Bless the glorious sun beaming through the south facing window on my laptop and outstretched legs as I began to write. I sat warm and toasty on the couch and even though it was pretty chilly outside still, the sun felt so warm in that moment I could actually believe it was Spring.
Thursday morning, my little one crawled into my side of the bed at 5:53 declaring, "My dreams are over." What a mix of total sweetness and oh-jeezus-its-early! We have one of those clocks that glows green when he's allowed to come into our room in the morning, but lately with the sun rising earlier and earlier, so is my 4 year-old, and our magic clock seems to have lost its magic. Mostly I love morning cuddles and being surrounding by my whole family before the day gets rolling, but 5:53 seemed pretty unwelcome in that moment. And also, mostly, we tend to fall back asleep for a bit in these situations. However, in a surprising moment of inspiration, I quietly sneaked out of bed as it occurred to me that I could actually get in my ledges hike before the day had even begun if I was stealthy like a ninja... and I was! A few tip-toes and some hiking boots later, I was headed out the door.
Bristol seemed relatively quiet but I could hear the morning commuters zipping down 116 on their way to work, as I began my hike and my new boots began their rub-rub-rub on my heels. The first, oh, 1/3 of a mile or so of the journey is a steep gravel logging road that also leads up to a low water tower. From this spot I usually catch my breath for a minute before heading up the foot trail that leads to the view of Bristol. Today while doing just that, I looked up to see the sun making first contact with the southern ridge of the gap. The still bare trees allowed for a lovely view that will soon be filled in with leaves. I was glad for the empty space between the 1000s of trunks and naked branches, and I was glad for my glimpse of the early morning light.
Just when I thought I must have been the only human on the hill that morning, down bounded a bouncy and chipper Melanie Kessler with a grin from ear to ear. This Bristol friend of mine was doing the exact same thing as I was - taking advantage of the early hour, sneaking away from her kiddos for a brief moment and soaking up some nature and exercise before the world began to buzz. With a brief hug and a school girl giggle exchange over how lucky we were to be where we were in that very moment, we kept on our separate ways.
I don't think much entered my brain that morning. And how nice is that? No planning. No scheming or worrying. No weights on my shoulders or deep thoughts taking up space in my mind. Just a little walking meditation, and a change in routine. Its been a while since I've felt much freedom in getting exercise and I could list a ton of excuses that really aren't worth going on about. But now that there's a little more light in the morning, and my small human is sleeping more consistently, I do believe I see the early hours as a viable workout option. Guess I was just ready for a little shift. Don't get all crazy... I doubt I'll be that person up for a jog at 6 AM everyday or anything. But I'm psyched to see the reality of using that time to give myself something I know I want: me in nature, me exercising, me making time to fill up my day with what makes me feel good.
Well friends, a new era of hiking for this Dawson Gibson lady has begun. I did it! I finally bought new hiking boots and boy did I make my feet happy. (Keens, in case you were curious.) I've always felt like my feet were just barely lady-like enough to dare walk into the women's shoe department. But its official... I can now say that I fully embrace the fact that I've bumped over into men's shoe sizes. Until recently, I'd been a women's 10 for 25+ years. Oh how grateful I was when my feet stopped growing just before I topped the end of line. (For any male friends out there who aren't in the know about ladies foot ware, most shoe companies top out at size 10.) Well, one baby boy later I'm embracing my fate as an 11! So a-shopping I did go in the men's shoe department at Sierra Trading Post to buy me a big ole pair of boots. I'm happy to report, my grande feet and I are quite happy with the purchase.
My little trek on Thursday was the day to break 'em in. Somehow it had slipped my mind that new boots need to log a few hours before they're supper comfy. My thoughtful husband reminded me of this as I went out the door on Thursday morning, and I armed myself with a few bandaids just in case. The 1/2 mile bike ride to the trailhead was chilly and snow was on its way later in the day. I wanted to get up and down in time for my noon yoga class and then home before the weather. With time on my mind a bit and my feet moving pretty quickly, about 100 feet up the incline I began to feel a little rub on my heels. Rub. Rub, rub. Why hadn't I worn softer socks? But I had bandaids - I was ready for this.
As the heat on my heels turned up a bit, I began to wonder about other things I'm "breaking in" right now. Immediately I thought about the online class I just completed through Beyond Abundant. I spent 6 weeks really digging in to what makes me tick, who I am, what I want and how I want to feel, how to get it, and how to really, unabashedly love and choose me. Now, I've got all these totally rad tools to make a life I love, and I'm breaking' em in. And just like my shiny new boots, learning to really use awesome information comes with a rub here and there, aka a little vulnerability and fear. And also some adjustments. You know, loosen the laces here, add some different insoles there. Or... maybe make a plan for the week here, realize you're overcommitting but then adjust and take it all in stride there, kinda thing.
And here's a little vulnerability for ya... My giant realization this week was that I have been micromanaging my family, ummmm, a lot! My greatest teacher, my 4 year old son, has been acting like a mirror for me lately and when I was following him to his room the other day I heard myself say with frustration, "Kiddo, you don't have to tell me how to do every little thing!" And then it hit me... Oh jeez, that would be ME telling HIM how to do every little thing! Now, the old Ali would either...
A. Go into total denial about this realization. He's just a kid, what does he know? What is this mirror thing, I must be imagining it.
B. Let my snarky ego take over and feel like a terrible mother who will never figure this shit out.
or C. Blame my husband.
But what did I do with my new, fresh-off-the-block self-awareness chops? (Is that even a saying?) I owned it. I thought about how glaringly obvious this is in my relationship with my husband too. And then I just sat with this realization about how I can sometimes show up in my family relationships. I didn't particularly like this realization, but my oh my, did it feel good to be honest with myself, and then in turn I was able to be honest with my family and start to think about how I can make changes.
So there you have it! The honest truth about how breaking in my hiking boots helped light the way to knowing myself a little better. And you know, I never did need the bandaids. The boots were the perfect choice and just needed a little walking in. No doubt I'll enjoy them, and no doubt my new found grown-up awareness will serve me well too.
This past week's chilly hike was all about the sounds of Spring. I took to the trail on Thursday morning a little sluggish but determined to shift my mood and experience something new. Right of the bat everything seemed louder! The mill must have been open as there were loads of echoing construction noises. For a moment I was a little annoyed to have my nature walk filled with non-nature sounds, but I began to feel the rhythm of the clangs, bangs and trucks, and thought of the action stirring down below.
With this awareness I soon began to seek out other sounds, and it wasn't hard to do! There were loud quacks, or croaks - couldn't quite tell which - from the water tower collection tank. There was the huffing and puffing of my own breathing, and there was one little bird in particular who caught my attention. So much so that I had to sit in "James' Throne," (a rock in the middle of the trail shaped like a mini-throne for a small kiddo-sized human), and I stopped to listen to him. His voice was sweet and clear and persistent. I whistled back. I have a pretty wimpy whistle, but he didn't seem to mind. He flew to a closer tree, then one a bit closer still. Then perhaps he decided my whistle wasn't quite his style, and on he went, and then on I went up to the viewpoint.
It was a lovely relief to reach the top. Even though I had just one week off due to my earache last week, it was enough to notice my heavier breathing. I took a brief glance out over Pine Street and my neighborhood and heard the Bristol Elementary School children playing at recess. I wondered if they were enjoying their play time as much as I was, and then headed back down, looking forward to a glass of water.
The sounds of Spring had been my focus on the way up, and the throbbing in my feet was now my focus on the way down. (It is indeed not a myth that your feet grow when you have a child! Time for new boots!) The pain sure was trying hard to get my attention, and succeeding quite well. It soon occurred to me, however, that I had at some point on my way up chosen to listen to the nature around me, even though at first I was drawn to the sounds of the mill. And just like the mill had brought my attention to the sounds of Spring, perhaps I could seek some wisdom from my "loud" foot pain. The word focus came to mind again and perhaps I just needed to shift it. My knees were a little shaky, so I focused on where each foot was going, and how each rock, leaf and puddle might move with my weight. And I noticed my foot pain less... I began to think about how I had chosen to focus my attention over the past week and how I had missed some of my goals. Even though I'd worked on downsizing my work load, I still wasn't very balanced, and perhaps I needed to focus on just one thing for now. Therapeutic Music! It felt awesome to make a decision! I took a load off my plate and my heart lightened. And I felt my foot pain less...
By the time I got back to my car, my boot soles were flopping with every step, adding to yet another sound for my collection that day. And I gained some glorious clarity around what to focus on right now, career-wise. One thing at a time: a new theory for this I-can-do-it-all super-mom. But I think its what I need... Here's hoping less balls in the air brings about more sanity and a little inner peace.
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!