Saturday, August 17, 2019

Love Letters to my life #14: Stop letting worry steal joy

by Joyce Wycoff

(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day, the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.)

Twisting around another narrow, hairpin turn, I knew I was on the wrong road. There was no signal on my phone to show me where I was or how to get to where I wanted to go, so frustration rose as I did an ungraceful 3-point … or 13-point … u-turn.  
What was I doing out here in the middle of nowhere? 
I could be home, safe in my little nest. 
Thank god I’m not pulling the trailer I almost bought. 
I’d just unhitch it and leave it.

Thoughts about what I was doing … and why … jumbled through my brain. Was I crazy to be trying to go kayaking by myself? Had I just wasted a bunch of money on the kayak and an easy-up rack? I’d never kayaked by myself before … at 73, did any of this make sense? 

Of course, it wasn’t like I was wandering the mountains of Patagonia. I was a few miles outside Grass Valley, California, looking for Scotts Flat Lake, where I had swum many times before. But, still, I was lost: hot, tired and frustrated, not at all sure I was up to the task ahead of me. What if the rack didn’t work? What if I couldn’t get the kayak to the water? Did I remember the paddles? What if … ? What if …?

What I really wanted was to go home … curl up on my comfy couch with my computer. When I finally knew where I was, it was a crossroads decision: lake or home? 

Scotts Flat Lake
An image of cool water and my lime-green kayak on the soft turquoise lake carried the day, but the challenges weren’t over. The kayak is light but awkward and the haul from the parking spot to the water stretched across an eternity of concrete. I tried but couldn’t carry it more than a few feet without being a siren screaming for help: Old lady needs rescuing! 

Once more, visions of the comforts of home filled my head, but it was now or never. Finally, I just grabbed a handle and dragged the boat to the water. Of course, it was down hill and  the thought of dragging it back up again launched a dozen new worries.

I would like to end this saga with an upbeat statement about how the gloriously cool, beautiful water washed away all my frustrations, and I kayaked into the sunset … however, it didn’t quite work out that way. The water was wonderful and it was great to be back in a kayak ... but, my hat was wrong, I didn’t have sunglasses or straps for my prescription glasses, my water sandals vacuumed up sand and rocks, hobbling me when I beached, and I didn’t know if my waterproof camera bag would work. Plus, I kept thinking about that long haul back up the hill.

In other words, worrying and fretting stole much of the joy of being in and on the water, something I had yearned for. The trip home continued the frustration. I was going to explore Donner Lake but my low fuel light came on just as I exited toward the marina. Another u-turn, a minimal input of $4.15 gas, and a bag of potato chips and I was headed for home where I arrived … exhausted, sore from uphill hauling of the kayak and an hour of qi gong in the morning, and basically brain-fried.

Morning after: Amazing what a good night’s sleep will do. Showering off the after-effects of yesterday, I realized I’m not ready to give in to the entropy of age. I don’t worry about gray hair and wrinkles, but I don’t want to lose the strength needed to live the life I want to live. I walk every day, but I need more upper body strength and I need to keep pushing into the activities that bring me joy.
All of this morphed into an acronym formula for this stage of life … SAG: Strong - Active - Growing … and a bit of humor …

When you start to sag, at least SAG right.

Then an E showed up … SAGEStrong - Active - Growing - Enjoying life.

That’s what I want to be as long as possible.


  1. Well, your outing did not sound fabulous, but you did it...and looking back, bet your are glad! They do make carriers....2 wheeled tools with a handle...and I saw one not long ago that looked compact, light weight and very well designed....would solve the getting from car to edge of lake for you. Even as easy as it is for me to get to lake, here in AR, I still have to gear up for the heat and humidity. But, once on the grows more serene and my cares least for awhile.

    1. Judy ... going out today to get kayak wheels. I thought I could get by without them but I was wrong. Heading out again next week for more kayaking and to test my new SUV tent. Life is good.

  2. "And then an E showed up," oh yeah! I have no doubt that you will keep on enjoying life, Joyce, and that is what will carry you through whatever comes up I joined the Sky Fitness gym near my house and got myself a trainer. I want to make new lyrics for "I feel Pretty" from West Side Story and sing it to myself every day, I feel sturdy, I feel rugged, I feel fervent and eager and strong...Oh so grounded, and vibrant and strong.. oh I pity any crone who's not me today"

    1. Susa ... I always love your enthusiasm and take on life ... congrats on the gym and the trainer. Protecting our health and strength in these years is critical.

    2. Susa ... the theme song is brilliant ... can we share it?

  3. Next time we will go together.... the details don't matter as much when you are laughing!
    YOU did it!

    1. Tracey ... going together would be wonderful. Just call whenever you want to go ... that water is special.

  4. Arduous it was, you survived and sage you remain. And Susa Silvermarie's rewrite of "I Feel Pretty" is brilliant. It should become the crone's theme song!

  5. Hi Becky ... that's what we need ... a theme song! hugs.