I've never been a huge New Years resolution person. In fact, most New Years parties have left me feeling like I was missing the big deal of it all. The dropping of the ball, the fireworks... I love a good excuse for champagne and a party though, so you won't find me complaining! It was just never something I thought about much nor particularly looked forward to. However, one turning of the tide that did rock my world a bit came about in November of 2015 when I turned 40. I'd love to say that I'm too cool or wise to be phased by just a number, but I cannot make that claim! 40 years on this planet as Ali Dawson Gibson and there's still so much to do/see/feel/learn! What was I waiting for? So when this New Year began, I found myself motivated to make some commitments to myself that I used to just let wash under the bridge. These seemingly little shifts are, day by day, starting to rock my world. More on that in just a moment - first, a recount of yesterday's hike.
Wednesday was one of those glorious, blue bird winter days, and a cold one to boot. I checked the thermometer as I departed for Week Two of hiking 52 weeks of Bristol Cliffs, and it was around 13 degrees. Turns out this is cold enough for my smart phone's camera to stop functioning. Perhaps its not too frigid by most Vermonters' standards, but for this California native, it was chilly. The previous night we received about 3 inches of powdery snow upon the still mostly green grass. As a ski bum, this year's warm temps in the Northeast have been odd and disappointing, so I was happy to see the ground covered in white. I was so happy that I over-eagerly packed my snowshoes just in case a few hundred feet higher up the hill I might be presented with a couple more inches of the stuff. They turned out to be just an extra few pounds to carry, but my 7th grade Girl Scout self was satisfied and prepared.
After last week's blissful excitement to start this project, yesterday's hike brought on a little bit of an oh-shit-what-have-I-done kind of a feeling. As I began to climb and my out of shape heart started to pound, I started to wonder - what if we have weeks of sub-zero weather? What if I get an injury of some kind? What if I lose focus of the commitment I've made to do this every week for a YEAR. What was I thinking? I mean to make a commitment to yourself and tell a few people is one thing, but do it publicly? Yikes. My feet were feeling a little heavier, the hike was seeming a little longer. And since my supportive hiking partner husband from last week was deterred by a lack of good winter foot gear and impending job interviews, this week I was flying solo.
I continued up the hill. There's just something about putting one foot in front of another in a beautiful spot in nature that can calm the fearful mind and bring about inner focus. I might not have been flying up the trail like it felt I'd been doing last week, but the crunch-crunch of the snow was indeed meditative. The long branched, naked trees creaking with the wind brought to mind the immense root system supporting the forest, deep and intricate. I was reminded that although I am embarking on something new (well, manythings new) that I too have a deep and intricate root system to ground me when the wind blows. I think hiking this trail weekly is my journey of committing myself to reconnect to my roots and tap into my inner strength.
The subtle shifts that are rocking my world and helping me to have the guts to do this are things like 15 minutes of meditation everyday. Like quitting the destructive habit of inner-self-bashing that I've been doing since middle school and replacing it with the good habits of being kinder, more forgiving and more understanding of/to myself. Like loving myself not just when I look cute, or succeed, or doing something kind or worthy of society's praise, but all freaking day long, because I'm lovable and worthy god dammit. Like drinking water when I'm thirsty and eating when I'm hungry. Like tasting my food. Like waving at myself with a wink and a laugh when my perfectionist-self tries to take a dig. Like laughing it off. Like saying no. Like moving and stretching my body. The sum of these little gems is cracking open this funny thing called happiness!
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!