Exploring home and healing

It’s no secret that I thrive when traveling in other countries. I count down the days until my next adventure and reminisce fondly on memories from recent trips. But the reality is that most of my days aren’t spent galavanting around the world, but chilling at home, going to work, and building a day-to-day routine. I’ve been grappling with ways to break out of my monotonous routine and capture the joy of travel here.

So for 2020, I’ve been discovering my home, curiously. Driving the winding twists through Big Sur and taking in what has to be one of the most phenomenal ocean views in the world. The drama of California’s central coast is not to be underestimated, and this region was one of the first places in the U.S. that so completely overwhelmed me with gratitude. Looking at the endless expanse of turquoise water fading to deep navy, I finally understood why people say I’m lucky to call the U.S. (and more specifically the west coast) home.

I’ve stared up the trunks of magnificent redwoods at Muir Woods and been overwhelmed by the magic of hiking in Point Reyes, with the ocean roaring around you and elk grazing nearby. I peered into the depths of the Grand Canyon, and despite having been several times before, found myself overcome with the grandeur of the place.

Much like traveling to and exploring new countries, visiting state and national parks provides a space for curiosity, admiration, adventurous activities, and most importantly, reflection. Six and a half months ago I was hit by a car while walking home. And in the game of Alyssa vs. car, naturally the car won. I laid on the ground in agony and needed two people to help me walk the block back to my home. Last fall was full of trips to physical therapy and the chiropractor. It was me feeling depleted and frustrated because my body wouldn’t move how I wanted it to, because I was in constant pain no matter how I sat or stood or laid down, because it was so incredibly unfair that this had happened and because the things that recharge me were unaccessible with my injuries.

But I committed to putting in the work. By late November, I was able to start back at gymnastics, albeit only with conditioning and basic skills. Walking, biking, and hiking began to be accessible again, I completed PT and started to navigate this new body of mine. The body is pretty spectacular. It can heal from immense trauma, with just time and diligence to resting and recuperating in the right ways. The triumph of my 2020 explorations are not just that they are taking me to a handful of dramatic and inspiring vistas, but that they have shown me just how capable my mind and body are of healing. In Point Reyes, I hiked over 25 miles in two days. I explored from Alamere Falls to Tomales Point, drove through soupy fog, but I also allowed myself to hike meditatively. No podcasts, musics, audiobooks. Just me, my thoughts, and the crashing waves to narrate the miles passing by.

Healing body and soul is an ongoing project. Exploring my home isn’t a magic solution, but a reminder that:

  • the outdoors heal
  • movement creates space for me to examine my thoughts
  • I am capable of so much more than I give myself credit for
  • you don’t need perfect weather to enjoy the now

Go explore. And get a national parks pass if you don’t have one!

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