The Long and Winding Year

My twenty-seventh year of life may wind up being the best one, or at least the one where I did the most, grew the most, and had the most fun. Planning the incredible adventure of walking across half of North Dakota, to say nothing of actually doing it, is only one of the many life-changing things I will have experienced over the course of a year. When I think about how the walk will fit in with everything else, I do have some sense of wanting it to be a way to take a break from a fast-paced, detail-crammed existence. On the other hand, I love how my life has been over the past several months. It will probably be good for me to slow down and pare down my surroundings to a minimal level, but I will miss all the things I do and people I’m in contact with.

Here is a chronological breakdown of my year so far (starting June 2010): Deciding to quit my preschool teaching job and move for a year to where my fiancé lives (mid- June). Short but intense trip to Chicago (mid-July). Moving my stuff to my new town, then spending a month in my hometown of Bismarck (August). Visiting my brother in Colorado, hiking to the top of my first mountain, and deciding to participate in the ND walk (early September). Studying for the GRE while settling into life with my fiancé (September-October). Taking the GRE and starting the process of applying to grad schools (October-November). Starting two new jobs relating to my future editing career, one as a writer and the other as copyeditor and food columnist (December).

That brings me to this month, and ever closer to March, when I will be getting married. Wedding planning has occurred throughout the year, but is really ramping up now. It will be a relatively simple wedding, but I have been learning that even simple weddings can consist of approximately two trillion little details, and suck up lots and lots of time.

You now know probably far more about my life than you ever wanted to, but you can also understand that although nothing could dampen my excitement for the ND walk, the preparation for it is competing with several other important things for my time, energy and intellect. And in writing this post, I have realized that same thing anew. I am daunted by all that remains to be done before the walk takes place, but I am also proud of myself for sticking with this project in the midst of so much else. Knock on wood—I may find that I’m in over my head and bring down the rest of the team by being pulled in too many directions. But for all my faults, I am an organized, efficient, high-energy person, and I think I’ll be able to get ‘er done. If I don’t, the guys can stick me with the lumpy sleeping bag each night. As for being apart from my husband, friends, and the other elements of my life, I will have to prepare for that perhaps more carefully than anything else.

Me at 7,613 feet: the peak of Greyrock Mountain outside of Fort Collins, CO.


About Gwen

Gwen is a Moorhead-based editor, writer, and musician. She owns Content & Contour, LLC ( and teaches french horn at North Dakota State University. She loves weightlifting, reading novels, spending time with her family and friends, and being a board member of the Moorhead Business Association. View all posts by Gwen

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