Here I am on my first solo road trip, crossing the Mississippi River.

Crossing Mississippi La CrosseBefore I hit the road for the first time in 2010 I carried a heavy load of guilt and shame for a failed business. Family and friends had backed me and the debt was more than I could hope to repay. I let my life be filtered through the lens of failure.

When you’re on the road, no one knows your back story. People take you at face value. Sure, they might infer things about you or even project some things onto you, but for the most part you control the story.

Sitting beside a truck driver in this coffee shop or a family at that scenic overlook, with no fact checkers around to say, “She didn’t tell you the part about such and such” I had a dozen daily opportunities to introduce myself in a number of ways: as a North Carolinian, as part of a fundraising effort for cancer causes, as someone researching a book…

Listening to myself explore the many facets of my life through these introductions was powerful. The practice was invaluable, even therapeutic.

I share this picture of me getting ready to cross the Mississippi River because it has always been symbolic (to me) of crossing into a new life. A life where I controlled my own story.

So today I want to ask who’s controlling your story? 

If you’re interested in how I embraced my story, warts and all, after returning, hit this link to a radio interview with my local National Public Radio affiliate.