Winter Hiking and 2017 Intentions

I returned today from a somewhat spontaneous trip up to Mt. Desert Island with a new friend to hike in Acadia National Park on New Years Eve.  This was right after a Nor’easter dumped a bunch of snow on Maine (rain only on MDI) and right before another smaller storm came through last night.  Sandwiched between these two storms was a perfect window of Maine winter weather where the sun was bright, the wind light and the roads and trails clear.

We had an absolutely picturesque winter hike up Cadillac Mountain on New Year’s Eve.  New company to get to know, friendly words with strangers on the trail, orange glow of the late afternoon sun and a long view into the Atlantic from the summit.  Acadia is just so startlingly beautiful, it becomes an emotional experience.

A lazy drive home and time to reflect has left me wanting to put my 2017 intentions down in writing, not to profess any sort of wisdom, but to affirm them to myself and have a place to go to remember them in the coming year.

I have never been one for lofty New Year’s resolutions, but the arrival of 2017, the year in which I turn 40, has inevitably dropped a pin in my journey, an appropriate ‘trail marker’ to stop, pull out the map and point my feet in an intentional direction forward.  Since changing my diet in 2014, widening my circle of compassion and getting fit, I have realized these activities, are, at their core, about living, acting and nourishing myself through intentional choices,  and creation of consistent practices, rather than simply reacting to outside forces.  It isn’t always easy (it takes planning) and I’m not always perfect (sometimes dinner is [vegan] take-out, and sometimes I snooze on the couch instead of running), but the benefits that have slowly revealed themselves keep me motivated.

With these core practices established, I want to remind myself to go a little further and practice the following whenever practical and possible moving into 2017.  A special note here – these are my intentions – they are worded to prompt me to work on practicing them with more consistency.  (If you find them useful, then that is wonderful, but please do not take these to be commandment-style edicts, as that is not my intent.)

  1.  Take opportunities to go on adventures.  I have a demanding job and a beast-dog at home to care for.  I use weekends to hit the reset button (long runs, batch cooking, laundry, errands, cleaning, rest) which is important, but this trip reminded me that it is also important to hop in the truck, blast out of town, hoof it up a mountain, be a little uncomfortable, and spend time with new people.
  2. Don’t be wed to outcomes.  As humans we put so much expectation on ourselves,  others and the ‘universe’ for particular outcomes.  We envision ‘perfect’ lives with certain friendships, homes and belongings, we want certain love relationships to flourish, or careers to follow a certain path.  Enjoy experiences for what they are and do not weigh them down with too much meaning or expectation.  Let things unfold – the mystery of the future is as exciting as the experiencing the present.
  3. Practice kindness, compassion, understanding, politeness, and friendliness…always.  This applies in any situation, with anyone, doing anything.  Frustration can reveal itself when we are tired, hungry, or uncomfortable.  Being in different surrounds with new people is a reminder to be calm, to smile, to enjoy the experience, and show others the goodness that is the essence of your being.

I am so thankful for the experience of this weekend and look forward to new adventures in 2017.   Happy New Year.

Photo Credits (Landscapes): Jonathan Kelley