It’s funny how things come into perspective after the fact… Also, I’m the worst when I comes to sticking to one train of thought.
- Throughout my childhood, we planted trees every year. I can remember planting hundreds of them – white pine, red pine, and blue spruce. We turned some fields into forests and planted a wall around our main yard. I’m thankful for this experience. While planting the trees wasn’t always fun, I learned the importance of replenishing the land.
- Cutting, hauling, and stacking firewood was by far my least favorite chore. I was kept from my friends on the weekends and until I got a job, it was the way of the land every fall weekend. Even after getting a job, my dad would throw it through the chute to the basement and I’d have to stack it. Even during the week, we’d have to come home from school and stack it if he was on an off shift or on winter leave. Ah yes, firewood – it’s true it warms you twice. I look back, and kind of wish I could go up and help him on the weekends now. It was a great way to sweat it out and being in the woods in the fall was the absolute best. Nothing beats the smell of fall in the woods. Second to the smell of fall is the smell of fresh cut wood – oh my gosh. Maybe someday I’ll be back in Michigan and can help him out a bit.
- My first car was my mom’s 1988 Plymouth Voyager. The doors didn’t lock, you could start it without a key, and the heat didn’t work. It only had an AM/FM radio and half the speakers were shot. BUT… It was mine to do with what I wanted – free and clear. The seats were comfy, there was PLENTY of space for stuff/people, and the windows rolled down – total win. In the winter, we just bundled up when driving – the heat kind of worked, not even sure what was really wrong with it. Surely I wanted a newer or more functional vehicle for my first one, but I didn’t make enough money for that and hanging out with friends. I look back and realize it really wasn’t so bad and it makes me appreciate every nice feature I have on my car today – that I pay out the ass for.
- As a kid, we never really went anywhere far or too adventurous for vacation. We camped, which was great, at nearby state parks with the major exception being going about six hours away one time. Without my grandparents, I wouldn’t have visited any of Michigan’s “major” cities or adventured through Ontario around Lake Superior. As a baby, I think my mom flew me to Texas with her to visit my Granny, but that’s not a memory I have. This lack of adventure really sparked a major need to see the country in college – once I starting researching what was out there. I met my best friend, another person who hadn’t really traveled the country, and we started road tripping. We followed our college football team to Alabama, we crossed the Mississippi together for the first time, we saw the Rockies for the first time, and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time too. Once you start road tripping and seeing the amazing things this country has, you never want to stop. I never knew what I was missing as a kid but now I do and I work so I can travel.
- Back to the camping thing – so thankful we did it as a family. It was always overkill, though, with many coolers and grills and an abundance of crap. I learned the basics such as how to find good spots, how to build a fire, and that I loved hiking before I really knew it was a thing. From these family trips, I learned that less is more and now when I go I’m scaled way back to the essentials. No longer taking enough food for an army, cases of pop or water, and just enough gear.
- As much as I didn’t appreciate the outdoors back then the way I do now, I am thankful for the lessons I was taught. I am good at identifying trees without a book, know a lot about plants, can usually figure out animal tracks, can build a trail, and so much more. Thanks parents, grandparents, and friends.
- I kind of have one regret: I didn’t really enjoy Michigan enough when I lived there. I try not to beat myself up too much over this, but some days it’s difficult not to. I didn’t hike enough, didn’t camp enough, didn’t enjoy the outdoors enough. It was all at my fingertips, and I didn’t utilize it enough. I sit here, in this Dallas suburb office, after commuting from my suburb apartment and kick myself every damn day for not taking it all in more than I did. I know, my retail schedule was nuts when I was there – but if I had truly been motivated I could have gone hiking before an evening shift, after a morning shift, or enjoyed a people free mid-week hike on a random day off. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy Michigan, I visited many places and did many things… This “regret” really led me to the biggest lesson, and something I’ve been really trying to do this year – LOVE WHERE YOU ARE and take advantage of everything you can. Yeah, DFW kind of sucks, but I’m fully utilizing nearby parks, state parks, and national parks. I am really living it up in nearby national forests and lakes. Yeah, things may take some driving and may not be exactly what I love to look at, but it’s so much better here now that I’m truly diving in and utilizing what exists around me. Yeah, sometimes my go-to parks are full of people or have a bike race, but overall life is better now that I’m at least trying to get out.
Moving forward, my wants and needs are more clear than ever. Now, to get to where I want to be.