“I get my best ideas when I’m hiking,” remarked my 7-year-old son in the car ride home from the trail head a few weeks ago. He hadn’t yet figured out how difficult his idea was going to be to implement (he wanted to build a time machine), so we just let him soak in the endorphin-fueled anticipation of what could be and hoped he didn’t want to dive into the execution details.
A week later, just before the holiday break, he came home with a card from school that read, “I am so thankful for you. I liked when we went on the hike and talked about the speed of light.” Although my husband and I had thought nothing of it, that hike — the time we spent, the conversation we had, and the way we challenged our bodies — stuck out for him enough to be the one single thing he chose to call out in a note of gratitude.
Amidst an increasingly heavy dialogue about the pressures kids are facing these days to do more and be more, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to build deep emotional support into everyday family life. The pressure these kids are facing won’t go away, but we as parents — and a village surrounding these kids — have a huge opportunity to balance the pressure with space, respite, quiet, and connection. In my experience, one of the best places to find this respite and connection is on the trail, where phones don’t work and movement, sweat and fresh air open the channels to think and talk about new things.
To support this connection and help our kids continue to see fitness and the outdoors as two of life’s greatest gifts, we’re committing to 52 family hikes in 2016. We kicked our #52hikes off this morning with a scramble up Black Mountain in Scottsdale, where we rung in the New Year with friends last night. It was a slow climb to the summit, but we were rewarded with sunshine on our backs, smiles from strangers, and a stronger foundation with each step.
If you’re looking for a ritual to build into your family life, friendships, or even solo reflection time in the coming year, think about joining the challenge to do 52 hikes in 2016. I’ll be posting our weekly hikes on Wellfesto, and would love to hear about and see what trails you’re exploring. Short or long, far away or chose to home, rainy or sunny — may each one have its own beauty.
May 2016 bring love, health and joy to your lives…and peace around the world.