I was walking around my neighborhood the other day, as I do nearly every day. I don’t always take the same route and I don’t always plan it out in advance. But this was a route I’d taken many times. When I am walking, I typically keep my eyes on the trees and the flowers as well as watching out for cars and for uneven pieces of side walk that stick up. (I have tripped many times.)

It was a clear sunny morning. I happened to look up along the horizon. There was the top of Mt. Rainier looming above. I don’t remember ever having seen it on this route. But perhaps, I was not looking at the right time. I have spent 40 of my 49 years living in this part of the world. It is only a 30 minute drive to the house in which I grew up. I have seen Mt. Rainier many many times, thousands of times.

I couldn’t even see the whole mountain. Nonetheless, I gasped and reflexively put my hand to my chest. The mountain itself, though about 100 miles (160 km) away, is incredibly majestic, even in partial view. There is some disagreement, but standing at 14, 409 feet (4392 meters), it is the highest mountain in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Even from my neighborhood in Seattle, I could see the sun glistening on the ice of the glaciers. America, the Beautiful, right in front of me.

I have been working pretty hard lately, working more hours than I had planned to at least for the next couple of years. But I have my reasons and some of them, like the fact I am having to work more to cover a marked decrease in my collection rate for my business, are not pretty.

Some of the reasons, however, are pretty. I am working more to help pay to take more vacations. This month, my husband and I will spend a childless five nights on the Oregon coast. Next month, we will drive across the border into Canada to visit parts of Vancouver Island that we have not previously visited as well as reconnecting with the city of Vancouver, which is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been. I take another couple of days off to go hiking with John’s aunt and uncle, who will be visiting us for the first time in Seattle. In August, I am taking time off to visit with dear friends from out of state. In September, my family travels to North Carolina for a much anticipated wedding and a celebration of our kid’s 17th (!!!!) birthday!

Then the plan is for the work-a-thon to end. No worries, I am already scheduling patients in September and I am taking care to go back to my old ways of not working full time hours. My energy level typically drops in late October, anyway, as the daylight hours grow shorter. Today, we will have 16 hours of sunlight. I’m not coming home from work in the dark. I have been gardening and doing home projects, like getting my home organized again!

But it is true that when I work more hours, I tend to live less in the present, to keep my head down, shoveling. These are also times of greater stress, when it is easy to borrow trouble in life and to expect bad things to happen.

It is good to look up to the surprise of a mountain’s majesty. It is important for me to remember that there are good surprises in life.

My husband and I took a three hour drive to get up close and personal with Mt. Rainier a couple of weekends ago.

My husband and I took a three hour drive to get up close and personal with Mt. Rainier a couple of weekends ago.