In my ongoing effort to maintain an open heart for the learning opportunities in everything I do, I’m happy to confirm that the miles trekked on my goal to hike the most beautiful hiking spots in Florida, as expected, did not disappoint. Our Jamie sent me this inspiring list which I began to check off on Memorial Day weekend, promising to make a donation for each mile hiked to The Wounded Warrior Project (a GREAT cause) promising as well to finish by Independence Day weekend. Done and done – check is in the mail and the 47.5 miles provided new lessons and reconfirmed old lessons which needed some dusting off.

WONDER – I learned that Florida boasts some of the most beautiful parks and hiking trails I’ve ever seen. We Floridians have much to be proud of and I encourage everyone to get out and explore this beautiful state. I was reminded of the importance of looking up every now and then in awe of all the beauty God has blessed us with. Yes, I found myself looking down at the trail ahead of me, watching out for snakes after constant warning, looking out for hidden tree knots to avoid a possible hike-ending fall and the like but as often as possible, I looked up. I’ve witnessed this beauty from the depths of a cave and from the aerial views in the cockpit of a Cessna, while hang gliding and everywhere in between. GET OUT THERE AND SEE FOR YOURSELF!

LIFE – I learned that trees, like grandparents, even in death, contribute to life. If you live it right, your impression will be felt for generations to come.

PERSPECTIVE – I learned that whether you see a tree as a strangler or a hugger is all a matter of perspective. You and only you are responsible for your perspective, choose wisely.

TRUST – I learned that, as in life, trails throughout the state had markings on the trees to keep you on the right track. On many occasions, I realized if it hadn’t been for these markings, a wrong turn might have meant I’d still be lost in one of these forests. It occurred to me off the trails, I’ve always had these guides. They’ve been people or situations God has strategically placed in my path to get me to the next step or phase. In my younger years, I’d question, resist. I don’t anymore. I realize that God is the most perfect of all chess players and is many steps ahead of me, interceding on my behalf, knowing which path is right for me to reach the amazing destiny He has in store for me. I trust!

VISION – I learned the importance of maintaining focus on our vision – the vision of the life we want to live and the dreams we want to achieve. This was reconfirmed to me in, of all places, a cave. At one point, our guide Doug asked us all to turn off our cell phones. He proceeded to turn off his flashlight and it was pitch black, darkness darker than I’d ever not-seen. He went on to explain that if someone was trapped in a cave in that darkness for 2 or 3 weeks, they would be temporarily blinded and it would take 4 months for them to recover their eyesight. If they were in that darkness for 5 weeks or longer, they would become permanently blinded because the brain would tell the ocular nerve it was no longer needed. I’ve not checked the validity of these timeframes however, what I can confirm is that this is very similar to what happens to us when we do not dream, when we do not exercise the focus on our visions and aspirations. I know so many people who dare not dream for fear of failing. They avoid it for so long, they eventually forget even how to. In a way, it’s as if their heart tells their dream-nerve it is no longer needed and they are unable to even ascertain when it becomes absent. I encourage you to put that dream-nerve to good use, as often as possible.

SIMPLICITY – Ran into this sign “Please take nothing but pictures Leave nothing but footprints.” I learned from this sign that these rules apply to life as much as they do to Torreya State Park. I’ve often found myself saying “we can’t take anything with us but the experiences people” and this sign, metaphorically, confirmed that for me. All we have that can’t be taken away are our experiences, our adventures; those memorable moments we make with the people we love. On the same token, while we can leave the material behind, what we leave behind that will mean the most are our footprints. Where have we made an impression? What are we leaving behind that will make this world a better place? What contributions have we made to our fellow man that will make them better for having known us? An encouraging word that will inspire someone or change their lives for the better? Sponsorship of a child who will have a better chance at a future? A kind word to an elderly person at a senior center who might not have heard one in a long while? A meal and a hug to someone struggling with homelessness? What’s your legacy? If you hadn’t thought about that, now’s a good time to start. Start today to work on your footprint and make it a good one!


Berta Medina-Garcia, PCC
Success & Adventure Coach