July 27, 2013

Battling 'The One' At Ross Lake

On Facebook, one of my dear friends described me as being 'my own cheerleader.'  I found this hilarious and incredibly true.  I love my life.  I am incredibly determined.  I oftentimes type in caps.  HAVE YA MET ME!!???  :)  :)  :)
But more importantly, whether it's an easy day or a day where I have the opportunity to learn something, I choose to be my biggest fan.  I don't count on the world or others for that validation anymore.  Which is easy and GREAT when you're doing what scares you, flipping stores in Chicago and are feeling on top of the world...  In Mazama, however, I'm so far out of my comfort zone, it's like I'm back in Los Angeles Day One like a teething toddler learning to barista.  Who am I?  What am I doing here?  How do you do life again?
But this experience is what I signed up for:  the unknown with potential to grow. 
And that is ALL I signed up for. This trip wasn't about figuring it out, escaping life, losing weight, going on vacation, 'getting somewhere,' making enough money to pay my bills, finding the love of my life... This trip was and is still about being present and taking the experience for what it is-- the unknown (because I really had no idea what to expect) with the potential to grow from whatever I got to experience here.
With that said, this cheerleader can safely say that not everyday in Mazama is yodeling & wildflowers.  Some days are easy, yes-- but a lot of days are so much harder than I ever expected.  Today's blog is dedicated to the latter... that gut-wrenching journey through fire... 
This past Tuesday I went kayaking at Ross Lake with the fam.  It was GORGEOUS.  We hiked in about 30 minutes and then took a boat over to the offices where they rent out the equipment.  I had been kayaking before lots of times with my dad so I felt a bit relieved... We were actually doing an activity that was fairly comfortable for me-- yay!  A break from 'hard.'  I could live with that for a day.
It soon became incredibly hot and despite our breathtaking surroundings, we were all sundrenched.  I don't do well in the heat for extended periods of time.  It's just not in my DNA to want to 'get sun' or 'lay out' or 'I love the heat' or 'Let's picnic in Arizona.'  No thank you!!!  I'll be a champ making snow angels when you're whining about how cold it is.  :)

And when it comes to me being in water on a hot day?  I BURN.  I once got third degree burns kayaking with my dad up at Canada Lake and had to be wheeled across the airport on my return flight home because my legs were so swollen.  AWESOME IN ALL CAPS.
Thankfully, I brought lots of sunscreen and was doing well... Which for me, is always 25 yards behind everyone else.

We also stopped at 'Big Beaver.' 
So much to say, so little time...
We'd find a dock, eat lunch and jump off the docks to cool off.  It was hot... But a LOT of fun, the water was calm and just incredibly beautiful...
It was at one of these docks that my cousins attempted to pull me out of the water and because I was covered in sunscreen and am a heavier person in general, I slipped.  I slipped and slammed my right boob and rib cage into the dock.  I sent a picture of part of said deflated black & blue boob to a couple of close girlfriends so they could pity my pain. They didn't want to... Can you believe that?!!  I wish I could post it here... It's a pretty hefty black & blue mark!  Right, girls!?  *crickets* Nevermind...



As the day progressed and we were making our way back, a headache began and intensified quickly.  It was just too much sun.  My arms got really tired, my neck was stiff and I knew I'd be paddling back home five miles into the wind.  Not to mention, day after day of the challenging 'unknown' is hard. It's a lot of energy. It piles up.  The lovely day was beginning to take a big turn.  I could feel 'emotional' coming on but I stifled it.   I didn't want to be a party pooper or sound negative.  I didn't want to ruin everyone's good time.  Not because I don't know how to ask for help... But because, in Mazama, I am ALWAYS 'The One.'
'The One:'
The One with the sunburn, The One with the blisters, The One who's tired, The One who didn't sleep because it's too hot, The One who has to get up early, The One who's out of shape, The One who's feet hurt from work, The One with the red face, The One who can't breathe this high up, The One who will be fit like everyone else one day, The One who's nervous about the hike, The One with the deflated boob...
The One we always need to consider when we plan anything fun...
The One it would be easier and more fun without... ???
I know my family loves me and enjoys me but if a challenge or a certain pace is fun for them and I can't keep up, I'm definitely Debbie Downer.  I know what it's like to play field hockey with a person who doesn't know how to drive a ball.  It sucks!  What IS fun is having an 800 foot tall Amber Smith  (Johnstown Field Hockey Goddess) take a drive at you, have the ball bounce off a divet and be able to stop it dead, mid-hop, like a badass... THAT'S fun. 
On our hikes, I'm ALWAYS 'The One' and I was sooooo determined to NOT be that girl last Tuesday.
And yet here I was again.
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat. Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.  F******************ck.
It was ridiculously hot.  My hands were numb. My neck was stiff.  My boob deflated.  I was paddling into the wind.  I was doing my absolute best. And for the love of small children in Uganda, on the way back I was behind.  FAR BEHIND.  I was paddling at least two football fields behind everyone else.  This felt like a new low for me. Something that my history told me was fun and relaxing no longer felt fun and relaxing.

When I catch up with my family who are already swimming at the next dock, I tell them I'm going to keep going and finish the last stretch knowing that my headache will only get worse if I wait.  I paddle on...
I begin to fall apart.  Millions of thoughts raced through my mind.  I told myself to enjoy the beauty, get out of my head, and when that didn't work I just focused on paddling.  "One more... one more... one more..."  I look back, my family is no where in sight. 
I finally arrive to the dock in what felt like a grand miracle.  Not two minutes later, my family is paddling in.  I couldn't believe it.  I didn't see them the entire way and yet they booked it so fast, we got there at the same time.  I am THAT slow.  They are THAT fast.
After settling up, we begin to hike the 30 minute uphill trail back to the car.  I fall behind.  I can't breathe partially because I'm in desperate need of a good cry.  My aunt stays back with me again. Here we are.  And I'm done.  I can't keep it together.  I break down...
"I don't know-- *sob, sob, gasp for air*-- if anybody---  *sob, sob, gasp for air*---understands how hard this is-- *gasp*-- for me..." Sob, sob, sob.  My poor aunt. Did I mention I got carsick on the way home?
But it's not just about the physicality.  When I'm hiking alone, I'm the girl in Chicago.  I'm my own cheerleader.  I might be slow but I get to the top! And this time probably a little faster than last time.  I feel good about myself.  YAY ME IN ALL CAPS!  When I hike with my super fit family, I become 'The One' and-- OBVIOUSLY-- I hate feeling that way.       
But what do you do?  I didn't sign up to back out of every difficult opportunity.  I didn't sign up to shortchange my family out of their own fun.  I didn't sign up to demean myself, to compare myself or be compared.  I didn't sign up to feel unworthy of where I'm at... I signed up courageously ONLY BECAUSE I am whole and complete. I don't need to 'get there.' I'm already here. I get to be kind to myself now... I don't have to wait.  That is what Chicago taught me.
And that is what a lot of the hard days of Mazama have been about thus far... finding the balance.   Being aware of the facts, practicing the letting go of thoughts that don't serve me and making the commitment to continue to challenge myself despite the circumstances.  

And let me tell you...  Being in this position, knowing how this feels, it has taught me A LOT about compassion...  In Chicago, I spent plenty of time learning how to be kind to myself.  Now I'm learning kindness and patience toward the world around me.  Kindness towards others without judgment.  Unconditional. Everyone is on their own journey, learning lessons in their own time. We all have different genetics, different histories & environments, different stamps on us when the stars aligned.  I've learned to be more grateful for the courage that I have.  It's a gift to want to be thrown into the fire & cracked open. But things that are natural now were once foreign and I choose to remember that when someone else is feeling foreign & out of their comfort zone in any way.
So that was Ross Lake, lol...
It was a hard day... But this gift is DEFINITELY what I signed up for.   :)
In love and kindness,

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