Wherever we travel to, the wonderful people we meet become our family.

Lailah Gifty Akita
Clowning around with Karl in the camping section of the local store. Staying with these trail angels was absolutely heavenly.
Clowning around with Karl in the camping section of the local store. Staying with these trail angels was absolutely heavenly.

Last night I had vivid dreams with a cast of colleagues from my recent past. In and out popped characters with whom I’d developed deep ties working on projects, solving problems in a hectic deadline-based environment and seeing each other every day, often for far more hours than I see my own family.

These people are gone from my life now, at least in the material world. I’m pretty sure they’re still alive, but we have nothing that binds anymore. We don’t talk. We never see each other. In the dream, I was desperately trying to grab hold of a microphone just so I could speak into it and say goodbye, but they wouldn’t allow me. I failed. I was bereft.

Oddly, though, when I woke up, I didn’t feel sorrow. Rather I felt cleansed, as if I had gotten my words out and made peace before letting go.

Before sunrise, my day began with a meeting at a coffee shop with someone who will likely be a part of my future. And after that I barged in late to hot yoga – receiving a mild scolding – where I sweated, squeezed and twisted out any lingering anxiety. I forgot all about the dream and just lurched forward into the day, learning that perhaps desiring closure and turning away from what makes me hurt, can have the same effect as more publicly letting go – or, in my case, trying to obtain permission to let go.

Training the heart is a lot like training a puppy.
Training the heart is a lot like training a puppy.

It’s a lot like the technique my friend Cheryl is using to train her puppy. She uses a quiet voice and still and grounded body language to establish authority and simply gives her dog a light push away when she’s misbehaving. She might even ignore the dog entirely rather than wag a finger and say, “no!” The results are astounding in a calmer, more obedient, possibly happier little creature. I wonder if the heart responds likewise. If my mind is quiet and gently nudges away thoughts that don’t serve me, can I get more grounded?

When I flew one-way out to Seattle last summer, then hopped on a bus to Bellingham, I wasn’t so much ignoring my chaotic emotions or pushing them aside, I was removing myself from a place of pain. I had just completed walking the Te Araroa, so I was still in good physical shape and knew my gear would serve me well, but I had made very few plans beyond a few weeks.

Let’s just say thank the goddess for social media. I landed on a Facebook page for hikers who were headed up to the trailhead together the very weekend I arrived. The complicated details were organized by trail angels in the area, and one couple offered to host me in their home. Thirty years ago, Karl walked the Appalachian Trail and so many people helped him, he wanted to pay it forward.

It was quite the gift for this confused, battered, lost little soul of a hiker. We laughed, ate, drank, shopped for camping odds and ends, and had a lovely time that set the entire tone for my second thru-hike of the year. Here’s my first visual-audio essay from the PCT supported by John Reamer and Associates as well as my Patrons Carl, Cheryl, Courtney, Janet, Jennine, Karen D, Karen N, Lisa, Marc, Norm, Patricia, Rietja, Stephen and Steven. Your kindness and support overwhelms my spirit!


  1. Pingback:peeps of the PCT: 'flippers' | blissful hiker

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