Friday, October 7, 2011

Weekend Adventure.

I had the most amazing adventure this weekend. I was kidnapped by a group of women and whisked away, deep into the Adirondack mountains - to laugh and bond and to grab life by its...ahem, stuff and experience every moment in vivid and wondrous new ways.


The weekend certainly delivered.

It was a trip filled with firsts - a trip that I almost didn't take when I actually took a moment to think about them all. It left me gasping with incredulity: First time away from my kids. First time at camp (brown people don't camp, you see. We study hard and grow up to become doctors, lawyers or engineers. No overnight camps allowed.). First time kayaking. First time doing archery.

 Pretty proud of myself, both in the water and on land. I love that both of these firsts were caught on camera!

I just happened to get six bulls eyes in a row. Promise.

(Interesting side note: I just looked up the verb form of archery, and the internet blew up at me. No joke. Apparently I'm not the only one confused about the correct terminology relating to archery.)

Why was I doing this again? What had driven me to such madness?

I blame my neighbors, that lovely group of women who insisted that I join them, insisted that it would be worth the effort, and insisted that we have a raucous, and yes, a rejuvenating time.


 Someone left this at the outdoor chapel/meditation space. I'll never know who or what it was left in tribute to...but it was a beautiful gesture and a touching treasure to chance upon.

I thought that I would miss my kids, and I did - but not nearly in the soul-aching, worrying way that I had anticipated. Instead, I found myself feeling like I wanted them with me because I was having so much fun. I had more fun than it should be legally allowed to have when you are a rather cautious, thirty-something mother of two. I found myself pushing harder, willing to try anything and everything I could cram into my 48 hours away because I wanted my family to know that I had used my time wisely, I wanted them to be proud of every new adventure their Mama experienced.

In other words, for about two days straight....I acted like a twelve year-old. And it felt so good.

Channeling my inner Katniss. (If she was a brown chick and wore a big yellow raincoat.)

 Matching camp braids and a friendship bracelet. I took the overnight camping experience VERY seriously!

Here my room mate and I show off our glamorous breathe right strips (which we used at night because we were both as sick as dogs). 
Too bad my nose is so big that you can't even tell that it's there.

Unburdened by diaper bags, spontaneity gripped our little group of mamas like a fever.  We hiked in a freezing cold downpour, and the rain lasted all day - but not once did it dampen our buoyant mood. We danced into the wee hours of the morning, out on the porch of our cabin deep in the woods. In the mornings, I sipped hot tea, relaxing outside as the sun came up overhead, illuminating the breathtaking lake views, and beckoning us all towards a new day filled with every kind of possibility.

Those are not my fabulous slippers. But I so wish they were!!

 It's raining, it's pouring...and WE DON'T CARE!

Funnily enough, I felt relaxed, even in the middle of powering uphill through wet underbrush. I wouldn't call myself an outdoorsy type of gal, yet I took time for myself and separated from the group to explore the woods - it was one of my most cherished moments of weekend. I got lost out there, in the drizzle and grey...but I found something there too. I found a version of myself that wasn't  so worried about what had happened or what was to come. A lighter, freer me - one that noticed the brilliant details in every small moment, instead of being swept away in the routine of life. I determined to bring that feeling back and share it with my family.

 Deep puddle and leaves
Colors painted by nature
My weird fall haiku.

 Empty stables - it was too cold for the horses to come out and play.

 I have this obsession with barn doors - this one looked beautiful and rustic out there in the wilderness.

 We had our bellydancing class in this cabin, overlooking the lake. We shimmied to the sound of pattering rain overhead and a crackling fire behind our backs. I could have stayed there all day!

 Adirondack chairs in the Adirondack apropos.

 I took a picture of my weekend outfit for posterity. It wasn't pretty, but it sure did keep me warm.

 Poor little sand toys, left out all forlorn in the freezing cold drizzle.

 Beautiful barn door. See: obsession with, above.

 Rocky path, leading...who knows where? Perhaps a hidden treasure awaits at the end of the trail...

 A frozen, dead dragonfly. Haunting and beautiful, a reminder of the short, dazzling beauty of life. I feel so lucky to have caught this tiny creature on camera.

Fiery fall colors at their peak...and another lucky coincidence that we were present to witness this!

It was the same for the rest of my group of friends. I knew the ladies that I traveled with, but over the weekend I got to know each of them in a completely different way. There were no playground conversation time-limits to hold us back, and so we each shared our stories, marvelling at how life had brought us all together. I remain humbled by the strength of character of each of my travelling companions, truly grateful for the opportunity to share the gift of motherhood and sisterdom with them.

Beautiful faces of beautiful friends...inside and out.

We relaxed mentally as we exhausted ourselves physically, urging each other forward, looking out for the newbies (that would be me), and laughing until our sides ached. In the end we returned to our families renewed, bubbling over with stories to share with the ones we love the most.

There I am, right in the middle. Everywhere I looked, was another smiling face, and the mist and lake and trees all around. It was pure bliss.
Maybe it comes from waiting until your children are older, but I didn't think for a second that Yousuf would be in over his head while I was away. In fact, I came back to a household filled with giggles. When I asked the girls what they did while I was away, Inara looked at Yousuf conspiratorially and said, "Daddy made us waffles (uttered in a reverent whisper) for dinner, Mama. And he hardly ever said 'no' to us the whole time you were gone."

I'd say they did just fine without me, writing their own special story with their father. I can almost hear a grown-up version of Inara and Nissa talking to each other years from now, "Do you remember whenever Mom went away for her Adventure Weekend and Dad would let us .... (insert forbidden activity here). " It will be a cherished memory, for my girls, for my husband, and for me - knowing that I am damn lucky to have a family that loves each other so well. A family indeed worth missing.

I am refreshed, after my weekend away - even if I had to catch up on laundry and dive back right back into the Monday-Friday routine. My girls could scarcely believe all the things I did on my trip, and their eyes widened with surprise as I described finding deer in a forest clearing, hiking up a mountain, sitting in a tiny kayak and watching the mist rise lazily off a lake in the early morning cool, belly dancing with strangers before a huge stone fireplace, discovering that I was right handed but left-eyed when I tried archery for the first time, and drinking in the magical beauty of an outdoor gathering/meditating space:

Wouldn't this be the most beautiful spot for a wedding? 

"Mama, you did so many things!" Inara exclaimed as I paused for a breath. And then she said something that made my heart leap up into my throat and get stuck there, a sensation that feels like falling in love again and again.

"When I grow up, Mama, I want to do all of those things too. I want to be just like you."

I realized that I was wrong when I told myself that I was going away for me. It turns out, I did it for my girls too.


Happy Friday, friends. May you have many adventures of your own to share with the ones you love. xoxoxmahreen
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