darling, let’s be adventurers

It’s awful hard for me to sit still.

I mean, I’ll take a weekday-night Netflix binge on the couch like a BOSS….but usually I’m just aching to keep going, even if I don’t know what I want to do. I’m always looking towards what’s next, and once that’s over, trying to figure out what I can shoot for afterwards.

The weeks surrounding this one are full of adventure. From our spontaneous day in Chattanooga and the Natchez Trace road trip to Muscle Shoals a couple Sundays ago, to a girls-only wine trail trip in Illinois, to the beaches of Florida and eventually up to Ohio, then coming back home for Pilgrimmage Festival….well, I won’t be sitting down for long over the next month.

But these trips and experiences aren’t just about keeping busy. I’m finding that I have a lot to learn and gain from each of them, whether it’s just making memories, or spending time with new people, or giving special attention to those that most deserve it. I leave each of these trips with new inspiration and stories to tell, some of which I’m still trying to figure out, because they’re not truly mine to share.

This past weekend was the trip I just mentioned to Southern Illinois. It’s not a place I ever could have imagined I’d enjoy so much or look forward to visiting once again. But this trip was a big stepping stone for me. Come to think of it, I don’t believe I’ve ever been on a true “Girls Trip” with my peers. I pride myself on being a ‘Yes’ person, but the truth is I often bow out of situations that are outside my comfort zone. This trip, however, felt like a chill and easy way to do that – so when offered the chance, I jumped on board. And I’m so glad I did.

We stayed in an old early 20th century farmhouse that was eerily reminiscent of the home we’re cultivating for the Writers’ Colony I’ve previously mentioned. Of course, it had its own unique charms, but revealed a lot to me about the vibes that our visitors experience upon entering the place I spend all my weekdays and tend to take for granted. It was incredibly interesting to view this parallel business in light of the things I know we can contribute to the Colony property – it made me feel like a real business woman. On top of that, hitting the road with three awesome women, as a part of that group, made me feel like an independent adult. It’s easy to get stuck in your own head, to feel like the same little girl you’ve always been, the girlfriend or the daughter. But getting out of your element and out of your comfort zone, it’s very freeing. I know I’m not saying anything new here, but just go with it. Because it’s important.

When it came to packing, I had these intentional plans to spend my evenings staying up late in my private room, reading “Women Who Run With the Wolves” and working on my latest idea for a novel. And I’ll be honest…none of that actually happened. Instead, I spent hours sitting out on this giant front porch, waiting for the moon to rise, discussing life and love and politics with people I’ve now come to know. And that was probably the best experience for me at this point in my life, anyways. Focusing on your career and your art is great…but focusing on your humanity – that’s really something.

There was no TV, no internet browsing, no chores or responsibility aside from deciding which wineries and restaurants we were going to check out that day. Taking our time in the morning, sipping on coffee, rocking on the porch swing. It was beautiful.

PLUS, Illinois had a ton of surprises in store. Breathtaking views, fantastic local live music, cheap (and really tasty) eats, and last but not least….a little Weird. On our way out of town, we stopped in Makanda. That’s Muh-Can-Duh for all y’all out there who’d prefer to pronounce it otherwise, as I did. Also, for just FYI, Vienna is Vy-enna; Versailles is Ver-Sales and so on and so forth. But I digress….

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Makanda was one of the locations that experienced totality in last year’s solar eclipse, which of course means it’s chock-full of artsy spiritual stuff. And is exactly why we had to pay it a visit. On the end of a tiny row of shops was this little blacksmith’s shop. You walked in to see all these gems and crystals hanging on forged metal chains, finely crafted bracelets and rings. But once you were done perusing the shop, there was more to see. After a creepy hallway filled with your typical creepy-store-from-a-movie-where-the-owner-is-most-likely-going-to-sell-you-a-mask-that-sticks-to-your-face (Thank you, Goosebumps, for the nightmares), you come out on this huge garden, just nestled in the middle of town. It was full of odds and ends, sculptures, overgrown plants, cast-iron gates, ‘Danger’ signs, and doorways and staircases leading to, basically, nowhere. It was so cool, the pictures don’t even capture the feeling.

We spent a few minutes exploring and made our way back out, where I bought a cool ring and we watched some bloodied teenagers film a local horror movie. Then we piled in our car and hit the road. It was kind of surreal. My friend, a native of a neighboring town, revealed that Makanda was the kind of place where you never really knew what went down there, such as the elusive Vulture Fest taking place next month, which lead into an enthralling discussion of cult, murder and suspense documentaries. So that made me feel pretty good about the jewelry I’d just placed on my finger, that’s for sure. Still, it’s pretty, so I think I’m gonna go ahead and take my chances.

We fast forward to the Return, because coming home was a story all its own – a mixture of relief and the sobering realization that I now ‘got’ to go help load up 120 bales of hay on the trailer in the 90 degree heat. It was a shock to my system, but also a welcome one. Plus, I missed my guy. But it was good. It was really good for both of us. Whether you do it with your significant other, a new group of friends, or completely alone – adventure is healthy. It’s an escape. And it’s worth the risk. Plus, less than 3 days after my return, we’re bracing to hit the road for a 10-hour drive to Florida, podcasts and playlists in cue. Let the adventure continue!

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