At the Refugio Elisabetta, 2195 meters up, in the Italian Alps
Well, what better time to say thank you to everyone then on Thanksgiving day!!!
Actually it's more to do with the fact that I am finally starting to feel like myself after this Epic journey. It has taken me time to recover, and 30 minutes after I arrived home- a day later because of delayed flights- life threw me some excitement with my son and kidney stone attacks, landing him, multiple times in emergency over the next couple of weeks, and other life challenges.
But in the last couple of days I have been feeling more like myself. As I mentioned it has taken me time to recover from this Epic 170 km trek, but it has also taken time for me to process the inner journey that also happened on this trek. It was amazing, I learned much about myself, and others. I gently left some of my trauma past in the Alps- I figured it was strong enough to hold it, and I also brought home the lessons it taught me. The processing continues and I will write more about that later.
But right now I want to thank each and everyone of you for your support with my fundraising campaign for the five charitable programs that Outward Bound Canada offers. I want to thank everyone for your generosity and the amazing support I received. Be it donations, spreading the word, friends and family telling me I can do this, the professional who drastically reduced his fee's, which allowed me to get my IT band, and planter fasciitis under control so I could do this trek. I was overwhelmed and touched by the support I received from my family, friends, acquaintances and total strangers.
Also, it was not just the fundraising that I received support for. Complete strangers donated air mile points to get me there and back, folks contributed to my course fees, and other areas. I am still in awe of this support and the kindness of people.
I had an amazing trip- it was also the hardest thing have ever done, and I pushed my body further then it has ever voluntarily gone. I now know what runners mean when they say they " hit the wall", I understood it before, but I had never experienced it.
There is so much I want to say, but I am still processing this trip, but will write more later and add some more photos.
I took my 1st Outward Bound course in 2005. It was my first Women of Courage course, and when I arrived at the course, I was afraid of everyone, the world, my own shadow and I doubted myself. By the end of the course I was more confident and trusting of myself and the world. I came back home a changed person. It was after that course that I started my mental health advocacy work.
Fourteen years later, I have once again come back a changed and better person. Below is a thank you note I sent to my Outward Bound TMB trekking buddies, who I now consider my friends....
I just want to say thank you to each and every one of you for your laughter, support, camaraderie and authenticity as we walked together through the Alps- I'm still pinching myself. As I may have mentioned to some of you, I'm a bit of a peculator, meaning I will do something, and it will be later before I process it. I am now in the beginning of the processing stage.
I have returned home a changed and better person, and all of you had something to do with this. This has once again been a life changing Outward Bound experience for me, and I have come back a much lighter person- both physically- 10 lbs,- and metaphorically. I gently left a lot of my trauma past in the Alps- I figured it was strong enough to hold it- and I have once again found more of my authentic self. I find myself appreciating my family and friends even more, I have a calmness within me that I never knew was possible, and find my footsteps on the earth are a little lighter.
On this adventurer I got to experience a lot of "firsts" be it food, picnic's in the Alps, modes of transportation, visiting countries I could never imagine doing, etc. I was like a kid in a candy store and so much in awe of the Alps and the adventure. I voluntarily pushed myself physically like I have never down before, and once I got through the first day when "I lost my shit" - meaning triggers,'flashbacks etc were present- with your support I learned it was safe to push my body, and in the following days an inner calmness came about me- well except for the ladders- but I was able to learn and discover so much about myself, about others and learned that on a whole new level, generally the world and people in it are safe.
While I smile when I think about all these "firsts" for me, what I will really treasure is the connections I made with all of you. The quiet talks, the cold beers at the end of a day as we took in the views, the talks as we walked along the valleys, the laughter, the tears and the celebration that we actually survived. I will treasure the support I received from all of you when I was having a difficult time, and the laughter that was through the two weeks.
I cant imagine doing anything like this with any other group, and I feel honoured that I was able to do this with you.
I will be processing this trip, and all I have leaned for the next month or so. Some changes will be obvious to me- as I have mentioned above, but I also know that behind these are many more subtle- maybe even more important lessons to come. I will then take these lessons out into the world when I do my mental health advocacy work taking to students, teachers, doctors etc....and in my writing.
In the coming weeks I will at times find myself irritable for no apparent reason, and then realize its because the new me is figuring out how to integrate into my present life. This is the process of " Leveling Up" after defeating another dragon. Thank you all for helping me get to this new level.
I wish you all well and gentleness on this journey we are all on.
As you can see this has once again been a life changing event for me. For all of you who helped me with the fundraising, in what ever aspect, I want you to know that your support will enable others to experience these life changing programs. You will likely never meet the person you will help, but let me tell you from personal experience, and what I have witnessed of others, you are giving them a life changing, and at time life saving opportunity. You are allowing future participants to find out who they really are, what they are made of and an opportunity to find their way back home- What I mean by this, is to find their authentic self.
Outward Bound Canad's motto is " Get Out. Look In." I have had the amazing opportunity to do just that, and every time I "Get Out. Look IN." I come back with treasures, and this has helped me come home to myself. Thank you for your support in helping others to do just that. With your support you helped me raise just over $5700, this is way beyound my wildest dreams, and as a group we raised $ 39, 247, just $650 shy of our $40,000 goal. To say we are all ecstatic is an understatement.
I will leave you with a song from an Irish group. They are called CODA, and this is one of my favorite songs of theirs. I came across them on Facebook, and have listed to their latest album "Train of Spirits" multiple times. I listened to it on my long flight over and back from my Trek, I kept this song, "Never Lose Home", on repeat. You have all been involved one way of another, be it for the past few decades, or this last little while..be it professionals who have, and continue to support me, or if you know me as a friend, family, acquaintance or complete strangers, you have all helped me find my way home.
With loving gratitude