burn bright.
Photo by Jordan Wozniak / Unsplash

An ode to self-serving, silly titles, and some that are well-earned

The other day a commenter gently placed a challenge to me, that he Googled this term Horizon Huntress. And came up empty.

Of course you will. For unlike the overused term “Justice Warrior” or “Thought Leader or “HR Ninja” or any of the other overheated, self-congratulatory but woefully under-earned titles that folks love to slap on themselves, I’ve earned this one. As I explained to my kind commenter, my social media guy challenged me to come up with something that sums up what I do and how I do it.

If I may explain.

The word horizon, like the lovely vista above, is what beckons my explorer’s soul to its burning core.

Julia Hubbel

The first definition of the word is what I’m using here:

the line at which the earth’s surface and the sky appear to meet.

I wanna see what’s past what we can see. Always have. Always will.

From the time I was three, I wanted to live on my own. When I had a horse, Rebel Roy would take me as far as we could possibly venture from my Florida farm and still be home by the dinner bell.

By the time I was sixteen, I already lived on my own, and put myself through high school, including getting my degree by joining the Army when nobody in his right mind did: during the Vietnam War. Especially women.

I threw on a backpack at 31 and spent four years thumbing solo around Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, learning to scuba dive and fly ultralights.

Julia Hubbel

I did not choose to marry and have kids. I chose to remain solo but for a brief four-year disaster which will remain a necessary chapter.

Since I turned sixty I’ve launched myself into a career as a international adventure traveler, pushing myself physically and emotionally through some of the most extraordinary places on this marble.

Julia Hubbel

Horizons beckon. More importantly I am not afraid to leave what is comfortable behind, even if that means I can never come back. For growth demands discomfort, but if I can learn to deal with discomfort I am guaranteed an amazing life.

I have stood at Gilman’s Point on Kilimanjaro and watched the sun paint the tops of the clouds. I have ridden a half-wild Arabian stallion on the dunes near Hurgadah, Egypt, in the waning light of day, his mane cutting my face in the winds.

I have paddled the icy Arctic oceans north of Iceland, struggling to stay ahead of the great swells seeking to smash me against the jagged rocks. I have massaged the bellies of 500–lb tigers, rubbed the flanks of massive elephants and ridden camels across the wild, dry interiors of Africa. All after sixty.

As I write this I am planning a return to Tanzania in June and to Mongolia in August, all dependent upon vaccines and Covid. Tomorrow I turn 68.

Julia Hubbel

I am just getting revved up here.

But that’s hardly the end of it. As Marcel Proust wrote, and I love to quote,

The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds…

The second definition of horizon:

the limit of a person’s mental perception, experience, or interest.

I am equally committed to internal growth, that which is the absolute hardest, the willingness to find and face off with the internal demons and mentally manufactured horrors of the self that limit and twist and contain who we could become. I own my shit, which means at its core I am brutal about personal responsibility, utterly unafraid to be made wrong including very publicly, and I have no issue whatsoever doing what’s right, even when it costs me friends, family and approval of those I might have once respected.

For if I sell myself down the river for others’ approval I do not own my self; I have bartered it cheaply for sweeties, and am left with the crinkly wrappings for what is left of my sold-out soul.

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I have been successful at more than few things that others struggle all their lives to master: I quit a five pack a day smoking habit at 19; I lost 85 lbs thirty four years ago, I beat a four-decade-long battle with eating disorders, and I have found a way to climb on top of a long, ugly history of incest, sexual assault and rape and turn those unfortunate chapters into stories to inspire and energize other women and better men.

None of this is easy. NONE of it comes naturally. ALL of it requires that I walk with a sputtering lantern into the sewage of my own worst thoughts, where my own personal IT lies in wait to suck the life out of my self-respect.

Those horizons are far harder than ever leaping on a horse and hurtling into the Altai Mountains of Kazakhstan, which I have also done. On that trip I broke my back. Climbing down into the dungeons of your own history can leave you and me a great deal more damaged than that.

Julia Hubbel

The spine can heal, most of the time. We can remain spineless our entire existence, waving flags about how special and important we are while living our lives in desperate and aching mediocrity. I know plenty of people who bark about being brave, but when faced with their own bullshit retreat like a moray eel into their caves.

We can emerge from our internal wars scarred but triumphant, brandishing the bleeding, severed head of our own personal Medusa. But that takes real work. Deep work.

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All of us have horizons, yet most of us choose to stay home. For to grow you must by design lose something, some treasured part of yourself in order to travel. You must sacrifice your precious definition of yourself, your ideas about the world and your place in it, and let the gods and goddesses write on your face and your beliefs, while you carve out your own story. This is as true with how we express ourselves in life as it is with how we explore ourselves internally. The two are inextricably intertwined.

I seek horizons both external and internal. There’s no hubris involved. This is what I do. Been doing it all my life. This to me is the very definition of Goddess Work.

Tomorrow morning, I will celebrate having reached my 68th milestone. I have work to do. For even when I may eventually have to hang up my hiking boots and my rucksack, the journey within remains as labyrinthine as the great caves I explored in Vietnam.

I have miles to go before I sleep. Robert Frost.

Julia Hubbel