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Weekly Update

Path of Resistance

I received a message from one of my friends, joking that for the next mom’s morning out, we should do a swamp walk. Attached to her message was a link.

I was intrigued. Coming from Minnesota, I had never heard of such an activity, and it sounded like a bad idea, because…..alligators?

I clicked on the link. It detailed how you can sign up to be led on a walk through the swamp. Not on boardwalks, but in the water. The particular one I was looking at was rated 5/5 difficulty and was a 5 mile adventure through “a couple inches to a couple feet of water.”

My brain lit up. It sounded like something I was capable of. I love spending time outside, and a swamp walk sounded so… nature-y.

The stars aligned: I was somehow able to convince life insurance actuary husband who is healthily fearful of alligators and snakes to approve of my participation in such an event. AND, I was able to find a babysitter. So, I registered. Shockingly, none of my friends were interested willing to risk their lives.

So last Thursday morning, under the pink skies of sunrise, I found myself driving to the swamp walk with a considerable amount of anxiety.

I had already tried to talk myself out of it the day before, the survival-motivated side of my brain arguing that my allergies could be COVID and I should definitely not go and infect other people.

As I drove, my brain continued to bring up other valid arguments against attending: being unable to find the remote parking lot, alligators, snakes, not being able to keep up with the group, but mostly- the highest fear- was spending five hours, doing a rather intense activity, with a group of people I didn’t know.


As I ran through a list of the worries on loop, it occurred to me that often, when I am facing something I feel a lot of resistance towards- something that scares the crap out of me- it usually means I am on the right path.

I’ve encountered these moments before jumping off the diving board, before entering a room full of people I don’t know. The seconds that lead up to giving a speech, the pause before the gun goes off at the start of a race.

For me, these moments are marked by a racing heart, flip floppy stomach, and sweaty palms. I do not enjoy being in these moments. In fact, I almost despise them. I would completely despise them if I didn’t know, if I hadn’t learned, that these moments typically occur right before something great happens.

Usually, pushing through the resistance brings me to new places, new people, the opportunity to try something new. And almost always, I leave with a sense of accomplishment.

Maybe, these moments that I try to avoid should be sought out.


And so, as I turned off on a remote dirt road, lined by tall skinny cypress trees, hitting approximately 5 potholes per second, I ignored the voice in my head that said, “This looks like a spot you could get murdered.” And instead of following the voice in my head, I followed the dirt road, to a parking lot filled with the friendliest nature geeks you’ll ever meet and a disgusting port-a-potty.

The thing I had feared most- awkward moments with strangers- didn’t happen. I forgot that nature people are some of the most down to earth, hilarious, and friendly people.

We slogged through the water, stopping to look more closely at snail eggs, swamp apples, and the Lincoln Log cocoons of bagworm moths. We found a turtle, watched a water moccasin slither away, noticed a hawk feather, and then the hawk above, camouflaging into the tree, watching us curiously.

It was 5 hours of wonder, and it left me more refreshed than a massage. There is something about spending time surrounded by the color green. I left with muddy feet and new friends. It turns out, swamp walks are really good for the soul. Maybe just my soul?

Whatever it is for you, here’s to following the path of resistance. I’d highly recommend you give it a try. Safely. With other people. Because, as my mom reminded me, even the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s nuns) go out in pairs. Which is precisely the motherly advice I’d expect to receive after walking through a swamp containing alligators and snakes.

Laura

PS- I didn’t take any pictures in an effort to remain fully present. But you can check out this website for pictures and learn a bit more about “Wet Walks”.

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Weekly Update

The Tiniest Details

We found ourselves surrounded by lush shades of green, the silence of a dirt path under our feet, and a view backlit by rays of the setting sun, flooding through the tree branches. The path we hiked started out as a typical Florida hike: flat land running along a river, mangrove trees with their roots dipping into the water, signs warning of alligators, and the forest floor covered in greenery, teeming with life.

A quarter of a mile into the hike, the palm trees made way for skinny stocks of bamboo, thickly populating the side of the path. Ten steps further, we were enveloped in a forest of full grown bamboo, reaching way up into the sky. They gently creaked as they shifted in the wind, and it felt for a moment, as if we had been transported into another world.

When we reached the half way point of the hike, the pace changed from the girls sprinting ahead, to the girls lagging behind, waving ferns that they had collected along the way, poking each other, and sweeping the dirt with their pretend brooms. My stomach was grumbling, and I was feeling very hangry. I just wanted them to hurry it up so we could get dinner.

After five times of trying to hurry Alice along, I realized I didn’t have much control over the situation (a seemingly common theme in my life). And that rather than being annoyed by it, I could just soak in the moment. It was a hard choice to make, given my hanger, but I decided to at least try.

I started to notice the tiniest details, easily overlookable, accenting our hike. The alluring pop of red berries the rosarypea vine flaunted, enticing enough to draw one in for a closer look, despite the fact that if ingested, can quickly kill a full grown human.

The understated white flowers of the hairy beggarticks, the plain jane beauty of the dried out blooms of rue, the climbing vines of the air yam, looking like doilies when used as a food source by bugs, and the trees covered in airplants, housing a stunning view if you only looked up.


Sometimes, life gets choppy and rough. It can be difficult to see the purpose, the meaning, in the fogginess of the storm.

Sometimes, in trying to find the big picture, we lose sight of the small details that make up our reality. We try to grasp for more, for a clearer view. The harder we look, trying to put pieces of the puzzle together, the hazier it gets.

Have you ever noticed how we tend to strive for the big things: new house, career, car; and yet, it’s the tiniest details that end up bringing the most joy? The tiny grains of sand between my toes, the way Alice absentmindedly pats my chest when I’m holding her, the exact same way she did when she was a baby, a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie, still gooey and warm.

While I am a firm believer in striving for improvement, trying new things, changing, I am an equally firm believer that beauty is readily available to soak in, and should not be overlooked in the pursuit of bigger and better things.


The beauty? It’s everywhere.

It’s the 75 year old worker at Lowes, wearing a veteran cap, who gave me his secretly stashed last small tube of clear caulk, patiently explaining to me how to re-caulk our kitchen sink, and telling me to get rid of the special caulking kit I had in my cart that he deemed, “not necessary to waste your money on”.

It’s the way Alice’s nose crinkles as she smiles.

It is in the sunrises and sunsets, the peanut butter M&M’s, the way Chad’s always knows the right thing to say when I’m out of sorts. It is Avery’s infectious giggle as she tells a story that only a five year old could find funny, the finger painted artwork that covers our walls, the “juicy kisses” that Alice gives each night, which I swear cause me to breakout.

Blink, and you could easily miss them; but mark my words, the moments are there.


In Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project,” she talks about the concept of “gazing in wonder.” It is one of my favorite take-aways from her book, and I use it often.

For me, gazing in wonder involves tiptoeing into Avery and Alice’s room after they are fast asleep, creeping up to their beds, and studying their angelic faces, peaceful breathing, and dimpled hands. It is the practice of trying to soak in, embrace, another moment with their little selves that I wouldn’t otherwise get.

Beauty abounds. If you read the news, you might not be convinced of that. But if you turn off your phone, shut your computer, and look, I guarantee you will unearth it.

Find your beauty. Gaze in wonder. Repeat.

Cheers,

Laura