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So it’s Monday morning and I am sitting at my desk in my office, trying to focus on work, but something large has taken over my brain and I can’t think of anything but what’s on my mind.
It all started this past weekend. David and I took off on Friday for the north Georgia mountains. Marriage is all about compromise and this weekend was no different. I had really wanted to camp, but he wanted to lodge so we came to the agreement of a cabin in a state park. Perfect idea, we had all the things you could want while camping: nature, campfires, starry nights and fresh mountain air, but all the comforts of home: kitchen, bed and a bathroom! Our agreement on the cabin was even better when several thunderstorms popped up on Saturday, ensuring that we and our belongings stayed dry.
After the brief rain storm, David took off to fish and I leashed up Jack and hit the trails. I love to hike. I have no problem walking, I am a little like Forrest Gump that way. Even doing the Breast Cancer 3-day (walking 60 miles in three days) was not a problem for me and the first time I did it I had just ended chemotherapy treatments (and when I say just ended, I mean it–the 3-day was 2 days after my last treatment!), so hitting the trails is just as natural for me as breathing.
Somewhere around our 4th mile on our hike, after we had established a good stride and had gotten the kinks out, it hit me as hard as Mack truck. I am going to hike the Appalachian Trail. I have said it before, and I added it to my Bucket List, (you know, those things you want to do before you kick the bucket) but it was always somewhere off in the distance, only to be done after my children were grown and I had endless amounts of time but not something that was going to happen anytime soon. This weekend changed my mind.
Sometimes an epiphany happens. Bells go off in your head, light shines from above and you can almost hear the “tah-dah” music playing. You know it’s the right thing when your epiphany grows wings and takes off on its on, and in two days time it has done just that. Doors have already begun to open and I have decided that this time next year, I am going to either take a leave of absence from my job, or if that is impossible I will resign because I am going to hike the Appalachian trial from start to finish. Yes, that is a challenge in itself and will definitely be difficult, but the kicker to this is, that I am not going to wait until my child is grown to do this because she is going with me.
We will hike it together (with Jack in the sections that dogs are allowed) and we will do it from start to finish. I know that most people are going to say “What?! Are you NUTS?!” and I am ready to take them on. There will be a lot of preparation, a lot of training and studying and I am ready for all that as well. (Of the 5 books I bought yesterday on hiking the A.T., I have already finished one and am almost done with another!) I am prepared for the naysayers, the doubting Thomas’, the ones who say it can’t be done and I will take everyone’s opinions and advice under advisement but this is as clear to me as the window in front of me. This will happen, and here’s why:
Next year I will be 39. I know that isn’t old and most don’t even consider that middle age yet and I probably still have many years of life left but deep inside of my soul, there is a clock telling me to not wait. If there is something you want to do, do it now, don’t wait because tomorrow may not come. My mom died mere weeks after her 40th birthday and for all intents and purposes, she was not considered unhealthy. I have already had cancer and I right now I am winning that fight, but whose to say it won’t come back or that my health won’t take a drastic turn in the years to come and I am not able to do what I want because my body is not strong enough? I hate to think that I had the chance to do something big, but didn’t do it because of doubt, and then the chance never comes again.
I also don’t want to wait with Katie. No matter what happens to me in the future, I want my child to know that she is strong, and can do anything because she completed the trail when she was 11! Never will anyone tell her she isn’t strong enough for something, or she couldn’t handle something or do something in her life because she will have become a member of a small club of people who tackled the obstacles in front of them and faced them head on. I do not want her starting middle school, (which I think are the hardest years of all school years because middle school is hard and middle schoolers are just plain mean), until she believes in herself and knows that she can accomplish anything. There is a way to ‘home-school’ on the trail and that’s what we will do during our 6 ½ month trek through 14 states. I can’t think of a better way to learn history and the -ologies (geology, biology, meteorology…you get the picture) or to just discover who you are and what your place in the world is. This is the gift I want to leave my child for all her years to come, a strong sense of self and an even stronger feeling of accomplishment.
I know throughout the next year of preparing that many people will tell me I am crazy, and I am sure that there will be many times that I think to myself that this may actually be crazy, but as for right now, this moment, this is the plan. Now, maybe since I wrote it down and put my thoughts to words, I can get some work done. I doubt it though.