Lessons from the Mountain

“Let’s go to the mountains” we said. And the world said “Yes! Do it! And do the adventure park and the hikes and the gondolas and the horses and the fairy garden and all the things because they are so fun!” And because the internet is never wrong, we said “OK!!” and we drank lots of water and hopped a plane to Breckenridge.

And then three days later Reese and I dragged our non-acclimating rumps to the emergency clinic where they took one look at us and hooked us up to oxygen and declared that Reese had borderline strep, and the recurrent stabbing pain in my skull wasn’t a migraine, but was related to the FULL BLOWN CASE OF SHINGLES I HAD ON MY NECK. Because stressed systems and a little something fun called hypoxia.

Side note: Never one to be accused of under-reacting, the second I looked in the mirror and discovered the tell-tale rash snaking its way up my neck I immediately packed my suitcase (read: threw it on the bed and dumped the entire contents of the closet and bathroom into it in under 27 seconds) BEFORE I yelled at Russell to grab his keys and Google the nearest emergency clinic. Preparedness is 9/10 of the battle friends. My family is lucky to have me. I’m practically a Girl Scout.

This segues nicely into Mountain Lesson #1. Did you know that 60% of people who travel to the mountains don’t acclimate and wind up at a doctor? And of those 60%, 50% get sent back to Denver by said doctor? Because they do. This vacation was full of fun tidbits like that.

Luckily we fell into the “sit back and take your oxygen and then head straight to the pharmacy and fill these prescriptions and then take it easy or wind up back here again where we will immediately send you back home” category. So we took it easy and did all the mountain things without actually going any further up the mountain.

Totally not stuff for the IG highlight real, right? So why am I telling you about it? Because Mountain Lesson #2: Life isn’t a highlight reel. I think it’s important to acknowledge and embrace that — it takes the pressure off. In fact, Mountian Lesson #3: life rarely goes the way you hope it will. It disappoints sometimes. It doesn’t live up to the unrealistic expectations we set for it. It doesn’t match a magazine. If we’re well and truly honest with ourselves we’d say that it usually behaves like a drunk toddler and requires a sense of humor to navigate without going crazy. And that’s ok. We put so much pressure on ourselves for our “best life” because that’s what we think people want to see. And sure, it’s fun to share that and see it. But it’s FREEING to share and see the less than awesome stuff too. Because that’s the stuff of real life. REAL, liveable, living, breathing life. (See what I did there?!)

I’m also telling the story because this vacation taught us some important things and I’ve never been accused of being shy. I like to call them Mountain Lessons #4-18. Things like the mountains are good in pictures. And for bears. And that Russell is a pretty great guy and is super good at making breakfast for every meal. And that lazy afternoons on the back porch are OK — you don’t have to always be going and doing all the things all the time — it’s completely possible to skip some and still have fun. And that life doesn’t always go to plan, and that is ok. You adjust, you make it work, and you keep a can of oxygen by the bed. And you work together. And you play Monopoly like it is your job. And you sleep in. And you rediscover that this family unit of yours works well, probably best, in the trenches. Because you love each other and you take care of each other. Not because you have to, but because you want to.

So — highlight reel? No. Me gasping for air behind the camera and wishing I could just be back in Houston? Every single day. Dad taking solo morning hikes with the coyotes? Yep. Gutting it out because sacrifice within reason is part of parenting? 100%. But adjustments and laughs and grace and patience and understanding and love? Yes. Absolutely. Overwhelmingly yes.

And isn’t that the stuff mountain dreams are made of anyway? 

(Written back at sea level in glorious HTX. I’ve never been so happy to see the Congrete Jungle in all it’s zero elevation glory in my life.)


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