A Close Encounter and 3 Little Reminders

“Watch your step, watch your step,” the voice said to me as I walked through the woods on an evening hike. And then I heard it. The rattling caught my attention first before seeing the rattlesnake’s head, inches from my ankle, posed to strike.

Though many would think this just happens in nature and would write off the experience, I can’t help but dig a little deeper with why almost stepping on a rattlesnake applies to my life in a bigger way.

This is a short post with three lessons learned in the one day of processing. Here goes!

1. The Voice

Some might call the voice I heard… something only a crazy person would hear; Some might call it an inner guide; some might call it a conscience (though typically that term is used for moral choices rather than something that occurs outside of your control); I call it the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides me daily—beyond my knowing how or why. Sometimes I hear Him clearly, other times not at all.

We are all guided by different voices.

Maybe we hear the lingering voices of our parents when they taught us right from wrong when we were children. The voices of our peers and friends with influence in our lives when we seek advice, stand out strong sometimes. Then there are the voices on ads with a constant drip of “buy this now.”

Voices are all around us, communicating, telling, sharing, influencing. And we need to be careful which voices we pay attention to and why.

I’m grateful for the quiet voice saying to me, “Watch your step,” as I hiked quickly through the woods. I would surely have stepped on the rattler’s tail. That and had I not heard the rattling tail itself. What are you listening for? Who are you listening to? Warnings of protection are there for us to learn and glean from if we’re willing to stop and listen.

2. Independence doesn’t mean I shouldn’t communicate plans

The second lesson of my encounter with the rattle snake is that I was 100% alone in the woods and had not communicated with anyone that I was hiking, nor where I was going. I’m used to the paths and trails around my community in the hills and mountains. The area is small and most people I bump into are healthy, kind hikers and bikers. I typically have SOME cell phone service; I never venture too far on my own, and genuinely feel comfortable and safe when I’m alone in the woods.

But no one knew I was there. And what if something HAD happened?

I take for granted my independent nature and safe surroundings. Until it’s not safe anymore.

I wonder if I had communicated other things through the years, would I have strayed so far down paths I didn’t belong? Would I have been more aware of danger with people and situations?

Maybe I’m the only one who just trusts that things will “turn out alright” as I act independently and go through my days… even if I am, I’m reminded once more to communicate with those around me better than I do. I can be independent with my time and plans, and still be safe with communicating said plans with those around me.

3. Don’t give into fear but, be wise and knowledgeable

This is HUGE. It applies to the rattlesnake and to me. The rattle was the snake’s warning. Thank GOD I heard and listened. But even after freaking out, (I’ll never forget seeing his head poised to strike just as I realized he was under my feet), I went back to the snake for a video and then continued on with my hike. I was jittery the rest of the hike, but didn’t just turn around and give up.

Yes, there are dangers in the world, unexpected ones that catch us by surprise even if we have the BEST communication and plans in place, but we are not to give up.

I’ve seen SO many people give into fear this last year and a half with covid. I’ve seen SO many people dismiss the dangers of covid like it’s nothing. Neither living in fear, nor acting unwise will get anyone very far in life.

We must continue on the path and journey set before us, as best as possible, despite the obstacles. And we must do so with wisdom and knowledge.

The rattlesnake reminded me I don’t know the best protocol with snakebites in the woods at all, let alone poisonous, perhaps deadly ones. So, I need to read up and be more prepared next time. I need to gain knowledge and insight into the woods that I think I know so well. BUT, I didn’t give up on my hike then, and I’m not going to just stop living my life because of potential dangers. I love hiking too much!

Wisdom, while moving forward with courage is where I choose live. And is the best reminder and takeaway with… that darned rattlesnake.

And honestly? I’m glad I bumped into it. I was able to warn others on the path to use caution. I was nervous for one woman with her dog because I wasn’t sure how the dog would react IF it encountered a snake beyond the point where I did.

Through my somewhat scary experience, I could alert and help others. Just like others have done for me in the past with other things in life.

I’m sure there are MANY other takeaways with the rattlesnake… but for now: Listening to the loving, guiding voices in our lives; Communicating with those around you/ not being so independent; and Not giving into fear while using wisdom and knowledge. These are my biggest takeaways to that VERY close encounter.

Have you ever had a close encounter with danger that taught you a lesson? What was it? What did you learn?

Falling Water

It’s easy to dream of going to far off places. Deserts, jungles, exotic animals, and languages I don’t understand all seem to call my name. But what about exploring close to home? This weekend a friend and I went to a beautifully painted canvas of waterfalls, bridges, and hiking called Ricketts Glen in Pennsylvania. And it was freaking amazing.

Here are a few photos of our day trip:

 

 

Where will you explore next?

The Perfect Statistic.

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The day after Thanksgiving, that beautiful day the US knows as Black Friday really was black for me.

I live outside of a small PA city, a good 25- 30 minutes down a two lane, windy, country road to a closet community where there are houses and not much else.

Except for deer. There are always deer. Farmland and woods make the perfect setting for deer to eat, graze, and live in peace. The road however poses a problem for the deer as cars cruise 45- 60 mph down this road. Throughout the year, each month of each season, dead deer dot the road here and there.

I’ve lived in this area for over a year now, passing deer so many nights. And I’ve had some pretty close calls with hitting deer, but I always felt blessed that it never actually happened.

“No, no deer, you stay there!” I’d say to the deer as I zoomed past. One time I honked my horn at a deer to spook it from the road, which did nothing, the deer stood there and just looked at my car. The saying “a deer in headlights” is a true statement. They stare blankly at your car, stiff, until the last second, when you don’t know which way they’ll run, if they run at all. Countless times the deer have either stuck their neck out and run the other way, or galloped passed and I was blessed enough to see them and hit the breaks instead!

Not this Black Friday. A car and I passed each other on this two lane road, and I was blinded enough to miss the deer running across the road right to my car. I hit the breaks, but not fast enough. The doe was huge, and her rump hit the passenger side of my car with a “Bang!” and sounds of broken glass.

I pulled over, turned my blinkers on, and waited a second to calm down before assessing the damage.

Honestly, I was lucky.

Broken glass, a bent hood, blood and fur, the passenger side of my car was, is, a mess, but even hitting the deer I was blessed.

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My car is driveable. I’m not hurt. And the truck behind me, which was inches from hitting me when I slammed on my breaks, swerved to the side and zoomed into the night.

I called my brother for advice on what to do, the deer had run off into the cornfield to my right, so I was left alone to the damage of my car and delayed evening plans.

I spent the evening making a claim with my car insurance and researching deer accidents.

I discovered that Pennsylvania makes up for 10% of all deer accidents in the USA. November is the most likely time of the year to hit a deer. Between the hours of 5pm and midnight are when deer are most active and people won’t see the deer as quickly, which pop out of nowhere.

When did I hit a deer? 7 pm, November night, in PA.

“A perfect statistic,” I whispered to myself that night after researching.

I was immediately taken back to a day when I sat with a college professor over lunch and told him a pretty painful family situation that was going on at home in Pennsylvania, while I was in school in California.

With a mouthful of salad I said to him, “I feel like a statistic.” His immediate response, Communications professor that he was, “You know, saying you are a statistic sounds like victim language. You are not a victim.”

At the time I felt like a victim. Of loss. Of change. Of a hopeless situation that I was powerless to help. Why couldn’t he see that and have sympathy for me? I was a victim to the situation, or so I thought.

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Fast forward three years, no longer fall of my senior year in college, but fall of 2015 when I hit a deer with a car, statistically this was bound to happen. But I am not the victim of the situation. I am blessed.

Blessed that the car was not more damaged.

Blessed to not be hurt.

Blessed that I have a wake up call to contact my insurance company about better coverage (they aren’t going to pay a dime).

Blessed that I am more aware of deer than ever, and to not take risks looking at my phone, or adjusting the radio on those windy roads. Deer pop out of nowhere!

Blessed that my brother was available to talk me through what to do, and that my mom allowed me to borrow her car when I needed that night.

Bad things happen. And sometimes you can even COUNT on bad things happening statistically. But what is your mindset in those moments? Are you the victim of what’s happened around you?

“If only that other car didn’t blind me.” “If only I had called for better coverage a month before when I first thought of it.” “If only I didn’t live so far out of town where deer run rampant…”

Or do you see the blessings of an exhausting, expensive, discouraging, and sometimes painful experience, to wake up and act?

My goal is not to wallow as a victim, but to think and act as an overcomer with more to learn from life’s little lessons, and to asses my own language and mindsets.

Maybe it didn’t need to take 3 years for Dr. Spencer’s words to make sense and hit home for me, but I’m honestly smiling that I am still learning from the professor whom I haven’t seen in so long.

He was right. My life is so much more than even the perfect statistic.