Days Gone By

Posted October 24, 2014 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Hidden 1TrainAt the back of an inconspicuous building in industrial Greenville, SC, history sits silent, slowly rusting in the elements. Deep within the corridors of the once vibrant passenger train cars, the voices of the past call out, longing for days gone by. Train cars of yesteryear transported countless people and their dreams to cities all over America. Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis and points west.

Mothers held tight to their children who had no idea the trip back home to grandmas marked the day their family was torn apart. A young woman spread her wings for the first time and left the security of home in search of her identity and her own way to live life. A doctor answered the call, closed up his practice back east and headed west to provide medical aid on the Navajo Nation.IMG_2303

Each hallway echos with the sound of hope and promise. Each seat holds secrets revealed to a total stranger sitting next to them as tiny towns clicked by out the window. Bellman, porters and conductors mindlessly spouted rote commands to cars of passengers who’s ears were deafened by consuming thoughts of their destination.

Hundreds of miles away to the north, ancient buildings sat abandoned and silent, worn by the fierce winds of Lake Ontario. Railway cars that once carried necessities now rusted on abandoned rails. Just on the other side of the tracks, a graveyard provided the resting place for cars that had seen better days.

Everywhere I looked as I drove through rural upstate New York, I saw remnants of days that had long since retreated into the innermost hiding places of history. Life built up around the history and continued on. Locals don’t even notice the old buildings and other pieces of their past, but I did.

IMG_2306Our history forges our future. Perhaps a young man road that train to Greenville and grew up to become governor and changed the world. Or maybe the old buildings on Lake Ontario housed furs trapped by the Native Americans and grizzly trappers who braved the cold to help America stay warm.

Time does wait for no man. It marches forward with a determination to continue ticking out the hours and days until they become a part of the past, then releases it as if it never were connected. History, on the other hand, is the bedrock of today upon which we build our tomorrows. It is undeniable. Unshakable. Unmistakable. The days gone by point the way. It shows us where we missed and weaves a fabric of hope and future.

I love to reminisce about my days gone by. Yes, even the worst of them are part of who I am and I gain so much wisdom from them. I’m grateful for each one. Many I would not wish to return to but I treasure them all. They whisper to me on a cold dark night. They compel me down the roads of our great nation in search of the heartbeat of America.

Days gone by…

 

Be the first to comment
   

Refused to Give Up on Life

Posted October 22, 2014 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

EDNAI stood in line with other drivers to be assigned a dock to unload my goods when an older black woman sauntered up. When I spoke, a broad smile revealed the absence of all her teeth. Her wild hair was concealed in a well-worn bandana.

She joined in the conversation I was having with another driver about why we do what we do. Edna said she did it “for my babies”.

Once we were docked, she stopped approached my truck and began telling me her story. She told me that trucking or turning tricks were the only two things she could do to earn money. She’d been illiterate and her husband was shot and killed, leaving her with three small children to take care of. She could never give up on life. Edna didn’t want to risk jail so she had someone help her memorize the words on the road signs. She collected bottles and cans on the side of the road and sold them to get the money to get her driver license.

She begged a company to train her how to drive a truck and seeing the determination in her eyes, they reluctantly agreed. That was over twenty years ago. Today, Edna still drives a truck. Her three kids are all grown and each of them went to college, got degrees and are living a wonderful, successful life.

Edna’s children beg her to give up driving. They went together and bought her a home. They’d even pay her living expenses. And yet she keeps driving. I asked her why. She said, I owe this company my life and my baby’s lives. It’s the least I can do. I’ll keep driving until they don’t need me anymore or until I can’t press in a clutch, whichever comes first.

She taught herself to read and devours at least two books a week these days. When her children graduated high school, Edna earned her GED. Her children all came to her graduation ceremony at the community center in the neighborhood where they all grew up.

Edna allowed me to take her picture but only from behind. She is modest and is not given to fanfare. This lady is a hero. When standing at a crossroads with hungry mouths to feed, Edna chose to do the right thing and, by her own report, God rewarded her for it.

When I drove away from that early morning delivery in New Jersey, I felt rich. Like I had taken a dip in warm, liquid gold. I was privileged to have been in the presence of a woman of such determination and will never forget Edna.

A woman of courage.

A woman of conviction.

A lady who refused to give up on life.

 

 

1 Comment. Join the Conversation
   

A Soldier and His Dog

Posted October 20, 2014 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Homeless VeteranSitting at a traffic light on an overpass, I was grateful to have risen above the heavy traffic I’d fought since leaving Charlotte. As I gazed mindlessly at the cars, trucks and general nothingness that one sees when their mind has numbed from hours on the road, my eyes locked on a man sitting to my right at the end of the exit ramp. 

He was not alone. When cars exited the freeway and pulled to a stop, he stood and coached his dog through a series of tricks. Drivers handed money out the window as payment for the great show. The pup jumped up snatched the bills from their hands. The show repeated until the light turned green. Then the dog immediately stopped, sat down at his master’s feet as he sat back down on his duffle bag awaiting the next group of cars.

I could not believe what I witnessed and could not resist the opportunity to meet this man. Fortunately there was a truck stop a half block away so I wheeled my rig in and walked back up to the intersection. I stared deep into his eyes and saw a pride that had been wounded by life and its bullets that pierced his heart. 

His name was Walter. He could have been my brother, or my uncle, my grandfather or father. Years ago, he’d stood in line to sacrifice his life for my freedom. He laced on boots, picked up a gun and went off to fight. The war had not been kind to him. When he returned to the greatest nation in the world, he found it difficult to adjust and walked away from life as he knew it. 

Today Walter and Gigi the wonder dog live in the woods and entertain passersby for a living. He’s happy living a simple life. No worries. No deadlines or stress. No one shoots at him or ridicules him for his work. He just shares his day with his dog and total strangers. He’s living HIS American dream.

Walter, I salute you. Thank you for ensuring that America remains free. Gigi, my hat’s off to you. Your spirit made my heart soar. 

Everyone has a story. When you see someone on the side of the road at an intersection, don’t look the other way. Don’t judge them. They could have fought for you so you can drive that fancy car and have the right to self expression, albeit turning your nose up at someone you don’t even know. Remember that is a person who is dealing with real challenges in life. Never forget that except by the grace of God, any of us could be there. Walter was not a vagabond. He is a war hero. He fought for us in Iraq not once but twice. When I look at him, I don’t see a homeless man. Now that I took the time to learn his story, I see a soldier and his dog.

 

 

1 Comment. Join the Conversation
   

The Heartbeat of America is Alive and Well!

Posted October 17, 2014 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Storm BrewingI wound through the gears headed eastbound from the Kansas-Oklahoma border as an enormous size storm brewed in my rear view mirror. With tons of beef in the back, it was unlikely I would outrun it, at least not for long. The wind increased in force, blowing tumbleweeds across the road as I lumbered along at a governed 58 miles per hour.

I watched as farmers and ranchers prepared for the torrent, while horses and cows nonchalantly munched on grass, completely uncaring that the storm was coming. Grannies in their Buicks hearts raced as they tapped the accelerator, trying desperately to make it home before their shampoo and set was ruined.

I drove and thought about these people, complete strangers with whom I shared a common bond. We are all Americans. I realizedButte in New Mexico that must be the focus of my blog moving forward. I’m a story teller and people are changed by the stories I tell. God has gifted me and I must tell the stories of those I meet along the way.

Last year on the Road to Freedom Bicycle Tour (thanks for riding with me!) I discovered a truth I may have never known had I not pedaled into the backroads of our great nation: the Heartbeat of America is Alive and Well! In this time in which we find ourselves breathing and living, it’s so easy to lose track of that fact.

I feel it my duty- and my privilege- to bring you encouragement by telling the stories of our fellow Americans all across our land. I hope you stay with me for the ride. I trust you will share these stories with those who need to be uplifted.

Cody and Troops Trailer in Small TownI have always been patriotic, proud to be an American. I salute the flag and stand any time I hear our National Anthem, regardless of where I am. My American roots run deep. Since June, I’ve criss crossed the US countless times. I share a wealth with thousands of others I’ve met. It’s the treasure of being American. By birth or by boat, we are Americans and yes, in 2014 the heartbeat of America is alive and well.

I hope you’ll join me as we get reacquainted with America and its amazing people.

1 Comment. Join the Conversation
   

Open Road… Open Mind…

Posted August 27, 2014 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Behind the WheelPeople marvel that I would leave the “real” world behind and become a “Trucker Babe”. After all, truckers are grizzly characters, right? Ummm, not so much. Since taking to the open road, I’ve met nuclear engineers, doctors, former vice presidents of major corporations, and an attorney. Each of them traded in their corner offices and stock options for the highways of our great nation.

Why? They have their reasons. Some lost their jobs and could not get another job in their industry, a very sad yet true state of our economy. Some grew tired of the rat race and decided to escape it all. Still others love the adventure and sense of freedom that being on the open road affords.

What about me, you ask? Let me answer that by telling you a story.

I was four the first time I came close to a big rig. A family friend came for a visit in his truck. When he got ready to leave, he IMG_0939jokingly asked me if I wanted to go with him. I bravely began to climb the steps into the cab. My dad grabbed me and pulled me back. That was one of the most disappointing moments of my life. I really wanted to go.

There is always something “out there” that lures me, compelling me to come just a little farther. Some call it a pioneer spirit in me. Others say I’m an adventurer. All I know is that I’m never satisfied with things, or being in one place. When I’ve been in one place for a while, I get restless. I need to move… to explore… to see what’s over the next hill.

I always thought I was weird but since I began driving a truck, I’ve discovered it’s actually quite common. That’s why physicians gave up their practices and business owners sold out for an 18-wheeled office with an ever changing view. There is a need in each of us to discover… to become… to be in motion.

IMG_0965I’ve said it before but I’m experiencing in a new and BIG way how important it is to follow your dream… wherever that leads. People will not understand. Do it anyway. People won’t believe. Follow your own heart. Some will criticize. Pray for them. They have no idea what they’re missing in their own lives. Above all, be true to the yearning inside you that keeps you looking out there… somewhere… wherever that is for you. If you do, you’ll lay your head upon your pillow at the end of a grueling day and rest in peace and satisfaction knowing you’re doing what you were meant to do.

A very special thank you to all the wonderful folks at Lifeway Christian Store in Greenville, SC. You inspire me to be all I can be.

What do you aspire to do… someday? When is someday? Share it here!

3 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
   

It’s a New Day!

Posted August 25, 2014 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Hello Friends, 

IMG_1041

My trainer’s truck. Dave, YOU ROCK!

I have about four weeks left to finish up my training. Once that is completed, I’ll get my own truck and will be blogging regularly about my incredible adventures, as well as the people I meet along the way. So far though, I’ve driven through 38 states, in all sorts of weather, terrain, traffic. I’ve met the most amazing people on the face of the planet. I’ve met doctors, lawyers, nuclear engineers and college professors all who left (or were forced to leave) their jobs to take to the road.

I’ve seen the sun set as the moon rose over the red rock buttes of high desert. I’ve driven in Nebraska with a tornado right in front of me, and a sand storm in Wyoming. I’ve inched through rush hour traffic in LA, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Albuquerque, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City, Boston, Detroit and others. 

I’ve met hundreds of kids who spend summers on the truck with their parents, learning about US geography from the windshield

Buttes in the Navajo Nation in New Mexico

Buttes in the Navajo Nation in New Mexico

of a big truck. I drove through the rock canyon from Utah into Arizona and thought I was on a different planet. I watch the landscape transform from a barren sand wasteland in California to a plush mountainous paradise at Donner Lake and Pass. 

The heartbeat of America is alive and well and I am so grateful to be a part of it. I’ve gained a whole new respect for the men and women who leave their families and take to the open roads for weeks on end to keep America moving. My hat’s off to you!

I certainly hope you will take this journey with me as I see America, bring the message of hope to those who are hurting, and write about my adventures in trucking. Over the next four weeks, I’ll be running fast and hard. As a result, I may not be blogging as frequently as you are used to on my adventures. But once I’m in my own truck, you’ll get them regularly.

What I Left Behind in Appalachia

What I Left Behind in Appalachia

I look forward to taking you all on my journey on the Road to Freedom 2.0. Even though it will help women everywhere, I’ve found my own freedom… not being bound to one place but having the luxury of being in a different place every night… seeing new faces… meeting new people. I suppose I was born for this type of adventure. Truly, I’m having the time of my life.

Thank you faithful followers. Later this week, I’ll explain how I came to trade in my two wheels for eighteen. 

 

 

So what do YOU dream of doing? What’s stopped you? Share it here!

P.S. If you have ever considered becoming a truck driver (or know anyone who does), please follow your heart. Prime, Inc., is an amazing company. Even if you have never driven a truck before, don’t have a Commercial Driver License or know how to double-clutch, Prime can provide all the training you need. Give my recruiter, Tabitha Smith, a call (417-521-5610, ext 6658).

2 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
   

My BIG Announcement: Road to Freedom 2.0!

Posted August 10, 2014 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

I’ve been silent for a couple of months, but with good reason.  It’s been a long and winding road but I’m happy to announce that Road to Freedom 2.0 has begun. I have the privilege of combining two things I dearly love: to help others and to drive. 

 

Big Sky Wyoming

Big Sky Wyoming

On my birthday in June, I said goodbye to Appalachia and my new friends there and set off on my new journey. I’ve spent the last six weeks traveling to eighteen states from Northeast Maine to Idaho. I saw the sun set over the wheat fields of Illinois, the corn fields of Iowa and the buttes of Wyoming and Utah. I’ve met hundreds of amazing people all across this land we call America.

Last Friday on a foggy morning in middle America, my new adventure was sealed when I took and passed my road test to earn my Commercial Driver License. Now I get to help thousands of people I meet all around our nation while living a lifetime dream: driving a big rig. 

Behind the Wheel

In my new office

Road to Freedom 2.0 has begun, only now rather than covering one state in five days, I’ll be able to cover five states in one day. I’ll be able to spread the message of hope faster, farther and with more power than I did last year. I’ve already been able to help so many people find hope and the courage to pursue their dreams. 

You all have been so faithful and supportive of the Road to Freedom Tour. You would honor me by coming along with me on this new and exciting journey as the tour continues. Last year I learned that the heartbeat of America is alive and well. Last month I discovered how critical it is to live your dream and follow your heart wherever it leads. My heart led me to the heartland of America and to the driver’s seat of an eighteen wheeler.

 

At school on the driving range.

At school on the driving range.

Thank you all so much for following, supporting and taking the Road to Freedom Tour with me. As 2.0 begins,  I look forward to our continued journey together.  I hope you’ll continue to follow this incredible and fun trip as I explore America, meet so many people, help others live their dreams and overcome whatever obstacles stand in their way.

Also, if you or anyone you know has a desire to be an over-the-road truck driver, please email me privately at reba@rebajhoffman.com. I’ll get you connected with an amazing opportunity with an outstanding company! Be sure to put something in the subject line like “Need Trucking Information” so I’ll be sure to respond promptly.

So, what is your dream? What have you thought of doing with your life that you just haven’t yet done? Share it here!

 

 

4 Comments so far. Join the Conversation
   

Where in the World is Reba?

Posted May 6, 2014 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.
From my deck in February.

From my deck in February.

I bet you all are wondering where in the world I am. Well, I’ve been on spring break. I couldn’t help it. I’m on a lake in Appalachia and the Canadian geese hatched little “geese-lings”. I just had to sit and watch them. They’re so cute—and fuzzy—when they first hatch. The dogwoods began to bloom and the azaleas lured me into their clutches. Oh, and Brandilyn Collins launched her latest novel: Sidetracked. I suppose that’s just what I did: got sidetracked! If you haven’t read it yet, I just have one question: what in the world are you waiting for?

My view today

My view today

 

I’ve also been preparing for my next new adventure. I can’t wait to tell you all about what I’ve got planned next but I can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet. You’ll have to stay tuned for that but it will involve a lot of video blogging (VLOG) from a lot of different places.

I’ve been contemplating, praying and weighing my options and will be making an announcement soon. In the meantime, enjoy the springtime!

As I write this, geese, ducks and feral cats rest on the banks of the lake soaking in the morning sunshine. It’s supposed to get to ninety degrees today, a stark contrast to the ice and snow I experienced during my first winter outside a sub-tropical climate in decades.

 

Meet Mr. & Mrs. Geese and their lovely children

Meet Mr. & Mrs. Geese and their lovely children

Life is an incredible adventure. This past year has been the most amazing ride of my life. Around every turn I learned something new about myself, about life and about the faithfulness of the God I serve.

I can’t believe it’s May already. I feel like a grizzly bear just coming out of hibernation after a long, long winter’s nap. I’m excited about my new adventure and can’t wait to share it with you. Well, actually, I’ll have to wait to share it with you. We’ll endure the wait together!

Thank you all for following my journey. You honor me with your friendship and support. May God bless you in ways you could not imagine today.

 

So what wonderful things are you up to during this incredible springtime? Share it here!

 

 

 

1 Comment. Join the Conversation
   

It’s Extremely Important

Posted March 14, 2014 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

It will never happen.

It’s impossible.

I’ll always be stuck where I am.

There’s no way out.

You’ve heard these before. Most likely you’ve said those things a time or two as well. We all do.

But each of those declarations is a bit extreme. Okay, they’re a LOT extreme. And, to make matters ever worse, many of us are in the habit of spouting them out when we feel the least bit discouraged by what life throws at us.

Truth is, never isn’t a time frame in any language, impossible is just a word that has no relevance on your circumstance, and no matter where you are, there is a way to get someplace else.

And yet, we’re always saying our dream will never come true, or It’s just not possible to get that job or writing contract. We live in a world of extreme statements, as though we’re either in or out, remembered or forgotten, alive or dead. Well, there’s a whole lot of journey between opposite ends of a road that we’ll surely miss if we concentrate on one end or the other.

I know a man who rode in a bicycle event in central Florida. At the end of the event, someone said, “Wasn’t the view of the space shuttle amazing?!”

The man looked at the other person as if they just climbed out of an alien space ship and said, “What space shuttle?”

Obviously this rider was polarized… thinking only about one extreme, the finish line. I’ve run in many races, and pedaled through countless bicycle events and the finish line was only remarkable once in all those races. By concentrating on the finish line, he missed the most important part of the entire ride… the VIEW!

He zipped right by the space shuttle on launch pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, completely missed the largest known bald eagle’s nest in the US, and a plethora of alligators, herons, pelicans and other creatures in the Florida wild.

How sad. He’d fallen into the trap of living in the extreme.

It’s a hard habit to break. For that reason, I don’t recommend it. Yes, you read that right. DO NOT TRY TO FIX YOUR PROBLEM! Instead, why not capitalize on it? As long as you’re polarized, why not use it to your advantage?

Instead of saying you’ll NEVER succeed, why not say, “I’ll always succeed, no matter what?” Or rather than declaring things are impossible, why not say, “All things are possible to those who believe.” Or, “I’ll ALWAYS keep moving toward my goal, regardless of the circumstances.”

Positive polarization—or declaring in the extreme—is completely within your control, just like its negative counterpart we’re so quick to blurt out. You’re already doing it, so why not change a word or two and make it work for you?

Go ahead, be extreme! Just do it in a positive way! It’s extreme-ly important that you do that. You’ll feel better, accomplish more and propel yourself toward reaching your goal. And, you’ll have fun along the way. How fun is that?

Do you speak in polarized extremes? Of course you do. What do you say? Share it here!

Be the first to comment
   

They’re All Around Us

Posted March 12, 2014 By Reba J. Hoffman, Ph.D.

Last weekend I sat in a local restaurant waiting to meet a friend. An elderly lady sat a couple of tables away from me. We exchanged nods of greeting and both went back to our tasks.

I was so engrossed with planning out my week, I didn’t notice that she had gotten up and shuffled to my table. When I looked up, she held out her watch.

“Darlin’ are you good at setting the time? I just mess it up every time and it would mean a lot to me if you can do it.”

It was a simple watch with a stem that you pull out, turn and set the time. Easy, peasy. So, within seconds I had her watch running with the correct time.

She thanked me and shuffled back to her table. I sat grateful that she’d asked for my help, thinking what a blessing it is to be available and able to help someone in their time of need.

Moments later, she gasped and said, “I thought it was only 10:30 but you set my watch for 11:30.”

“Yes ma’am, the time changed last night to daylight savings time.”

She giggled and blushed that she’d momentarily forgotten the reason she’d needed me to change the time on her watch. We struck up a conversation and I realized how lonely she is.

Earline only bought coffee. I have no doubt she had coffee at home. And, looking at how nimble her fingers were, I also realized she probably could have set the time on her own watch but she needed human connection. That was her greatest need on Sunday morning. So I gladly helped her out.

We chatted for the longest time before she called herself a cab.

Here’s the thing. They’re all around us. Somewhere out there, they’re waiting.  Just look around. You’re sure to find someone who is lonely, depressed, or generally deprived of human interaction and connection. It’s sad really, particularly since we’re so close to them.

I blessed Earline that day but she blessed me more. Being able to provide human connection and caring to someone else is by far the one thing we can do that will give us the greatest return.

It took maybe fifteen seconds to set her watch. No big slice of my time but it helped her. And when we chatted, I discovered she was a very pleasant woman. I really enjoyed the banter.

Please take a look around you. See who needs your help. Your connection. Your caring and offer it to them. It won’t be time consuming and it will bless you way more than it blesses them. I promise!

When was the last time you reached out to someone like that? What was the outcome? Share it here!

1 Comment. Join the Conversation