My greatest challenge is to allow my joy to have a louder voice than my anxiety. It was when I discovered hiking that I felt a lessening in the anxiety that has followed me for years. As if in stripping down to the basics of survival - shelter, food, water - and embracing dependence upon my own skills and endurance, I could finally quiet those adverse thought patterns that are at times crippling. As a solo female hiker in her mid-forties who lacks a traditionally athletic body, I know I don't fit the expected mold of an outdoors-woman. But when I enter the woods, it is like finally coming home - to the one place where I most belong. To me, that is a sacred thing and place becomes akin to prayer. Every moment I am outdoors, joy wins over anxiety - a blessing for which I am beyond grateful.