What Is Your Story?

What do you want your story to be?

Reading a wonderful book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller, that poses this question and I've been thinking a great deal about it. His theory is that life really is a story, that we are characters in a narrative who have real choices about what that narrative will be. We tend to want to make our lives easier, but what makes a great story is transformation, a character arc, the protagonist learning. What brings about that transformation? Stepping outside our comfort zone, facing difficulties, overcoming challenges, living through tragedy even. Most important is choosing a story that causes us to grow.

I told myself a story before Chloe and I went to Wolf Camp last week...that I'm not the camping type, that it would be difficult and that I was just doing it for her, because it was something a good mom would do.

Sometimes it is so very nice to be wrong.

We ended up having an absolutely amazing time because of the challenges, not in spite of them.

On our first afternoon we hiked in the rain, with one bright apple green umbrella over Chloe’s head, a friend snuggled in beside her. Smart, my girl, to think of bringing umbrellas. Completely in camping mode, I thought only of ponchos and hats, and she came up with the better solution, the obvious one really, and we’re the only ones that did. I smiled inside seeing her underneath that umbrella, warm and cared for. But all the kids chattered and laughed and kept on walking and were so thankful to come in out of the cold rain when it was over, with brave tales to tell of their adventure. How many times, really, do any of us get to walk in a thunderstorm?  How often do we get the chance to be brave?

The next morning we hiked down to Merced Grove to see the Giant Sequoias in 40 degree weather and more rain, all of us so, so cold. Pretty difficult for both Chloe and me and we had quite a few chances to give each other reassuring hugs picking our way down that slippery steep trail, laughing together trying to keep warm. I never would have thought that Chloe would be able to do that hike, especially in such shivery conditions, but she definitely managed it and even was at the front of the pack with our amazingly energetic naturalist, Poppy, on the way back up. Another challenge conquered, proudly.

NowThisLife - Merced Grove - Chloe
Chloe in Merced Grove
NowThisLife - Merced Grove
Dogwood Blooming in Merced Grove
The whole week was like that...new songs and skits featuring the kids and chaperones, a newt discovered under a decomposing log passed from hand to hand, running games and more hikes. Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake, Half Dome. Beauty and challenges. Friends and preteen shrieking. Getting to know some of the other parents and teachers better, being awed by the passion and energy of the naturalists, tearing up a bit at the final campfire. Being so proud of these kids, respectful and interested and engaged and silly. So proud of my girl, stepping outside of her sheltered world a bit and thriving there.

I think the pinnacle of the week, for us, was the solo night hike. We all went out together, at dusk, on a hike around the camp grounds, and then settled in for a circle of stories and games. After talking about how Native Americans used to go off on their own for a vision quest at adolescence, Poppy told the kids that they would be doing a version of that by walking back to a meeting point, on the trail we had come up, alone. We talked about fears, and everyone wrote one of their fears on a little piece of paper and put it in their pocket. All the kids lined up, with parents interspersed between every three or four of them, and Poppy started her stopwatch. Every forty five seconds, one little person started off down that trail, alone, and we parents clenched our fists and let them go. Chloe looked at me with the big eyes and I reassured her that she'd be so proud of herself when she was done, and that she was definitely up to the challenge. But, oh, in my heart, I did not want to let her step away. It took all I had to smile at her and send her off down that hill. Forty five seconds later, I followed her. It doesn't seem like long, but it's long enough for your child to be completely out of your sight, and out of the sight of the person in front of her. Long enough for so many thoughts to go through your head. Long enough for your heart to beat wildly. 

When I got to the meeting place, there she was, safe and grinning. Full of stories of catching up to the friend in front of her, of running, of being so scared, but ultimately, of succeeding. As all the kids filed in, their pride couldn't have been any clearer, and it was so beautiful. We all gathered again in a circle and slowly fed our pieces of paper holding our fears into a small fire and watched them turn to smoke. Mine read, "Letting my girl go." And I did. And she flourished. 

Our whole week was a tremendous story. One I am so thankful to have chosen.

Now This Life - Chloe - Wolf Camp
Wolf Pack!


  1. Touching. Love the way you write about your girl. So much love and respect for the person she is blossoming into being while acknowledging the challenge of letting go. Makes me want to relish in and appreciate these early childhood years even more while I still have the chance. <3
    And then the bit about choosing the story of our lives...so timely. Sometimes the heart and mind just don't agree on life's plot line...and then what story to choose? What if it's the wrong choice? Perhaps I should write that fear down and toss it in the fire too.

    1. The heart and the mind...ah yes. Both so important. Sometimes you just have to choose and commit to it. That's all.

      The early years are sweet, but as Chloe grows more and more into herself, it's just sweeter:)

    2. Ha! Yes, indeed. I suppose standing at the fork in the road and scratchin' my belly is the hardest part.

      Sounds like I have a lot to look forward to as a Mom yet. :)


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