The moon and the sun,

lovers of the sky,

crossed paths for a moment,

and all was romantic in the world.


Day 11 off the grid

We had a great night settling into Gatlinburg, and woke up at the crack of dawn this morning. Dottie and I wanted to enjoy the sunrise up on the mountain from the overlook. Still dark outside, I made a pot of coffee, threw it in a thermos, hitched up, and we drove up that curvy mountain. A little light was just starting to peak over the mountains and through the leaves. I felt my insides eeking, I was so excited! It’s funny, because the sunrise is something I get to see fairly often. I’m a fitness coach/personal trainer, so I have those early morning classes and clients pretty regularly. But even then, on those normal Wednesday or Friday mornings, I can recall always feeling excited over the sunrise. It’s something that happens everyday, but it’s exciting! It’s miraculous. People all over the world view it, share it, hold someone as they look at the sky in awe. Dottie and I shared the moment, the sunrise over the Smokies, and it was breathtaking. Everything stopped for a minute.

Isn’t it interesting how in tune with the universe we all are. It’s in our instinct to slow down with patience and rest as the moon arrives. The moon and sun cross paths, and we all sit and pay close attention; romance over it. Suddenly the sun is out, and time speeds up a little bit. We hit go mode. There’s so much natural authenticity to that; living in the moment and living for today. As I watched the sun climb slowly up over the mountains, I could feel a new day coming. It was different than yesterday, and something completely its own. And I think a day deserves just that: to be its very own. Getting caught up in the mundane, sometimes it’s hard to truly live for today. With past relationships having come and gone, feeling a broken heart, trying to transition into something new. It’s not always seamless as you move on from one season to another, or even one day to another. I can remember, even just a couple of months ago when I was still crying everyday. Multiple times a day, breaking down, feeling so much pain over that heartbreak. I prayed and prayed, literally begged, for the day that I could make it through without breaking down. That day came, unexpectedly. That first night I didn’t cry myself to sleep, I looked around almost confused. It was so typical and had become my new normal for that period of time, that it was unexpected when it didn’t happen. I could see a giant crowd sitting on bleachers in the sky cheering and fist pumping while they chanted “YOU MADE IT!!!! GO HAVEN!!!”....and then I laughed to myself at that visual, and instead of crying, I went to bed laughing. That was a great freakin day. A transition day. It was truly what it was: that day.

I hit a new energy after watching that sunrise, and we continued driving up the mountain to the trailheads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We headed up the curvy mountain with that fresh new sun, and I began to remember days where I was almost frustrated with myself that I was still breaking down, sobbing, and feeling so lost and confused. I just wanted it to all stop, I wanted it all to be over. I wanted that season to be done, and I wanted to arrive. I would also do just the opposite. I would rewind my mind to the beginning of that previous spark of love with that person I thought I knew, and I would long for that chapter to come back. I wanted to go back, or I wanted to go forward, but I didn’t want to be where I was. The “right now” was miserable. The “right now” hurt. It was painful, confusing, and deceiving. It wasn’t what I ever thought or imagined it would be. Even if my own time traveling self had told me what would happen, that this is where I would be, that this is how my relationship would end, or that he would do those things and make that exit the way that he did, I wouldn’t have believed her. That’s how blindsided I was. That's how deeply I trusted and believed and loved.

Comparing the now to what was, and what I thought it would be, I so badly wanted out of that “today”. But in those moments, I gave an effort to be present, and to feel the feels. To feel and revel in those not-so-pretty emotions, even when it wasn't pleasant to. I gave an effort to be patient with my tears. I knew they were serving a purpose, and they were there for a reason. I’m never perfect, but I tried to let the todays be the todays, the yesterdays the yesterdays, and the tomorrows themselves. But gahhhhhhhhhhh, it was hard.

We made it to a new trailhead at the top of the mountain on the Tennessee/North Carolina border. Since I’m training for a half marathon in December, I’ve been trying to go for trail runs throughout the week. But often times, the trails have veryyyyy steep inclines up a mountain, so it turns more into a trail run with hiking. I call it interval training! (lol). I ended up doing 12 miles up the mountain. I started on the Appalachian Trail and took the Boulevard Trail, which led me to take a series of different split trails. It was crazy feeling how much colder it got with every step up the mountain. There was a little snow and ice on the ground up there, and you could literally feel the temperature drop with every single step up. I started off running, but there were moments that I had to walk or completely stop to climb up onto and over things. But I was okay with that, I chose not to rush it and let this trek be exactly what it was.

At one point, I thought I smelled a skunk, when about 10 feet later, I passed a shelter for Appalachian Trail hikers sitting around a fire, passing around a morning joint. I gave them a smile and a wink, and they all chuckled and waved back. It was neat seeing them, some thru hikers, others split hikers, but all doing something pretty incredible on their own personalized journeys. It was also nice being up on the mountain so early, because I saw very few people. It was quiet and peaceful, like I belonged to the mountain. The overlook at the top of Jumpoff Trail and Charlie’s Bunion were incredible. Standing at the top, I was glad I didn’t rush, that I enjoyed every step and climb, grabbing onto tree branches to help pull me up onto those steep parts. It didn’t matter that I didn’t run the whole thing. I didn’t compare this hike to yesterday’s, and I didn’t force it to be tomorrow’s. It was exactly what it was, and it was amazing. I thought about today, and the ways that it’s different from yesterday. And tomorrow, undoubtedly will be as well. And that’s okay. Today deserves a chance. Today deserves to be today. Patience. Trust. Patience. Trust. Give it a chance.

Dottie and I made camp at Elkmont Campground near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Tucked away in the woods, the scenery is incredible. It’s true camping here. No hookups, no water, just a little slab of nature you can call your own for the night.

Once camp was made, I ventured the town a bit, drove by Dollywood and through the town squares of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. I made a run to Walmart to grab a couple of groceries....I’ll say this, and only this. I’m from the south. There are incredible sites to see in the southeast United States, but smalltown Walmarts in the south never ceases to leave me with vivid images that remain in my mind forever.





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  • Your voice is beautiful, I love it. And, you are so so right. There is a season for it all, for all of us. And it is a nice feeling, to speak and know you are among friends. There always was and always will be, another season to get to know, to explore, to mingle with, to love, to laugh, to cry over, to allow…
    “The time has come the walrus said, to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and ceiling wax, of a cabbages and kings. Of why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.”
    Don’t know why that poem came to me, but it did! I love following your journey and occasional tid bits of truth.
    Peace & love.

  • Haven,

    I loved your name the first time I heard it. You are Beautiful inside and out. You are a true inspiration to many, I love reading your words, wish I had the guts to do what you are doing, living off the grid. Keep writing , taking great photographs, and living your dream.
    Victoria Hagen

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