Catch An Eddy

A Letter to Myself on October 14th, 2012:

Dear Tracy,

By now the newness of the school year has worn off, and the routine, as much as you will ever create, has set in.  I see you have a bag of papers that you carry home every night intending to grade, but you haven’t cracked it open in a while.  I notice the laundry pile mountain in the basement that isn’t getting any smaller on its own.  And let’s not even talk about the condition of the kitchen floor…yikes.

I know each of those things feels really heavy, and there’s no time to fix them in sight.  Instead you just ride the current of busyness mixed with exhaustion, hoping not to fall out of the boat.  Well, it’s time to catch an eddy.

‘Member last summer when you went whitewater rafting with Taylor?  Your guide explained that large rocks in the river naturally create a calm spot right behind them where we would periodically regroup before heading back out to face the rapids.  He would purposely maneuver the boat into this spot, an eddy, so that everyone could readjust their feet, wipe the water out of their eyes, and just take a breath.  Well, it’s time to do that.

Yes, the papers and the laundry and the floors are important, but your family is more important.  I think you were just beginning to grasp the reality of that in the summer.  Have you talked to Jay lately?  I’m not talking about the last five minutes before you both fall asleep on the couch.  I mean a real conversation.  How about Chica?  Have you noticed the ways she’s changed since starting school?  And Bubba.  By now I suppose he is walking.  Are you taking lots of pictures and videos of his wobbly self so that one month from now, when he’s running, you’ll remember what it looked like when he first learned?

And while you’re sitting here in the eddy, what about yourself?  Have you figured out a way to have some being still and quiet time?  Some listening time?  I’m sure the rapids ahead would be a little less likely to throw you overboard if you would.

Float on,


Image:  Rafting on the Paro Chhu © Northwest Rafting Company | Flickr Creative Commons

Somewhere To Be Peaceful

“Are you going somewhere to be peaceful?”

These were Chica’s words as she hugged me goodbye for the third time yesterday.  “Well, yes, I am,” but I hadn’t really thought of it that way.  Turns out she knows what she’s talking about.

Yesterday was time for the biennial Tracy and Taylor’s Excellent Adventures.  Installment one of this sibling fun was Memorial Day two years ago when we climbed Mt. Rogers, Virginia’s highest peak.  That adventure included getting lost in the predawn hours, spotting a just-born wild foal and its mother, and two bear sightings, all before lunch time.  I was pretty sure that this year’s trip wouldn’t leave us with such good storytelling material, but I couldn’t wait, nonetheless.

Based on a friend’s recommendation, we headed to the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte.  We started our morning off with a raft ride through Class II, III, and IV rapids in their manmade river.  This was one of those times where I tried to force myself to see the bigger picture.  “Open your eyes, soak it all in,” I told myself.  Instead I spent most of the time focused on the paddle in front of me and my feet tucked firmly under the seat.  I really didn’t want to have an “out of boat experience.”

Since we were already soaked, we decided to try out the stand-up paddle boarding next.  Taylor and I were both surprised at just how difficult it was.  If you want to get anywhere fast, paddle boarding is not the sport for you.  If you try to paddle quickly, you’re going to either tip over or veer too far left or right. So unlike rafting, we took in the big picture, stopped twice for a swim, made jokes about feeling like we were floating the Amazon, and just enjoyed each other’s company.  Yes, Chica, we were able to be peaceful here.

After lunch we attempted their 40 foot climbing wall.  Feeling quite confident and cocky, I stepped right up to tackle climb number two, a climb the guide described as medium difficulty.  I was struck right away with just how small the handholds were.  Since we were using an auto belay, there was no stopping to take a break like you can do if a person is belaying you.  If you let go, you’re coming down, pride and all.

Right there on the wall I thought of Chica.  I get frustrated when she chooses a puzzle, game, or book too easy for her abilities.  I always try to push her to the next challenge.  This medium wall was definitely the next challenge for me, and I was crumbling under those feelings of “it’s too hard.”  I’ll try to have a little more grace next time when she wants to sit comfortably with what she knows she can do.

Our final two adventures were the Mega Zip and Mega Jump.  Possibly the most exciting part of this was watching the rafting from up above while we waited in line.  We saw at least four rafts tip over, giving everyone on board a chance to practice what they had learned about the out of boat experience.  “Lay back, point your feet downstream, and absolutely do not try to stand up.”  Watching it happen so many times in a row actually made a tiny part of me wish it had happened to us.  Spilling out of a raft in a Class IV rapid might possibly be more exciting than a bear sighting??

Though physically tiring, this day was oh-so-peaceful.  I had one mouth to be responsible for instead of three.  The questions I got were easy ones like, “Where are you from?” and, “Have you done this before?”  There was no one to fight over naptime.  Being a mom is awesome, but sometimes you need some time away to remember just how awesome it is.  Spending that time away with great company makes it even better.

Oh, I almost forgot.  Want to hear the joke about pizza that our raft guide told us?

Ahhhh….nevermind….it’s too cheesy.