Monday, August 18, 2014

Heading down the path

Good morning! It’s back to work today after an extended weekend off. It was great to have a long weekend off, but it’s time to ‘buckle down” and get back into the routine of work. Sigh………. These next two weeks will be especially busy at the college because the new semester begins next Monday and all the procrastinators will be coming out of the woodwork this week trying to get things in order to enroll for Fall classes. It’s hard to believe the summer is fading away so quickly, but many of the students, especially the first-time freshmen will be excited to begin their new adventure.  They have no idea how difficult the road ahead will be at times and how many times they will want to quit and give up. Fortunately, I’ve walked their path before and will be there to ‘cheer them on” and offer support and encouragement along the way. They seem to get a bit of comfort in knowing that I understand and am journeying with them…..very much like this group. We’re all in this together!

Whenever we begin a new adventure, it is common to be excited, but at the same time a bit apprehensive; because, unless we’ve been down the road before, we may not know what to expect. Perhaps we are anxious and doubt our ability to handle the journey; perhaps we are afraid of what may lie ahead, but hopefully we are eager to experience something wonderful. I felt all of those things when I began my personal journey, but also this past week when I visited Hartwick Pines State Park with the girls.  I was told it was beautiful; I was told the path was relatively short and not too treacherous; I was told it would be worth the walk; AND….it certainly was……BUT…..still, there was a mix of excitement and wonder as I ventured down a path into the woods to a place yet unknown.

The State Park has several different trails to choose from. They vary in length and difficulty. My friends and I decided to take the shorter trail, “Old Growth”, because it was only a little over a mile. I’m very comfortable with my ability to walk that distance (on a level road or treadmill) and I certainly didn’t want to venture down a path that would be too difficult to handle and hinder my enjoyment of my surroundings; so much like my journey to wellness. Sometimes in our quest to change our life, we ‘bite off more than we can chew” and try to change EVERYTHING so quickly that we take a path or choose a plan that is way more difficult than we can handle (too extreme, exercise too much too fast, diet plan that is doesn’t include enough calories or is too restrictive (fad diets or pills)) and we are not able to sustain it.  It becomes too difficult and we give up before reaching our goal. I wanted to enjoy the park and my walk so I preferred to take the path that I was pretty certain I could handle, very much like my advice to “Never start a weight loss plan or life change that you are not willing/able to sustain for the rest of your life…..meaning…..if you KNOW you can’t live with black coffee every day  for the rest of your life, then build in the calories for the sugar-free French vanilla coffee creamer.”) I wanted to enjoy the journey more than I wanted to try to see everything that there was to see, very much like now; I want to enjoy this new life every day, more than I want to be a size 6 which I why I am enjoying as much watermelon and peaches as I want while they are in season! (How’s that for rationalization at its finest?  LOL)

I was filled with all sorts of emotions as I headed over the bridge to the entrance of the trail. I was excited at what may lie ahead; I was somewhat fearful because I didn’t know where the trail led, and even though I was prepared with mosquito spray, band-aids, water, etc., I was going someplace I had never been before and that is always causes me to be a bit apprehensive. Mostly, I was overcome with a sense of gratitude…..complete and humble gratitude… I thought about my life only three summers ago when I couldn’t even walk to the mailbox.  There I was standing at the beginning of a trail in a beautiful place ready to take a hike!

I had to stay a few steps ahead of my friends at the beginning to hide the lump in my throat and the tears welling up in my eyes as I said a silent prayer of thanks to God for His incredible goodness to me.  I also was very aware of each of you and the journey you are on; each one different and of varying difficulty, and yet so closely united to my own.  I thought about Ginny who was shaving her head that day because she has started chemo for cancer. I thought about Richard who was sitting at his mother’s bedside as she faces her final days on earth. I thought about those of you that are suffering illness; have recently lost loved ones; going through relationship struggles; are struggling with addiction and/or trying to start over AGAIN. I thought about those in this group that are simply along for the ride to give me support and encouragement. Each of us are on a different road with a different destination, but yet, we share some of the same emotions, doubts, and fears…..and like my friends who were with me at the park, the adventure means something different to each of us and is very personal.  Even though we were walking the path together, I’m sure my thoughts and experience was much different than my friend Marcia’s or her daughters. 

I headed down the path…..and WOW….what an incredible view. The trees are absolutely amazing! Some of them are over 300 years old and their trunks are so big around that three of us could barely reach around them. I stood and looked up and once again, was filled with emotion as I marveled in their splendor. God’s creation certainly is glorious and words seem inadequate to describe the view. I looked up and suddenly felt so insignificant and small…..and yet….even

amidst this incredible beauty, I know that God’s love is even greater for little ole me. Sometimes when life gets difficult and the road is long, we feel alone and that God has abandoned us. We think that our worries and concerns are too insignificant to bother God with them, especially when we see others around us that are carrying an even heavier burden, but we forget that each of us is precious in God’s eyes and YES…He cares about our doubts, concerns, and struggles equally. YES, He cares about our journey; YES, he knows what it is like to be tempted; YES, He wanted to give up and felt discouraged.

 Again I was filled with gratitude and felt abundantly blessed…..not only because I am able to walk and enjoy life again….but because of the realization that the world is full of incredible beauty and I’ve been given an opportunity to experience it…..simply because I made a few small changes in my life. My friends….YOU CAN DO IT TOO!  What are you waiting for? I know it is very difficult; I’ve been there…..but I am telling you…. IT IS SO WORTH IT.  I could not imagine that I would EVER have been able to experience a place as beautiful as this park or the ways in which my life has changed. I encourage you….start today….right now… taking a small step or two… change your life. Don’t try to do it all at once….start slow….and by next summer, you may be experiencing a life you never thought possible. Trust me… will be amazed at what may lie ahead.  Make it a good day; the choice is yours!