Into My Own

350px-Rainy_Blue_Ridge-27527One of my favorite poets is Robert Frost (Pulitzer Prize winning American poet, 1874 – 1963). Everyone quotes “The Road Not Taken” and that seems a perfect metaphor for my upcoming Appalachian Trail journey. “Two roads diverge in the yellow wood….”

Except, I’ve always been drawn to “Into My Own” one of Frost’s early poems, written when he was a young man and published in a collection called A Boy’s Will. It’s not as well. known. The title of the book mystified me initially, but I think I understand it now.

The poem talks of a line of “dark trees” that are “So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze.”

I should not be withheld but that some day

Into their vastness I should steal away,

Fearless of ever finding open land,

Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e’er turn back,

Or those should not set forth upon my track

To overtake me, who should miss me here

And long to know if still I held them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew—              

Only more sure of all I thought was true.

(Italics are mine)

But I will be changed. Only in youth do you think that you will take on the world, conquer it and that life will not alter you. Only when you are very young do you think you have all the answers. The wise know better. You are forever changed by challenges. You get a different perspective, come across better information and discover new truths. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon the beliefs of your youth. But you just may find that it makes sense to do so.

And when you are very young with energy to spare, you may see everything as a battle. It’s like the old adage, if the only tool you know how to use is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Hiking is like that too. You don’t beat the mountains. You don’t conquer the trail. These will still stand when you are gone and forgotten. You put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. Like life, it’s a journey. And you will not be the same, should not be the same, once you’ve finished.

I wonder what changes are in store for the next 2185 miles….

No turning back now

I’ve given my notice at work and will be leaving my day job on January 31. I’m not leaving for another job, however. I’m preparing for an adventure!

imageStarting March 22, I will hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, GA to Mt Katahdin, MA, through 14 states. It will take 6+ months and almost 2200 miles. I’ll live out of a backpack and sleep in a tent, with weekly stops to civilization to resupply (and hopefully a shower and laundry).

(NOTE: I later moved the start date to March 1)

Answers to obvious questions that usually come up at this point: I’ve wanted to do this since I was 12. Yup, this is crazy.

When I finish the trail, I plan to come back to Atlanta briefly. Not yet sure where I’ll start, but I plan to travel the world by teaching English, plus some writing/blogging/travel services and whatever comes up.

I’ll probably never again own much more than what will fit in a couple suitcases, but I will have a rich, interesting life. Please, follow along right here. I expect to be able to post periodically as I hike. If you’d like to support me, here’s a list of things you can do.

Gwinnett Technical College students offer lunch

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The Culinary Arts Program at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville is proud to present a new year of exciting lunches with an international flair. Lunches will now be held on select Wednesday’s and begin January 22, 2014 and the cost is still an unbeatable $10.

*Reservations Required*

Please join us for lunch at 12:15 p.m.
Building 700, George Busbee Center Lobby, Gwinnett Technical College, Lawrenceville.

January
22nd: African
29th: Spanish & Iberian Peninsula

February
5th: Asian
19th: Greek/Middle Eastern
26th: Russian

March
26th: Caribbean/Central South American

April
2nd: Italian
9th: French

Meals Include:

  • 1st Course Choice of Appetizer
  • 2nd Course A Soup or Salad of the Day
  • 3rd Course Choice of Entrees
  • 4th Course Choice of Dessert
  • Featured Table Bread of the Week

Please remember — the lunches are to provide students a hands-on learning experience in preparing and serving food.

Reservations Required: To make reservations for the Spring Semester lunches, send a request, via email, to: reservations@gwinnetttech.edu. You will receive a confirmation that your reservation has been made.

The cost is still an unbeatable $10.00. Cash or Check only, paid at the end of the meal. No credit cards. All lunches start at 12:15 p.m. in Building 700 George Busbee Center Lobby. Allow extra time for parking.

NOTE: Our service goal is one hour; but, due to the learning-teaching environment, it may take longer. Please be prepared to stay and enjoy the food, as well as, provide feedback to the students. Sorry, we cannot accommodate “To Go” orders.

Directions from Atlanta:

Our address is 5150 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville, GA 30043

Our campus is located approximately 25 miles northeast of Atlanta, at the corner of Highway 316 and Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville. For those driving to campus, there is student parking available, but allow extra time to find a spot. If you prefer public transportation, you can reach Gwinnett Tech by taking Gwinnett County Transit’s Route 40.

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Saving my life

You know the fairytales where the beautiful princess is saved by the handsome prince? I never liked those stories. I always thought the princess should have gotten down from that stupid tower and saved herself. That’s what I would have done.

Which brings me to why I just quit my job.

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I’m changing my life. It’s a silly thing for a grown woman to do, really. It’s not that my life is bad: A job where I work in a clean, safe office. A paycheck that meets my needs and allows me to save for retirement. I have friends and family, education and entertainment. I go on one or two great vacations a year, mostly to countries I’ve never been to. Until recently, I had a condo filled with furniture, knick-knacks and closets overflowing with clothes. Most of the world goes to bed dreaming of the problems I complain of.

I’ve had every thing I want. It’s the American Dream. And it feels like it is slowly sucking the life right out of me.

The problem isn’t the American dream. It’s that it wasn’t MY dream. I don’t want more things. I want more experiences. I want to DO. I’m tired of being sensible and stoic and boring and predicable. I’m tired of focusing on dressing warmly, eating healthy, saving for retirement, keeping my head down and dreaming of my next vacation. This isn’t who I want to be.

And the more things I have, the more responsible I act, the less time I spend doing what used to bring me joy, even when I did it badly. Reading and writing poetry; Drawing and watercolors; Singing; Turning over stones in the woods just to see what’s under them; Making up stories; Looking at the stars and watching the sunrise; Reading myths and believing in them just enough that I could see the edges of the stories in the corner of my vision when I turned my head quickly. When did I stop? Is this what being a grown up is about? Is this all there is?

Helen Keller once said that life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all. It is no one else’s fault if I’ve been living an empty life. It’s been my choice. And now I’m choosing something else. It may turn out to be a horrible mistake. But it will be my mistake.

Friday, I gave notice at my job. They were gracious and we took a few days to negotiate my last work day.

Soon, I’m going to go for a walk. A very long walk along the Appalachian Trail. Then I’m going to  explore the world. I want to do it slowly so I have the time to learn about places and people and history. I want to eat the local food, dress like the natives, hear their creation myths and gods. I want to learn what makes them laugh. I don’t expect to have much money. I may never again own a house or a car or fancy clothes. This isn’t glamorous or glorious. I’ll probably spend far more time dirty and cold and hungry than I have been. I’ll certainly be lost and maybe even lonely. But maybe I’ve been comfortable for too long. Certainly I’ve been eating more than I need. I just know I have to try something else before I forget that change is possible.

So it’s all very simple really. I’m changing my life for no other reason than I want to. For no other reason than to save myself.

Global Winter Wonderland at Turner Field

I had a virus during most of December (probably H1N1, the swine flu, running rampant through the ATL now), so I narrowly missed this delightful treat. I honestly hadn’t expected much from the Global Winter Wonderland, but a friend and I got tickets for one of the last days of this event. It was a cold Friday, below freezing, but we bundled up and were pleasantly surprised. Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 1 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 2 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 3 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 4 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 5 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 6 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 7 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 8 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 9 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 10 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 11 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 12 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 13 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 14 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 15 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 16 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 17 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 18 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 19 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 20 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 21 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 22 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 23 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 24 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 25 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 26 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 27 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 28 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 29 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 30 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 31 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 32 Global Winter Wonderland 2013, 33