Mara here. I love this post by Ambassador Francis! I won’t give too much away, but if you had told me I was going to spend yesterday the way I did, I would have not believed you either. Hiking is definitely therapeutic.
As we celebrated Valentine’s Day yesterday, I am reminded of how I don’t have a romantic love to enjoy a hike with and I am surprisingly okay with it. If someone would have told me fifteen or twenty years ago that I would be 40 years old, going thru a divorce and would be a single mom I would have been terrified, scared and probably even a little depressed. However, even though I have moments of these feelings I work hard to not let it consume me and try to find outlets to channel these emotions. It isn’t always easy but I typically find a way. Hiking has been therapeutic for me during my separation and upcoming divorce. It gives me something to look forward to and has proven time and time again to provide a welcome distraction when I have needed it most. The planning, preparation, studying and daydreaming of different mountains, state parks, vacations and weekend day hikes has brought me happiness in times of sadness.
A new found love of the outdoors and sharing it with family, friends and strangers makes me happy and brings me joy. I am surrounded by love and instead of thinking about what I don’t have this Valentine’s Day I will focus on what I do. I have the love of family that supports me and encourages me to dream big. I have friends that want to go on adventures with me and are available day or night for whatever reason. I have coworkers that ask me how I am doing, and want to know more about hiking, because they know it is important to me. Lastly, I have ladies in our local hiking group that are fun, spirited and understanding when my map reading skills give us a few extra steps!
So this Valentine’s Day I will chose to look at love a different way. Love means hope, taking chances and leaning into difficult situations so I can grow. Love means that I might solo hike or invite a friend. Here’s to loving myself everyday regardless of circumstances and never looking at love like a dirty four letter word.