In each place I have lived, I have had a go-to spot for running that was also my long-walk, thinking, sharing memories kind of place too.

As I ran/walked on Green Mountain on Friday, it had hit me how each place I have lived has characterized me, and so have each of those individual “private spots.” Of course they were not always private, but they were to me–to my mind and my heart.

Today I want to reflect on each of those hidden secrets and how they have contributed to who I am. I also want to encourage you to find a spot where you can go to escape. The rewards may exceed your expectations.

Welcome to my world of hidden gems.

South Dakota

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The gravel road pictured above has engraved itself into my heart. This is the place where I learned to run, the place I trained for two weeks before my first ever cross country season. It is where I completed hill training, where I rode bikes with my siblings as elementary school kids. This is the place I walked after my surgery this year, the place I gathered all my thoughts. It is the place where I once encountered a skunk and ran the fastest I ever have uphill. This place is attached to my home, and it has taught me to love running, to appreciate the quiet country, to wave to the men on tractors and to smile when my dog is by my side. This hidden gem has grown me into a quiet, loving, hard-working girl.

Chicago

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Some may recognize this secret spot–Lakeshore Drive. All throughout college I would run along the lakefront path. Surrounded by hundreds to thousands of people, I never lacked motivation to keep going. I had inspiration all around me. This is also the place where I would run as a young girl when we visited my uncle in Chicago, and later on, the place where I trained for my first marathon. This is the place where I hung out with friends at the beach. On days I wanted to go on a walk, enjoy the outdoors, and challenge my mind, I would bring my books and journals to this spot. I would sit and let the fresh air steal my heart. Lastly, these are the waters where I was baptized. This is where I proclaimed my newness in Christ, and this spot is so much more to me than a tourist attraction.

Asheville

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I was only in Asheville for a short time, but the Botanical Gardens were my quiet spot. When my fiance (boyfriend at the time) had brought me to Asheville for my big move, we discovered this beautiful place. It was where I would sit and reflect on life while he and I were separated by thousands of miles. This was the place where I got to observe the seasons change; where I ran with a running group and met new faces. This is also the place where I met my boyfriend when he had come to visit one last time, the same weekend we packed my belongings and he drove me home. This spot was my hideaway. It marked moments in my life that seemed small at the time, yet I know were so big now.

Lockport

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Like Asheville, I was in Lockport for a temporary period, yet I knew how important it was to find my “spot.” Once I discovered the 2.5 mile running loop, I knew I had found my hidden gem. You see, this place reminded me of home. The gravel beneath my feet felt like the miles and memories behind me. The open fields looked like the views outside my South Dakota windows, and I had felt like this escape brought me to a familiar place. This was where I ran with the same love of my life. We ran when I first moved to Lockport, on Christmas Eve, and for marathon training. This is the place I walked when I called my friend and convinced her to move to Colorado to be my roommate. This is the place where I took countless photos and wrote pages and pages of journal entries.

Colorado

And yes, now I am in Colorado. And I have found a new hidden gem. I have written about Green Mountain in past blogs. It’s the first place my fiance and I adventured when we came out a weekend to find a home. It is the place where I hiked my first day of work. I’ve gotten lost here, and I have lost my fears here. I have talked to God and asked questions. This is where I attempted a run on Friday to only feel my heart beat to remind myself how alive I am, how blessed the Lord has made me. This is the place that is so close to the condo I will live in once June roles around. Perhaps this will be the place I will walk to with future children. Perhaps this will be my “spot” for a long time.

And I would be okay with that.

You see, it doesn’t matter where my spot has been. It doesn’t matter the distance, the elevation, or the views. Instead, what matters is what I have left behind. Each spot holds a piece of me, and each spot has also given me a piece of myself.

Find yourself a secret spot, a hidden gem.

You may be in search of a location to only realize that it is a simple spot that can give you all the answers.

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