I don’t know about you guys, but camping is by far my favorite thing to do in the summertime. Every year, my family does a huge family reunion camping trip. There are about 30 of us, if not more and we occupy about 10 camp sites. My kids are always riding their bikes, scooters or going on walking adventures with their cousins while us adults relax to get enough energy to play corn hole for hours. Between all of that, we make our way to the lake where there are about 4 easy ups, a ton of chairs, dogs and food. When the time comes to whine down, we all make dinner and meet back up to enjoy family time around the campfire while the kids enjoy smores and the dogs stay close in hopes of melting marshmallows falling off the smores sticks.
This year’s camping trip was very special for me. Not only because I got to be with my family which I always love, but for some reason I truly felt like my grandparents where with me, especially my Grandma Joni. I saw more butterflies than I ever have in the past. Butterflies remind me of her because she had the most beautiful butterfly tattooed on the back of her neck. Every time I see a butterfly, I say, “Hello grandma.” By the third day of the camping trip, I had lost count of how many butterflies I saw. These huge, colorful and beautiful butterflies would fly right in front of me for a few seconds and then fly away, almost like my grandma was reminding me that she is always here.
Camping for me, especially this year, is a time for me to reflect on my life and really dial in on what truly matters. So many times in life we dwell and focus on the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s instead of adventuring towards new beginnings. I felt so much anxiety during this camping, but at the very same time, I felt an overwhelming sense of…hang on tight, Joei. Your time is finally here. Your dreams and your goals are finally within reach. You’ve waited long enough. You’ve been put through enough crap for way too long. Here you go, Joei! Here you go!
So, what is one to do with that constant, powerful, and overwhelming reminder? You take it and you run with it! For far too long, I’ve been camping in my head instead of taking the joy ride to self-reassurance and self-appreciation. Sometimes it takes getting out of town to allow yourself to get out of your head. Sometimes it takes looking up and seeing every star in the nights sky to finally see every star shining deep within you. Sometimes it takes hearing the wind blow through the tall pine trees for you to stop hearing the negative Nancy comments. Sometimes it takes seeing the beauty in what life is like outside of the chaos for you to see the beauty within yourself. And sometimes it takes dipping your toes in the pure lake for you to anchor down on the concept that YOU GOT THIS!
My ability to hop into the dream wagon and my strength to take the wheel has never felt so damn good and so damn RIGHT. Towards the end of my camping trip, I just sat at my dinette table and looked out the window. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I told myself what I needed to tell myself for 37 years. “You have what it takes to feel this free, recharged and accomplished back at home in your normal everyday life. Not just at camping anymore.” Things are shifting in the direction that I have always dreamed up. So, I need to take ahold this and NOT LET GO!
The last night of the camping trip, my family and I were all sitting around the campfire that my husband Jason and my cousin Steve were creating. Watching the fire beam and hearing the crackling of the logs was so therapeutic. I was sitting next to a good family friend, Rick and we were chatting away about life, our demons we fought through and the future. Then he asked me a question that I needed to answer…for myself. He asked me, “When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?” I sat there and told him the story of when I was in the 3rd grade and my teacher, Mrs. Peterson pulled me aside before recess to inform me that she loved my short story I wrote and asked me if I ever thought about writing poems. That’s when my writing took off. I continued to tell him that writing has been a huge part of me, my constant healer, motivator and mentor. There is nothing in this world that cures me like writing.
As I was opening up to Rick and telling him my life story of my writing, I starting to really listen to myself. The truth is, even though I love to write, I was so scared of allowing myself to be so open with the world and share my writing. “But why?” I asked myself. “Why are you so scared? You have concurred addiction, lost a ton of weight and you are finally thinking of yourself because you know what you are capable of. Why are you still so scared?” Those words went through my head over and over again until I finally answered myself. “I’m not scared. I’m finally free. I was locked down by my additions and demons for so long that I gave up. But not anymore.” I was so proud of myself for finally admitting that.
Whether you are camping, sitting in your back yard, your patio, or your favorite look out spot in your hometown, remember this…YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES! It’s so easy to down yourself especially when you have been doing it for so long. It becomes so natural so try this…create your new normal by finally believing in yourself. Finally believe that those dreams in you that are begging to be set free can not only be set free, but brought to life. Don’t allow the haters, doubter and bullies to have that power. Only you hold that power. There is no greater power than the power of believing in yourself. Put yourself first. If that means that you move on to something bigger and greater so you can move even an inch closer to your dreams, then do it. It’s your life, not theirs so why give them the right to control you? Wake up each morning and repeat this, “I got this!” Because you do. Remember that the haters will always hate, and the doubters will always doubt, but that’s their problem. That’s what they have to live with every day, not you. You have what it takes to fly. So fly, my friend. Fly so high that they get blinded by the sun because at the end of the day, it’s your journey, not theirs.
This camping trip brought me back to life. It opened my eyes to see that the life I want to live is right in front of me and that it’s not as far away as I once feared.