My eyes cracked open at daybreak. The symphony of sparrows, blue jays and robins filled the air with a lonesome whippoorwill keeping time in the background. It took a moment to adjust to my surroundings, when suddenly; I realized that today…this very day…was my birthday. I smiled as I sat up in the peculiar and unfamiliar environment of the little camper. That’s when it all came back to me…I had done it! I had ventured from my safe and sheltered circle of my traditional reality! It had taken all the courage that I could muster to break my routine and embark on this little adventure, but here I was breathing in the crisp clear air and enjoying the calming scent of vegetation and pine. Twenty years of confinement in a body that had held me captive, created quite a bit of anxiety and angst in regards to conquering the unknown. Camping sounds like a very “tame” venture to most people, however, when one weighs over 500 pounds, just getting dressed in the morning to go out to check the mail, is an adventure! In my skeptical mind, camping was a nightmare waiting to happen! My brain raced with so many potential hazards and pitfalls. To begin…how do I get up the stairs into the trailer? Will the stairs hold me? And what happens when I get inside? Can you even fit into the telephone booth sized bathroom…and the shower….well forget the shower …once you get in…there’s no getting out! Sitting around the campfire sounds quaint and charming until the legs give out on your chair, rolling you into the flames, catching your hair on fire! These are perpetual burdens and concerns faced by portly people. We become so accustomed to NOT fitting in that we grow to accept it. This year I chose to fight that submission. I battled my anxiety and struggled through the sudden panic I experienced upon driving through the Camp gates. Sure, I had lost 250 pounds…but in my head, I was still that 500 pound recluse who had been disappointed so many times. Last weekend, I chose to break free from my stifling comfort zone. I walked up to the menacing little trailer took a deep breath and I stepped up into my little home away from home with ease. I showered every morning, got dressed end even sported a pair of shorts for the first time in 30 years. I spent an evening under a twinkling blanket of stars with a delightful collection of enthusiastic, impressive, remarkable women, who just like myself, were there to conquer their own demons. We sat around a crackling campfire and told stories until late into the night. I walked and explored and came upon the most amazing 100 year old tree, standing proud and strong, next to bubbling stream. The place…the moment…the experience left me breathless. I took a chance; I drove up north and ventured into the forest in search of a birthday celebration that many would consider insignificant and trivial. I am delighted to say that I left with a memory that will last a lifetime. To all of you reading this alone, in your bed, afraid of what is lurking outside of your home…be brave…be courageous…be fearless and fly.