The Only Thing You Can Control Is Your Attitude

It’s easy to wish your life away. I was living vacation to vacation. During those sweet two-week vacations, I would pursue the things I loved like Zenning out at a yoga retreat deep in the Costa Rican jungle or trekking the Salkantay in Peru or the W in Patagonia. But then and only then would I make time for the things I loved. I was wishing away my nine-to-five lifestyle until the next big trip six months later.

The Turning Point

Last July, I was fortunate enough to take six weeks off work after burning the midnight oil for a little too long. There is nothing like having a whole month to yourself to think back on the past two years in the “real world” with a big kid job. I went to Seattle to visit my amazing sister and brother-in-law, Paris to celebrate my mom’s 60th, Dallas to drink good beer and stay in an Airstream, George Washington National Forest to scramble up some rocks. My life was really not too bad. As the six weeks were coming to a close, I became worried that my time pursuing my hobbies and traveling was over. I knew there had to be a way to balance both work and my hobbies. I had no trips planned (so unlike me) and had to learn how to make the most of my current situation. During my time off and when I was actually in Washington, D.C., during that time, my friend George and I came up with this unsaid agreement that we would opt outside every weekend from there on out. I never even realized this was a thing until we went hiking last weekend and another friend asked if this was our typical routine and if so, how it all started. I’ve made time for my hobbies on weeknights and weekends and have fallen in love with all there is to do within a three hour radius of D.C. Work is no longer my life and when people ask who I am, I can tell them about my passions rather than telling them my job title. My wish for you is to make the most of your time and pursue your hobbies or dreams, whatever they may be.

How to Live in the Liminal Space

It took not planning anything new for three months to learn how to be OK with my day-to-day life. I’m not kidding when I say this was the longest time I’ve gone without having a plan for “where to next?” I had nowhere to be and didn’t know where I was going – I was living in this liminal space. I learned to deal with the anxieties of life and not knowing or being in control by being grateful for what I had and taking time to live in the moment. I took control of my attitude and decided that I didn’t want to be in Dr. Seuss’ “The Waiting Place.” I picked up a new hobby (climbing – I still suck but I love it) and invested in the ones I already knew and loved (backpacking and biking).

Be Present

The end of October rolled around and this idea that had been sitting in the back of my mind for the past ten years started to weasel its way to the front. Bet you can’t guess what comes next. Ah, you guessed it. You’re so smart. I decided I was going to thru-hike the AT.

So I’m over here thinking to myself, “OK, so my next big trip is planned, and it’s the biggest one yet. How do I not fall back into my unhealthy ways of wishing away the time?” I am grateful for all the great people in my life (a few pictured above) so I’ve been focusing on my time with them. I start and end my day by journaling about the good in my life with “The Five Minute Journal.” Some days are harder than others, but there is always something to be grateful for. Yes, I’m super excited for my trip, but I’ve learned that I can wait for it to start.

I know I’m not cured of always wanting more and I’m sure I’m going to want to plan my next great adventure as soon as I come back from the AT. It’s human nature to always want to outdo yourself. I’m all right with this as long as I remind myself to be grateful for the little things in my day-to-day life.

Bringing This Mental Attitude to the Trail

I watched Jennifer Pharr Davis’ National Geographic Live episode yesterday on “Triumph on the Trail.” She reminded me that I won’t be in control on the trail and Mother Nature has a mind of its own. I cannot change how many days or miles I have left. The trail does not care about my comfort levels. There is no point in trying to fight it. The only thing I have control over is my attitude. Despite the hardships I’m bound to run into, I’m going to continue to write down what I’m grateful for that day. While I’m training my legs on a stair stepper leading up to my trip, I’ll also find ways to prepare my mind for those “Appalachian Trials.”

What Quote Has Recently Inspired Me?

“You are going somewhere. Every day. Every experience you get. You’re moving forward.” – Jimmy Chin

What Book Am I Reading?

“Let My People Go Surfing” by Yvon Chouinard

What Podcast Am I Listening To?

“Slowing Down” by TED Radio Hour

What’s On My Playlist?

  1. “Coming Home” – Leon Bridges
  2. “Little Black Submarines” – The Black Keys
  3. “Call Me” – St. Paul and The Broken Bones
  4. “This Too Shall Last” – Anderson East
  5. “Bear Claws” – The Academic

I’ll be updating this playlist with songs I listen to on training hikes and once I’m on the trail.


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Comments 9

  • Ashwin : Feb 6th

    Great post! Love the positive attitude. Looking forward to reading future posts and how you overcome your obstacles (mental and physical) on the AT!

    • Meredith Johnson : Feb 7th

      Thank you, Ashwin! I’ll miss you!

  • Kelsy Filler : Feb 6th

    Awesome read from start to finish! 🙂
    Best of luck on your hike, hope we end up crossing paths.

    • Meredith Johnson : Feb 7th

      Thank you, Kelsy! Hope too see you too. Are you Nobo or Sobo?

  • Marcus : Feb 6th

    A+ quote! Spread dem good vibes on the trail

    • Meredith Johnson : Feb 7th

      Thanks, Marcus! And sure can do 🙂

  • Mayo : Feb 6th

    Good luck on your hike! But please stop spreading the word on how much good stuff we’ve got going on here in the mid-atlantic 😉

    • Meredith Johnson : Feb 7th

      Thanks, Mayo! Haha isn’t this area great?!

  • Sheila : Mar 18th

    Wishing you the Best if Luck on your thru-hike and please be safe! My son is starting 3/23/18 in Ga. He’s so excited! Maybe you guys will cross paths 😊🌲👣


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