Today’s one of those days where I woke up struck by how good life is. How rich it is. How grateful I am.
It’s been a year since I ended my “daring venture” on the Appalachian Trail. Leaving the trail was at the same time incredibly liberating and slightly terrifying. So much unknown can be overwhelming, but a fresh start is an opportunity I don’t often give myself. Little did I know how much I needed it.
Life had gotten away from me before the trail. I had thrown myself into teaching, work, church, planning, social media… and it was leaving me tired and empty. It was a season of pushing through. Grasping for too high expectations. Putting on the happy face. Feeling not enough. Holding out for that day when I would finally be on the trail. That was all that mattered. I just had to make it there. It would be my reset button.
And it was. I needed a clean break and time to actually think. To be still. To listen.
I wish I could say that I came off the trail with all the answers I was looking for. That I came out unbreakable and ready to conquer the world. But that wouldn’t be true.
I CAN say, however, that I came off the trail refreshed and challenged; humbled and empowered; expectant and unsure.
When I finally shared that I was ending my hike, I wrote: “Looking back on my 38 days of this daring venture I have no regrets. I have learned so much — about myself, about life, about my hiking buddy — and will forever count these days as some of the BEST. The trail has a way of giving you a new perspective on life, and as I step off trail I am excited to see what life has in store.”
Turns out life has had a lot in store this year.
A new job. A new team. New friends. New road trips. More books. More laughter. More finding myself again.
There have been many seasons of busy-ness in my life. Seasons of going and going until I crash, only to get back up and keep going and going again. But this season has been one of letting go. Of de-cluttering. Of slowing down. Of giving time to the things that fill me up, that bring me joy. Of being present.
I just finished reading a book called “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist. And let me tell you — I felt like she had written it JUST for me. Like she had an inside window into my brain and all my feelings/struggles/emotions. Her words were a breath of fresh air. An invitation to step back and start again.
Here’s just one little part….
“What I’ve learned the hard way is you don’t answer to a wide swath of people and their opinions, even if they’re good people, with good opinions. You were made by hand with great love by the God of the universe, and he planted deep inside of you a set of loves and dreams and idiosyncrasies, and you can ignore them as long as you want, but they will at some point start yelling. Worse than that, if you ignore them long enough, they will go silent, and that’s the real tragedy.
What’s changing everything for me is a new understanding that we get to decide how we want to live. We get to shape our days and our weeks, if we don’t, they’ll get shaped by the wide catch-all of “normal” and “typical,” and who wants that?
You can live on a farm or out of a backpack. You can work from your kitchen or in a high-rise. You can worship in your living room or a cathedral. Isn’t that beautiful? And exciting? And so full of freedom?
You can wear slippers or heels, eat steak or kale, read poetry or spreadsheets, fall asleep to the hum of the city or out under the stars. You get to make your life. In fact, you have to. And not only can you make it, you can remake it.
Make a life you’re proud of. One that you love living. It’s so worth it.