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They say that there is a first time for everything and that a journey of 1,000 miles starts with one step. Soon, I will be leaving on a serious hike – fully equipped with all my gear – taking my first steps on a journey of 2,180 miles on a “Thru Hike” of the AT – the Appalachian Trail. This isn’t just a walk in the woods. It’s a mental and physical challenge; it’s an education; it’s learning new skills and realizing how little possessions one needs. It’s a journey on foot from Georgia to Maine. For me, it’s a new challenge. It’s an opportunity to get back to nature – and to explore what one really needs. It’s an exercise in my own personal relationship with getting rid of what’s not needed in life – a type of minimalism. 

Left: Garmin inReach Mini (here). Right: the AWOL guide (here)

In 2018 my word was “light”. I chose this word to continue a process I had already begun 5 years ago. I would say I am a recovering consumerist. In graduate school I coped with and used shopping as a stress reliever. After graduate school my shopping diminished because I was no longer getting subsidies (student loans are for clothes, right?) but as life carried on, I acquired more things and oddly I still desired more. And this turned to not just possessions, but I wanted more in other areas of my life. I had a desire to want to be the best. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to be the best chiropractor, coach, business owner, wife…. and over time it became heavy – exhausting – striving for more in every aspect became a weight on me. Would there be an end point? I was never satisfied.
I knew I had to make a change but wasn’t ready to change everything – so I decided to tackle our possessions first. I committed to buying less, reducing our things and moving from a 2400 sq. ft home to a place half its size. As we did that, something magical happened. It cleared my mind. I had more energy. I had energy for life’s real matters. So 2018 the word “light” represented my year. I tried to make decisions based on whether or not the result would cause me to feel weighed down long term. This led to me making some extremely hard decisions. This meant letting go of what I am to become what I might be. The more I did this, the less I desired, and as a result, I felt I had more. More peace. More joy. More calm. More room to be. At the same time, it made me question what is the “American Dream”?Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…right? Well, I feel we as a society now equate happiness with material wealth. Are we so busy pursuing the “modern American dream” yet we never see America? I felt I was!
So, I decided the “weighting is over”. I was going to create a new path and paths are made by walking and not “weighting”.
I made a difficult decision to sell my business and take a break. I miss being in patient care immensely but what I don’t miss is the rigors of running a business. As soon as I made the decision to step away from ownership, I felt a weight off my shoulder. Now, I will walk through 14 states, experience small towns, historical markers, meet new people, and learn new ways to live… with a clear head and only the weight of 25 pounds of what I need to survive – literally strapped to my shoulders. 
Here’s a picture of what I will be taking with me for the next four to six months. I can only carry what I need to survive on my back. Minimalism exemplified!
I’m taking this journey not to escape, but because the world is really beautiful and I want to see and experience it; to get my hands and feet dirty, fall asleep listening to and being in nature – under the stars (and rain and whatever else comes out of the sky). I want my body to feel tired and my mind to feel more alive… and experiencing this form of foot travel and trekking the way our ancestors once did feels really romantic. It feels light.