Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Six Life Changing Weeks

Earthquakes, hurricanes, apocalyptic bird swarms – just a few of the things that Deanna and I encountered on our 6 week trip to Vermont. Perhaps the Universe was celebrating our marriage (or maybe we just got lucky), but we sure enjoyed an adventure filled trip.

We arrived in Huntington, WV coincident with a huge swarm of Purple Martins bound for South America. Groups were testing roof-top guy wires and other roosting places, until they all settled into 4 or 5 trees next to a retirement home.

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On our first full day in Vermont, we finished hanging our supply caches in preparation for hiking the Long Trail. Then, although we never felt it, the eastern U.S. had the biggest earthquake since 1897. Here's Deanna enjoying lunch at almost precisely the time that the earthquake hit.

We got married in a wonderful celebration outside under apple trees with family and friends all around. Then hurricane Irene rolled in, inundating Southern Vermont, washing out roads and causing a state of emergency.

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We set out on our 4 1/2 week hike, spent a few days wondering where everybody was (until we found out that the Green Mountain National Forest had been closed in the aftermath of hurricane Irene) then continued on with the trail and shelters virtually to ourselves.

Tropical storm Lee rolled through while we were out there. Thankfully it wasn't all rain and mud. We had some nice hiking days and great views.

In the end, we finished 200 of the 273 miles. There's something indescribable about looking back from whence you've come to see, fading in the distance over the horizon, the mountain peak upon which you stood just days before.

Getting off the trail, we had unbelievable car problems - my brother's transmission gave out before we got back to his house causing him to junk his van. Then our car suffered from a seized alternator and rear brakes because of the soaking from hurricane Irene. Welcome back to civilization :-|.

We made it back to St. Louis in time for Deanna to return to work, me to pursue my Adventure Educator path, and for us to begin the next stage of our lives together. Thanks for reading. More to come ...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Adventure As A Life Choice

Five months ago I quit my former career and set out to work as an adventure educator. Learning from adventure means going beyond that which is familiar, entering your “stretch zone” where you feel uncomfortable, like you may not succeed. Well … I’m there.

Just between you and me, I’m terrified! On the one hand, I know I have a lot to offer. On the other hand, I’m not at all certain that I can survive monetarily doing what I do. In my corporate engineering career I could indulge my introvert, only concern myself with technical details, and collect my paycheck. Now I’ve got to do a whole lot more including outreach to prospective clients, package and promote myself and what I offer, and find ways to make it pay well enough that I can keep doing it.

I just want what I do to be meaningful and worthwhile. I recently had the opportunity to enunciate my personal mission and it came out “to help people learn and help people grow.” That’s it, that’s what I’m committed to doing. But how, specifically, will I do that? And why should you, prospective client, trust me with your best interests and compensate me for my efforts?

Don’t get me wrong, I have answers to those questions, and I think they’re pretty compelling. But is it going to be enough? Am I going to be enough? I’m in the nascent beginnings of building my adventure education practice and I’m not at all sure how it will go. Who will I serve, where can I do the most good, and how can I keep doing it? And what will I do if I fail and my efforts come to naught? I don’t have those answers and, moreover, I don’t really know how I’m going to find those answers except to not give up and keep working at it.

So here I am, in the crux of Adventure. Michael Meade, author and teacher in the ‘90’s men’s movement, said that meaningful transformation is often accompanied by feeling that you may not survive the experience; it reaches into your core. I feel that way now. But I do feel that this is my path and I must walk it. I can only have faith that it leads me in the right direction.