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.

7 comments on “Love… the four letter word.

  1. I could not love this post more!! So happy you are doing something that brings you such happiness and also glad I get to tag along for some of it!

  2. Francis,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I’m 4 years into life after my divorce (in my later 40’s now) and the outdoors have been my passion and love. I didn’t find my love for hiking until after my divorce so I guess in a way I’m grateful for that huge, traumatic life change.

    I’m happy to be an ambassador with you and the other wonderful women where we can grow together in our common love of hiking.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂

    ~Allison

  3. Much LOVE to you Francis. I didn’t know what you have been going through, but I do know that I’ve always found a compassionate confidante in you (which means you’re something special, as I’m also a “close to the vest” type who doesn’t share with many). It’s no surprise to me that you handle adversity and challenge with grace and a tenacious spirit – it’s what I’ve always known of you. What an amazing role model you are for women everywhere. Your daughter is one lucky kiddo.

    I am so super proud of you and there is nothing better than seeing such a wonderful person doing wonderful things.

    Keep crushing Valentine’s and every other day. ❤️

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