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  • Writer's pictureSuzanne Venuta

Finding my Rhythm Once Again....

Its been six weeks since my last blog post, and I am happy to say that in time, I have once again found my rhythm. Of course, it never happened as fast as I wanted it too, but the important thing is that I have found my rhythm, and the lessons along the way. Now that I think of it, if it was a fast process, I would probably not have learned what I have.

A few weeks back my mind kept wandering back to a time I was on an Outward-Bound Course- no real surprise there- when I was really struggling. It was a Women of Courage course, and it was taking place up on the north end of the island, on the North Coast Trail.

The fact that this course was so close to home did not get lost on me. Being in the woods on the island contained a lot of triggers for me, the smell of the pines, the green leather leaves of the Salal plants, scent of old rotting cedar logs etc. Some of my trauma and abuse happened in some of the most beautiful places, but I was determined to take back the beauty. I knew it was going to be hard.

I had talked to my therapist before going, of what some of the challenges may be, and how I would handle them. As a symbolic gesture I had gone down to the local beach at home and picked up some pebbles to take with me, and when the time was right I would place them where they were meant to be – this would come to me as it was not planned- and I would symbolically let that past and pain go.

The North Coast trail is beautiful, and rugged, and hard!!! I was challenged in so many ways. There were ropes, and logs and boulders. There was beauty, magical sunrises and sunsets, a raw wildness like I had never experienced. The tides were so low that one morning when I walked out along the beach, Zebra mussels were attached to the rocks eight feet above me. It then came to me that I really was walking along the ocean floor.

On day three, as we came off the forest trail and onto the beach, we came across a pile of basketball sized boulders, at least eight feet deep. These boulders covered the shore of the entire cove. I marveled at the power of mother nature and the storms that had thrown these boulders along here. This is also where I twisted my right ankle.

As with every Outward Bound course there were challenges, and as the days went by, I became stronger and more confident. The group of us women had all started out as strangers, but were forming a small community and friendships and working more and more together as a group.

Then there comes my “I hate being here, I can’t do this, why did I think this was a good idea” day.

I had been challenged up to this point, and not just physically, but emotionally. I had days of triggers and working on staying in the moment etc. It can be exhausting. We were walking along the beach in the gravel. The gravel was loose, in banks that were at least two feet high. As you stepped it would all loosen and you would slide down some. It was challenging, and this was the point I had lost it. I wanted to give up, was crying, was angry at the Coast Guard ship that was sailing by- because it wouldn’t stop to pick us up- I didn’t say I was rationale- I was aching etc. I had not been getting much sleep and in fact the previous night I fell asleep while I was sitting up on a log. Yep I was done in so many ways.

That night was also he night of the solo- which I had always found challenging. We were each allowed to have a small fire on the beach. Well, the bad day just continued as I had a hell of a time getting my fire going. I did eventually get it going and when dinner was delivered I couldn’t find my spoon, so ended up using a salty stick.

Once dinner was done, I sat at the fire and then decided this was where I was going to leave the pebbles I had brought with me. I had carried them in my pack all this time. I decided that I would place them in the fire, symbolic of the phoenix rising from the ashes. With that, there were tears and sadness, grief of what happened, grief of what should have been etc. I then went back to my tent and had a fitful night of sleep filled with nightmares.

The next morning, I was awake early so decided to walk down to the shoreline and do a smudge. As I walked past where I had the fire I looked to see if the stones had cracked at all. There was no evidence of the fire or the stones. The tide had come in and taken it all away, and left behind a beautifully clean sandy beach. The tide and Mother Nature also left me a beautiful gift. Where the tide line had been, was a line of lovely assorted Limpet, Whelk and other various small shells.

I then went down to the shore line- it was low tide. I walked along the hard, compact sand, did a smudge and after as I looked up, in the distance I saw the spray and backs of Grey whales. It was magical. Once again nature had gentle taken my pain, showing me beauty and opened a window to see beauty in myself. I had found my rhythm, it was new, different then before, more of my own- as opposed to others- and I felt lighter and stronger.

As I mentioned earlier, this memory had been playing in my head as I was struggling a few weeks back. It was a good reminder that I will once again find my rhythm and I have, and I am very happy about that.

Tomorrow a group of us are hiking into Cape Scot Park. We are hiking into Nils Bight, staying for a few nights and do some exploring, go the Cape Scott lighthouse, taking time to relax and recharge. The last couple of weekends we have been doing some day hikes here, up into Mt Washington. We hit some mud and snow but there was something I noticed. I am now able to relax into those hikes. To smell the forest and enjoy it- not be triggered, to relax into my breath when I am struggling on the trail and stay in the moment. This makes hiking so much easier and more enjoyable. I know a lot of what I learned on the Tour Du Mont trek has helped me with this, and knowing that I can push my body and I am safe is a gift beyond words. I also know that if I didn’t have the prior Outward Bound experiences, the lessons in the Alps would not have happened.

On this Cape Scot trip- we will have rain, we will get wet, but I know I am safe, I am supported and I am not alone. I will be challenged, but I can do this. I will learn about the others, myself and Mother Nature will once again allow and support me to heal at a deeper level. There will be swearing, there will be laughter and there will be moments of incredible awe in the beauty and the fact that I am able to do this. I also have many skills I have learned form Outward Bound, to help support myself, and the others to stay safe, dry and enjoy the beauty that is nature, be restored and we will all come back stronger and better for it.

Stay safe everyone, be good to yourselves and everyone else, and be gentle and kind. I will speak to you on the flip side.


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