Take Fifteen, then Tackle that Mountain

Tackle that mountain, I will,
but first let me rest.
Fifteen quiet clicks are all I need,
because I can’t climb feeling like this.
Exhausted thoughts and limbs
just need a brief escape,
and then those shoes with extra grip,
I will lace.
Lights off and eyes closed before
I begin my late afternoon ascent.
My body instantly melts into the mattress
and my mind, into the mysterious abyss.

Fifteen stretched into thirty.
Still too brief –
this siesta needs an encore.
A peaceful room records
automatic and rhythmic echoes –
inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale …
My body sinking deeper and deeper,
releasing all tension, increased
by this nonstop 21st century.
My mind floating freely,
far removed from this
earthly existence.
A screaming alarm,
I wanted to ignore
but I chose to respond –
uniting my mind and body
once more.
My heavy eyes I opened
and my heavy feet,
I placed on the floor.

My mind and body shaky and unsure;
I took one step, then another,
then another,
then another …
Breathtaking splendor in all directions
soon made me forget
about my weighty hesitation.
My mind now alert,
grateful to be walking this path.
Thankful, it was, to have abandoned sleep
and to have settled back in
to a body that likes to resist.

Walking alone for stretches at a time.
I completely lost sight of you.
Isolation, except for the tiny figures I see
in a boat or a canoe.

We started our walk together,
but you quickly disappeared.
Slow steps –
too much to capture
through my lens.
Quick steps-
Eager you were
to keep up your pace.

Maybe I should keep up,
maybe the sun will set
and alone at the top I will be,
maybe there is a mountain lion
tracking my speed,
maybe, waiting and watching,
she crouches behind me.
Maybe I should just breathe
and enjoy the crunching of the rocks
beneath my feet
and the sound of the solo flyer,
flying higher than any peak.

I am so glad I didn’t let rest
steal my afternoon,
because if I had kept sleeping,
look at all my mind and body
would have missed.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my poem about hiking on what would have otherwise been a lazy afternoon. I am so glad I laced up my shoes and made it to the top! I caught up with my husband, who took this shot. 😏 I hope you have tackled your own mountains this week and that your climb has energized you. ❤️ Have an inspired weekend! Michele

50 Life Stories Update: I am working on Story 46. When I complete this one, only four more to go. I am so close! 😊 50LifeStories.com

Pictures 1-9: Taken while hiking Yavapai Point Trail, Lake Pleasant, Peoria, Arizona

Copyright © 2020 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.

A Body that Transcends

Her body holds secrets
that I can only hear
if I sink into the liquid,
and let her draw me near,
as her ancient wisdom
soothes, washes, and transcends
time, thought, and truths.
In the murkiness, I suspend
my frame and my beliefs
about what is and what should be
and simply allow her body
to support and carry me.
Just breathe, there is nothing to fear.
She carries and protects the secrets
of all that is, was, and will be,
surely, she can do the same for me.

Gliding Across Glass

I learned at any early age that what first appears as an insurmountable and tortuous task, can turn into one of my greatest joys. I learned this when I was about eight years old and I was faced with learning something that seemed impossible to master. The seemingly impossible task required me to submerge in cold dark lake water, struggle with a life jacket that was riding above my ears, keep my feet in skies that pointed in every direction except the desired one – toward the throttling boat, and wrap my small fingers around the bouncing handles found at the end of a long rope. I needed to manage these tasks while bobbing alone, far from the safety of our boat. Each failed attempt to stand up on those skies meant I had to watch our boat, driven by my father, pass my way without stopping. A castaway, unable to call for help, I once again watched the long white tail trailing behind our boat approach my outstretched arms. My task was to grab the rope, before the boat circled behind me. If I missed grabbing my lifeline, the boat idled while I swam awkwardly to the end of the tail. Handles secure, the boat would continue its journey, back to where it began, and the stretched long rope created a taut straight line from me to them. Not only did the tight rope create the shortest distance between me and my family, it reduced the slack that can cause a sudden jolt and probable tumble after the propulsion catches up with the paused skier.

Another failed attempt and a rope burn around my pointer finger would surely land me a seat in the dry warm boat. Sadly, it did not. Apparently, my pleading and tears were drowned by the waves. My father would not let me back in the boat until I stood up on those skies. I knew those words carried weight, and I would need to lift my own out of the water if I wanted to feel dry land again.

I yelled, “Hit it,” as I had been instructed to do and finally, sitting back, my posture secure, determined, I was able to hold on to the split handles long enough to allow the engine to pull me up and out of the water. I did it! I can still feel the wind on my face, and the sound of the water splashing off me, as the motor’s speed instantly changed me from a floating fish form back into an upright mammal, only now, I did what primates are not naturally designed to do; I was gliding across water.  

I wanted nothing more in those moments of failed ski starts to crawl back into the boat. I am glad I did not get my way. Learning to water ski as a young person gave me the greatest gifts of my childhood and allowed me to experience profound freedom and joy. I have many fond memories of skiing across Arizona lakes: the revved engine when I yelled, “hit it,” feeling the spray from my ski as I leaned closer to the water, the freedom of gliding across the water, the friendly hellos from other boaters as they noticed the small slalom skier passing by, skiing alongside my brother, watching my parents ski, the pop of the vibrating red flag when a skier went down, the smacking sound made when the waves and the boat crashed into each other, and skiing through canyons that amplified sight and sound.

I enjoyed gliding across a smooth glass-top lake, that could be found on a quiet and calm weekday. Gliding across glass was an exhilarating experience, both the feel of the smooth water under my ski, and the look of the surface as I cut across. Calm water was a gift, but I did not mind a few waves now and then to add interest and challenge. My two-ski start was quickly replaced with a slalom ski that allowed me to maneuver outside of the wake, from right to left, and left to right. I learned how to ride the ridge of the wake as it propelled me outside of its boundaries, and I became skilled at leaning sideways, close to the water before leaning back and jetting across the wake to do the same on the other side. My difficult ski start was replaced with the strength and skills that allowed me to balance gracefully on one ski and stay on top of the water for longer periods. I also learned how to motion to go faster, which I often did during my adventurous youth. My ski moments were not completely void of fear – I did experience it from time to time. Fear surfaced if a large boat sped by, because that meant large waves would follow, or if I sat too long bobbing alone in the water before our boat made its way back to me. My family worked well as a team during these moments. My mom or dad drove the boat, and one of us was always on the lookout for a downed skier, flag ready. The last time I skied, my daughter, who was young at the time, saw me fall and somersault across the water. When I climbed back in the boat she was upset and crying; she was worried about her mom. I was fine, not even a scratch. I was better than fine.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my poem about the transcendent power of swimming in a body of water and my story about learning to water ski. I hope that you are finding joy and adventure in your own life. Have an inspired weekend! Michele

If you are receiving my blog through email, thank you for taking the time to read my words and glance at my photos. For optimal viewing, consider going directly to the web @ https://myinspiredlife.org/blog-feed/ for each post.

Picture 1: View from a boat, Saguaro Lake, Arizona Picture 2: Lake Pleasant, Arizona Picture 3: Lake Pleasant, Arizona Picture 4: One of 27 replica lighthouses along Lake Havasu, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Copyright © 2020 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.

Ushering in Vision and Symmetry

Adios 2019.

An uneven year you were,  

leaving me undone and barely passing your test.

A descending arrangement, 2019

A year that began with labored conversation and bedside visits.

A year that stretched me beyond my defined limits.

When the beginning of the year delivered a sad ending—

to the depths of darkness, I could have easily regressed.

I’ve been there before.

I know how sorrow and despair can quickly tear one’s soul.

But being consumed with sadness is not what came to pass.

Rather, I found inspired purpose and a renewed appreciation for life,

recognizing that there will come a day that will be my last.

In my rearview mirror, I watch it disappear.

That uneven and unsettled year.

I look forward with goals, desires, and dreams.

A new year stretched before me with secrets,

yet to be revealed.

Hello 2020.

An even year you are,

offering vision and symmetry at its best.

Balanced like a horizontal teetertotter, 2020

A year that began with a toast, 1920s décor, and smiles a plenty.

Me in a flapper dress and my date in a bow tie,

we celebrated with others, dressed in similar attire.

We ended the evening, back where we started the night-

in a historical hotel in downtown Chandler,

whose history, with ours, is intertwined.

A stroll to an underground speakeasy, revealed a cool vibe.

When the clock struck midnight, the quiet whispers came alive.

Adios 2019.

An uneven year you were,  

leaving me undone and barely passing your test.

Hello 2020.

An even year you are,

offering vision and symmetry at its best.

View from Westwing Mountain, taken January 1, 2020

Thank you for stopping by and reading my poem about endings and new beginnings. I hope that you had a relaxing and enjoyable season and are recharged for the new year.

If you are receiving my blog through email, thank you for taking the time to read my words and glance at my photos. For optimal viewing, consider going directly to the web @ https://myinspiredlife.org/blog-feed/ for each post. Have an inspired weekend! Michele

Picture 1: Tortolita Mountains, Pinal County Picture 2: Westwing Mountain, Peoria, Arizona Picture 3: On the road to Lake Havasu, Arizona Picture 4: Lobby, Sheraton San Marcos, Chandler, Arizona Picture 5: 2020 Celebration, Gilbert, Arizona

Copyright © 2020 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.