Fording the River

We were on the third day of our trip through Southern Utah when we arrived in Capitol Reef National Park. We were extremely excited to check another National Park off our bucket list.

We knew we wanted to see Cathedral Valley, but to see that part of the park required driving 57 miles on a dirt road…….one that required a high clearance vehicle and often 4-wheel drive, especially after a rain storm and it required fording a river. But, it had been raining over the past few days and had rained quite a lot the night before our arrival………and it was getting cloudy. Since we could see the building thunderstorms moving our way, we thought it would be best to stop at the Visitor Center first to check on the condition of the dirt road and the river.

The park ranger at let us know that the river was running higher than normal and the last report on road conditions was from the day before we arrived and before the overnight rains. That report was that the road was muddy and required 4-wheel drive. I figured after hearing that from the ranger and since more rain was coming very soon, that we would NOT be driving across the river and into Cathedral Valley….at least not until the next day when it was expected to be sunny…….

But, my husband had other ideas.

He wanted to see the river for himself and then decide whether or not we would go or wait.

So we drove to the dirt road that would lead to the river ford.

It was getting darker…….the storms were getting closer. I was panicking………

I did NOT want to drive into the river or across the river.

The river was running too fast for me………

And how many times have we heard that we should NEVER drive into running water, especially during or after a summer rain storm? I began to think my husband had lost his mind. And even if we could safely ford the river, how were we going to navigate a muddy, dirt road, through washes filling with water from the rain and not get stuck? There was no cell phone service and if we got stuck out there who would come get us? How would anyone know where we were?

Yes, I was in a panic!

My husband checked the river and then said we were going through. He knew it would be safe and we would make it.

And we did. I recorded us fording the river, panic coming through in my voice, and tears flowing down my cheeks. And then we were out of the river, safely on the other side.

I could breathe…….maybe…….

We drove a couple miles down the dirt road and the rain started coming down faster…….in the distance we could see the pouring rain………too much rain, coming toward us. My panic grew.

Thankfully my husband decided we would be safer driving this road the next day when it was expected to be sunny and warm and we turned around.

But turning around meant going back through the river……I couldn’t stop the panic swelling deep inside me. I couldn’t stop the fear. I couldn’t stop the tears.

My husband asked me as we drove back toward the river what was scaring me, did I not trust him to keep me safe or trust his abilities? No, that wasn’t what scared me. I trusted him. I knew he would always keep me safe.

It was deeper than that.

As we approached the river, the realizations were hitting me square in the face.

If we got stuck, out there where no one would find us……if we slid off the side of a bluff on the slippery, muddy roads…….if the rushing water of the river washed us away………I would not live past the age my mother had been when she died. I would not get to my 52nd birthday. That thought paralyzes me. I HAVE to make it to my 52nd birthday. I HAVE to live to experience the things my mother never got to do. I CANNOT leave my boys at the same age my mother was.

In that moment fording the physical river became so much more for me. I was fording my river of fear. I was fording the river of this year……the year of learning to breathe rather than holding my breath.

Fording the river of my biggest fear is scary, difficult and at times paralyzing. But just as my husband kept me safe while we forded the physical river, I know that as long as I have him, my family, my friends and God by my side, I can and will ford this river and I can and will get through this year………one river ford at a time.

IMG_6169And just to let you know, we did go back the next day and we successfully forded the river. And I did not panic…..as my husband said “the third time’s the charm”.  This is the river……not too scary, is it?

 

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Facing Fear while hiking in a National Monument

When my husband planned our vacation for this summer I was ready for an adventure. Our vacations are not relaxing vacations, most of the time, anyway. Our vacations are more of an adventure, an experience, and after our adventure we usually need a vacation.

And sometimes on our adventure vacations, I learn new things about myself and I often face my fears.

This adventure had me facing my fear of heights, again, and my fear of lightning storms…both at the same time on the same hike.

I am scared of heights………I approach overlooks and edges with caution, often standing back far enough to not feel as if I will fall to what I know will be my certain death. And my husband loves to find ways to push me into facing that fear. So, with shaking legs and hands, heart beating out of my chest and a feeling that I may just pass out, I went with my husband on the hike he had chosen for us.

But this time on our hike, as I faced and conquered my fear of heights, I had to also face my fear of lightning storms, a fear brought about by a severe thunderstorm that produced a tornado when I was in first grade……….a long held fear that has me hiding under my blankets at night when lightning strikes…..a fear that grips me and keeps me from venturing outside or near an open door when I hear the first clap of thunder. I am so scared that I will be struck by lightning that I run as fast as I can if I am outside, seeking shelter from the storm……..on this hike, I couldn’t run….I was hiking and going up a steep trail when thunder came rolling in.

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Going down the stairs near the beginning of the hike.

We were in Natural Bridges National Monument. It was evening, close to sunset. And it was cloudy and lightly raining when we arrived. The rain slowed and then stopped so we headed out on our hike to Sipapu Bridge. The hike down to the canyon floor under Sipapu bridge was not long, it was only .6 miles. But it was steep, descending 500 feet in the .6 miles. There was a set of steep stairs and 3 wooden ladders along the trail to help us get to lower sections. The ladders scared me…..not being able to see where I was stepping, nor how far the ladders descended had me frozen on the rungs, unable to take that next step…..until my husband guided me, making me feel safe enough to travel down the rest of the ladder.

 

There was a moment when my fear told me that there was no way I was going down those rocks and that the view I had at that moment was close enough. We had reached a point on the trail where metal railings had been cemented into the rock so that we could hold on and not fall as we descended down the steep rock…..ugh! I saw that and froze. Nope! No need to go any further. My fear said to just look at the natural bridge from here and wait for my husband to finish the hike and return to me.

And then I realized that fear is irrational and illogical. And I was not going to let it stop me from experiencing the view from underneath the natural rock bridge. So, with my husband’s guidance and reassurance and despite my legs feeling like jello, I grabbed that railing with a grip so tight I thought I just might pull the rail out of the rock and I finished the hike down to the bottom.

It was worth every shaky, anxiety filled moment! The view beneath that bridge was breathtaking. I felt so small standing under the rocks. And I felt so proud of myself. This was one of those moments that had me glowing!

And then it was time to climb 500 feet back up out of the canyon on the return .6-mile hike. It was steep. It was scary. And my legs shook again as I walked along the edge of the rock, up the ladders and grabbed the railing with a death grip. My heart beat fast and hard, from the fear and from the exertion of climbing up the 500 feet.

We made it half way up and stopped to take in the view. How tiny we felt standing there, awed by the stunning beauty that lay before us.

And then………the thunder. My heart jumped, my body shook. I still had a long way to climb up…….a ladder and the steep set of stairs between me and the safety of our vehicle. No way was I going to stick around for lightening to strike me, or the trees around me, or the rock that I was hiking on. Time for this girl to move and move fast.

And fast we went. I forgot about the height and the drop off next to me and moved quickly up the trail, praying I would reach the top before the lightening got me.

I was almost to the top…….I could almost touch the top and could see the SUV but I couldn’t breathe, my heart was beating so hard and fast I thought it was going to jump out of my body. I reached for my husband and let me hold onto him as he helped me to the top. And once we were there, next to the SUV and finally ready to jump inside to safety………and then he made me walk some more to slow my heart rate before climbing into the safety of the SUV…..…..really? in the thunder and lightning?

I did it. Despite my fears I hiked to the bottom and back up.

I did not fall to my certain death. I did not fall and injure myself. I did not get struck by lightning and I did not die of a heart attack.

Fear is irrational, fear is illogical and fear is born of our past experiences.

But facing my fears and pushing past them allows me to see just how strong I can be and lets me experience things that the fear would have had me miss.

I survived. I took the leap. And the experience was amazing!

Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

02A few weeks ago I came across this fitness journal and purchased it, thinking that it if I used it to journal my activity it just might help me in my training for my half-marathon.  And it has some GREAT quotes to inspire even this inactive, non-lover of sweaty exercise.

I have used the journal a few times, recording my walks and my short stints at running. And I have bookmarked the quotes that have touched my soul.

Earlier this week, my husband and I had decided that we would do a LONG walk this morning….and when this morning arrived, I did NOT want to get up and walk. I wanted to stay in bed longer.  But I forced myself to get up and off we went. 

I was stiff and my lower back was bothering me, but I walked. As we approached our planned turnaround point, my husband asked me how my back was doing.  And when I said that it actually felt better, he asked if I wanted to go ahead and go a little further before we turned around….uh, no!  I planned what point I would turn around and I didn’t want to stray from that plan, into the unknown………

And then…….we went further.

I am so glad we did. It was a little farther, a little more time with my husband and a little more time outside on a beautiful morning before the heat set in. 

When we got home, I pulled out my fitness journal to write down my steps, time and mileage and then I saw the quote for today—

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Yes!  Life DOES begin at the end of my comfort zone!

Changing course, going farther, doing something different……all outside my comfort zone. My comfort zone is my safe place…it is the known quantity. 

 I have talked a bit these past few weeks in meetings about getting outside our comfort zone in order to make change happen. When what we are doing is not getting us the results we are seeking, instead keeping us stuck where we are, then we need to step outside that comfort zone, try something different, DO something different and then we will see the change.  We are creatures of habit….at least I am.  And change has been a difficult thing for me because, for my younger self, change often meant sadness, stress, and that something awful was happening. 

I don’t like change. I like staying in that place where I feel safe and have a safety net….the place that is familiar, even in its dysfunction.

Yet, some of my GREATEST moments, some of my BIGGEST accomplishments, and many of my HAPPIEST times have come from stepping outside of my comfort zone, outside my box and into the unknown…..from taking the leap.

As a child of abuse my comfort zone was chaos. And dealing with that chaos and the emotional upheaval it created in me with food was my comfort zone.  Until I stepped outside that box, allowing myself to feel, face and deal with the abuse, the emotions and the forgiveness, I could not change nor heal.  Stepping outside my comfort zone during my weight loss journey with Weight Watchers and learning that there are other ways to deal with those emotions and the pain of my childhood, allowed me to find myself and my self worth.

It is so much easier for me to go back to the comfort, to go back to old habits, to do the things that I perceive protect me and offer me a safety net…..even when that comfort zone is dysfunctional and doesn’t work. Yes, that is the known and it is easier.  Living in my comfort zone is safe…….And getting outside that comfort zone is a scary world, there is so much that is unknown and it leaves me vulnerable and exposed, a place I don’t like to be.  But change is necessary in order to make progress and stepping outside that box is necessary to REALLY live and experience all that this crazy life has to offer.

For me, change didn’t happen until I tried something different, until I truly stepped outside my comfort zone and then life really expanded for me…..habits changed, my willingness to try new things grew, and my life became more than I had dreamed it could be.

If I had not stepped outside my comfort zone—

   –I never would have left home before I was out of high school, a change that got me out of the chaos and onto a path that has led me to this place in my life now, with my best friend beside me. 

   –I never would have met my siblings, or forced my way into meeting my birth father.

   –I never would have become a Leader for Weight Watchers….the thought of speaking in front of others was terrifying…..still is…..yet I am so very thankful I took that leap…the rewards have been priceless.

   –I never would have gotten on a helicopter, with the doors off…….an adventure that was exhilarating and frightening…..and an experience I would have regretted missing.

   –I never would have gotten involved as a military spouse to help others, to take care of others and to mentor younger spouses.  As a shy person who has a hard time meeting new people, my time as a military spouse was often terrifying…..new places, new people, new life…….But had I not gone to all those places with my husband and had I not gotten involved, I would have missed out on those opportunities to help and mentor and I would have missed out on meeting and getting to know the many wonderful, brave and caring people I met through our military life.  And my life would never have been enriched from those relationships and shared experiences.

    –I never would have started this blog.  Instead I would have just talked about it and wrote in my journal for only me to see.  The vulnerability is real and the reward from sharing my world through this medium, has been uplifting for me and my spirit.

    –I never would have signed up to do a half-marathon…..the results of that decision are still to be determined…..I am going to try my best and embrace the sweaty exercise along the way.

    –I never would have taken the recent step that has taken me outside my comfort zone, yet taking that leap has made me feel very proud, no matter how it turns out.  I tried.

And the list could go on…..

I am learning in my older years that life really does begin outside my comfort zone.

Stepping outside my box has allowed me to grow as a human, as a mother, as a wife and as a survivor. It is not easy and it scares me to the very core, leaving me exposed and quite vulnerable.  It may not always go the way I envision when I get out of my comfort zone, but it is now and has always been, WORTH IT, because I TRIED

This quote was perfect for me today.

As I deal with my emotions of these past few months and as I face unknowns while walking a different path than I had planned, I will embrace the changes that come and the opportunities to try something new.

And I will continue to look for new ways to step outside my comfort zone, to take that leap and LIVE.

Choosing Me

My heart was racing. Anxiety was building.  Was I really going to do this?  Really?  But what if I can’t?  I know it is going to be really hard.

The fear was creeping into my brain, threatening to change my mind, to hold me back from doing something I had agreed to do.

How often in my life have I let my fear rule my choices? Far too many times. 

“may your CHOICES reflect your hopes, not your fears” –Nelson Mandela

This quote that I read last week in my new Fitness journal came back to me in the moments leading up to my hitting the “confirm” button. Was I going to let the fear stop me, or was I going to choose to follow my hope, the faith in my ability and the faith my husband had in me? 

Another quote I read recently stuck out in my mind:

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As I clicked on the confirm button, my excitement grew…..I am going to do this. I have made my choice.  I am going to let fear mean that I am facing everything and rising!  I am going to do this despite my fear of failure, fear of disappointment, and deep down my fear of succeeding, of being proud of me. 

I did it. I registered for my first half marathon.

I made my choice and I have chosen me.

I Can Do All Things…..

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Phil 4:13

My favorite bible verse.

I have this verse, etched into a stone, sitting on my kitchen counter, a daily reminder that I CAN do anything with Christ beside me.

A reminder I find myself needing quite often lately.

The first time I read this verse and found that it really struck a chord in me was the summer of 1982. I had gone with two very close friends to a Christian camp for a week. That week, there in the mountains of Washington State, was a week of discovery and a week in which my faith and my relationship with God were solidified.  I had a wonderful, caring counselor and made new friends, ones who helped me find an even stronger relationship with God.

That week culminated in my baptism. I had been christened as a very young child, after my adoption and was told that baptism wasn’t necessary after that.  Yet, I made a choice to be baptized, there at the camp, by my counselor.  To me this was my way of letting go of all of the pain of the past, of forgiving and renewing my commitment to walk in faith with Christ.  It was an amazing, uplifting, life-confirming event for me.

From that week, through to my current situation, that verse carried me through the dark times and the wonderful times.

And now, I find myself repeating this verse daily as I tell myself to just breathe.

I am not alone.

I have Christ beside me, though at times I think He carries me.

And God made sure that I had my husband beside me. I have no doubt that God brought my husband and I together to help each other through the craziness that life brings—the upside down, cyclonic tornado that comes ripping through our lives.  I know that with my husband to hold on to, the winds of life will not carry me away, even when I am so weary that I feel I can no longer hold on.  God made sure of that!

And right now, in the midst of this current cyclonic tornado, the only way I can describe how I am feeling in this moment, I find this verse a source of comfort.

“I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me”

Yet, I am tired….exhausted from trying to find the good and trying to be strong. I am tired of learning, again, just how strong I can be.

As I tell myself to just breathe, I find myself dreaming of a life that is ordinary, boring and mundane……….