gentleness lately; on returning

The school library is sending out final notices for books to be returned. Summer is 8 school days away.

On Friday I sat on the sidewalk outside the Tulsa baggage terminal, surrounded by a stroller, a car seat with a sleeping baby, two overstuffed suitcases, two backpacks, my winter coat, and another carry on bag.

I felt proud for collecting all the things myself while Jeff and Oliver went to get the car.

There on the ground I simply listen to all the sounds and watch for the car to come, wishing the baby to stay asleep, not minding the wait.

I don’t know why I like sitting on the ground so much as opposed to chairs, but I do. Less formal maybe?

The weather was gentle, soft breeze, soft sun.

The trip had been the reprieve we hoped for and much much more. The beauty we took in was a gracious gift.

Upon return I was looking forward to reading the book Introverted Mom; Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy by Jamie C. Martin. I gifted it to myself for Mother’s Day, knowing the transition from vacation back to everyday life responsibilities can feel daunting. The refreshed part of me felt a bit of joy for this return too.

Most of my writing is inspired by writing I read. A starting off point for me; a gem of articulation that offers understanding and encouragement. A thread of thought helping me to connect my own experiences with more meaning.

And the first chapter of this book is titled “The Distance is Nothing” followed by a quote from Pride and Prejudice

I do not wish to avoid the walk. The distance is nothing when one has a motive.
— Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

And my heart nodded in fervent agreement. Yes. We had traveled a great distance just for the refreshment mountains, hikes, campfires, bird watching, and rock climbing had to bring.

In fact the whole trip felt like it revolved around this theme of distance and motive. Every hike we went on Oliver needed some extra motivation to make it to the final destination. My motivation was the walking itself, the movement of steps, listening to the sound of snowy streams and enjoying all the nature scenes.

Sometimes my back ached from the baby in the carrier, then it was the mountaintop and the waterfall waiting for me at the end of the trail that kept me going. (Bible Point + Alberta Falls)

After our hike in the falling snow to and from Alberta Falls we arrived back at the Bear Lake trailhead. There was only one other person resting on the covered benches.

That’s the beauty of going places during the off-season. Not so crowded. And I think the snow that day was another reason the trails were sparse with hikers.

Our friend Daniel from Denver, who works for the National Parks, told us the line to get into the park can often be a mile long in the Summer. There was no line at all this day.

As I began to take off layers, little baby Ivan woke up from his long nap. The hiking seemed to always lull him to sleep. I chatted some with Oliver and then greeted the women resting on the benches with us.

“Are you coming or going?” I asked her.

She said she hadn’t decided if she was ready to turn around or go further.

Turns out she was staying at the YMCA like us, and had hiked 8 miles by herself in the snow from the YMCA to the Bear Lake Trailhead! Her husband works at a YMCA in Iowa and was there for a conference.

After a few minutes of conversation when it finally dawned on me to see if she might like a ride back with us, she accepted the offer gratefully and said she could have cried!

On our drive home I learn her name is Melissa too, though she goes by Missy, and she is a mother of two boys also.

“You know Little House on the Prairie?” “My older sister got to pick my name and so she picked Melissa after Melissa Gilbert who played Laura Ingalls Wilder.”

Her boys are both older than mine. If I recall maybe 10 and 12ish?

“I remember the first time we took the boys to Bear Lake when they were young. It’s why I wanted to hike here today.” she tells me.

I can’t really imagine hiking 8 miles in the snow by myself; so I am thinking she must be quite the athlete.

Well, come to find out not only is she a professor for an exercise/health class (I forget the course title) but she is an “ultra runner”. I nod my head when she first mentioned this. Later I admit I actually don’t know what she means by “ultra runner” .

And so I learn an ultra runner is someone who runs distances longer than a marathon! She had run 100 miles once!!!! “It was on my bucket list” she told me.

Laughs. and Wow!

I only lasted one week on the high school cross country team.

When I comment on her impressive perseverance and stamina, she down plays my praise and admits a lot of her accomplishments may have to do with stubbornness. Still, whatever the motivation, I am amazed.

When we finally pull up to the YMCA lodge where she is staying she asks if she can get a picture with us. We all lean together in the rental car for a final group selfie and say goodbye.

Today I think about how both of us, though at different stages of our motherhood journey, both find that “distance is nothing when one has a motive.”

And it also felt special and serendipitous to me that she let me in on the small detail about her name having to do with Little House on the Prairie.

The book I’m reading, Introverted Mom features stories and quotes about and from four different introverted authors, one being Laura Ingalls Wilder. Part 1 of her book is titled “the true way to live” and begins with the quote below

The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.
— Laura Ingalls Wilder, Writings from the Ozark

And now I am again back at home on the couch, longing to live in this “true way.” But knowing it’s not always so simple to enjoy the everyday things around us when we get weary.

It’s why I have found such gentleness in reading Jamie’s book, upon returning home. She offers understanding and wisdom, that my need for taking time to process and write or be alone is okay.

Even now while my mother-in-law babysits, I feel the pressure of time ticking away and the need to shower and clean and do all the things that are hard to do with the baby around, but I also know for my personality setting aside this time to reflect and create helps me move into the everyday moments with more calm and quiet joy that is priceless.

*Also, I think this book could be great for not just introvert moms but for any introvert or any mom! or anyone who loves Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice, and Little House on the Prairie.