It was the day before thanksgiving. I had left work early, and was scrambling to pack bags, camping gear, cameras, snacks, and any other items I thought I would need to survive the next 5 days of the unknown, with nobody but myself. Starting from my home in SoCal at Newport, I had my eyes set North - exploring Pacific Coast Highway, with San Fransisco as an ultimate destination. Other than a stop at a friends' in Gilroy for a Thanksgiving meal - that was literally the entirety of my plans. 500+ miles of I DON'T KNOW, LET'S GO!
Something I've recently learned about myself is that my top two strengths are Activator and Adaptability - which I now see displayed in my life constantly. This coastal endeavor was no exception, as it breathed a dance of these two traits.
You see, activators are the people who are quick to put ideas into action where others would hesitate, or talk themselves out of an idea altogether. It's a nice way of saying: I come up with ideas and bring them into action without thinking too much about it. That may sound a little risky - and it is - but I've become a professional at facing the unknown, which is why I've only gotten where I am today because my God is gracious and gave me my second strength of Adaptability. With every spontaneous adventure comes twists and turns that I'm an ace at rolling with, only because of adaptability. I've learned not to approach things with expectations, but with anticipation, and flexibility.
So I'm pretty sure I just told you all that as a preface and reassurance that I'm not completely crazy, and this blog will have true nuggets of life that you can trust. This post is basically me debriefing on everything I may have thought, experienced, and found insightful enough to share to anyone who will take it. Apparently, that's you! So you're wonderful.
As I was running in and out of the house, hurriedly packing up my car, and finally turning out of our neighborhood with a huge exhale, I had a thought.
"Zoey. What are you doing? You have 5 days off of work ahead of you that you could spend sitting and relaxing at home while it's empty! You could be sleeping, blogging, and getting your life in order. Why are you running off? Stay."
I can't tell you what made me turn the voice off. Maybe the really loud music I was jamming to. But I continued driving and rested with the fact that I was not one to so easily give up an adventure. Which is why from experience, I encourage you to GO. Even if it's nothing the world tells you is huge and epic - GO. If it's going out to a coffee shop, book store, being with friends, or even walking around your city a little bit more to experience something outside your ordinary - GO! With an open mind, it'll be hard to NOT grow or learn from even the smallest of adventures. Save the snoozing or internet surfing for another time. When choosing to stay or go, ask yourself:
"Which option will add to the story of my life that I'm living?"
2. KEEP GOING
So often in life we think there couldn't possibly be anything better than where we're at right now. Everything seems so amazing, and when we're forced to move on, or make changes, we can't picture there being something better. I experienced this often, quite literally, as I was exploring PCH.
I'd pull my car over to see an astonishing view - trying my best to take it in and capture it through my camera lens. After a few minutes, I'd reluctantly get into my car, thinking I had seen the climax of my drive, when little did I know that a few miles up the road, I'd find an even MORE incredibly breathtaking moment.
But I wouldn't have known it if I hadn't kept going.
Now get me straight, I'm not telling you to rush through life looking for the bigger and better. I'm saying that it's a gentle balance of enjoying exactly where you're at, but being obedient and open enough to move on to what's calling you next. Don't stay stuck. Don't be stubborn. Something incredibly amazing is waiting for you, but it cannot happen if your'e stuck in the past, or even wasting time being idle in the present.
3. YOU ARE NOT THE POINT
I'm sorry if that's rough, but you'e not the point of things. And I'm not the point. As much as we'd love to have life revolve around us, it absolutely does not. In fact, life is heavier when we have a list of demands or expectations on how things should function in order to please ourselves, because in over half of most situations, those expectations are not going to be met.
You can find yourself in a more joyful and content state of life by simply taking the focus off of yourself, putting thought into others, and ultimately, appreciation onto the Creator of everything good and true.
4. TAKE TIME
I love peace.
I mean, who doesn't right? But if you haven't noticed, I have this prevalent GO instead of STAY theme, very high activity, yeah? So one of my favorite parts of this trip was in Big Sur, when I was very overcome by crowds and activity that had been populating PCH that day. It pushed me to pull off to the forest, park my car, grab my camera, and hope I remembered where I started walking from. I didn't know where I was going, I crossed a bridge and simply wandered, gazing at the forest surrounding me. It was magic, and one of the many times during this trip I wished I had some company.
Before going to the forest, I was very hesitant, thinking I should just keep trying to get to my destination, even though I knew I had plenty of hours to spare. Thankfully, I decided I needed to take the time. I needed the silence and serenity of these wandering moments, even if it was simply for an hour.
I'm still standing behind what I said before about KEEP GOING, but I'm not going to pretend to be a superwoman who never needs a breath. I need them so often, and I'm the worst at reminding myself to take them.
So if you're like me, here's a reminder to breathe. Take time.
Then find your way out of the forest and get back into your car.
5. YOU ARE MORE CAPABLE THAN YOU THINK
These three photos hold more weight in my heart than anyone else could possibly know, because I shot them in a location that made me realize things I didn't know about myself.
While in Big Sur, a more popular beach was completely full, so I opted to keep driving to get to another one suggested by the parking lot attendant. All I wanted was to get to the beach.
Except at this particular spot, it required parking your car, wading through a creek, and walking a mile and a half out on a trail before reaching the beach.
If you've never met me, just ask anyone who has, and I'm sure 'outdoorsy' will never be an adjective used to describe me.
But I told myself there was really no other option, and pushed myself to do it.
I took off my shoes and waded through the freezing creek. I don't do that. But I did it.
I hiked a silent mile and a half by myself in converse and skinny jeans. I don't do that. But I did it.
There was so much silence on this trail. It was only a mile and a half, but it actually seemed endless. It was lonely. There was no end in sight. It kept winding, and turning, looking to be leading anywhere but the beach. I had major doubts.
Do I turn around? Where am I going? Is this going to be worth it? Is there even a beach at the end of this? Should I just turn around? When is this going to be over? What. Am. I. Doing.
But again, I just kept going. I came that far, I wasn't just going to turn around, no matter how outside of my comfort zone I was venturing.
There was just something insane about where I was at in that moment. Literally all alone, in a part of California I'd never been, on a trail that I had never walked, leading to a place I'd never seen.
Nobody knew where I was. I wasn't lost, but I had never, ever, EVER, felt more alone.
This trail was getting mental.
And just when I thought I'd had enough of it - I saw sand. And sand meant beach. There was a peek of light - clear, wide and open - that I hadn't seen on the trail before. *third photo above*
And I knew I had made it. It was all worth it. I was okay. I had been okay, all along. I had made it to the calming shores.
I wasn't more capable in that moment when I reached the shore than I was a mile and a half before, when I had started.
I was capable all along. It just took that pressing situation for me to realize it. And now I'm telling you, you're capable too.
If something's hard - do it anyway
If somethings new - give it a shot
If you feel like you're at your end - go a little further
This trip inspired me. This trip pushed me. It was lonely. It made me lean closer into the company of my Maker. It revealed more than I can put into a 5 point blog.
I'm very grateful if you've made it to the end of this, and I encourage you to say YES, GO, and make some adventures of your own.