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  • Writer's pictureHeidi Nehring

Expanding Our Horizons

“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”

-Anne Frank



I was always that kid. The kid who tried to fit in in basketball. In team sports when she knew she really didn’t care for the burn in her lungs running Badger Runs. I was that kid. The kid who asked to stay in for recess because the noise and the amount of people on the playground was too loud for me. I was that kid who worked ahead in her English workbook because she could grasp the concepts easily and she actually enjoyed trying to find the colorful adjectives, and loved reading the descriptions, being able to pick out the sentences that she loved the best, normally including anything nature related. I remember one time on a standardized test, tests I am horrible at by the way, I kept coming back to one paragraph over and over again that described how the dew on a spider web looked like gems that were thrown from a heavy metal bucket onto the web. That was in 7th grade (oddly enough the grade I teach at the moment).


As life expanded, I expanded in some ways mentally, and definitely physically, upon entering high school. I ended up diving more into performance arts, loving the artistic process of creating plays, and singing for performances, but I did not care for the internal unease that came with stage fright. What I did realize, however, was how much I loved learning about humans and the human condition. Playing Edith Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, we dove deep into how people having gone through such fear, such pain, such worry, such horror, at the hands of an individual so hurt and in so much need of power and love that would try to go about filling that in in such awful ways, and yet through all of that, how humans have been blessed with this resilient spiritual energy that cultivates ways to still love, to still care, to still tap into that Godly energetic spiral of light within to survive such heart breaking conditions. It opened my eyes…and my heart, a desire to understand this process because I am not sure I could be so forgiving. So loving. So caring in a life as such. But it brought me to really analyze my existence. My life and my afterlife. Having gone to Christian schools, honestly this was never a new topic, because we always talked about the afterlife, learning to lean into the afterlife, learning how to cultivate a personal faith relationship with the Divine in all things, so we remember we are here for reasons and purposes we might not even recognize. And to trust that process. It is a relationship that is constantly spiraling and evolving based upon experiences, many times self-induced and sometimes introduced through life circumstances. This all sounds like pretty deep, dark things, and it is, and yet it is so intricate, so delicate, so beautiful, and by contemplating our existence this allows us to identify deeper, who we are, and why we are here. It helps to refocus our attention many times again and again when we feel we have faltered to say, “Okay, time out. What am I feeling? Why am I feeling this? What am I trying to do? Where is this coming from? What do I need? And how do I use this to help myself and others?” But that is part of life for me now too, to work at strengthening my relationship with myself as well within all of this.



Life for me is also about togetherness. Small groups. One-to-ones with people. Hiking my first time in Colorado, I think we did 26 miles or something. The people I was with asked one night, “Hey! We are doing this hike, you want to come?” “Sure!” I was just so grateful to be asked. It made me feel special. This was also a big thing for me because I am one to shy away from people or things that are new. New territory means new things obviously. But mostly it’s because I have always been an observer first. It takes me awhile to process through things, not because I am slow, but because I see so many gears, levers, buttons, in things, meaning I see so many things on a deep level, I need to sort through that to truly understand things. However, when I am ready, I will jump, and I will run, and I will sing, and I will dance, and I will hug, and I will love in ways that surprise people. You just need to give me time. This time for hiking I just jumped in feet first and I fell in love for the first time in my life. It was such a turning point in my spiritual existence. I had absolutely no clue the expansiveness of the love of God until I viewed the expanse from a mountain top, and I wept. One because I was scared out of my mind looking down at birds circling and catching wind below my feet, aghast at the miracle that I was not in an airplane and higher than the birds creating shadows near tree line, but I also wept at the awe, the view, the openness, the beauty, and that all of this was created for all of us to experience and enjoy. We did it together. Hiking not only offered me this gift of a new view of myself, of others, of life, I was able to spend time taking one step after another getting to know people as a community, that eventually became family. And, what other better miracle is out there than that?



The body is amazing in what it can do. The mind is amazing in what it can cultivate. The spiritual being is an awe inspiring being. After doing a 16-mile round trip hike to attempt Long’s Peak, almost getting engulfed in a storm on a mountain, one cannot help but contemplate life and the existence thereof and our relationship with all of it. How meditation was also birthed out of that experience for me. If you hike long enough, you not only learn to walk side-by-side with people getting to know each and everyone of them as you switch partners here and there to walk with, you also develop an appreciation for how free one feels getting used to the rhythm of the breath in conjunction with the feet. How thoughts actually do tend to melt away as you work to let go of you just a little bit to focus out there more to marvel at the beauty that resides within and without. It was actually a very organic process of allowing that to happen. Of staying curious and open. Basically, redeveloping a personal relationship within, with the spiritual beings and the miracles without. May we always continue to take moments to pause, to sit, to breathe, to appreciate all the wonders within and without. To continue to work at creating that relationship with self and others so we can continue to grow and expand who we are and why we are here. The love in light that is in me, honors the love and light within you. Namaste.

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