Thursday, June 16, 2011

Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgement that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. For now you are traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be.- Meg Cabot

She flies through the air with the greatest of ease..... most of the journey!
X marks the spot of my
mid zip dangle ordeal 
This week as I was dangling by a mere cable over the top of a tree canopy in the Mohican forest, I made a new friend.  “Hello”, I said, to this brave little soul who had this silly grin on her face. She was staring, mesmerized, by the view into the precipice below.  I asked her, “Hey, lady, are you nuts?  Do you know you're stuck smack dab in the middle of the highest zip line here?”  Her eyes dreamy (for sure- she must have been crazy) she responded,  “Well, it appears for now, there is nothing we can do about this, so let’s just get our Zen on, and enjoy the forest through the eyes of an eagle.”  By the time I recognized this serene sister was me, and completely surrendered to the beauty of the view and the moment, my guide and hero, Brandon, came to my rescue.  Hooray!  He zipped out to meet me halfway (because that’s where I was stuck) and together we backstroked our way on the cable to the platform I missed, by many feet. There is a reason these guides are very young!  I huffed and puffed.  He barely broke a sweat. “Remember, he said, when they told you not to bounce off of the launch point?” Ahhh... lesson learned from “flight training” but apparently forgotten.   Hey, it was hard for me to contain my excitement and enthusiasm at such a daring and fun activity.  I was on an adventure..... Ms. Indiana Jones (excuse me but it’s my fantasy) , zipping through the trees, rappelling to the ground (twice) and moving cautiously through the forest to find that hidden treasure at the end.  There it was, a shiny pot of riches marked with self-confidence, satisfaction, bravery, exhilaration, accomplishment, and just plain fun! Fun is too trite a word for this experience.  It was a blast.  My infamous WooHoo, won’t do..... WAAAAAHOOOO is the action verb for this. 
My awesome hat - fit for a
Royal Wedding, or zip adventure
I was long overdue for an adventure and this one was over the top.  The course took about 2 1/2 hours to complete.  We started off buckling into some really edgy looking duds as we suited up and into all kinds of straps, buckles, pulleys, and toggles. Big, thick gloves, ten sizes too large, palms already primed and blackened from past braking experience, protected our hands.  Topping off our couture, a bright red helmet.  This is obviously designed to keep the contents of your skull contained should you happen to plummet from a platform or cable. I gave mine a few extra twists of the wheel, leaving bowl marks on my head when I removed it later.  My brains weren’t going anywhere, although some friends questioned whether I had already lost my mind.   I looked like a rock star, or at least, a rock climber. 
Heading out into the forest in a jeep we arrived first at “flight school”.  Here we learned how to position our hands and legs, readjust and center our bodies should they drift left or right; how to brake, slowing our zip enabling us to make it to the platform without crashing into a tree. We were given a briefing on the hand signals the guide would be communicating to us from the awaiting platform.  These were clear enough... a newborn would "get it".  The most important thing we learned was self-rescue.  What??  Rescue myself? What were the odds?  This certainly came in very handy in my personal experience, although I was able to enlist the help of Brandon when I encountered the perfect storm of opportunity. 
Then, off to cross the first of two rope bridges to our debut platform and zip.  I have to admit, the first time, I was sweating profusely and shaking so badly I looked like I had been plucked from the sea water of the Titanic. First zip completed, I dried up, jitters gone and could not wait to do it again.  The views from the platforms were spectacular and soothed me while waiting my turn.  A few zips under my straps, and I was Tarzan reincarnated.  
Then, we came to the rappel.  The guide told me to walk to the very edge of the platform, squat down as far as I could, (my kneecaps recoiled in horror) and the piece’ de resistance... LIFT my right leg and PIVOT around so I now faced the platform, tush  hovering over the edge, just sitting there, mid air, straps cradling my derriere.  Then, when my toes were higher than my nose, (or was it the other way around?) I could begin to rappel.  Slowly, or quickly, it was my choice.  I was the master of my destiny and descent to the ground.  Not so bad.  Actually very fun.  My creative mind whirled again as I envisioned my future with the Secret Service Swat Squad.  A Bond girl for seniors. 
Sadly, as I  sensed we were coming to the end of my big adventure and fantasy,  I made my mind up to fully savor the final zip- every long, fast, second of it.  As I zipped along what our guides claimed, everyone’s favorite, I exhaled and finally emitted a big,  long, WOOOHOOO.  I paid attention to every delicious detail. I listened, and really heard the zipping sound as I shot across the cable.  I felt every breath of the air, rushing  onto  my face.  I was so fully alive and alert, I’m sure the forest even felt my energy.  Then, the final rappel.  This time, my body just knew to go to the edge, squat, pivot, and drop like a rock to the ground.  I picked up my reward, my pot of gold, and proudly walked out of the forest into the reality, I had just check marked another ‘to-do” off of my bucket list!  
My Fellow Dare-Devils
Oh, and yes, another positive from this awesome experience.  I thought I lost my abs about ten years ago at the Battle of the Bulge. It appears they have just been MIA.  I heard them screaming for help late last night.  They’ve been located.  What a relief.  I took two aspirin and went to bed. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right.- Henry Ford

When my daughter was just hours old, I recall the nurses bringing her back into my room, swaddled tightly in a little pink blanket.  All family and visitors had left and I had my brand new baby girl all to myself.  As I held her in my arms, staring into her tiny face, the one thing I was most in awe of was her alert, all knowing eyes, smiling into mine as if to say, “Well hello, mama (and she calls me this today)! I am so happy to see you again!”  I lifted her little body to my face, kissed her tiny rose bud lips and inhaled the freshness of her.  The word inspire in Latin means to breathe upon or into.  My daughter has inspired me from the moment she was hours old.  Just as my body nurtured her into life, she has breathed life back into mine, many, many, times. 
All of these thoughts were prompted after she ran her very first 5K yesterday.  She completed it running every single, hilly, terrained mile.  Her little girls were lined up along the path, pride and awe lighting up their faces as they clapped and cheered her to the finish line. Waiting with them was her incredible husband, who pre-race, shouted his pride from the pages of Facebook for his world of friends, to hear.  She is a very lucky young woman to have so much love and support.  She knows it, appreciates it, and thrives in the glow of it.  She deserves it.  She is the epitome of tenacity.    
My sweet girl was born with a hand anomaly.  Two of her fingers on both hands were webbed.  This has never been an impediment for her in doing anything she wanted to do.   When she was small, she shrugged it off like it was just an itchy little mosquito bite.  The kids in the neighborhood never really questioned her hands. They too were mesmerized by her awesomeness.  She was the CEO of our block and pretty bossy from time to time.   I have to give her credit, she even got the little boys to dress up in girls clothes and wigs engaging them in some make-believe scheme.  She wore the pants in the neighborhood!  We joke today, perhaps she was the fire starter in igniting the flame of homosexuality in one of her little male playmates!   She underwent 3-4 surgeries before she was even 5 years old and started school.  This, didn’t stop her from building one handed sandcastles, making mud pies, or dangling from the trapeze on her swing set, one arm in a cast. When she was 11, she tried out for band at her elementary school.  An insensitive music instructor suggested to her, she may want to play the trombone.  She didn’t and boldly told him she wanted to play the trumpet.  He begrudgingly told her she could, but wouldn't give her a year and she would get frustrated.  She played the trumpet, and ultimately played it well enough to be in the marching band in high school AND qualified for a seat in the exclusive Jazz Band, both her junior and senior years.   
Sadly she shares the unfortunate experience of many losses; beloved and significant people in her life, at very early age.  She lost one grandmother when she was in middle school, yet used that loss to motivate her to perform in a Show Choir and dedicate many of her performances to her grandma.  In College she was destroyed by the loss of another young grandmother, one she had spent almost all of her free time with, from babyhood through high school.   The grief made her question the meaning of many things and drove her into a sabbatical her Junior year.  She came back home to regroup and tried to make some sense of life.  Six months at home, the passion to return and get her degree, compelled her to switch Colleges, mid stream.  She battled with school officials getting them to accept the credits she had already accumulated, and did not stop until they saw things her way.  One day, she barged through the door announcing the Fisher College of Business at OSU  had proclaimed she would be graduating with her BA in Business and Marketing at the Spring graduation ceremonies.  
The death of a beloved step-dad and mentor, while wrenching in dealing with such a profound loss,  made her more determined to take the lessons learned from her time with him and appreciate the many gifts he brought to her life; a new church and religion that fits her like a glove.  She inherited his set of values and the integrity he portrayed in his daily dealings with her.  Her little ones are blossoming under this nurturing spirituality today.  He taught  her service to others is the pathway to happiness and humor is the best way through the tough times.  Once again, she extracted the good from a very difficult period and went on determined to not waste time on self-pity and find the blessings instead. 
Today, her parenting skills leave me humbled and amazed.  Her commitment to her little girls, their self-esteem, character, and providing them a well -rounded life, is a beautiful thing to witness.  She has this balance in her life I  never seemed able to achieve.   She is a supportive, committed wife, a loyal friend, a determined professional and leader, and a shining example of womanhood to her daughters.  She knows what is important to and for her and will go to the ends of the earth to fight for that. 
I spend a lot of time reading the words of so many wise ones and gurus.  It occurred to me as I watched this young woman come down the hill and push towards the finish line yesterday, inspiration can also be obtained in mindfully looking around and really seeing those people who are a part of our daily lives.  We can be changed and inspired by those we know so very well, if we just step back  and observe how they work with the fate they are dealt.... How they take what's been handed, mold it into something magnificent, and walk in this world. 

Woo Hoo Miss Christi!  You did it!  Proud mama here!