While walking in the footsteps of the strong, resilient women of the past, we are changed and grateful to have stretched our comfort zones and expanded the boundaries of the possible.  Remember this feeling borne from hard work. 

We are guided by and honor heritage to develop personal and collective strength. The Sand Sisters of 2019 are an eclectic group and have more similarities than differences. Proximity and shared hardship build not only tolerance but also respect. By finishing, we teach our daughters, families, and community that difficult does not mean impossible. You have supported each other in a manner honoring the ladies of the past. Please use this experience to tackle other challenges in your life. Keep the momentum going. You see once you achieve one challenging goal, it opens up the possibility of doing most anything.

The desert teaches us to persevere with compassion, to humbly appreciate the power of nature, and how to draw on inner strength to keep moving forward when weary. I hope this gift of struggling fortifies a heightened and profound belief in yourself and gratitude for the support given. 
When you need rejuvenation, remember the gentle warm breeze on your face, the cry of a falcon, the crunch of many shoes moving over the dew-laden sand, or a new empathic friend whispering, “Come on we can do it.”  These are seemingly ordinary, but miraculous events.

I hope these awarenesses remain in your heart always, that you continue to nurture yourself, and we always stay connected.
In each of the five years since its inception, walkers have faced multiples of different challenges. The first year we lost funding at the last minute and had to improvise EVERYTHING.  The second year I decided to begin the walk much earlier in the year, and the region was hit by the biggest and most devastating storm they had in fifty years…..it came on the first day of the walk.  We recovered and finished the last three days, walking one day 35 kilometers.  The third year brought high desert winds. Many woke at 3 am to their tents half collapsing, and we evacuated the camp by sunrise on the fourth day. The ending ceremony was joyful as we all gathered. The fourth year was, for some reason the most chaotic. We had many more luxuries but just couldn’t seem organized ourselves.  The walkers had to walk late into one night to reach the camp, but the ending ceremony was brilliant. 

Each challenge brought new awareness. The most significant and most profound for me is that you cannot control most things in your life. So be where you are, enjoy each day with those you love, bask in your accomplishment and let it be a springboard for more adventure and challenges in your life. 

Change is inevitable and all within your choice. Try to hold dear the changes you have made.  I hope you will take this walking experience into your daily lives. 

I hope you maintain this heightened physical ability so you can endure the challenges you are given. Without our health our capabilities are limited. 
I hope you keep looking to help others who are struggling and begin each encounter with compassion. I hope your heart is full, your new connections to others strong and enduring, and your Sand Sisters remain lifelong support. Keep your heart open and keep reaching out to others because we always feel less of life’s pressures just knowing we have support of like minded women. Someone who is there to talk us through difficulties or lend a helping hand to get us moving forward.

I hope you take the peace and calm of the desert into your heart, let it sit there and touch when you need to calm your world and return to this journey in your mind. I hope you remember to dance.
I hope your persistence and perseverance is more readily available when you need. 

I hope this gift of struggle has fortified your belief in yourself and in your resolve to help those around you. I feel confident you now understand how much your ancestors needed each other to survive. Stay connected and use this walk as the moment in time when you knew in every fiber of your body that being a part of something bigger than your struggles brought you contentment and connection.

I hope you remember that struggling, feeling discomfort, self-doubt, weariness to achieve a goal is a good thing. It is a necessary part of the journey to get where you are going. Moreover, during these struggles, it is easier not to be alone. 

I hope there are some things you left behind in the open sands. Some emotions, remembrances, hurt, guilt, can take up too much room in our hearts and keep us from being fully present. I hope you were able to leave them behind and choose to pick up something which brings you joy. 
I hope you enjoyed the time to be your pure self……..nothing to do, no one to be but yourself at peace. Remember that feeling, try to feel the grace of this more often.

I hope you remember the ordinary things and can go to them in your mind when you need pure solitude. My most precious moment was the sound of the call to prayer in the still of the morning, the joyful ring of laughter over the dunes, and the crunch of many boots moving over the wet morning sand.