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I am in awe of the woman who made this dream come true.
As I lie tucked into the blankets in my van under a cold starry sky, next to a glacial lake on a mountain pass somewhere near the borders of Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon, I am in awe of the woman who made this dream come true.
The woman who thought about every detail right down to the waterproof king-size blanket for the bed, which has kept dog pee and wet dog and shower water and dog drool and an entire spilled Brita pitcher from getting onto the sheets and the mattress. The woman who researched and ordered and put together a hundred things to make this van a home. The woman who did this so quickly and efficiently and with such focus and dedication to the idea of making it to Alaska before the end of the summer.
The woman who kept dreaming of life on the road and spent years trying to figure out how to make it happen, first starting her own business, then buying an Element, then seeing a Roadtrek parked outside the carpet store in Vermont on the way home from the fertility clinic and becoming obsessed until she owned one a month later. The woman who started writing about all of it.
The woman who consolidated her retirement plans just in time to cash them out, and figured out how to get a $10,000 credit card loan and create her own car payment for five years. The woman who knew she would rather have this 1999 camper van than a new car.
The woman who knew it was time to go; who blew up and got fed up until there was no other option. The woman who listened to her rage. The woman who listened to her heart. The woman who had the courage to take everything she had an a lot she didn’t have, put all her chips on the table, go home all in on her dream.
The woman who spent a month packing the van, then burst into tears when she finally pulled out of the driveway, turned the corner, and lost sight of her home and her husband, knowing deep down that she might not be back for a very long time. The woman who feared she would be back before she even got started.
The woman who white-knuckled a 24-year-old van for 5000 miles, through Biblical storms and gale-force winds and smoke that obscured the sun. The woman who watched a coyote and a lynx and a black bear and moose and a caribou and a herd of bison cross the road in front of her while she drove hundreds of miles without passing a gas station. The woman who drove from her house in New Hampshire to the Arctic Circle in 16 days.
The woman who made it to Alaska and collapsed. The woman who let herself crumble so she could rise from the ashes again.
The woman who hiked alone in grizzly country and squeezed through an ice cave beneath a glacier and slept on the side of the highway alone night after night after night, even as it rained and poured and then temperatures dipped below freezing and snow started to fall.
The woman who brought her two dogs along and treated them like her children, waking up to snuggles and kisses and belly rubs every morning, listening and tending to their needs, running trails and climbing mountains and throwing balls along rocky beaches.
The woman who dove into a glacial lake with icebergs floating in it, then camped next to the ocean to watch surfers and belugas ride the bore tide. The woman who got stuck for weeks in the van in the rain with two wet dogs, and feared the sun would never shine again.
The woman who learned to change a tire and check the oil and jumpstart the battery and has so far done two of those three things on her own. The woman who got a new battery installed when the jumpstart didn’t work.
The woman who took herself out to dinner at a theater pub and saw Hamilton on Alaska Broadway after not leaving her house for three years. The woman who woke up to nightmares about her dog and her family and her life, day after day. The woman who went to bed with her jaw and her throat and her chest so constricted, so tense, so painful that she couldn’t sleep.
The woman who showers every night by rolling up the hallway rug, opening the bathroom door and pulling a curtain around a track in between the refrigerator, the toilet, and the bed, then unplugs the drain in the floor and sprays her body clean. The woman who sometimes goes three or four days without showering.
The woman who didn’t see stars for a month because it was always light out, and welcomed them back under one of the darkest skies she had ever seen. The woman who was so afraid of the dark that she stargazed standing in the safety of the steps to the side door of the van. The woman who stayed up all night to look for the northern lights even though she never found them.
The woman who struggles to cook and clean and take care of herself. The woman who wonders every minute of every day what the future will bring, and holds space for all the possibilities.
The woman who spent an entire morning in bed sobbing for the children she will never have, and apologizing to them over and over and over, and contemplating what she would sacrifice if she were given a second chance. The woman who can’t imagine being anywhere else but here, next to this glacial lake beneath these snowy peaks under this starry sky waiting for the northern lights to come out.
I admire her courage, her strength, her honesty. Her fearlessness and her willingness to do the things she is most afraid of. Her vision and her commitment to follow it even when it doesn’t make any sense. Her sense of adventure and her trust in her intuition. Her ability to laugh at herself and her circumstances, even when she steps in her dog’s poop and doesn’t realize until she climbs into the van. Her trust that there is a beautiful life waiting for her, and she is on a quest to find it.
I admire the woman I was last year, six months ago, last month, a week ago, yesterday, and today. The woman who lost five babies in three years and then committed to a new dream.
She got me to Alaska. She is still going. Her dreams and her confidence are growing, day by day. This feels like the beginning not just of a new chapter but of a new life.
I’m so glad she took me along for the ride.
I can’t wait to see where we will be tomorrow.
I have some free resources on my life coaching website that I’ll share for those of you who are following your own dreams and growing through the process:
My workshop on “How to Ditch Perfectionism and Follow Your Dreams” talks about how to figure out what we really want in life and work with the parts of us that hold us back:
My workbook “Who are You Becoming?” offers some simple reflections to navigate any transition in life:
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