From Trekking the Andes to Sitting in LA Rush Hour Traffic

How did I get here? I’ve asked myself this question quite a few times since landing in LA a little over five weeks ago. Just before I was backpacking into mountain villages in Peru #livingmybestlife. 

abbie-bernet-237683.jpg

In short, I came here to start grad school and got a job to support myself (because life is twice as expensive in SoCal than small town Texas). In many ways, I fulfilled a dream coming out here, and truly I’m grateful. But all dreams come with small moments, too. 

I’m not very good at small moments. Instead, I live for the big, grand adventure, fantasize about taking risks, and constantly have to be doing something. But most of life isn’t like that. Most days it feels small, even when fulfilling a dream. 

I was sitting in traffic a few days ago (I commute an hour both ways to work), and the still small voice started whispering again. Though I leave a little later than most commuters, I’m still making quite a trek from Pasadena all the way to South Bay in Torrance. The elevation changes and so does the temperature, and most days I drive right through downtown. Each time I pass through, I think wow, so this is what it feels like to live in LA

owen-cl-123303.jpg

There are perks, to be sure, but when you haven’t moved in 20 minutes and the podcast you’ve been listening to gets old, it’s easy to lose perspective. The phrase that still voice whispered was “vantage point” and I feel as though I have been given a gift to appreciate the small moments, all of which add up to something really big. 

I’m extremely grateful I had the courage, the support system, and the means to make a big move like this. It’s opened so many things for me. And I want to stay thankful, to see from this vantage point of what a gift this truly is. Today I even thanked God for traffic - I’ve gotten to catch up with friends and family on the phone more than I anticipated, because what else do you do in a car for two hours a day? (I’m also on the hunt for all the podcasts, so HMU if you have suggestions). 

A little over a month ago I was trekking through mountain villages in the Andes mountains - hadn’t showered in days, packed everything in a backpack, and was doing what I love most. But today I’m sitting in the outside patio in front of my office building wearing heels that hurt my feet and eating the cold lunch I packed last night. I actually mourned having to become one of those meal planner people, but it’s honestly the only way to manage eating well when you are gone from 8 to 10. 

I’m sure the small moments will continue to build as my classes at Fuller begin. I imagine myself staying up well into the night writing papers and listening to audiobooks on my drive to and from work. But all of those moments make up a big, God-sized dream - and that’s significant and big and exciting. 

For the first time in a while, I feel as though I have clarity and focus and even an appreciation for small moments. Because I’m seeing from the right vantage point. And because I’m staying thankful. 

A couple days ago at Fuller’s orientation, President Mark Labberton said “smallness is the antipode to worship.” (If you’re like me and had to look up the word antipode, let me save you some time - it’s basically a fancy way to say opposite). When we worship (and stay thankful) in each moment, no matter how small, life gets bigger. And that’s the point at which I want to keep seeing.

Transition: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Two nights before I left for Peru I had a major freakout moment. My poor friends sat and listened to an unfolding of grief, frustration, anxiety, and doubt as tears spilled over and I began to ugly cry - and I mean ugly. Am I really going to move half way across the country? Do I have to start over? Why am I going to Peru, again? Shouldn't I be saving money? Am I going to lose all my friends? Who decides to pick up their life at the drop of a hat like it's no big deal? It is a big deal! Am I crazy?!

The questions began to surface and then everything spilled over, as if it was the first time I had allowed myself to actually feel all of the questions in the back of my head. To be honest, I almost backed out. But after listening to my emotional long winded rant, my two dear friends encouraged me and gave me space to be heard and to simply be. 

I could have chosen to say no to this next step. And it would have been ok. But years ago I decided I wanted to be a yes woman - no matter the cost, no matter the risk, no matter how my actions were perceived by others. So I said yes. And here I am an hour or two outside Pasadena at a sweet little condo at Big Bear Lake getting ready to move all my belongings into my new home. 

Transition has afforded sweet moments, too, to be sure. Two nights ago as my mom and I were driving into the Grand Canyon, we raced to the first viewpoint to arrive at the perfect moment to catch the last of the sunrise over the canyon. It served as a reminder that I'm catching the good moments, arriving at the perfect time. 

Throughout this cross-country journey, I've spent little pockets of space in some of the most beautiful places. We spent the night at a Bed & Breakfast in St. Elmo, Colorado, hiked the Grand Canyon, and walked the trails at Big Bear Lake. Whenever I pause, taking in the beauty of the space around me, it does something in my spirit. It's as if I'm reminded of how big the world is and how small I am. And it's good to feel small. 

More to come on my cross-country road trip (including my tips and recs for long drives!). Thank you for tagging along with my biggest adventure to date!