The Lesson of Grizzly Gulch

IMG_5345Last week we hiked up another beautiful canyon to a place called Grizzly Gulch.  Now if your imagination works like mine this name conjures up all sorts of images.  The hike offered some spectacular views of the canyon on a winding switchback trail bordered with vibrant wildflowers.  As we neared the gulch, the 8 year-olds threw their backpacks down and scampered down the slippery slope using an exposed tree root to steady themselves as the rocks and sand slid down ahead of them.  As they half-slid, half-climbed down they excitedly chattered about the possibilities of this steep-sided ravine and all that they were noticing.  After spending a little while exploring they began scaling the sides.  As the responsible adult, I stayed at the top of the ravine and scanned the terrain above and below them as they struggled up the side of the 20 foot gulch.  I may be new to these mountains but I’d seen enough rocks sliding around to know that the ground we were standing on wasn’t entirely stable and rock slides and little girls are not a good combination.   In that moment, I wanted to teach them to respect nature and I also wanted to honor their curiosity, enthusiasm and sense of adventure without dampening it with fear.  So we talked about being aware of our surroundings, testing our footing and choosing to take a different course if the one we were on felt unstable and wouldn’t bear our weight.  As we talked it occurred to me that life is like that.  When we have an invitation to try something new or stretch and grow it can be tempting to default to fear and avoidance while it can be rewarding to tune into our sense of adventure, while also balancing it with a need for stability and respecting the particulars of our ability and the circumstances we find ourselves in.

After playing in the ravine for half an hour the girls made their way back up to the trail with a new kind of confidence, testing different methods of ascent, gently grabbing onto a different root here and there to see if it would hold their weight and then setting their feet on firm paths that would take them where they wanted to go.

Take Action: If you feel the nudge of adventure today, tune into it.  It could be something as small as telling someone how you feel or taking a walk to a new place or it could be bigger like planning a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.  Be curious and see where adventure takes you all the while respecting your surroundings and your current limitations.  When you’re done soak in the satisfaction that comes from choosing to try something new.

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Unexpected.

I have always loved this poem by Robert Frost. You’re probably familiar with it too…

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the last two lines in the third stanza.  Until recently, I thought I would always eventually find myself on the first road…the place I thought my life would look like.  After some pretty significant differences at the outset of my parenting career, I figured I was just on a detour and I’d eventually rejoin the masses on the main road.  But I forgot about way leading on to way….I didn’t anticipate the ways that I would change and the people I would meet on my road and how that would influence future decisions, especially those having to do with this beautiful little girl in our house.   So I’m learning to accustom myself to surprises, to keep listening to my instincts and to appreciate the joy and excitement on this road.  I think I’m improving my adaptability but my stress resilience and courage could still use some work.  A lot of times it’s scary and intimidating to do things I’ve never seen done before.  I have no context for what “that life” should look like so I create it the best I can with the tools and knowledge I have, trying imbue it with as much confidence as I can muster and striving mightily to incorporate the all the goodness I was given growing up.  This effort, in turn, reinforces my ability to trust myself so at the next crossroads I assess the situation and make the choice that seems right for us.

Does everyone feel a bit lonely on their road sometimes?  This one can be a lonely place because I think maybe my life is a hard one to understand if you haven’t lived it or listened well and it’s hard not to be understood.  And yet, there are parts of this road that have been so intensely personal and beautiful that I usually don’t just volunteer my story, I wait for people earn the right to hear it.  I wait until I know it can be appreciated because I treasure all of it.  It is my story, after all.

So last night as I brushed a kiss across the cheek of my long-awaited, naturally-birthed, ivf, co-sleeping, nursing Montessori pre-schooler, I felt nervous, brave and very, very, grateful for the beauty she’s shown me along the way.

Uh, has it really been 4 months?

Oops.  Well, I had a few funny things I wanted to write about so without further ado, here they are:

Jess, from the backseat: “Mommy, I wan help you drive”
Mommy: “Sorry baby, you have to stay in your seat.”
Jess, still in the backseat: “I’m not a baby, I’m a big girl.  But I really want to mom.”
Mommy: “Well, if you can reach, you’re welcome to help me.”
Jess:  “I can’t reach mom, maybe if I was an octopus!”

Jess, trying to turn off the light in her room (she could reach the lights at Lisa’s but she can’t here.  This is frustrating for her). “I can’t do it mom, it’s bust!”
I think she was experimenting with the phrase “it’s busted” and that was her best attempt.

There’s more, but I can’t remember and she just woke up…love you all.

Poconuts

So Jessica discovered “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” on the Disney channel and she really likes it.  We had to have a little discussion about not emulating Captain Hook but she’ll go around saying things like “Capin Hook’s a seeky sook!”  (Captain Hook is a sneaky snook!, a quote from one of the pirates).  And last night we had imaginary “poconuts” (coconuts) falling down our stairs.  Daddy had to watch out as he was coming up because they were hitting him.  Then as she was trying to not brush her teeth she started singing a song about strawberries and poconuts to the tune of “Once there was a snowman.”  She was yelling to “Sista Millah Mommy” in the “microphone” again too.  Tonight she just laughed and laughed while we tickled her, she tickled us and we all took turns hiding.  The highlight of our day was probably when she threw her shoe in the toilet at the Middle School.  Ritchie is disinfecting it now.  I love that girl.