When you chew… and bite down with your molars on one side, does the hearing in that ear get muted?
My office is different than most people’s. In my office there is the rustle of a breeze blowing through the leaves on the trees. I have the trickle of a stream or roar of a river. The dawn chorus is my soundtrack with foxes and black bears as my visitors.
In my office, I restore trails. I build stone steps and walls. I construct fences and drains. I make the wilderness more accessible to families so that more children can fall in love with the outdoors as I once did.
After a day in my office, I can go home with a smile on my face. I’m tired and sore and dirty, but I can see the work I completed. I can feel the pride of knowing that hundreds of people are going to benefit from what I did, even if they never realize it themselves.
Six months ago, I loaded up the little Blue Traveler and set out to change my life… To learn new things, find a new me, find a new home and a new career.
I left in March, and I can’t believe it’s already been six months… I have one more to go… just four more weeks until the adventure with ACE comes to a close. But that’s not where this path ends.
I didn’t find a new me… but I found my voice, I found my strength, and I found that I don’t have to be afraid that my life is passing before my eyes. My biggest fear upon joining this program was that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the other members, who are all 10-15 years younger than myself. The only thing that my age has held me back from however is the ability to extend my term since ACE will no longer receive any additional funding for me.
I have had the opportunity to travel all over the Southeast and even out to California. I knew I wanted to work outside, but it wasn’t until I actually started the work that I realized just how fulfilling it would be. I step back from each project with a sense of accomplishment. Sure, I may have only affected one small section of trail, but it’s tangible and visible. I’m blissfully tired at the end of the days. I sleep better, I eat better, I breathe better and because of all of this feel a thousand times better.
Between the work, hiking, sleep, and limited stress, I’ve gotten in better shape than I’ve been in thirteen years.
Never have I felt such gut wrenching anxiety than the prospect of being trapped back in the hole that is Florida. I can’t go back. Keep your fingers collectively crossed for me that I can secure the job that I just applied for, that I can find a place for my family to move up to, and that all of this wasn’t just a temporary escape from a soul crushing fate.
The forest has a memory. It knows pain, joy, growth… close your eyes, take a breath and listen. She’ll tell yoy what you need to know.
I may have had brothers and a sister, but because of our age difference, I grew up as an only child. I didn’t go to college and didn’t really room with other people.
I knew that housing here was hostel style, but that didn’t really sink in. For those of you that don’t know, that means cramming as many bunk beds in a room that will fit.
There are 8 beds in my room. Four people are currently on projects working and four of us just arrived yesterday. I thought it was going to be a big adjustment. But so far none of it is.
The four girls I’ve met yesterday are extremely nice and easy to get along with. The shared bathroom IS an adjustment, but will only be a problem if I get up and desperately have to urinate in the morning.
All in all, being adaptable is a great thing. Stepping outside of your comfort zone… is a good experience. And doing something to better yourself can bee greatly rewarding.
Things I have relearned on this trip.
My son is super easily amused. He found a rock. It is now his pet rock and he’s teaching it tricks. (Its name is Bob)
Twinkies are gross. Like the texture is fine, but the cake and filling are so sickeningly sweet I don’t know how people eat them.
It takes a long time to fill an air mattress.
I’m thankful for an electric air pump. (But it still takes a long freaking time)
The wind… is cold. Stand in 20 degree weather in the sun, and you’re fine. Let that wind blow through you and you’ll wish you were still safely tucked away in your mother’s uterus.
A change of socks can change your whole outlook and give you more energy.
Sometimes, nostalgia IS as good as you remember it.
Going down is a LOT easier than going up.
Be sure to bring yummy snacks for hiking lunches. Picnics are great.
If you need a helping hand in the Appalachia, the rhodedendron will be there. Respect the plants and they’ll respect you.
Attaining a long lived dream is amazing, but even better when you can share it with people you love.
At the top of Curtis Creek is a waterfall. You can only see this fall from the top of the road. I decided long ago that I wanted a different photo. One of the falls up close. So that’s what we set out to do.