In August my soul danced its happy dance when I immersed it, along with my body and mind, in a week-long backpacking adventure in the Olympic National Park.  Everything necessary in the way of food, clothing, and shelter carried on our backs.  Hiking fifty-six miles through a rain forest, crossing rivers via logs as balance beams, and stepping up, down and across two mountain passes.  (Can we say switchbacks are our friends?!)  

No phone service.  Shared time with two friends.  The stars, the moon, and an occasional headlamp our only light systems once the sun called it a day.    Cold river waters our makeshift baths after hiking temps reached three digits.  Baths minus soap, of course; in pure Mother Nature, a shoe tread is the only footprint to leave behind.  Bear canisters our scent detractors from the food (and toothpaste) we carted to carry us through our six-day adventure.  (Are you ready to go?!) 

One of our nightly rituals was to reflect on our three words that best summed up our experiences for that day.  Mine included guardian angels, team.  River thru, hands.  Not escape us.  Thankful, grateful, blessed.  And forward to alive. 

Forward to alive.  When people asked if I was exhausted after one of my ultra marathons I would respond when I am my most spent, I feel most alive.  I feel a deep sensation of oneness.  Within myself, for the accomplishment, and the alignment in which my body, my mind, and my spirit came together to complete a 33.5 or 50 mile run through up and downhill wooded – or on a couple of occasions, mountainous – terrain.  Oneness with the surrounding Universe; the trees, sky, dirt, grasses, animals, other runners.  With my team of guides, keepers, and ancestors not in physical form.  With my family and friends on Earth.  All providing non-stop encouragement for these “crazy” adventures my soul loves. 

I knew at the end of the hike I would feel spent.   I would feel another shift within myself; a BHC and AHC.  Before hike Christine and after hike Christine.  Life is designed like that.  Always moving forward.  Upward. 

Sometimes it feels across.  

Like the dear inch worm that greeted me when I awoke the morning after our first night’s tent sleep.   I watched him move back and forth (and up).  Inch by inch, one at a time.  

As I watched this dear messenger, I felt his celebration with me as I reflected on another forward to alive trail I have been “running” over the past 15 months, and actually, more like ten years.  If you read a previous Hope Is quest, you know of my journey with finding comfort in my own skin, metaphorically, and literally.  A manifested rash predominantly between my knees and my ankles has embarked me on an ultimate ultra marathon, focused on aligning body with mind and spirit to heal. 

Like this dear inchworm following its natural instincts, I was following an internal compass that was pointing me true north to look not only at physical contributors.  I also needed to deeply enter emotional, mental, and spirit components of myself.  To assess historical factors where my body has kept the score.  In physical injuries that created blockages in my body systems’ ability to flow all necessary nutrients to all parts of my body.  And where my body buried the scores of held in emotional grief and pain.   It was also important that I look at the lesson plans my soul desired when it chose to enter this life. 

Body, mind, soul.  All three key to navigating this ultra marathon health “run”. 

Unlike my first fifty-mile ultramarathon in which I miraculously never hit what runners refer to as a “wall”, it often felt like I was running smack into a solid barrier.  Many times, the wall was within me, my mind the bricks of doubt creating blockages on my soul’s running path following the flags of intuition.  

Several times the wall was western medicine, a trail system not holistically navigable, focused predominately on physical symptoms to fix and not whole systems to align and prevent.   I have respect for western medicine and the life-saving options it can offer.  I am frustrated in its lack of exclusion of the heart and soul at the table of a person’s whole care.     

I knew that to cross a finish line of this “health marathon”, a joyful thriving life MUST include spending time with EVERYTHING internal in our body systems.  To not address the emotional and mental ailments, the flow of all nutrients life holds is hindered.  The nutrients of food, and of the sustenance of things such as gratitude, compassion, hope, and love. 

This inch worm was applauding that inch by sometimes grueling inch, I remained the willing spirit to look at what is going on inside physically, emotionally, mentally, and spirit-ly.   I bravely showed up in my own skin in spaces that have not always been comfortable for me to be seen for how I believe, like my new friend bravely showing itself on a human-made tent screen for me.  And like my messenger, sometimes I showed up quietly, but I showed up none-the-less because it was important that I did.     

As I took in this inch worm’s messages, I also recognized my new friend was in cahoots with my team of guides and ancestors as it moved back and forth across the tent screen with its rhythmic “take it inch by inch if you must, but it is time”.  

Time for what?  (smile)

It is important to me that Blueprints for a Hope-Filled Life include…blueprints.   Cambridge dictionary defines blueprints as a complete plan that explains how to do or develop something

I’ve learned a great deal on my ultramarathon to here.  I’ve not widely shared.  I think now it is time that I do.   We make it matter, our stories…if we can inspire or offer…a blueprint someone else can use in the design of their own hope-filled life. 

Inch by inch.

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