One thing I love about being my own boss is that I get to make the rules! So in that light, I hereby merge weeks 11 and 12 of this 52 week journey. 'Cause it's all good and that's how I'm rollin' right now. Last week I stalled my hike a bit so I could enjoy it with some friends coming to visit over the weekend. A glorious chilly day it was, and I'm so glad I got to share it with some pals from Brooklyn, AND my honey and kiddo. They even let me depart from the gang early and descend alone (and quickly) so I could get to a little music making gathering happening in the village. Felt great to sing with friends, hike with friends, and that night we got our nerd on and played board games with friends. (For fellow nerds out there, it was a Ticket to Ride and Dominion kinda night.)
I have to admit that this weekly blog and hike have become a part of my routine. I like the added challenge to be creative and accountable to y'all with words and a hike. Yet to alter any routine can cause a little upheaval and I felt that this last week. I'm currently taking this great online course called Beyond Abundant. (Weekly videos and workbooks and conference calls with a small group of women all goin' deep into ourselves, our dreams and desires and how to make them happen. It's bad ass. And also known as the BA Nation.) This past week's assignment smacked me right between the eyes and I found myself slacking. I think the fear of really diving deep into the work, head on, mixed with a little change in routine mixed the perfect cocktail for checking out and falling behind. Oh excuses, you know just how to creep in, don'tcha?
But seriously, whatever! A little slack can bring on much needed insight. Here are my big takeaways from slacking these past 10 days or so.
1 ~ When you know you should be doing something but you aren't doing it, you feel like crap. And who wants to feel like crap? So get up off your ass and get 'er done, because you will FEEL better.
2 ~ Even when you're slacking, be kind to yourself. Berating and negative self talk will only make things worse. Be willing to *change the story* you are telling yourself. I'm too busy, becomes... I have all the time I need. Why do I always do this kind of thing, becomes... I'm grateful to recognize a pattern of behavior and notice that I have the ability to change it.
3 ~ Boundaries boundaries boundaries. I tend to be a people pleaser, yes say-er, and over giver. Its easy to blame others for what's happening in your life. But what happens when you, with gentleness and kindness, take responsibility for where you are? Its EMPOWERING. You have the power to set a boundary so that you are healthier and happy? Sweeeet! You have the ability to say what is really on your mind instead of saying what you think people want to hear just to make them more comfortable? You do? YES. You do. And by you I mean me. :)
Shout out to the women in the BA Nation for calling it as you see it and driving home these messages for me. I gotta say that I lovvvvve being 40 and finally embracing me and standing in my own skin. Highly recommend it, and - ha! - you don't even have to wait till you're 40! It's not quite a habit yet but I'm so completely sure it will be soon. Thank you, slacker-self, for bringing some of this stuff into a deeper awareness and even ownership. Thank you random earache for keeping me inside today and OFF the mountain so I could roll with the wave and find a way to catch up and keep on cruisin'. It really truly is, all good.
If there were such a thing as the official start date of mud season, I would shout, "Its official!" And with this transition out of Winter and into Spring, comes the glorious smell of earth, dreams of planting a garden and seeing the first buds on the trees stretch for the warmth of the sun with all their might. After such an odd and snow-less winter, it hardly seems real that we've made it through the coldest months, but that does seem to be the case! You might have even heard me shouting from the mountain top, "Weeeehoooo!" Or you might also see my car swerving on the slurpy back roads, or you might see me cleaning up muddy foot prints from the floor because my little one has forgotten to take off his boots after playing outside, or you might see me doing an extra load of laundry after yet again swiping up against my filthy car. But this is the small price we pay for the promise of a magical Spring, which is just around the corner!
All of this said, the ledges trail was actually in pretty descent condition when I went up yesterday. I had the pleasure of running into the Yost sisters at the gate, which put a big smile on my face and a pep in my step. Sisters always make me smile. I am the oldest of three girls and I love and miss them both dearly. One sister lives in the Bay Area where we are all from, and the other is around the world in Vietnam. I found myself thinking about them as I climbed to the ledge view, and reminiscing about adventures we'd had over the years. We've gone in and out of being close, but that sisterly bond has always held tight and I know it always will. Living so far apart takes its toll on closeness, but I'm grateful for Skype, jet planes and a little vacation time when we can take advantage of it. I thoroughly enjoyed today's cairns... the one below I aptly named The Three Sisters.
When I stopped to take this picture I was moved to just stand there and take it all in. As I looked around, I noticed the trees, still and bare. They seemed quiet but alert, and perhaps in their tree like way, they were noticing me too. I slowly turned in a circle and realized how surrounded by them I was. Their tall trunks and branches like veins and arteries, just beginning to pulse with sap. Their roots, deep and connected like a web beneath me. I felt cocooned by the forest, this network of nature, and as I missed my sisters who are far and wide, the trees sent me their sisterly love and I was embraced.
My decent was quick and easy and fun. I even ran into a little friend (below) who allowed me to get a shot of his best side. The fresh air, the mud, my little tree hug, all made for a wonderful morning adventure. Sometimes I can hardly believe I manifested this life for myself. Not every second is bliss, but I'm working on noticing bliss more and more. Its like all I have to do is just turn a little to the right or left and there it is, waiting to be recognized. A change in perspective, a change in the light and boom! I have the ability to align with the experiences I seek. Its my choice! And I right now I can hear the Monty Python crew calling to me... "You have chosen... wisely."
It was bound to happen. There was always going to be a week that got away from me a bit. And - gasp - it might happen again. Alas, last week I went for a hike on Thursday afternoon, (and it was a wonderful hike), and then on Friday I went to Jersey for the weekend to attend a class, and I just couldn't get to writing. All weekend I was ensconced in "Module 4" of my therapeutic music training in a hospital classroom with fellow music lovers. It was delightful to soak up some great lessons in hospital etiquette, business development and hands on patient techniques. I felt the tug to write in the evenings but it actually felt wonderful to just let it go. I was quite pleased with myself for simply eating and sleeping instead of trying to "do it all." I often spread myself too thin, and what a pleasure at the end of the day to be fed, (I was staying with my oh-so-kind in-laws), put the little one to bed, (Mark and my son joined me for the weekend), and then promptly did the same for myself. Brain full, belly full, done.
As I think back to my hike from last Thursday, mostly I am filled with gratitude. I am so glad I made it to the trail that day. I am so glad I dragged my groggy self out of the house and up the hill. I am so glad I have carved out the time in my weekly schedule for nature, for reflection, for this commitment to myself. The details of what must have been on my mind last week have come and gone, but I recall a bit of dusty snow gently laying on the hard-again dirt and crusty-again leaves. Quite a change from the previous week's slurp, mush and melting ice. The memory of this image brings me back to that feeling of gratitude again... I'm so glad I get to witness the subtle variances in the trail from week to week. This is my choice, this is my privilege.
As I look to the week ahead of me, and think of my unending to-do list, I'm going to see if I can call in that feeling from this past weekend, (maybe minus the exhaustion part). Instead of stressing about what's not done yet, I will let go of loose ends and trust that my days are as full as they need to be. Instead of thinking about what's next, I'll enjoy my food while I'm eating it, do what needs to be done in any given moment, and sleep like a log. Yeah, this sounds so simple, but maybe it is? I love the idea of making my life more simple. And I love how what once made me cringe (missing a deadline, self imposed though it was) has become a lesson in letting go and embracing the present. I'll letcha know how it goes in a few days!
Hi, my name is Ali Dawson Gibson. I'm a healer, a singer and a teacher. This Blog, 52 Weeks of the Ledges, is from 2016 when I hiked this awesome Bristol Ledges trail once and week and shared my experiences. Enjoy!