Tag Archives: Emotional health

To swim or not to swim and other weekend choices

In terrain so barren the ephedra is stunted, the crypto sparse, and even though it is the desert, the cactus few and far between; she took a hike. A rejuvenating and fulfilling hike. She found places of beauty and refreshment in The Coves. And when her hike was done, she shed her shoes and walked from the beach out into Lake Powell to take a swim. It was all completed by 9:00 am – orchestrated to avoid the heat of the day and thus make the refreshment and rejuvenating as effective as possible.

In the first place, she parked at the Wahweap swim beach and followed the paved path on the edge of the lake past boat ramps, boat rentals, and a state line sign. She was now in Utah. Judging by the iconic Lone Rock formation immediately ahead, she figured if she climbed the hill to the west she would be able to see her apartment – which was still in Arizona. She did. Her home looked to be only a mile away as the crow flies.

For a moment she contemplated running on home, enjoying a big breakfast, and then hiking back for her car and the swim. “Tomorrow,” she said. “I’ll start from home and hike this direction. I’ll bring my beach towel. I’ll hike back wet.”

Accordingly, her Sunday morning plan was to hike down an arroyo, swim in the northernmost vicinity of Wahweap Beach and then hike back for a weekend style breakfast. She found a place to crawl under the fence and made her way to the dry creek bed, not sure if the trail she followed – and those she saw on the opposing canyon wall – were coyote or human, but confident that the descending runoff she chose was the most direct route to the lake. “This is nearly a slot canyon in places,” she mused as the gray rock walls rose ever more steeply on either side. And then, abruptly, she was on the precipice of a 30-foot waterfall. Time to skirt.

Back up the creek bed and on the wildlife trails, next a mile or more atop a windswept sand dune replete with familiar tracks of small mammals and reptiles. At last she came to the lake, or a finger of it, expanded back up the canyon by the final July surge of Rocky Mountain snowmelt. No beach here. Not another soul in sight. Possibility of cliff-jumping without being caught; also without your paralyzed body ever being found. She followed the edge of the cliff until she came to another fence. The grass was not greener. Every imaginable brand of ATV track decorated the hillside. And what was that? The mouthwatering aroma of Sunday morning camp breakfast. “The beach,” she said, “Is right over that hill.”

From the rocky crest she looked down on the secluded, but crowded beach. Directly below her, about half the length of a football field, two portly men of approximately 60 went about their morning activities on a houseboat. An assortment of other watercraft parked side by side like pie wedges of the tiny bay. “Nah,” she said, “I’ll not crash the party and swim today. I think it’s time I went back home and cooked myself a good breakfast.”

Gluten Free Sun Screen

She didn’t even flinch as she pressed “submit reservation.” Nor did she deliberate long over ordering the lunch for $13.00. It was not clear from the information if she was allowed to bring food and she well knew her propensity for hunger on the river, or anywhere in the out of doors. What do we work for anyway but to give ourselves a treat once in awhile? A mini vacation. An early birthday gift. A reward to ourselves for staying at work nine hours a day and often going in on weekends. This was a  reminder to herself why she is even here in this town on the edge of the river.

“So what’s a $100 dollar bill between best friends?” she asked. Me, Myself and I.

A trip to the beach just the day before in 99 degree heat reminded her of the necessity of sunblock. Don’t underestimate burn potential of reflected sun. So when she arrived at Colorado River Discovery to check in, she went straight to the counter and requested fragrance-free sunscreen. The clerk read the ingredients: hypoallergenic, gluten –free…. she laughed at sunscreen needing a gluten free label. “I’ll take it,” she said. She gulped at the $10 price tag, but did not reconsider. A moment later, as she slathered on the expensive, but quality, goo in bright hot sun she had no regrets. An hour later, eating lunch on a raft with fingers, camera lenses, sunglasses and nearly everything in sight greased with sunblock she acknowledged the necessity of gluten free-or at least non-toxic, sunscreen. It was a fabulous trip. The river is beauty. The river is nature. Nature has healing powers. Beauty can restore. And it did.


Influence and power to better the world

Last week, I watched a football movie – The Blind Side.  It was more, much more than a football movie.  It was a movie about power and influence and talent; charity and loyalty; opportunity and emotional healing.  And yes, it was a rags to riches story.  Financial wealth played a key role.  Money made possible many things – for both the teenage foundling and his mentors; but the integral message I got was about the incredible influence and power of one woman to change the world. Even the money came from nature and nurture.

I am a huge nature AND nurture believer.

In my lifelong pursuit to find out what makes my children tick; the purpose was to tailor my nurture to give them the tools they needed to succeed. Why do I remain skeptical of power? Why does power get such a bad rap from me?

Yes, money is power.

Intellect is power.

Beauty is power.

Physical strength is power.

Talent is power

Why don’t I own my power? Because power gets what it wants.

I was taught – and somehow have always believed – it’s not nice to get your own way.  Is that true? What if I ruled my household as a Southern matriarch; getting what I want because it is righteous and good?

Is all power a bad thing; or just the abuse of power?  Power, like money, gets what it wants.  Is money the root of all evil?  Or just the love of money above all else?

A little power – like a little wine – can be a good thing.  It’s the intoxicated or drunken part that is abusive.

Owning your power is different than assuming power; just as self-confidence is not the same as arrogance.

Owning your power does not mean seizing or amassing power so much as it is using what power you have. Am I using my power to best advantage?

Do I have wants?  Yes.  Do I have needs?  Yes.

Why don’t I get what I want or need?  Because I will not utilize my power.

What power do you have?  Are you comfortable with it? Luxuriating in it?  Using it as your gift to the world?

Pick up the power tools.   It feels good to use – not abuse or neglect-your gifts. 

To Say I’m Sorry

It is no exaggeration to say I have been on both extremes of the pendulum when it comes to saying, I’m sorry.  If the pendulum swings in an arc, I have been on the outer reaches of all 360 degrees of the circumference.

As a  child, it was extreme emotional punishment to be made to say I’m sorry.  It made me squirm. Sorry for what?  For things I didn’t do; but somebody got their feelings hurt and demanded retribution. Resistance was futile.

“Do you want a spanking?  Then say you’re sorry and be quick about it.”

What’s a child to do?  You hang your head, all the time feeling only the injustice of it. You mutter out, “I’m sorry.”

But was I really sorry?  No.  I needed to escape that squirmy feeling. I was sorry I had to yield to someone else’s petty demands.

Sometimes the dialogue goes this way:

Me:  “I’m sorry.”

The Offended: “Are you really sorry? Cause if you are truly sorry, you won’t ever do it again.”

Won’t do what again?  Hurt your feelings or offend unwittingly?

As I grew into the relationships of young adulthood, I learned to use I’m sorry as a tool, to say it quickly and often; to assume ownership of infractions that were not mine.

But it came with a price; loss of myself. Not only did the words I’m sorry accept the blame for whatever disagreement was immediately at hand; I’m sorry continued to mean I will never do it again.  I will never cross you again.  I will never disagree with you. I will try my utmost to second-guess what you want so that I never displease you. To say I’m sorry inevitably meant; I was wrong.

Even now, in an attempt to people-please, I catch myself indulging in the false humility I’m sorry. This is the one that comes across as obsequious, submissive, I wouldn’t want to get in your way, but I just did. A better word-choice would be, excuse me or pardon me.

Other “I’m Sorrys,” crossed my path. There were times a person close to me needed to be called to account or challenged. At those times, I heard the words, “I’m sorry, ok?” spoken in a tone that indicated, “now get off my back.”  That tone, I think, does not really mean I’m sorry.

Nor does this:

Spouse: I said I’m sorry.  You know how hard it is for me to say I’m sorry.

Response:  So?  The difficulty excuses you and makes the apology count for more?

Once, I heard a man say to his wife, “I said I was sorry.  That means you can’t bring it up ever again.”  Say what?  You can put a moratorium on ever talking about it again by arbitrarily saying, “I’m sorry?”

To this man, “I’m Sorry” is a legal injunction which says, “you can’t expect anything more out of me on this subject.  You can’t bring it up ever again.”

I wonder; did he mean his apology?  Did he ever make amends?

Speaking of spouses and relationships, I can hear the music now:

“Love means you never have to say you’re sorry

Love means without a word you understand.” 

It sounded comforting from the Sounds of Sunshine, and gorgeously idealistic as it dropped insipidly from the lips of The Lettermen in the seventies. I wanted to love and be loved in that idealistic, magnanimous way. Perhaps John Lennon was the realist here, “Love means saying you’re sorry every fifteen minutes.”

There comes a time when making amends is key. When a person is truly sorry for something they have done; when they are willing to take ownership and make amends; when they voluntarily promise – to the best of their ability – not to hurt again. Especially when a person takes action to make up for the hurt – those times are life-changing, relationship changing and therefore world-changing.

After five plus decades, I am still hesitant to say I am sorry.  Why?  Because the words are so easily misconstrued.

Me: I’m sorry.

(S)he: That’s more like it.  Now we’ll get down to business and do it my way.

Me:  I’m sorry.

(S)he: Well, what are you going to do about it?

Me:  I’m sorry.

(S)he:  You’re just saying that because you didn’t like the results.

Sometimes, there is nothing I can do to fix it, because I didn’t do anything in the first place.

Other times, I am not sorry for what I did; but I am sorry for the hurt to others.  And you know what?  I think you can be sorry without admitting guilt. Truth is, we all have places in our lives where we need or want to say I’m sorry. It has happened before and it will happen again.  At the moment, I am deeply sorry for the pain and relational carnage to bystanders caused by some of my actions. I am not sorry for the actions I took.  I am sorry that others were hurt by the actions I took to protect myself.

These days, when I say I am sorry, it does not mean things can go back to the way they were.  It does not mean I’ll never do it again.  It does not mean I was wrong and we will do it your way.

It means I will never put myself in a position for that to happen again.

How do you know your children are all grown up?

When your children are infants, you are their 24  X 7 lifeline; providing nourishment, shelter, clothing, a comforting shoulder; teaching them everything from how to walk to how to chew their food and get along with siblings.

By the time they start school, they can dress themselves, make a sandwich, maybe even sort laundry and tidy their bedroom.  You pray to God you will give them everything they need, every opportunity to be all they are meant to be.  Out of your own resources you give every last tidbit of time and talent you can find.  Sometimes they chafe at your involvement and sometimes they beg you to do more.

They go off to college.  You hold your breath. Did you do enough for them?  Will they be able to make wise decisions alone?  Will they turn out to be responsible adults, or stuck in endless, dependent childhood?

There were times they followed in your footsteps, but now, their stride has lengthened and they taste success and adventure beyond the map of all you were able to accomplish in your youth. 

How do you know that your children are truly grown up?  They begin to reciprocate.

  1. You go stay with them, instead of them living with you.
  2. They provide YOU with musical instruments and give YOU lessons.
  3. They invite you over and cook breakfast (or dinner) for you and clean up after.
  4. They give you helpful advice and insight – vocational, relational, educational – and    encouragement.
  5. They are avid and adamant about band / music practice – more than even you were.

Thanks Kids!  You make me feel successful.  You are all grown up.