Leaving a Trail – Forging Ahead


trail-copy“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been known as a collector of “treasures.” A few awards, some mementoes collected over time, most given to me by others, lined a shelf in my office at The Salvation Army in Syracuse. There was my magic wand, all social workers need one of those, of course, and a duck one of my managers gave me because she thought of me as the Mama Duck, and the Family Services management team as my ducklings.

eagle-copyAnother of my favorites was a small framed picture another manager gave me of an eagle soaring with a Knute Rockne quote that read: “Leadership: Eagles do not flock, you find them one at a time.”

I believe that a big part of my work has been to help others learn to soar, to rise as high as their wings could go, and for my managers, to also help them discover the leadership I saw in them, to assist and guide as they cleared away any obstacles they might face, and to live with the integrity and values foundational to leaders. At least this was what I tried to do, modeling my leadership on Bobbie Schofield, our Executive Director. I think the entire executive team did the same because Bobbie inspired us so. She was an expert at finding the eagles among us, and seeing eaglets even amid a world filled with ugly ducklings.

emerson-quote-copyIn downsizing to move to my new house, I have pared away many of these items. However, a stone with a motto on it that I chose for Doug now resides on my new desk in my new home. It reads, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

I’m keeping that one.

In the woods behind my house when I was growing up, there were many paths. Some were well-worn, beaten into hard bare earth by many feet, and there was one major thoroughfare, a shortcut from our neighborhood to our school…we all followed that one.forest-path

But my favorite thing to do was to go exploring off the beaten path, searching for “discoveries.” J.R.R Tolkien described Bilbo as someone who looked at maps and questioned what lay beyond the borders of the known. That is me, too.

I love solving puzzles, meeting new expectations, living up to challenges, acing tests, designing new ways to serve an unmet need, learning new things, discovering new tidbits of interesting information, creating hypothesis and seeing if they are true, daring myself and others to go further and do more…often with less. I honed many of those skills over a lifetime, and have taken them into many unforeseen pathways.

For 2017, the latest unexplored territory will be our retirement.

unknown-adventure-copyFor a while yet, since we moved in December, it will be figuring out our house and where to fit things…and deciding some things no longer fit. As spring comes, our new yard, a pretty blank slate, will also await. So, I know there will be lots of digging in my future. And of course, there are still this blog and my book…I need to get back on track with my agent and publishing quest now that our move is almost behind us.

magic-wand-copyWhat else awaits is…unknown! What a gift! A new lease on life to discover.  New directions, maybe new work, volunteering – All kinds of possibilities to explore.

As always, I will try to leave a trail….and just in case, if you want, you can borrow my wand.

Until then, I will close out the end of this momentous year with a poem that came to me as thoughts of Dylan Thomas and Thoreau rolled through my head as I wrote this:

The Path to a Deliberate Good Night

No need to rage if life is passionately lived,                                                                           Embraced, delved, explored, even in twilight times.                                                                          The barest bones contain the sweetest marrow.

No need to abandon gentleness, goodness, caring.                                                                  Even tears shed in farewell, especially tears,                                                                         Reflect the light of love found in shooting stars.

No need to fear approaching darkness,                                                                                           Shine a light for another, raise high your lamp,                                                                               And you can always see your path.

Sing, sing away the sunset of the dying day,                                                                             Love, love away the night till morning come,                                                                                   Live, live, and leave behind a path past the horizon.

Happy New Year my friends.

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About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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12 Responses to Leaving a Trail – Forging Ahead

  1. Clive says:

    Happy New Year to you too. May you find many exciting new paths as you move into the next stage of life 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      It’s a rainy grey start to the New Year here, leading to a sort of sad nostalgic feeling. Not the best way to start off the year. Usually, I am a die-hard optimist, but I feel very challenged by current events. The energy of the move is giving way to “settling in,” and while that feels comfortable in our new home which we are loving, our national state creates horrific feeling within. At least, Brexit’s worst seem gradual, at least by comparison in what we can see over here, probably damaging, but appearing survivable for you at least. I fear (truly fear) ours may not be and he can only go so long on “bread and circuses” before his groups will demand red meat. Decline and decay or implosion, not great choices for either of our lands.

      However, not being in charge of that, I will live and love and laugh with family and friends in the tiny sliver of the world 🌎 I can touch and try to help make it better! First start for me will be going to a church today. It will be strange to think of Doug no longer being the pastor (and he is a GREAT preacher) but I need a new church home, so time to go check out a few and see if any feel “homey.” I hop I haven’t been too gloomy, dear Clive! My intrinsic positive attitude will reassert. Thank you for your friendship and may many blessing await you in the coming year! Love, Jo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Clive says:

        Our New Year has begun like yours, grey days that fit the mood. As you say, we live in countries which have seemingly voted themselves onto uncertain – potentially damaging – paths and we can but hope that the reality turns out better than we fear. But I’m not holding my breath for that! It would at least be good to get some flesh onto the skeletons of meaningless phrases. ‘Make America great again’ seems to mean ‘let’s go back to the 1950s,’ while ‘Brexit means Brexit’ basically means ‘we haven’t a clue what we’re doing, or why.’ Hopefully my cynicism will be proved wrong! But yes, let us look for the positives which can be found in new beginnings and in trans-global blogging friendships. I hope your new church is to your liking, and that you can become involved in your new community. It’s good to know that you’ve settled well into your new home. May it be the beginning of a great year for you. Love, C 😊

        Liked by 3 people

      • joanneeddy says:

        And much love and many positive thoughts for you as well, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. thejuicenut says:

    What a beautiful post, Jo! I’m sorry I’m late to the party, we had such a busy week of family visits over Christmas and New Year and needed several days of rest and recuperation before I could focus on the longer posts that required full concentration. Happy New Year to you too! I also feel trepidation but determined to be optimistic. This is already being sorely challenged when I read on Twitter about the destruction of your Ethics committee. Not a good start. However, like you, I have decided to focus on those near and dear to me, where I hope I can help if only with moral support. I am pleased to see you are settling into your new home nicely. It is cold, grey and damp here too, but I am grateful for small mercies: at least we don’t have snow or floods or hurricanes. Onwards and upwards! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A deep and achingly lovely reflection, Joan. Sending my best wishes as you face another transition that will present new opportunities for you to weave your special brand of liberatory magic. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hello, Jo. I felt as though I’d returned to a warm and welcoming place, as I read your post. It seems (from FB) you are weathering the many changes well and enjoying retirement and being closer to family. The spring is getting closer and I know you’ll share the evolution of your new gardens with all of us. Happy 2017, my friend. Clare

    Liked by 2 people

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