Happy Birthday, Hiking My Feelings!
🥳 HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Hiking My Feelings!
One year ago today, standing on top of Stonewall Peak in San Diego, I had a realization.
It was four days after I left my post as CMO of the startup I was working with. I didn't have a backup plan, I didn't have any savings to speak of, I didn't know what was coming next other than my second thru-hike of the Trans-Catalina Trail.
It was also eight months since I had been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. While I had been losing weight, my blood sugar levels had been elevating again while I was at the startup, which was the first in a series of dominoes that had to fall in order for me to make some tough choices.
I hadn't been on an actual hike since the Trans-Catalina Trail back in 2016. After we got home from that trip, we jumped straight into paddleboarding which carried us through to my Diabetes diagnosis. After my diagnosis, I had been walking every morning, and the walking graduated to hiking on that fateful day. I knew the power of the trail from the first trip across Catalina. I knew I could find clarity and comfort in the outdoors.
We laced up our (new) hiking shoes, and got to work. Aside from some "urban hiking" around Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, it had been awhile. As we passed through burn areas and forest, we made our way up to the top of Stonewall Peak. Between wishing I could see the views that were promised (it was cloudy) and watching the squirrels clamor for my almonds, it clicked.
I had just been through some pretty stressful stuff over the past eight months. Between the diagnosis and all the changes that come with managing a chronic disease, quitting the agency to join the startup, quitting the startup to prioritize my health, it was a lot. And, unlike times like this in the past, I wasn't turning to a pint of Ben & Jerry's to avoid the feelings. I wasn't drinking a bottle of wine every night.
I realized that instead of eating and drinking my feelings, I had been hiking my feelings.
I came home, wrote about it (bit.ly/HikingMyFeelings), and checked to see if the hashtag had been used.
Somehow, it hadn't. The seed was planted. I bought URLs, snagged social media profiles, and got to dreaming.
Community member Rebecca Allured was the first person other than me to use the hashtag, and when that happened, I started crying on the couch in our home in San Diego. This was before we sold everything and moved into the van. Before my first speaking tour. I straight up lost it. If this could change my life the way it has, and if someone else identifies with this idea enough to use the hashtag, what else is possible here?
By now, you know the rest of this chapter of the story - we went and did the second thru-hike of the TCT, I shared my story with the Catalina Island Conservancy and they connected me with REI. Within the span of 11 days after getting off the trail, the hashtag turned into a speaking tour.
And, as they say, the rest is history.
Since we started the first tour back in October, we've had the opportunity to share this story with thousands of people, via the tour stops themselves, podcast interviews, written works, and of course, on the trail. Every single action you take makes this dream a reality, and with your help, we're breaking open tough conversations around the trauma we've experienced and how the outdoors can help us heal.
This is how we break down stigmas around mental wellness. This is how we create new conversations around our health - mind, body, soul - conversations that are inclusive of ALL lived experiences, not just the bright and shiny kind.
This work is the hardest work I've ever done, and is hands down the most rewarding.
Thank you for being part of our family, thank you for helping us keep the tour alive, and thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for believing in what we're building here.
I'm not one to celebrate a birthday for just one day, so stay tuned for additional announcements in the days and weeks to come as we celebrate this milestone!
💚 FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT: WE JUST GOT A MAKEOVER!
Once we started scheduling dates for the speaking tour last August, I needed a website. But, having just quit my job with no backup plan and no savings to speak of, I needed to do it on the cheap. For the past year, we've been running this show with a landing page from Mailchimp. It's worked, but it has been driving me bananas.
Today, we have an official website! With a blog. And a start to a store. And an actual calendar with all of our hikes and events listed.
I'd love it if you could help us celebrate by sharing the URL and encouraging your friends to check us out.
We would absolutely LOVE your feedback on the new site, so please DM me or comment below to share your thoughts. It's really helpful for me to know how you're viewing it (mobile, desktop, tablet) and what device/browser you use if you see anything wonky!
We've got more announcements coming up, so be sure to keep an eye on this space and subscribe at hikingmyfeelings.com!