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Living Out Loud: Reflecting on 2018

Living Out Loud is a column hosted by avid hiker and solo traveler Dede Johnson who shares her observations, reflections, experiences and lessons learned with readers—as well as her tips on how to live with gratitude, humor, compassion, and curiosity. Find out More about Dede at Insta @dedeshikinglife


Taking a Look Back to Move Forward

I’ve learned a grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.  

Wow, what a year it has been!  As 2018 comes to a close I find myself in a contemplative state. The events of the year unfold in my mind’s eye and with the help of a calendar/journal. There are several words that can be used to describe the year and they include adventure, joyful, grace, and gratitude.

Four years ago I took up running; starting with the Couch to 5K training program.  I enjoyed running because I only needed some tennis shoes, comfy running clothes, and a willing spirit.  It was something that I could do outside, even during the winter time as long as I was in well-traveled areas with ample lighting, and had on the right gear.  

There was a time that I ran three or four times a week and participated in just as many 5K or 10K races a year. Now, let me be clear, I was slow as molasses running uphill in the snow, but I was deliberate and steady and took pride in being able to call myself a runner; albeit a very slow one.  


From Running to Hiking

2018 was the year I had to come to terms with not being able to run comfortably anymore. I was no longer enjoying the activity due to a weak left ankle and a condition of the knees called patellofemoral syndrome, otherwise known as “runner’s knee.”

As a result of the aforementioned setbacks, I took up hiking and committed to completing 52 hikes before the end of the year. By October I had met the goal and continued to hike completing 67 hikes in total this past year.  What’s most remarkable about this is not the fact that my ankle is still weak and swells after almost every hike. No, what’s most remarkable are the people that I’ve been able to meet as a result of my love for the outdoors.  


New Connections

I document my hikes on a couple of social media platforms and I’ve hiked with strangers who have become friends. I received a beautiful gift in the mail from a woman I’ve never met before. She follows me on social media and shared how I had inspired her, and she just wanted to say thank you. I’ve introduced old friends to this hobby and have been able to spend quality time with them. And, I’ve received numerous words of appreciation and it has left me feeling inspired and humbled all at the same time.

I’ve also had some amazing opportunities this year including speaking to Seattle Seahawk rookie hopefuls about making good choices; traveling out of the country; adopting the moniker of being a tourist in my own hometown/state and exploring much of what the beautiful Pacific Northwest has to offer; attending several plays and concerts with loved ones; and meeting awesome new people and engaging in insightful conversations that encouraged me to think critically and ask questions in an effort to gain a better understanding from a different perspective.

A Grateful Heart is a Magnet

I not only got to connect with others, I feel the most connected to myself and although the phrase of “living my best life” seems to be overused these days, I really do believe that’s where I am in my journey. I feel open to taking some risks. My confidence has increased because I have demonstrated repeatedly that I am self-reliant, strong, a joy seeker, intentional about looking for the light in whatever situation I may find myself, and choose to bring the light when spaces are dim.  

This does not mean that I don’t have bad days or that I’m happy all the time.  What it means is that I have chosen to live life on purpose and to face hardships with a plan to overcome while learning from setbacks so that I make some new mistakes and not the same ones repeatedly. And I have grace for myself and others. I’m a work in progress when it comes to grace for others, but I do try.

I bid 2018 adieu with much fondness. I’m grateful for all of the experiences of this year that came as a lesson or a blessing and I’m looking forward to 2019!  I’m going to be intentional about cultivating a life full of exciting journeys, new opportunities, calculated risks, much laughter, genuine connections, good mental and physical health and lots of gratitude because I’ve learned a grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.  

What will you be intentional about cultivating in the new year?  Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy each day, try new things, challenge yourself and become the best version of yourself.  Happy 2019!

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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.
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