Oh my god I feel alive!
That doesn’t mean everything is perfect—far from it, actually. But I am learning that treating everything like an adventure gives me so much energy. It’s like I’m back from the dead, and it feels f-ing great.
In the past three weeks I have had hundreds of moments where I shake my head happily and think, “Wow, this is my life!” It helps that for almost two of those weeks I was trekking through magical Peru.
Peru is now probably my favorite country that I have visited. It is up there with maybe one or two other vacation experiences I have had in my life. Hiking in the Andes was exactly what I needed to do right now and I was ready for it; it was physically challenging, it was remote and felt like I had departed from anything familiar in my life, the scenery was stunning, the culture was amazing, and the people I met along the way also felt really uplifting. I initially thought I was setting out to cross seeing Machu Picchu off my bucket list. But what was totally euphoric was reaching the summit of the Lares Trail at over 4800m and feeling like I let a lot of shit go once I reached the top. It was like the perfectly cheesy metaphor for my life. Climb a mountain, experience hardship, reach the top, don’t look behind you at the past, turn and face, and walk down towards a beautiful scene of the future. But that is exactly how it felt to me. It was very very hard to walk uphill in that altitude, and it felt amazing to get to the top and have a moment to relish to myself. I actually said “goodbye” out loud to some things and some people in my life when I looked down at the trail where I came from. Our guide told us that when we reach the summit, we offer thanks to God (or the Andean gods) and hold up three coca leaves, pointing them in each direction, and then make a wish. I don’t think it’s bad luck to tell you what I wished for so I’ll share it with you! I thought in my head, “I want to experience love—real love.” And as soon as that thought came out of my head I disagreed with it. “Actually,” I thought, “I want to be truly happy and joyful. Whatever that looks like, I will not define it or put a name on it now.” And then I literally ran down the mountain for a while and into this crazy, beautiful valley, and I knew I was a little bit different than when I started out at the bottom of the other side of the mountain.
I think what was a little bit different was that I realized that I was ready to move on and it’s not with fear. I had been doing a bit of the “fake it til you make it” in telling people I was ok and that I was strong. But I knew I had made it after being in Peru. I realized that my heart is open now and it’s okay if I take the risk of getting hurt—I shouldn’t expect it, but instead just go with something that intuitively feels right and just be happy with what is. I realized that everywhere I go, I will have friendships and connections with everyone if I am open. It doesn’t have to make sense to me, it doesn’t need to be labelled, and where it’s headed doesn’t need to be contained or controlled. On the long plane ride home I watched “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” movie that ended in this quote: “There’s no such thing as an ending. Just a place where you leave the story. And it’s your story now. You have no idea now what you will become. Don’t try to control it. Let go. That’s where the fun starts. There’s no present like the time.” I cried and watched this quote twice. I realized that being on the journey is my goal…life happens along the way, not at the end of things. It is the same when I run a half marathon—the training is the best part and race day is just one day. Relationships are the same way—the process is all you’ve got. There are a million end points that are options for us as we set about life. Perhaps I’ve been a bit near-sighted in trying carve out the path to one end point only in so many things I do. So. No more of that!
When I arrived home to reality, I made the choice that I could either be in vacation withdrawal and check out a little, or I could get busy making normal life an adventure. In my last blog post, one of my plans for this year was to default to saying “‘yes’ to invitations to do stuff.” I used to politely decline most things—but this past week I have been richly rewarded for going with "yes"…I watched a scary-to-me movie in the theatre (and screamed out loud at what was probably not anything scary to anyone else—but for those of you who know me I hate thrillers and horror movies so much and avoid them like the plague), I got to meet and personally thank the woman who took care of my children during a family emergency earlier this year, I learned how to tie stand up paddle boards to my car and get them down to the ocean without killing myself or destroying them as they flew off my vehicle, I ran 14K last Saturday because I was invited to do it, I drank a lot of wine and bonded with some amazing women from my run clinic—and got really helpful advice, I drank a lot of beer with an old colleague and laughed until I cried, and I taught one of my best friends and a random jogger on the beach to paddle surf. Six months ago, I would have said no to all these things and would likely have been at home yelling at my kids or working overtime (or both). Don't get me wrong...I still do these things and I have moments of overwhelming loneliness, but I'm ok with feeling those things too. It is what it is, and it's all part of the adventure!