18 Feb

Last week was a stressful week.  Not because of any one thing, but more in that slow building “time is getting away” sort of way.  There wasn’t enough time to get things done, and I kept feeling like I was letting people down. Work stuff went out late, blogs didn’t get written, emails and texts didn’t get returned.  I considered it a good day if I managed to feed myself at least twice.

By Friday evening, I was done.  I hit send on a report for work that I knew wasn’t my best by far, and shut off all the electronics.  Except for my phone, which I used to call my mom.  Calling mom makes everything better.  Then I sat on the couch and watched five episodes of Star Trek: TNG.

Worf sees you judging me. It's not wise to anger the Klingon.

Worf sees you judging me. It’s not wise to anger the Klingon.

On Saturday, I woke up feeling restless and trapped, like I’d been in one place for too long and I had to get out.  This wasn’t a new feeling for me.  When I get stressed, my OCD flares up. My mind churns up all the failed interactions and times I’ve let people down.  If I can’t shut it down quick enough, the guilt gets overpowering. After that, the best way to get my brain to stop obsessing is to give it something beautiful to look at.

When I was in college, I used to drive half an hour down the highway to Calloway Gardens.  For the non-Georgia folks, Calloway is a botanical garden, wildlife rescue center, lake, golf course, vegetable garden, steeplechase track, and holiday wonderland, all in one.  The Calloway Foundation gave a lot of money to my college, and the students got into the gardens for free. As a result, I spent a lot of Saturdays by the lake or among the flowers.

This past Saturday, it dawned on me that not only do I once again live within driving distance of Calloway, but that I live even closer to Pine Mountain and the FDR State Park. Once I realized this, I finally found the drive to get out of bed and into the car.

That drive was the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. I took a state highway, which this far south is a two-lane road with the occasional passing lane. I drove through towns like Luthersville, Greenville, Pine Mountain, and Woodbury.

Yes, Walking Dead fans- I said Woodbury.  It’s a real town in south Georgia.

When you see a sign like this, you know you’re heading in the right direction.

For the record, this is the Woodbury with all the cows. The Woodbury with all the walkers is Senoia, GA.

In Warm Springs, I got off highway 29 (/27/19/41 spur, because there’s only one road and it has all the names) and turned onto Roosevelt Highway.  This is one of the most beautiful roads in Georgia, and it links the city of Warm Springs to the city of Pine Mountain by passing through the FDR State Park.

The benefit of all those drives in college is that I know where all the best viewpoints are along the highway. My favorite is the trail head on top of Pine Mountain. There’s a historical site there, where FDR had a grill built so he could host formal picnics for his friends. The grill has been filled in with cement to preserve it (which I suppose somehow makes sense), but the picnic clearing is still accessible.

And I’ll tell you, the view from up there is incredible.

pine mountain 2

pine mountain

I’d still be up there, if it hadn’t been so windy and bleeding cold on Saturday. Warm air does not rise when you are atop a mountain.

There’s something about a mountain top that always soothes my soul. Pine Mountain is pretty small, even by Georgia standards, but it’s one of my favorite places in the entire world.  Time doesn’t seem to flow the same there as it does off the mountain, and you almost expect FDR and his entourage to appear for their afternoon picnic.

Coming down off the mountain, I took the long way home, making sure to pass through Woodbury to secure the above photos.  It was too cold to open the sunroof, but too beautiful of a day not to at least have the shade pulled back. When I arrive home four hours after I’d set out, I felt happier than I had in several weeks.  Just like in the sky, the clouds were parting and I could see the sun.

This happier feeling led to my decision to attend a photo shoot on Saturday night.  I’d been thinking about the event all week, going back and forth on if I wanted to attend. I’d talked myself out of it at least a dozen times, with reasons such as I didn’t have the money to spare, my costume wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t pretty enough, none of my friends were going, it wasn’t going to end until 1 am and I had church on Sunday, etc.  A phone conversation early Saturday evening with a friend convinced me that I needed to get past the doubt and just go.

For those who don’t struggle with anxiety, the decision to go out on a Saturday night might seem like an easy one. For me, it can involve an hour or two of going over possible conversations in my head, so that I won’t be caught unprepared for a remark. It sounds crazy, I know, but that’s how OCD works sometimes. I’ve made it a point to work on this, and it is getting easier to just go out and be among people.

A big part of me being able to go to the photo shoot was the knowledge that I would be among fellow nerds and geeks. Everyone there would be con-goers, which are on the whole a very accepting group. I packed up my costume and my bag, and drove to Atlanta (and thereby burning the rest of the tank of gas I’d just bought that morning).

Just like my decision to drive to the mountain, my decision to go to Atlanta paid off better than I could have imagined. I met some very cool people, and some very talented photographers. A wizard of a make-up artist even made me look like a proper girl (it’s day two and some of the eyeliner is still on. It’s not a voluntary choice- that stuff is seriously waterproof). I also got some of the best pictures I’ve ever had taken of me in my life.




For the first time in my life, I don’t need someone to tell me that I’m pretty. I don’t need them to look me in the eye and repeat it because I won’t believe them the first time, or the second either. I don’t need that, because this time, I believe it myself. And that is worth way more than the cost of a tank of gas.

So bring it on, universe. I’ve got new friends and Saturday night’s eyeliner on my side. I’ve been to the mountain top, and you can’t bring me down this time.


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