Recently I posted about a short solo hike I took along the Gunpowder, and how that time in nature pulled my focus and triggered some thoughts.
My hike was inspired by Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, a book about Cheryl taking three months for hiking and self-discovery on the Pacific Crest Trail. I find Cheryl’s story and quest inspiring; as someone who is constantly looking for opportunities for self-discovery, self-improvement, and personal growth, I love hearing about how Cheryl recognized the chaos in her life and walked down a path that helped her to make some sense of it all and to re-ground and to re-center.
Then, I realized that Cheryl is part of a list of women I keep in my head – women who inspire me, women of whom I am extremely envious, women whose stories I devour. Many of them I’ve already mentioned in my short time writing on this blog: Cheryl Strayed (obv), Brene Brown, Kristen Neff, Gretchen Rubin. While walking by the river and ruminating, I added Elizabeth Gilbert to the list, too.
What did they all have in common? They’re all writers, and I find myself seized up with envy whenever I think about someone who spends their days and their lives writing for a living. (I love my job – love it! And can’t imagine not doing it. But deep down, I long to write more and better and more fruitfully, in one way or another.)
These women also have written about a common subject – self-discovery and growth. And I found myself, as I walked along, comparing and contrasting their journeys and their methods. Elizabeth Gilbert took a yearlong journey to three foreign countries, striving for pleasure, prayer, and balance. Brene Brown spent her days in academia and utilized the stories she found to develop a beautiful Wholehearted approach to the universe. Kristen Neff found meditation and self-compassion following a period of personal pain. Cheryl Strayed hiked for three months on the Pacific Crest Trail in an endeavor that brought her growth, self-knowledge, and healing. Gretchen Rubin stayed right where she was, at home in New York City, and developed a blog and happiness framework, making small changes to her life to increase her happiness and quality of life.
The question next on my mind was something along the lines of, “Well… What about you? What are you going to do?”
This question is doubly meaningful for me. First of all – these women (who rock) all wrote terrific, wonderful books that were about their various journeys toward self-discovery and growth. So – is there another journey that I could take? A unique, amazing journey that I can then write about in a book that inspires others the way these books inspire me?
Secondly – given how much I am struggling with this waiting period, how lost I sometimes feel, how I want to feel grounded and centered and in the flow – is there something I can do, some wisdom hidden among all these women’s efforts, that will help me to feel found, to feel happier, to feel self-compassionate and balanced and Wholehearted?