My Pilgrimage Home
I hadn’t called Wisconsin home for nearly fifteen years, but something was calling me back to where everything started.
Where I grew up in Galesville, we had only three seasons: construction season, deer-hunting season, and a long and blustery winter. Even though every ounce of that younger me left rural western Wisconsin for exotic new places, I felt the need to check in with that home of my childhood. I sought familiar places that would spark the dormant memories and welcoming faces of lifelong friends who had become like family—my clan.
I marked a new chapter with this pilgrimage. I went from South Florida and its fast-paced, trendy, congested cities to its polar opposite: this landscape of bluffs, hills, and fields peppered with small- and medium-sized towns, where trucks, cars, and tractors shared the road without meeting a toll or traffic light. The only similarity between the two places? Humidity. If you think Florida is hot and humid, try Wisconsin in July. It’s the height of mosquito and mayfly season.
After a whole day of travel from Fort Lauderdale through Atlanta, Charlotte, and dreaded O’Hare, I was finally on my last leg of what seemed like a trip around the world. I looked out my window as we swooped closer to the Mississippi River, nearing La Crosse Regional Airport, the closest airport to my hometown. I saw the almost mirrorlike limestone bluffs of Wisconsin on one side and its treelined, puzzle-piece twin in Minnesota.
Imagine! It had been five years since my last visit. Although the sights were familiar, this time I saw them with new eyes. I had grown up in God’s country, with its towering bluffs, mighty river, and lush valleys. I had been surrounded by picturesque beauty without truly appreciating how special it was. It took leaving it, traveling the world, and getting a blunt hit in the head to see I grew up in the Garden of Eden—ironic, given that “Garden of Eden” is Galesville’s nickname.
Title: With New Eyes: The Power of Perspective
Author: Heidi Siefkas
Genre: Memoir / Inspiration
Heidi Siefkas lost her health, her career, and her marriage after she was struck by a one thousand-pound tree branch. While she made great strides in her physical and emotional recovery in the months that followed—an arduous process that she chronicled in When All Balls Drop—Heidi wasn’t content to merely survive her setbacks. The time was right to build a new life. One she could live on her own terms.
But what would a redesigned life look like? In her quest for answers, Heidi returned to her childhood home in Wisconsin, dove into the South Florida dating scene, revisited old flames in New England, sold her first home, jumped out of a plane, and traveled alone to South America. Every leg of her journey provided a healthy dose of perspective.
With New Eyes is full of mishaps and bold decisions, all seasoned with sassy humor. Through her signature down-to-earth vignettes, Heidi inspires you to conquer your fears, head for adventure, and be the captain of your own ship.
Heidi Siefkas is an author and adventurer. Originally from small-town Wisconsin, she lives in Kauai and also calls the Midwest and South Florida home. Heidi is currently writing her third book, Cubicle to Cuba, which features a humorous collection of stories about her travels to Cuba, Peru, New Zealand, Italy, and other far-flung places.
Heidi invites you to share photos on social media that show where you are enjoying With New Eyes (#withneweyes). You can connect with Heidi at http://www.heidisiefkas.com, Facebook, and Twitter.