Forgiveness

Heart Leaf by Cathy Ulrich

Dad,

I knew I had forgiven you

when you came to me

in a dream.

It had been four years

since your passing.

And for the first time, ever, you came

just

to see me.

You wanted to know

how my life was.

What was important to me.

Who I had become.

You told me you were proud

to know me.

That you wished that you had tried

to know me

when you lived.

But from the other side

you saw.

Only when I had forgiven,

could you come

to me

and tell me

that you loved me.

©CathyUlrich and LargeSelf, 2012

Stress, Rescue and Confidence

Two Trunkfish by Cathy Ulrich

I have a long-standing policy about diving. That is: I don’t dive where it’s cold and I don’t dive where I can’t see. Last weekend I did both.

Peter and I completed our certification for Diver Stress and Rescue on Saturday. It’s a class that we’ve wanted to take for a long time but never seemed to get around to. We could have done the training on one of our vacation dive trips, but unlike the Deep Water Diver or Night Diver or Boat Diver Certifications, you don’t really get to do much diving.

Stress and rescue training encompasses recognizing stress in divers, preventing stress situations from turning into panic modes, and rescuing divers when panic or accidents do happen. So when Peter asked me if I wanted to schedule the course while we were in the Caribbean, my answer was: “No, I really don’t want to spend my vacation repeatedly fishing your butt out of the water!”

Given those constraints, we decided to do the training here in Fort Collins at our local dive shop, High Plains Scuba. We got our course manuals a few weeks before the class, read them, answered all the study questions and started with classroom work on Thursday. Friday was the pool work – four hours of it. The three of us in class – me, Peter and Tess – learned how to recognize stress in divers and we reviewed basic and advanced dive skills to help us be even more confident in the water.

Greg, our instructor, started the pool class by reviewing things like taking our masks off underwater and recovering our regulators (the device you breathe through). Then we progressed to new skills. We had to take off our masks and breathe through our regulators while our dive buddies guided us in an underwater lap around the pool. Then we learned how to breathe from a free-flowing regulator. This happens when the breathing device gets stuck in an open position so air is surging out so hard that you can’t keep the mouthpiece in your mouth. I had to hold the mouthpiece to the side of my mouth and breathe the large bubbles coming off of it. Again, it was intimidating, but after I got the hang of it, I realized I could do it. All of the skill exercises we did were designed to build confidence and practice in case of an equipment failure.

As the pool practice progressed, we learned how to tow a tired diver to safety, how to subdue a panicked diver, and how to rescue an unconscious diver. Finally we learned how to do search patterns to find a missing diver.

Then the big day came, the open-water part. Remember what I said at the beginning of this post? So, when I dive, here’s what I like to see:

Swim Through by Cathy Ulrich

On Saturday, here’s what I saw.

Okay – by Cathy Ulrich

Not that I mind seeing Peter giving me the “Okay” sign, but this shot was taken about eighteen inches from his face!

Yes, we did our open-water training in our local lake – Horsetooth Reservoir – where the visibility is less than two feet and the water temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Good luck finding anything in there – much less a missing diver. And just so you know, most of the places where we dive in the Caribbean boast visibilities of 120+ feet and water temps of 85 degrees or higher. We had to borrow wetsuits from the dive shop because ours were not nearly enough protection for the cold water. Our tropical weight suits are 3mm thick so we wore those and then put a long sleeved 7mm suit over them. I felt like the Michelin man. This much neoprene makes it extremely difficult to move! Ok, enough whining.

Greg took us out to into the lake about 50 yards from shore where he had placed what he called a platform – really it was a long PVC pipe attached to buoys and augured into the bottom of the lake. We were to descend down to 15 feet and practice all the skills we had done in the pool the night before. Visibility here was just crazy-bad, but we all three passed those tests. Then we practiced all of the rescue skills on the surface.

Finally, Greg’s assistant Monica (who is training to be a Dive Master) descended to the bottom of the lake and each one of us had to go get her, bring her up and then lead a rescue operation. A funny aside here – we were told not to shout, “Call 911.”  Instead, we just gave a nod to Greg. Apparently a couple of years ago, some people on the beach by the lake heard one of the students say this. They called 911, and by the time the student had gotten the mock victim up from the bottom of the lake, there were multiple emergency vehicles and a helicopter sitting on the beach. Fire Rescue was not amused…

These are just some of the highlights of our training. It was an invigorating day (even with effectively 10mm of wetsuits), but very well worth the time and effort. By learning how to recognize stress in myself, Peter and other divers, it may be possible for us to prevent a dive accident on a future trip. And by practicing rescue strategies, I have a greater sense of confidence about what to do in the case of an emergency. As in any sport that carries risk, the more skill and awareness one learns, the more able one can be to make safe and effective choices.

It’s like life, really. The more I can be present, aware and conscious, the more I can make choices that serve myself and those around me.

And for you landlubbers, here’s a photo of the lake on that beautiful Colorado day.

Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins, Colorado – by Cathy Ulrich

Love,

Cathy

©CathyUlrich and LargeSelf, 2012

Tig! I’m it!

My friend, Clare Flourish, tigged me almost two weeks ago. My apologies, Clare, for taking so long to get to this. Excuses aside, I finally have some time to devote to it. I’ve decided to ignore most of the rules of the tig, and do it my way (as Clare says, “So sue me! An appropriate comment from a former Solicitor – Clare, that is). I’m just going to answer her questions. But if you’re curious, you can go to her site and read the rules here.

Clare, part of the reason I have taken so long to write this is that your questions were very open-ended and I needed time to decide how to answer them. I know, you probably wanted a spontaneous answer – oh well…

1. Tell me something I don’t know.

Well, coming from you Clare, I’m not sure there’s much that you don’t know. I’m not kidding! Your intelligence astounds me and I have a pretty high intellect, myself. But, I think you probably meant something you don’t know about me. Hmmm, something you don’t know…I played classical guitar for over ten years, still have my beautiful guitars and if I ever quit doing bodywork, will probably get back to playing (fingernails and bodywork just don’t mix).

2. Tell me who you are.

I am a child of the Universe, continually unfolding, growing and  – honestly, these days, just learning how to be me. Which sometimes isn’t all that easy…but getting better.

3. Tell me what you love.

I think being born a 5-time Scorpio (Sun, Moon and three planets) I’ve come to realize that I love all the vibrations that my senses can show me – food, music, exercise, color, art, writing, reading – drinking in the sensual experiences of this world.

So there you go!

Love,

Cathy

©CathyUlrich and LargeSelf, 2012

I Channel Hikes…

Red Tailed Hawk

I have an innate ability to find great hikes. Granted, I live in one of the most stunning places on earth – Colorado. But I seem to be able to look at a trail map or hiking book and pick the perfect terrain, distance and views given a small amount of information. I set my intention for what I want to experience on a hike and then let my intuition take over. And yesterday, I discovered that I could  manifest new trails.

Peter and I decided to go up to one our favorite parks – Red Mountain Open Space. Just 25 miles north of Fort Collins, this land was once part of a large ranch bordering Colorado and Wyoming in the area called the Laramie Foothills. When the land went up for sale several years ago, three municipalities – Larimer County, The City of Fort Collins and The City of Cheyenne – raised the funds to purchase it and turn it into Open Space Lands. The three adjacent parks host many miles of connected hiking/biking/horseback riding trails and the terrain in each park displays its own personality and flavor. Red Mountain is owned by Larimer County.

Peter and I have been to Red Mountain several times and love the area, but there was one place in the park that I so wanted to see, and there was no way to get up there other than bushwhacking – which is a no-no. So last year we hiked other places, including the park next door – Soapstone Prairie (which by the way houses a famous archaeological site containing artifacts that date back 12,000 years!).

When we got to the trailhead at Red Mountain – we checked the information postings and noticed there was a new map of the area – and guess what? In the year that we had been away, the rangers had built a new trail right up into the canyon that I so wanted to visit! Named the K-Lynn Cameron Trail, it meanders west into a series of sandstone canyons and up onto a ridge overlooking the entire open space.

Here’s a trail map of the area.

While we ate a decadent picnic of fried chicken and cole slaw at the trailhead, a Larimer Park Ranger rode by on his horse, Diesel. We saw him several times on the trail. Here he is herding cattle away from the creek. Larimer rents some of the space to neighboring ranches for grazing and it’s not unusual to walk right by a herd on the trail.

You can see why it’s called Red Mountain.

When we crossed Sand Creek and headed west on the K-Lynn Cameron trail, we encountered the ruins of an old homestead. We see these scattered all over Colorado. Can you imagine what life would have been like here in the Winter?

Here I am almost at the top of the canyon overlooking the valley. This is the spot I’ve been longing to visit, but couldn’t until this year when the trail was finished.

And here are a few shots of Box Elder Canyon, our last stop before heading back to the car.

Yesterday was one of those magical days when I got to appreciate the beauty of the land here in Northern Colorado. I had to pinch myself to believe that I got to hike into a place that I had been so wanting to see for several years. But then again, I guess on some level, I created it! Thank you to my LargeSelf and all those who participated!

Love,

Cathy

©CathyUlrich and LargeSelf, 2012