Tomorrow at 6 AM we catch the ferry from Long Beach to Avalon on Catalina Island and begin our second trek across the island via the Trans-Catalina Trail. If you’re interested in pretty pictures and deep thoughts, I’ll be sharing from our trek via Instagram stories and posts – follow me @sydneyunfiltered and #Sydney33onTCT to see the beauty that is this trail.
Last week I started exploring this concept of “hiking my feelings” and over the weekend – I had two people reach out and say that the hashtag inspired them to take to the trail – I AM FREAKING OUT THAT IS SO INCREDIBLE!
What does hiking my feelings mean? In short, when I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes last year, I quickly realized that my usual coping mechanisms were no longer available to me. Those coping mechanisms being eating my feelings (hellooooo Ben & Jerrys!) and drinking my feelings (never did find the answers at the bottom of any of those bottles of wine). As I look back over my journey so far since my diagnosis, I have come to realize that the eating and drinking my feelings has been replaced with hiking my feelings.
It started with daily walks up and down the “hill of death” in our neighborhood as I established a healthy morning routine with less Facebook scrolling and more movement.
It continued as I advocated for walking meetings and walking as a way for me to transition between tasks at my last job. Things were moving so fast the only way I could keep sane with everything that was coming at me was to keep moving. Whether it was walking meetings with my business partner or heading over to Sunset Cliffs to have my panic attacks, I learned that walking was the best way to get back on track if I felt stuck, or trapped, or otherwise overwhelmed.
And over the last few weeks as we gear up for this trek across Catalina Island, hiking has quite literally become my therapy.
Two weeks ago, I left my job without a backup plan.
I don’t know what comes next. But it looks a lot more like #hikingmyfeelings and writing about it than it does punching a clock to get paid to ignore my dreams.
On the trail, I have nowhere to go. I can’t run away from my thoughts. Thanks to Diabetes, I can’t soothe them with food and alcohol. Now, I face them head-on. And I’m excited to see who emerges after the 38-mile marker on this trail because it’s been a whirlwind to get to this moment.
From near tears in the REI dressing room at the end of 2016, to physically picking up my right leg on the last summit before Blackjack campground the first time we attempted this trek while repeating “I can do hard things” and “right foot, left foot” to myself, to now; almost 60 pounds lighter, managing a chronic illness, and completely untethered professionally.
To say it’s been a journey would be an understatement.
To think that I’ll resolve everything on the trail is foolish.
…but I’m open to it.
And I know this much: I’m all talked out. I’ve processed this chapter of my life and the decisions that got me here upside down and backwards, and now, it’s time to leave it all on the trail.
I’ve had this internal knowing since I was a child that 33 would be a special year for me. I can’t think of a better way to start my 33rd trip around the sun than on this trail, where I started my journey to love myself, with my husband, who has seen and loved several “versions” of Sydney since we first met in 2010.
See you on the other side – and don’t forget to follow along on Instagram!