Fear Not.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

We found a little "pool" of sorts of ice cold water, tucked in to the dry, crispy hills of 
Hot Springs, S.D.
Odd that a small town named "Hot Springs" has freezing springs.  
It was bitter cold but magic to me.
Invigorating on a 95-degree day in June.
On the short walk to the waters' edge, all the kids could see were the signs proclaiming, "Rattlesnakes!  Beware!"
"Poison Ivy on trail edge!  Watch your step!"
(Normally I would be very attuned to anything telling us this adventure has potential unfavorable consequences.)
Then again, they are just a "warning."  Not necessarily reality.
Charlie, who's usually up for anything, paid no mind to those signs in bold either, even if they were helping to prolong the quality of our life.
So at least the two of us enjoyed it, along with my husband.

A 60-something Native American woman sat on a concrete bench beside the pool, watching, smiling at my aggressive encouragement to get the other kids in the water while she waited patiently to take a dip.
Her raven black hair intertwined with strands of silver-grey in a braid that ran down her back and rested on a tie-dye tee.  

I wrapped a towel around my waist as I spilled my frozen limbs from the spring, rolling my eyes at the complaints of my children.
"Yeah, my kids are freaking out about the signs and the snakes and stuff so they won't go in," I said, half laughing, half annoyed.
She looks at me and proclaims with confidence, 
"OH!  But fear not!  Why should we fear when God is on our side!"  
I wanted to grab her wrist and say, "Wait.  What?  What did you just say?  Fear not?  God?  Yes!  I know!  That's what I've heard!  There's no need for fear!  Right?" 
(Seriously.  How do I keep running in to these amazing faith-filled humans?)
That was her short answer to my motherly woes. 
Fear not!
She continued on over the kids' whining and my husbands' growing impatience.

"That's why God gave us a voice and a choice!  Those snakes are not out to harm us and are just like us, a part of God's creation!  
With God on our side, who are we to fear?"  
I sensed some great spiritual teaching's coming, maybe some drops of memorized scripture verses, which was totally fine.  I'd normally listen if I didn't have whiny kids in tow and wasn't standing in air as thick and hot as a pizza oven.
But I got the message loud and clear.  I hung on to her encouraging words. 
If you truly KNOW God, know he dwells within you (which I believe,) 
 or at the very least, are learning to trust in HIM and surrender to what is, 
what IS there to fear? 
That seems so simple!  Why is it so hard to practice? 
(And then she gave us directions to an even COOLER place to swim.)
(That's her, resting on the rock wall on the right.  She joined us at the other springs shortly after.)
She turned out to be quite a ham too.  We got to chatting a little more while flies and mosquitoes buzzed around my head, me swatting and swinging at them agitatedly.
"What the heck?!  What's going on?!  They won't leave me alone!"
"Yeah, our South Dakota insects like white girls," she replies with a smirk.  I giggled.  
"I guess so!"  I dove under the water to escape their swarm and when I resurfaced she says,
"Yeah, I've been working on my tan, but it's been a rough go."  She said as she laughed and held out the beautiful brown forearm of natural Native American skin, close to my pasty-white, flee-attracting flesh.

Turns out my new friend was visiting from her home in San Jose.  She has land in Hot Springs and comes in to check on it every few years.  Had we been there all day, she probably would've become my new best friend and pen pal for life.
I love people.
I've said this before in past family-vacation posts (which I haven't done in awhile,) 
but I'm not a spectacular traveler.
I mean I LOVE the idea of travel, exploration and unplanned adventures. 
LOVE it.
I can plan, pack, prepare like a boss, have all bases covered, but the fearful thoughts, doubts and anticipation that accompany me in the process are unrelenting.
They stand strong and firm like those caution signs on the trail, "Beware!"  "Ah, you sure you wanna' go this way???"   
Most of the thoughts that follow are irrational; "What-if-a-deer-runs-out-in-front-of-us, flies-through-the-windshield, decapitates-the-driver (husband) leaving-me-to-fair-alone" 
"What-if-my-small-child-takes one-too-many-steps-off-the-trail-of-a-scenic-overlook-and-falls-over-the-side-to-his-rocky-death."
It happens, people.
Alligators and two-year-old's, scenic parasailing gone awry.  Small children stolen out of their hotel rooms in the middle of the night.

My anxiety makes me feel like I'm DOING something, being proactive in protecting myself and the lives of my children.
When really I'm basing my future on elaborate, Grammy-worthy screenplays in my mind, created by my imagination.
False, untrue happenings.  That are merely projections.
I get this.  
And it's a waste.  
And I love the quote, "Anxiety is paying the interest on a debt that isn't yours."
So I continue to learn to re-train my brain, which I truly believe is possible, by not getting involved with any of it. 
Despite all the nightmare-ish looking headlines of a family vacation gone wrong, they ARE only THOUGHTS AND WORDS and of no importance.  

My new response?
"Well?  So be it."  
A bear attack?  An RV explosion?  A rattlesnake bite?  The Zika virus from a mosquito that managed to get from Costa Rica to South Dakota?
So be it. 
We'll cope with it then. 
Go anyway.
Oh how the annual summer family trip begins with such sweetness and optimism:)
We rented an RV (which we've never done.)
And it was fantastic.
All the comforts of home crammed in to a tour bus of sorts.
(My idea of "roughing it" was NOT allowing the children to use the main TV while we drove.)

I love having my people in one space where I can see them and know they are safe.
There is nothing more comforting to an angsty mother, despite my improvement in surrendering.
To be able to SEE my children and have them within my grasp, out of the clutches of any unforeseen predators, is wonderful.
But it can't always be this way, I know.  
I can't stand guard at the doorway their whole life (in camouflauge apparel, no less.)
Forbidding entrance of all accidents, illnesses's, trauma's, heartache's in to their lives.
I just can't.
So I learn daily to ride along in the passenger seat.  
Managing, even accepting scuffles and "situations" in the back of the bus,
while surveying the land ahead the best I can.  
Most importantly, ENJOYING and being present in it.
And in an RV, there's actually a lot to see perched high above in the Captain's chairs, as you surf the rolling hills of South Dakota.
Driving east to Rapid City and beyond through small towns.  
Chamberlain, Belvidere, Wall.
Buffalo pepper the wide open plains, below seas of green towering above in the high-sloping hills.
And oh, that smell.  
You know it if you've been to Colorado or anywhere between Sioux Falls and Boise.  
It's like a dry, sweet smell and you can't get enough of it.
The sights are magnificent.
But there's so much to see tucked INSIDE our travels too.
I can SEE my children.  
Really SEE them, not because of the close proximity but due to the lack of my normal daily distractions; laundry, yard work, to-do lists, social media.
It's just us and the road and the outdoors.
I can LOOK at them.  
New freckles I hadn't noticed, new bruises.
HEAR their new thoughts on life, their dreams, their wishes and answer their current burning questions with rapt attention.
Watch more acutely who they're becoming as humans.
Also, just so happens, it's where our flaws and successes in parenting are highlighted.
When sequestered to a limited space for seven straight days, well,
you really DO see things.
Yes, the really great things. . .like how our 7-year-old can make a total stranger his new best friend in four minutes.

How our 11-year-old can pick out "Gypsy Road" in the first eight second guitar riff of the song and without missing a beat,"That's Cinderella.  Duh."
(I mean, an unbelievably proud moment for a parent.  Clearly we're doing a few things right.)
It is also where we see where we could use a good beefing up in our parenting/disciplining approaches.
(I decline to list ALL of those shortcomings here:)
Asking ourselves how we can teach them to REALLY love one another.
Even if they don't like or understand each other.
To be loyal and there for each other.
But how do we do that?
How do we ensure that as they grow and life gets a little trickier and ego's grow bigger, 
conditioning sets in,
they'll still have each others' back?  
Forgive quickly and love fiercely and appreciate above all else, the gift of family?
Rent an RV, apparently.
Go on a vacation. 
Force them to play together and sit so close to each other, there is no room for personal space.
We learn things.  About ourselves and each other on these excursions.
Remember we are five, very small dots, floating around on a PLANET.
And like everyone else, we're only here for a bit.
As we explore, we learn what scares us and what makes us feel alive.
(Like my daughter's great disdain for anything that requires walking or physical movement.)
(You can't see her face from here, but her body language says it all.)
But witness her deep love and innate compassion for four-legged creatures.

We get to take in the brilliance of what men can create when they dare to dream big.
I sat through the little video on Mt. Rushmore thinking, "Yes!  I get that!  I get how we have these lofty visions for our lives or what we want to create for others and sometimes they seem impossible!"  But then we get to see what Gutzson Borglum created in the 1920's based on a dream and thought, "WOW!  HE did THAT THEN!  Who are we NOT to do big things while we're here?!?!"  And then said to my children, "Don't ever tell me you can't do something.  If he can do THAT?  Carve those faces in to those cliffs of rock?  You can do anything you put your mind to."  
And in this time away, together,
I get to see my husband.  SEE him.
A man built like an ocean vessel.  
He can take a beating, acquire a few minor scratches and dings from a passing storm, but keep on a chuggin' through wind and waves without slowing down.
He can go on little to no sleep, feed off strong coffee and good whiskey.  
Runny diner eggs and dry toast.
(This is BY FAR my most favorite picture I've ever taken of all time.  And it was with my phone in a restaurant in South Dakota.)
He can go hours without peeing.  
Sunflower seeds and the rumble strip of the shoulder his only distraction.
I get to SEE him and am in awe of him and am SO thankful for him and who he is as a person.  Imperfections and all.
And of course, see more of (accept more) of myself (which has become a bit boring.)
I, unlike him, am not wired for that kind of endurance.  I can go for a stretch without showering and wear the same clothes for nine days.  
But that's not impressive in the least.  I require a bit more self-compassion to sustain a consistent level of sanity.  Usually in the form of leafy greens, naps and all the essential vitamins.  BO-RING.  
And we come to accept those things and idiosyncrasies of each other and love regardless.

We drift in to the laziness of summer on the wing's of gnats and high heat,
through the landscape of South Dakota.

The lull of tires on pavement and the sound of the wind rushing past the rear view mirrors has me asleep in no time.  

The children are delirious and have resorted to singing Christmas songs when Snapchat and Big Hero 6 on DVD for the 1500th time no longer holds their interest.  
But they become friends.
They rally for one more stop on the way home.
(Well, not so much rally as succumb.)
 One last impressive show of nature's majesty.
One more stop on the way to an even greater opening to the love and connection we have to one another
continued awe and appreciation of this beautiful planet we get to live on,
another addition to our journal of memories written in to our hearts and minds.
Go anyway.



thanks for it. Cool! geoteknik

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