Tag Archives: the outdoors

Crowds, Cold and Chaos

This past weekend, a friend and I headed over to a local Ski Resort where we spent the day snowboarding. Well, I went snowboarding and she tried a version of it on the bunny slope. This day was comprised of my least favorite combination of C’s, crowds, cold and chaos. Being in college I have little sense of the public schools academic calendar. Apparently it was presidents weekend and every youth group and family seemed to have a trip planned to the mountains this weekend. I was there for the better part of the day and into the night. The lines for the lifts, rentals, shuttles and tickets were incredibly long. There was not adequate inside space to accommodate people, there was a crowding on the slopes, they ran out of helmets for rent and the parking extended outside of their parking lots and into local businesses parking lots. All of this and the temperature was in the teens.

However, through all of the crowds, cold and chaos I still had a great day. There was hardly a time when I wasn’t having fun and at times I was snowboarding by myself. So, why was i having such a good time despite the C’s? Once I made it to the top of the mountain, after getting off at the last ski lift stop I realized that it was worth it. As I type this it all seems terrible, like a horrible experience but yet, it was incredible. The wind can feel like little needles on your skin but the snow looks majestic as the wind carries it away, almost like ghosts, towering high to the people on the ski lifts. The powdery snow gets stuck inside my gloves but is a dream to ride on. Riding the lifts at night is like a mid-air haunted hayride but, the trees, covered in snow, look better from this angle. The lines can be a pain to stand in but, i’m glad people are here to experience the beauty of where I live.

Sometimes the weather stinks and people can be annoying but, thats the great thing about the outdoors. A beautiful landscape and some fresh air has the power to change your mood, lift your spirits and transform your day.

Have a good day friends and stay warm.

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Zach’s Never Ending Summer

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Meet Zach. He is one of my closest friends and one of the most selfless people I have ever met. We are an odd pair of friends. We have different lifestyles, different majors and different hobbies but, somehow our friendship is strong and timeless. He is the friend that you contemplate life with and the friend that writes you handwritten letters, even if you live in the same town. This past semester Zach was in South Africa, following his dreams and making friends with people across the globe. I asked him to write a blog post for me and gave him permission to go in any direction he wanted to. When I read it for the first time I almost cried. I can hear the passion and the beauty in his words. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did and that these words resonate in your heart.

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It is my opinion that an active but brief life is a life well spent. I haven’t always thought this, I used to be worried about where I would be in 5 years, used to think about the future so much that I refused it was coming. For a good portion of my life, I lived in the future. I wasn’t really concerned so much with where I was, but how I would get to my next destination. Eventually I got lucky, or wise, or dumb, or careless, or carefree (yes they are different). Call it what you will, but I got a different view point on life. I realized that in the end, nothing we do matters. Ultimately our selves, our children, our entire species, and eventually our planet will cease to exist. Poof. Nothing anybody has ever done, no matter how heroic or terrible, will ever be heard of or recognized again. And when you think about it that way, the little things suddenly become a whole lot more important. Because really, they’re all you’ve got. When you take your last waspy breath and your chest sinks and stays down for eternity, the only things you’ll be proud of are those small moments that are truly yours. Even the big adventures are comprised of thousands of tiny moments that are ours to treasure. And all of these new thoughts and ideas were suddenly swimming between my ears, free to fill every crevice in my brain. Fast forward 2 years almost to the day, and I was on a plane by myself to spend 3 months working on a farm in the Drakensburg mountains, South Africa, and live with a family I had never met. Forget that being a White farmer in South Africa is the country’s most dangerous profession (they’re on the genocide watch list), all of the aforementioned was enough to keep me up for the first 3 nights abroad. I got homesick, I battled to tell the difference between being alone and being lonely, and I learned more about myself than I ever have before. Life becomes real when you think you may actually die, and perhaps the biggest benefit of those moments is that you see very clearly who you are and who you want to be. Everything else around the truly pure idea of you just fades away. I was lucky enough to have a few such moments during my trip. I got chased out of the water twice by great whites while surfing. I wore a bright red shirt the first day I went into a pasture with 33 bulls (that just happened to be cousins of the Spanish fighting bull) and got demolished. I accidentally stepped on a spitting cobra, who always go for the eyes and rarely miss. The list goes on. After a certain amount of these moments, you no longer need them to see yourself. And as time went on, I grew more confident. If the trailer needed to be loaded with 15 bales of hay, I’d hop on the tractor and get it done. If the cattle needed to be herded, I was ecstatic at the thought of going on a 4 hour solo hike. I got to know the sheep, the horses, the chickens, the dogs, and most of the other animals on the farm (but not the zebra). I felt at peace with myself and with everything around me. I had time to truly think, without any restrictions or worries, and find myself totally entrenched in the moment. And it was beautiful. I don’t use that word often, but it was. I got to feel what it’s like to really not think about the future or the past and just be. And don’t call that moment the present, because by the time you name it it’s gone forever. You just have to be there and know. I found that the saying “Stop to smell the roses” goes so much deeper than those words. There’s an entire lifetime of provocative thinking hidden in them.

Throughout my time in South Africa I learned more than I could ever hope to. I learned which plants can make you better and which will kill you in less than a minute, I skinned and butchered rams in the morning so that the family could eat (no part of the animals we killed went to waste, even the scrotums can be made into coin purses), I learned how to make a sheep trust you, how to herd 100 cattle by myself, how to speak some basic Afrikaans, how to bargain and bribe, and much more. And while I was learning all of these things, I forgot about my life back home, and simply lived. I think I can honestly say that my semester abroad farming and surfing taught me more about what matters (And no, getting an A on your biggest final of your academic career really doesn’t matter) than any semester I’ve ever had at school, and that shouldn’t surprise you. In a world where the norm is to graduate high school, graduate college, and pawn your dreams for a 9-5, take the riskier path. Don’t say you’d like to travel, actually travel. Jump into something that you have no idea about, just for the sake of learning. Stop looking through your friends’ adventure albums on Facebook and go have your own adventure. Because whether you like it or not, someday you will die, and you can’t choose when. Wouldn’t you like to close your eyes one last time and know that you lived your own life, that you did what you wanted, that you took risks and came out on top, that you didn’t waste any opportunities that came your way?

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My Auto Biography—In 500 words or Less

For a recent internship application I was asked to provide an autobiography….in 500 words or less. This assignment came as a little bit of a surprise to me but, I am thankful for a chance to show their company just exactly who I am and where I come from. I wanted to share this with you.

My Autobiography 

I am from Wilmington, on the North Carolina coast, about as far east as it gets. I grew up in a brick house with a white picket fence where I lived with my parents, older sister and a blonde cocker spaniel, that I so proudly named Snuggles.  I spent my summers kayaking, swimming, tubing, surfing, traveling and spending time with my family.  From Kindergarten until the 8th grade my mom and I went to school together. I was known as “Mrs. Upton’s daughter” which was a title I wore proudly until about the 6th grade, when I realized the boys didn’t want to talk to the teacher’s daughter. She was a legendary teacher in my county’s public school system, and she even had her own television show on the local education channel. My mom, along with my Dad, a professional photographer, seemed to know everybody in Wilmington, which is not a small town. From a young age ,I have been very outgoing and friendly, and this is an attribute that I cultivated from my parents.

I give my parents and my youth group all credit for who I am and everything I have today. When I was twelve years old, I started attending my church’s youth group, which was one of the largest and most active youth groups in Wilmington. It was through my youth group and on our mission trips that I traveled to Colorado, Puerto Rico, Kentucky, Arkansas, Bimini, West Virginia, Tennessee, Florida and numerous rural places throughout North Carolina.  It was during these seven years that I became a woman of Christ, acquired my love to travel and was taught to find what made me “come alive”.

On the opposite end of North Carolina at Appalachian State University in Boone, where both the Appalachian Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway run, is where I am an early senior in college. Much of my time is spent hiking, biking, hammocking, snowboarding and exploring. Living in both the mountains and on the coast, I realize that I truly have the best of both worlds. I  am constantly in amazement of the Lord’s vast creation. When I graduated from high school and came to college, I wanted to find a major and career path that would continue to inspire me to find what made me “come alive.”  Now, I am a Recreation Management major because I want to see the world and encourage others to do the same. Jesus came so that we may have life and live it abundantly, and I feel that it is my passion to encourage people to leap outside their comfort zones, as challenging as it may be, and come alive.

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