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A New Sense of Belonging

I am your average woman in her early fifties. I work full time and love what I do, but not how much I do it. I have been on the same street in my peaceful neighborhood for more than 15 years, I know my neighbors well.  I have a comfortable home that even feels spacious now that my children have moved out, but there is a silence some days that I don’t easily recognize. Over the years, my friends have married, had children, some divorced, some widowed, all at different times. None of us stayed in sync with our life stages like we once thought we would. I never thought that I would one day be faced with a common yet unspoken dilemma for women my age- I was lonely and to be honest, I was feeling a little trapped.

And it wasn’t the type of lonely or trapped feelings that would compel me towards a romantic relationship. On the contrary, I missed feminine camaraderie that seemed so easy to come by in my younger years. I have friends, lots of them, I just don’t get to see them very much due to demanding schedules. When I saw WomenWalking on Facebook, it suddenly clicked. I wanted to be outside, with women, walking. I wanted to take in new sites and sounds and places, I just didn’t have friends who could do this with me.

Really, the premise is brilliant. I joined as a member and had instant access to other’s women’s profiles. I could scroll through and see other community members walking preferences- from easy walks around town to hiking up the side of Mount Tam. Before I could even decide which member to contact first, another member reached out to me and asked if I had walked to Lake Ilsanjo before. I hadn’t been in years, but as we begun to chat about our favorite hikes, I started being able to imagine myself  within this supportive network of women who were taking to the paths that have always surrounded us.

Ultimately, we decided to first meet at one of WomenWalking’s group events in Petaluma. When we met, not only did we hit it off, but we set up a first hike at Lake Ilsanjo.

When we met at the base of the trail, I felt a new sense of belonging. I belonged on this trail. I belonged in my body. I belonged in friendship. My hips felt rusty, we had to stop a lot and pretend to admire the views while we were actually catching our breath, but we were going at a pace that was comfortable for both of us. The flowers sang to us as we inched our way towards the lake, and we had our next walk planned by the time we reached the top. Thank you WomenWalking for this small gift of community connection- it’s already having a huge impact on my life!