Wed, Jan 01 | Williamstown

Maggie's Million Mindful Steps!!

A million steps taken in 100 days, inspired by friends, spirituality and the first woman to walk the Appalachian Trail.
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Maggie's Million Mindful Steps!!

Time & Location

Jan 01, 2020, 7:00 AM – Apr 09, 2020, 11:00 PM
Williamstown, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA

About the Event

                                      “...to see what’s on the other side of that hill, then what’s beyond that.”

                                                                                                                -Grandma Gatewood

In 1955, 67 year-old Emma Rowena Gatewood, known as Grandma Gatewood to her 24 grandchildren, told her family that she was going for a walk. Wearing a pair of Keds canvas sneakers and carrying an army blanket, raincoat, and plastic shower curtain all tied up in a handmade denim bag, she set off on a walk that lasted over 2,000 miles. She was the first woman to walk the Appalachian Trail in one season, traveling on wooded paths from Georgia to Maine. 

Walking, for Grandma Gatewood, was a way to explore the world, “to see what’s on the other side of that hill, then what’s beyond that,” but also to heal, meditate, and calm her mind. Starting on the first day of the decade, my goal is to walk - every day - mindfully, meditatively, peacefully. I want to walk 1 million steps in 100 days. 

My name is Maggie Clark and I’m setting this goal for a few reasons. The first is simple: to improve my health through daily exercise. As a full-time professor, consultant and mom, the time for my own self-care so often becomes secondary to the needs of others. It feels like my modern day life has become driven by sedentary practices. This goal, I hope, will help me begin to learn how to put myself, my wellbeing, and my movement as a priority. 

The second reason is to connect my mind and body with the earth through a meditative practice of mindful walking. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, describes the act of mindful walking as one where we, as humans, can unite with the earth:

“When we take mindful steps on the earth, our body and mind unite, and we unite with the earth. The earth gave birth to us and the earth will receive us again. Nothing is lost. Nothing is born. Nothing dies. We don’t need to wait until after our body has disintegrated to go back to Mother Earth. We are going back to Mother Earth at every moment. Whenever we breathe, whenever we step, we are returning to the earth.”

I expect this to be a journey of physical, emotional and spiritual learning. I’m not sure that I can do it, but want to try. 

I’m also here for Megan Dostal, my forever friend. Megan and I have known each other since kindergarten. She was the first person to get me trouble in fourth grade during our reading group when she would peel back her lips to make a funny face at the exact moment the teacher’s back was turned. I would laugh uncontrollably and teacher would remind me this was SILENT reading. Besides her ability to make me smile, Megan has also taught me that true human connection happens at the times when we are most vulnerable with one another. When we are honest, when we share our stories with others, it is then we can begin to learn something about ourselves. I’m not one to easily let down walls, but for this journey - with Megan - I want to. I look forward to sharing my journey and celebrating how and why others are working to meet their goals, as well. I’m excited for what we will all learn about ourselves. 

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