A Little Hope A Long Way From Home

Last I posted, my cousin and I were headed to Spain for an eight day adventure through four cities.  I absolutely love to travel. In fact, my alter-ego is that of a travel planner – I’ve owned my own business for almost 12 years. So there was no doubt we’d have a great time, despite the taxi strike and the super cold temperatures and getting lost a thousand times and the fact that we nearly had to strip down in a waffle shop (there’s a longer story there, as you may imagine). But this trip was particularly timely.

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On the balcony of our Parador in Ronda

You see, I’ve been feeling a bit lost lately. Not the same type of actual, “haven’t we passed that restaurant five times” lost that we were in Spain, but lost in life. I’ve been searching for how to turn my passion for helping people and inspiring hope into something thats… more than a passion. Because as much as I absolutely love doing these things, they don’t currently pay the bills. So I’ve been stuck in this grand “what do I do with my life” for the past few months or so. I mean, to be honest, I have that question often, but recently, due to certain circumstances in my life, it’s felt more pressing, more urgent. Like I need to figure it out now, and to start making the next steps.

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Sunrise as we hiked down the mountain in Ronda

And I am not going to say I had some sort of epiphany during a sunrise hike down the mountain inRonda, because I didn’t (I did do the sunrise hike, but I couldn’t feel my hands, let alone an epiphany). I wish I could say this truly. I wish I had a eureka moment where everything made sense, and I knew the path ahead. But I have too low self-confidence to have those. People who have these moments are sure of their ability to make that path work. I, on the other hand, continually question myself, even when I’m succeeding. But I did have some tiny little lightbulbs start to brighten. Something akin to dim path lighting on a dark sidewalk. Out there, in the fresh air overlooking the countryside in Andalucia, as I froze my way down the mountain, I gained some hope. Hope that, perhaps I might not be able to accomplish my goals in the way I originally wanted to, but that I would somehow get there. Ideas, small ones, began to pop into my brain. What if you did this? How about that? More like tiny directives, stepping stones. Which is what I need, because I’m a big picture person who can see the end goal, but not how to get there.

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At the Alcazar in Cordoba. View from one of the castle turrets.

And so there, in the hills of southern Spain, my perspective changed both literally and figuratively. It may have taken me traveling thousands of miles away to get to that point, but hope is hope, and sometimes, it comes in forms that you least expect. I guess I’ll just have to travel more often!

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View of the Puente Nuevo as we hiked in Ronda.

The Great Outdoors

I hope some of my readers are old enough to get this blog title, so that I don’t feel too terribly old.

I am a person that, by nature, loves the fresh air and sunlight. I liken myself to a dog with it’s head out sticking out the car window. Sun on my face, wind in my hair, and copious amounts fresh air is my happy place. Add in exploring, and it’s basically my perfect day.

My mood has been particularly topsy turvy lately, and so I’m making a concerted effort to be outside as much as possible (when the weather cooperates).  The days are getting colder and darker, which I don’t love, but I’m trying to take as much advantage of the daylight hours as I can when I’m not working.

This past weekend, I decided to take a solo hike in nearby Wissahickon Park. The park is quite expansive, but parts of it are 15 to 20 minutes drive from my house, which makes it pretty convenient for an early morning hike. When I arrived, there were three other cars in the particular parking area I’d chosen, which meant that, unless people were just crammed into other parking areas, other hikers would be few and far between for the time being. Perfect. I spent about two hours hiking, all in all. I’ve hiked this area before, or at least some of it, so I experimented with trails I hadn’t taken before. I did know that there was a mini waterfall (I love waterfalls, and anything water-related!) that I hadn’t gotten to visit on prior trips, so I was determined to find it, and find it I did.

 

 

I arrived home before 11AM, several miles hiked, daily step goal for the already achieved, and renewed hope.  Being out in the peacefulness and relative solitude of nature, spending time among the changing leaves, with only the sound of running water, squirrels rustling through the trees, and the occasional fellow hiker is exactly what I needed.

 

Life with a mood disorder and chronic illnesses is never easy.  And sometimes, I’m not able to be as active as I’d like to be. But I’m vowing to spend as much time as I can in the great outdoors going forward. I may have to get creative in the colder months, because the cold and my body do not get along, but I will do what I can.