My office

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.

Only six months?

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.

Coming home

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. 

Dreams of the future

I used to think that you had to have a professional goal. The only dream I ever had was to become a writer and to explore the mountains. I was a misfit, I was behind. I worked to bring in a paycheck. I was good at whatever I did, but never found any real joy. It was a job, not a career. 

My dreams kept dragging me back to the mountains. Learning every valley and stream and waterfall. Memorizing every twist and turn of the trails. Talking to people about the history and stories of them all. 

Finally I thought… why not be a Forest Ranger? Obviously this isn’t an overnight accomplishment. That’s what lead me to start my research. That’s how I stumbled across the Conservation Corps and how I’m set on my current path. 

No, I have not acheived my goal yet, but I’m at a good starting point. I have not abandonned being a writer, but at least my day job might be able to bring me as much joy and fulfillment as my dream job. And it’s not too late. 

It is not a simple path, or an easy path, and maybe that’s what helps to make it more desirable. It’s the fight to make it happen. It’s discovering the missing piece to fill the void. 

Keep your day job while you need it…. but don’t settle on that being your end all be all. Dream big, and strive to make those dreams come true. 

Here I sit… being responsible and productive and stuff. I’m actually sitting at my computer browsing through different Earth Day, Arbor Day and Hiking sites. A MASSIVE part of me feels like I’m goofing off… but in this last hour I’ve scheduled probably half a dozen facebook posts to hit DreamHikeLove over the next couple of months. Could doing what you love feel like wasting time? It is definitely something to look into.

Did you know that there’s a national trail day? Like a day to celebrate being outside and hiking? For real. It’s Saturday, June 4th. I plan on taking my happy feet out and exploring somewhere.

I’m still mulling over future adventures. I say adventures… I just mean livelihood. Obviously at the top of the list is Author. Being that the salary for starting authors is amazingly low – that means I will still need a day job. So how does one manage a day job that doesn’t keep them too stressed out to write, or enjoy their family? By working with nature.

Wilderness therapy, Sierra Club leader, Park Ranger, Conservationist… there’s something out there for me. I’ll find it once I get moved and settled. It will fall into my lap because it’ll be where I’m supposed to be. It’ll be my next lesson… my next big adventure.

Dream Hike Love

I have finally finished my website. Well, finished I’m sure is all relative. I’m sure I will forever be adding and tweaking things. In time I will add a shop with some of my own upcycled/screen printed clothing, bumper stickers, patches and a plethora of other little things available. Any sales made will go towards three things. The first, will be half of the proceeds will go to hikes to work on cleaning up local parks and trails. The second will be to cover the cost of more supplies to continue “arting”, and the third will funnel into my North Carolina Migration.

Dream big, hike often and love ALWAYS.

Now… it’s been a long time since I’ve done any thank yous. This tiny little blog of mine has accumulated 55 followers. Yes I know to many people that doesn’t sound like much.. but to ME… that’s a big deal. I’m nobody. I’ve created this little blog as a pensive to store my thoughts, my dreams, my inspirations… and maybe. Just maybe bring a smile to someone’s face.

So thank you, to all fifty five of you wonderful people.