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Posts from the ‘Standing On My Own’ Category

The Photo

Each year since my husband’s death in 2016, when August rolls around I dread it. It is creepy, and while it is getting better, it is still something I am dealing with. Earlier this month I posted on my Instagram account. When I saw this shot it gave me the creeps. I have been in this creepy, stormy place in my mind. Having to go in once again didn’t thrill me. Then something happened.

When I showed this photo to a friend, he exclaimed: “I’ve stood in this very place!” He proceeded to tell me about this spot, which was in Maine, where the villagers watch the storms that come in. As he talked about his childhood, and what that place meant to him, I began to see life and love in the photo.

Maybe it was time for me to attempt a rethink of August. In having these thoughts, I wondered how that could happen. When I think about August now, the rush of memories of where we were and what was happening during those weeks leading up to his death assaults me every time I open the calendar on my desktop. Was it even possible to consider a rethink as an option?

In my personal work around his death, I’ve reached the place where the good days far outweigh the bad days. My appointment book and calendar are filled with things that make me happy and inspire me.

So, I got thinking that this round of August was going to be so much better. It was—until my individual appointment with the person I work with on a spiritual level. She took me into this familiar place. As the tears came, I realized what I’d been fighting and I talked through it. Several hours later as I sat at my computer, the depression crept up strongly, and the urge to shut it all down was great. But I didn’t.

As I sat on my bed dripping soothing eye drops into both eyes, it hit me: This is not where I want to be now! My calendar and appointment schedule are doing what I hoped they’d do when I returned to work. I’m happy about where I am and the work I’m doing. Four years later I can accept the awful that I’m feeling in the here and now, but it doesn’t have to stay around. While I know what that dark, stormy place looks and feels like, I’m not in that place anymore. I’m seeing things in new ways!

I can’t tell you when the shift happened. I can’t tell you how it happened. What I can tell you is that it was slow and gentle, and it involved my willingness to stay on this path that I’m walking on. It involved confronting the old self, being willing to engage with questions, and visiting change. Some things weren’t new to me, and others were.

Grief and loss call us to an encounter with ourselves that can be rather revolting at times. As we look in the mirror, we are asked to converse with the person staring back at us. Sometimes we must admit that what we are seeing is not something we like. At other times the image we see is one that we accept with surprise and amazement. Is this really the real me? In the moments of amazement, we are greeted with the realization that yes, I’m really doing this! Yes, what I thought would never change is changing. Then we’re taken to that place where we ask the “how” question: How did this come into being?

I believe it is a combination of both actions and events that propels us into these new spaces. Small successes that build self-esteem and allow us to reconstruct what might have been damaged by death or loss, or in other ways. The courage to dare to stick the toe into the water and test it to see if the water will tolerate the tiny toe. When we discover that first level of safety, we can progress. The testing of the waters is a small event. It is one that signals safety and that it might be OK to consider a tiny action. For some people the tiny action might be making a meal, going out to lunch, or picking up a book to read. It really depends on our personalities. My first foray back into the land of the living was a three-week trip to visit the U.S. and it was huge in so many ways. I returned knowing I could navigate places that were foreign to me: new public transit systems and other new places. Just shy of the month of August 2017, I realized that Jon would say I’m “rockin’ this!” To tell you the truth, I was terrified! It was a huge first, and it would take another year before I’d do it again. But this time, much closer to home. The second trip was a journey to Glasgow and Wales. It was all new and, once again, with the support of new friends, I made it—and I did well.

The landscape I called life changed with that trip. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! It opened up my mind and heart to new experiences, and as the next year unfolded and 2019 rolled around, the tears lessened, the new friendships began to take root, and now my legs were immersed in that water. It would really take all of 2019 for me to fully begin to swim in life’s waters again.

Now, as I write this with August in full swing, and 11 days left in the month, I stop, take a breath, and rethink the photo I posted earlier in the month. Yes, my life has really changed. Yes, Jon would love that I’m “rockin’ it.” Yes, the tiny events turned into larger actions. Yes, it has been hard. Yes, I’ve found ways to move on. Yes, I’ve met the old me and have kept much of her. She is new in many ways. I choose to stand tall and strong in this new place I call life.

The Path to a Peaceful You

Peace? Right now it seems elusive.  

I’ve been thinking about the ways we all look to find peace in our lives. Some isolate and hide in their own inner worlds. Some turn the news off so they don’t have to hear the crazy. I’m noticing that lack of thought is also giving people the illusion of peace. People hide in their vacations, shopping, as well as their food. Some people hide in moods, achievement, knowing, religion, and belonging. Starting to see a picture here? How do you hide?

One of the things that has been affected by my husband’s death has been the need to travel alone to places I’d rather not go. The process of going began with me sitting at the dining room table with a group of people and being totally freaked out (“freaked out“ in this case being a technical term). I was panicked, I was uncertain. I was getting drunk on chocolate because people around the table kept feeding it to me and I kept eating it. I couldn’t even envision the path that I’d be facing during that first 24 hours. I believed that I couldn’t do it alone. Who would walk with me? The walker came later.  

The second full day brought with it a discovery that I wasn’t alone. I was able to reach down into a place that I didn’t understand and sit in the moment, finding peace within. For a brief period, I understood that I’d pull this off. But, I didn’t understand how at the time.  

I think that inner peace comes from being still and listening to our bodies and our hearts and trusting our guts. We should also allow for some “out-of-the-box” thinking.  

When we understand our inner compass it can guide us to places that we would normally not go. I had to learn to trust in what I had and to build it up as I journeyed on a new road. Getting through grief, loss, or transitioning to a new place is all about being able to walk a new road. It is about understanding that when the roadblocks appear, you can find ways of getting through them. When I would begin to doubt, a friend would remind me to “look for your options.” As I did this one thing, I could bring myself back to a place of knowing, understanding, and calm.  

I had to learn to sit with the uneasiness of things I didn’t like. That is just one of the lessons I’ve learned because of the life transition I walked through in dealing with Jon’s death.  

Sitting with stuff you don’t like is hard. The urge to get up and move back to the safety of the old ways can be strong. Seeing the new path and discovering the new ways will change your view permanently. Once you see the new, you cannot retreat to the old.  

I don’t have a magic answer for how to pull this off. I can tell you that the longer you sit in the new space, the better it gets. It’s the equivalent of breaking in a new pair of shoes. The first few wearings can be difficult and then the shoe begins to mold to you and soften itself to your foot. Suddenly, like the shoe, sitting with the new way of being feels comfortable. It isn’t a foreign thing-a-ma-jig hanging around begging for recognition. You feel it, see it, and understand that it is now a part of who you are.  

The catch to doing the above is that it is hard! This is where a good therapist, or coach, can come in handy. It can be helpful at times to have an objective third party who can come in and become a part of your team to cheer you on towards the inner peace you desire. 

Discovering that peace comes in the silences of the journey has been valuable to me. Spending my first hour in the morning slowly waking, thinking, and reading has also calmed my soul. I get that I have the luxury of doing this because of my age and not having children at home. Now you may be thinking, That is all well and good, but that won’t work for me. Yeah, I know. So here are some ideas for you to snatch at as a beginning.  

If you have kids, you can: 

  • Create a family time to sit and share 
  • Eat together and talk about the day and one good thing each person learned 
  • Claim one day per child when the two of you know that you will be together and do something you both enjoy 
  • Create an end-of-the-day ritual that closes out the day and sends kids off to bed. Make it enjoyable 
  • Read together 
  • Turn off the TV 
  • Go for walks, bike rides, hikes, or another free activity that you all enjoy 

Those are just some ideas for kids and families having to walk new paths. 

What about you?

  • Start by claiming five minutes to just sit  
  • Light a candle and just… sit 
  • Swap time with a friend to get out once per week—even for only 30 minutes 
  • Discover reading, art, or music  
  • Find a podcast you enjoy and tune in  
  • If you enjoy a bath, have one  
  • At some point in time you might want to welcome a cat or a dog into your life  

I’m hesitant to make this list too long, or too specific. It’s just meant to get you thinking.  

My parting words to you are that inner peace comes after the tears, the hurt, the anguish, and the doubts begin to be purged. There is no magic formula for any of this. What is there? There is the knowledge that those who have courageously walked and sat where you are now, have found their path to inner peace and a new way of being that will look different than where you started from. This is a good thing!  

To work with Gail, use the Contact form to request a session.

No Regrets—Just Lessons Learned

*Note: This is another post from the vault that was written when my husband was still living. Enjoy!  

I found this in a mass mail that a friend sent out. It made me giggle. I giggled and thought, RIGHT. This kid gets it. Do I?

“A little boy was overheard praying: ‘Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, don’t worry about it. I’m having a real good time like I am.’”

My thought: this kid is comfortable in himself. He is having a good time with life. The good and the bad are all a part of it.

I hope that the fictional boy will keep this attitude in life. I hope he will love himself and others and bring joy to everyone he meets. I hope he’ll pull pranks, tease, and get teased. I hope he’ll love his pet tortoise. As he learns to be kind and compassionate to others, he’ll earn friends. He will grow into a healthy adult who will pass these same traits on to others.

Being able to know that you are fine just the way you are is a gift. It is a gift provided by loving parents who care enough about a child to foster a proper self-image from the beginning. This child is not indulged, but rather encouraged to do his or her best in everything. She is praised for accomplishing things, and supported to get back up and try again when she fails at something. Like our fictional boy, she knows that “I am having a real good time like I am.”

A healthy child learns to earn the privileges he or she deserves. She learns to wait for the toy that she wants, and earns the prize honestly. And along the way, she comes to understand that she is unique, but not “special” within her world. She learns that success is won and failure is a lesson to be learned from.

Recently, a friend sent me one of those captioned pictures. You know, the kind that floats around the Internet. This one had an interesting caption and I took the time to respond to it.

The subject matter of the photo was having regrets. Throughout my life I have made mistakes and felt sorrow over decisions that could have carried me down a different path. I am “me” because I’ve made the choices I’ve made. I’ve learned the good and the bad lessons from those choices. I own my choices. Ownership of the outcome means that I try to live by not asking “WHAT IF?” or thinking “IF ONLY.” Once it’s done, you can’t take it back.

My first lesson from life in these matters came when I was 18 and headed off to school in another state. My mother and I were present when my younger sister died of a heart attack. There was a part of me that wanted to cancel my life and stay home. That wasn’t to be, and I moved on to the next phase of my life: learning on a larger scale.

Because of the choice I made to move forward, I made friends that I would have never made. I grew up and discovered that my heart could get broken, heal, and, yes—I could even fall in love again. I learned not only to love, but to give, in new ways. Had I stayed home and attended school locally, the lessons would have been different. Leaving home caused me to want different things from life. That is what should happen because growth requires change.

As I write this from the vantage point of age, and hopefully, more wisdom, I am thankful for the roads I have walked. Sometimes I speculate about the roads that weren’t traveled. And I think back to that fictional little boy—you know, the one that is just fine the way he is—and I think that I’m fine having walked down the paths I’ve taken. I’m glad I’ve learned, hurt, healed, and grown. No real regrets—just lots of lessons to learn from.

Three years Ago

As I sit typing this, I’m remembering.  It doesn’t hurt like it did.  It doesn’t cause the eruption of tears it once did.  Tonight, three years ago, was our last date.  We went and got ice cream and sat out talking and when he got saturated by the surroundings we went home.  We didn’t go out the next day.  I have no memory of what I did that Saturday as  it has been wiped out.  But, I can tell you what happened Sunday: that will never be wiped out. That was the day that he “did the deed”, as I now think of it.  

Pain like this doesn’t just disappear, it doesn’t do anything helpful.  Pain like this is a pernicious tyrant of a thing, hanging around and teasing you.  Just when you think there are no more tears you start to tear up again.  When you think you have the tears under control they continue.  Oh, they aren’t the same ugly tears of the beginning, but they are still ugly.  This is an ugly cry on steroids.  It is beyond description.  

Three years later I can tell you that  grief and pain have altered who I am on some level.  There are times when I have become selfish and ungiving.  “I’m not that”, I scream to myself!  And yet when the pain surfaces in waves, “I am that”.  Grief on steroids alters the soul.  

I’m having to be real about this.  Getting through this means getting really real about what happens inside the mind as well as the soul, and how you handle it.  

Some of the things I thought I was certain about have become large uncertainties.  In the beginning I thought that everyone would pull together and rally with me.  Not so.  What I discovered in the first six months was that people were clueless about what to say.  Let’s be real here about what you do say to the widow whose husband did what he felt was, at that point in time, the only option he had left.  Treatment had not failed him, but the thought of continuing on wasn’t an option for him.  What does one say when the guy was in so much mental pain that the ultimate act was the only option left.  

I’d gone into things knowing the risks.  We’d talked many times during our 22 years together about “what if the mental pain gets so bad that…”  He knew how I felt about him and the suffering he was in.  Three years ago it boiled over.  

I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.  Knowing what I do about bipolar illness,  just makes it harder at times.  And now as I write this, I cry.  

It doesn’t go away and it never will.  Pain like this changes in quality and quantity, but it will always be present. 

You might be wondering, well, if it’s changed, then are you over it?  NO!!!  You work through some things and when you work through that stack of stuff other stuff surfaces because that is how life is.  I can say this about my process but not someone else’s: in meeting grief head-on it has reared its ugly face to me.  Grief has caused me to stand stronger than I ever thought possible.  I’ve had to risk, to grow, to survive, and learn how to thrive on my own.  I’m still working on it.  You know that line from “The Abyss” where she drowns herself and he carries her to the pool and they’re trying to revive her and she isn’t coming back?  Yeah, the one where he slaps her silly and tells her to fight because she’s never walked away from a battle. That one.  Well, that’s me.  I’m just doing what I’ve always done.  This time around it really sucks.  

Yeah, three years ago, my life took a strange turn.  Three years ago it altered me in ways I”m still discovering.  Only three years and I remember it like it were yesterday. 

The Rose Room

As some of my readers know I’ve just painted and will be painting the rest of the space soon. There was one Room that has gone untouched. It is a beautiful rose color and in it there are many treasures. It is the Room of All Things Gail.

On the walls there are works of art and each piece has a loving history.

There is a painting that my aunt Ruth did way back when, that I treasure. I love it because she let me have it knowing how much it meant to me. There is the counted cross stitch that my friend Leann labored to create for me. It is beautiful, and I cherish it because she performed a labor of love when she stitched it.

Along with that, my older sister Beth has a place of honor with the picture that has been with me since childhood. It is a Gail version of “The Princess and The Pea.” She put me in a blue dress on top of many mattresses. Each mattress is a different color and design. I love this so much and someday it will go to one of her daughters.

Hanging in the Room, and moved from the bedroom, is another counted cross stitch. My sister-in-law Peg made this for our wedding. It too was done with love. Shared love is the only requirement to be placed in this Room.

I also have two stained glass pieces of art that my mother-in-law, Mary made. I am so thankful to have them.

Hanging in another place of honor is the wedding bouquet that my three sisters-in-law Peg, Bev, and Rebecca, created for me.

There are two parasols that Jon hung up. I’ve mentioned in “Sneakiness” that he backlit them for me. That is a day I will remember forever. Oh, the love that filled the space that day!

The Room holds objects that span the years of my life and are sacred to me. It holds something from a friend who I came to know in the last five years of my life. That friendship has given me many gifts of thought and hope. Thank you, Betty. The Room is my place of healing and restoration. I can sit quietly, get ready for my day, and read in that room.

In some ways the Room has existed for a few years but in other ways the Room is new. The Room, in its present form emerged into its new role in my life over the late summer and early fall. It started with knowing that I wanted to place a new piece of furniture in the Room and as I envisioned where it would go and how it would feel in the Room, The Room grew in purpose and my understanding of the space began to change. What I had used as an office during Jon’s life would be no more. My office was to move to the other side of the house where the sunlight can stream into it and I can see out into a larger world.

This Room, called Gail, is a place of healing and hope. This is where my heart is found, where the healing is strongest and where, when I enter, I find the most peace.

For those of you who read “Raw” or listened to the podcast (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) that I posted late in 2017, my healing journey has been both traumatic, challenging, amazing and in some ways, even peaceful. I suppose that it has been a combination of watchfulness, the love and caring of others, and the understanding that this type of pain and hurt only dissipate when faced head on. It is my tiny sanctuary, however, that allows me to find what I most need in my heart.

It is the realization that I can say a loving goodbye to someone I have loved deeply. He is not in pain now. It is also an acceptance that I can hold on to his memory in new ways.

The creation of this space has done its secret healing and holds a place in my soul that I didn’t understand until I let go to find it.

I don’t think that there is any single or correct way to heal from something like this. I think that the best healing comes from following your heart and soul and listening to your gut. Healing involves talking and finding a supportive listener. For the listener you need to choose wisely. Find someone who you feel a bond with, someone who respects you and who you respect. If there is not such a person in your life then find a good therapist who understands both grief and the loss involved with a completed suicide.

Healing is about recognizing that you will have really good days, really bad days, happy days and days of hopelessness. Healing is about allowing the depression that will come because of the death enter into your life. Sit with the depression for a time, and if it doesn’t fade, seek professional help. Healing is about understanding that the pain will diminish and calm. Healing is about loving yourself. It is about seeing yourself in the mirror as “enough”: no more and no less than, “enough”.

Healing takes strength and courage. It is your own unique journey.

As I spend time in this healing space I’m discovering its complete power. It is the power of the lit candle in the darkness. It is the homing beacon that steadies me. It is that place that tells me that I’m loved both by myself and by many others who I both know personally and who I only know because of the Internet.

To walk through the process of healing is also to be able to look out the window on a grey day and see the sun that the clouds hide. It is a knowing that you and only you can fully understand. It comes from traveling  “Through” it and stumbling along the way. It happens when you stand up once more and say AGAIN! You are never beyond, but you have moved on.

Forward movement takes on many forms. Sometimes it is a return to the old haunts and other times it is the unexpected and unfamiliar that call to the soul. In many ways the Room of All Things Gail was totally unexpected to me. It was a feeling that I had to create a place of sanctuary.

As I write this I am in my new, blue, office space surrounded by books, my sand tray collection, and hope. This space is one I’ve claimed as mine. As I look out of the window I see the stormy skies closing in, I see the other homes in the area. Most of all I see LIFE. It is good. It is peaceful and this is my space now. This is the room where he wrote the notes. This is the room where he spent so many hours…and yet this is not “that room” any longer.. The painter came one November day and covered the rich green walls with my beautiful blue color. The painter took nothing away but what had to go. It doesn’t hurt like it did a year ago. This is a place I come to work and to enable the healing of others. This Room also holds some treasures.

While blue is the color of my soul it has not been the color of my deepest healing. That has been rose. That Room is just a few steps away from where I now sit working on this and I shall go there to feel the warmth of the sanctuary: the Room of All Things Gail.

As I sit here I realize that I could not have created this lovely space without the Room of All Things Gail. It was the power of healing that let me say goodbye to what had been and greet anew what was to be. It was the power in that Room of Rose that set me on a journey to claim the space I’m now working on. It was the realization while sitting in that space that I could and should listen to my heart and follow my desires to create what I wanted for myself. Thank you Rose Room. I think I’ll go there now to pause, give thanks and continue the journey.



River pilots have been a mainstay of the great rivers of the world and in the U.S. they taught many how to navigate dangerous places and waters. I’ve used this analogy in closed groups and am now choosing to use it here in this space. I hope the message is one of hope. This is an imaginary conversation.

The master river pilot and I sit in the boat eating bread and cheese, drinking the cold water of the river we’ve been on. The pilot is silent and waiting for me, the student, to comment.

“Devastation and damage is there. That is what I see.”

“Is that all?”

I slice off more cheese and bread and drink the water.

“No, I see triumph and wisdom.” We turn back to view what was navigated and we both sit in silence thinking over the trip that has placed the boat in its current location.

WHOA! We both survey the damage, crazy as it is, and we embrace. I’m sobbing in joy and gratitude. I stammer an “I could not have done this alone” and take the pilot’s hand. “You didn’t tell me how beautiful it would be and I didn’t think I could see it this way. This river is magnificent! And so is the damage!” Yes, in my fresh realization I discover that the damage I have navigated has its own beauty.

We can see it all! The mountain and the sacred space. We can see the dark,creepy forests and valleys that held spaces of peace. I wonder if the people that were there are still present or if they have also left for new destinations. I notice a city and inhabitants exploring its environs; they are being told to get on the newer, more elaborate boat that has been brought to this point in time. I knew it was time for a new boat, and a new journey. I understood the pilot would not be as active this trip but that if I asked for help and assistance I would have it. I had grown much and it was time to test my new strength against the currents on my own.

I remember the terror of boarding a tiny, dilapidated boat and feeling as if it would get me nowhere and I prepared to sink as I went out on the water. But, I remember thinking that if I had to be on the water in this craft, I’d better do my best to save or repair it. And that is how the journey began. I remember beaching the craft and walking inland to a forest that looked dark and threatening. I sat on a rock and cried because I knew I had to go into that place and I was alone and fearful of journeying into the darkness. I wasn’t afraid of what I would find, but I was uncertain of navigating in the darkness. As I sat there I heard the tinkle of bracelets and earrings. It was a gypsy lady! She was saucy and vibrant and said that she’d been into that particular forest in the past and would be glad to serve as a guide. Together we reached a meadow of great beauty where the gypsy helped me locate a magnificent chrysalis that was just about to hatch and as we watched it the most beautiful butterfly emerged. It was the soul of the woman who had gone into the forest! “This is yours and it will be with you forever.” The memories come back and the memory of the bond between the two of us floods my mind. The butterfly has remained nearby as the journey has unfolded. It holds magnificent strength! I know now that I have been molded by this soaring creature of such beauty, and I still wonder why I have not captured its deeper essence. In wondering about this the butterfly responds to my heart. “You have! You have been so busy on the journey that you’ve failed to look in the mirror! All you see is the damage! You know the beauty is there, but have you really claimed it for yourself? You are aware of triumph and wisdom, but are you aware of them residing in you? Don’t you remember when I broke free? Don’t you remember how I soared? Do you think that was only the beauty of my wings? You doubted what I gave you, but I’ve been near you all of this time. I am you, in pureness! Take a fresh look at me!”

I return to the boat and realize I’m crying. I gasp for breath and try to calm myself.

The master looks at me, the student of the river, and echoes the butterfly. “Your butterfly joined you so long ago that I think you have forgotten her full power. You have held her close and soared and at other times sunk into deep despair. She never left you and when times required her to, she reached down and pulled you up to travel on the river another day. I sent the gypsy lady to you when you needed a primer that would serve you well and prove to you that you could do this work of Life.” I sit speechless. What words can I use to respond to this? I don’t have words; only a realization that truth has been spoken.

When I asked you what you saw, you spoke the worst, first. You have done this type of thinking for so long that it has become primary to your functioning and yet when you stand tall and survey the surroundings you also speak to the triumph, and finally, the wisdom that you have gained.

The master teacher and navigator focuses me on the rapids that I so recently transited.

“Look! What is there?”

“Only triumph. I don’t see anything else.” But you were there with me guiding me through the rocks and when the boat began to take on water you stood and watched as I bailed myself out.” “I only did that to teach you to trust me as you never have trusted me before. I knew that in your heart you wanted to learn it for yourself.”

“You have learned this part of the river well. Well enough to guide others. Look again and learn from the journey you have been on. You are not that scared, younger woman of so long ago. Look at your hands. Feel your strengths.” Once again the truth is spoken to my heart.

In the past two years the journey has taken me to many places on the river. It has been a transit and journey of a new type. Leaving the old and finding the new only to discover that the old has served in ways I never felt it could.

The boat I am in now is simpler, yet sleek and modern. The guides who have served to enable me to navigate the rough stretches have come and gone. Each has taught me new things. Each guide has been specialized in a very particular portion of the river. But the pilot who began the journey with me has remained.

As I think back over the journey, I’ve come to understand the lessons the river has taught me. Pain and growth, whether in childhood or adulthood, teach strong lessons. I’ve gathered them in and managed to weave something out of it all, yet I’m not quite certain what the is all about. I just know that it is there, and that someday I’ll look over it and maybe have some insight that isn’t present now.

What I have learned from all of this is that there are times when the insights we gather serve us well and other times our view can trap us into paths we’d rather not wander on.

So, as I pause on this river, look and observe, I can’t get too snarky or certain. I am, like each of you, a traveler on this river. I navigate it with respect. I turn to the master pilot and navigator and announce that it is time to run this new river area. I get a smile, a slice of bread and cheese and more fresh water. I wonder who the new guides will be. I wonder if I’ve learned enough to guide myself or others. I realize that it’s not my call. But the master of navigation seems to feel that I’m ready. I turn my back on the damage holding the triumph and wisdom in my heart and raise my voice to the skies in a way I have not done in two years. “Okay, cast off!” I drop the ropes that have anchored the boat to shore and sing as I do so. The boat feels good and sturdy and I know that on this new stretch I’ll learn, grow and move in ways I have not done before. I wave to the navigator who is once again on the shore but never out of contact range.

“Show me what you can do now! I’ve been waiting so long for you to run this portion of the river, and run it you will!”