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Wellness in the Woods

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” –Henry David Thoreau

Some people are raised in the outdoors, but for some of us, we have to find our own way there. I didn’t grow up in an outdoorsy family. Don’t get me wrong, we played outside, took walks in the beautiful park behind our house, and enjoyed family vacations in places like Turner Falls in Davis, Oklahoma and Taos, New Mexico, but we weren’t really into nature. I didn’t camp until high school with a friend’s family. I didn’t set out to intentionally hike until I was 28, and that was when my life changed.  

In 2011 I weighed near 300 pounds, was pre diabetic, ate fast food for every meal, and avoided sweat like it was my job. In 2012 I lost 85 pounds by watching what I ate and walking miles and miles a day along the busy streets of New York City, where I lived at the time. In 2013, I got pregnant and had my first daughter. After she was born I succumbed to depression, stress, and overwhelm gaining back all but 20 pounds. In 2015, I moved back to Oklahoma and found my life’s greatest passion.

When I decided to really put effort in to my wellness journey again, I did so with a different mindset than I had a few years before. I’m not atheistically driven or trying to satisfy some deep rooted vanity. I just want to feel strong and fit and capable of doing hard things. I started with half marathons. Then crossfit. Then began my journey in to what I like to call “adventuring”. It started a bit like everything else I “plan” to do, which is quickly, where I am, with what I have. I had to drive to Arkansas one weekend and decided I would try to hike Whitaker Point Trail in the Ozark National Forest. I stopped by Walmart, bought a 20 dollar hydration pack, and went on my way. The trail wasn’t especially challenging but the experience was revelatory. I found a strength, peace, and passion on that trail that I had never experienced before. To say that when I reached the top I was blown away is an understatement. I found an obsession. And since that day I haven’t stopped.

This has changed me as a human being. It’s affected how I parent. It has impacted my wellness journey in a way nothing else even came close. This body that was once too weak and tired to travel up stairs has now climbed the Manitou Incline, rappelled, ran half marathons, kayaked, travelled and camped alone, ran trails, squatted more than its own weight, and completed a Tough Mudder. And there is no sign of stopping. In 2020 I hope to learn about climbing, complete a triathlon, and do an extended backpacking trip.

Finding the Women’s Hiking Crew, getting a job at REI, and volunteering with local community clean ups has expanded and fostered my need for nature and betterment in a way I didn’t think possible. I am so grateful for this grid of growth and community. It feeds my soul, my journey, and my passion for the outdoors.

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