Do you remember those "choose your adventure" books from when we were kids? You would read a chapter and at the end, you would have to pick the next action for the main character. Depending on your choices, the book would end up in a different place each time. Those books were a really great metaphor for life in general and we didn't even realize it back then!
Yesterday, I decided that I wanted to take a walk for Valentine's Day. The weather and temperatures have been pretty lately and I wanted to enjoy the outdoors. I knew I'd be walking alone so some of the trails and regional parks that I looked at were out of the question. Eventually, I asked for favorite spots on Facebook and was recommended Hidden Lakes Park. I looked it up and it looked inviting, so I decided to give it a go.
My husband's car has OnStar, so I contacted them and asked for directions to the park. It turned out that it was only about a ten minute drive from my house. I figured I'd take a few pictures on a nice, short walk and then continue with my other plans for the day. I followed the directions and found myself parking at Hidden Valley Park instead. Now, I was determined to have a good Valentine's Day, so I decided to just go with the flow. I'm so glad that I did.
I started walking on the paved path, enjoying the rolling hills and mountains that surrounded me. They truly were gorgeous. Along the path, there were also several cool exercise spots. I looked at each one and told myself that I could do some of the exercises on my way back around.
I continued on the paved path and eventually found myself walking by Hidden Lakes Park. It turns out that the paved path connects the two parks. As I rounded the last of Hidden Lakes Park, I discovered a dirt path going through the open field. I decided to get a bit adventurous and take it. This was the start of my "choose your own adventure" day.
I had no map with me and the paths twisted, turned, and forked in all sorts of directions. I decided to just go with it. Each time I came to a fork in the road, I made a decision about which way to go and didn't really worry about my end destination. It was quite freeing and made me realize that I don't do that often enough. It's important to simply let go of things and enjoy the moment. That's what I did yesterday on my walk and I couldn't have been happier.
The open fields were gorgeous but the real beauty came when I started winding through some of the wooded area. I literally felt like I was in a fairy tale world - all that was missing was the long, flowing gown and my prince. I walked for about an hour, covering around two miles of random trails. I would have walked even further but I had a commitment later in the day and things to do. I'm glad I took the time out to simply be though.
Despite all of my twisting and turning, I eventually ended up back where I started. All of this beauty was found nestled between parks and neighborhoods. I will definitely be returning to enjoy more of the beauty in the future. My goal is to give myself no time restraint next time that I go. There's something freeing and uplifting about wandering a path with no timeline or destination in mind.
Part of the reason I'm sharing the story along with the pictures is because I want to encourage you to take some time one day and simply be. Don't worry about social media or what you're doing next. Get out, enjoy the world around you, and simply take some time for you. You'll be amazed at how good it is for your soul.
Don't forget that you're the one in charge of your adventure. It's the choices you make and the paths you take that determine how your story goes. Take some time to explore the different routes before you make your choice. After all, aren't we all guilty of skipping ahead in those adventure books to find out if we like a certain choice? (Or wait - was I the only one that did that?)
Don't you simply want to run through the trees in a long dress pretending to be a princess? I can't believe how green and vibrant everything was!
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Before you leave, I'd love to hear how you spent your Valentine's day in the comments!