Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The River...

"peace. it does not mean to be in a pleace where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." ~ unknown

Last May I was out in BC visiting the parental unit. I was runing along a trail that I love when an inner voice said 'I want to come home'. I stopped dead in my tracks. Where did that come from? Did I really want to come home? It took about a second before I had the answer. Yes.

I'm not sure why all of a sudden I wanted to be there. Perhaps it was Mum's fall that February where she ended up with a broken wrist and trauma galore due to a poor setting, wacky meds etc. Or maybe it was losing both my good friend Terry aka Tigger to cancer, and my furry buddy Mr. Cringely to kidney disease, all within the span of three weeks. Perhaps I was intoxicated with the smell of the pine trees and salt water. Or maybe it was just time...

Because I had just started my own consulting company and I had two Ironman races to complete that year, I decided that perhaps moving right away would not be the best idea. Instead I'd give myself a year to see how things went with the company and finish the races.

The year is now up and I'm less than two days away from moving home. The funny thing is I didn't realize it would be this hard to leave the life I created here. The last few weeks have been tough. Although I'm ecstatic to be going home to my family on the wet coast - ALL of them live there - I'm sad to be leaving the family of friends I have created here.

Yesterday was the hardest yet. I moved out of my house. I'm so thankful my friends were there to help with the move because I was struggling to find peace amidst the chaos. As I shut the door to what was now just the shell of my home I thought to myself 'Why now the attachment to this place? It's just a structure.'

A realization came over me, it wasn't just the house I was leaving, it was my friends. The house was the starting point. When I moved here five and half years ago I was heartbroken and licking the wounds of a failed relationship. This house was the first home I had owned on my own. It was like a warm security blanket, wrapping itself around my shoulders and telling me everything would be ok.

In very short order, everything was ok. I made new friends who would become like family. We would share our triumphs and losses together. I 'grew up' here - emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I sought inner peace and I found it. Now I am leaving all that...or am I? If I could create that type of sanctuary here, could I not create it when I went home? Or maybe I will just bring it with me. At least I will be starting out with a good foundation - friends and family who have been waiting for me to return.

These were the thoughts that tumbled around in my head as I walked along the river today. I had decided to come down here after having lunch with some of those wonderful friends I mentioned. I needed some quiet time to let sink in all that was happening. Last Saturday I came down to the river with my friend Ted. Usually I walk along the path that hugs the river, but on Saturday we looked down the embankment and noticed a skinny rocky 'beach' we could walk along.

Todays walk would take me a little downstream of that section. As soon as I got to the rivers edge, with all the beautiful river stones, I knew I was in the right place. It was quiet except for the gentle gurgling of the water over the stones and the drip drip drip, of the water coming off the melting snowbank onto the rocks.

Way up above I could hear the ruckus of a group of ducks flying into the sunny blue sky. As I stared up at their beauty I thought to myself...keep your mouth closed. You never know when one of those cute ducky's is going to decide to drop a load. Even in the peace of the moment my mind can be a wee bit bent.

At one point I tried skipping some rocks. I love doing that, alas I am not an expert. When I was here on Saturday Ted was skipping, what I would consider boulders, four or five times, but for some reason I could barely get two skips with the lightest, most perfectly flat stone. Today I didn't even manage one skip. Just a massive kerplunk! in the calm waters.

I figured the next best thing to skipping rocks, would be to skip on the rocks. I prayed my trusty Converse sneakers would hold on some of the rocks so I wouldn't go for an unexpected swim.

I was hopping and skipping along my merry way when I spotted this little find...a heart stone. This was the second heart stone I'd found in this area. I found one on Saturday when I was out here as well. Perhaps my little town is sending me off with love?

I felt better after my walk, more at peace with everything. I am going to miss this town and all of my friends here. My heart swells when I think of all the wonderful memories I have from here and I know there will be many more to follow...just in a different way.

Thank you to everyone I've met here who has been with me along my journey. You will forever be in my heart.

Peace out my beautiful friends!

Monday, 22 March 2010

L.E.E.P. Of Faith...

"When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about." ~ Albert Einstein

It all started out innocently enough. Just over a year ago, I went in for my annual physical, which of course included a pap test. (Those who squirm at that sentance may want to hold off on reading the rest...) Now I've been having this done for the past 20 years. So no biggie. I always expect to get the letter in the mail saying 'All is well! Carry on for another year!'. Except it didn't happen.

I got a note saying, you have some abnormal cells - call your physician. Huh.

So I did, and I went in and was reassured that this was normal. That the abnormalities were 'low grade'. 'Don't worry', she said. Come back in six months and well do another. Likely it was just caused by stress. Have you had any stress lately? Well, I did complete an Ironman race this year?

Six months passed and I went in again. I figured all would be well by then - afterall, I'd taken up meditating and living mindfully. Surely that would put all those nasty cells back in their place? Alas, another note came along saying abnormal cells. I was starting to wonder what was going on.

Again, my physician reassured me that this was normal and not to worry. They'd schedule me for a colposcopy (a biopsy of my inside girl bits) to confirm it was low grade and determine what was up. I had a six month wait before I got in, and in February I went.

I must say, the staff at the Women's Health Centre at Foothills were great. I went in and had a wee chat with a nurse - the usual background stuff. Then she went on to describe in detail what I was going to be experiencing when I went into the exam room. As with my physician, she reassured me that I didn't have to worry. The cells were low grade and that's nothing to fret about. If they were high grade, that's when we get concerned...

The exam/colposcopy room is like most ob/gyn rooms. They had the pre-requisite sailing/ocean/surf posters on the ceiling. These are put there, I assume, in an attempt to get a women to be relaxed as she has a male strangers head between her knees. Okay, granted he has the label of 'doctor', but still! I'm used to only female doctors.

That day I was wishing I had a female doctor. I think they have a better understanding of what goes on 'down there' and are more delicate. Unfortunately the male physician I had was mistaking me for a turkey. Yeow! I was tempted to give him a little tap on the side of his head with my foot as a suggestion to lighten up. Thankfully, there was a wonderful nurse who held my hand and reassured me all was well.

And that was that as far as I was concerned. I would get my results in a few weeks. See, nothing to worry about.

Last Monday I got the phone call. There was a nurse on the other end of the line informing me that they had found high grade cells on my cervix. I would have to come in for a L.E.E.P. They knew I was moving so could I come in soon. I didn't hesitate and asked to be booked in as soon as possible - they got me in the following Friday.

After I hung up the phone a million thoughts went through my head. These thoughts were fueled by all of the stories I had heard in the past year about friends or friends of friends getting, having or dying from cancer. It seemed like everytime I turned someone else was getting, having, or dying of cancer. Not to mention - they were all in my age group. This included my close friend Terry. Then one big thought popped into my head...

Was I next?

High grade cells are just a step down from cervical cancer. What the heck was going on inside my body??? There was only one thing I could do. Call the parental unit! I needed my Mommy.

I called and got both of them on the phone as I tearfully explained what was happening. Thankfully I am a somewhat rational person and added that I'm sure everything was going to be okay, I just needed a moment to cry and panic and then I would be fine. I must say, Dad did really well on the phone considering we were discussing female health issues that dealt with 'down there'. At least until Mom brought up a question that made me say 'Okay Dad, you can get off the phone now.' I could hear his sigh of relief, which made me laugh, which is always good medicine.

The rest of the day was spent meditating. Literally. I sat for a total of 2.5 hours and afterwards I felt more calm and sure that everything really would be okay. Afterall, this is why we get checked, so that we can catch things before it becomes something really bad.

The next few days I continued doing what I do. I made sure I practiced some sitting meditation every morning too. This, I realized the last few weeks, keeps me very grounded and calm. I'm not sure how or why, but it does the trick.

Friday morning arrived. I made plans to attend the Little Tea Temple for some sitting meditation. I figured being in a peaceful community would be a good start to the day. Thankfully, my dear friend Garney, who I have unofficially adopted as my big brother, came with me. I was so grateful to him because a) it meant leaving our wee town at a very early hour after both of us had late nights, me at climbing and him at the lodge, and b) he would have to sit in meditaoin for 40 minutes. Something he's never done. Still he was willing to help me in whatever way I needed. One couldn't ask for more in a big brother!

After our sitting, of which Garney did amazing I should add, we went for some breakfast at the Lazy Loaf cafe. Both the meditation and the company were the perfect way to get me in a very happy, peaceful state of mind before going to the hospital.

Soon enough it was time to go in. The waiting room is typically full of fear energy - this morning was no exception. Another reason to go with a friend! I checked in and shortly after was lead to a room to chat with a nurse. I had a list of questions to ask. This was part of my 'keeping things in perspective' mode that I had taken on. The big question - was this going to spread and could there be nasty cells in other parts of my reproductive system that we don't know about yet??? How do we know this will take care of this issue?

The nurse was amazingly patient with me. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in the health care system. She explained the entire procedure, using diagrams so I knew exactly what was up and made sure I knew and understood what was going to happen. I'm quite proud I didn't dry heave looking at the diagrams. I have issues with 'insides'. Blood, no problem. Insides, problem. She also answered all my questions and reassured me in a way that I knew all would be well. I just had to get through the next bit...

Once again I found myself staring up at a beach scene. Oh to actually be there. The nurse in the room got me all set up, this included placing a huge 4"x4" grounding pad on my butt cheek. Oh, I should explain....L.E.E.P. stands for loop electrosurgical excision procedure. As there is electricity, the need to ground me. It was at this point I started my meditational breathing...

Then the doctor came in. I was thankful it wasn't the same one I had last time. This fellow had a charming Yorkshire accent, which was reassuring for no apparant reason. He was fantastic at telling me exactly what he was going to do as we went along. No surprises or sudden movements - always a good thing when one has their hoo hoo exposed and there is electricity involved!

The next step was to freeze my lower insides, a process which uses adrenaline mixed in with the freezing. Here's the fun part - try keeping still while they have an electrical loop inside you, bascially doing a cervix circumscision and your heart is racing from adrenaline! Oh and did I mention my thighs and butt cheeks felt like they were doing a jiggy booty dance?? Yikes.

I shall spare you with the remaining details as the worst was over at that point. In no time at all, it was done and I was good to go. Well, once I could sit up without feeling like I was going to fall over or shake to death. That adrenaline is quite the rush!

The recovery part so far has been good. Some discomfort but nothing I can't handle. The day of the procedure I just laid about doing nothing. I hurt and was wiped out. Likely from the emotional aspect more so than the physical. As I'm not allowed to lift heavy stuff I decided to take advantage of the time and do some walking with friends on the weekend.

I'm not worried anymore about things - at least not this thing. I go in again in six months for another colposcopy to check it all out. See how things are. I'm thankful we have procedures like this now. So many women have died from cervical cancer because they didn't have access or didn't go in for annual check ups.

Hopefully this is the last of this journey for me. Time will tell. At the very least I have another good story to tell.

Peace out my gorgeous friends!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

A Canmore Walk...

"The other day when I was walking through the woods, I saw a rabbit standing in front of a candle making shadows of people on a tree." ~ Stephen Wright

Today was the type of day where I just wanted to walk. But not walk just any old place, I wanted to walk surrounded by mountains. Where better to go then, but to Canmore to visit with my friends Trudie and Spring!

This may be my last visit to Canmore for a while, as I am moving back to the West Coast in a couple of week, so it was nice to go have lunch, then enjoy my friends company while strolling along the river. Not to mention it was the first day of Spring and boy did Mother Nature deliver! What a brilliant day.

Here are some photos to capture the beauty of the day....

Peace out my lovely friends!

Views from the Bow River

Trudie and Yours Truly

Spring and I, with wee Cedar tucked in her Baby Bjorn!

Me with Lady MacDonald mountain in behind (I've hiked to the tea house platform up there).

Bunnies, bunnies everywhere. All over Canmore actually...

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

To Climb...Or Not To Climb...

"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." ~ Charles Swindoll

A few weeks ago I toodled off to the climbing wall with the boys. I hadn't been feeling in top shape that day. Not sure if I ate something wrong or what, but the GI system was in shutdown mode and the process was sucking my energy. Ick.

I thought of bailing, but just couldn't. I love meeting up with the dudes and climbing. So I went. Turns out I wasn't the only one lacking in energy that night. Funny how that happens.

As it was, I had my first cruddy climbing night. I just couldn't get myself in the mode of climbing. I only made it half way on a couple of climbs. Instead I decided to take some photos.

Gunter way up high, with Jim on belay as well as striking a pose. (The walls here are 72 - 74ft)

Dave (L) and Jim (R) getting ready for a climb with Stephan fleeing from the camera!

Stephan chillaxing and waiting for someone to be belay.

Me, having put the camera down, belaying Stephan.

To make up for my lack of climbing on the Thursday, I skipped a sangha night and went again the following Monday. It was packed in the gym! A group of girl and boy scouts were there learning to climb.

There was one young fellow who was up a ways and was ready to come down. Kind of. The instructor was going to lower him....but the boy wouldn't let go of the holds. Oh how I know that feeling!! That was me not too long ago. My heart went out to the boy and I wished I could have climbed up to him to help him out. Eventually he did let go after much coaxing. I think he enjoyed the climb up at least!

I started out with my usual climb. I'd been working on it for a while. I have climbed it before, so knew I could. For some reason, this time I put some extra pressure on myself to complete it faster or better, which is not a bad thing...except when you start getting down on yourself when you don't achieve the better, faster part. Which is what I started to do, I'm sorry to say. I'm not sure where this attitude came from - perhaps left over from my Ironman days?? It wasn't a good attitude. Unfortunately, it stayed with me during the rest of my evening, which made for a not so fun night of climbing. I was putting pressure on myself, which was stressful.

I thought I had left those types of negative thoughts behind when I decided not to do the whole Ironman training/racing thing anymore. The hilarious part is I wasn't even very good at IM and yet I still had this attitude that if I wasn't as fast as this or as strong as that, I wasn't doing well.

This is not the type of attitude in my current activities. I am doing what I'm doing for the sheer joy of it, as well as the benefit of fitness!

As they say, the first step to fixing something is acknowledging there is a problem. So I did. I then went back to the gym on Thursday with a major attitude adjustment. I want this to be fun and enjoyable. I needed to bring some of my mindfulness practice into the climb and to enjoy the moment for what it was. I needed to relax when confronted with a challenge and let the solution come to me.

Which is exactly what I have done since then. The end result?? Some AMAZING climbing! Each time I go someone teaches me something new about climbing. Because I am staying more relaxed and calm when I climb, I remember what they say and can apply it. I am trusting myself more, most especially my toes and legs and the fact that they are rather strong and will hold me in a spot!

Last Thursday was magnificant! I did four 5.9 climbs - two of which were new to me. I made it to the top on all of them even though there were some tough sections that I had to find a solution to get through. I was calm and zen like the whole way. In fact, I was so calm that when I missed a hold and slipped, then swung on the rope, I didn't scream! A HUGE accomplishment. I might add that this fact was duly noted by Aroonis and Stephan below, much to my amusement. Aroonis then challenged me to look down and wave....uh no. I'm not at that comfort level yet!

As with all the challenges that life throws you, I'm glad that I got all huffy about climbing. It allowed me to decide what type of climbing I wanted to do, then take some steps to achieve a more peaceful environment for myself.

I'm excited for this weeks climb. Who knows what will be in store. Perhaps I will see what a 5.10 climb feels like, or I'll try out the new 5.9 climbs and see if I remember how I made it past the tricky spots?? At least I know it will be fun!

Peace out my beautiful friends!