As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I loved to travel. My parents would always take my siblings and I on these crazy trips out west to visit the Grand Canyon and other National Parks out there, as well as Las Vegas. We would go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee from time to time, as well as Florida. Oh, and did I mention we DROVE to these places, in a four door sedan, with three kids in the backseat (one in a car seat), five people’s luggage in every available space, and our parents at the helm? Looking back, I’m really not sure how our parents survived these trips. Truly, they are saints.
Just before we would leave for each of these adventures, my parents would get my sister and I each a “trip-tik” from AAA, which we could follow along, page by page, mile by mile, and not have to ask them for the millionth time “ARE WE THERE YET?!”. It was the adventure aspect of these trips that I remember the most vividly, all these years later. I loved looking at the maps, trying to figure out where we were, and where we were going next (and giving the information to my parents if they looked as if they were unsure in my ten year old mind).
In the fourth grade, my teacher gave our class an assignment about the continents. We had to pick and present on that continent. The one I chose was Australia, and it immediately moved to the very top of my bucket list! I knew more about the Australian culture and history before I was ten, than most people know as an adult. I became obsessed. My favorite part of the culture, however, was the Aboriginal people’s Walkabout. The Walkabout is a ritual that a tribe member goes through anywhere between the ages of ten and sixteen. They are taken into the Outback of Australia and must find their way home. They begin their Walkabout as an adolescent, and return home as an adult. It is a rite of passage.
I began pretending I was going on my own Walkabouts in Harrison, Ohio, where I grew up. I would go outside, get lost in the woods, go to the parks, just, go… Being outside with nature was a way for me to disconnect from everything else, and get back to me. With two younger siblings running around, and my parents running us back and forth between practices and rehearsals, and whatever other school or extra-curricular activity we had happening (and they ALWAYS overlapped), things tended to get pretty hectic. Not that it was a bad thing, but sometimes it got overwhelming. My Harrison-style Walkabouts were a way to give myself a minute to practice some self-care, even if I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time. I just knew it was quiet for a minute, and that was usual in our house. I learned that by getting back in touch with nature, I could get back in touch with myself.
Now that I’ve grown older (not grown-up), I travel and visit beautiful places. Even when I’m not traveling, I try to go on (very) mini Walkabouts at least once a week, usually on Wednesday’s, because: alliteration. My Wednesday Walkabouts are sometimes a ten minute hike along the river on my way to work, a walk around the block at lunch, or a hiking session with a client and parent where they re-discover the excitement of being outside, connecting with one-another; and not connected to their devices.
This August I will be attending the 8th International Adventure Therapy Conference, held at The Tops in Sydney, Australia. I will be checking off my number one item on my bucket list. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to make it possible. And while I’ve put a lot of that in already, there’s a lot more needed. But that is how much I believe in the Walkabout.
I encourage you to start doing your own Wednesday Walkabout. Give yourself permission to get outside. If you’re in Cincinnati, yes, it’s freezing cold outside. So maybe a five minute walk will be all you can do. But get outside. Feel the air on your face. Smell the fresh flowers, or the trees. Give yourself permission to be alone for five minutes.
Where will your Wednesday Walkabout take you? I would love to know! Leave us a comment with where you’re starting your Walkabout.
New Adventures await…