My Dear Girlfriends,
I am sipping espresso on a rooftop in Rome and searching for something different to do just so I can use the phrase, "while in Rome." Any suggestions?
I am watching the city move beneath me and I feel nervous to plunge my body into the dancing sea of people. Not sure if my time in the Outback has forever changed me, craving less skin contact and welcoming the cutting bristles of spinifex. I curl into this chair and dream of a few days from now, on the island of Sardinia.
I wasn't exactly going for white sandy beaches and million dollar yachts but the springtime in the mountains are whistling my tune. The island is sparsely populated giving me a sense of hope for some wild solitude while in the ever gorwing population of Europe.
There's a long-distance hike, the Sentiero Italia, that goes the full length of Italy from Sardinia to Trieste. However, it is no PCT, with marked stones and signs, and it turns out that the trails through Sardinia and Sicily are like Bigfoot, a myth of greatness. This means I won't be as secluded or easily lost as I prefer, but it might be the most beautiful air my lungs may breathe before I head into the mainland of Italy.
And as all legs of my journey begin, I am excited and terrified.
As I walked through Turkey I had a vision of women walking with me, through video and audio. Women walking for women. To walk for a purpose that extends love and support greater than our selves. It strokes the tender place in me that desires my walk to offer something emotionally tangible and action-oriented, something more than a few dollars to a non-profit organization. A few steps together, from all corners of the world, that offered a spark, a long-distance hug, a go-get-em wink or an expression reading you're not alone.
And perhaps there are ways that the walk itself offers that, at least to my close friends and family, without much effort on my part.
But in all transparency, it is a self-satisfying relationship. When I walk up that mountain or through that sandstorm, it is YOU that I need. It is when I feel despair that I tap into your stories of strength. Yours, and the women I have never met, but read about and fell so deeply in love with their courage and boldness.
My vision for Walk a Mile is still in pregnancy. I am not ready to birth a movement dear to my heart that requires active connection, cultivation and support, which I cannot authentically give as I seek deeper stillness. Even after thirty kilometers I can feel like I’ve gone no where and my feet or simply pushing the earth under me.
When I think of how the walk has changed me, there are sparse words. It comes at moments when I am tired, hungry and confused and yet still feel whole. It is when I feel like I lost the purpose of my walk as I fall asleep in comfortable loneliness in my tent and by morning the birds and the clay in my toenails remind me of who I am. I am becoming a woman.
Under the Tuscan sun, I dance with the teenager that took ecstasy and cuddled all night on the beach with her friends while they talked about who they wanted to be when they grew up. Although none of them wanted to ever grow up, or move from that sand pit molded to the piled bodies.
And the 20 year-old old who experienced her first one-night-stand with a guy from Jerusalem who tried to sell her hand-cream as she walked passed him in the mall.
The 25 year-old who thought she would marry her boyfriend, have three kids and live in a teepee. And the 32 year- old who got a crazy idea to walk around the world because she felt truly alive when she thought about it. I cradle the memories in the fire pit and honor the stages of my life. And the stages of this walk.
I am halfway along this beginning-to-end journey. And I crave the solitude while I know I am not truly walking alone. As I am content that this project has left me broke in the bank, it has not led me astray from my heart. I just cannot sell the walk by self-promoting it. While many people offer advice (the same as I would have once given to a client) that I could be receiving monthly donations if I shared more and asked more often. I could get more attention, and therefore more contributions, if I reached out to media and newspapers.
It just hasn’t felt good to me or to the integrity of the walk. It may seem an oxymoron to some, I am physically visible as I maneuver myself openly and vulnerably around our planet and yet I seek less attention. That may change at some point but often I feel like a locomotive hermit crab.
I have not yet gone without or had to dig into a trashcan for food, although it is not beneath me to accept a half drunken bottle of wine!
I feel complete with the dirt under my nails and the blisters on my heels.
I am happy shitting in the bush.
So for now, I walk to get lost and find my way. I will be setting foot in Olbia, Sardinia and make my way South towards Sicily and up into the mainland.
Please, keep walking and dancing with me.
When that rainstorm leaves my bones soaked and heavy, it is your smile that pulls me up and over the rock. Your hand that warms my shivering shoulders.
Thank you for your support and understanding. Friends are the tide that sings to the moon.
I love and miss you all so much.
Your sequined hermit crab