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Keep It Together

Grand Canyon Series -

Waking up at the bottom of The Grand Canyon, I felt a heaviness. Have you ever worked so hard to keep your wits about you that it physically hurts? That uncomfortable feeling of knowing you need to address something difficult, something painful, something you’ve tucked down so far, you’ve almost forgotten about it? Almost. What happens on my journey the 3rd day at The Grand Canyon felt as big as the canyon itself….


Breakfast at Phantom Ranch is hearty! Pancakes, eggs, oranges, sausage, and coffee. It’s a good thing because we had a full day of hiking and exploring ahead of us. We headed out on Bright Angel Trail and passed the famous stone couch listed as an attraction on some park flyers. Continuing up the trail we were headed to one of Sarah’s favorite spots, which she named Gene’s Rock, after her Uncle.


I found a crevice in the rock to sit in and overlooked an amazing view of the Canyon.

It was here that Sarah walked us through Step 7 from her book, Walk Through This – practice forgiveness.


(Journal entry)

Forgiveness starts with ourselves and then we can forgive others. What if I needed forgiveness from someone else for something they weren’t even aware of? Sarah asked “Nancy, what’s going on for you right now?” She knew something was stirring. She held the space for me, especially when I tried to dismiss it. Damn it, the dam broke ….
As the youngest of five girls, all I ever had were hand-me-downs, from dresses to dolls. I was the little one, the quiet one, the shy one, never needing anything and never old enough to do what the older sibs could. I rarely caused trouble, never got hurt, was overall healthy, and often flew under the radar. I was referred to as the “youngest sister” of the valedictorian at school, and the one who didn’t need anything at home. I often felt unseen, unheard, and not good enough. I followed in the footsteps of my two older sisters when their employer hired me because, after all, those two were loyal and hardworking. So I must be, too.
And so, I set out to prove myself. Being a wife and a mom can’t be all there is. There’s got to be more. Become the family breadwinner. Climb the corporate ladder. Be seen. Be heard. Do more. Be better. It was never enough because I was no longer being me. I was always trying to be someone I thought others wanted me to be. I wanted to be valued, needed, loved, and noticed. As a result, I was always after the next thing … and missing out on the present. I got sucked into the corporate world, wanting more, doing more, giving more. I had to keep it together, take care of others, and never let it show if I wasn’t. I made choices against my values simply to keep feeling needed and appreciated. I stepped up over and over again. I was the strong one. The one who communicated my dad’s passing with my siblings in 2007 and then my mom’s in 2020. I was grieving.
For the first time in my adult life, I no longer had to Keep It Together! There I stood, in the depths of the canyon weeping on Sarah’s shoulder because I finally realized that the only person who needed to forgive me was myself.
As I turned to share some of the mistakes I needed to forgive myself for, one of my hiking sisters exclaimed, “Nancy, look at that!” At first, I didn’t see it. I was looking down in embarrassment, shame, and guilt. Then, I looked up. There in the sky was a beautiful wispy angel cloud with a small rainbow (1) floating through it.

After that moment, I felt lighter and more connected to myself. I was able to relax and be fully present as we hiked up Phantom Ranch Creek to the waterfall. I journaled the above in reflection. Later that afternoon we returned to our cabin at Phantom Ranch. I went to pull my journal out of the pouch I had carried it in this whole time, and I noticed something spectacular.


The phrase on the pouch said, “Keep It Together”! It was then and there that my hiking tribe sisters encouraged me to leave that pouch in the canyon. It was time to let go of that expectation! I found an appropriate burial site for that pouch and who knows, maybe someone will see it as a treasure and exactly what they need.

Watch for my next blog to continue my healing journey….


(1) When I returned home, I looked up the spiritual meaning of my angel cloud: Rainbows, clouds, and sparkles of light in the sky are all common signs from the angelic realm. They bring the reminder that there’s so much more going on that normally meets our physical eyes… And offers a glimpse into the beauty of the higher levels of love and light. (Mine just happened to be in the form of an angel too – double whammy!)

Note: As part of my healing– I have become an ambassador for Sara Schulting-Kranz’s The Live Boldly Movement. I host a free Walk Through This book club (you buy the book and join in on Zoom). When you are ready to peel back the layers contact me to begin: Nancy@KalsowCoach.com