Self Care

Time for a hike

The past week hasn’t gone the way I’d planned at all. I was looking forward to sharing my “dinner with Dracula” with you (it was really more of an appetizer, but still). I’m just not able to stay ahead of this latest funk.

I’m back in the states, and I’ll be leaving for another long hike in a few days. Hiking is my drug of choice when the normal stuff fails to keep Eddie at bay (Eddie also goes by the far more clinical terms: depression, anxiety and PTSD). This time I’m hiking to Canada. Should be amazing. Fresh air, nature sounds, and plenty of time to regroup and reflect. There will be plenty of fall vistas to appreciate (and possibly a few winter whiteouts since the seasons change earlier up north).

I already miss Monica. I probably won’t miss washing dishes or doing laundry. I will definitely miss following your blogs while I’m prancing through the woods. But it’s time to take my medicine.

I probably won’t have the chance to blog, but I plan to share plenty of pictures of beautiful landscapes marred by my increasingly scruffy mug via Facebook if you’d like to follow along.

 

Really looking forward to catching up when I return!

 

P.S. I’ll do my best to respond to comments, and I hope you’ll understand that my tardiness isn’t a reflection of your awesome words of wisdom/encouragement/humor etc.

Bucket-Lister Pro-tips

What is a professional Bucket Lister?

bucket list inspiration and entertainment

 

For those of you that have been here for a bit, you may recall that I’ve become a professional bucket lister. But what does a professional bucket lister do? And just as important, what’s the benefits package like?

I should probably start by saying that this isn’t a made-up term like househusbandology (which I DID create, and I’m sure it’ll catch on as well as vexillology and scientology once I track down famous influencers like Sheldon Cooper and Tom Cruise to help spread the word).

Broadly speaking, a professional bucket lister is someone who selects projects and tries to accomplish them. But that’s not a very helpful definition. The same could be said of activists or architects or even authors, (and that’s just the “a” professions). We bucket listers are something else entirely.

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Blogging

Proven Strategies for Building my Blog Community

Here are practical tested strategies I use to build a successful blog community

 

WordPress Discover featured a recent post about Life Lessons I learned while hiking the Appalachian Trail. The dizzying trill of overlapping notifications gave me a brief glimpse of what life must be like for superstars of the blogging world. A few (OK… hundreds) clicked the follow button. But what interested me most were the new comments. I’ve learned that comments are gifts, and these gifts form the foundation for building my blog community.

I scanned through comments waiting to be approved. Blogging friends congratulating me on my newfound fame triggered involuntary smiles. If you’re willing to let me call it a mild lacrimal event (or allergies), then I’m not ashamed to admit that one beautiful blogger even forced out a few tears. And new visitors expressed stunned disbelief that anyone would just give away this much awesomeness for free. It was Christmas in July!

But a surprising number of comments were simple commands: “visit my blog,” or “follow me back” and “check out my post at www.randomwords.com/plagerized-content-that-still-isnt-very-interesting”

Kinda feels like getting used socks from one hand while the other is held out waiting for me to deposit a family heirloom. I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t how holidays work (unless you consider Tax Day a holiday, then it’s exactly the same).

I’m not completely ungrateful though. After all, my spam monster has a voracious appetite.

I’m also not a blogging expert. I have only been blogging in earnest for about 6 months (prior to this, blogging was a means of keeping friends and family in the loop while I hiked the Appalachian Trail). If I’ve learned anything during these 6 months, it’s this: The comment section is where the magic happens.

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Sketches, social commentary

Unexpected gifts from my homeless friends

perceptions towards homelessness

 

I’ve been sitting on this sketch for a few weeks now, waiting for the right time to share it with you. Paul, one of the two authors at Two Voices One Transmission asked me to create a sketch based on descriptions of several characters in this blog post. His interactions with his “favorite neighbors,” who were either homeless, or on the discarded fringes of society, resonated with me. I don’t know how well I responded to the challenge, but I certainly enjoyed creating these sketches. This also provided an opportunity to reflect on my evolving perspective towards homeless friends.

Last week I wrote about life lessons I learned while hiking the Appalachian Trail. (If you’d like to read it, you can visit here.) I spoke at length about the hardships (and perks) of living as a homeless hiker. But the thing is, I wasn’t really “homeless.” If things became too difficult, I knew my patient wife would be waiting with open arms. There were only a handful of nights (out of 166) that I struggled to find a place to sleep at night. I lost an unhealthy amount of weight, but access to food was rarely the issue. And while the typical long-distance hiker looks (and smells) like a feral creature, there was no shortage of “hiker-friendly” towns and homes that welcomed us, some even celebrated the fact that we were walking the woods for a really long time.

My homeless friends don’t have the luxury of a support system. No friends and family back home to send encouragement or care packages. They don’t have credit cards in their pack that they can pull out when the urge to dip into town for a hot meal and a shower becomes overwhelming. Rather than being celebrated for enduring a challenging existence, the homeless often face ostracism and attacks. A life like this doesn’t strike me as fun, or inspirational. And it certainly isn’t glorious.

But this isn’t always a recipe for despair.

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Hiking, Self Care, Travel

Life lessons I learned hiking the Appalachian Trail as a homeless hiker

Appalachian Trail hiker learns life lessons as homeless hiker

 

Homelessness is often equated with despair, and misery, and hopelessness. But maybe there is another side to this issue. Maybe, as crazy as it sounds, choosing to leave the comforts of home can be a liberating adventure.

An unusual group of people, including perpetual travelers, digital nomads, and long-distance hikers, often make the conscious decision to become “homeless.” This means giving up certainty about where they are going to sleep each night. Far from family and friends. Going to a favorite restaurant to order the usual isn’t an option. The job that provides regular income is long gone. They see these challenges, and rather than follow the logical path, decide to plunge into the unknown.

I became one of these intentionally “homeless” people last year. I wanted (needed?) to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. For nearly 6 months, I lived off what I carried on my back and the generosity of others, many of whom I had never met before. In this new world, shaving was discouraged, every day was casual Friday, and the only rush-hour was a frenzied race to reach the All-You-Can-Eat before they switched to dinner prices. It was glorious.

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