Life Is Short…Don’t Be Your Own Wet Blanket

Wet everywhere
Wet everywhere

How many times have you talked yourself out of something because the situation didn’t seem quite right? I have done it thousands of times. I am the Queen of Justification. I can talk myself out of anything. This also means, though, that I have the ability to talk myself into anything. It seems easier to avoid than attack, though, which is why I have let so many opportunities in my life slide because it seemed like they might be too much work. Today I decided to challenge myself to go forward rather than retreat.

Three weeks ago, my friend Brooke and I planned to hike on May 4th. So, this morning I woke up ready to hike…until I looked out the window. From my bedroom window at 7 a.m., I saw low hanging clouds, wet ground, and not one patch of blue sky. I texted Brooke to see what the weather was like in Boulder. Light drizzle, she said. I have traditionally been a fair-weather hiker. I try to avoid hiking in the rain when possible because I am not a big fan of being cold or wet or muddy or especially all three things at once. So many reasons not to hike today and only one reason in favor. The forecast for the rest of the week in Denver is rain, one to four inches of it. I decided light drizzle might just be the nicest weather all week. I grabbed my rain jacket and my waterproof hikers and headed to meet Brooke.

On the drive, I tried to convince myself that it was as good of a day as any to hike. I pulled out all my zen and told myself the only moment I have is this one. I can spend it whining about the weather or I can pretend that I’m above it all. By the time I got to the trailhead parking lot, I was convinced this was a good idea. I parked in a giant puddle, zipped up my rain jacket, stuffed my iPhone into one of my waterproof pockets, and embraced our adventure.

Mud is the equivalent of ankle weights, right?
Mud is the equivalent of ankle weights, right?

True to what Brooke had said, there was a light drizzle. I couldn’t actually tell if it was drizzle or just mist from low hanging clouds. Either way, there were no drops of rain. We started up the trail, planning to do a 4 mile hike I’ve done many times with my family. As we turned to head uphill, the path beneath our feet became increasingly muddy where rain had rushed down, following gravity’s lead all night long. For about three-quarters of a mile, we hiked uphill through heavy mud, trying to walk on rocks when we could, scraping our hiking shoes off when we’d gained an extra pound per foot. My mind wandered back to how these shoes had hiked the entire Inca Trail without getting wet. They’d survived four days in the Andes with hardly anything to show for it. I was making up for it now. I blocked out the notion that it would take me an hour to clean them when I got home. I kept on trudging.

I realized about two miles in that we were not on the path I had intended to take. Oops. No worries. We’d figure it out. We kept heading uphill, towards the trees, hoping that once we got into them we would find a trail that had been protected from the moisture. Around the point that we hit four miles, it was clear we had wandered further off course than we’d planned. I pulled out my phone to view a trail map so we could get our bearings. We were two hours into the hike. We’d passed two people. Although the views weren’t much because of the fog, the rainy weather had afforded us a hike in solitude. The only sounds were a gurgling creek running full with rain from higher up the foothill, some frogs chirping, and songbirds flying in and out of the bushes around us as we passed. Being a fair-weather hiker, I’m used to sharing the trail, to catching silence in between polite greetings with groups of fellow hikers. Today there was none of that. There was just peace.

An abandoned house in the fog
An abandoned house in the fog

We figured out which trail to hit and began our descent. We stopped to take photos and enjoy the less muddy section of trail. We paused to appreciate the scenery, limited though it was, and revel in the isolation. Eventually we passed one more set of hikers before we reached the parking lot. By then, the stats on my Fitbit app were impressive. We had logged seven miles in 158 minutes and climbed the equivalent of 116 floors under less than ideal conditions with mud-packs as ankle weights. And to think I had nearly given this up morning workout for an almond-milk latte indoors. Craziness.

I’m going to make a concerted effort more often to go with the flow, even if that flow is from rain. Despite all the mental excuses I could come up with today to skip our hike, nothing bad that I had imagined actually came to fruition. The rain held off, I stayed dry, and most of the mud fell away from my shoes on its own. Even when we realized we were off our intended path, we found our way back to where we needed to be. Everything worked out because everything always works out one way or another. I spend too much time imagining the worst, meanwhile missing out on what might have been the best.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” ~Vivian Greene

Vegas Hates Me

Parking garage or flood plain?

It rained today. It rained A LOT today. This is a big deal for Denver. It’s an even bigger deal because I’m not in Denver. I’m in LAS VEGAS. I’m fairly certain Vegas hates me. I came here with my mother to help her celebrate her 70th birthday. Believe it or not, my mother had gone all her 70 years on this planet without having been to Vegas. I figured this was some sort of violation of the laws of the universe, so I sought to correct the error by dragging her here for three days. And, what does it do while we’re here in Vegas? In the desert? Where they get an average of 4.5 inches of rain in a year? It rains. And, it doesn’t just drizzle or rain lightly. It pours. In less than twenty four hours, Vegas received double the normal rain accumulation for the entire month of October. I’d think it was amusing (and amazing) but, like most people, I come to the desert for the sun and not the rain. Odd, I know. Not happy.

Then tonight, as I noticed I had just blown another $20 in the penny slot machines, I realized that the rain is simply Vegas weeping for me. I am an absolutely lousy gambler. I blame it on the fact that I don’t usually gamble much when I come here. That and, well, I’m cheap. I hate to throw money away in machines (unless they’re made by Apple). But, my mom came to gamble. And she’s doing fairly well. At least, she’s doing better than I am. So, the deluge of rain must be nothing other than the Sky God mourning the loss of my husband’s hard earned cash. That’s the only explanation I can think of that would explain the flooding in the desert on my vacation. Either that or Vegas just hates me.

Someday We’ll Find It

You just know there’s going to be a great rainbow at some point.

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.” ~Dolly Parton

The past seven days have been fraught with parenting conundrums, struggles, and stresses. I’ve been on a ledge several times. I’ve cried. I’ve whined. I’ve thrown myself extravagant pity parties. One day I added a shot to my lemonade at 3:50 p.m., a full hour and ten minutes before I usually will allow vodka consumption. It has definitely not been a banner week for me as Mom. And, because I’ve been dealing with such a prodigious load of poop, every other part of my life has suffered as well. I’m under-exercised, the house is a pit, and I haven’t been sleeping well. Of course, now I also have a cold because that is how life works.

So today, what better thing for me to do than to go on a field trip with Luke’s class in the pouring rain? The sky was replete with low-hanging clouds. Rivers of run-off were cascading down the street, and the open space behind our house was dotted and dashed with puddles and streams. I tried to envision standing out in the rain with my sore throat and stuffy head. I wanted to ditch out, but knew I couldn’t. The only way out of this situation was through it, so after a series of not-so-amusing missteps (involving a raincoat left at home – not mine – and a wet pair of shoes that became new rain boots – which are now mine) we arrived at the field trip destination.

As it turns out, despite my apprehension, something good came out of my wet, cold, field trip morning. You see, when you spend a few hours with 14 kids who do not belong to you, suddenly your own children (and their issues and quirks and problems) seem comfortable and familiar. I guess the devil you know really is better. My boys may have some learning disabilities. They may be small and get picked on. They may never be able to write a decent high school essay paper. They may never be gifted athletes. But, when the long day is done, they are exactly the young people I have groomed them to be. They are deep thinkers. They are imaginative. They care about the earth and the animals and plants on it. They like to learn about the world, and they are enthusiastic travelers. They are respectful of authority. They are articulate and have voluminous vocabularies. They are a reflection of Steve and me, but with a new and original light only they could share with the world.

My parenting struggles originate not from who my boys are or are not but from the dragons I cannot slay for them, the things I cannot control. I’ve become too concerned with how what they’re going through includes me rather than disconnecting my ego and focusing on how best to help them find their way. I write here all the time about how we’re all on our own individual treks in this life, but I forget that applies to my boys as well. I may not like what they’re going through and I may want to relieve them of it, but what if what they’re going through is precisely the experience they need to grow on? What if my constant intervention on my own terms interrupts their process?

I have no answers to any of this. I’m merely writing out loud. I’m scrambling through uncharted territory, fumbling blind. All I’m certain of is that on this rainy day, the clouds in my life began to break a bit. I have a new way of looking at the issues my boys are facing, and it’s giving me strength and positivity with which to move forward. The rainbow is beginning to take shape and I think it’s going to be a good one.


To Bean Or Not To Bean

We made our camping plans knowing full well that the weather forecast was calling for 90 degree days and 65 degree nights. We brought rafts, tubes, water toys, and swimsuits to cool off in the Crystal River, which runs through camp. We packed lightweight pajamas along with shorts and t-shirts. It was going to be hot, but even 90 degrees would be a relief from the city heat and we were excited to have it cool off at night.

Instead of suffering through a hot camp, though, each and every afternoon we’ve had heavy thundershowers. We’ve cooked each dinner in the rain and eaten them in the camper. The nights have been far cooler than we had planned for. Even the dog has been hunkered down for warmth. It’s mostly been a nice change. Mostly.

When we planned our trip, we expected it to be hot. We knew we would not be able to have campfires, so we cooked meals to be reheated with our propane stoves. We expected to be sleeping with tent camper windows open. We did not plan for this rainy weather that would confine us to a small, hardly vented space. We made chili, tacos, and refried beans. We just didn’t know what a mistake that would be.

Lesson learned.