Happy Memorial Day Weekend to All 5/28/2006
Wow another big week of training and decision-making!!! When I face a big decision, I often feel like I’m in the middle of a snow globe. I’m in the middle of a swirling snowstorm of options and considerations and I can feel lost and overwhelmed. Fortunately, I’ve learned to be patient and wait because I know eventually the blizzard in my mind will eventually calm and the way forward will become clear. I can’t force it, will it, or cajole it.I can only seek information, intuition, and others’ perspectives and wait.and wait.and wait.and then, like this Thursday morning at 4:00 am, the weather in the snow globe finally settled and I was ready to actualize my plan.
You might ask, “What have you planned this week?” “My Road to Everest,” I reply.
I shake my head at the twists and turns that come about in my life because of where I click on the Internet.”Be careful where you click!” is something I warn others and myself. Last January, I made a plan to climb Cho Oyu to see if I had what it took to climb Mount Everest.
Then in late April, I was surfing around and found Wally Berg’s website by accident-I had never found him on the net before, and he had a fall Everest expedition. Now, a month later, between the jigs and reels since then, I’m no longer climbing Cho Oyu, I’ve committed to climbing Everest in Spring of 2007, and I’m going to attempt Mount Elbrus in Russia in September and Aconcagua in December.the road from point A to point B is rarely a straight line!
I have felt nothing but relief since making the decision. I realized that I wanted and needed more time for preparation in all realms. The joy of my year on Denali was the many adventures, learnings, and connections I made before I got anywhere close to the mountain.
Leisure theory tells me that the anticipation phase is a critical element in any experience and in the end, I didn’t want to lose out on the deep growth that a Year of Everest will bring. So mark March 18 or so on your calendar-that’s when I’ll be heading to Kathmandu to begin the trek to Everest base camp.
By 9:00 am on Thursday, I already noticed a change in me. With the commitment to Everest 2007 firmly in place, I began to push myself in a new ways. I picked up the phone, which for many is an easy act, but for me can be a mountain-sized challenge. I called a local businessperson I had met the previous weekend at the kayak retreat and asked him if we could get together to talk about potential partnerships. He agreed and we met yesterday.and he committed to coming on board as expedition sponsor in some form.
By noon on Thursday, I’d sent the climbing fee to the expedition on Mount Elbrus. By Friday evening, I was telling the enthusiastic crowd at the “Becoming an Outdoor Woman” workshop, that I was climbing Mount Everest in ten months time. I’d brought my TA’s Road to Everest T-shirts to sell and suddenly, folks were buying them up in droves.
One group of women who all work together at CBC in St. John’s and who had worked on the TV piece about my Denali climb-all bought shirts and we posed for a group picture. I’ve attached it to this e-mail.
At BOW workshops, it’s tradition that the instructors gather for wine and tarot readings after the evening program is through. We were using a Russian gypsy deck (interesting considering I’d just decided to go to Russia). I asked the question.”How should I fundraise for my climb of Everest?” The cards were amazing and revealed success through exertion, remaining myself, and going out into the world (interesting since I just bought myself the cutest little giraffe to remind myself to stick my neck out). Card after card seemed to support how things were unfolding.we kept humming the theme of “The Twilight Zone.”
Speaking of going out into the world, it continues to be great fun to talk to groups about Denali and Everest. I love watching the faces of the audience as I tell stories of dog crap, baking brownies, and wearing overmitts at Tim’s. Their laughter and rapt attention move me to continue sharing my many experiences of the past year and a half.
Jacinta, the teacher who organized the school visit to Trepassey, sent me some of the comments of her students.reactions like this also motivate me to keep finding ways to pass on my journeys to others:
TA…thanks again for coming up for that presentation! The students absolutely loved it. The younger ones and the older ones! And the older ones DID ask me questions when I got back to class, as I predicted! When I asked my grade 11”s what they thought, one girl said “Ms., she is my hero, I want to be just like her when I”m her age!” I thought that was pretty cool. Another girl said, “I can see why you said that she is the most interesting person that you knew.” Some of the other comments were, “Ms. That was just like sitting in a TV show for the Discovery Channel. “It was excellent, I can”t believe that someone who is going to climb Mt. Everest was at our school.” One of the younger ones in true Newfie style said, “Ms, she got some nerve to be going at that.”
The frugal realm of training continues to challenge both my body and mind. I can see and feel changes in my body from all the hard work: new definition in some muscle groups, added strength in others, and a more erect posture that conveys that new fortitude. I upped the weight a bit in both my outdoor hiking and indoor step class backpacks, resulting in a deep sweat on many occasions. I wasn’t quite as wiped out this week as my body acclimated to the heavier workload but it was still a grunt to get all the training done. One more week of the frugal realm to go!!!
Thanks for all your support during this last period of decision-making-your perspectives and advice have been helpful. Please continue to visit my website, http://www.taloeffler.com as you’ll help me convince sponsors that it’s a great site worthy of their patronage.
Have a good week and keep in touch!
Happy Victoria Day Long Weekend to All 5/21/2006
This past week was definitely a Nietzsche week-it didn’t kill me so it must have made me stronger. I entered the phase of training called the Frugal Realm-called such because one has to learn to be very frugal with time and energy. This phase prescribes 6 sessions per week in the gym, 3 step classes with backpack, 3 outside hikes with backpack, 5 runs, a Pilates class or two and a partridge in a pear tree. By Friday, I was running on fumes, especially given I had to cram Saturday’s workouts into Friday because I was going away for the weekend. The saying, “Stick a fork in me, I’m done,” came to mind Friday afternoon.
Pushing myself that hard in training is excellent practice for Everest. I know from my time on Denali and other peaks, that there are times when I will just have to keep going, to keep going when I think I have nothing else to give, when I’m out of groceries or dehydrated or whatever-sometimes I just gotta push through.and given I’m a firm believer in practice making perfect, I both appreciated and loathed the deep-boned fatigue that set into my body by week’s end.
I usually take Saturday’s as a rest day but this weekend I attended the Kayak Newfoundland and Labrador Annual Retreat so went for a 15-kilometer paddle after “sleeping in” until 7:00 am that morning.
Today we practiced strokes and rescues. Since I think it’s also useful to practice being cold, I volunteered to be one the rescuees-making repeated spills into the pond to become fodder for the rescuers. The water wasn’t too bad but I was very appreciative of me new neoprene kayak beanie. It prevents “brain freeze” when my head hits really cold water.
I didn’t hear from my fundraising team this week so continue to hang out in the void of decision about September versus April-trying my best as Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says “to develop complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions and to all people, experiencing everything totally without reservations or blockages.” Someone wise pointed out this week that it was only a seven-month difference.and indeed, continuing the theme of making everything practice, climbing Everest requires incredible patience and ability to go with the flow.
Expedition leaders come up with a proposed plan for how an expedition will climb an 8000-meter peak but the weather and conditions on the peak typically require several adjustments to the plan. It is a delicate balancing act of acclimatization, logistics, health, weather, and group dynamics to get a group to the summit. Of eight weeks spent on Everest, climbers spend on average just 3 of them climbing-so I think it makes sense to practice a lot of patience.
In the Everest world, it was a big week. The many weeks of effort and patience came together this week for several expeditions and many people were able to summit. I’ve been watching several expeditions very carefully this spring and I’ve been cheering the climbers on for weeks now. I got goose bumps as teams of climbers left for the summit and I cheered their safe return to lower ground. I mourned for the ones who did not return.
I spend much of my time training engaged in active visualization of summit day-imagining taking step after step, breath after breath, for hours at a time-willing myself upward when my mind might be screaming otherwise. I think I may even practice a summit night at Signal Hill sometime this summer. On summit day, climbers set out in the middle to the night, climbing in the dark for 5-9 hours so they can descend in daylight-it can sometimes take 18 hours to climb up to the summit and return to the South Col.
So tomorrow another week of the Frugal Realm gets underway.I tried to sneak in some rest around the kayaking and some running around the kayaking.hopefully enough rest to make it through another big week.
Take good care,
Happy Mothers Day to All 5/14/2006
This will be my last update under the subject line of Turquoise Goddess and my first update under the new subject line of TA’s Road to Everest. As the past month has unfolded, I’ve been invited to reexamine my original plans for how the year ahead would develop. With the possibility to join the Everest expedition in September and the focus on fundraising for an eventual Everest attempt, I found my focus and desire for Cho Oyu beginning to wan. I’ve never been particularly skilled at following more than one passion at a time so I found it challenging to be preparing for two 8000-meter peaks at the same time.
So to make a lot of life ruminations short, I’ve given up my place on the Cho Oyu team and have turned my entire focus over to Everest. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be other mountains or adventures before Everest-it mostly signals an internal shift and commitment towards “The Really Big One.”
My fundraising team is working hard and they have set the end of May as their deadline for determining whether a September bid is even possible. I’m hanging out in the abyss of indecision at the moment.preparing for either September or next April. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, things to be gained, things to be lost.I’m trying my best to seek out lots of information and guidance in order to make an informed choice between the two should September become a true option. I’m also scheming about climbing Mount Elbrus, Mount Ama Dablam or Mount Aconcagua for further training during the fall if I’m doing Everest in the spring.
In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed a great rest week. My body feels strong and refreshed and eager to go at it again. I did a 90-minute run yesterday and a double ascent of Signal Hill with my backpack today and felt great during both. I’m about to enter the Frugal Realm phase of training which requires six visits a week to the strength and conditioning center-there are no worries that idle hands will make the devil’s work around here anytime soon.
The true highlight of the week was talking to three groups of children. Thursday night I spoke to a combined group of Cubs, Scouts and Pathfinders and Friday, I spoke to the high school students and then the Grade Four through Nine at Stella Maris Academy in Trepassey, Newfoundland. All three groups listened with rapt attention as I showed slides and told tales of preparing for and climbing Denali and about my hope to climb Everest in the next year. The Grade Six class made me a stack of congratulations/well wishing cards. I just about melted on the spot looking at the construction paper mountains they’d created along with their wishes of aim high but be careful. The student council presented me with a contribution towards my Everest fundraising.perhaps Danny Williams was right when he suggested that school kids could help me out with fundraising. They asked me to return to their school when I got back from my Everest climb. Jacinta McGrath organized the school visit. I ta ught Jacinta in the MUN PE program and she backpacked the Grand Canyon with me in 1999-it was great to see her in action with her classes.
One person from the school wrote to thank me for coming.
“Hi TA I just wanted to e-mail you to tell you how good your presentation you gave at our school on Friday was. Your an inspiration to all women/girls who want to take the next step into adventures and not only that but you make me realize that if you truly put your mind on something you can achieve it. Thanks so much.”
The motivational speaking I’m doing these days is great fun, very rewarding, and I really enjoy tailoring the message for each group-I’ve now created about 10 different presentations. If you have a group that you think would like to hear me speak, just drop me a line.
Thanks for coming along. I’m sure I’ll have many more stories to tell next week as I emerge from the first week of the frugal realm. Take care. Drop me a line about what’s on the go with you.