From the Appalachian Trail on the top of Roan Mountain
It’s completely unlike me to quit my job and choose to move 1200 miles away on, what might seem to some, a whim. I mean, we’re talking about the person who has lived in the same house for the past 24 years and has worked at the same job for 22 years. It’s comfortable; safe; secure; familiar. Why would I want to change that?
I came home from a visit to the Appalachian Mountains around my sister’s home in North Carolina last July and started looking for property around Roan Mountain, TN; about 20 miles across the North Carolina/Tennessee border from where my sister, her husband and my mother live. We had taken a visit to Roan Mountain State Park and I was totally smitten by the park and the breathtaking landscape that surrounded it. I lost count of the number of times I said, “I could live in a little cabin in these mountains.”
Truth be told my love affair with the mountains of Eastern Tennessee began shortly after I graduated from high school and took a trip with friends to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ten glorious days in early October hiking around in the mountains and touring the surrounding countryside captured my heart and my imagination way back then. Life and work brought me to Texas a few years later but there was a love for those mountains that resurfaced the moment I returned. It felt like coming home.
So, despite the fact that, as of yet I have no place to live and no job, I’ll be moving to the area around Roan Mountain shortly after leaving my job on April 15, 2016. The person who, at one point in her life, would have been panic-stricken at the idea of not having a well laid-out plan and a giant safety net is taking a leap and is trusting that this is meant to happen; trusting that there is a plan for me in those mountains and that I’ll figure it out as I go along. Have there been moments when the fear has set in? Absolutely. There is also a sense of peace about it all and a sense of trust that it’s all going to work out. I want to hike in those mountains with my dog and my camera, doing my best to capture the essence of what drew me to them all those years ago. When it comes right down to it the only thing that could stop me is fear and I won’t let that happen.
This past January I participated in a creativity retreat with dear, dear friends that was called “The Choice of Art.” During that weekend we were asked to write our future biography and we read it aloud to the group. Mine started out like this: “Judi is a nature photographer who lives with her Border Collie Pippin in a log cabin in the mountains of North Carolina.” I guess I called it in.
I am so excited about the life that lies before me. Is there fear as well? Yes, but it’s not the overwhelming fear that I would have felt 5, 10, 15 or 20 years ago. It’s not the paralyzing fear that would have kept me from making this choice to begin with. This feels right and the one thing that I am struck by is that there is not a single friend, family member or acquaintance that has asked me if I’ve lost my mind or cautioned me against making this change. It’s friends and family like that that have brought me to this point; people that have modeled courage and inspired me. People who have offered encouragement and support and have cheered me on. To say I’m grateful doesn’t begin to cover it.