The Real Things a Girl Thinks About on a Hike

Like many people who read “12 Things a Girl is Probably Thinking About on a Hike“, I was left feeling quite disturbed by the shallowness of the piece. I immediately started pondering how I’d rewrite it. A friend of mine and fellow writer, Tera Swanson, beat me to it, and did such a bang-on job, I thought I’d reblog it for you here. It is beautifully written, and one of Tera’s best pieces to date (in my opinion!). Enjoy!

Originally posted on The Wander Journals:

By Tera Swanson

After recently reading an article a friend had shared with me regarding “what girls probably think about on a hike,” it opened some conversation with the women in my life who enjoy the outdoors as to what we did or didn’t relate to, how it portrayed outdoor women, and what our motivations were for getting out there. Turns out that yes, you can care how your hair looks and enjoy hiking too. Or not care. That is also ok.

Hence, I’ve compiled my own 12 thoughts and traits of “girls who hike” that I’ve gathered from these conversations and my own contemplations – let me know whether or not you agree!

1) We check in with our hiking partners. How is everyone doing? What are our group’s strengths and weaknesses, as individuals and as a whole? Sometimes we need a little push to overcome things that seem a lot scarier than they really are. Sometimes we need to pay close attention to our partners when they are becoming more and more anxious, but won’t make the call to pull out. And sometimes we explore with people who are way overconfident in their abilities. It’s important to check in with others, as well as make note of your own thought process and comfort levels.

Read the rest of the article on The Wander Journals.

A New Year on the Horizon: 3 Goals for 2015

Each year for me ends with a reflection on the previous twelve months, a review of last year’s goals, and goal-setting for the year to come. I can attribute much of my progress and evolution, particularly in my career, to clear goal-setting and revisiting my intentions often. I normally break these down into short, medium and long-term goals, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll keep it to the bigger picture. I recently included these in my newsletter with more of a backstory, if you’d like to read that, too.

Before I continue with my goals, I’d like to say thank you to my community, supportive readers, mentors and clients. It has been one of my more challenging years, but I feel so blessed with rich relationships – in work and in life. I also feel blessed with experiences, such as touring the South Pacific with my family, outdoor adventures, frequent publishing opportunities, and new ventures with my career. I am excited to tell you more about those ventures in the New Year. ;)

3 Goals for 2015

1. Focus less on the things I naturally do well.

I am not an extreme perfectionist, but I care about the quality of my work and often worry that it’s not good enough. I need to learn to trust in my experience and expertise, and focus instead on the areas I want to improve.

2. Commit to personal wellness.

If you’ve been following along closely, I’ve had a year of ups and downs on the health-front – physically, emotionally and psychologically. A good portion of that is due to self-neglect and poor priorities. My health and wellness needs to come first, and I need to arrange my schedule around that goal.

3. Seek counsel before I say Yes or No.

Often my default is to have a knee-jerk reaction. I say “Yes” without thinking. I have needed to train myself to pause and reflect, and request I take time to consider my options before committing to anything. This is one area where I could do even better. This year I want to seek counsel with my husband or another listening ear to discuss my options before I decide on any new commitments.

What are your goals for this upcoming year? I’d love for you to share them with me by simply replying in the comments. I always find it enlightening to know what others are working towards.

Goal setting helps me focus on what's really important in life. Photo by Paul Zizka.

Goal-setting helps me focus on what’s really important in life. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

All the best for 2015,

Meghan

The Reverse Bucket List

At the beginning of this year, as many people were talking about setting resolutions or goals for the year to come, I found myself reflecting a lot on 2013. So, as I planned my next blog post for Women’s Adventure Magazine, I had the idea of bringing a concept to that community that I had benefited so much from in the past: the Reverse Bucket List.

In 5 Tips for Writing a Reverse Bucket List, I walk the readers through the benefits of writing such a list, as well as five ways to make the process easier.

Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Excerpt:

Benefits of Writing a Reverse Bucket List

At first it sounded like a fun, perhaps silly, activity, but the process of writing my reverse list had a profound impact on me. Here are just some of the benefits:

  • It gives you the chance to reflect positively on the past, and acknowledge how important certain milestones were to the direction of your life.
  • It gets you thinking deeply about the events and accomplishments that left you feeling happy and fulfilled.

Read the rest of the post here

Tradition…What’s It For?

I take a moment this holiday season to write you a post out of the ordinary from my usual style. I hope you’ll enjoy. Have a very Merry Christmas! – Meghan

This Christmas I’m wondering “when did we all grow up?”

This afternoon I went sledding with my almost 3 year-old nephew at the same hill I slid down as a child. I came to the base of the hill that I used to think was the most massive hill in the world. Today that hill – only 20 feet high – was suddenly towering again. My nephew was tentative at first, but one slide down in his wooden toboggan and the kid was hooked.

 

Getting ready to head down the hill with my nephew.

I’m facing a bit of a mountain myself these days. I’m getting married in 4 days and for some reason I feel like I’m climbing a new peak. Instead this time I’m not coming back down the same way I went up. As excited as I am, whenever someone says ‘congratulations’ to me these days I tend to think to myself, “for what?” It’s not to be rude or to discount the joy this occasion brings to my life, but I simply find myself wondering what it is exactly that I’ve accomplished. I’ve found a man I love and adore. I’ve nurtured the relationship with him for the past 5 years. But, in many ways the path of our lives just converged at the right time. Everything happened as it was supposed to, even when I didn’t understand it. I’ve worked hard, I’ve struggled, I’ve laughed lots, I’ve questioned, I’ve been cared for and I’ve melted many times with love, but so much of it was beyond my control. I just have the Great Provider to thank for the gift of this man.

Marriage was something I looked up to as a child. In many ways it was presented as something to be accomplished. For many (perhaps too many) people, marriage is the ultimate goal before the next ultimate goal comes along. Conversely it is the ultimate let-down when it doesn’t work out. By having a long-term dating relationship I was able to think a lot about what marriage means beyond the way I perceived it growing up. A three week solo trip in Costa Rica back in 2009 gave me plenty of time to reflect on what it meant to love another person, and be loved, in that way. I dissected the subject so much that I actually became disenchanted by the whole idea. The thought of walking down an aisle in a white dress in front of 150 people nearly put me into epileptic shock.

I questioned what the point of marriage was when so many people were getting divorces. According to this article, 30 percent of Canadian born in 1984 (that’s the year of my birth), witnessed the end of their parents’ marriage or cohabitation by age 15. That means that by the time I was sitting in my classroom in grade 10, almost a third of my classmates had been through that horribly dividing event. I do not take it lightly, then, that my parents are a solidly lasting pair.

It’s not that I feel my relationship is doomed to a horrible outcome – at all – but over the years, I have begun to question the hype of the multi-billion dollar wedding industry. Like many things in our culture, marriage is just one more thing, like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas, that somehow has all the joys of the occasion sucked out of it by Consumerism. I was determined to keep it as far away from this as possible.

After reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s attempt to tackle the topic in Committed, I started to gain an understanding of this important tradition gone wild. There was a way to celebrate it for what it truly is the way we can celebrate the true meaning of Christmas amidst the Best Buy commercials and Boxing Day deals.

There used to be an angel with big lips, too. My mom made these when she was just a bit younger than me now. They have been the butt of many family jokes over the years, but hey, it’s tradition.

Later this afternoon I watched The Muppet Christmas Carol, an all-time family favourite, with my family and my two young nephews. Though we fast-forwarded through the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, ie. the grim reaper who is far too scary for the little ones, it still made me think about traditions. During my sobering study of what it means to get married, I often got stuck on this concept of traditions. Some scared me as much as the ghost we fast-forwarded through, but mostly I have learned how much I love traditions. And this is what weddings are all about.

Traditions help us hold on to the past, but instead of dwelling in it we get to re-live it. I turn on that movie and nibble on some of my mom’s homemade squares and feel like a kid again. Now I share those same traditions with the next generation and, while the speed at which time moves forward almost knocks me off my feet, I cherish them above all else.

Today I spun with my nephew down that little hill and held him tight through the stuffing of his snow suit. I found myself saying ‘again! again!’ the way he did upon reaching the bottom of the hill.

And here’s where I land with traditions. Don’t let them die. Walk down the aisle, however that looks, and surround yourself with family. Love others and let yourself be loved. Again and again.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010

NB – On December 28th, I won’t be walking down an aisle, but I’ll be celebrating at a beautiful restaurant in Old Quebec City surrounded by 20 of my friends and family. It’s okay to put your own spin on traditions.