Lately, I’m reminded of the end of my 9th grade year, when it was time for exams and all I wanted was to be done, especially clearing the last hurdle: passing my Algebra I exam. I’d gotten myself into a hole by falling behind because I was afraid of my tall, stern teacher, Mr. Calhoun. My grade plummeted and passing for the year depended on passing that final exam. My saving grace was my friend, Pam.
After school, she tutored me in our outside classroom–sitting in lawn chairs in her back yard. Pam was so much better explaining word problems than my teacher. It was hard to focus because the weather was gorgeous and all I could think about those late May afternoons was my trip to the beach once school ended. I wanted to escape the possibility of failing and the tedium of pulling myself out of that academic hole.
Now, I’m not in danger of failing any classes, but the work that needs to be done to finish everything and publish my book looms large. I know I have to stick with it and do all the tasks–some about as tedious as algebra problems. Meanwhile, I’ll take a mental break every now and then and think about my upcoming solo journey in May. In my February 16th post, I gave three tips for planning a trip, and now I can say that I actually followed my own advice. Planning Your Solo Journey: 3 Tips
This year I’m going on my journey, for the first time, in my own state. I’m traveling to the Outer Banks, the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that are about a four-hour drive from my home. I’ve thought of that location in the past, but I didn’t have that surge of energy that tells me I have the right destination, that feeling of being ‘called’ there. I think it’s just what I need and look forward to being in that area for the first time since my 32 and 33 year old sons were in elementary school.
North Carolina has a state park that’s the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that runs from the Great Smokey Mountains in the west to the eastern endpoint at Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks. In total the trail is 1175 miles long and Segment 18 goes for 67 miles on the beach at the Outer Banks. I’ll be able to hike some of that eastern portion. What calls me every year is being outside, and the profound beauty of that string of islands, the water, wind, and waves seems like the perfect setting.
By going some place close, I’ll only miss a day of taking care of my grandson, Baker. It’s important for me to help my son and daughter-in-law to settle into their new jobs this year, that time of building up personal leave. I’ll just be gone for six days, but still enough time to draw away and renew my life, present to what God has to show me. My first solo journey was for only 3 days and it made a huge impact on me.
I’m glad that I decided on the location and made a reservation at an Airbnb–my first time doing that. With all the coordination of the book release and marketing, it is a relief that the days are blocked out and my lodging is settled. Now I can go to my Airbnb reservation and see pictures and read about the area, imagining myself in those pictures, breathing in the salty air. When I’m stressed, I feel the island sun on my shoulders and the sand under my feet.
Recently, I subscribed to Audible to have a supply of audio books when I don’t have time to read–now listening to them when I ride to see Mama or take evening walks. The book I chose for this month is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens– an award-winning nature writer with her first work of fiction. I didn’t read a description of the book, just liked the title and chose it. Later, I was delighted when I learned the setting for the story is the Outer Banks.
Listening to the poetic descriptions of the marsh and the rhythm of that land has added to my anticipation of my journey. I’m sure I’ll listen to it again, once I clear this hurdle of launching my memoir, and I’m driving my car on US-64 E, ready for my reward after sticking with my course.
How about You?
What times in your life have you had to work through something that seemed insurmountable in order to have a time of reward?
What strategies did you use to keep yourself focused on your goal?
What was it like when you finally made it to your reward?