Kili Karuna #8

Happy Leap Year to All,

I had a great training week with lots of energy and focus–that was a treat. I traded off my cement legs for the week and enjoyed a sense of greater strength throughout my entire body. I even jumped the weight in my pack for step class to thirty pounds.

Sundays are my long training days. I start with a long run, then hike with my Kilimanjaro group and finish off with a raucous game of hockey. Today my energy held through the whole day and I feel like I could go out and do some more (love the influence of endorphins.) On out hike today, we started up from the community of Shea Heights to hike out to the coastal cliffs standing guard over Freshwater Bay. I was picking out the route I use in summer by memory, wing, and prayer. At one point, we had to pick our way gingerly across a bog.

For those of you not from Newfoundland, you may not be familiar with the sensation/terror of falling in a bog hole. It’s like the ground drops away below you and your foot and leg are swallowed by quicksand-like water. It’s hard to extricate yourself without falling deeper into the hole. Sometimes in winter, we’re lucky and the bog freezes. Sometimes we’re not, and the insulation of the snow keeps in lying in wait to trap the unsuspecting hiker.

You can see where I am going with this. One team member today was swallowed up by a deep and soaking bog hole. Her snowshoe-clad foot was trapped in three feet of water before she could sort out how to free herself. She emerged shaken and soaked. We started going through the inventory of clothing we were carrying to see what we might offer. I asked her to roll in the snow to absorb some of the water but given my tracks had just led her into the gaping maw of a bog hole, she declined. She changed her upper layer and gloves. She looked at me and said, “You’re not going to let me go back, are you?”

I smiled mischievously and said, “No, we’ll be hiking in rain for the first three days on Kili this will be good practice.” Then I asked how warm her feet and body were. She replied that she was currently warm so I suggested that indeed she continue with us and keep us posted about her body temperature and that she could turn around at any point. I was so proud of her for continuing because it would have been so easily to stop her hike right then. All of us would have understood.

As we hiked further towards the coast and away from the cars, I thought about obstacles and perseverance. No matter what our path, there will be obstacles. I often think of them as punctuation. An obstacle can be a period, comma, or exclamation point. Sometimes we have a say in which form of punctuation is and sometimes we don’t. This afternoon, our team member could have had her fall into the bog hole be a period–a full stop. Instead, she took a deep breath and made it a comma. She hiked out to the viewpoint and then said she was chilling and wanted to return to the cars.

We all hiked her back to her car, thanked her for her perseverance, and for the opportunity to climb the big hill for a second time that afternoon. As we hiked back up the hill, I thought of a quote I’ve been using recently in my presentations by Hannah Moore: “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” I think when we keep our goals in sight; we’re more likely to find a way round, over, under, or through an obstacle. If we don’t have a view, the obstacles loom larger somehow. I use many techniques to help keep my dreams and goals in view. I put a picture of my goal on all of my computer desktops, I tape one to my mirror, and I carry one to the gym. I want to be reminded several times a day why I’m training hard or pushing myself into uncomfortable places. Those reminders help me take the action steps to get closer to my view.

I was honoured and humbled this week to receive several appreciations from people who’ve heard me speak lately. I got this one from a young man who attended a Junior Achievement program here last weekend:

I would just like to say you are an amazing speaker. I was one of the delegates at the JAAC 2008 conference at the Holiday Inn on February 16th. It was such an amazing speech. It was so inspirational. I loved it. I bought a set of the prayer flags. Every time I see them it reminds me off your speech and that in turn inspires me to seek my own goals, climb my own Everest. I can’t wait for your book to come out.

I share it, not to blow my own horn, but to share how he was using the prayer flags as a visual reminder of his goals and dreams and how so often when I seek to inspire others, they in turn, inspire me.

It was an exciting week as well on the book front. I found my book, ready for pre-order, on the Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters websites. I bounced like Tigger as somehow, seeing the book on those websites made it all the more real. Donna, my contact at the publisher, said, “If you’re this excited now, I can’t wait until I have an actual box of the books in my office. I’ll have to scrape you off the ceiling.”

This week, I started a Facebook group to communicate with folks about the launch of the book and I uploaded the video that my friend, Greg Rainoff made about my preparations for Everest there. I’ve also posted some pictures form both Denali and Everest there and you can read the blurb from the back of the book!

You can check it out at this URL: http://mun.facebook.com/group.php?gid=10685091786
Feel free to pass the link around!

Thanks to all for sharing my excitement about the book and for coming along on this journey towards Kilimanjaro.

Take good care,

TA

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