A year can go by uneventful or can change your perspective on life. Ambassador Jessica talks about what has gone on in her life in the past year. And about what being a Hike Like A Woman Ambassador has meant to her.
As I sit here typing this I am also planning, and prepping, and packing for my routine summer trip out West. I’m sitting on the deck listening to the crickets serenade the crescent moon as it rises in the evening sky. Golden hued sunlight is giving way to inky wisps of clouds. And, I’m thinking of how my trip will be different this time around.
There’s something new I’ll be adding to the memories made while I’m trekking in mountains and sleeping under stars; I get to meet my hiking soul sisters in person, the women I’ve been in contact with through social media, emails, phone calls, and video chats for over a year now. These women have been the supporters, encouragers, the believers in me and my abilities. We’ve laughed together and uplifted one another in difficult times, had amazing moments and breakthrough, heartfelt conversations.
For a while now, I’ve felt uncertain about my path in life; where I want to go and what I imagine my future to look like. I’ve struggled to find a space where I could be me, where my love for the outdoors and my feet on the trail were understood. We all have an undeniable urge to feel a sense of belonging and community. To be appreciated and validated not just for what we accomplish, but for who we are as individuals. And, in the summer of 2017, little did I know what was waiting for me just around the bend.
From the moment I received the email asking me to join the Hike Like a Woman organization as an Ambassador, it’s been a whirlwind of blog articles, video challenges, gear reviews, the creation of a locals hiking group in my home state of Iowa, facilitating HLAW book club discussions, podcast interviews, Instagram takeovers, and conversations with Cheryl Strayed, what??? But most importantly, it’s been a thread woven through and within a group of women who just get me.
I can’t really put into words completely how this year has changed my life. How it’s helped me to grow as a person, to acknowledge that while each and every one of us is unique, we can, as a whole, come together to support and nurture the common bond that unites us.
I’ve learned that hiking isn’t just about the dirt on my boots or the uphill climb. It’s a place where being your own person is respected. A common idea that being a hiker doesn’t look one certain way; rather, it’s how you feel on the inside. It’s a truth you hold close to your heart, a soul that longs for the bond with the sky above and the ground below, no matter your age, your gender, your spiritual beliefs, the color of your skin, or any other physical attribute. We all long to feel appreciated and accepted and to know that our dreams and thoughts are important and worthy.
As this year comes full circle, my Hike Like a Woman ambassadorship has brought me to an undeniable truth; we all hike our own hike and that makes us who we are and that’s what connects us all.