my mother's wild heart

my mother's wild heart

I’ve got a wild heart. 


No, not a wild streak -- not crazy or unpredictable or dangerous. More like wild horse, or wildflower or wilderness; that’s my heart. My heart feels very strongly and it usually leads to artistic creation or big life changes. My mother told me that I’m not satisfied until I’ve experienced something for myself. If I have a question, a desire, a burning, or a curiosity, I won’t be at peace until I’ve done the damn thing myself. 


This means that I try a lot of things, my life has been a bit all over the place, and I’ve got a lot of experiences. I’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail, lived in a different apartment each year of my adult life, dated many people, and stayed with my jobs for an average of only a year. This also means that I’ve failed. Doubt has filled my soul until I cried. There have been nights with no sleep and lots of anxiety. But my favorite part about being like this; having a wild heart is:


I don’t have any regrets. 


When I’m hiking my mind turns up old relationships, certain conversations, and past embarrassments. When old hurts and past mistakes come up my chest contracts and I feel my body curling away from a painful memory. That is not the same feeling as regret; what I sense is a learned recognition. I know that a mistake or past action of mine resulted in something painful or embarrassing but I choose to be gracious with my past self. I know that without that experience, however negative it felt at the time, I wouldn’t have learned a lesson, known myself deeper or be able to avoid my unhealthy patterns. 


There are things I wish didn’t happen, but some of them have been the best things because they brought me right here. 


This was my mother’s first backpacking trip ever. While I thruhiked the A.T. last year she was battling breast cancer and started walking more. She bought hiking poles and began to explore the woods around her house. A few months ago she started asking about gear and pretty soon we had a trip planned. I couldn’t wait to share my favorite outdoor activity.


I watched my mother sweat and climb hills with a 25 pound pack. 


“I know this is hard, mom. We’re almost to camp.”


“I’ve done hard things before.”


Yup. Her first career was a nurse in the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit at a hospital, then she had two children. When my sister and I were in high school she went to seminary and received a Masters Degree, despite the fact that her children didn’t want her to spend time away. She’s about to wrap up two years as the president of a local writing non-profit, even though many questioned why she would take such a thankless and unpaid job. This summer her first book of poetry is going to be published. She’s already got invitations to read across the state. Don’t forget: she beat breast cancer and had a double mastectomy last year. 


Wild means something specific for me, and for all the ladies at Jenni Earle. A wild heart means one that stays true to dreams and desires. My mom for sure is a part of the Wild Hearts club. While I walked ahead of my mother on the trail I began to piece her life, and her accomplishments together -- and I was, I am, amazed at all she’s done despite odds, difficulty and unconventionality. 


Being a part of the Wild Hearts club means that you listen to your heart; the dreams and desires that thrive in your beating chest. 


My wild heart is mine, but my mother gave me the best example. Stay true. Be brave. This isn’t a club by invitation, it’s a choice to follow your wildness. 


Follow your wild hearts. 

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