Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hiking Through- A Guest Post

Today’s guest post comes from Paul Stutzman, the author of Hiking Through. Originally when I was contacted by his publicist the goal was for him to write an article about hiking the Appalachian Trail and provide some family tips. Instead, he found Tuesday’s story on my blog and decided to write about something that is so much more important. His sentiments  reflects my own desire to inspire families to get out and enjoy the world with each other. Family is such a gift and sometimes our time with them is cut tragically short. I hope you find Paul’s words just inspiring and heartfelt as I did.

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Initially, I came to this blog as part of a virtual book tour, hoping to promote my new book. But after browsing through this site and reading Tuesday’s story, I simply want to write a message from my heart.

Cherish and enjoy your children, your spouse, your loved ones! Mary, my wife of 32 years, died of breast cancer in 2006. My life as I had known it was gone. And part of the pain I felt was in knowing that I had taken my wife and our life together for granted. My one goal in life was to be wealthy. In pursuit of that goal, I spent too much time at work and missed much of my children’s growing-up years. It was only after my wife was gone that I realized what had been mine—and I had failed to appreciate it fully.

A year after Mary’s death, I quit my job and hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, demanding answers from God and trying to find healing. Early in my hike, I met the man I called Sailor, who grew up on Cape Cod in the same neighborhood as the famous Kennedy family. When I first met him, I was quite impressed with his background, thinking that he was surely part of that “upper crust” society of wealth and privilege.

In fact, I never knew if Sailor was a millionaire or had only a few dimes. The Trail is a great equalizer, and bank accounts don’t mean much if you’re trudging alone through the wilderness. But I believe Sailor was one of the wealthiest men I met. His wealth lay in his family. Several times during the weeks I knew him, Sailor’s sons joined him for parts of the hike. His wife also walked part of the trail with him. That man has riches far greater than any bank account. Bank accounts swell and shrivel, as we all know, but memories made with our loved ones only grow more precious with time.

Whenever I had a chance on my hike, I tried to pass on this message: Enjoy and appreciate your spouse, your children, your loved ones TODAY, while you still have the opportunity.

After Paul Stutzman’s wife died, Paul quit his job to hike the Appalachian trail to giveHiking_Through himself time to think and to heal.  Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail is his story.  A former restaurant manager, he is now retired and planning his next big adventure: a cross-country bicycle trip. Stutzman currently lives in Berlin, Ohio. To see pictures of his hike or to find out more about Paul and his book, visit his website at www.hikingthrough.com.

8 comments:

debi9kids said...

What an awesome post and a wonderful message. The book sounds just inspiring.
So glad you featured him Shar!

Terri said...

What a great post. Thanks for the message. Sometimes you just need to hear it!

Lora (Tripping with Kids) said...

Nicely said, Paul. A great lesson, learned the hard way. May we all benefit from your words.

Mel said...

This post encapsulates the drive behind what so many of us are trying to do--get outside with our families. Hopefully, many of us can figure it out without having to go through a tragedy. Thanks so much for the lovely post!

Rebecca Camarena said...

This author was so brave to just walk away from everything and embark on this journey. Very cool blog background and message. Families don't spend enough time together.

Mike Barlow said...

Thanks for writing this, Paul. It's so easy to get caught up in all of the routine tasks of the day and forget to stop and cherish the treasures of family and friends...

Debi said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing.

Carolina said...

It seems that nowadays when many of us are financially strapped, we realize that we don't need the things but the people we love. Don't need any money to go for a hike with your family.
Thanks for sharing your story.