I arrived in Sedona a day early before my meditation teacher training intensive so that I could unwind a bit and be in a relaxed and present state of mind when it began. I turned off all social media notifications and enjoyed an evening in a cozy restaurant and did a little writing. The next morning I had a delicious breakfast and the most divine chai tea of my life, went on a vortex tour, and read outside in the sunshine. After all of that I still had a bit of time until our opening reception, so I decided to check out a crystal shop in town that I heard about. I started walking in a direction I hadn’t gone yet, and I was still a ways from the shop, when I saw a small sign that said Arrowhead Trail Starts Here. I was excited to hike with my group on a free afternoon a few days later, but when I saw that sign something in me stirred.

I am not that outdoorsy really. Running, walking my dogs and sitting by the pool are the extent of my outdoor activities. I have hiked on occasion while visiting a dear friend in California, but never alone. I had a moment where I wondered if I could, almost like I was daring myself. Over the years I have become much less of a risk taker, and coupling that with the fact that I have no sense of direction, a solo hike had never occurred to me. But all of a sudden I heard a voice inside my head say, “Ali, you have your big girl pants on today. You can do this.” And so I went for it.

Everywhere I looked I saw a view more beautiful than the last. I was surrounded by the red rocks of Sedona in every direction. I almost pinched myself. When I came to a fork in the road and I began to wonder nervously if I would be able to find my way back, I heard that same voice tell me, ” You will know what to do.” And I kept going. I went a little ways and something felt off. I had the feeling that I wasn’t on the trail anymore and I decided to turn around. When I got back to the fork I chose another path, and this time it was the right one.

As I walked I felt proud that I took this leap of faith in myself. Tears came to my eyes as I realized that I really can do anything in this world, as long as I follow my intuition. And toward the end of the hike, just to be sure this sunk in, I was tested again.

I hit the same darn fork on the way back and didn’t know which way to go. For some reason they all looked the same. Just as I began to feel fear creeping up my spine my inner voice came to my rescue one last time as I was envisioning having to call for help. It told me, “Turn around and look at each path from the direction you came, and see what looks familiar.” So I did just that, and I immediately knew which way to go.

I thought I had hiked out really far, but on the way back it felt much shorter. So much so that I wished I had gone farther before turning back. It hit me that this is just another metaphor for life’s adventures. The unknown always feels like an eternity.

What I learned:

I can accomplish any goal if I listen to my inner guide along the way. It will not steer me wrong.

Fear doesn’t have to mean panic. It is simply a way of our body telling us to slow down and recalibrate.

If you have to pee on a trail, take the tissue out of your bag to wipe with before you pee, so you don’t have to find it with your tush in the air.

The same lessons will appear again and again until we learn them. They may come in the shape of a fork in the trail or something else, but we will be presented with the same scenarios and decisions to make until we learn once and for all.

Sedona will always live in my heart because of its beauty, but even more so as the place where I found the courage and strength to leave my comfort zone. I am so glad I was wearing my big girl pants that day.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever done something by yourself that you never thought possible. I’d love to know!

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