I love my all-consuming SLP life: the kids, the research, the outcomes, creating products, blogging...but sometimes I need an interruption of routine to keep me balanced. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will give you a glimpse of some of the interruptions that keep me sane, happy and healthy.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, it's hard to NOT want to live a healthy lifestyle. Everywhere you go, you'll find people being active. They might be cycling, hiking, boating, wind surfing, fishing, rafting, camping, jogging, snowboarding, skiing, or any number of other outdoor activities.
My husband and I really enjoy hiking, and there is no limit to the number of trails to explore.
One of our favorite places to explore is the Columbia River Gorge. There are at least 25 different waterfalls that can be seen from trails varying from easy to difficult terrain, and are always a draw for us. Check this one out:
This one is called Oneonta Falls. Most of the "trail" is in the stream, so you have to plan on getting wet and dress accordingly. Isn't it magical? When you're on the trail, going through the cavern with the steep cliffs on either side, you really feel like you've been transported into a scene from Lord of the Rings.
Before you get to the waterfall, you have to scale this enormous log jam. This is always a favorite with my boys! I have to admit, I love the challenge, too!
This is Horsetail Falls, which is just down the road from Oneonta Falls. It's a favorite place to bring out of town guests who are up for a short hike.
Sometimes we head over the Cascades to the high desert and hike at Smith Rock State Park. It is jaw-droppingly beautiful! We follow the trail along the creek bed and circle around the breathtaking rock formations. We always marvel at the majesty of these towering rocks!
We just discovered this hike this year. It's called Opal Creek and is another stunner with its beautiful blue pools, cascading waterfalls and crystal clear stream.
It even has a natural waterslide to play in, if you don't mind icy cold water.
For a change of pace, we can head to the coast and hike on trails along the Pacific Ocean. This is the view from Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach, Oregon. I hate to use this word again, but it is STUNNING! I could stay there all day and watch the waves crash on the shore.
One Monday earlier this month, my husband and I headed out to a trail on Mt. Hood that we hadn't explored before. It's called Ramona Falls and the hiking website we checked said it was a 6.6 mile hike (moderately difficult). That distance is a little longer than we like to hike, but we decided to go for it.
The trail meandered through beautiful stands of douglas fir trees and was a pleasant hike. We met a hiker coming from the opposite direction who stopped to pet our dog. He said he was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from Mexico to British Columbia. Here's a snippet of our conversation:
Hiker: I am on Day 100 of my hike, with 550 miles to go. How far are you going?
Me: Just to the waterfall.
Hiker: Waterfall? What waterfall?
Me: There's supposed to be a waterfall ahead less than a mile from here.
Hiker: Oh, I missed it, I guess. I don't have time to take in the scenery.
What?!? How can you miss a waterfall? I started thinking that maybe we took a wrong turn somewhere. But we kept hiking, and just about the time Bruno and I thought we could go no further, we turned a corner and saw this: a beautiful fairy-tail clearing leading up to a shimmering waterfall.
Absolutely awe-inspiring. I do not know what is so mesmerizing and magical about water falling over some rocks, but it is. It just is.
The cool, refreshing mist on our faces, the patterns of the water as it falls to the rocks below, the sound of the cascading water, the green of the moss...the intricate handiwork of God. How can I not but worship Him in this place?
We left this sacred ground in silence for awhile as we hiked along the stream that fed this waterfall. I could not comprehend not stopping to experience the beauty and the magic of this magnificent place! How could that hiker have missed this? But as my husband and I hiked along, deep in our own thoughts, it occurred to me that we (me and the PCT hiker) were two hikers on the same trail for a time, but both with very different goals. His was to complete a very long hike in a prescribed amount of time. He had to plan his trip down to the last detail, set an agenda, and hike at a pace in which he could successfully complete his hike each day. He had his end goal in mind. My goal was to hike a few miles, take in the scenery, and appreciate God's creation, stopping to take detours along the way. Two very different perspectives.
Since that day, I've thought of that hiker a number of times. I really admire his dedication, self-discipline and determination! But I've also come to view his hike and mine as an analogy for my life as a speech-language pathologist in two ways.
In relation to other SLP's: I have this terrible habit of comparing myself to others. I look at colleagues who have opened their own practices and now employ several others and wonder, should I be doing that? I admire the aspiration of other SLP's that continue their education to gain higher degrees and wonder where they have the time. I witness the successes of other SLP's in many different capacities and wonder if I should be doing more. I forget that even though we're on the same trail, we each come with our own goals and perspectives. But we're all in this to make a difference in people's lives, right? We're all on the same path to help others become better communicators. It's just that some of us are on the fast track, with the end-goal to own a large practice, become the president of ASHA or our state organization, or become the top SLP seller on Teachers Pay Teachers. We need those people! Some of us have come to this path by the way of a previous profession and have a unique perspective to offer. We need those people, too! And some of us are content to bloom where we're planted and find no greater joy than taking the time to appreciate the scenery around us and to celebrate the little victories along the way. When our paths merge, let's remember that we're coming from different perspectives and let's celebrate the differences!
In relation to the children I work with: They are all on the trail to become successful communicators. It will take hard work and dedication to get to their destination. But each one approaches the trail with a unique perspective and a unique set of skills. Some will be on the fast-track, and get there in record time. Some will move steadily along the trail, making progress each day. Others will meander and plod along, putting one foot in front of the other just to reach the next rise in the trail. Don't you have those kids who are so challenging that all you feel like you've done is climb uphill with no waterfall in sight? But then, suddenly you go around the bend and there it is: the imitation of a sign or word, that new sound learned, that new social skill used to converse with a peer. Let the waterfall flow! I'm so glad I took the time to stop and witness it!
Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.
He will teach us His ways
And we shall walk in His paths.