Well we are coming to the end of another year. I have never been one to overly celebrate the start of a new year, but this one feels different.
After getting separated and becoming a single dad, near the beginning of this year, I was thrown into a dilemma. Do I let the situation crush me, or do I use it as an opportunity to improve, to learn, to grow stronger, and to move forward? If you have read some of my previous posts you will know that my anxiety had a strong control over me and the first thing I needed to do was recognize it as a mental illness. The good news was that it was treatable. I went through lots of therapy, and tried many different strategies that have allowed me to improve, like promising myself to be honest about, and express my feelings when I need to. It has not been easy to make myself this vulnerable, and not all responses have worked out; however, 99% have been nothing but positive and it has led to me meeting some very inspiring people. On just one hike up the Grouse Grind, I met a 4 year old who completed it for the first time, all the way to an 82 year old who does the grind twice a summer with his grandson who, when talking about his 2 1/2 hour time, exclaimed “Look around… why would you want to rush this!” (I’ll probably use this line when I’m “taking a break” gasping for breath)
At the same time, that I was working on myself, I was watching my boys go through a big loss and like any father I wanted to help them. I wanted to give them experiences and memories that they could look upon with a peaceful smile.
These experiences came through hiking. I could not have predicted all of the positives that could have come about from simply getting “out there”. My oldest son has become braver and stronger, he finds solace within the trees, surrounded by giants; my youngest son has began to walk distances that seemed impossible and his balance, gait and communication have improved in leaps and bounds.
However, this love letter is not for them… it is for you.
This all started by posting some photos of our hikes on Facebook… then came the messages. Friends, relatives and strangers asking about how was the trail? Was it accessible? How do you hike with a special needs son? Instead of answering each one individually I decided to blog about it. If nothing else it would be a little journal for my boys to remember where we went and what happened on each adventure. My hope was that it might remove some of the unknowns, and encourage people to grab their kids and see in their kids what I have seen in mine.
Once I began posting my blogs the messages increased, requests for me to take people hiking, set up group hikes for special needs kids, write articles and guest posts, work on collaborations, do gear reviews, etc. I am excited to see where “The Walking Dad” will go next, and I wanted to thank you for helping me kick off this little project.
Thank-you for all of your kind messages and words of encouragement. Thank-you for letting me know when our adventures have inspired you to go on adventures of your own. Thank-you for all of the people that have reached out to talk about their anxiety. Thank-you to all of the single parents that have told me I have helped them, and I quote, “…get off [their] ass and do more with [their] kids”. Most of all thank-you for re-enforcing the fact that when you do something from a place of kindness and love good things will come back to you in return.
Let’s keep moving forward, one step at a time 😉
Happy New Year!
The Walking Dad