Kili Karuna #7

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day to All,

There is magic in a moon shadow. That there can be enough light in the dark to cast a shadow sometimes defies logic and inspires a sense of “the special.” Five of us braved the bitter cold wind to tromp through Pippy Park tonight on our weekly Kilimanjaro training hike. I’d asked everyone to bring headlamps but we didn’t need them because the giant headlamp in the sky was beaming down enough light to illuminate the path.

It seemed an apt ending to the week to have a visceral connection to a light in the darkness. It was a bit of a tough week for no particular reason–perhaps the doldrums of winter or noticing the loneliness of the path. I noted the difficulty and tried to pay it no mind–or at least not ramp it up by probing too deeply. I trusted it would pass and it did somewhere between Ju Jitsu self-defense class and speaking to the Girl Guide brunch.

I have this plan to ride a bike from Tuktoyaktuk to Tierra de Feugo and some weeks ago decided I needed to learn to fight before going on that trip. Well, not fight exactly, defend myself is more accurate. I’m not sure I’ll be able to convince anyone to come with me on a 10,000 kilometre jaunt so I may be going it solo. I realized it would make sense to have more self-defense skills in my tool box. I contacted a local gym just after the New Year and each week, I had it in my mind to make the women’s self-defense class. Each week something came up; a schedule conflict or someone needed something or I was feeling shy. Yesterday, I told myself that this was the day. I took a deep breath, walked in, and had a whole whack of fun learning how to “remove” someone who was pinning me to the ground or to a wall. My early childhood Judo training came right back and I was thrilled to finally be taking a step closer to Tuktoyaktuk.

I did four speaking engagements this week and all went well. Today I spoke at the Baden Powell Brunch for Girl Guides and Boy Scouts leaders. I dug out an old picture of me from my brief stint as a brownie in 1972. There, dressed in my brown dress and orange scarf, I epitomized awkward. I told the story of how in my first brownie pack (where we danced around toad stools and saluted our leader Brown Owl), I was assigned to the Fairy Six. A six was a small grouping within the pack. At the time, I actually coveted Cub Scout badges because they were multi-coloured and I was cultivating at even such an early age, my inner fashion diva.

Since, at that point, girls weren’t allowed to join cubs, I had to settle for the sheik look of two-tone brown and gold. I noted that the Fairy identifying badge was gold and brown, just like the rest of the badges on my uniform. All was right and good in brownie land.

At the end of that school year, I moved schools and thus had to join a new brownie pack. During the first meeting of the next school year, I went to my new group and they wanted to make me a Sprite. “Oh no! The Sprite badge is green and brown, my two-tone colour scheme will be ruined.”

What’s an eight year old to do when faced with a fashion crisis of such epic proportion? Cry! Yup. I cried my eyes out, sobbing that, “I want to be a Fairy, not a Sprite.” They took pity on the new kid and let her stay a Fairy after all. All was good once again.

As you can imagine, the folks at the brunch were howling today as I told that story. I was trying to communicate the importance of children having adults in their lives. As I look back on how I came to climb Mount Everest and the rest of the Seven Summits, I can chart a path from childhood that notes and appreciates the many adults in my life that took an interest, offered mentorship, gave opportunities, listened, and provided examples of what is/was possible. My grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, teachers, community program leaders, camp counselors, caregivers, and friends all played a significant role in helping me develop, see, claim, and use my personal strengths.

I remember one summer helping my dad put the pier in at our summer cottage. I was carrying a heavy section with my dad when some men came over and offered to help and tried to take my end. Dad said, “No leave her–she can do it.” I think we all need (no matter what age we are) folks who come along at the right moments and remind us that we can do it. Sometimes, though we also need folks to tell us that it’s OK not to do something as well.

Coming out of the doldrums has reenergized my training and I look forward to stepping it up a bit this week. I paid my trip deposit this week and that always ups the ante when I know I’m committed to a climb. I also saw the proof of the complete cover of my book this week as well. I have an ISBN number! When I told Donna, my contact at the publisher, that having an ISBN number made me want to happy dance, she replied, “I wish I’d known, I would have told you sooner–you’ve had an ISBN number since September.” Things with the book are progressing well and it’s almost ready to go to print. We’re hoping to have it ready for bookstores in early April with the launch happening around the third week or so. I’ll keep you posted.

Drop me a line and let me know how you are doing and what you’re up to!

Have a good week,

TA

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