Tuesday 3 January 2012

"Life is a Little Like Mountain Climbing"

Most days for me now are really good. I work with amazing people and for a wonderful organization. I have a loving family, and an incredibly supportive social network. And most importantly, I am healthy and well today. I often think back to just a few months ago and I almost can't believe where I was and where I am today. I feel like I have climbed the highest of mountains and now I am breathing deeply, smiling contentedly, and looking back at the path from which I have just emerged.

OK, who am I kidding? I have never climbed a mountain and I likely never will - just not my thing. I use the mountain climbing analogy because of a story that I heard a few years ago. I was at a one day session for women at the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre and there were all these amazing, inspiring women speakers. The one who held my attention the most was Allison Levine, the American captain of an all female team of climbers who had climbed Mt Everest. As she recounted her story she spoke of all the challenges that she and her team encountered. Such as how you, ahem, go the bathroom in such a cold and unforgiving environment. But what really struck me was her description of how you actually climb to the top. You set up base camp, acclimate, and then climb to the next camp. You spend some time there and acclimate again. This goes on until you finally reach the top. And along the way you encounter other challenges such as rugged, life-taking terrain and the death zone. Little things like that.

So you don't just go from the bottom to the top in one fell swoop? Oh, that's right - life is seldom simple and easy. Hmm, there's a lesson there, I thought.

Yes, today I feel happy and I am healthy & well. I am technically in remission (yes, that's a term that is also used in mental illness). But I still have moments of mini panic. Today, for example, I woke up with a horrible migraine. I called in sick and crawled back to bed and pulled the covers up high. For about a minute or two I felt like crying - the situation felt all too familiar. I thought about the days when I couldn't make it into work for other reasons. And I thought about the guilt that I have always felt (and continue to feel) when I called in sick.

Then I stopped. I reminded myself that some days are going to be great and some aren't. That's just the reality of life. Taking a sick day doesn't mean that I am falling down the rabbit hole again. It simply means that I have a migraine. And anticipating worst case scenarios won't help.

Three years later I still think about her story about climbing that mountain. She succeeded and since then has achieved the Adventure Grand Slam - she has climbed the highest peak on each continent and skied to each pole. Sometimes I think about Allison and remind myself that at times in life you need to rest where you are in order to keep moving forward.

KB xo

P.S. For more about Allison Levine please check out her official website:

1 comment:

  1. Great analogy. I often hear myself telling people that we don't heal in a straight line. In order to jump we first need to squat. The net direction is forward but there will be moments where we feel like we are digressing. Love you KB.


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