From December 19th to January 2nd, 2020 I walked 220 miles moving from Fort Collins to Pueblo, Colorado. Even though I finished my journey two weeks ago, it feels as if 'the walk' is just starting. Listening to my body more each day, recently I have been stepping into self-regenerating narratives such as "I am enough, my opinion matters, my stories matter." The world years to hear my stories, my aches, my witnessing. And the world wants to hear your stories too.
Day 0: Arrive at Fort Collins*
Walking theme: Walking as synchronicity**
So many synchronous moments. My grandma arrives to our Lakewood home minutes before I leave. I never told her about the trip and yet here she is, dandome mi bendicion (giving me my blessing) and partaking in an opening ritual with my mom, little brother and my dear friend Kate DeCamp.
Kate and my friendship is full of synchronicity and she happens to be home from Guatemala to drive me up to Fort Collins. On the ride up, we embrace our all of ourselves; the crazy, the weird, the funny, the sad, the knowing, the uncertain. We cry, laugh, yell, and sit in silence.
We pull up to Elijah Huerta-Grant's home, who I met synchronously in a permaculture farm in Ecuador and happened to write me a week ago as I was looking for a place to stay in Fort Collins. I pull out my heavy backpack and feel its weight send anxiety through my body (am I going to make it to Pueblo?). My anxiety leads me to check my gear one last time... and I can't find my winter jacket or gloves! My stomach sinks. I feel a wave of disappointment. All my self-limiting narratives grow louder and louder: "see, you don't have what it takes. You can't even remember the things you need the most."
My mind wants so badly to FIX the problem: "I can buy a jacket at the goodwill, or I'll ask Bij to bring me one in the morning." Instead, at least for a few minutes, I allow myself to feel my sadness without trying to make it go away. It doesn't feel good, and yet it doesn't feel as frantic as before.
I share my feelings with Elijah. And he listens with a smirk. He goes upstairs and returns with a box. "You are not going to believe this," he says, "but my grandma just sent me 10 winter jackets that she asked me to donate to the homeless. Take as many as you'd like and donate them when you get to Denver." I am shocked. Giddy. "And here is a pair of gloves too." :o Wow.
Relevant permaculture design principle***: Produce no waste- the gift of the donated jackets and gloves as opposed to the quick impulse to fix, to buy, to drive, to fix, to fix, to fix, no permission. No time to sit with our feelings.
Relevant Authentic Relating practice: In the evening we sit in a circle with a few of Elijah's friends and have a tea ceremony. Kate then leads us in an authentic relating game. We take turns sitting inside of our feelings, then we name them without the impulse to fix them. Finally, we make a request to the group. Kate feels small. Her request is to take up space so she lies on the carpet like a giant starfish.
What a perfect way to start my trip. ️
*This custom walking route was developed by Intrinsic Paths. https://www.intrinsicpaths.com/ Please reach out if you have any interest in doing the full Fort Collins to Pueblo or any sections of this walk. The route provides a general structure AND it is highly encouraged to let your own route emerge as you begin your journey.
**I made up this theme: walking as synchronicity, but most of the themes and the framework I took from Jonathan Stalls patreon Ways of Walking workshop: https://www.patreon.com/posts/ways-of-walking-28032201
***I did not make up this permaculture principle. There are many resources you can find and I will be drawing themes from Zone in: Social Permaculture for Regenerative Change led by some fantastic local facilitators. https://denverpermacultureguild.org/social-permaculture/
Day 1: Fort Collins to Boyd Lake
Walking theme: Walking as Interpersonal Connection (and Walking as Discomfort)
Permaculture design principle: Observe and interact
I wanted to front-load my walking trip surrounded by loved ones. Eric Dong is a walking embodiment of acceptance. In his presence I feel deeply accepted to be the authentic me. Today, my authentic self is one in physical and emotional discomfort. We meet at the CSU stadium and begin our walk.
The theme from yesterday continues. I keep wanting to jump into action, to solve a problem. I remind myself that it is far more revealing to sit inside of the pain, to observe and notice it, as uncomfortable as it may feel. And boy, was I uncomfortable today.
I am a rookie long-distance urban walker (the longest two walks I have ever done were less than a week ago) and my backpack is so heavy it is causing sores to develop where it wraps around my hips. Within the first few miles, I am struggling. I am making constant adjustments to my straps. My knee hurts. Eric kindly takes some of my weight into his pack.
We find a Wal-mart shopping cart in the middle of the Mason Trail and I use it for a few miles to relieve the weight on my back. We stop for lunch, and then I'm moving even slower and stopping often to pee, rest, drink.
With Eric at my side, and all my awareness in my aching knee we slowly make it to the north side of Boyd Lake. We celebrate that we have made it off the road with no sidewalk and onto the lake path. Then, we check our phone and realize since the lake is so big we are still 90 minutes away. I am crushed. I can't make it. I want to give up. And I want to push through. I want to sit down again, but I know if I do I may never stand up.
I keep walking. And I observe. Things get easier as I move from future fear-based thoughts to present observations. It became easier to put one foot in front of the other. I notice the sun hitting the trees. I notice the wind picking up and the movement of the bushes and grass. I notice my own pains, but I do not react to them. I simply acknowledge their presence. The simple act of noticing makes me feel lighter.
We are halfway there. In the distance we see a park ranger getting into his SUV. I feel like Tom Hanks from Cast Away. I begin to yell, but he doesn't hear me. He gets in his car and drives away. He is about to take a turn and leave us in the dust and at the last moment he spots us waving from a distance. Cole, the park ranger, turns around and gives us a lift directly to our campsite. It was the best five minutes I have ever spent in a vehicle.
For a moment, I feel guilty. 'I didn't complete the walk. I cheated.'
Then, I remember that this walk was never about the outcome. It is about the process. And part of today's process was to observe my body and see how it responded to such a long distance with a heavy pack. I got the feedback. I received the clear data. As Adrienne Maree Brown says in her book Emergent Strategies, "it's data, all this learning. Tender data."
Authentic relating practice: Appreciations. We make a fire, orange/red/yellow to match the color of the incredible sunset. I appreciate Eric's tender presence. I appreciate the fresh cold air. I appreciate my body for the day's walk. I am overflowing with gratitude.