Last Sunday, I stood at the base of a mountain in Arizona. My shoes were tied tight. I had Dame Camera (my Nikon) strapped to my front. And my brain was swimming. Two days before, I’d flown myself across the country for Bloggy Bootcamp in Phoenix (#BBCPHX), and for an introvert like me, that was really stretching the limits of my comfort zone. I’d fought butterflies for days, met some new and amazing people who share my passion (do you know how rare that is?), and I learned so much about making the blog of mine amazing. The entire conference was positive, and support for fellow bloggers, for other women, and for myself was a constant theme. But I woke up Sunday overwhelmed by a buildup of emotion and information. In those moments from my hotel bed, the world was too quiet. No conference. No kids. I was almost drowning in my own mind.
I started the Gateway Loop Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve looking for distraction or peace, whichever came first, and clicking photos of most everything. In Arizona, the horizons stretch on forever, and mountains rise up out of the desert floor like waves on the ocean. There’s a beauty in the desolation and barrenness of the desert that I’m not used to. It took me off guard, like I was walking on the moon. The trail stretched upward and curved counter-clockwise around the mountain. Craggy rocks stuck out of the red-dirt path. They kept my attention, so each step had to be planned. My mind went to where my foot should go next, where each step should take me. And when I wasn’t thinking of stepping, I was admiring the wide view into the valley below or the way the mountain reached up so steeply above me. I kept shooting pictures.
On my way up the mountain, I met fewer and fewer hikers. I listened to my steps and my breath and the rhythm they formed. I heard a bird’s wings crease as he flew over head. I kept putting one foot after another, stretching my stride to make it over or beside an uneven place in the path. I let my camera dangle, and I pumped my arms. And I breathed. At one moment, just before the crest of the trail, I looked up and around me. And in that moment, I realized that everything around me was still in the desert sunlight. And as I stood unmoving, my I noticed my thoughts were still as well. My walk had created a meditation of sorts, and I’d found the peace I was searching for. My body felt lighter, and my shoulders were relaxed.
This is the moment that I’d composed a love letter to myself through my actions. Through exercise, by shooting photographs, by traveling far and away, I was able to give myself exactly what I needed. Peace didn’t come in the things I was saying inside my head, peace came from the act of showing myself love. It came from being kind to myself, giving myself a break, allowing myself the time to do what was needed.
I’m really good at showing my children, my family, my friends love. And in These 30 Days, I’m falling head over heels for total strangers and expressing that emotion to them too. But it’s much harder to show myself the love that I deserve, or simple the love that I need.
This is my big take away from my cross-country travels: love letters don’t have to be written down. They can be formed in footsteps, in moments of solitude, and they can be written to yourself.
So tell me: What is your favorite way to write yourself wordless love letters? How often do you push yourself out of your comfort zone?