By Paradise Alley, about the tenth rock formation into the park, I was kinda done with exploring off-trail and crawling over mossy boulders and through the crevices, caves and ledges at Panama Rocks Scenic Park, but the kids had found a cool—figuratively and literally—crevice they wanted to explore.


“You go,” I said to Dan as I settled on a nearby rock. “I’ll think I’ll sit this one out.”

I wasn’t tired as much as I was just kinda bored with it. It was not my first trip to the park and rocks don’t change much over the years.

But, Lauren was having none of it. From in between the house-size rocks I hear, “Mom, you gotta see this. Come on, there’s a really cool spiderweb and a little hole we can crawl out of.”


“Cool, but I’m going to wait out here,” I yell to her.

“Come. ON!” she yells back

Kelly, sensitive as always to my feelings says, “Lauren, why are you always making mom and dad do things that are hard for them. They’re in their forties!”

Oh, hell, no.

I was up off that rock and shimmying through that crevice in seconds.

I’m a freakin’ Tough Mudder. I could SCALE those rocks.


(Mamma Cass is not amused)


Later that night, I met up with friends (all in — or very near — their 40s, mind you) for triathlon training at small local lake. We swam about a half mile in the seaweed- and fish-filled open water before hopping on our bikes for two loops around the lake (5 miles each loop), then putting on our running shoes and logging a few miles on foot.

When we finished, we were plenty hot again and the cool water of the lake was inviting.

A crowd was gathered (as always) near the rope swing on the edge of the lake, taking turns swinging out and splashing into the lake. It looked, fun, but frightening. I mean, you have to climb halfway up a tree just to get to the rope.

Then I saw one of my friends — our “lifeguard” — Kristen catching and holding the rope for the jumpers.

“Kristen, did you go off?” I ask

“No, but Elizabeth (her daughter) did,” she said. “I’ll go if you go.”

Kelly’s words from earlier in the day echoed in my head “Why are you always making mom and dad do things that are hard for them. They’re in their forties!” as I got in line behind the other 10- to 20-year-olds gathered on shore.

When my turn came, I climbed up the tree and immediately regretted doing so.

“Uh…I don’t know about this, Kristen,” I said.

“You’ll be fine.”

“Will this rope hold me? Should I hold it between my legs?”

“NO, don’t do that. Just hold onto it with your arms.”

“Um…are you sure I can, like, hold my body weight using just my arms?” (Kristen works out with me and, I figured she’d know).

“Absolutely. Just get your hands above that knot and swing out. I’ll tell you when to drop.”

I stood there, gathering courage.

“I’m really scared! This is scary. My hands are shaking!”

Why are you always making mom and dad do things that are hard for them. They’re in their forties!


I picked up my feet, and swung out over the lake.

“Now!” Kristen yelled and I splashed into the lake, taking a portion of it up my nose before surfacing with a laugh and a single thought.

Yeah, that’s forty-two, kids.

About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking