With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Monday, September 30, 2013

Transformation

"The path of descent is the path of transformation. Darkness, failure, relapse, death, and woundedness are our primary teachers, rather than ideas or doctrines." - Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations

I am so glad that many of you enjoyed Karen's letter to legendary plant - owner and mother of three, author JK Rowling. I will incorporate more of Karen's work and humor, in general, on Wild Specific Tangent. Change keeps the heart pounding, after all. From change, we might evolve to transformation, right? All right, that's a leap, but Richard Rohr's words appeared in my email this morning and brought me up short, much like an alarm clock's strident beep at 0 dark thirty. Who wants transformation, if the pathway takes the form of descent? And since when were darkness, failure, relapse, death and woundedness anyone's version of a favorite teacher? They certainly can't be bribed with an apple; I might have to call in a substitute.

After a descent of more than twelve months' duration, I might cautiously agree that transformation may be happening to me / within me, but I need to go on record as saying I did not like it at all. If I got to choose whether or not to be transformed, I would not have chosen this path. Naivete and good times seem preferable. I've been told that in a few years (after the pain has gone and memories dimmed) I might appreciate the transformational power of the illness, but I don't have that perspective yet.  Guess it's a good thing we don't get to choose, because right now I would go with my horoscope: "Kick up your heels and don't worry about tomorrow."  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Absolutely Hilarious - Guest Writer!

Today we have a humorous fan letter directed to J.K. Rowling by my sister, guest author Karen Clavadetscher. Karen and I are both big fans of J.K. Rowling but, if we were to write a genuine fan letter, we would write one far different than Karen's wonderful and purposefully clueless epistle below. Enjoy!!
(Note - edited for length).

Dear Ms. J.K. Rowling,
I am writing you today as a HUGE fan of your work and an aspiring writer myself.:) I have been so inspired by the wonderful world and characters that you created with your Harry Potter series. To be honest, I haven’t read any of your work since then, but I’m sure it is totally awesome! Like you, I really want to write a series.  Seven books seem like an awful lot, so I think I’ll aim for three and go from there. I’m not really sure what the story will be about or who the characters are yet, but I know I definitely want to write three books.
Since I think your work is so amazing I wanted to know if I could ask you some questions?  Any advice you could give me would be really appreciated, and you can email or even call me if you think that would be easier. I’ll include my cell at the end of the letter. You could even text me-I have, like, unlimited texting.
Ok, first I want to ask about your methods. I read that you would scribble your ideas and notes on napkins as you sat in coffee shops. To be honest, I tried that and the napkins either blew away, got spilled on, or I threw them away by accident (on a side note, it is also really hard to find a pen that rolls smoothly across  napkin material, so if you have a preferred pen type could you let me know?). Additionally, I think I heard that you would sneak into your closet at night to write and close the door so as not to disturb anyone. Well, I definitely gave that a shot but I almost always got distracted by my shoe collection. Also, I live alone so sitting in the dim, enclosed space got really creepy after a while.  I guess what I’m asking is-how important to your process were the napkins and closet?
Next-motivation. If I remember correctly, you were a single mom (no judgment on my part-btw, you go girl!) while you were writing, so the added desperation of putting food on the table inspired you to keep working at it. Well, I am single and don’t have any kids, so I’m not really sure where I should get my motivation from? I have a job that pays decent money and I just moved into a condo, so I totally have a roof over my head and everything, and I just don’t think I’m desperate enough. I guess what I’m asking is-do you think I should rent a kid? I haven’t looked into it yet, but I do have some money saved up so I think I could probably swing it depending on how much it costs. If you could get back to me ASAP on this idea I’d really appreciate it because Living Spaces is having a huge sale next month and I need a new couch, but I will save the money to spend on renting a kid instead if you think that is the way to go.
Third on my list to ask you about is your knowledge. Do you think I’m gonna have to know, like, a lot of stuff to create a fictional world? I mean, you seem to totally understand Latin with all those words you used in your spells, and you also appear to have a real grasp on plants and whatnot.  The plants thing is pretty bad for me because I have trouble keeping them alive. The best I ever did with a plant was this fern-like thing my mom gave me. It was doing really great until I put it under a UV lamp so that it could get more light and it melted because I didn’t know it was plastic.
Anyway, I really want to thank you in advance for your time and for all the great advice you are going to give to me! I still have to come up with a story but that is the easy part, right? Okay, my cell number is 310-555-1234. Oh, and if you’re ever in America feel free to drop by my place on Taco Tuesday, you have my address because it’s on the envelope!
Sincerely,

Karen

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Emotionally Neutral

So the ribs are on the barbeque, the gluten-free, dairy-free blondies are in the oven for tomorrow's bake sale, Daniel's in the kitchen sink doing experiments with water and soap all over the counter and Aden is locked in the bathroom. At last viewing, William was on the computer NOT doing homework and I am still wearing the workout clothes from much, much earlier in the day. Just a few more notes: I submitted my first homework assignment for the poetry class incorrectly, I have not practiced my guitar today, and William is so double-booked that he won't make it back to water polo for weeks. Yuck and double yuck.

I keep scrambling to attain something that is new and different - emotional neutrality. Today in yoga class our teacher read her usual quote from a daily positive-thinking book, and it included a list of things we need to be successful in all endeavors. I forgot everything else on the list when I heard "you need to be emotionally neutral." The concept is almost beyond me, but oddly, I can absolutely see how this would change my world. Made a mistake? Fix it and move on. No guilt, shame or anger attached. Missing water polo practice? We're doing the best we can and will try to reduce over-scheduling in the future. Wrote a bad blog entry? Learn from the experience and write a better one tomorrow.

Amazing. Now, if you have any guidelines as to how to achieve emotional neutrality, I'm all ears . . .

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Poem Day

I have a cold and no time to write a long entry today, but wanted to share a poem that I wrote on the way home from Albuquerque. You'll see the influences of our trip....

Silence
Opposite me, opposing me,
A glyph inscribed in stone-colored skin,
Message and meaning by unknown Creator,
A mystery to all, except maybe to his descendants
Who each contain a piece of the code,
A strand of hair, a drop of blood or spume of spittle.
If I piece them together will I find his answer?
Or will the riddle of him remain untold.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Out of the Maze

We're back from Albuquerque and richer by one first-place ribbon and lots of good memories of both the tournament and the desert southwest. We escaped the pool complex on Saturday evening to go ride the Sandia Peak Tramway, which ascends 4,000 feet to get to the ultimate height of 10,000 feet high. Not quite a 14 'er but a lot closer than I expected! We hiked the trails at the top and were rewarded with great views of the city and of the widespread flat landscape of the Rio Grande Valley. On Sunday morning we had time before the championship game to visit the Petroglyph National Monument, where the figures and shapes are between 400 and 700 years old. They were fascinating and resolutely mysterious, leading to many questions of what the artists intended.

The petroglyphs reminded me of a sticker I have on the lower driver's side of my windshield. It's ironic that I don't notice it while driving around in the van, but remembered vividly while driving Rob's car this weekend. Familiarity breeds contempt, and all that. The sticker is of a figure outside of  a circular maze, with an imperfection or "resting place" near the center. I got it in Arizona, from a shop run by the Tohono O'odham people.They use this symbol to tell the legend of I'itoi the Creator God, who lives inside the labyrinth. As one of the legends has it, we wander through life in pursuit of a dream, sometimes falling down, sometimes going off in the wrong direction, and at the end of life we reconnect with our dream at the resting place. When we are ready, we reach the center and are welcomed home by the Creator God.

The maze or labyrinth is a perfect metaphor for life at present. I was reassured when I remembered the sticker and the story behind it. Even people residing in an uncrowded, 'simple' age of tribes and low technology felt like they were living in a maze. My feelings of being lost in life's twists and turns have been soundly seconded throughout the ages.  Albuquerque was a pleasant zig in the labyrinth, and I look forward to seeing what zag comes next.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Made it to Albuquerque

Seven and a half hours in the car, one traffic jam outside of Colorado Springs, one defective set of directions to the West Mesa swimming complex, and one triumphant water polo game later, we are setting up shop in our comfortable Hampden Inn suite. The kids are fighting over mints from the lobby and so far I have rescued them from a defective shower and a defective television. I am extremely grateful for the prayers and well wishes that got us safely down here, and I am grateful that William got to play a bit in his first tournament game. He was an able defender, made a pass and one shot on goal (goalie blocked it).  We now pray that Rob arrives safely from Kansas City and that he is able to recover from his 1 am arrival time tonight.

What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to conceive! Who would have guessed that twelve years after bringing our little girl into the world we would be cruising the American southwest to water polo tournaments, juggling laptops and gluten-free, dairy-free snacks. Going back even farther to the days when I played club water polo for Harvard, I never would have dreamed that one of my offspring would take up the sport. Even one year ago that would have seemed impossible, and this whole weekend of travel the faintest of possibilities. Once again - I am grateful.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Follow My Feet

"There's a fork in the road in front of me, 
At the crossroads of identity. 
The Devil is standing to the left. 
He says "Either way, they both lead to death." 

And the high road's steady and steep, 
And the low road's easy and deep. 
Guess I'll follow, follow, follow my feet. 
Guess I'll follow, follow, follow my feet. 

I don't know where, 
I don't know where, 
Where my path will lead, but I'll follow my feet and 
Hopefully they'll keep me on the ground and I'll keep walking to the sound ."
- "Follow My Feet" by the Unlikely Candidates

This song from the Unlikely Candidates startles tears from my eyes each time I hear it. You'll have to download it yourself to hear the singer's description of low road vs. high road acts, but they portray starkly different outlooks. Either you believe that the world is out to get you and you have to sharpen your elbows to scrounge every last bit of what's yours, or you realize your blessings and gratefully turn to those in need to help where you can. Or you're completely human and alternate between the two outlooks depending on what goes on in your life. In my recent reading of Jon Kabat- Zinn I found that having a the latter attitude with a trusting, positive outlook bodes well for your health, but a lack of trust and cynicism can be linked to greater incidence of disease and catastrophic health events. As often happens in life when a subject of interest suddenly turns up everywhere, I found myself in several conversations about this mind-body connection this week. The upshot was that trust and openness can lead to strength both mentally and physically.

Note: I will be taking my computer to Albuquerque tomorrow and hope to post an entry after William's first water polo tournament game. Your prayers are welcome as I take to the road with the three kids. I am cautiously optimistic but a few prayers cannot hurt!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ninth Floor Redux

Back in the ninth floor office for the second day of testing. I snuck over to a 24 Hour Fitness for the first hour - despite the downside of a homogenized America it is something of a relief to have a gym and a coffee shop that are ubiquitous. Reading over my post from yesterday I realize that I mis-spoke, or mis-wrote, if you will. I am not traveling this journey of life without a compass, it is a map that is missing. My family, my moral code and my faith are my compass. Though they occasionally fade to static and I occasionally forget to check them, the compass remains locked and loaded, somewhere between my brain and my soul.

The absentee map causes a lot of grief, though. Instead of nice straight lines from point A to point B to point C, I have a lopsided, wandering trail of little footprints that never seem to go far. Picture the kids' tracks in a Family Circus cartoon and that sums up the wanderings of my little life. I can tell myself the story and follow the trail in many various directions, but I can't make it make sense. Perhaps our lives aren't supposed to "make sense" in a conventional way? Some people's lives seem to make perfect sense, but that may be due to the fact that I am watching from the outside.

Everyone always says that it's about the journey and not about the destination. I agree; but even when ignoring the destination, I find it hard to understand my own journey. Being a linear thinker has its disadvantages. I could hold on to the possibility that my life makes sense in a alternate dimension, or I could stop worrying about it and take Daniel to Starbucks.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Room With A View

I'm writing this morning from a desk on the ninth floor at Ptarmigan at Cherry Creek, overlooking the south and central sections of Denver. The mountains show freshly-washed faces to the left  and only a few harmless white clouds hover around their peaks. I felt a thrill when I went down the elevator to the coffee shop in the lobby, and a jolt when my body remembered the familiar rhythms of life in an office; bathroom in the hallway - elevator - coffee - elevator - computer at the desk (repeat). Some part of me longs to return to this ordered, legitimized lifestyle where all is quiet except for squeaky air vents, toys are nonexistent and the adults smile cheerfully  and walk briskly without little people darting about between their legs.

I am only here because of my child, however, and I'm dressed in wrinkled khaki shorts and a white t-shirt instead of pressed khaki pants and a button-down blouse. Daniel sits a few rooms down undergoing tests for IQ and aptitude, and there are actually toys in this office. Aside from myself and Daniel and Dr. Riddle the offices are empty, because the tutors who normally work here do so after the tutees finish with their school day. The quiet, the desk with a view, and the free wi-fi give me a proprietary, satisfied feeling and I recognize it as one that comes infrequently.

I sat on the spinning bikes two days ago next to a good friend, who shared her feelings about being lost in a society which seems blind to mothers' work in the home and only credits skills with titles, incomes, and easily observed outcomes. She confessed to feeling a bit lost in life, and this word resonated with me. I know that I am blessed and lucky to be home with my children, especially in this year of healing, but I feel lost, on a hike without a compass. What do I put as my title on Linked In now that I have finished at the Museum? How do I add value to society? and how can I add monetary value to my family? I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but it sure is more fun to ask them on the ninth floor.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Creeping Tide

Though "creeping tide" could easily refer to floodwaters in and around the Front Range, today it relates to me along the lines of change.  I looked around the house over the long weekend and was gratified to see that we have slowly been changing, rearranging, subtracting and cleaning, so that our house today looks different than it did 18 months ago, when my illness started. The kitchen table is bigger and cleaner, and that is now where I sit to do most of my writing. The family room has been compressed and cleaned, and the living room has new lamps and new pictures. The changes - even the carpet cleaning we did two weeks ago - creep over the house slowly and almost unbidden they wipe out signs and reminders of being sick.

There is a saying that "the more things change the more they stay the same." I used to find that comforting,a s change can be challenging for me as well as for many people. From my morning meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh "If you suffer, it's not because things are impermanent. It's because you believe things are permanent." Later followed by this:  "Impermanence is good news. Without impermanence, nothing would be possible. With impermanence, ever door is open for change." (Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh)

When things are going well change seems like it could only hurt, and we cling to the notion that things stay the same. But when we come from a dark place, change can only mean better. The new pictures, clean carpets, different routines and activities in our house signify an immensely positive and amazing change for the better. I'd like to carry my appreciation of change on into the good times, recognizing even that in good times open doors can bring fresh chances and new perspectives. For now I'll enjoy the cessation of rain and the fresh clean view from our new kitchen table.

Friday, September 13, 2013

100 Year Storm

Still raining here in the Denver area, where we are lucky enough to have weather from the equator meeting weather from northern Canada meeting and circling indefinitely like middle-school dance partners. Our school district got together with other school districts in the area got together and decided to abandon school for the day, so we're at home and thanking our stars that the roof and basement are holding. We also send our thoughts and prayer for those lost or suffering in the flooded communities. It's a bear of a storm;  if it dropped snow instead of rain, we;d be digging out from under 12 feet of the white stuff.

Off to entertain the kids and try to get some errands done. There is a paucity of good children's movies out right now, and (fortunately) I have an appointment during the times for the new One Direction movie, which Daniel desperately wants to see. How many fights can one day contain? I hope I am not about to discover the answer.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's Waining

Third day of rain here in Colorado, with flash flood warnings popping up on my phone at all hours, and the steady deluge prompting Daniel to ask, "where is all this water coming from?"  On the walk to school, worms splayed out on the sidewalk in Rohrshach patterns, desperate to escape the sodden soil, while sirens faded in and out with much greater frequency than normal, as commuters tried to understand these foreign conditions.  My daughter persistently texts me for rides to and from the bus stop, with the line "it's waining!"  I'm headed out soon to build the ark, but I thought I would get a last blog entry done.

Sometimes in our lives and in our health we feel like it's raining cats and dogs. Rob and I had that kind of year last year, with my health balanced on a knife's edge and Rob's knee surgery requiring months of rehab. Our fathers were both in and out of the hospital, and truly it seemed like the water crested way over flood levels. In my physical and emotional recovery from the last eighteen months I have been reading Full Catastrophe Living, by Jon Kabat - Zinn. It's a guide to meditation and healthy tactics used by Kabat-Zinn at his Stress Reduction Clinic at U Mass Medical Center.

The book is long and detailed about meditation and yoga, but I found myself most fascinated by the chapter on the Mind-Body connection. How we think about life and people and our health has a transformative effect on the body itself. Not necessarily causative, but certainly linked. Far from using this info to point the finger at myself, as I am tempted to do, Kabat-Zinn insists that "acceptance and forgiveness are what we need to cultivate to enhance healing, not self-condemnation and self-blame" (209).   He also points out that, instead of seeing yourself as "ill" or "well" in a black and white fashion:

"It makes more sense to think of health and illness as opposite poles on a continuum than to think that you are either "healthy" or "sick." There will always be a flux of different forces at work in our lives at any given time; some may be driving us toward illness. others shifting the balance toward greater health. Some of these fores are under our control, or might be if we put our resources to work for us, whereas others lie beyond what any individual can control." (217)

So I am moving along the continuum towards healthy, as are the people I love most in this world. May we cultivate the power that we have to change the things under our control and be at peace with the rest. We can always ride out the rain.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11

Remembrance
like quicksand
pulls downward,
dark and close.

But always, the
rope vine descends,
heroic action,
their sacrifice.

We scale again to
radiant belief.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Friend and IV Therapy

I've been blessed in the last two days to catch up with lovely friends whose paths have not intersected mine for some months. In laughing with them and loving them, catching up on their health and their family's doings, I am transported to a better place. If by healing we are connected to a sense of wholeness and one-ness, then certainly friendship is a strong recipe for healing.

Surprisingly, I was also connected with a fellow patient at the doctor's office, where I received an IV of vitamins and minerals to help nerves heal and regenerate. I had texted my regular doctor last week, when my right ear and the right side of my head started to hurt again. This new / resurgent issue, combined with the ongoing scalp irritation had sent me back to searching for solutions (especially non-drug therapy). My doctor advocated for getting the Meyer's intravenous treatment, which is heavy on the B vitamins, including B1, 2, and 3 which are often missing from a standard vitamin.

So here I am in the comfy armchair with my arm in a heating pad, waiting for an IV. I am deep-breathing to control my irritation at being forty-five minutes late and having to cancel my haircut appointment (truly  no harm to me as I naturally hate getting my hair cut these days, but so inconvenient to my poor stylist), when in walks Susan. She's flamboyantly dressed from her blond/red coif to her black and gold ballet slippers, and she has a perfume on, and she is outgoing to the max, immediately starting up a conversation with the doctor who is mixing the vitamins in my IV bag.

I literally buried my head in my book on meditation, trying to pretend that I was alone and quiet. Yet my ears perked up when she mentioned that she had had surgery two weeks ago, and when the doctor left, I asked her about it. I won't go into personal details here, but she has had a four-year medical journey through cancer, surgeries, radiation, and recovery. We spoke about meditation (which she practices with Deepak Chopra each day) and about yoga, which we both passionately love. We talked about using breathing to calm our bodies and about confronting our mind, which blows up fear like a clown blowing up balloons. When I left, we wished each other well on our journey, and I felt much enriched by the whole experience.

Monday, September 9, 2013

If the Watch Fits

My purple and lime-green Baby G watch broke over the weekend. The plastic strap ripped where it attached to the watch itself, and I had to wait two days to get into my watch repair and sales place, Real Time. It was a long forty-eight hours, as I constantly glanced at the pasty-white strip on my wrist where a watch usually lives 24x7. Today I gleefully walked into the store to get my watched fixed, only to be told by the charming owner, Felix Zaitsberg, that I would have to deal with Casio directly through their website.

I paused in dismay,  contemplating many more days without my constant companion. When I pressed Mr. Zaitsberg for details, he shrugged and said that the companies make it difficult to do repairs because they want me to buy a new watch. We collectively bemoaned the corporate strategy of planned obsolescence, and when I realized it would be around $40 to obtain and put on the new watch strap, I caved and bought a new Baby G - white band and hot pink face - for $80. After all, the last watch did 'last' for three years.

The new watch happily strapped on my wrist, I prepared to pay, when the watchmaker came up to the counter with an Russian-accented offer. "I can put a cheap band on your old watch, which won't match, or I can give the watch a proper burial."  I was intrigued by the idea of a proper burial for my watch, but knowing that the watch itself would keep going for years, I purchased a cheap black band and had it put on the purple and lime-green face. Not pretty, but practical as a second watch.

Now I have two functioning sports watches, and I am left to ponder which things in my life can be 'repaired' and used indefinitely (even if they fail the pretty test), and which things could use a 'proper burial.' I love to hold on to things that brought me joy in the past, but don't want to be closed off to new opportunities (like white watches with a hot pink face). Perhaps some ideas, habits, beliefs and relationships could use a proper burial.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Whirlwind

I need to call Daniel's doctor, write a blog post, meditate, and practice guitar in the three hours before the kids are out. But I also need and want to catch up with two dear friends whose schedules have been full prior to today. So - I am going to write the world's shortest blog post, delay calling the doctor, hope that savasana in yoga counts as meditation, and go renew my relationships.  Which reminds me to wish a happy birthday to my amazing younger sister and a happy 44th anniversary to my wonderful parents. I am so grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life and send you all loving vibes. And as for the guitar, it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Good, better, best

"Best is good, better is best."
- Novelist Lisa Grunwald, as quoted in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

"The perfect is the enemy of the good."
- Translated from Voltaire

As long as I can remember I have aimed to be perfect. Before you scoff at me remember that our original goals and dreams are set in childhood when we don't grasp reality and when everything is cast in black and white.  I wanted the white, unspotted robes, the glowing countenance, the halo floating overhead.  The stained glass windows in church and the paintings in the Sunday School building definitely played a part in my imagery of 'perfect.'

Unfortunately these goals lingered through late childhood and early adulthood - even on into my first few years of parenting, when it all fell apart.  Straight A's, glowing performance reviews, good times in swim competitions, those all faded away as I realized how difficult parenting was, and how far I was from perfect. My goal (again set in childhood) was always to be like Marmee in Little Women. When I realized that truth and spoke it aloud in the past few years, I got a lot of headshakes. "If you compare yourself to a fictional character," one said, "you will never come out on top."

Which leads me to the point: we don't have to come out on top, but we do need to be better, in order to achieve happiness. Growth is essential to our sense of self, and we only need to improve day over day, year over year, to find real happiness. Perfection is not the goal - can't be the goal. If we strive for it, the failure will rob us of our peace.

When I looked up the Voltaire quote on Wikipedia, I found a few others that I enjoyed. Here they are for your reading pleasure:

 "Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes." - British radar developer Watson-Watt

 George Stigler is attributed for the adage "If you never miss a plane, you're spending too much time at the airport."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_is_the_enemy_of_good

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Morning Glories

I need some help
in the morning
grumpy hours
when boys poke,tease,tickle,fight,
demand eight kinds 
of breakfast and
my heart on a platter.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Release

“I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re expert at letting things go.” – Jeffrey Mc Daniel, from the Daily Good newsletter (www.dailygood.org)

I was at a yoga class today, and my teacher decided to lead us through several variations of spinal twists. Twisting from chair pose, from crescent lunge, from extended side angle – a lot of twisting. Each time she emphasized the purpose of spinal twists, which is to rinse and cleanse the interior body, releasing toxins but also trauma, hurt, injuries, anger. We were instructed to breathe deeply and, on the outbreath, release whatever was not serving us.


The class in combination with McDaniel’s quote was a powerful pointer from the universe. I desperately need to let some things go. Memories of trauma, of hurt, of betrayal, of a certain strength and innocence lost. The memories and emotions are not serving me in this now, this life.  Rather than let them cling like vines on the front walkway, I need to exhale, twist, and release them on my long outbreath, their sticky fingers and dead weight falling like the early autumn leaves. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Rocky Mountain High

"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds."
- Psalms 36:5

We hiked a mountain yesterday - in Colorado parlance, a fourteener.  That means that we ascended to one of the fifty-three peaks in this state which are higher than 14,000 feet. Aden and William came along, as did Rob's cousin Michelle and her friend Tim. Michelle and Tim had flown in just the day before from Nashville, so we were worried about altitude sickness, which is a real concern for visitors to our area. Both experienced some nausea and headaches on the way up to Mount Bierstadt, but acquitted themselves well. Tim turned around after a few hours of good hiking and Michelle persevered to the top ridge despite feeling a bit queasy and dizzy. William hikes like a mountain goat, forcing one of his parents to push beyond their limits at all times to stay with him. Aden climbs like a sherpa, strong and  nimble and even taking Michelle's backpack on her own back to make the climb easier. We are super proud of them, and grateful to friend Heidi for keeping Daniel at her place. His seven-year-old legs aren't quite strong enough to do the 7 miles round trip.

Words cannot express how grateful I am that Rob and I were able to do this hike only seven months after a desperate point in my illness and after his serious knee surgery. At the top of a mountain, peering off at ranges that scallop off into the blue hazy distance, all things can be made new again. New mountains, new vistas, experiences that take us away from the past and into our future. Strength in our legs and in our hearts and lungs, which inhale cool mountain morning air and exhale frost and thankfulness. Even the rain and hail pellets that greeted us in the last half miles could not dampen our spirits. It's time for new goals and adventures, so I told Rob we should start 'bagging' more peaks together. He's already bagged eight or nine peaks and I only have two, so it's a going to be a challenge to catch up. And that's exactly what I need.