Unfettered on the Beach

I saw a boy lumbering down the beach this morning. He must have been about 10 or 11 years old. He wore striped board shorts and a navy blue short sleeved tee. He carried a yellow pale and shovel, so I imagine he had spent the morning playing in the sand. He had blonde hair and a crinkled face. His face was distorted in anger.

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I noted him for two reasons. The first is that he was alone, and he appeared to be in that betwixt age, where you wonder whether or not a parent should be present. So I eyed him to determine this, and that is when I noted the second thing. He wore one shoe on his left foot, laced up nearly normally except the ends of the laces were tied to a second shoe that whomped around behind him and in between his legs as we walked. He had to walk with a wide bow in his legs to keep from tripping over the loose shoe, and so his gait was more of a lumber, and the loose shoe pelted about the sand and his ankles and calves as he lumbered.

What in the world? Why is he walking like that?

He is crying in anger, his face all twisted up red and puffy. He stops and screams out ahead of him. “Aaaaaaarghhhh!!” He waits a moment, then leans forward and screams again even louder. “AAAAAAARGHHHH!!!”

Who is he screaming at? A pair of adults are walking along the beach about 20 feet ahead of him. Are those his parents? They never even look back at him. Do they hear him? Has there been some sort of fight? Shouldn’t they do something to help?

I looked again to the boy. He was certainly old enough to help himself. Why didn’t he just reach down and take his shoe off? Why didn’t he untie the laces and put both shoes on? Why on earth would he choose to just march down the beach screaming and crying?

I realized that I have been that boy. How many times have I gotten myself tangled in my share of messes and then lurched myself down the way, crying and demanding someone wiser come and loose me? When all the while I am perfectly capable of collecting myself, sitting myself down, and removing the obstruction. Then I am free to walk unfettered.

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Manifesting your dreams – or just a good cup of coffee :)

I had the privilege of working with my first mentor about three years ago. She instructed me to read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, then she asked me to write out my biggest dreams in all their glorious detail. At the top of the page I printed the following words:

My dreams are REAL. They are INEVITABLE.

I wrote out my biggest dreams in five different areas: travel, health, money, relationships and career. I read these dreams out loud nearly every single day, and I watched the magic start to happen. I caught the manifestation bug and became a student of Napoleon Hill and Wallace Wattles too. I have listened to their books more times than I can count, and I continue to listen in order to keep my mindset strong.

And guess what? Those dreams I wrote out three years ago – the ones I thought were the end-all-be-all of my life’s ambitions? I have outgrown them.

And now I’m ready to PLAY BIG.

Are you ready to play?

I am willing to bet you are already an expert manifester…

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Here’s my take on manifestation, #WiselyWild style:

My cohort has been in an absolute tizzy about her manifestation skills. She was brooding again this morning, trying to figure out where she is going wrong. “I need to figure this out!” She needed help. I needed coffee. So I started the process of getting my coffee ready.

It suddenly occurred to me. We are already expert manifesters! We manifest coffee every single morning. What can we learn from manifesting coffee that we can apply to leveling up our game? I studied my proven coffee manifestation process step by step. Here is what I learned:

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1. The coffee begins as just an idea in my mind. It is not yet a physical reality when I first think about it. It exists only in my mind. But the existence of that idea is a necessary first step. I can never manifest coffee if I don’t first think about it.

2. Once the thought seed is planted, my heart springs forth with desire. My heart says a hearty YES! to the idea of coffee, and that YES! becomes desire. The more I think about the experience of my morning coffee, the more I want it. Very soon, it becomes a burning desire. I must have coffee.

3. Once I have a burning desire for coffee, I have to take action. I have to want it badly enough to actually act. There are a number of factors working against me – I’m groggy, I don’t feel like making it, it’s too freaking cold to get out of the sleeping bag, etc. My desire for coffee must be strong enough to overcome all that stands in my way.

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4. Once I decide to take action, I must gather together the appropriate supplies in order to begin the process of manifesting a beautiful cup of coffee. I will need grounds, a filter, water, a kettle to hold the water while it is heating, a heat source to boil the water, fuel to furnace the heat source, a light to ignite the fuel, and a mug to contain the piping hot, finished product.

5. Having gathered my supplies, I move according to the laws of brewing. I pour the water into the kettle and place the cap on it. I channel fuel into my camp stove. I light the stove and place the kettle over the flame. I place the filter over my mug and fill it with coffee grounds.

6. Having taken all the necessary action, I WAIT. I wait with faith and purpose. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that coffee will be manifested. I believe that soon I will be sipping on my freshly brewed coffee, my hands curled around the warm, toasty mug, my nose inhaling the nutty, earthy aroma. All of my senses are rapt with anticipation.

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7. In this waiting space, I have total freedom with my thoughts. I can choose to think things like:
* Why is this taking so long?!! Hurry up, coffee!!!
* I have better things to do than sit here and wait for coffee.
* Why do you hate me, coffee? Why do you have to make this so difficult?
* I am going to die before this damn coffee is ready.
* Why the hell do I want coffee anyway?

8. None of these thoughts are going to do anything to alter the laws of brewing. It is going to take as long as it takes for the coffee to manifest.

9. However, my attitude about coffee manifestation has the power to alter my experience with coffee. I could be anxious, frustrated, and angry and decide that coffee isn’t worth the effort. Or I could be giddy with joy at my impending bounty. Either experience is a choice I am totally free to make.

10. Knowing how much I love coffee, and knowing that I am a pro at manifesting coffee, I simply wait, trust the process, and know that my desire will be delivered and that it will be oh so glorious.

11. VOILA! When the time is right, my coffee dreams become physical reality. And it is so rewarding that I go ahead and make a second cup.

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Bat Flight, Carlsbad Caverns, Photo credit nps.gov

Bat medicine is rebirth, but first…

What NOT to do when fear and pain creep in

My publisher and editor warned me that the week leading up to my book launch could be fraught with extreme emotional reactions. It’s the new reality setting in… the fact that I am being exposed – seen and vulnerable at a whole new level. I understand this intellectually, and I am grateful for the warning. I think to myself, “Okay, thanks! Now I will totally see this coming. I will recognize it for what it is, and I will not give in to it. I will remain connected and committed to the vision. I will not freak out.”

Bwaaahahahhaaaa!

A year of uncertainty caught up to me in a Red Roof Inn on a Monday night.

When I say “a year of uncertainty”, I am referring to what my friend Kelli calls the Void – the place where one door has closed and another has yet to open. It is a dark and difficult place to find your footing. You are never quite sure which way is up and which way is down and which way will lead you forward or even if forward is a place that exists anymore, and if so is it the right way to go? In this vast wilderness, the only thing I had to hold onto is my resolve in the following: I am a child of faith, I am divinely led, and I will have all the resources I need. I have been navigating this wilderness void for the last year, roaming from place to place, searching for something that meant more than my wandering did. People have asked me when I am going to settle down. “I don’t know,” I say, “But I’ll know when I know.”

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I believe I have found that something I have been searching for. The door is opening before me, and I can finally see a little light from the other side streaming in. I am returning to a place of passion and purpose. I am returning to a place that feels like home. My book launches in one week, and with it my new business as a solo women’s adventure coach. But first…

Two miles from my exit, I pass under a sign that reads Bat Cave. It catches my eye, as Bat was also present at my recent Reiki attunement. Bat medicine is rebirth. I am excited at the concept of rebirth. Yes! Thank You! THANK YOU! I am ready to step into my new life. I am ready to dive headlong into whatever is next for me. In my enthusiasm for the beginning my new life, I neglect to figure what rebirth requires – death. One must die before one can be reborn. As I check into the motel and settle myself for the evening, the hypnotic hum of the road is broken, and it takes my breath away.

Bat Flight, Carlsbad Caverns, Photo credit nps.gov

Batman Begins

I am reminded of the story of how the Batman was born. A deep pain drove Wayne into the wilderness. Here he encountered the League of Shadows, finding an outlet for his fury and a discipline that honed it into a new purpose. His final test was to face his deepest fear and to be transformed by it. Only then would he be free. Only then would he be fit for service. Into the pit of his childhood terror he fell, and when he rose again, he was a new man – The Batman.

At a Red Roof Inn on this Monday night, I too fall into the pit of my childhood terror. The menacing face of fear looms large at me, fangs staring at me. He slithers under my skin and consumes me from within. He hisses in my heart… Time has run out. You have nothing left. You are alone. No one can save you…

This is not the first time I have fought fear. I grasp at my gratitude, and it is but a vapor against the stark reality of the claims made by fear. My faith fails me. My spirit fails me. I grasp at my mantras, and they fail me. What is happening to me? I wince against the shadow. I know better than this! Fight, Sonya! FIGHT! But there is no fight left in me. I feel my heart failing, the shallow beating shallow beating shallow, shallow, shallow. I just need to sleep. I am so tired. I am so very tired.

I struggle all night to catch some rest and reprieve from the onslaught. I run my Yoga Nidra meditations over and over. I focus on breathing and calling the light. As day breaks, I find myself utterly broken with it, exhausted and desolate.

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Breakdown

The last of my points are spent, and I check out of the motel. I don’t know why this hits me so hard. Things are going exactly as planned. I weep as I load the car. There is no strength left in my legs. I weep as I drive out of the lot. There is no strength left in my arms. I weep as the road stretches out before me, yellow dash, yellow dash, yellow dash. My eyes burn red and blinking and weary. I weep as I enter the forest. Please let there be a place for me. I weep as I pitch my tent and pour myself inside and collapse onto my back. My head swells and aches and throbs, and my body writhes and racks itself in emotional agony. A wellspring of tears from the depths of my soul bursts open bitterly and refuses to be consoled. Tears run forcefully across my cheeks and pool down into my ears and stop up my hearing. My mouth gapes open to cry out in pain, but the cry is silent – a black hole.

I lie there at an utter loss for what feels like an eternity. My body and my mind is wholly paralyzed, numb with fear and pain. I am deaf and dumb and blind, hopelessly frozen. My body sinks deeper and deeper into the earth, engulfed by the black cloak of shadow. I let myself sink. I let myself go. I find rest in this pit of terror, letting go of any effort to free myself. I become perfectly content to just lie there forever, unable to move my fingers or toes, unable to open my eyes or my heart – just perfectly, exquisitely embalmed by the ground.

Called Back from Beyond

Somewhere far, far away, a small sound breaks through. I hear a bird calling, an echo from some distant land. My mind orients toward its song. I hear a creek babbling, a playful, bashful dancing across the dream of a forest floor. The sound of scurrying water fills my ears, and awareness rises within me. I feel a tingling in my body. I feel my eyes behind my eyelids. I feel myself, the witness, rising up into my body.

I flutter my eyelids, and they open. I wiggle my fingers and my toes, and goosebumps spread out across my skin. I swallow and stretch my extremities, groggy and disoriented. I see shades of orange and yellow as my eyes try to focus. I become aware that I wear glasses and would need them to see straight. I curl onto my side and push myself upright into a seated position. I spot my glasses and push them onto my face, my vision sharpening slowly. The orange is my tent. The yellow is the sun.

My phone whistles at me. I reach for it cautiously, still moving like molasses. It’s Mom. Her text says, “New breakthrough. Call me.” I see my water bottle sitting within reach, and I wrap my fingers around it and pull it into my lap. I unscrew the cap and take a sip of water. I swallow and feel the water dance down my throat. I take a bigger sip, and I sigh as the water flows and soothes. Yes, call Mom. Breakthrough. Good.

I rally myself up and out of the tent and into the car. I turn the key over in the ignition and roll the windows down. I drive slowly to the rec area where I will have signal. I take a deep breath and another drink of water, and I call my mom.

Breakthrough

Mom has been listening to Louise Hay, and she is bubbling and gushing about all that has just come alive in her. The word became flesh. The fog in my mind begins to lift as she speaks. Something about how love for our Self is the birthplace of miracles. Something about a love so deep and pure, the kind of love we have always longed for, and how we are supposed to give that love to our Self. “We must become the love we have always dreamed of, Sonya! And we must give that love to our Self,” she says.

I can feel my appetite starting to return, and I pull out some spicy hummus and zucchini as she continues talking. I can feel the color returning to my cheeks as well, as I slice and scoop and chew and swallow and listen to my mother. Her voice is like salve to my soul. I wish I could tell you exactly what she is saying, but all I really hear is LOVE, love for our Self. Something about all those things we wish our mate would do for us, we need to do them for our Self. If we want flowers, then give flowers in love to our Self. If we want to dance, then take our Self dancing in love. Send our Self a card to show our Self how much we love her. We don’t have to look outside ourselves for love. Love, Love, LOVE our Self.

Something clicks in me as I remember what I read in the brand new book by my friend, TheoSophia Rose. “I am the love I have been looking for my whole life,” I said. And I know that it is Truth speaking.

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Breaking Free

How can this be? We are just supposed to love our Self? I know that I know this, that I learned this along my journey, but I feel like I have only scratched the surface. I realize I have a head knowing. What I need is a heart knowing. What would it feel like to love myself so thoroughly and so fiercely that my deepest longings are actually being fulfilled? Why does this feel so preposterous? Can it really be that simple?

When I return to camp, I spot a cluster of tiny purple flowers. I pull a small glass from my car and pour some water in the bottom of it. I wander around camp and down to the creek and collect a few more sprigs – a little more purple and a little pink and a little yellow too. I slip them into the glass and sit them across from my chair. There! I brought you flowers, Sonya. I know how much you love them. I want you to know how much I love you too. I feel myself smile all the way down to my heart.

What else do we want, Sonya? I remember the painting from my cousin Teresa, which has accompanied me throughout my journey. I pull it from the car and prop it up next to the flowers. I sit and admire my new pretty sitting space. It speaks to me, and I love it all. The sun dapples through the trees, beginning its even decent. A soft breeze whispers by. Pale yellow leaves drift through the sky, being loosed and falling from the branches above like giant auburn snowflakes. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. When I open my eyes, they fell anew on the painting of the moon and the Phoenix.

You know you have laid ahold of the right dream when you are willing to let it be the death of you — only to rise again. Book launch in T-minus seven days.

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On being #WiselyWild

Okay, so here it is: What NOT to do when fear and pain creep in

  • Turn off the reminder that you have a call with your book coach in 15 MINUTES, just as the breakdown begins. This is THE TIME you need her most.
  • Decide that you will NOT reach out to ANYONE, including your pilgrimage coach, because you don’t want to burden anyone or let them see you like this.
  • Turn on a movie for release and inspiration instead, because you can do that alone and it reminds you that the hero always crumbles before the big victory.
  • Text your ex when said movie also reminds you that you might very well have all of your dreams come true, except the one you dreamed with him in it.
  • Expect your ex to be charmed by your exquisite vulnerability and realize he needs to save you after all.
  • Continue to ignore all indications that NOW would be a good time to reach out to the people who love you.

Have a plan for when the darkness falls. If it never does, SWEET! If it does, STICK TO THE PLAN. You have allies for a reason. For peace sakes, let them help you.

If you don’t have a plan and you don’t have allies, just HANG IN THERE. This too shall pass. And when it does, cultivate some new, meaningful relationships. You may be flying solo, but you do not have to do it alone.

It’s up to YOU! #NewYork, New York

🎼 If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere!

New York, in my mind, is the epitome of manifesting your dreams. Like starlets to Hollywood and guitar pickers to Nashville, the brazen are drawn to the struggle, the hustle, and the nearly impossible odds of New York City. Madonna Louise Ciccone was 19 years old when she moved to New York with only $35 in her pocket. The iconic move was a revered theme in fantasies of my own.

New York is where the serious get serious. When you come to New York, you are telling the universe you are ALL IN. It has a mystique about it, grit and glimmer at the same time. It was a place I personally never dreamed of. It was too big for me – too bold, too daring, too audacious.

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And yet I found myself here, just by following my feet.

I think it is fitting that the universe would take me into the heart of Manhattan. As big a dreamer as I have been, I was afraid to go *too far*. I was afraid to be too gutsy, too defiant… too reckless. I wanted more from my life, but New York was over the top. I was content to settle for professional, the daily grind, careful to be grateful for every little scrap that came my way.

I was mouse, nosing around in the kitchen, scurrying for the crumbs, staying hidden in the corners, making my nest in the walls. I had the smallest, squeaky voice that was rarely really employed. I dreamed big dreams, but they were always confined in some way, unable to grow beyond my whiskers and my little nose.

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But this mouse somehow found herself in New York City, as a driver even!, in the company of an artist, a fashion designer, a performer, and a producer. I felt the heartbeat of ambition in my bones. The grit and glitter fluttered in my belly. Sultry pulses sweat through my skin in the heat of the night. I dared not, but destiny drew me anyway, whispering it is bigger and sooo much better than you let yourself imagine. And you are welcome.

I strode the streets and drank it all in. I saw roots that broke up the concrete and buildings that scraped the sky. I saw beauty and grime, drive and despair, and I loved it all. I was a mouse among the masses, eating my cheese. Not just any cheese either – Raclette.

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This all began with a single decision – to strip myself down to the barest essentials, seek out wild places, and uncover the primal truth of who I really am.

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GO Solo Travel – Toronto

In conjunction with the launch of my book, I am creating a series of blog posts in service to other women who might be considering solo travel. I am focusing on baby steps right now, places where a woman might feel comfortable getting her feet wet with solo travel. I’ll begin with my most recent jaunt and work my way back from there, keeping up with the new places I am visiting in the meantime.

Why Toronto?

This was my first international jaunt since GOing nomad last year. I was invited to the Archangel Summit, an annual gathering of mission-driven entrepreneurs, leaders, and professionals. I attended the event with about fifty of my fellow authors and our mentor, Dr. Angela Lauria, who was a speaker at the summit. The event is a fundraiser, with entry fees being gifted forward to The Archangel Fund, which is used to provide micro-loans and donations to entrepreneurs and charities making the world a better place.

I considered Toronto a great baby step for my own solo international travel. I could literally drive (or ferry) across the border, so there were no logistical challenges with transportation. The people speak english, and the currency is very similar. I exchanged $160 American for $188.50 Canadian and was delighted to hold in my hands the FAR more beautiful bills of our northern neighbors. 🙂

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Crossing the Border

Crossing the border was simple and relatively painless. Being questioned by a uniformed officer made me slightly nervous, as did the fact that two dogs were loose and sniffing around my car. Justice was more nervous than I was, but we managed. I was asked the purpose for my visit, and I answered that I was headed to Toronto for the Archangel Summit. “What’s the Archangel Summit?” the officer asked.

“It’s a gathering of entrepreneurs,” I said.

“Are you an entrepreneur?” He asked.

“Yes,” I said. “I wrote a book about solo travel for women. I work with women who have a deep inner urge for solo travel and adventure. I help them find their way.” He was satisfied. It was strange and wonderful, answering that question in the affirmative. It was the first time I have ever identified myself as an entrepreneur.

The officer then asked me whether I had medical insurance, reservations and ample funds for my travel. A simple “yes” to these questions sufficed. He finished his inquiry by asking if I was transporting a firearm, tobacco or alcohol. A simple “no” to this question sufficed as well. And thus I was ushered into Canada.

I had been following my GPS and was delighted to hear “Welcome to Canada!” I thought it was so cool when my GPS started speaking in kilometers instead of miles. Then I FREAKED OUT when I saw my first speed limit sign. It was also posted in kilometers. Holy Crow!! I had no idea what the conversion was! I got sick in the pit of my stomach and goosebumps broke out along my entire body. My mind immediately rushed into the worst case scenario. OMGOSH, I’m in a foreign country and I’m going to get pulled over and they are going to deport me cause I didn’t study my math before I went and did something serious like cross the border. Fortunately, my car speaks kilometer too. 🙂 Imagine the wave of relief when I noticed that little inner circle on my speedometer.

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Opting Outside

There are two campgrounds within a 30-ish minute drive to downtown Toronto. (You can find a list of campgrounds and conservation  areas at TRCAparks.ca.) I chose Glen Rouge Campground, which is actually within the Toronto city limits, and my site was backed by the Rouge River. The campground was heavily populated, even though it was the first weekend after labor day in September. My site had a fire pit and picnic table. The washrooms and showers were a short stroll away.

Had it been warmer, I could have taken advantage of the free general admission and discounted swimming at Petticoat Creek Conservation Area. But with daily high temperatures in the mid-60s and overnight lows in the upper 40s, I opted to explore the Rouge Park Trails instead. The trails are dog-friendly and moderately trafficked. Trail running is totally doable on this well-maintained system. The pathway is wide and obvious, fairly flat in most places, with ample white blazes to help you keep your feet. There are several spurs that wander off the path. I followed a couple of these and found they eventually routed right back onto the main trail. The Mast Trail is 5.1 km round trip. The trailhead is located off the parking lot at the entrance to Glen Rouge Campground, and the trail navigation is available on the All Trails app.

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For a more urban but quaint hike or bicycle option, I loved the Pickering Waterfront Trail. The Millennium Square at the foot of Liverpool Road offers gorgeous views of Frenchman’s Bay and has won awards for its beautiful design. The Waterfront Trail through Pickering is divided into three named sections. First Nations Trail (3.5 km) is the western leg. Monarch Trail (4.7 km) surrounds Frenchman’s Bay and ends at Millennium Square. Peak Trail (4.0 km) runs from Millennium Square to the eastern border with Ajax. Each name has a historical or environmental significance. The trail is pet-friendly.

Millennium Square boasts a spectacular sunset view and stargazing. Dining options include The Waterfront Bistro, The Beach Chip food truck, and Yogen Fruz ice cream shoppe – all with patio seating.

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Coffee Connection

Liverpool Road itself offers ample free parking and a number of locally owned boutique shops, including the OpenStudio Art Café. This adorable coffee shop is where I did most of my work while in the Toronto area. Owned and operated by the utterly delightful Michèle Bolton, this waterfront area meeting place offers free wifi, specialty coffee and tea, freshly-baked beignets and other delectable treats. Michèle displays the work of local visual artists, all of which is available for purchase. The Café also features original live art and music events and hosts an open mic night on most Fridays.

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I appreciated the courtesy Michèle extended to Justice as well. The patio is pet-friendly for well-behaved pups, and an outdoor outlet was available to juice my laptop and cell phone while I worked. I highly recommend this lovely little gem.

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As far as downtown Toronto goes, I didn’t do much exploring. Parking was a bit costly, and I was busy with the conference activities. I noticed a number of parks sprinkled throughout the city as I drove, and they looked to be well-used. Queen’s Park is one of the oldest urban parks in Canada, a pretty, green oasis bordered by the buildings of the University of Toronto. Glen Rouge Campground did provide a Toronto points of interest map and details on city transit access. More information on Toronto attractions can be found at SeeTorontoNow.com.

Are you the one?

Please Lord, help me get one.

I woke at 5a this morning, ready to rise and shine. I’m staying with my bff in Madison, Virginia, near the base of the Shenandoahs. The house is quiet at this hour. I tip-toe out the room and start the coffee. I tip-toe out the front door with Justice. Good morning, world.

The sky is still dark but alive with singing. Crickets, cicadas, frogs? I wish I knew the source of my serenade. I stand on the front porch and close my eyes. The singing fills the air and wraps around me, amplified. I feel it penetrate my tired bones and rouse me gently. I take a deep breath in, hold… and let it out again.

I tip-toe back inside and pour my coffee. I settle myself at the kitchen table with my journal. The TV is still playing in the window room beside me, and I recognize the scenes of Hacksaw Ridge. The battle is just beginning. I know what happens. It’s brutal. It’s ugly. And in the face of defeat, the conscientious objector calls upon an unseen force, “What do you want me to do?” and “Please Lord, help me get one more.”

I see the faces of women, their bodies strung out on the battlefield. Wounded. Alone in their suffering. My heart cries softly, “What do you want me to do?” and “Please Lord, help me get to one.”

I had no idea when I went on walkabout that my journey would produce a book. I had no idea when I began my book that my journey would produce a movement. But as healing comes, healing gives. The more I speak with women, the greater my resolve to hear more deeply, to help dress the wounds, and to facilitate a move to safety, where radical healing can take place.

Are you the one?

As the morning rises, the night songs give way to the day. Birds call. The pattering of rain drops on leafy green. The porch swing sways. The dew hangs on the air. I tip-toe barefoot in the grass and welcome what is to come. My inbox is open and ready to receive you.

Centennial Trail salute, Spokane WA

Being both a busy woman and a lover of the outdoors, I seriously appreciate public green spaces. City parks and trails can be an excellent way to fit spending time with nature into a hectic lifestyle, balancing the effects of the urban hustle and bustle.

According to proponents of environmental psychology, spending time in nature has at least three positive effects:

  1. Reduced stress
  2. Improved mood
  3. Improved cognitive performance

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My favorite place to meet nature during my busy five years as a resident of Spokane was the Mirabeau access point of the Centennial Trail. This was a quick drive from my home and from my work in our downtown tasting room, but the river running along the valley floor and the tall trees lining the pathway shielded me from the urban noise and made it feel like I was a world away.

This section of the Centennial Trail holds many memories for me, so I paid a visit to offer my gratitude before saying so long to Washington and continuing my journey east.

I took up running when I moved to Washington, and this was my top choice for logging in my miles. Not only was it a beautiful natural area, but the trail was well-maintained and relatively flat. I felt more like a wild animal than a chunky human here, and I could work on my breathing and my form without over-taxing my body and my psyche.

140917 Walk

It was here that I first broke the ten minute mile threshold in a 5k race, completing the run in less than thirty minutes. The race was part of Valleyfest, and it was a huge accomplishment for me.

It was here that I made my decision to run my first half marathon. I had been invited to join a friend in running the Bridge of the Gods, but I had never run that far, and I was wavering in my resolve. I took to the trail that day and found many other women out for a run. One group of three was exiting the trail as I was entering, and they asked me to take a photograph of them, so they could prove to their trainer that they had logged in their miles. “What race are you training for?” I asked.

“The Spokane Negative Split,” the brunette in the pink shorts and ponytail replied. “Are you training for a race?”

“I am thinking about running the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks,” I said.

“Oh, wow! I think that race is sold out,” she said.

My stomach dropped and burned.

“You might want to check on that right away,” she said. “And good luck!”

“You too,” I said. And in that instant I made my choice. I drove home from the trail, logged onto the website and paid my entry fee.

I did some of my best thinking here, so I also used the trail for walking. There were times I spread my blanket on the shoreline of the river and wrote in my journal or just stared into the sparkling water. It was here that I came to brainstorm new business ideas. It was here that I came after the shocking death of a close friend.

160101 Snow

It was here that I labored over my life’s purpose on New Year’s Day. I had been feeling unfulfilled in my work and was reading Napoleon Hill’s thoughts on the concept of drifting. The park was a dazzling winter wonderland, and the trail was covered in snow. I enjoyed complete solitude and clarity as I plodded through my dilemma one footprint at a time.

Today I come to say farewell to what feels like a dear friend. I took off my shoes and did some rock scrambling with Justice down by the water. I brought my journal and my camera to capture some last memories. I rolled up my jeans and slid my feet into the cool water, listening for the calling birds. I watched a critter sunning itself a few feet from me and a family in kayaks floating by with eyes closed and faces upturned.

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I am passionate about helping more women experience the benefits of being out in natural places. Being too busy is simply not an acceptable excuse. The more hectic your life is, the more important it is for you to spend time alone with nature. You owe it to yourself first, and when we care enough for ourselves we have more to give to those we love. Need help with this? Email me at sequoia1011@gmail.com.

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The Centennial Trail runs 37 miles one-way from Spokane, Washington to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It has numerous access points, each offering a new adventure. The trail is pet-friendly and popular with runners, walkers, bicyclists, tourists and locals alike. Several city parks and serene water features are accessible from the trail. It truly is a gem and worth a trek.