2016 was a great year and a tough year. I left behind comforts and security to take the road less traveled. I threw away stability and went against the advice and opinions of many to make it the most memorable year of my life. I not only accomplished my goal, but I learned some very important lessons along the way. I saw places and people in America that changed me. I received discrimination and judgment (for looking homeless) as well as genuine and complete kindness. The kindness would outweigh the scorn and hostility every time. I saw the best side of humanity and it gave me hope. I found myself in nature and experienced a less crazy, more real world. The tranquility, peace, and rhythm of life I found not only brought joy but also purpose. I learned that a small amount of kindness and compassion can go a long way. I learned we all can make a difference not matter how small.
In 2016 I found inspiration and passed along that inspiration. I raised money and awareness for suicide prevention and worked to help elevate the cause that receives an unfair stigma. I associated myself and worked to combat the taboo subject that takes 3 times more lives than murder. Why? Suicide is a very important issue and is interwoven within my own life. I find reason and happiness in nature and with 7,600 miles of hiking through nature I wanted to take the opportunity to raise awareness for the 10th leading cause of death in America. I had no idea this decision would change my life but it inevitably has. Over this past year, I have received an incredible number of emails, messages, and calls from people whose lives have been severely impacted by suicide. I have seen people I know take up the cause and become advocates for suicide prevention as well as dedicate their time and effort towards making a difference. I want to thank these people as well as each and every person that reached out to tell me their story or thank me for raising awareness for suicide prevention. You were my inspiration. I also want to thank those of you who have given money or time towards the cause.
In 2017 I won’t be hiking 8,000 miles but that doesn’t mean I won’t get outside. I will be working to spread joy and find enjoyment. I will be expanding my comfort zone and continuing to push other limits and boundaries in my life. It is easy to set lofty goals for 2017, but why not focus on the journey. We are all on this awesome trail of life and it will end for every one of us. Why wouldn’t we have the time of our lives and bring others along on the joyous adventure? I will continue to advocate and bring awareness to suicide prevention as well as continue to work towards pushing others to find what they enjoy.
In 2017 I will have a book coming out, continuing to do some public speaking, working on some mountaineering projects and jumping back into the workforce because I cannot make ends meet without a job. I will be striving for a balanced life and working to build on the person I have become. I have no idea what the future holds but I am excited for it. Good luck in 2017 and thank you all for becoming an important part of my life.