Take Time to Go on a Hike

“You can’t Google memories,” 

Nicole remarked as Lauren and Kathleen waded through a stream during the beginning of our Old Rag adventure. We spent the next five or so minutes reflecting on the truth of this statement, realizing that Google will never be able to capture our crazy adventures, late night conversations and tons of inside jokes. Google can’t explain the frequent exclamations of “curious!” or “YEAH you did!” or our random similes (“college is like a belt”). Those are phrases that belong to us and will always carry special meaning. We took this statement as motivation to one, capture our memories through pictures, videos, poems, blogs, etc. and two, make memories worth capturing.

Just one of the beautiful views from our hike up Old Rag.
Just one of the beautiful views from our hike up Old Rag.

We started senior year with the intent to take advantage of as many fun opportunities as we could (while still completing our homework and working), and looking back over these past few weeks, I believe we’ve been fairly successful. Despite weekends and weeks of rainy weather (and maybe a little flooding), we’ve still managed to stay afloat and enjoy ourselves.

JMU would not be the same without these three. I'm thankful we experienced Old Rag (and many more adventures) together.
JMU would not be the same without these three. I’m thankful we experienced Old Rag (and many more adventures) together.

In mid-September, I spontaneously road tripped to Pennsylvania with one of my best friends, Michelle, and her two older sisters. We spent the weekend driving around making pit stops at apple orchards, Amish markets, picnic benches, and last but not least, the Turkey Hill factory. We found cornfields, gravel roads and a Wawa on every corner. Escaping the JMU bubble for a weekend helped to remind me that a lot more happens in the world outside of my six classes. It got me excited for life after college (which is coming up so soon!), but also reminded me that the most important moment is the present one.

Just a peak of the flavoring options at the Turkey Hill Experience.
Just a peek at the flavoring options at the Turkey Hill Experience.

So whether that moment is creating cupcakes out of chocolate chips, graham crackers, marshmallows, Oreos, peanut butter and whatever else we have in our house or doing my physics homework, I’m trying to focus my energy on being fully present rather than worrying about the future.

Our very creative desserts turned out quite deliciously.
Our very creative desserts turned out quite deliciously.

Obviously, this is way easier said than done. I have moments when I find my mind wandering in class as I make a checklist for everything I have to do that day. Or I’m frantically checking my phone or email to make plans to fix the unexpected problem that surfaced. And then there’s the days when I think back to Munich and try to wish myself back, but overall, I’m glad to be at JMU. America has a lot to offer and although Old Rag may not have a Wanderhütte (small restaurants at the summits of popular hikes) at the top, it still has some breath-taking views and a rock scramble unlike any I’ve ever done. And I still got a chance to hear and speak German, although the Germans refused my offer to take their picture.

I took advantage of the beautiful weather and did some homework outside.
I took advantage of the beautiful weather and did some homework outside.

Not every moment has been fun. This semester has had its ups and downs. It may not have started out exactly like we all expected, but as I’ve been learning, it seems that things rarely do. But each moment can be a learning opportunity if I’m willing to take it. It’s easy to get lost in the busyness and run from one activity to the next. But I’m starting to realize the importance of sitting down and doing something just because I want to and not because I have to. The importance of getting enough sleep and the importance of resting. I’ll probably be learning this lesson for the rest of my life, but even the small changes I’ve made (like getting 20 more minutes of sleep) give me more energy and enthusiasm for the day.

“We humans have lost the wisdom of genuinely resting and relaxing. We worry too much. We don’t allow our bodies to heal, and we don’t allow our minds and hearts to heal.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

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