Two nights ago I was asked how many steps I had walked so far on my 365 day quest? I quizzically looked back at this person and said in a generally open tone, “I have no idea, am I supposed to be tracking that?” Then he reminded me that if I had brought my iphone along on each walk it was most likely already tracking it for me. I looked and realized it had been, and thus far that day, after 3 consecutive walks, I had taken close 13000 steps, even with the internal validation that number brought me, I was hesitant to share that number with him. This interaction wasn’t the first one of it’s kind, with another person asking how much weight I had lost just the previous day, so I took the next few minutes of the walk we were on in Golden, CO to ponder how I wanted to respond to him and to the others that had been prompting me for numbers of steps, of people, of miles and weight.
After a few silent moments, in between the contrast of the night sky and glitter of the still hung holiday lights and the giggles of youngsters playing, I found my response. “It’s not about the numbers for me, it’s never been about the numbers. It’s about connection. Connecting with people I normally would not on a deeper level than the typical day-to-day transactions we tend to have, it’s within those connections that I find a deeper understanding of myself.” I then shared with this gentleman what I had already learned about him on this and other walks and how, if I had been focusing on numbers, I just might have completely ignored the fact that he was anything but another checkmark in validating my quest.
This interaction prompted me to write out why I have chosen to walk with a different person or group of people each day in 2015, especially when I already walk so much as the founder of a walking organization. The idea for the challenge first came to me when I knew it was time to take Wild Dream Walks to a full time venture. Over the past 1.5 years the organization has grown well past my original intention and was distinctly no longer about me and my personal dreams. Every day, it was turning into a place for many people to walk and many people to connect on something we all have in common, our dreams, ideas, hopes and aspirations, no matter where they were in the process of bringing a dream to reality or not. I had an extreme amount of wonder about what could happen if I spent all my time cultivating the soil that the roots of the organization were growing from. With that thought in mind I asked myself some personal questions regarding accountability, finances and such. Around accountability I knew that my emotions and energy levels have always been a place where, when they are low, anxious, or in doubt, I could and have, let myself off the hook and inherently I let myself down. The thought of letting Wild Dream Walks blossom was so important to me that I knew I needed a challenge or a goal to push me past my own shortcomings and into service of the organization itself. That’s where I thought of walking for 365 days straight.
Yet, I also know that I’m a natural rebel, at some point in my childhood learning that it was more fun and fruitful to not follow rules; how I made it through high school I’m still uncertain of. Doing anything for 365 days seemed like a rule to me and I knew that there needed to be something else, something tied to my heart and reason for curating Dream Walks in the first place to keep me following it. At this point I decide to practice what I do on Dream Walks with my own inner circle and started to share my thoughts and ideas for the impending year. Most responses were in the same realm as the interaction I described earlier, around data points and numerics, but there was also a collective feeling that there was another way to do this. With no real idea of how to move forward I decided to disconnect from everything and give myself a day to sit with it. I went for a walk by myself in the morning and sat in silence for most of a full day. By the end of that day I wasn’t feeling that great, feeling lonely, scared and doubtful, so I reached out to a friend. Just talking with her for five minutes shifted my sentiment and as we hung up the phone it came to me, the reason why I wanted to do this in the first place, the power of simply connecting. I thought about how much energy I personally get from meeting new people, making connections, and watching others connect with one another so I decided to fold that into the 365 walking accountability structure as well. I knew instantly it was the right thing as the ideas and creativity around how I could accomplish such a quest started to flow. I wrote them all down and promptly put the paper away as I also knew that the fun was really going to come not in my plans for the year but in showing up, as if in service to it, every day. In essence, it’s an opportunity to be in service to everyone’s dream, to let others know that what they are thinking about, dreaming about, and hoping for has a place in this world, even if just on one walk, with one other person.
Now, on day 12 of this 365 quest a distinction in words has popped up. Walking 365 days with a new person or group of people is not so much a goal with distinct outcomes rather it is a commitment. A commitment to hold my own self accountable to what is truly a value of mine, connection. Within this commitment I don’t have to follow the rules, I can make them, I can be creative, there is no rigid path with data points at the end. Instead there are stories, there are people, that I would not have ever considered or known to connect with, to learn about, to share about. I find energy in that, I find hope in that. I have also found personal discipline in a way that I have never known before. Every day I get to wake up and the most important aspect has already been chosen, I just get to creatively figure out how and with whom I’m going to spend it with. I figure that is where the Wild in Wild Dream Walks comes from as well.
Oh, and for the record, my iphone tells me that as of publishing this piece I’ve walked 241,471 steps in 2015. If you’d rather read about the stories of each walk, you can follow the blog here, on Instagram here, and Facebook here.
Wild Dream Walks Founder, Nicole Huguenin, is walking every day of 2015 with a new person or group of people a day. It’s a commitment in connection, service, and love. Want to walk and dream with her this year? Schedule a walk via email here. Or consider taking a walk with a new person or group of people yourself. Can’t make a walk, you might consider supporting future walks through a financial donation here.