Thriving Women: Passing the Baton...

Posted on June 15, 2007 at 11:16 a.m.

By: Randi Waldman

Dearest Thriving Women,
Passing the Baton.........
Ah, summer!  The time of abundance, sensory delight, visual splendor, expansive horizons and inspiration abounding.
For me, this summer has had an additional gift.  My youngest daughter Julia has had a schedule that allows her to have Fridays off.  We made a pledge to hike every single Friday together.  The sweet pleasure of this has been enough to cast a golden glow over the entire summer.  At twenty three (just a few weeks ago), I know enough to take in every precious moment of our time together as life in the adult world (well, getting there, anyway!) continues to take her further into her own experience and path.  I have happily created new and inventive forms of trail mix each week, hit the local deli early in the morning for fresh bagels, loaded up the car and sent Pablo (our Labradoodle) into a joyful frenzy as soon as the green backpack appears out of the closet.  While Pable does his happy dance racing up and down the stairs with tail wagging like a metronome gone wild, Julia and I do the ritual getting out of the house and heading to the hills.  The ride up is traditionally quiet with me steadily slurping dark, black, get-me-ready-for-hiking coffee, Jules comatosely staring into wakefulness punctuated by bagel munching, and Pablo with head out, ears flapping and eyes unblinking as he wills the car to our destination of doggy (and people) hiking heaven.

Each hike has had its own unique splendor.  Criss-crossing streams over log bridges as we climb higher through quiet forests breaking  into open fields with waving grass.  Gasping for breath as we hit steep sections and are determined to reach the top without stopping.  Gasping with wonder as we round a corner to an entire slope filled with wild flowers so vivid, delicate, resilient, intricate, and exuberant, that we fling our arms out as if trying to gather their miraculous essence into our hearts and souls to be time released into the very fabric of our beings.  Gasping with joy as we watch Pablo's sleek black body bound effortlessly through a field of all white. 
Julia and I talk, talk, talk about life, love, growing up, and nothing in particular.  We walk in companionable silence, soothed and buoyed by each other's presence.  We reach out a hand to steady each other and save one another from near misses.  We feel the timelessness and the temporariness of this summer of Fridays together.  We are all ages at once,  Mom with Toddler, Mom and Schoolgirl, Mom and Teenager, Mom and Woman Emerging, Women together as Equals, Daughter leading Mom, Daughter with Aging Mom, determined to share this experience together as long as life allows.
Our most recent hike was one that we have done every summer now for nine years.  There is a fairly steep incline right at the beginning, followed by rolling terrain through open space, forest and amazing vistas.  The end of the hike is a longish, steep climb that ends above timberline and has a breathtaking panorama to reward and astound the hikers.  I am a strong and fit hiker, and for all the years of climbing this trail, I have led the way, reaching the top and waiting with joy for Julia (never far behind) to join me.  I never felt the need to slow myself down or be less strong for Julia, and indeed, she took comfort from my strength.  We have a jubilant picture of us taken at the top that sat on Julia's nightstand during her college years. 
This year, I could sense a determination in Julia's stride from the very beginning of our hike.  We walked the first part side-by-side, then continued on with one or the other of us in the lead (actually, Pablo is the undisputed lead hiker!).  We reveled in the day, the sights, the smells, our usual happiness in being together spilling out like sunbeams.  As we got to the last part of the hike, Julia picked up the pace, and I went as hard as I could comfortably go.  I watched her walk ahead with strength and grace.  At first I felt disturbed and wondered why I was so slow and struggling to keep up, and then I realized that I was not any slower than I have been.  I was not any less strong.  Julia was simply stepping into her own power.  She strode to the top with confidence, clarity and purpose.  She did not feel compelled to slow down for me.  She took her place at the top and waited for me as I closed the gap between us and enveloped her in a huge hug of celebration.  It was such a poignant and rich moment!  Julia no longer needed to be shielded by my strength.  She was ready to test her own limits and blaze her own trails.  She was inviting me to take a step back and trust her competence to lead.  I realized that it was time to pass the baton to her.  She is poised to fly and ready to go.   We stood arm-in-arm looking at the majesty all around us, letting the significance of what just happened sink in.  Passages are never easy.  There is always the sadness of letting go as the joy of moving forward compels us to keep going.  Next year, on our tenth anniversary hike, we decided we should bring champagne and divine treats to celebrate......I believe I will have Julia carry the pack!    
Yours in health, life and change,


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