MUSE Tales: Kelly Clements
Kelly Clements is a blonde beauty, always paving her own way. A clear sense of self was apparent from early on in our meeting. She wasn’t as worried about what others were thinking, she would hang out on the periphery feeling out the vibes before she shared herself with others. When she does share it is authentically goofy while still insightful. It’s clear that there is comfort in being herself. She’ is presently teetering on the edge of her next chapter, her next journey.
Solo adventures are nothing new to Kelly. This is a woman whom as soon as she graduated from college with a food science degree she moved away from home, found an apartment and started a new job. But before graduating, halfway through college she left for a semester, flew on her own to Georgia and began hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) - solo. The AT is a footpath that runs from northern Georgia to Maine and spans 2160 miles. She walked for 3 months, making companions with complete strangers and occasionally relying on the kind hospitality of others. For obvious reasons she counts it as the most amazing thing she’s has ever done. It takes a certain grit and spirit to complete the trail and , especially to do it largely alone. She struggles to adequately share the experience with people because while it’s is difficult to explain that the struggle and the challenge are part of what makes it so remarkable. Kelly explains that it’s is not something everyone can do. “It took a lot of physical and mental strength because some days it was shitty to wake up in the rain and have to walk even if I didn't feel like it. And flying down to Georgia to a place I’d never been and start this new thing. It was hard , but super fun and rewarding, of course. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s sometimes hard to talk to people about it because I don’t know how to present it to them because it wasn’t always so great, but that is part of what made it such a great accomplishment.”
You are at the mercy of the elements. Whether it’s sunny or rainy, you have no choice but to get up and get moving. She describes one of her hardest days out there being in the middle of a thunderstorm and a downpour without shelter. She could hear the rolls of thunder and smell the lightning striking. The trail was a river and she was soaking wet, shoes filled with water, worrying about her few possessions that she didn’t want to get wet. You have no choice but to surrender; to let go of control and allow what will be to be. She came to recognize a larger power controlling and directing all of this life and she continues to find comfort in that quiet knowing.
During her hike she met a former hiker, now in a wheelchair who provides refuge to AT hikers. He provides shelter and bunk beds for hikers walking through New Hampshire. She marveled at how he hadn’t let his circumstances turn him bitter. He could have chosen to be broken by losing the use of his legs, preventing him from doing something he loved, but instead he chose to be of service for the hikers coming through. She recalls that all around his yard and home were signs that said, “None of this is a coincidence.” That has really stuck with her, reminding her that there are bigger forces at work and that it’s is up to you to define your circumstances.
Despite her ongoing hunger for adventure, what she wants most is a beautiful home of her own. A place that she can build and create a space for herself that most accurately represents her heart. She wants a safe space that she has made in a beautiful location. She talks about an interest in architecture and the importance of space. Architecture influences how everyone’s day goes. She notices that her space is frequently a reflection of her inner condition or mood. Most recently she noticed that her car was getting messy and cluttered. She knows this is an indication that within herself she might be experiencing something similar. And working the other way she knows if she cleans up her space to reflect how she would like to feel and to operate, her internal condition maywill shift as well. She will always crave adventure, but in her heart she recognizes the beauty in simplicity and minimalism, knowing that happiness is something accessible at any time. Life doesn’t have to be complicated or wild. There is joy and growth in every moment, no matter how big or how small. Both should be celebrated. She feels most alive simply by stepping outside. And just like her hiker friend now bound to a wheelchair. She knows that she is choosing and creating that her own experience.
Written by Anna Owusu of Magenta Lighthouse