Before departure I encountered an awful lot of resistance to this idea. Statements such as: “I will believe it when I see it”, “be realistic – a woman your size and age can’t do that”, “Don’t do xyz, it is too difficult”, “you will get dehydrated, have heat stroke, freeze to death, get eaten by bears and raped twenty times to Christmas” and many other comments meant to “protect” and discourage me. Each one cut like a knife into my already flagging self confidence. It was hurtful and for each such harsh judgment I spent hours rebuilding myself. I am grateful I didn’t listen!
Many of you who felt such a need to “discourage” me from doing this has since turned in to ardent supporters, and I am so grateful for your presence in my life, your support and your ability to change your minds. More than anything I respect and admire your ability to change your minds when you saw me do this and then start to support me.
So, this is a message to those who got angry and / or disappeared when I refused to take your well meaning “advice”. When posting this I have reached Flagstaff, AZ, this is more than 600 miles down the road. I have climbed up to 7000 ft and braved winter storms. I have braved the desert in late summer; sweated and breathed hard and holed up to protect myself from the heat. I have been stuck outside in my tent through snow storms and in down to 5 degrees overnight. I have walked, stumbled, fallen, gotten back up, cried and laughed. I have met amazing people, fallen in love and always, continued to walk. I have been scared, alone, lost, thrilled, awestruck, humbled and proud. I have slept outside in freezing cold, marveled at the night sky and listened to the desert around me. And, for each experience, I am the better for it. Not only CAN I do it it. I AM DOING IT.
And my health is better now than when I was in my twenties. My periods are getting regular, I have more strength and stamina and I feel strong. I have lost a total of 85 pounds from my biggest size and 45 pounds since I started walking. While I do occasionally take otc medications like ibuprofen or benadryl to sleep I am not on any doctor prescribed medications.
Before departure – your words hurt me, and I could hardly afford another hurt. Maybe you didn’t know I was vulnerable, you certainly didn’t know my determination, toughness and grittiness. I want to challenge you to question your self – because who are you to tell someone they can’t do something? How many times have you taken away someone’s dreams? Do you think you have the right to do that?
This is my challenge to you – you were wrong in my case and if you approach me and tell me about your dreams, I promise, I will encourage you! In fact, I hope my journey will inspire you to dream big, to start to believe a little bit deeper in (your version of) God and the people around you and to reach for the moon, the trail or any other dream that is yours. And if you do start to dream crazy dreams, please do share, I promise to be encouraging.
I am doing it. And for the record – the people I have met on the trail, they haven’t told me I couldn’t do it. By far most of them answered with a: “Wow, that’s amazing, how can I help?”
That is an answer to protect me, to touch my heart, to propel me closer to my dreams. Do you think that is an attitude you can learn?