Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Today, I thought I’d bring a guest on board to talk about his vision. He is the creator of “A Walk for A Thought,” and his objective is to bring awareness to the Opiate Epidemic that plagues our country today. His first walk was from Hastings, Michigan all the way across the Mackinac Bridge. Today, he’s sharing his plans about his second walk with us.
I interviewed Mike before his first walk last year. To read that first interview please click the link: Mike Hamp Interview
Now, without further ado, here’s Mike!
- Mike, you just finished your first “Walk for a Thought.” What are your plans for Walk number two?
Hey Lisa, I appreciate you reaching back out and checking in! I finished up the walk in September and was able to relax for a little bit. However, with no more direction or real goals to shoot for after finishing, I got myself into a pretty dark funk and got off track for planning a bigger walk in 2020. I have some pretty cool smaller walks in the works for this coming spring and summer, hoping to connect with some great causes and try to help bring awareness and funds to them.
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One in particular is a documentary called “Needles In The Hay.” Brett Meyer is the guy making this film about the opiate crisis in America. He joined me, along with his cameraman, for one of the days of the walk and they were able to shoot some great footage in hopes to use it in this amazing film that he is creating.
To learn more about “Needles in the Hay,” click HERE.
He has been all over the country meeting with addicts and the families of addicts, to get to the root cause of this epidemic. He’s been confronting and digging deep into the pharmaceutical companies looking for answers, all while bringing the viewer closer to what this war really looks like. We are in the planning stages right now of how this project will look for later in the summer of 2020.
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The next big walk is also in the early planning stage and it looks like it will take place in the summer of 2021. I will be headed to Niagara Falls. This is a lot further than the first walk and a lot of things need to come together, but I am very confident that I am building the right team to accomplish this one as well.
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- What did you learn about yourself on your first walk?
Man, where do I start?? 🙂 This walk took me deeper into my mind than I had ever gone before. Anxiety and over thinking are some things I have struggled with for as far back as I can remember and these behaviors are exhausting. When we get mentally exhausted, it gets really hard to combat the negative thinking that start to chatter in the mind. I feel like the biggest thing that I gained during this walk was the understanding that we really can take our thoughts captive, we really can learn to shut down that negative voice before it even starts. When we are alone with an endurance type task, it is won or lost in our minds. Go on or quit? This showed its ugly face many times a day while on this journey, I had to choose that I wasn’t going to quit, and I realized that our bodies can do far more than what we think…
- What are you going to do differently on your second walk?
Going into Walk #1, I felt like I was in the best shape that I had ever been in. I trained very hard for this and made a lot of nutritional changes throughout the training as well. Now that I was able to tap into my brain a bit more and see that I can dig deeper, I will be training harder and working on some specific areas more than others in order to build up my body to sustain more miles.
I will also be working on some new things that will be training and challenging my mind such as some Cold-water training and new breathing routines. I think the biggest change is going to be a new tent. 🙂 Mine was great for hiking with due to size and weight, but when I had to use it, I felt as if I was in a body bag and it was way too small for my liking. This was a huge struggle that will for sure help ease some of the mental struggle for the next walk.
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- Has this walk strengthened your relationships with your family?
Due to my struggle with drugs and alcohol and my inability to handle my anger and a lack of patience, I have let a ton of people down through the years. My children and other family and friends have been able to witness a huge change in my approach to life overall as well as how I respond to things as they happen. I’ve learned patience, and the fact that I am in control of my response only, always and this has helped build up relationships with my children, family and friends. It was cool to accomplish such a huge task because it gives my kids something to be proud of me for. Our communication when I was gone really helped keep me on track and my kiddos realized that they missed me a lot. It was a great way to strengthen our relationships.
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- What inspired you to embark on this journey?
Back in August of 2018, I had shoulder surgery number 5. I was sober for the first time ever. I was finally in a spot where I felt like I was making real progress in my life. I was active in the gym, eating right, doing anything and everything I could to stay on track and moving forward with a solid state of mind and new habits. This surgery was very difficult on me and truly took me out of commission.
It quickly threw me into a downward spiral of thinking which was only a matter of time where actions probably would have followed. After a couple weeks of the house feeling like it was caving in on me, I was able to get outside and take a little walk. This was a game changer because it helped shift my poor thinking and helped just enough to not feel like I was truly hopeless.
I was taking several small walks a day and realized my head was staying above the water so to speak. This was a pretty serious surgery and set me up for a long recovery period, but being able to get outside and walk was ultimately what kept me motivated. At some point during one of the walks, I started to think about how far I could walk. That thinking mixed with the vision I already had to want to help people who battled the same stuff I did, turned into me wondering if I was able to help inspire people with walking a long distance. I started to write my ideas down and ran them by a few solid people in my life and began planning the first #awalkforthought.
I was watching the news one day and they mentioned the Mackinac Bridge walk on Labor Day, and I knew right away where my first destination was. I brought it to the team, and we got to work. After a ton of support, a ton of hard work and so much planning, I finished the walk in 13 days and crossed the bridge on Labor Day of 2019
- What keeps you going back?
The growth that comes from accomplishing something of this magnitude is incredible. I wanted this walk to bring hope, to inspire, to encourage anyone and everyone battling the things that I know so well. Addiction, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, insecurity to name a few. I was blown away by all of the support and the amount of people this reached, it truly has changed my life, but the big reason I will continue to do this is for the change that happens inside when we can accomplish such a big goal. I thought this was for other people (And I know it truly was) but it was just as much, if not more for myself, and progressing into a better version of myself.
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- Do you think you’ll have people joining you on your second walk?
I had many people stop along the way and walk some distance with me on the first walk. One of my buddies spent a whole day walking and camped with me. I have had many people want to join me, but honestly, I needed this one to just be me for the most part. I am not against planning something with other people and the smaller walks this spring and summer will probably be a great time for that, but when I venture out for the 2021 walk, I will plan it for a solo walk, but I will never turn down anyone who wants to get some steps in.
- What are you hoping to accomplish with these journeys?
The biggest thing I would like to get across to people is that there is so much more to life than the vicious cycle that addiction and battling for mental health shows us. We truly are filled with potential and any one of us at any given time can (We Need to) make the decision to fight out of the hell like atmosphere so many are in on a daily basis. Discipline, hard work, perseverance, persistence, the will to not quit is where the answer is. We must break bad habits, as hard as it is (Some say it’s a disease, I disagree. I think it’s wiring through many years of poor thinking and bad habits that are so hard to break that it is like a disease.) and change the things in our lives that will help us beat this.
Proper nutrition, exercise, hydrating, nature, finding purpose, setting goals and working hard towards them, learning proper self-talk. All of these are areas I needed to fix before I was able to get to a place where I was no longer going to be just another statistic. I want people to know they have everything they need built in; they just need to tap into it. I want my life to be an example that may help others get to a place in life where they too are able to live it to the fullest. Also, gaining finances to help further bigger vision projects that I have in my community and surrounding communities that are in need.
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- Can you share any epiphanies you may have had on your journey?
As cliché as this might sound, I really believe now that we can do ANYTHING we put our minds to (Within reason, obviously if I want to grow wings and fly it’s not going to happen) I saw all this in my head first, we planned, I put in the work and I followed though. I’m not saying it’s easy, but the concept is simple. Set goals, work your ass off, don’t quit. This is how we change the world.
- Are you going to walk the same path you did last year?
I have no desire to take the same trip more than once. My goal is to go bigger and further for each walk ultimately crossing the whole country at some point in my lifetime 🙂 Who knows, maybe even other countries… 😉
Thanks for sharing your vision with us Mike and taking the time for this interview. It is greatly appreciated. I’m so excited to see you accomplish your goals and I can’t wait for the documentary to come out. The opiate epidemic is a real problem and I applaud you for sharing your story so others may learn from it.
How about you? How do you feel about the opiate epidemic? Do you know anyone this has affected? How did they handle it? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!