Blue Helmeted Super Hero


Happy Labour Day Weekend,

A few weeks back I bought a new motorcycle helmet at a Regatta Day Door Crasher sale. It is bright blue with gold trim. I could have chosen the more sedate forest green one with the same gold trim but decided one goal of motorcycle protective gear is to be visible so I went with the one that matched Blue Raspberry Gatorade. When I placed the helmet on my head, I could feel a transformation of sorts, an embracing of my inner super hero and began to joke with a friend about being a “Blue-Helmeted Super Hero.” (BHSH)

I mentioned this transformation one day to Diane of WOKie fame and she volunteered to lend me her bright blue lycra ski suit to complete my super hero outfit. A few days later she dropped the shiny blue mound of fabric into my car. I’d planned to make my appearance as a BHSH the next time we got together but the red phone in my lair did not ring so I forget to become the BHSH.

Diane went on vacation. A few more weeks went by. This week she was returned to the hiking fold (which was good because I’d been taking it a bit easier without Diane’s blistering pace setting). I knew Thursday was the morning. I put the suit by the door along with my helmet, the night before to prevent forgetfulness. The alarm rang and I popped out of bed eager to assume my new identity (and see the faces of the WOKies as I walked up). I worried that a ski suit designed for winter temps might be a tad bit warm so I first donned a technical t-shirt and nylon shorts, pulled on the suit, tied my boots, hauled on my big pack, draped my cape over the pack and fastened it with a carabiner, and pulled my helmet on! Voila! I was a super hero (or at least I thought I looked like one).

I walked out of the house and towards Signal Hill. Drivers slowed and stared. Pedestrians crossed to the other side of the street as I strode confidently towards them. It was 6:25 am and I had people to meet. Diane drove by me but didn’t slow. She turned the corner, parked, and hopped out–grabbing Wanda to drag her around the corner to point as what was coming their way. Natelle looked at me with incredulous eyes and Marian’s dog, Anya barked as if I were a knife wielding thug. After their initial shock wore off, they all began to laugh and talk excitedly. We snapped a few photos and off we went.

The suit was instantly hot, the moment I started hauling the monster pack up the first set of stairs but I was committed (for some reason) to make it out to the point before finding a phone booth. We stopped several times to “capture the moment” and continuously chuckled at the ridiculousness of my attire. Finally, when heat stroke was about to set it, I stripped of the blue power suit and rejoined with my regular self. We completed the rest of the training hike and I came home and downloaded the pictures.

One thing I learned is that lycra doesn’t lie. With its wonderful clingy elasticity, nothing is hidden and I was startled (even though I was there) that I’d gone out into the world in such an exposed condition. Despite the revealing nature of some of them, I liked a few of the photos and chose to them to Facebook. I loved the response they generated. Several people wrote to say they needed a laugh that morning and the photos had provided. Click here to see the morning’s photographic collection.

It reminded me of the week I spent in “Ring of Fire” training for Denali where I had to wear dresses for a week. That took me so far out of my comfort zone that I almost turned inside out. I figure my upcoming “Pink Outside the Box” campaign has the same potential for enormous challenge and discomfort!

I hear some folks are plotting to find me some pink lycra, a pink tutu, and frilly pink socks–now there’s a hiking outfit. If you missed it last week, during the week of September 15-19, you can provide me with a pink item of clothing, shoes, or accessories and for a $20 donation to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic (CBCF), I’ll wear it during the course of a normal workweek. A reminder that if donations to the CBCF reach the halfway mark before or during that week, I will dye my hair pink! Click here to make a donation to the CBCF and secure your spot as a sponsor of Pink Outside the Box.

We all have worlds and spaces in which we are very comfortable. I think its important every once in awhile to get outside those zones to get a fresh look at our selves and at possibilities we might be inadvertently setting aside. It is often said that the greatest rewards come from the greatest risks. I think it’s important to practice taking risks, both small and large. Going out into the world dressed as a BHSH was a small risk for me. Wearing pink for a week is a pretty big risk for me. Using a telephone to call a potential sponsor is a huge risk for me while dancing on the edge of a rock cliff is a piece of cake for me.

What’s risky to me might be a cakewalk to you and vice versa. We’re all individual is what we find risky and how we navigate the feelings that come up when we risk. I know that when I think of breast cancer, I know I have several known risks–many of which I can do nothing about and some I can. As we live our lives, we face many risks and some days we can notice them directly and other days, we have to deny them in order to get though our days.

As we round the corner of this last long weekend of summer, I notice that I am beginning to notice feelings of fear and nervousness crop up in my belly. I have some fear of Pumori, of the mountain, of avalanches, rockfalls, altitude, cold, falling, and loneliness. That fear is a gift. The fear provides me a gauntlet that I need to pass-I need to continuously choose and rechoose to go towards the mountain and the risk it sets out. The fear also reminds me to be disciplined in training for the mountain and to be diligent in risk management practice while on the mountain. Without fear, there would be no caution. We need both risk and caution and we need to find the middle way between them, for I believe to risk too little is as dangerous as risking too much.

Thanks for coming along on this most amazing journey. Everest’s Daughter is teaching me so much before I even reach her flanks. It is a great honour to be supporting the work of the CBCF through this climb and I ask that you support it as well if you are able. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is a national organization dedicated to creating a future without breast cancer. It was started in 1986 and works to fund and support innovative research, education and awareness programs, early diagnosis and effective treatment, and a positive quality of life for those living with breast cancer.

Have a good week,

TA

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