Sunday, November 30, 2014

Life Seasons

I guess I have to admit ....

the season's officially over.

Only days after arriving home from our last hurrah to Sand Hollow Reservoir, the snow came, catching me with my kayaks still on top of the car waiting like happy puppies for one more outing. But I guess I must (with a sigh) admit that my sprint to kayak as much as possible before fall turned to winter has finally come to an end. At least for this year. Time to put my boats away.

I'm a new "real kayaker" so I'm not prepared with the right equipment to kayak in the cold season safely. Some day I'll have a wet suit or a dry suit or whatever one is best. That will take research and cash. For now I will wait out the winter until I'm able to get back out on the water safely again with warmer temperatures.

But it doesn't mean I'll be stuck in the winter doldrums. No way! I've got plans spinning in my head. I'm creating a Kayaking Bucket List! (I'll share that here on my blog.) Just like Dr. Seuss said, "Oh the places you'll go!"

I know Summer will come :) And I'm going to be ready!

I have an analogy to life that I want to make here, but first I need to back up and tell you about some of my dear friends that have shared with me their reaction to reading this blog.

They cried.

One of my favorite friends has an autistic son whose care takes so much time and energy she worries she will never have opportunity to chase her dreams. She worries she will never be able to do some of the things that are calling to her like I have been able to do lately. She feels stuck in a winter without sight of spring.

Another one of my lovely friends shared with me the gnawing fear she has that once her kids are grown, and her time and energy are freed up, that she won't have any dreams left. Raising her kids has been her everything. What then will she do? Did she have any other passions to propel her through the rest of her life? She was afraid of that emptiness that seemed to loom ahead of her like an endless winter.

I guess I've struck a chord. I think this yearning for living passionately towards our dreams is pretty universal.

Somehow, right now is my glorious season in life to chase this dream. I'm in my summer with the full heat, excitement, and freedom to follow this dream. (And I feel so grateful!) But for some of you out there, maybe right now is not your season. Maybe the dream that you cherish in your heart still has to wait to be realized. Maybe that dream is still germinating and it doesn't have a form or name yet.

If that is you, I am sending a huge hug of encouragement and love.

And a message of hope.

Inevitabley winter must turn to spring. And Spring always gives way to summer!

Here are some things I know to be true:
  • There are always options, possibilities, and ways to climb over obstacles. When it feels like you only have a closed door in front of you, a window will open. Prayer is a great way to open that window :)
  • You are meant to fulfill your greatest potential. The dreams and hopes and righteous desires of your heart can be fulfilled. Things will work out. This may take hopeful patience, trusting that summer will come, and creative work to get there. But it is possible!
  • Gratitude in the moment makes winter delicious. Savor what is currently in your life.


Here are some suggestions for all of us for whatever winter we are in:

  • Force a bulb. I've been given pots of forced bulb flowers in the middle of winter and the blooms made my heart happy when the world outside was grey and frozen. It was like having a little bit of summer in the depths of winter. When we are in a winter-waiting season we can force our own bulbs too by doing what we can to bring us closer to our dreams. Do something, anything, little or small that keeps your heart on the pulse of the dream and lets you experience it a little. Research, make lists, make someday-plans, collect pictures, read inspirational stories based on your dream. Do small projects based on your dream that keep you excited and fill you. Sometimes you have to help winter along. Force a bulb or two :) Start small. Rejoice in each small victory. Savor each tiny accomplishment towards your goal.
  • Prepare physically and emotionally for the time you can go for your dreams. Build your courage. Prepare materials. Save money. Get strong.
  • Determine to make it happen someday. Be resolved. Below is one of my favorite quotes. I found it as a young woman and it has taught me to dream and believe I could do whatever I set my mind to and was willing to work hard at accomplishing.

"Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire,

sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon

must inevitably come to pass."

Paul J. Meyer

  • Be hopeful, have joyful anticipation. When you notice signs of the thaw, and new life breaking through the frozen crust, when you have a hint that your "someday" isn't that far away, bask in that hope. Keep watch for the signs of spring and be ready to go for it when opportunities come!
  • Make friends and allies who can encourage you and suport you when you are ready to go. A blog about your passion is a fun way to do this! :)
  • Live with gratitude for the winter. Savor the days of preparation and germination. Recognize the warmth, brilliance, coziness, and growing moments of the season you are in.
      So, this winter, while my kayaks are stored away, I will take my own advice:
    • I will be researching the best kayaking destinations in the world and making plans to go there someday (and sharing them with you here, of course!).
    • I will be learning all I can about kayaking in winter and what clothing is best so that I can be prepared to kayak in the winter too next year. I'd love to see the lakes and rivers in the winter from my kayak!
    • I'm going to join a mountain recreation club I found located in my state and hook up with other outdoor enthusiasts. I plan to join some of their group kayak trips next year.
    • I'll be exercising to keep my body fit and strong so I can muscle my kayak anywhere I need to go.
    • I'll be writing about my pre-blog kayak adventures (which happened during my winter-waiting season) and posting pictures of the marvelous places I've already been.

    If the timing of your season is such that you can't engage full time in some of your deepest desires and dreams, engage in small doses that fill you and give you strength until a new season comes when you can really go for it like you'd like.

    When my kids were small, and before I found my courage and started this blog, I kayaked in small bursts whenever I could. For that season in my life it worked out just fine and prepared me for when I could really get to it.

    It can work out for you too!

    Do you have any dreams that are sitting on the back burner? What are they? What's holding you back? What are you doing during your winter-waiting time? Please leave a comment! I'd love to connect and share with you here. I eagerly read every comment as it comes in and will send a reply.

    If you'd like to be in on all the conversations we are having here, please sign up to follow my blog by email (enter your email just above my profile picture on this blog).

    In hope and joy of new seasons,








    Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    I Don't Deserve to go Kayaking

    And I'm not entitled to chase my dreams.

    I've come to realize something. I don't deserve to take time for myself to go on kayaking adventures. I haven't earned the freedom to just take off to do the things I love. I'm not entitled to take a break from my family responsibilities to chase my dreams.


    Keep reading and I'll explain what I mean :)

    Driving to and from our great kayaking adventure at Sand Hollow State Park, my friend Des and I had lots of time to think and talk.

    Some of our conversation was about how hard it was to leave our families. Even though we were so excited to get to go on our 2-Day kayaking adventure, our mother-hearts kept a pulse on our families back home.

    We knew which kids would miss us and who would be lonely without us there to tuck them in bed at night. We knew who had a lesson or a class to get to, who needed to be picked up at a certain time, and the effort our husbands would be making to get kids here and there and fed and to bed while we were gone having a blast! We knew it was only because of their willingness to take up the slack that we could go. (Thanks, guys!)

     It was hard to leave the people we love to do something just for us. It felt just a little bit selfish. 

    So, what is to be done?!? Should I still go on these kayaking adventures? Should I leave my family like that and take off to do this thing I love? Should I still pursue this crazy passion?

    The answer is YES.

    A resounding yes.

    But not because I deserve it or am entitled.

    But because of SACRIFICE.

    We are a lot like this little flower. To bloom and grow we need a steady support beneath us.
    That's what families are for us. Sometimes we're the flower. Sometimes we're the log.

    In healthy, happy families we all sacrifice for each other. 

    The sacrifices we make for each other:

    • empower our growth
    • provide support
    • allow us to be nurtured
    • enable us to reach our dreams
    • propel us to become who we need to be. 

    If not for the sacrifices in families none of us would be successful or happy. (Here is some more on this idea of sacrifice.) The key is that we stay balanced and make a constant effort to not be taking more than you are giving.

    How I Sacrifice for My Familly

    For example, let's start with me, the Mom. Almost everything I do everyday is a sacrifice of my time and energy for my family.

    When I'd rather sleep in a little longer I am up early to make my husband breakfast because I love him and don't want him to be hungry at work. Or I'm doing laundry so he has what he needs for his business trips. I try to take care of him and meet his needs.

    When I'm yearning to get into the mountains, or visit an art gallery, or take off in my kayak....when I have creative passions calling me to my painting canvas, or words aching to be poured into the writing project I have on the back burner, or when the latest great book I'm reading is pulling at my desire, I put it away.

    Instead I:
    • make breakfast, lunch, dinner, clean up, repeat....every day
    • wash dishes, vacuum and sweep, do laundry, clean bathrooms
    • manage disagreements, chore charts, and complaints
    • listen to the worries, heartaches, joys of my children
    • play math games, edit kid's research papers, and prepare homeschool lessons
    • watch the latest Parcour or gymnastics skill that my kids have mastered and cheer them on
    • orchestrate the schedules of my active kids and all their social and educational opportunities
    etc. etc. etc....

    We all know the work we do as mothers. And that doesn't include the work I do outside my home for our community and church.

    I sacrifice a lot for the ones I love.

    Surely I deserve a break. I am entitled to taking off when I want to, to fill myself up, right?

    No, I don't see it that way.

    Because I'm not the only one sacrificing here.

    How My Family Sacrifices For Me

    My sweet husband works HARD at his job.

    His full time and energy is spent building a career that supports me and my children.

    Because of his sacrifce:

    • we have food to eat
    • we have a comfortable home to live in
    • we have money to buy clothes we need ( and just want!)
    • we are able to go on family vacations
    • I am able to live my dream of being a stay-at-home mom and full-time homemaker
    • we are provided for all our needs and most of our wants
    • we are protected and kept safe

    And this doesn't include all my sweet husband does in our community and church for others. He sacrifices so much for those he loves.

    My children sacrifice for me.

    There are times I am too tired and my children miss something they really wanted to do. Or they clean the kitchen instead of going off to play when they could have. It may be as simple as giving me the biggest piece of cake when they had the chance to take it themselves.

    I remember when we went to Jenny Lake near Jackson Hole last summer. I REALLY wanted to kayak. It had been over a year since we'd kayaked last. We even had the boats on our Sequoia! But there was only time to hike or kayak. Everyone else wanted to hike. I'd never kayaked alone before and didn't really want to. My sweet daughter sacrificed hiking with the rest of the family to kayak with me! (And we had a great time, by the way. I'll write about that in a later post.)

    That meant a lot to me. Because of her sacrifice I was able to do something I really wanted to do.

    How We All Benefit From Sacrifice

    So, we all sacrifice. We all benefit at the expense of each other. That is the beauty of families and sacrifice. We don't do the things we do for each other grudgingly or keep a tally. We do them for each other out of LOVE and GRATITUDE. 

    Like the flower I found growing on a fallen log in Jenny Lake in the picture earlier in this post, sometimes we supporting another's growth and bloom, sometimes we are the one being supported.

    • Because I love my husband and am grateful for him, I gladly sacrifice for him. I do what I can to help him accomplish his goals, to make his life easier, to bring him joy and peace.
    • Because I love my children and am grateful for them, I joyfully sacrifice for them. I do what I can to help them reach their greatest dreams, take care of them, and guide them towards success and joy.
    • Because my husband and children love me and are grateful for me, they sacrifice for me.

    That includes the sacrifice to have me gone at times to go KAYAKING. And the times I'm painting, or writing, or reading, or whatever I'm doing that makes me unavailable to help, listen to, or be there for them. 

    And when they sacrifice for me I feel loved and SO GRATEFUL.

    So, I'll say it again.

    I don't deserve to take time for myself to go on kayaking adventures. I can't take off on a whim because I earned it with all my hard work. I'm not entitled to take a break from my family responsibilities to chase my dreams.

    I'm able to go because of the willing sacrifice of my family. 

    And sacrifice is what families do for each other.

    What do you think? Do you agree with me? Do you have any experiences where you can relate to this idea of taking turns serving and being served in families?

    Please leave a comment and sign up to follow my blog by email :) I'd love your company!

    Happy paddling!


    Monday, November 24, 2014

    Chasing the Sun to Sand Hollow - Day 2

    Finding the Unexpected

    On our 2nd day to Sand Hollow I expected to see more of the same amazing red rock scenery that we saw the day before. I was eagerly anticipating a delicious rerun of yesterday's adventure. I was totally up for that.
    But I was wrong. We found the unexpected and it was a whole new experience! Everything looked brand new. Stick with me in this post and I'll show you some surprise treasures we found along the way on Day 2 @ Sand Hollow.

    Treasure #1 Great Blue Heron

    On Day 1 @ Sand Hollow we saw 2 big, beautiful gray birds perched high on a red rock cliff. They didn't let us get too close before they spread their wide wings and soared away from us. We wondered what they were and wished we could get a better look at them.

    When we put in our kayaks the morning of our 2nd day, I noticed the footprint of a bird - a BIG bird. Look at the size compared to my footprint! We were pretty excited! Maybe we'd see those majestic birds again that day.

    About half way through our paddle we met our bird friend. We were able to get a little closer than before. I think it was a Great Blue Heron.

    I'm so sad that for some reason on the blog these pictures are blurry :( the originals are clear and you can see the beauty of the Great Blue Heron much better than depicted here.

    When we were too close for comfort it flew off to some rocks much further from us.

    I pulled out my watercolors and, with my kayak nestled against the red rocks in the picture above, I painted the scene before me which included the Great Blue Heron. Can you see him in my painting?

    When we first put in our boats on Day 2 we headed to the left of the dock and found a lovely rock garden filled with hidden waterways and coves. It was so beautiful and fun to wind our way through that red rock labyrinth.

    Treasure #2 Waterfall in the Desert

    As we continued paddling along the shore we were so surprised to find what looked like a stream emptiying into the reservoir. We were delighted to find something so unexpected! We had no idea this existed! We pulled our kayaks up onto the sandy beach and hiked up the red rocks, following the stream.

    It cascaded down the red rocks and rushed down to the reservoir through a green oasis in the desert. I was so curious about where this water was coming from. We followed it all the way to the top to find that it was gushing out of a big pipe opening up out of the hillside. So, it didn't have the most romantic source, but the waterfalls tumbling down the red rocks was an amazing treat to find.

    Treasure #3 Dramatic Color Up Close

    I was surprised to find that I felt a little creeped out as we rounded corners of high red rock cliffs to find the rock plunged deeply into dark, protected waters of coves. The inlets were dark in shadow and the water looked black except for the pale reflections of the opposite cliff.

    I felt small and insignificant in my kayak hugged up next to the towering rock walls with black water beneath me and the chill of shade. I would have paddled right past some of these smaller inlet canyons but Des, having just spent some time in one of them said that the reflections were amazing there.

    From where I was maybe 15 feet away in the sunshine, the reflections were nothing to hoot about. But I followed her into the shaded cove and just as soon as I glided into the shade the reflections against the still water exploded with color!

    The most dramatic oranges and blues I'd seen yet at Sand Hollow. It was like sensory overload. I just couldn't take all that color in fast enough! And my camera barely gives it justice in these pictures.

    If I hadn't taken the time (and a little courage) to get a little closer I would have missed it completely!

    Treasure #4 Seeing with New Eyes

    After exploring everything to the left of the dock, we decided to cross the open channel back to the area we had paddled the day before. We wanted to see the back side of the red rocks again, the area where we felt like we were in a white-water river the day before when the wind blew fiercely whipping up whitecaps.

    The difference between the two experiences was immense! It felt like a whole new place!

    The first experience was about:
    • adrenalin of hard paddling
    • sound of wind loud in our ears
    • eyes focused on the churning water

    This time there was:
    • silence
    • serenity
    • sunshine
    • a whole majestic shoreline that we totally missed the first time!
    In our eagerness ( and a little fear!) of getting through that turbulent channel we didn't see beyond the intensity of what was right in front of us and missed the surrounding beauty.

    Here is the channel the second time around, calm and picturesque:

    There were hidden coves that we didn't even see last time, let alone explore. I'm so glad to have had a second chance! This is what we found:

    Even the sheltered side that we spent a lot of time in the day before was different and even more beautiful without the wind. We could see through the crystal water to the looming boulders beneath us and the rocky floor of the canyons.

    So, the lesson I went home with from Day 2 @ Sand Hollow was to expect the unexpected. To have a feeling of excited anticipation in my life. A wonder of what is just around the corner. To foster a feeling of hope in the routines of my life, even the things I do all the time. 

    I've learned that a place is never the same one day to the next. I can see that in my life each moment can bring new beauty, unexpected surprises even in old places, and new understandings and appreciations. Each moment is a gift.

    When have you seen the old with new eyes and been delightfully surprised by the beauty and joy that came when you weren't expecting it?

    Thanks for reading today!!! It's nice to connect with you here. Please leave a comment or better yet, sign up with your email to follow my blog. If you like what you read here I'd love for you to share it with your friends. 

    My goal is to create a community of people supporting each other in reaching their dreams and living the abundant life :)

    In joyful living,