On Being a Trailblazer

a person who makes a new track through wild country.
a pioneer; an innovator.
trailblazerWhen I was 19, I was hired by the United States Forest Service to be a stream surveyor. I lived in a cabin with no running water in the middle of the woods with my 18 year old roommate. Each day we got into our Jeep Cherokee and headed out with our compasses, topographic maps and measuring equipment. Our job was to walk streams and measure the length, depth, width and stream type for miles of stream. The amazing thing is that all of the streams we went to were streams not off hiking trails or in convenient parks. They were in the deep woods. We were true trailblazers…in high grass trying to find low streams. Pioneers. I started out the summer, afraid of everything. I worried about the potential timber rattlesnakes, copperheads, black bears, and spiders that were surely around us everywhere. I was afraid of the unknown. I saw all the potential dangers and it slowed me. Though, my younger roommate, charged ahead…desperately unaware of the potential danger. She was able to move fast and was amazingly cheerful along the way. I learned from her reaction to our job and our living conditions that she must be some kind of crazy. We had an outhouse and the closest shower was 35 miles away. Talk about uncomfortable. Yet, I practiced going in the dark to the unlit outhouse. I practiced being aware but not timid. I made a decision to go forward and embrace being a trailblazer. By the end of the summer, I was a champ. I had grown in a ways I never knew was possible. I knew the woods and I was confident in my stride. I was excited by the discoveries we made. I was enraptured by the beauty of what we got to see on a daily basis. I literally mapped streams that had never been detailed. We even found a forested wetland, which was an adventure all to itself. I did something few get to do. It was then, that I knew, that my course in life could and would be determined by me.
In the past month, I majorly changed my life. Everything that I knew as comfort and consistency got flipped upside down because I made the decision to reach for the dream that I have been fostering for many years now. During these past weeks, I thought about my experience as a stream surveyor often. And I deduced, I must be some kind of crazy. I deliberately left my somewhat “blah, comfortable and known life” and went into the great beyond, once again. During this time, I’ve felt the same fear, the same trepidation going into the unknown. I experienced a rocky trip into this adventure. It often felt like being in a plane and trying to land while in extreme turbulence. I never quite knew how “comfortable” I was until all of my comforts fell away. I also had no idea the depth to which the “scarcity” vibration had been fostered in my life. I have learned so much and have expanded so quickly, that I’m in awe…like I was that summer. I have experienced a profound sense of humility during this transition.
I am so thankful. There have been people who have been champions for me and shown me that I can keep going. Random emails, text messages and phone calls have all been so appreciated. Especially when I desperately have wanted to quit and go back to comfort. I am thankful for the friends who reminded me….”take one step at a time…go slowly…be mindful…this is only temporary…keep envisioning yourself in a better place…use your tools…keep your dream at the forefront of your mind.” Each of these phrases or some variation of them have been so valuable to me.
I think that the two of most valuable things in this whole experience has been to truly make a decision and getting to know my true self. I had to get to to the point where I knew that I was going to continue on the path that I set out on. Believe me- failed actions, realizations of my weak areas, plans falling through and others’ negative opinions about me and my actions have been present. Each of these were a gift. I got to decide…do I want to quit or do I want to see how far the rabbit hole goes? When I made the decision to STAY where I am and doing what I am, then things started to line up for me. The word root of decision is to “cut off.” For me, the decision was to “cut off” from any possibility other then my dream. Once I decided, I’ve then committed to seeing it through. As a commitment phobe, this has been the true exciting part of the game. I’ve gotten to build and exercise other parts of myself that never before existed. Staying (not running, not hiding, not giving up), especially in the face of large obstacles and challenges is not my favorite thing. This has been so profound. I couldn’t live a new life with all old tools, innovation had to come into my life in a major way. Yet, my desire to create a better life for myself and my son, is what was at the root of the decision and commitment. So, I stand ready and expectant of the good things to come.
So, I’m a trailblazer. And yes, I’m a little out there…admittedly. I’m still that 19 year old in the woods and finding the streams that flow through the stunning landscape. I’m still committed to being a creator and creating my life in the way that I deeply desire. I’m committed to embracing the discomfort as it comes. I have decided that this is the direction of my dreams is my preferred course, rather than the direction of my fears. I’m celebrating all the small and large things have have gone right and have been gifts to me. One day, I will recount the whole story as it is so fascinating to me what has come when I least expect it and the beautiful gifts (even when they were sometimes painful) that have arisen. It’s an amazing journey and I’m so glad I’m walking this path. Thank you for reading. Happy Journeying…Ellen #BeingLove #Trailblazer #InnovationRequiresCreation #mystory