Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to All,


I’m back sitting in my chair.  Last Sunday I sat in a different chair, beside my dad in his hospital room in Edmonton.  He gave us all quite a scare but is doing much better now.  I found being in St. John’s was too far away and lucked into an Aeroplan seat so I flew out for a quick visit.  Though I would have wished for a different occasion to be there, I enjoyed getting to spend time with my family.


Rayne and Xander presented me with my birthday present, a miniature prayer wheel.  I explained about the purpose of the prayer wheel and the Tibetan writing on the outside of it.  The mantra “OM MANI PADME HUM” spins round and round.  This mantra roughly transliterates as “the jewel of the lotus” and indicates both the object of and the path.  Xander was quite taken with the mantra and wanted to try to say it.  I found an audio file of a lama chanting it and he began to follow along… to all of our delights.


The next morning, my brother said that he and Shawn were awakened to the tones of the mantra as Xander crawled into bed with them.  Later that morning, I presented Xander with a CD with a 23-minute song of the mantra and I thought my brother was going to kill me.  I’d also included the song, “I Want to be your Personal Penguin” and that became an even bigger hit.  Once I returned home, I was having a video Skype call with the kids and Xander noticed my small plush giraffe, “Twiza.”  Twiza is one of the Zimbabwean names for giraffe.  Later that day, I heard from Shawn that Xander was teaching his “Twizzle” to meditate with the mantra!


On the Saturday night, Oma also gave us a scare.  Perhaps because of the stress of Dad’s hospitalization, Oma ended up in a different ER with chest pain.  As Mom and I drive to see her, I wondered how the evening would unfold.  When we arrived, she had good colour and the pain had eased some, so I relaxed a bit.  The docs wanted to really check her out so we were waiting for blood work and x-rays.  Despite the disorientation of the emergency room, Oma was in a very sweet mood.  She reached over the side rails of the bed and stroked my hair asking if I wouldn’t consider dating a nice young man. 


She wanted me to find a tall slim handsome professor to marry.  Oma gave me specific directions on what to do on date number one and date number two.  When she started to talk about her philosophy of sex, I flushed and marveled at the circumstances that had me chatting about such things with my 92-year-old grandmother.  Eventually she ‘fessed up that she wanted me to bring a nice man home so she could steal him away and she had grand plans for a double date at a fancy restaurant. 


At points were laughing so hard that our ER nurse came over to remind us tongue in cheek that this “was a solemn serious place” and we shouldn’t be laughing.”  We could tell by the look on her face that she was enjoying caring for Oma.  Shawn came in and relieved Mom and I so we could get some sleep and Oma was discharged the next morning with no known cause for the chest pain.


As per usual, I went out a bit too hard training a few weeks back.  I’ve been paying the price with various tendons and joints complaining since then.  I didn’t train while I was in Edmonton at all and since returning home, I have been taking it easy to give a bit more healing time.  I’m continuously reminding myself to train the body I have today, not the one I had last week, last month or last year.  It’s frustrating, of course, but it what it is.  I’ve been getting up really early to attend a boot camp session every morning at six and then come home and work with my Spiro Tiger.  It’s a respiratory training device that lets me practice breathing fast and deep without hyperventilating with the goal being to train the respiratory system so it doesn’t fatigue as quickly when working so hard at altitude.  Imagine blowing up a balloon about 20 times a minute and you get some of a picture of it.  It’s a funny sensation to be breathing hard without exercise.  I have always loved the quiet of early morning, appreciated the influence of the discipline of early awaking, and the joy of having two hours of training done by 8 am.


We hosted the launch of Everest 2010 on Thursday night.  It was a great evening and I gave a presentation that had some new elements in it and I always feel a bit on edge giving a new part for the first time.  It’s always a relief when folks laugh at the parts I want them to.  The weather was horrific and it was a Thursday evening before a long weekend so the turnout was a bit disappointing but I am so grateful to all who braved the elements to come out and meet the trekking team, donate to the Mountain of Learning Experiential Education Award, and buy a new Everest 2010 toque.  There were a few “lifers” in the crowd who’ve been to ever INCO event I’ve hosted and I really appreciated their support in being there once again.


The next few days will be crazy as I try to prep three conference presentations, train, and pack for a journey to the land down under.  Marian and I leave on Thursday for Australia.  We’re heading down for what will no doubt be too quick of a visit to my sixth continent and fifth seventh summit.  We’re going down to climb Mount Kosciuszko, the highest peak on Australia.  The snow is lingering this year and we’re taking snowshoes to make the climb to the 2229 metre summit.  We’ll be hosted by Jen Quill, a student from the first class of students I taught at Memorial.  I look forward to seeing her and hearing of her path from here to there.


I’m very thankful to you for coming along on this climbing journey of mine.  Your presence helps me transition between “being along and being together.”  Though it is I that must take every step in training and on the mountain, I do it knowing you are with me in spirit.  I am also thankful for my family and friends, for bountiful food and opportunities, and for health and well-being.  Have good week.


With gratitude,




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