North Rim, Grand Canyon circa 1992

30 years ago my friend Kris and I left our classes at BYU to go on a road trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument three hours away. We started the trip with cassette tapes falling off the roof of the car where we left them as we packed our Birkenstock sandals, hers real, mine fake, our shorts and t shirts and no real idea of where we were going. All we knew was we were driving, singing to George Michael, watching the Utah landscape shift from brown to green to red, our blinking eyes changing the scenes like a classic view finder toy.

I don’t remember everything about that road trip, a brief memory of the place we intended to go, the rock formations beautiful and stunning and not enough. We drove south, and ended up at the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

I was fearless as I sat on the edge for that picture, adventurous when we climbed into a rock building with no windows and posed for more, the setting sun lighting the last picture I have of us, sitting up against a boulder, together, sated and suntanned on this meandering trip.

We had a flat tire, a stay at a very dingy motel, rolling the tire down the street to be repaired in a town I no longer remember its name—and all the while pictures of us laughing.

South Rim, Grand Canyon 2022

Last week driving alone from Utah to Sedona I saw a sign for the south rim, 25 miles off the route, and I took it, the ghost of that adventurer who sang and laughed nudging me to take the right in that round-about. I thought I was going to find fearlessness there, enlightenment, the vista that would take my breath away, taking away my gathered up anxieties and wished for antidotes.

As the road started to climb I was terrified, each mile forward, deeper and deeper into a panic of what do I do, how do I get out of this? There was no way to turn around, and I could see the canyon out of the corner of my eye, breathing heavily I kept driving, no choice to go right or left, I turned into a look out, so that I could drive back down. The view above was beautiful I guess, for someone who could see it. I could not. I was ungrounded, wind blown and even looked around at the people walking on that dirt on the edge wondering if someone could drive me back down.

I found my way back to level ground, cursing myself for the road I had taken. Questioning what I believed would happen when I got there. Knowing I was not ever going to find the freedom I had looked for, it was not for me, the giving up angry and vindictive and final.

And then, many graces and gifts over the next six days, spent in an infinity of women, led me back. Sedona, the place I was meant to go, that would be meaningful for me, surprised me open.

South Rim, Grand Canyon. 6 days later.

Another day I will write about the cross hanging around my neck, the one I chose because it has a circle in it, never realizing what that would mean as I returned to this place, 6 days and 30 years later, my friend Kris replaced in the car by other strong and trusted women, meandering, no idea where we were going, but seeing and being seen all along the way.

I am fearless in this picture. Adventurous, together and sated. All the way home, we laughed.


Recently, watching a reality show where a man chooses women each week until one is left, my daughter noticed that a woman was being nice. In the midst of an unfair and painful exchange this beautiful girl remained caring, sweet and received the main characters condemnation and stayed.

It was an opportunity to talk about what this was, this well worn habitual conditioning for women, and some men I am sure, to be nice in the face of cruelty, dismissiveness and pain.

When you choose to be nice, you choose to only be nice. You cannot be nice and honest, nice and fierce, nice and powerful, nice and bold. When you choose to be nice, it’s an agreement, because the other person needs to agree, that you were nice to them.

Being nice to them means figuring out that means, to them. To be nice is to predict and gauge and measure what being nice means, and doing that. That’s what it means to me to be a people pleaser, to find a way to find agreement that you were nice.

One of the biggest causes of burnout in life is wanting to do something, a job, a task, anything really, and do it while being seen as nice. It is a straight jacket of holding still until you can move in agreement with everyone of the many thems in your life.

But kind; kind is one way. Kind is what you choose to do, not what someone else will always agree with, but that you know is true. Kind is not an agreement between you and someone else, it is an agreement between you and your own self. There is no figuring out, there is only the knowing, were you kind? Only you can answer that.

You can be kind and honest, kind and fierce, kind and powerful, kind and bold. I am not nice, I am recovering from nice, but kind? Yes, that is what I know to be true.