Great Things

“Great things are done when man and mountains meet.”

When the great poet William Blake spoke those words almost 200 years ago, I can only imagine he had no way of knowing that they would come to life right here in Eastern Tennessee in 2017.  He could not possibly have foreseen that my friend, Benny, would live out exactly what he meant.

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For the past 2 months Benny has been on a quest of epic status.  On January 1 of this year, he set out to hike every inch of trail miles in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park by the end of the year. That is a Massive undertaking since most people take years to complete hiking a map.

But just a few weeks into the journey, he decided that maybe he could break the current record of hiking each and every trail..

The Current record is 4 months and 12 days.

This Saturday Benny will complete his journey, setting a new record of 2 months and 19 days.

Oh, did I mention that there are over 800 miles of trails in the Smoky Mountains?

I remember very vividly seeing Benny make the post about going for the record.  At the time I had never met Benny, but we are both members of the same Facebook hiking group, and I was well aware of who we was and the enormous task before him.  I instantly joined his page, so I could follow along with his journey.

This man was phenomenal. With each and every post he made me feel like I was part of his journey.  Every few days we were treated with an update, and the most beautiful pictures.

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I was instantly a fan girl!

By chance, I was able to meet Benny at an event we were both attending at the first of February.  One would think going after such an ambitious record would give you a swollen ego, and extra large head, but sitting and chatting with Benny for those couple of hours was like catching up with an old friend.  Within seconds, I knew he was the most down to earth, humble person I have ever had the honor of meeting.  Of course I had to go all fan girl and get a selfie with him and another friend of ours.

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Personally meeting Benny, made following his journey even more sweeter.  Now I was invested in his success.

But following Benny’s journey also got me to thinking about my own.

Struggling with my injured foot, life stresses, and just being plain tired, had caused me to put off fully seeking completing my own map.  “Those mountains aren’t going anywhere.  I have all the time in the world to finish.”

But watching the passion that Benny exhibited, the fire within me was lit to immediately get serious about what I needed to do to complete my own map.

Those mountains may not be going anywhere, but I am not guaranteed tomorrow.  Watching Benny actively pursue his dream showed me, that NOW is the time.  Don’t put off what you are passionate about until later.  Later may never come.

For the past month and half, I have worked obsessively on a plan to help ensure that I will finish my own map hopefully by the end of next year.

This Saturday, I will join my fellow hiking community as we come together to celebrate the final leg of Benny’s amazing journey.  I will watch with tremendous pride as my friend takes his final steps towards his dream.

Benny may not be aware, but he has inspired many.  In him we see what happens when you want something bad enough, and you work hard to make it happen.  He sacrificed time with his wife and children.  Time away from work.  Time to just sit and relax.  He went out cold,wet, sick, tired, and hungry, but never once did he post a complaint.

Never.

How could he….he was living his dream.

Harriet Tubman once said,

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world.”

Benny has reached for the stars, and while he may not entirely change the world with this phenomenal record breaking hike, he has definitely changed the hearts and the lives of those who have been following him.

Great things indeed.

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A Masterpiece

Do you ever catch yourself repeating the same phrase over and over, and OVER again? You know, one of those pesky little sayings that really is not meant to be a fact statement, but you say it so much, that eventually over time you start to believe it?

Anyone?????

If so, then this post if for you.  If not….read it anyway because, well, let’s face it….. you know you really do what I am talking about. Continue reading

Even In The Dark

I’m a big fan of bumper stickers.

Seriously, is there anything better when you are having a crappy day then reading something like, “Honk if you Love Tacos!” or “Follow Me To Billy’s Bargain Barn!” ?

Come on, you know you smile at those!

As a teenager I had my own on my trusty little Subaru…. “Don’t Follow Me….I’m LOST!” and my personal favorite…. “I STILL MISS ELVIS“.

Sometimes they can even make you reflect on just how wonderful and blessed you really are.

Yesterday morning while heading to the mountains to meet some friends to do some winter hiking in the freshly fallen snow, I got behind a beat up Nissan with the following message attached to their rear bumper…..

“STARS CAN’T SHINE WITHOUT DARKNESS”

Right there in my little Honda Civic on Highway 92 I had a moment.

See for me the dark has always been scary.  I like knowing what is around me, and being able to see what lies ahead. When the lights are on.. so am I.

But when the lights go out…..I shut down.

It is so easy to Shine in the daylight when things are golden and going great. But once darkness sets in and times get rough or dreary……we forget that even in the dark we can shine and illuminate our world.

I have written about my friend Teri before.  She is the most positive person I have met.

EVER.

You cannot be around Teri and NOT smile.

Image may contain: 2 people, hat and closeupShe is the total meaning of the bumper sticker that caused me to have a moment yesterday, and the person I immediately thought of when I read it.  Ironically, she was also the person I was driving to meet.

Teri has a zest and love for life. She genuinely loves people and has the incredible ability to make the darkest days and moments seem so bright. You can totally hate your life, be absolutely hateful, sick, or just in a bad place, and Teri can make you forget how bad things are and make you feel like all is right in the world in a matter of minutes.  I dare you to spend 5 minutes with her and not smile or snort from laughter.

It can NOT be done.

This is the attitude I strive to embody. A love and Joy for life that shines through, even when it is super dark.  To live out the challenge given in Philippians 2:14-15:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure children of God, without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

Life is not perfect. Oh how I wish it were.

Sometimes it is nasty, rocky, scary, and ugly. The madness, sadness, and ignorance we see can often be too much and just make us bitter, hateful, and dark. Sometimes that darkness consumes us to the point that we forget that, even then, we have the ability to shine.

Friends, life was not meant to be lived in the dark. You and I were created to shine so that we can remind others, they too were created to shine, so that they can reflect their light to inspire as well.

Even on the darkest of nights, we are never without light.

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Life is not perfect, but it full of mystery, wonder, excitement, and beauty.  Enjoy EVERY waking moment.  Like Marty Robbins once said, “Every day is a good day to be alive, whether the sun is shining or not.”  Don’t be afraid of the darkness.  There is no need to let it overwhelm you. Just remember you are a star….and stars ALWAYS shine when it’s dark!

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Adulting: It is Overrated

Adulting is hard.

Can I get an Amen?

There are days I sit at my desk and I think to myself, “I wish I still had my Barbies to play with.” Playing with Barbie and all those friends was WAY more exciting than my life.

I mean Barbie gets up every morning with perfect body, perfect hair, and a flawless wardrobe. She gets into her spiffy little Barbie sports car….and she is off to some exotic job in the world of fashion or finance. Continue reading

Where My Heart Is

Isn’t it amazing how you can see a word your whole life and think you understand the meaning of it fully, only to find that your whole life you have been sadly mistaken?

Treasure.

As I stared at the word for what seems like an eternity today, I realized that right now, at the ripe ole age of ***gulp** 41 I finally realized what the true meaning of the word is. Continue reading

Yes, I Weigh 125 lbs., And Other Lies I Tell Myself

Sometimes, real life sucks, so I daydream. My life is so much more interesting and fulfilling in those fantasies then they are in reality. For example, Yesterday at the Doctor’s office, the nurse wanted to know my weight, my response was, “Do you want my real weight, or the Mythical weight I  have convinced myself I am?” Thankfully, she let me enter my mythical weight.

Surely I am not the only one who, in their head, has a far more entertaining life then they do in reality????  We mean well, and aren’t really trying to be deceptive, but sometimes it is just way easier to fill my head with nonsense, than it is to live out the truth. Continue reading