"Any arbitrary turn along the way and I would be elsewhere; I would be different." ~ Frances Mayes

After losing 112 pounds in almost a year and a half, I have come to realize how very much I was missing. I may be Late to the Party, but I am doing my best to catch up in my own unique way!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November Word of the Month

We are full steam into November and it is time for Word of the Month, so here goes:

"Remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.  You might step unto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept."~ J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

At 58, I have learned some things, many things in fact, and it amazes me that the older I get, the more I learn.  Here's one of the things I know:  Sometimes we are so set in our ways that to even imagine breaking away from our routines is daunting. But don't be afraid to change your plans at a moments notice! Wonderful things can happen!

 My birthday was on Sunday, October 10th.  And where was I at 9:00 a.m. on that recent Sunday morning?  Hiking the Appalachian Trail up to Lover's Leap in Hot Springs, North Carolina, an arduous but fun endeavor.  After lunch, Ed and I completed yet another different trail hike and were on our way to hike one more when we got sidetracked.  We were driving on a gravel road following the French Broad River and had somehow missed the trailhead.  As we prepared to find a place to turn around, there was a bend in the road and I wanted to see what lay ahead.  What I saw piqued my curiosity, and from that point on, we abandoned our immediate plans and forged ahead.  We had come upon an area known as the Paint Creek Corridor in the Cherokee National Forest just over the Tennessee boundary with North Carolina. Once we committed to the adventure, we never looked back.

We had entered the forest primeval - a shadowed, magical, mystical place. The road was paved but that was just about the only modern thing we saw for miles.  The temperature had been 80 degrees at the entrance; it dropped 15 degrees in less than 10 minutes.  At 4:00 p.m. it looked like 7 at night.  Paint Creek twisted and turned as we followed its course.  Further into the forest, there began to appear picnic areas on the banks of the creek and local families were preparing to start fires and grills to enjoy a crisp fall evening.  What struck me, however, was the quiet.  No loud yelling, no loud cars, no radios, just the occasional sound of a voice mixed with the constant sound of the mountain stream rolling and tumbling over ancient rocks. It reminded me of a church sanctuary with its sense of reverence and holiness and I suppose others felt that too, thus the subdued nature of sounds.

Several times we almost turned around because we didn't have a clue as to where we actually were or  how long it would be before we reached an end and entered civilization again.  But we pressed on, both Ed and I wanting to see what was around the bend.  Our curiosity paid off in the forms of two waterfalls.

Dudley Falls

Kelley Falls

Another view of Kelley Falls
 As the road continued its twists and turns, there was a portion of the stream where trout fishing is allowed and we stopped to watch one fisherman casting and retrieving his line, like a well-choreographed dance.

When we reached what would turn out to be almost the end of the road, there was a campground, equally as quite and peaceful as the rest of the park. We had traveled approximately 5 miles, but it had taken us over an hour or more to get to the end and by the time we made our way back to the highway via a different route and into Hot Springs, it was much too late and dark to take on any more hiking and thus we ended our hiking adventure weekend on that note.  The surreal images of a pristine forest and stream imbedded themselves into my mind and I carry them as some of my favorites memories of that trip.  I wouldn't have missed that drive for anything, even though it was completely unplanned and uncharted on our schedule.

And that brings me to our November Word of the Month: Serendipity.  Doesn't it roll off the tongue delightfully?

Serendipity is a noun meaning "an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident."  If we never venture off the beaten path or veer in any other direction than straight ahead, think of all the wonderfully fantastic opportunities and delights that may literally be just around the corner.  It is remarkably freeing when serendipity presents itself all by chance, a gift really, to be opened in two ways, one being slowly and deliberately, savored to the nth degree, or two, by maniacally shredding off the wrapping and revealing the contents immediately. 

Both have their merits, as long as you, the recipient squeal with joy, literally or figuratively!  Children understand serendipity so much better than adults and it is shamefully woeful that we lose the art of serendipity with each passing year.  As grown-ups we make excuses, sometimes for no reason at all, and miss going out to lunch with friends, or taking the time to make a sidetrip on a vacation, or engaging in conversations with complete strangers. 

It reminds me of the quote from the movie Forrest Gump: "Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you're gonna get."   But I maintain that if you never buy the box of chocolates in the first place on a whim for yourself, or never open it, or you use the enclosed diagram which shows exactly what each piece of candy had inside, then you have missed the adventure.

 I think this is why I love yardsales so much, because I never know what I may find.  Case in point, I just recently came upon a pair of snowshoes, of all things, at a yardsale.  I have wanted an old pair of snowshoes to decorate the front door or hang over my mantle for Christmas all my adult life! They were tucked back into a corner and had been overlooked by all the other people there. They were meant to be mine. No questions asked, I paid the asking price of $4 on the spot. Serendipity!

My advise is to loosen up, enjoy the ride.  Learn to say yes!  Do something out of the ordinary; depart from your routine.  I would rather have one great evening of serendipity in a magical forest than live a thousand years of boredom.  I hope you find your own serendipity today or this weekend.  Above all else, don't be afraid!

Postnote:  My friend Evelyn found her own form of serendipity this past weekend.  She and Forrest, her longtime best friend of nine years, eloped to Las Vegas for a romantic wedding just for two.  Congratulations, Evelyn and  Forrest! I hope your lives are filled with sweetness and joy and contentment and, most of all, serendipity.  It is in serendipity of life and love that the other three ingredients are often found.  Treasure the quiet times that everyday life brings, but embrace the unknown adventures that lie before you.  Here's to love!


  1. Serendipity...it does roll off the tongue! What an awesome and wonderful post, thank you!

    Blessings and Hugs'

    p.s. Congratulations, Evelyn and Forest!!!

  2. Discovering your wonderful blog was a serendipitous bit of luck. Your photos are breathtaking. Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a wonderful post my Friend. And perfect for this early Saturday morning. I awoke to a feeling of "I need to shake things up a bit." And so... I do believe I've discovered a little Serendipity myself. If all goes as planned now, meaning I can get all the pieces to fall in to place, cause there are some things you can't just skip out on, I will definitely be "shaking things up" this Thanksgiving and Christmas. WHOO HO!
    Love this. Reminds me of dh and I "exploring" last weekend. We never knew ANY of what we discovered was there. Serendipity!
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Hugs! Karen