I was sitting in the back of the 4 seater ATV driving along the rough forest service roads that run through the mountains of the Rio Grande National Forest outside of South Fork, CO. As was the case last year I had ended up taking a week of vacation and traveling to my family’s beloved cabin which just my sweet puppy Eloise for company. As our group bumped along the road through forests of pine and aspen underneath a brilliant blue sky I inhaled the crisp air and thought why? Why am I not brave enough to do more things like this, to message a complete stranger and ended up seeing the mountains from a very different perspective as part of a guided tour. Why didn’t I spend more time outside camping, hiking, biking, kayaking when I was back home in Texas? Why did I still keep thinking in the back of my head that I needed the permission of my friends, family, peers to do the things I really want to do? Earlier in the week as Eloise and I were exploring some trails and alpine lakes we drove past a campground and there was a single woman, setting up her camp and I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy. How can she be so brave, what about the bears and mountain lions and the other things that go bump in the night? Did she have a chorus of well meaning people telling her its not safe to be out alone and to be careful? Maybe she did and maybe she didn’t care? I would guess by her outfit of a skirt and brightly colored knee socks that she didn’t really care what other people thought.
So how do I give myself permission to shape and reform myself into this wild woman that loves to be outdoors, that loves to be active and wants to explore these experiences that also quite frankly scare her too? How do I give myself permission to keep writing when the writing doesn’t flow and I am not experiencing the “Big Magic,” that Elizabeth Gilbert writes about in her guide to living a creative life? I am working to write my own permission slip; to write, to explore, to live a creative life and to become the wild woman I’ve always longed to be. To write and to share even when I’m certain the writing is not worth sharing. To live and to be and to stop waiting for someone to give me permission. I am learning to give myself permission.
Now I do realize that my solo endeavors concern some so to that end I am exploring and investing in ways to be safe, but still take chances. Before leaving for Colorado I did invest in a Garmin inReach Mini, a spot tracker that connects to the Iridium Satellite network and allows me to send out a link so people can track me and I can also reach the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center if I should ever find myself needing help and not have cell phone service. I am also thinking about joining some groups for women that love to hike, camp and explore. I do take my personal safety seriously and try to reduce risks when possible.
When I started out on this trip I wasn’t really sure I why I was going and I was more than a bit hesitant when I pulled Oliver, my trusty Subaru out of my Mother’s driveway and pointed her West. I wasn’t certain why I felt the pull of the mountains this year and I was very unclear about what I hope to learn and discover on the extended break from work and real life in Dallas, TX. It’s almost sad to be here in South Fork in the empty cabin that was always filled with life when my Grandparents lived here during the summers. But I’m glad I’m here, I hope that someday I can make more than just a yearly weeklong visit, that I can share this special place with my nieces and nephew and maybe one day their children and I am holding out serious hope for a collective family vacation. The Mountains are calling and I must go and I am learning to give myself permission to go, to live, to explore to create.