Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons
I have to admit, I didn't really mean to write "How to Start Your Life Over in Ten (Not Easy) Steps." I actually sat down to work on something else, but then the words just poured out of me. Several hours later, I snapped out of my daze, and "How to Start Your Life Over" was the result.

I wasn't even sure what to do with it at first. It wasn't writing-related, per se, and it certainly wasn't wilderness-related or nature-related or anything else I usually write about on this blog.

But it was true--truer than anything I'd written about in a very, very long time--and I felt it was important, too. I wished I'd read something like it when I started MY life over last year. (And don't be fooled, everyone. In no way have I graduated past Step Ten myself. I'm getting closer, but I still experience setbacks and failures ALL THE TIME.)

So, I decided to share it. I pushed "publish" with a tentative finger, and then I sat back and waited, feeling vulnerable and self-conscious and unsure if anyone would even care to read it.

But then... I started getting visitors, and then my friends were retweeting and reposting my links. And then strangers were retweeting and reposting my links, and then I was getting comments and emails and feedback from people I didn't even know. My blog hits skyrocketed, and everyone who got in touch with me was so supportive and amazing and encouraging and genuine.

And the most important thing: Almost every single person reported going through the exact same thing I did when they started their lives over. Some were in the midst of it, some had already pulled through, but nearly everyone said they had felt so many of the things I described in my steps.

This was reassuring (maybe I'm NOT crazy after all!), but more than that, it was humbling to realize how universal our emotions really can be. And those times when we feel our most alone, there are countless other souls struggling with our exact same obstacles.

So, a lesson: Be unreasonably gentle with everyone you encounter, and know that you are never truly alone in this world. If you ever feeling lost or broken, reach out to someone. You never know... They may know EXACTLY what you are going through.

P.S.- Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to visit--whether you left a comment or sent an email or tweeted or shared or not. I noticed you here, and your presence meant the world to me.