishes because I’d previously told myself I had to..I was doing dishes because I knew I was the one who had dirtied them and I was now the one who needed them clean so they could be used again. Simple – no duty, no stress- just simple logic.

It was the realization that I was acting out of momentary real need..and not just trying to fulfil a never-ending to-do list.

It was so freeing. It was completely organic. 

It was real life – not planned life.

I was choosing in each moment what to do, based on how I felt in that moment. …..I was no longer mindlessly acting on what I’d thought needed to be done, soley based on a to-do list.


The problem is: when your making a plan, you do not know the full extent of the situation or mindset you’ll find yourself in later that day. For instance, while you’re at work in the morning it may seem super important that, immidiately after work you go home and clean your kitchen. But, whose to say after an eight hour day, the most important thing you can do for yourself is unwind by being creative..or going for a walk..or playing video games. It’s just impossible to know what is best for your future self..because you’ve not met him/her yet.

When you meticulously plan (meaning you have a plan(s), to do list(s), task(s), schedule(s)) for every day….your setting yourself up for discontentment.

You’re setting a standard for yourself and your life that is apart from the universe’s plan and it’s natural flow. 

In short, your setting yourself up for resistance.     And even if you dont feel it initially, after  some days, weeks, or months it will show. You’ll begin to feel a sense of friction or dislocation from the world around you. You’ll wonder why you dont feel the peace or joy you used to. You’ll wonder why no matter how much you do, you never feel like it’s enough.

That’s how I feel/felt (its only day 2 of my “free-flowing with life” expirence..still a work in progress here.) But the small difference is already mind-blowing. I can feel my brain opening up like its trying to see whats around me again- itstead of being on a sort of auto-pilot, tunnel vision setting. On my drive to and from work I’ve been forcing myself to stop running over to do lists and start feeling what’s going on within me.

I’ve come to realize that somewhere along the line it has become too easy for me to turn away from how I feel, and I don’t like that one bit.

What is life, without feeling?

 It is just an endless sea of motions. Meaningless motions.


Today
, I ask you to wake up to how your feeling. Challenge yourself to see life beyond the “things that need to be done.” Tap into what the universe is offering you in this moment- and listen to it. 

Opening yourself to the possibility of life’s plan for you, just might be more beneficial than what you’ve planned for yourself.

Wishing you Peace, Love, and “Free-Flowing”.

-H