Saturday, March 29, 2014

*The Granola Girl (Part 3): A Glimpse of Who I Was

Morning came early at the Bear Lake Training Center, but I could not deny the temptations dawn held for me. Back home, this is my time of day; it's the time I call my own, and do what I like. I work out, correspond with friends, putter in my office, and get ready to face the day. This was my first full day at the Utah Writers' Project, and I couldn't wait to get started. 

After I pulled on my tank top and shorts, I quickly brushed my teeth, and jogged down the road along the lake to get the juices flowing. Cooling off on the porch afterwards, I attempted a journal entry. Since I was at a writing camp, I didn't want to waste any time in starting my writing.


Good morning, Bear Lake! I scared up a couple of robins, and saw the seagulls having breakfast at the dumpsters. I have now officially exhausted my repertoire of known fauna in this region. The Utah Writers' Project will really benefit from having an expert like me in its midst. 

Later Monday morning, we drove up to the Limber Pine Trailhead. We were offered a mile and a half of a looping trail, and Dixie cups of India ink and water to go off by ourselves, and do a nature journal entry. I could do a mile and a half in my flip-flops. I wasn't seeing how the hiking boots were relevant yet, but I trudged off up the hill to make friends with a paint brush, and a drawing stick I selected from under the canopy of trees.

I sat quietly, noticing how the plants swayed softly in the breeze, and felt the tickle-y fly that kept crawling on my leg. I was hoping one of the many marmots (a small, local rodent) I had seen on my short hike would come for a visit, but I was left alone with my thoughts while I was there. My mind wandered home to Monroe.

By now the boys would be up, and the swamp cooler humming. Bridger would have had his fill of chocolate milk while watching Full House. Dylan was probably helping his dad with something on the farm, or convincing his dad to take him to a friend's house. Sierra, most likely, was still asleep. I knew my kids would be okay, but my stomach nearly ached with the pangs of missing them. The guilt settled uncomfortably on my shoulders for most of the day. I wonder if husbands fret about these things when they go on trips. 

After lunch, I headed to the shore of Bear Lake with a woman named Nicki. We picked our way through the mucky, marshy land that stretched between our lodging and the lake. The enticement of the water and the soft sandy beach were calling my name.

The Utah sun was bearing down on the beach. Wanting to prove to my children my love for them, and mostly, to ease my guilt, I wrote each one a small note on a Bear Lake post card. I tucked the post cards into my daypack, and considered doing some writing, but first, a little swim was in order. 

Photo Credit: Scott T. Smith (
The crystal clear water allowed me to see a lone black fish on the bottom of the lake. I dove under the water. The cold temperature had me breathing in short gulps after I broke back through the surface of the water into the warm air. 

Just the week before, when I had dove off our boat into the icy water of Otter Creek reservoir, Bridger had squealed, "You're such a AMINAL, Mom!" I had found myself beaming. 

"You bet I am, Buddy!" I said, as I swam back toward my grinning little towhead sitting in the boat. I hadn't always been a working mom who lived out her dreams vicariously through her children.

That night after our dinner at the center, we were discussing our anthology readings. Dan was moving the discussion along when I shifted uncomfortably on the aluminum bench. I could tell they were moving away from the Tom Brown piece, which had touched me. Encouraged by the camaraderie of the group, I tentatively lifted my finger, catching Dan's eye.

"Before we leave Tom Brown's writing, may I say something?" I took a shallow breath to collect my thoughts, and began. "Brown's section entitled, "Let Go of Worries" was meaningful to me. He said this, 
'Many times we carry into the woods a load of mental baggage that is far heavier than anything we carry on our backs. We stride along through forest, country, or beachside as though our primary purpose were to fret over the past and worry about the future.'

"I was just thinking that it is so easy to get caught up in the mundane, the day-to-day living, that we forget to live," I continued. "My goal during this writing camp is to reconnect with that 'granola girl' I used to be. Before I was a wife and mother, I had my own identity. I did things that fulfilled me, and made me feel alive. I want to live in the moment. There was a time I used to walk alone in the morning, meditating, praying, and problem-solving. Lately, I seem  to be afraid to be alone with my thoughts. I turn on the TV and music so that I never feel alone in any room of the house. I'm experiencing sensory overload. I have lost touch with things I once held sacred. I want to set down my mental baggage for at least this week."

Dusk was settling in at Bear Lake as I stared down at the picnic table in front of me. Bill Strong followed up my comments with supportive words of his own, but didn't really hear him; I was still trying to sort out what I had just said. These fleeting thoughts of nature, spirit, and self were so difficult to touch and to hold. It would take some work before I would be able to call them my own.

The Granola Girl series started here: Part 1: The Prologue: Do Moms Deserve Adventures?


  1. You take us right there with you. The wonder and delight. The guilt and the wondering if this right for us. Really nice.

    1. Stella, thank you! You are always such a wonderful guest here. You made me smile. Enjoy your weekend!


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