The record setting thru-hiker, businesswoman, mother, speaker and author takes on a new trail.
I’m tackling a new long trail this summer. It’s not like the ones I’ve done before- the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Long Trail, or Tour du Mont Blanc. It’s a long trail that meanders in and out of classrooms at the University of California at Berkeley. Coincidentally, my new program is right off the route of the American Discovery Trail and I walk part of the coast-to-coast route every morning on my way to class.
See, I’m going back to school, with the goal of earning a Masters in Public Affairs. I’ve reflected on the unique skill set that I have and have decided that I want to use my voice as a speaker and author – something I’ve honed over the past decade-plus – to preserve and protect wild places. I’m not sure what shape it’ll take- could be with a non profit, could be through the government- but I know the wilderness is important to me and I don’t think there are enough voices crying out in it.
I also often say “the trail is there for every phase of life.” And I am hoping that Grad School is a similar. Many of my classmates are younger than me. But I have to belief that this program is going to meet me where I’m at- and that I will rise to the occasion.
I am looking at it differently, certainly than I would have 20 years ago. And certainly than I would have if I didn’t have a 10 and 6 year old, a husband, if I hadn’t owned my own business for the past 15 years. And just sold it. If I didn’t have a mortgage. Gosh, I’m bringing a lot to the table. Sometimes it’s better to not look down.
But I sure better be coming with humility, because I still have a lot to learn. If I approach this “trail” in that way, there are buckets of knowledge and wisdom I can gain. I’ll have to remain flexible. I’ll probably get lost. A storm or two may knock me off my itinerary for a while.
There’s a lot of excitement around new skills, a deeper understanding of the world, and hopefully some new friends. But I am also carrying some fear and anxiety: Am I going to remember how to take notes? How many pages will I have to read each night? Can I get enough sleep? And, those econ and statistics classes are going to be a challenge no matter how much I prepare!
But if I keep putting one foot in front of the other- if the stars align, if I have some good luck, if I stay flexible, persevere through the bad, make good choices, listen to my body, back off to keep from getting injured- if I do all that, good things are going to happen. And, I hope, next May I’ll touch the sign at the far terminus and head down the mountain different and better.