I met Paul, my husband of 21 years on a canoe trip in the Okefenokee Swamp. I'd never been in a canoe in my life, but my very good friend Teresa couldn't stop talking about how great this trip was so I ended up throwing my name in the hat for going with a group of canoeing enthusiasts over Easter weekend that year. I think it was 1998. (I'm terrible with dates)
l to r (Mary, Paul, Charles, Teresa, Cheri, and Cindy)
Balancing was not really a big problem for me as I'd been a ballerina for decades by that point. In case you have never really considered what dancers need to have for their craft, I'll just mention here that balance is the KEY to dance. I'd been practicing for that first step into the canoe since I was three years old! But, who knew??! Since I'd never had that on my "to do" list, it was one of those subliminal things that comes in so handy in life.
The trip was a three day excursion. It was incredible! And I fell in love with so many things that extended weekend. The swamp was absolutely beautiful. I wasn't expecting that at all. My typical approach, just leave the palette wide open for what will appear on it. The alligators were plentiful and it was my first time seeing them in their natural habitat. They were sunbathing in their royal ancient beauty. It was sheer magnificence to see them balancing atop the lilly pads. They were HUGE and it was a marvel to me how they didn't sink. (fyi, they hiss at you if you get too close, thanks for that education, Paul). All of the vegetation was lush and there were exquisite water lillies and flora I'd never known existed, and I've always been a gardening enthusiast. We had a botanist on the trip and she kept us all educated on names and species of some of the lesser known plants and their varietals.
There was a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky English man whose canoe I was assigned to. Paul was an experienced canoer, and as aforementioned, I was clueless. We "clicked" well, had the most marvelous time, in fact and seemed to really appreciate each other's company. There was lots of giggling and fun, my trying to "tune into" the Lancashire accent and enjoying being out in the open with no worries at that particular time. With the exception of not going overboard, that is. The previous arrangement amongst the group was, we would all be switching canoe partners every day. But after day one, we declined the invitation to join anothers' ride and stuck together for the duration. It was all meant to be, of course. But dang! Kind of not expecting to find love in the Okefenokee Swamp. For goodness sake! Just goes to show you, there are blessings every where!
There were six of us on the ride, two men, four ladies. We all agreed to leave any and all "shop talk" on the dock when we launched. But we all heard the other man in Teresa's canoe announce he was a physicist, he understood balance so he would certainly NOT be the one, if there was anyone, going into the water. I turned to Paul and said, "he's going in". We chuckled and moved on but in hindsight, since I was the most inexperienced canoe partner in history, that was a rather bold statement on my part!
That evening we arrived at the destination camping platform timely and in daylight, for which I was truly grateful. We found calm water, beautiful clear sky, lots of "swamp noises" of frogs and such, and most importantly, a 10 foot square platform to call our home for the duration of the night. We all managed to unload our tents and personal belongings, our food sources and cooking stove, etc. It was quite the production. All of a sudden, our confident physicist was standing with one foot on the dock and one foot in the canoe, and the canoe was steadily moving away from the platform. My sweet friend held her hand out for him, then realized he out weighed her by at least a hundred and fifty pounds, and she quickly retrieved her hand. Had he been a dancer, or had dance training, he would've known how to pull his inner thighs together, canoe in tow, and save himself from the plunge. But alas, in what seemed like slow motion, our friend went into the swamp, all the way up to his chest in the muddy sludge and alligator infested water. After his good hearted grand standing for a few minutes, Paul reminded him there were alligators in the swamp and he should probably climb onto the dock. The memories of that trip. Such fun!
That swamp story was a long way around saying, that is what launching this first book feels like to me. You think you know everything about the balancing act of telling your story, accepting the criticism along with the praise, understanding the time consumption, allowing for your emotional merry-go-round, and knowing you're going to make it to the finish line someday. And then, you find yourself straddling the swamp, with one foot on solid ground and the other on some catastrophic moving part that is slipping away from that solid ground at a rate impossible to comprehend. The picture of that man resigned to go into the swamp keeps surfacing in my mind as I resign myself to go into the depth of whatever is ahead of me now.
So, here I am ... finding my balance all over again in a new way. As the book is a memoir, and I promised to begin introducing characters today, I'll introduce me and my intentions.
My name is Cheri Glover and I've had a few good adventures. But the book I'm launching soon is about the first twenty four years of my life. A lot of the adventures would actually be classified as misadventures. My dream is to encourage people who have found themselves facing chaos, helping them to understand there are better times. The fact that you can, and likely will survive and trusting there is love and joy ahead, is my main goal. And if you've had the misfortune to have been widowed, those same things apply. You can and will survive, even though it often doesn't seem possible. There are better times ahead, thank goodness. You are loved more than you'll ever know. And the future holds hope, love, joy and even peace. I write all of this from personal experience. It is 100% transparent truth. It is raw and vulnerable. And it is all me. And it's like having one foot on a banana peel and the other ... well, you get the idea.
I hope you enjoy it! I'm heading over to format it now. Oh! my! Gosh! Until next week,
Be well and Be YOU!