by Annie 

September 2, 2020

life lessons from the trees

The inability to travel has been one of the strangest parts of the Covid life for me. The way I learn about myself and the world around me is through exploration! Seeing new places, meeting new people, experiencing new ways of life are the gateway to my depth of human experience. The lessons are everywhere when I’m in a new place. 

After five months of venturing no further than the hiking trails near my parents house, I finally took the opportunity to get out into the woods. I loaded up the Midnight Rider, our camper van, and headed North into Montana, all by myself. This was the longest solo camping trip into the forest I’ve ever done!

I was apprehensive and uncertain about the idea until just days before it was time to go. My intuition was telling me I needed to step away so I could reset and recenter. I can’t say I came home with all the answers, but there were some valuable reminders and insights along the way. Now I get to share them with you. 🙂

Life Lesson 1: Trust Your Intuition 

lessons from the trail

On more than one occasion during this trip, my intuition showed up front and center! I was able to see that trusting my intuition has become a default for me over the years, which I’m grateful for. This has definitely not always been the case. For years, I would question those nudges or ignore them completely because it would mean change and discomfort. Now it helps me with even the smallest things!

During the afternoon of my first full day, I decided to hike the trail tucked at the back of the campground where I was staying. Armed with bear spray and plenty of water, I started out with the afternoon sun beating down on me. This particular trail was about six miles round- trip.  The hike went along an epic gorge with the river flowing along the bottom and sheer, towering cliffs overhead.

About an hour into the hike, something inside me said, “Okay, that’s good. It’s time to turn around.” There was only a moment’s hesitation to make sure it was my intuition talking and not some fear. I listened and headed back to camp. Once there, I pulled out my camp chair and a beer to relax and soak in all the greenery around me. 

A few minutes later, I started to hear the rumble of thunder echoing through the mountains around me. Ooh, I love rain! Within fifteen minutes, it started pouring rain, driving me into the van for shelter. Instantly, I realized If I had insisted on continuing my hike, in spite of my intuition, I would have been totally trapped in this thunderstorm! The rain continued in deluges and sprinkles for most of the afternoon. 

This is such a simple example of my intuition nudging me in the right direction. Would there have been disastrous consequences if I hadn’t listened? No, just some wet clothes and muddy boots, but I’m glad that I got to read a book with a beer, dry and cozy instead. There have been plenty of other times in my life where I’ve ignored those nudges and found myself in uncomfortable or painful situations. I’m grateful for the reminder and to see how far I’ve come in this department.

Life Lesson 2: Follow the Signs of Life

sitting on top of the world

Life will show up and give you opportunities for awesomeness. First, you have to be present to recognize them, and then you have to take action. If you’re not paying attention or open to them, you might miss something magical. There was one perfect moment that never would have happened, if I hadn’t been in all the right places at all the right times. 

One night, I camped at Holland Lake in Montana. I’d been driving for about five hours and was ready to be done driving and just relax. There was a sign on the side of the road for a campground that said “Lake”, so I turned in. They had only one spot available for the night. I took it.  

I spent most of the afternoon admiring the gorgeous view from the shore of the snow capped mountains and dense pine forest stretching into the distance. After dinner, I decided to walk back down to the lake for sunset. The woman who was camped next to me was also going that way with her little girl and dog. We chatted a bit and she asked if I’d done the hike to the waterfalls. I didn’t even know such a thing existed! She told me it was just at the end of the road and about a three mile round trip. I decided then to check it out the next morning before moving on.

Finding That You're Exactly Where You're Supposed to Be

This turned out to be one of those absolutely perfect moments in life, where you know you’re exactly where you need to be. After coffee and breakfast, I packed up camp and set out to find the trail. It was maybe a three minute drive from the campground and the trail followed the lake shore.  I found myself walking through a grove of towering pines and the ground was covered in greenery. 

Every so often, I’d come around a bend to a gorgeous viewpoint that overlooked the lake and dense forests stretching to the mountains in every direction. As I neared the end of the trail, I could hear the crashing waterfalls. After a rocky scramble to the top, I turned around and was struck speechless. 

I was the lucky soul who received one of Nature’s most perfect moments. I sat on top of the world and let the beauty wash over me. This was exactly where I was meant to be at this moment. 

After however long I sat there (I always lose track of time in these moments), I went to have a look at the falls and make my way back down. Only as I was ready to leave, were there people coming up. It felt like the whole experience had been just for me. 

Thinking of all the different elements that had to come together to give me that moment, I knew it was no accident. From saying “yes” to the trip in the first place to turning in at that campground to walking down to the lake at the same time as my neighbor, it all had to align perfectly for me to receive that moment. I am beyond grateful, and the orchestration of Life isn’t lost on me.

Life Lesson 3: Let Go of Expectations

stormy skies

This one is huge for me. It’s so easy to get caught up in what I think things “should” be. How I need to structure my days, create, and share my message with the world. This is in direct contrast to my rebel nature so, inevitably, there comes a point where I’m struggling with myself. The one part of me thinks I have to kind of, sort of follow a path that someone else has taken, and the other part of me hates it and wants to turn left so I can create my own unique path. 

When I hit this wall, there’s always a moment of “fuck it”. This is where I stop worrying about how it’s all going to turn out, the “right” way of doing things, and simply start following what feels right for me. This is the moment where everything shifts and, wouldn’t you know it, new opportunities start showing up. Every. Fucking. Time. 

I know that I’m not here to create what others have created. I’m not here to do it the way it’s been done before. The hard part about it is that there’s no roadmap. It’s simply feeling my way through to the next step. The part of me that wants answers and certainty is uncomfortable with this, and the struggle begins again. 

Going into this trip, I thought I would do a lot of hiking, writing, etc. Yes, I did some hiking, but not nearly as much as I had expected. There was zero writing, other than in my journal. I’d had big hopes of coming home with a bunch of ideas for new things to create, and instead realized that it’s not time for that yet. 

Only by letting the days unfold in the ways that seemed most natural, was I able to get the insights and clarity I needed, as well as the magical experiences. If I’d forced myself to do things differently, based on expectations or preconceived ideas, who knows what would have happened? What I do know is that I wouldn’t change a thing. This trip was exactly perfect, as it always is when I do it this way. Is it possible that the rest of life could really be that simple? Maybe. I’m willing to find out!

Bringing it Home

sunrise at home

In the moment, I’m just letting it all happen. When the trip is over, it seems like it may have been just a dream. How do I take what I’ve gained from the experience and bring it back to my everyday life? This is always a question at the end of an adventure. I need to process what I’ve experienced and also consciously integrate the lessons into my life as I move forward. 

It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to reflect on, process, and integrate all that’s been given to me during these explorations. This is how Life teaches me. Through experience. 

These are all lessons that I’ve been learning for years, but now it’s time to take them to take them to the next level. Life is simpler, more fun, and full of wonderful surprises when I make these three elements the cornerstones of how I approach every day.

Living in Trust

Living With Uncertainty

Because I have the internal vacillation between structure and free flow in my days, I’m trying an experiment for the month of September. I’ve always wanted to throw away the “to do” list and let Life take me wherever I need to go. Then there’s the part of me that’s been programmed well over the years to have goals and plans. I haven’t trusted myself enough to believe that, if I let things flow, nothing will get missed. The fear is that I’ll drop the ball, lose momentum, or be a slacker. 

I’m done with the fear. “Trust” has been my word for my 38th year, and there are only a couple months left. It’s time to apply what I’ve learned about trusting myself. My intention is to simply be present and follow the inspiration and intuition, letting it guide me. There’s excitement about the possibilities and also a part of me that thinks this is insanity. Good thing I’m okay with being a little crazy.

Use Your Voice

What lessons have you learned as you move about the world? What magical moments have you experienced? 

Join the conversation in our free online community! We’d love to hear your story.

About the author 

Annie

Change Maker. Bold Explorer. Big Dreamer.

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