Posts Tagged ‘activity’

Tubing down the Chattahoochee River

Tubing on the Chattahoochee

—–Last summer, I had the chance to participate in one my favorite summer activities—tubing down the Chattahoochee River. I would be meeting up with a group that had camped in the area and the tubing excursion was the last of the activities for the weekend. Like all back country adventures spotty cellphone service made it difficult to reach the group by phone so I would make the drive with the hope of meeting at the designated time. I left my house around 9 am to make the two-hour drive to the Chattahoochee River head waters. I arrived on time and found a parking spot right across from the outfitter. My group should have been there already, but they were nowhere in sight. As I waited, the line at the outfitter began to grow. It was now around noon and prime time to get in the water for the two hour ride down the river. I sent several text messages, but after no answer there was no way to know if they were on the way or if I had missed them. I decided it was best to get in line before it grew any longer. As I stood there, I kept looking for my group, but by the time I got my tube and boarded the bus, it was clear I’d have to go it alone.

—–The bus ride over to the launch site was filled with groups of friends and families casually laughing and joking as the bus maneuvered the busy streets. I was the only solo tuber and wondered if I should have waited a little while longer for my group. My previous tubing trip had been with a large group that decided to link their tubes and experience the length of the river together. It was lots of fun, but not without hang-ups, literally. Occasionally, someone would get snagged on rock or some other misfortune and as a result would have their link disconnected so the group could float on. We reached the site and I launched into the cool waters wondering what was in store. On the outset, there was an immediate traffic jam. All that could be seen for several feet ahead were neon green and pink tubes. The sun shined down brightly on my head and for relief I would dip my hand in the water and pat my face with the frigid waters. It wasn’t long before I settled in and the current began to swiftly take me down river. I laid back and let the sun warm my limbs and face. It had been a while since I had taken in this much sun. As I moved down the river, the trees overhead framed the sky and for moments on end my mind would float away and thoughts flowed in and out like the current of the river. When my attention came back into focus, my eyes would catch the view of fellow tubers enjoying the same experience. Groups tethered together would be run aground on the rocks which required someone getting out and ushering them around the obstacle. Unencumbered, I would float past these groups. After witnessing this scene over and over, it hit me that my solo experience on the river was vastly different from those around me. It was easier for me to see what was ahead and negotiate the obstacle with relative ease. For long stretches, I would drift down the river half asleep until my tube caught the edge of the river or tangled in some brush. I was unencumbered and worry free. My thoughts and priorities all my own.

—–My trip down the river paralleled my life in many ways. On many ventures planned with friends and partners circumstance forced me to go it alone. At first things were scary. I worried if I could handle it on my own. The first steps were filled with doubt, but as I made my way fear was replaced with empowerment. Uneasiness replaced with strength. My wings had spread. I had taken flight and my destination was in sight. I could trust my ideas. I could trust myself. Now, I approach life differently. I start out on my own and invite friends and partners once the foundation has been laid. If they join in I am excited. If not, then I go on my way. No expectation and no disappointment and my tube keeps floating down the river.

Live Like You Are Dying

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          In recent years, I have had old friends lose a parent to a terminal illness like cancer or heart disease.  One friend in particular lost her mother only after losing her father a few years earlier.  The loss of one parent can be devastating, but the loss of two can be unimaginable especially when you are relatively young.  Plotting a course forward without their love and guidance can be difficult to say the least.  I know from my own personal experience with my father that a terminal diagnosis sneaks up on you when you are unprepared and leaves you spinning in circles and asking why?  The journey can be exhausting emotionally, mentally and physically.  I consider myself fortunate in that my father’s battle with cancer continues, but eventually it will win.  Being past the initial shock, surgery and rounds of chemotherapy, I can reflect more on what his cancer journey means to me.  As I care for my father and encourage him onward, I began to take a look at my own life.  I noticed that death and dying is not relegated to the old, but that young and old leave this world at the same rate.  The death of a young adult or even a child is particularly hard to bear because we think they had their whole lives ahead of them, but in reality no one is promised a long life.  With that I mind, I began to examine the habits of my own life and asked myself some tough questions.  If I were to die today would I feel like I had made the most of my life?  Am I wasting time and energy by harboring old grudges and hurts?  Is there a fence I need to mend?  Could I have been kinder to people or volunteered more?  What dreams have I long ago abandoned? I knew the answers and I knew what I had to do.  It started with forgiveness.  Forgiving others for what happened in the past and forgiving myself for not making the most of my time. For me forgiveness cleaned the slate.  It provided a new start that allowed me to shake away the past and move forward with my eye on the future.

When I looked back over my life I could see how I could have made better use of my time both personally and professionally and I committed myself to make a change.  I am a person of lists and of making plans and without them I am soon adrift with nothing to propel me forward.  Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I decided to set goals and post in them in frequently visited places in my home like my office and bathroom. With setting goals, there needs to be an action plan for reaching those goals.  For the first time in my life, I made a daily plan where every hour of the day is assigned an activity.  Even beyond making a daily plan, it allowed me to identify what was important to me and the things I am passionate about and to make a concerted effort to incorporate those priorities and passions into my daily life.  In a year from now or five years from now I want to look back with no regrets having used my time wisely.  I want my investment of time to reflect what matters to me the most.  I will live each day like I am dying.