Valley Locked

Feeling locked into the hole that is Jackson is a common situation come spring. The need to escape and see new environments and strange faces is most poignant as the winter season dies down and spring-like signs begin to emerge. I think that this may be one of my longest stretches ever of being here without escaping to the east coast, a bustling city, or a climbing adventure. Life takes on a different flavor with a child, for sure, but I am realizing this is not to be used as an excuse for inaction. In fact, travel is more important than ever. I am not just referring to grand trips abroad with tons of planning and forethought...These trips are definitely important, especially in order to expose yourself and your family to different customs, cultures and people, but even day trips an hour away add new perspective to life. This past weekend we treated my parents to a day spent at Turpin Meadow Ranch. A remote destination down Buffalo Valley Road, just a little ways past the turn-off to Moran, Turpin Meadows offers a feeling of escaping, even though the towering Tetons are still the backdrop. The meandering, now frozen Buffalo River winds by small, updated cabins and a larger lodge that houses a cozy fire, an amazing kitchen, and ski rentals for the variety of cross-country travels on the grounds. Laidback, quiet, and food that rivals anything found in Jackson, it was hard to just do a day-trip. I wanted to stay for a week. Jamie and I wanted to be the ones running the place in fact!

Just driving away from familiar town, north into the Park where the sky opens up and the snowdrifts grow, felt refreshing. The rest of your life gets put on hold in new environments because your senses take center stage and bask in the discovery of new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Pulling Sam in the Burley on three miles of groomed track, sighting wolf tracks and hearing the birds chirping, surrounded by Ponderosa pines and dazzling blue sky. A warm, crackling fire and friendly hosts, homemade goodness on the tongue, the smell of real food being cooked. The slowness of pace, the simplicity of action, food, conversation. The quiet of being in the woods. I came back to Jackson rejuvenated because I had experienced something new, with my family, and turned off parts of my brain that are really automated (and not always helpful) in my familiar surroundings.

The weekend reminded me of the importance of getting away. How doing so reminds you of who you are at the core and allows your imagination to open up to what you can aspire to be. We will be back to Turpin Meadows, maybe in a new season so we can experience it anew. But the take away message is to explore, be curious, get out of dodge, and bask in the newness of experience.

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The fog swirled around the valley, small pockets of blue sky offering some relief from the heavy clouds, as I made my way up and over the Pass. It felt like I was leaving a piece of myself behind, despite the feeling of utter freedom and the welcome silence of the car, the only sounds KHOL and the spinning of my tires against pavement. How did I get to this place? The mother-to-be who was so scared of sacrificing her alone time for a little one seems light years away from the mother who finds herself missing her child after half an hour. The conflicting feelings of wanting this opportunity to see my best friend without interruption, like the old days, and the desire to turn the car around and give little Sam one more hug. I have become someone that would be a stranger to my former self, who prided herself on her independence and relished in her ability to get up and go to NYC when she wanted to. I miss that woman somedays, other times I barely notice that she has taken a backseat. I think that this limbo between feeling nostalgic about the past and the inability to concentrate on anything but the present moment is territory that comes with being a mother. At least this mother. Some days I am on cloud nine with my life wrapped around Sam's, flowing with his needs, responsive to his requests. Others days (although they are frequent they are still well known guests) I think fondly of my former ability to do exactly what I wanted when I wanted.

It was wonderful to get away from Sam for a night and be with Claire. To fully dive into our friendship and relish in the deepness of our conversations and interactions. My full attention given to her. No interruptions. No crying. No jumping up to follow the now crawling baby around. To spend two hours in the Patagonia Outlet without fearing a meltdown and to stay up late drinking wine on the couch, not worrying about the alcohol effecting my milk supply or trying to get to bed in order to wake up with Sam at all hours of the night. I revived a piece of myself that had been dormant and that I realized is still hungry, hungry for the space to stretch herself and relax her body and be quiet. And that need is paramount to being a good mom because I missed Sam so much some moments that it hurt. Missed his little laugh and his concentrating face and his bravery as he conquers the great feat of crawling.

I have an amazing husband. Without a trace of doubt in his voice he offered for me to take the weekend away. He did the feedings (the stipulation was that I left him a good supply of milk), he put Sam to bed, he changed and clothed and cuddled with him. He sent me updates that put my heart at ease. Along with my parents, he made my adventure north possible and peaceful.

One thing I realized on the couch with Claire, is that Sam is not only my catalyst for taking more action in my life but my dedication to him, my full-time job of motherhood, has made me calm down with "finding my purpose in life". And with that lack of obsession hanging over my head I am now finally finding more purpose in my life, through Sam, with Sam. I am not dwelling so much in my head but listening more to my heart and just doing. Funny how life works....