This is part one of a two part series. Today’s piece deals with trust. Part two will be about my experience as a volunteer at a local swimming camp.
It was nine-plus hours of white-knuckle driving at its finest.
I went to West Virginia to gather the few last things we wanted from our old home — an ice cream scooper, six-person tent, an antique dresser, toys and a big canoe.
My neighbor, a retired firefighter who now drives a bus for the local schools, helped me tie the canoe down to my small SUV. The rented vehicle was smaller than it probably should have been and cheap.
“It’s covered with plastic,” he said, laying on the ground looking under the white vehicle. “I can’t find anything to strap this down with.”
After a bit of searching, we found some metal under the radiator and tied the front of the canoe down. For the back, we ran into the same problem, no metal to secure the back. So, we tied it under the gate.
I thanked him and went down to our beach for one last look. I didn’t want him, the current owner of my old home, to see me cry.
I found our beach, overgrown and unused. My kids spent many warm nights playing in the shoreline exploring logs and watching boats. It’s a great place to see fireworks too.
In April, we left in a hurry, eager and maybe a little scared, to start a new life in the South.
In this September day, I came back for what I could and for closure. I left on another person’s terms. So many things were left up in the air. And now the house is sold, and it will be town down by November.
After looking again at the home and digging through our belongings, I finally knew we did the right thing. It was now time for the hard part, getting that canoe and stuff to our new home. Alone for nine-plus hours. I was scared.
I drove to a town about two hours away to spend the night. As I got off the interstate, the canoe seemed to slide forward. I freaked out. Then I found a canoe kit to strap down the red boat down even more. I was still scared by a little less scared, kinda.
Like a person who over-tapes Christmas presents, I tripled strapped the canoe down. I had to ropes going in the front, about six or seven about the body and a complicated rope at the end.
My firefighter friend triple knotted everything. I did too. Yet, I was still worried that the canoe would fall off and cause a massive wreck on the interstate.
While traveling through Appalachia, I checked my ropes at every rest stop. As I got further into the trip, I realized something:
You have to put in the work and trust that it will carry you to your goal.
I was reminded of this lesson as I mentally drew an outline for part two of this blog post.
I spent two mornings working with second-graders teaching them how to swim. We live in a water area — surrounded by a river and a sound. Yet, many people don’t know how to swim.
These second-graders, some who grew up in a culture where water is to be feared, were going into the cold swimming pool. They were trusting me and the other instructors to keep them safe. They were learning to respect the water and how to do something they’ve never done before.
And here I was, scared when I shouldn’t be. My neighbor was a firefighter for 20 years. He knows knots and how to tie things down. I’ve tied things down too. I was driving at a decent speed and doing my best not to be reckless.
At this moment of realization, I was able to turn the volume up on the stereo a bit more. My death grip relaxed a little more on the steering wheel.
Like some of the kids at the pool, I found that if I did what I knew I could do and didn’t worry about the “what ifs,” I would succeed.
Pulling into our gravel driveway brought the best feelings in the world over me — relief, proud, accomplished, free. Like finishing a marathon or GORUCK challenge, I did what I knew I could do, but while I was actually doing it, I didn’t think I could make it to the finish line. Once I relaxed and trusted myself and the equipment, everything went as well as possible.
Shortly after coming home, our escape artist dog, Blue, ran out of a door I left open while I moved things in and out of the house. As I ran to catch him, the chase felt easy, unburdened. Luckily, he’s attracted the cars — he likes to go for rides — so someone stopped their car while I grabbed him.
It was the canoe all over again. I just had to trust the fact that I had the ability to run after him and had the equipment necessary to do the job.
In light of my training for the virtual grand slam, my training has been a little off. My long runs aren’t going as well as I’d like. Everything has seemed like a chore, a burden with little joy. But I have to trust that if I put the work in and prepare to the best of my abilities, I’ll pull it off.
I can’t dwell in the “what ifs,” because if I do I’ll defeat myself before I even start.
Is there something in your life that you’re preparing for, yet scared about? Feel free to share it with me in the comments or via email. As always, if I’m not blogging, you can find me on Facebook at Runningmtnmama or Instagram at mtnmamarunning.
The next part of this, about my volunteering experience, will be up tomorrow.