July 30, 2008

Finding your inner strength

This story happened a few days ago but it really signified for me how we each need to find that little piece of something inside that drives us to overcome our fears and challenge ourselves.

Mom, Graham and I, my sisters five kids and our two kids, headed out for a picnic at the Discovery Canyon. Discovery Canyon is a little man made river and beach that kids tube down. When we got there mom and I quickly figured out that it was going to be a bit of an exhausting day. One of us needed to walk up to the start of the river with the kids and the tubes and the other needed to wait at the bottom at the beach and watch the two littlest ones (Joe 3 and Mandy 5). Now Alex and Zac were up and gone and of course needed no assistance. Amelia and Katie were also self sufficient. The problem was that Sarah needed a little bit of help in certain parts of the river. Mom or I would need to enter the river and give her a push in the right direction or help her out of a bind at various points. Not fun, so after quite a few runs, I asked Graham to take a shift going up with the girls.

After a few minutes I looked up the river and could see Graham standing on the side. From my vantage point I couldn't see Sarah but I knew he must be looking at her. He didn't look angry but right away I knew that he had decided that if she wanted to tube the river she was going to need to do it herself. Part of me wanted to run up there and smack him and tell him to get in there and help her but part of me also wondered if maybe his approach was the right one.

Amelia and Katie made it down the river and walked back up to the point where Sarah was stuck and Graham was standing. Graham told me later that they both begged him to enter the river and help Sarah down. Graham wasn't budging. Finally after a while, Sarah realized she couldn't do it and got out and climb up to where Graham was. She began to cry and Graham and her started walking back. She was walking behind Graham. I felt so bad but I thought better not to focus on it. I went to the picnic blanket and called everyone for lunch and mass chaios began, "Who wanted ham?..." ...."This sandwhich has mustard on it..."..."Where's my juice..." and then I came to Sarah's sandwich and I looked up to hand it to her and she was nowhere to be found.

We began looking and then I realized that one tube was missing. We were shocked, never in a million years would I have looked back up that river for her. Graham had already started over there and I was quite a few paces back but at the same moment we had scanned from the start of the river, all the way to the base and our eyes reached Sarah finishing the ride and getting ready to come to shore, at the exact same moment.

We were literally in SHOCK. We were witnessing, a child who I have known since the day she was born, find that inner strength that each of us has. She was NOT going to let the river beat her. She didn't need Graham, she didn't need Katie, she didn't need Amelia...she was going to do it all on her OWN. As she walked towards us I was surprised that she wasn't smiling or looking proud. She was crying and to be honest she looked angry. I think the anger and sadness truly signified the size of her accomplishment. We all erupted in a round of applause as she approached.

I asked her later who she was mad at...I was wondering if maybe perhaps her anger at Graham had driven her but she said...."I was just mad because I wanted to do it!"

There it was for me, my life lesson, from my beautiful, complex, brave niece. It doesn't matter if it is a river you tube down or sailing around the world....you just have to WANT to do it and anything is possible.


  1. Wow what a story. You definately have a writer in you!

  2. Your day sounded exhausting to me. Was the water very deep? Did everyone have life jackets on? I can relate to Sara's terror as I am afraid of water myself. When do you leave for the journey back to T.O Julie? Is AnneMarie back from her Alaskan cruise yet? I love reading your blog. Trese

  3. OMG Zac....I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. You kill me. You are now crowned the official casting off editor! Go forth and edit. Hope you are taking good care of Alex, or else!

    Hey Trese! We are on our way back from TO right now. Just in Chicago. Sick of driving. I will give you a call when we are back. Annie is watching the kids. The river was very shallow but did have a bit of a current. thanks for reading. J

  4. Sarah is an amazing little girl. Very brave and very talented. She is quite an artist, jewelry as well as paintings. That inner strength will carry her.
    Nanny Donna