Guest Blogger: Leigh Dornfeld
I am almost positive we have all had that gut-dropping feeling of realizing you were lost. Whether you were a small child and you lost sight of your parent in a place packed with people or you lost your child in the opposing situation, both produce the same level of adrenaline/panic in your brain. I know I have, but I have also had a solo hiking trip where I literally got lost by myself in the park. Reflecting upon that experience and now going through a major life change in my life has me thinking how great the title quote (pictured) is metaphorically.
Let me explain….Thinking you had your bearings under control only to realize that you are now standing on an abandoned golf course/farm field and you've run smack into one of those “No Trespassing” signs gives you that gut-dropping feeling. You know the kind of sign, right? Not the ones that softly call out, “Please remove yourself from this property. It's not yours.”, but the scary looking one where all you can picture is some owner stepping out onto their front porch with their shotgun, firing a warning shot for you to get a head start. This happened to me in the past year where I was completely and utterly physically lost. I panicked…...for a moment. Then I cleared my head and focused on something I could control, which was taking steps in one direction and starting to find my way out of my misplacement.
"I believe personal growth is not linear, but an ever present process our whole lives."
Getting lost is a perfect metaphor for your own personal emotional growth in life. The steps that you take in your personal life are opportunities for growth no matter the final outcome. Beginnings and especially endings are your chance to learn something new about yourself and become stronger. Physically you may try to backtrack or try going left for a certain amount of time only to realize you just made the biggest mistake of the afternoon and you need to try another route. I´ve always told myself that if I ever assure myself that I have it all figured out, then I am so “lost” that I immediately need to book a counseling appointment to get my head on straight. I believe personal growth is not linear, but an ever present process our whole lives. “Getting Lost” in your own personal growth is necessary to do just that. Embrace it and enjoy the journey of getting yourself unstuck. As an educator we teach our students that making mistakes are where the learning takes place. Getting lost in the real world is where the personal growth take place too.
I eventually was able to logically figure out my predicament. After my cortisol subsided and my rational thought came back, I paid attention to my surroundings and realized I knew where the sun was so I knew the general direction of my car. I knew the park had a set of train tracks crossing the northern border. I knew if I ran into those, I should not cross them. Lastly, I had my phone with me. 911 is on my speed dial. I am that kind of mom! It was a beautiful late summer afternoon so I literally put one foot in front of the other, leaned into the unknown, and headed west towards the sun. No scary men with shotguns stepped out on that front porch, and after a 2-mile detour and a fantastic hike later, I made it back to the actual park grounds. I checked out the map and found my mistake and chalked it up as a good learning experience.
My final point for this random stream of thought is we grow the most inside of those physical lost experiences and especially when the “feeling lost” is just up in our head. I recommend cliff diving into those thoughts and experiences. Even if you don't like cliff diving I can guarantee you will be safe to do it and will come back out feeling invigorated and proud of yourself on the other end. What can you learn? You need to go out and get lost to find out. Hike up towards your own personal growth!
Hiking/camping alone was a bit intimidating the first time I attempted it. But, I quickly found out that it can be very rewarding. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life and find/listen to their inner voice. I have learned a lot about myself, when I have taken time to be with myself.
Hiking and camping alone, often helps me see my outer world clearer. It also gives me the time I need to create a more peaceful inner world. I become braver, happier, I trust myself more, and I feel more in control of my life path. Taking intentional time to balance my outer and inner worlds has helped me begin to create a healthier happier life.
Quote: "Then all that is needed is a little daring, and his two lives become one."
I recently went on another backpacking trip alone (well with my dog) and noticed that every time I go alone, I experience many of the same feelings. Especially at night…
Happiness Oh, the joy of being on your own! I liken this feeling to when my parents first dropped me off at college or when I first moved out on my own. It's an exhilarating feeling. Nobody to tell you what to do, where to go, or argue with you on where the map say to go. It’s freedom, freedom to make my own calls. Do I need this? Should I go there? How far to my campsite? All of these questions and more are completely up to ME. Now don’t get me wrong, camping and hiking with friends is, of course, enjoyable. BUT there is something unique and primal when you head out into the wilderness on your own.
Skepticism Scared? If I am honest, the unknown can be a little scary. I always feel a little skeptical of myself when I initially reach my campsite. My head conversation goes something like this: “Should I turn back? I bet I can reach my car and sleep in it or drive home before it gets dark. Wouldn’t I be more comfortable that way? What am I even doing out here ALONE? How do I ever think this will be fun?” It is important to remember that THESE THOUGHTS AND FEELING WILL PASS!! I have found I need to lean into them and just listen - I then tell myself that everything may not go as planned. I might forget something or my campsite may not be what I imagined it would look like. (Most of the time the crisp clean campground you have in your mind is not the case.) I remind myself that this is what I signed up for: a campground with a place to set my tent, sometimes a table, and sometimes a fire pit. I remind myself that I can TRUST MYSELF that I have everything that I require to succeed. Then it helps me to keep busy as I acclimate to my evening surroundings. I like to get my camp set up. I work to make it feel more like MY living place.
Loneliness Is feeling lonely a bad thing? I found that when I acknowledge my loneliness and meet it head on I actually learn new things about myself. The biggest thing I have learned is that when I am all alone feeling loneliness I need to make sure I can catch it, see it, name it and not let it turn into anguish and sorrow. I find that this loneliness is a good time to reflect; why am I feeling this way? What do I need to solve in my outer world? What do I need to solve in my inner world? The best way, I have found, to combat feelings of loneliness is starting a fire and meditate. Just the simple act of starting a warm fire helps ease my tensions and fears. The fire also makes a great meditation and reflection tool as I gaze into the fire and into my thoughts. A nice solid meditation session while camping alone allows me to calm my mind letting me clear the way to learn new things about myself.
I cannot recommend meditating enough. After a solide meditation session I get determined. I start to loosen up and enjoy myself and I begin to trust in myself. The feeling of freedom returns and I begin to see new possibilities and solutions to questions I have been wrestling with. Camping alone then begins to become fun and I realize that I am not alone, because I am with myself. I am capable, resilient, strong, and I am ok with spending time with myself. Time to cook some dinner turn on some music or maybe I will read book.
Fulfillment The feeling I get the next morning is empowered! It’s time to hike back out or continue on the trail. I feel peaceful and fulfilled. My mind, body, and soul seem more aligned and I am ready to head back to my everyday life. I have accomplished spending time with myself in nature alone and I am a better person for it. I know I can do it and I laugh at how unsure I was when I began. Everyone is on a personal journey, we are all searching for what is already within us. Happy Trails, My Friends!
This year, HIKEhoppers' mantra is, “Sky above me, Earth below me, Fire within me.” Our team was
drawn to this mantra because each of us has found a fire within ourselves through our time in nature.
Connecting to the great outdoors and “unplugging” has allowed us to go within, find ourselves and leave
the trails feeling a little less stressed and more energized. Our unique experiences has fueled the fire
within us to help others do the same.
The HIKEhoppers community is growing and we couldn’t be more excited! We are inspired by each and
every person that we interact with at our events, on the trails or through social media. We LOVE seeing pictures and hearing personal experiences of how hiking is sparking the fire within. So much so, that we dedicated this month's blogs to featuring some of our followers. I had the pleasure of chatting with Arianna Robbins, a fellow nature junkie and free spirit. We hope Arianna’s energy and advice ignites an interest for those of you who would like to start hiking, or invite you to expand your experiences around hiking.
Arianna, how did your love for hiking start and what does hiking mean to you?
HIKEhopper’s mantra for this year is, Sky Above me, Earth Below me, Fire Within Me. How has hiking sparked the fire within yourself?
I love love love that mantra, btw! I daydream endlessly about all of the things I can do or the places
I can see. The possibilities are endless and that is what fuels my fire, that sense of freedom.
Do you have any advice for those who have wanted to start hiking, or that are just starting to hike?
I recommend all new hikers to take advantage of their local parks and their empty hours of the day!
(Less TV, more time outside) Also, stop making or thinking about reasons why you can't go hiking
and make a list of all the reasons why you can/should.
Take a look at some of the inspiring photos that Arianna has acquired during some of her hiking
Remember, Hiking can be for everyone!
Dr. Jen Lourey has been practicing healthcare for over 25 years. She runs an alternative healthcare facility in Richmond, Minnesota. Her enjoyment of the outdoors combines well with her enjoyment of a healthy mind and body. She is a licensed Chiropractor and acupuncturist and specializes in nutrition. As a side activity, she loves martial arts.