Dream Crushing

I used to know someone who seemed to delight in crushing others’ dreams. When I was young, she approached my mother, all concerned, because I talked about wanting to be a teacher, when the week before I wanted to be something else. My mother responded, “She’s a kid. She’s supposed to try different ideas on for size. Let her be.” (That was probably one of my mother’s finest moments. Thanks, Ma.)

This person went on to have children of her own, and it broke my heart the way she used to deprive them of all hope. When one of her kids said she wanted to be a singer, she was told that you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than become famous.

While that may be true, the message she was sending was, “Why even try? You won’t be good enough.” Because of that, that girl grew up and singing isn’t a part of her life. She might have been famous. Or she might have sung in the church choir and made lifelong friends that way. Or she might have become a music teacher. So many paths were cut off from her life thanks to her mudslide of a mother.

When another one of her kids showed aptitude in one area above all others, she tried her best to discourage him, because it wouldn’t be an easy career. But he lived and breathed it. He did manage to get halfway into it, but never went the distance. I often wonder where he’d be if he had gotten just the tiniest bit of encouragement from the woman he admired most.

It’s so much easier to crush someone than to lift that person up. When you crush, gravity is on your side. But I hope you’ll resist the urge.

Watching people fly, even if it’s away from you,  even if the destination remains just out of reach for them, is much more satisfying than having to scrape them off the sole of your shoe.


An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Throw Me a Bone

I just finished training on the University Drawbridge. That’s two Seattle bridges under my belt. So if you count the three bridges I was qualified on in Jacksonville, Florida and the one in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, that’s 6 bridges I’ve operated, and that includes all three main types of bridge (bascule, lift, and swing). I know of only one other bridgetender who has such varied experience. (If there are any others out there, I’d love to talk to them!) I’m rather proud of myself.

But as I write this, I can’t really show how chuffed I am because I’m in the presence of one of those people who frowns upon kudos, whether self-awarded or not. I’ve heard this called “tall poppy syndrome”. If you stick your head up above the other poppies around you, this type of person will chop it off. I’ve never understood this mindset.

It’s always been my philosophy that you should give credit where credit is due. Not only does that engender positive attitudes all ’round, but also if you allow others to shine, you benefit from the glow yourself. If your team members look good, the whole team looks good by association.

But some people simply cannot throw others a bone. They think it’s more impressive if they hoard them all for themselves. So I’ll do my prideful happy dance when I get home. Until then, I know this is an accomplishment, and no one can take that away from me. Yay!

“…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” ~Marianne Williamson


Drawbridge Style

It has been my privilege to be one of the few bridgetenders on the planet to have had the opportunity to operate all three of the most common styles of drawbridges. So here is an extremely basic primer.

 Ortega RiverBridge

This is a bascule bridge. These come in the form of a double span, like the Ortega River Bridge in Jacksonville, Florida…

 Draw bridge

Or a single span like this one in Mystic, Connecticut.


Here’s why all those movies where you see cars jumping over opened bascule bridges are pure fiction. When the span opens, a hole appears at the base. The only way a car can get on an opening span is if it drives on when the bridge has only just started to open…


… or if the bridgetender isn’t paying attention and starts the lift when the vehicle is stopped on the span, as happened in Wisconsin.

 stupid drawbridge woman

Bascule bridges are responsible for the vast majority of drawbridge deaths and injuries. If you hear the warning signals and see the flashing lights and watch the gates lowering, you should have the sense to get out of the way, but you’d be amazed. It’s even more critical for pedestrians to be careful  nowadays because some of these bridges are operated remotely. If you want to read some very sad stories, just Google “Drawbridge” and “Dead” sometime.

 copy of Van Gogh picture and copy "Langlois Bridge" vangogh draw

This is probably the most famous bascule bridge, just outside of Arles, France, immortalized by Van Gogh.


The next style is the lift bridge, like the Main Street Bridge in Jacksonville, Florida. These have counterweights in the towers that are attached to the span by cables. To open the bridge, brakes are released, allowing the counterweights to lower, which pulls up the span. Each one of the counterweights on Main Street weighs over a million pounds. Riding up on a lift bridge can be a heady experience, but it’s so big you don’t get that stomach lurching elevator feeling.

sunset bridge

You just get a spectacular view.

Scale Lane Bridge, England

Lastly, we have the swing bridge. These can pivot at the end, like the Scale Lane Bridge in Kingston upon Hull, England…

 swing bridge missouri, mississippi river

…or they can swivel on a central point like this bridge in Missouri which spans the Mississippi River. These bridges often have oval gears below deck level, which lift them up slightly above the fixed portion of the bridge before they turn.


Incidentally, it’s always a good idea to have very good locking mechanisms on bridges. We learned that the hard way after Hurricane Hugo hit the Ben Sawyer Bridge in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

There are a variety of creatively designed drawbridges out there, but these are the most common types. Of all three styles, the swing bridge is my favorite to operate. When on it, you don’t feel like you’re moving. It just looks like your surroundings are rotating around you. And since the world does revolve around me, that’s only fitting.

If you are as fascinated by drawbridges as I am, please join my Drawbridge Lovers Facebook page here.