Every once in a while an important quest calls us. We can hear it whispering in our hearts. Sometimes the quest is easy; other times hard. Sometimes it takes everything we have to complete it.
If we are lucky, our quest illuminates our entire lives. It teaches us what we have not yet noticed, what still remains hidden in our deepest self. It reveals strength, commitment, tenderness, unexpected treasures. Our heart guides us to our quest…and the quest ends up opening our heart even more.
Another definition of a quest is the way it moves us beyond our usual patterns. It beckons us from the comfort of our habits, our compulsions, our regular beaten path through the days and weeks and years.
I believe our heart sends us on mini-quests all the time. We don’t even label the promptings as quests. Perhaps our heart begs us to open a spiritual center, or to paint pictures. Perhaps it whispers to write a book, or travel to India or into the woods down the road. Perhaps it advises caring for an aging parent, starting a blog. Sometimes our quest is to communicate; other times it involves silence. We never know what quest our heart shall send us on next. It’s a journey into the unknown, into untraveled territory.
I just finished reading a book about a Big Quest. It is called “A 1,000- Mile Walk on the Beach” by Loreen Niewenhuis. The subtitle is “One Woman’s Trek of the Perimeter of Lake Michigan.”
As most of you know, Lake Michigan lies south of Lake Superior, a sister lake, one of the Great Lakes. Last spring and fall I blogged about Mike Link and Kate Crowley walking around Lake Superior and unofficially met Loreen by reading her blog, Lake Trek.
She says, “Life should be an adventure.”
I almost actually met Loreen during her hike north of Traverse City in 2009. Well, I could have met her. Here’s what happened. I was eating breakfast downstate in Bellaire, meeting blogger-friend Gerry from Torch Lake Views. Having spent many teenage days in Antrim County at my parent’s cottage, I was eager to meet Gerry who lived nearby.
As we sipped our coffee, Gerry said she had another date after breakfast. She was hiking with a woman walking around Lake Michigan. Too bad I couldn’t accompany them… Gerry’s dogs, Miss Sadie and the Cowboy, were already in the car, awaiting the Grand Adventure.
You’ll have to read the book to read the segment about Loreen’s hike with Gerry and the dogs. You’ll learn about blisters on feet, dunes, camping with raccoon visitors, fascination with roadkill. (Yep, I would be fascinated, too.)
You’ll learn what it felt like to hike through Chicago and the industry around Gary, Indiana. You’ll be saddened to discover that there are places around Lake Michigan where scuba divers have received burns diving in polluted waters.
You’ll learn about the precious eco-system which surrounds the lake and the ways mankind has threatened the natural balance.
Loreen hiked the lake in ten segments in 2009. Her heart called her on a Big Quest, and she didn’t refuse its calling. In her words: “When I turned 45, I felt something pull at me, goading me to take on something bigger than myself, to challenge myself in a big way.”
She did. She heeded her inner calling, and hiked. I applaud you, Loreen. You inspire me to listen to what my heart is whispering. My quest may not be a big hike around the lake, but it’s a quest, nonetheless.
Readers, I hope your voice will give you the courage and inspiration to follow your own inner nudgings and promptings as they arise. To leave the beaten path of everyday reactions, and venture toward a deeper response. It may only feel like a small prompting, a small quest–but listening to the deepest heart has a way of leading us where we need to travel next.
I know we’re all listening. I just pray that we all have the strength to follow when our heart nudges.
I’ve been waiting for her book to come out. I need to talk to PJ and get one sent to me! Lake Michigan is my favorite lake, so many family memories associated with it. Can’t wait to read it.
Oh Kathy, what a lovely post.
At age 60, quite suddenly after retiring, I moved from Ontario to the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. The move was prompted by my daughter coming home from England with a pit bull “type” dog. In Ontario, anything that even “looks” like a pit bull under 6 yo is destroyed ! So we left the province where I had lived for the last 55 years and where my closest family still lived.
That whimsical move was a very stressful, scarey and wonderful thing. I stepped so far out my comfort zone, I wanted to roll up in a little ball and cry at my foolishness. Now a year and a half later — I could not imagine living anywhere else. The ocean speaks to me and it is marvellous to be learning new things and exploring new places in my retirement years.
There is an overgrown wood at the end of our street that I was told was impenetrable when I moved here. It now has a couple of kilometers of marked trails (with colourful ribbons) made by yours truely. My dogs and I enjoy exploring the woods and marvelling at the lichens and mosses that thrive there and (hopefully) avoiding the porcupines.
I will visit Loreen’s Blog and see where I can get her book — it sounds wonderful.
The Blog world is a marvellous place to meet like-minded souls. Thanks for being one of them.
Blog on, Kathy, blog on !
The book sounds wonderful. There are places I am familar with and others that I would not even consider to walk along the water, like Gary Indiana. I think I will put it on my wish list, thanks for personalizing the review.
Yes, stepping out of one’s comfort zone is challenging, but life changing as Sybil said. I found that out upon moving from the Traverse City area of the lower peninsula of Michigan straight across the lake to Appleton two years ago. I look forward to the new adventures that the move brings in the futures years of my life.
Reading your post gave me goosebumps! Maybe someday I will find enough time to read, to get a copy of that book. I lived in Illinois and Indiana from 1987 until 1995, most of that time in (well, I should say NEAR! We had a Gary mailing address, but the house was actually in unincorporated Calumet Township) Gary, IN.
I think you’ve really captured the essence of Loreen’s walk, Kathy. I remember that day well. I see that I’m holding the Old Little Camera in the photo. Inside it was a picture of you taken that day, too! Hardly any days are like that
Hello Gerry! How wonderful to see a picture of you and the pups on Kathy’s blog! And how lovely to read about your meeting over coffee. It’s nice to meet other bloggers in real life, isn’t it? 🙂
Kathy, this is simply terrific! You’ve written something personal and meaningful and at the same time have captured the essence of Loreen’s quest and book and a little of the variety in her bold adventure, too. My hat is off to you. Also, Dawn, I have the book at my store, and Loreen is going to stop by in a couple weeks and sign all the copies I have in stock. (Note to self: order more copies, as they’ve been selling fast.)
Cool post! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all temporarily leave behind the “have-to’s” of each day to be able to explore our “want-to’s”? Wonderful for Loreen, and whatever quest you may have in mind for yourself, I hope you are able to make it happen. Love the picture of Gerry and the duo!
Beautiful and motivating! Thank you~
I can hear the water lapping, Kathy.
Very nice article, thank you for sharing this information.
It has taken me a very long time to begin listening to the whispers of my heart. Better late than never.
Once again, you have articulated something that I’ve been mulling over for a long time, Kathy… Sometimes it leaps into front-centre-stage, at other times, it’s just a feeling in the back of my mind… this feeling that we do all have a life-purpose that is specific to us, at this time, in the circumstances in which we are right now, with the personality and character traits we have right now, and with the resources we have at our disposal right now. And that we almost have a soul responsibility to embark on just such a quest as you describe, whatever it may be, and to follow the calling of our inner guidance. How to you FIND it? How do you LISTEN?
Thank you for making us think, Kathy.
It is amazing how fascinated you folks are about those big lakes that surround you and inform so much of your life! Hiking those lakes has to be marvelous adventure, one done of love and inspired by something deeper then to just see what is there.
Thank you for sharing this quest. And yes we all have quest that call out to us, many may not listen or may not seem important at the time but a quest can be a life changing adventure, so allow your hearts to listen, feel the pull, walk in its flow and see where it takes you.
I am doing it would my photography, I am following a quest with my blog and my photography, as you Kathy have done.
I am Love, Jeff
I’m realizing I’m missing your replies to comments…that extension of the conversation…it’s as if the conversations went private and I’m no longer privy to them. Just my vote for you to come back!
Change is hard for me… however an occasional adventure is nice.
I’m looking forward to reading this book. Also thinking about Ann Linnea as I read this. And remembering her quest and journey around Lake Superior. And Helen Thayer crossing the Gobi desert….on foot, at age 63!
This kind of personal journey has always called to me…… this immersion/connection/communion with nature and the natural world.
Resonating with your words…and with Reggie’s comments 🙂
“To leave the beaten path of everyday reactions…” This has been part of my quest recently and it has not been easy.
This was beautifully written, Kathy, and I thank you for the timely reminders and inspiration. May you listen to your heart, too, as it beckons and whispers to you, and be blessed as you find and follow your new path.
yes, Yes, Yes
I’m actively listening with my heart.
Great post – thank you!
My prayer is that we all listen with our heart…that we follow where our heart leads. Thank you, everyone!
Pamela Grath of DogEars Books told me to read your blog after I told her I was having difficulty reviewing Loren’s book. You absolutely nailed it’s essence and put her contributions in the proper perspective. Any chance you would let me use in my Cottage Book Shop monthly email of our recommendations? It would need to be edited to about 300 words and I would give you credit, link your blog and give you book credit. Anyone wishing a copy, we also have for sale and will offer free shipping to your readers.
You may use my review, Barbara. I would be honored. Thank you–I hope you inspire lots of people to rad Loreen’s book!
What a lovely review of Loreen’s book. I read it with awe at the humor, intelligence, information, and real passion she has for Lake Michigan. Your comments are the icing on the cake. I hope everyone reads this book and seeks out their own adventure!
I am glad you enjoyed this review, Theresa. I was in awe of Loreen’s trek and the way she described it, as well. Wishing you many adventures (and everyone else, too!)
It is now September 2011. I ran into the Frankfort bookstore while I was home to find a book for a child who had lost a family member.There on a featured table was Loreen’s book. I recognized it instantly as the book mentioned in your blog. I quickly picked it up and decided it would make a good read in my crossing of Lake Michigan the next day and the days after. What a wonderfully written book, with a mixture of informational pieces and information about he trek. I will likely finish tomorrow. I have covered the perimeter many many times only by car. I found it fascinating to see it through her eyes, hugging the lake. I must say it was an eye opener about the past and current toxins in the lake, and the invasive species. I thought I was fully aware, but not. I guess no one is too old for a great adventure, this book leaves me thinking…….
Jane, how wonderful to read your comment here. I am so glad you picked up Loreen’s book and was inspired by it. It was fascinating to see the lake through her eyes. Possibly, we’ll never look at it the same. It is sad to ponder the toxins and invasive species, but I guess it’s important that our eyes are open to them. Glad you enjoyed!