happiness is...

happiness is...
kenya 2010

Saturday, September 10, 2011

sometimes it's all about the joy

i'll never go the distance if every minute of every day is about others. yes, i believe that my purpose in life is service to others (and god, of course), but i also know that i won't be any good to anyone else if i don't take time to recharge and do something for the other important people in my life- me, myself, and i. that is what the last 30 hours have been about.

earlier in the week i decided that i needed R&R combined with a little adventure. the weather forecast was great, so i settled on camping. i love camping and haven't been able to do it since last summer (before my neck surgery), since sleeping in a tent meant 13 minutes of sleep followed by 13 days of pain. now that i'm minus a cervical disc and have the addition of a shiny new plate and some screws in there, i thought it was high time i gave it another shot. my plan was to head home after work on friday, cram my camping gear in the back of the jeep, throw my bike on the bike rack, and go to perry lake. interestingly, this caused some shock and a little bit of horror in the girls at work, because my plan was to go camping alone. is that weird? well, i know it's weird- they told me. it seems normal to me. maybe that is a sign that i'm way too independent, but i love the idea of sitting in front of the campfire, playing my guitar (i sound way better when no one else can hear it), curling up in a warm sleeping bag on a cold night in my tent, listening to the coyotes and the critters sing to me, and then going for a ride or a hike the next day around the lake.

lucky for me, my friend blair saved me from the stigma of solo camping and the turmoil that might have caused at work. i invited him to go with me, and he invited me to the banff film festival at liberty hall. a new plan was hatched. 1. run out to the lake before the festival to set up camp. 2. head back to the festival. 3. return to the lake for our overnight. his only request was we ride out in an open jeep. lucky for us, i just happen to have a jeep! i took a few minutes before picking him up to take out the doors and all the windows.  

anyone want to guess what happened next? remember that weather forecast? yeah- it never changed. 30% chance of rain for the NEXT day, with showers in the afternoon only. what DID change was the weather. we headed toward the lake and into a black and green horizon. the wind went from 15 miles an hour to about 40 miles an hour with super nasty gusts. debris and dust was flying everywhere. the wind was pummeling the left side of my face so hard that i couldn't keep my eye open, and it was blowing drool out of my mouth and into the passenger seat (don't tell blair. pretty sure he thinks it was rain). then the rain actually started. i am also pretty sure i heard (and felt) hail. remember- i took out the windows and the doors in the jeep. let me suggest that you always have a plan B. we didn't, but made one pretty fast. we got about 2 miles from the lake and turned around. one of the things that i like about blair is that he always puts a positive spin on things. he focused on the fact that it was his very first ride in an "open" jeep, and that we didn't already have our tents set up when the rain hit. well, i have to admit that is a pretty good point. he was also pretty pumped up about "all the adventurey things we got accomplished in the last hour." i swear, he's got a little bit of cheerleader in him. the point is that he kept me smiling (granted, mostly laughing at the cheerleading). one of the most important things in life is to surround yourself with positive people. you know what happened? the night turned into a home run.

we got back to town with time to spare before the festival, since we saved so much time not setting up camp. we got to eat our chicken sandwiches in the park instead of on the fly in the car. it also allowed me time to respond to my niece morgan's text to come see her at work- and enough time to actually GO. i got a kiss and a hug and a free scone (you didn't hear that from me). we were early enough at the festival to get really good seats and the films were spectacular. they were also inspiring and made us really pumped up to do some "outdoorsy" things- so after the show, we headed back out to the lake. want to know the best part? well, i can't pick just one- but the bonus was that the storm chased off pretty much all the tent campers and we had the place to ourselves.

we set up camp like champs and lit a nice fire. the best part was our decision at midnight to put the kayaks in the water and do a full moon paddle. the cool air from the storm, combined with the warm water, made this amazing mist/fog on the surface of the lake and it was like kayaking through clouds. when we were done, we roasted marshmallows the size of our heads (and i have an enormous head!), and drank a beer. we went to bed at 4am, got up at 9a, cooked breakfast over the fire, and headed back out on the water for 5 more miles of exploring. lunch was sardines and crackers while docked at a little deserted beach area, watching the sailboats. looking back, that seems like so much. so much adventure. so much fun. so much activity. but my day wasn't over yet.

we tore down the site in under 20 minutes, and headed back to lawrence. then i rode my bike to campus for "family day" at the KU game. LMH offered 4 tickets to every employee and volunteer, along with a fully catered tailgate tent. on a whim, i invited my sister and her family. i was a little surprised that she said yes- but am so glad she did. my niece met us there with her student ticket, and my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew used the LMH tickets. we started in a huge tent filled with people that i work with, and their families (so cool). then we went to the game and i got to simultaneously spend 4 hours talking to my sister, and watch KU win. my niece leaned back into my lap every now and then, which gave me the perfect chance to stroke her hair, or give her a hug. any aunt knows, that must be what heaven's like. at 10p, i rode my bike back home in the dark, hoping my little helmet light and blinking butt would keep the drunk fans from plowing me over on the way. mission accomplished.

what did i do on friday and saturday that was worthwhile? who did i help? well, i spent quality time with my friends and family, and built relationships with those i care about the most. i helped my racing mind and restless spirit. i hung out with god and honored him by enjoying and appreciating his creation and all he has blessed us with. i pushed the limits of my body and my abilities...

...and now i am completely exhausted, with aching knees, muscle spasms in my back, a headache from lack of sleep and dehydration, and bumps and bruises that will take a week to heal.

totally worth it.


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