I made a decision early this morning.
At three am, laying in a tent with my sister-friend, I had a moment of personal growth. In my ten minute uninterrupted-monologue (thanks Kendra), I came to a realization that I am now entering a different stage of my life.
In the past 13 years, I have climbed more then 30 Rocky Mountains in Alberta and BC.
I have slept more nights in the backcountry then I can count or can even remember.
I have owned (and let off) hundreds of bear bangers.
I have hiked over thousands of kilometers in this beautiful country with a 60 pound pack on my hips.
I have been attacked by a grizzly bear the size of a kitchen and I’ve walked right into a cougar den high up in the alpine.
And it has been a time!
But here it is - I am done.
Here I am admitting that I am no longer fearless.
I’m ready to set boundaries.
Last night was it for me.
3 AM rolled around and it hit me like a ton - I could hardly take a deep breath. The reality of the seclusion that we had put ourselves in made me want to throw up.
To get a picture of our surroundings; we were a 1.5hr hike up a mountain to the car (oh. and it was a standard car!), a 3 hour drive down a logging road (and a really shitty logging road too) and no cell service until the nearest town (which was another few hours away).
So there I was, wide awake in our tent, thinking about everything that could possibly go wrong, paralyzed in fear.
For those that know, Vancouver Island is cougar country and they are in abundance!
And I heard them last night.
I felt like fucking prey out there.
Somehow, someway, through monologues, prayers and cuddles the evening went on and passed on by.
Allow me to take a minute to thank the authorities for our safety. Thankyou! Thankyou! Thankyou!
I guess I do pray, in my own way.
This morning, on no sleep and no coffee, we hiked out the 7 km up the mountain with our 60 Pound packs all while carrying a couple coolers. (shameless plugin- I’m getting the coolest!).
In a torrential DOWN POUR!
Jealous yet…? Hmmm…?
As I was loosing all my steam, digging deep, I couldn’t help but evaluate my strength.
I have been on one hellofa roller coaster ride in the last few years. It has tested my physical and my emotional being to it’s absolute limits.
And I’m still here.
I have nothing to prove to anyone or myself anymore or ever again!
I know my strength.
Why would I deliberately put my fragile soul through all of this?
Why would I do this willingly?
Because this used to be my life. I used to thrive at any chance to put that pack on and head into the wild. That was my happy place.
But now, this experience writes like I am describing some type of living hell.
I realized now, at 3AM, that I have been going backwards. I have been trying to stay who I was because of familiarity, because I’ve been trying to hold on to the past of healthy me, because I haven’t been accepting change, because of soo many different reasons. The list goes on.
But that’s not who I am anymore.
And I want the opportunity to be who I am now!
Because I am so proud of my change, I’ll say, I am pretty damn amazing these days.
DON’T LOOK BACK, YOU’RE NOT GOING THAT WAY
But accepting change? Admitting that you’re getting older? That you have become fragile?
Letting go of who you were? Not being able to do the things you once loved? It only stings if you fight it.
Just go with it.
Move where life wants you to move…
God damn, do I ever strive for a boring life! A Positive, simple, easy, wholesome, boring life!
(with two dogs and a cat please!)
I love my 3 bookcases and getting lost in them. Cooking has become a passion because it is now my medicine. I get nostalgic for scented candles, working on my garden and the beach. I love hugging my friends and telling them I love them. I love playing chess, scrabble or a simple game of cards with someone I can’t live with out. I love spooning my dog in her bed, sunbathing in the full sun. I love writing, it nurtures my soul everyday! I love my hour long yoga/meditation session in my living room surrounded by absolute peace and stillness.
This is me.
I am no longer fearless.
I want off that damn roller coaster.
This 3 am speech is the result of a three day camping excursion in cougar country. With a couple of my sisters, I went to see some of the worlds biggest Sitka spruce trees.
And It was unbelievably beautiful! Thanks for the last horrah carmanah!
Oh and please don’t misunderstand, we were never in immediate danger. I’m just trading in my corolla for a westfalia.
Do you ever close your eyes and think about your ‘happy’ place? The place that brings you calm, serenity and peace. The place that lights up your heart and soul from the inside out.
Costa Rica was magical.
I meditated, I re prioritized, I smiled ALOT, I wrote aggressively, I had more then half a dozen ‘out loud’ conversations with myself… But before we get into the magic that is Costa Rica, It’s obvious to me that I need to discuss what brought me there in the first place.
A few weeks ago, I was given my mortality rate on a pie chart. There’s something to be said about an afternoon like that. I was told honestly, sternly and seriously - Cynthia, if this cancer ever comes back, it is no longer curable (Sorry, Brutal).
It’s safe to say, I had a rough couple weeks following that afternoon.
What are you supposed to do with information like that? Go back to the life you had? Constantly reminding yourself that it was that life that gave you cancer in the first place.
How do you make every day count when your expiration date might be a few birthdays away? (Again, Sorry. It’s brutal but it’s how it is.) The famous question - What would you do if you only had 1 week to live? Think about it. Personally, I fucking hate that question (so much it deserves a swear word).
I cried for six days straight, I didn’t sleep, I was lost.
Finally, at 3 am one morning, I decided that Costa Rica would help fix things.
I never thought that going to a foreign country by myself was on my list of things to do. Until I did it.
And I recommend it.
There’s something you gain from displacing yourself from all familiarity, and being with just yourself.
As a ‘cancer survivor’, it’s challenging to try fit in with normalcy again. I’ve been sheltered for an entire year in a radius of ten kilometers. Picture it. And then add over 50 hospital visits.
It’s different, it’s hard, I’ve lost a lot. Self assurance, confidence and even some friends too (but that’s a whole other blog post of it’s own).
I needed to go re learn some things, to re-calibrate.
But more importantly I needed to go re-fall in love with myself.
I didn’t have much of a plan for this trip. No google, no lonely planet, no recommendations, I was purely going on instinct. It was the best way for me.
I had no expectations therefor I had no disappointments.
My plan was plain and simple- don’t do the same thing twice. And see a sloth but that didn’t happen.
After 13 hrs of travel, 4 planes, re routing and delays. I made it.
The heat hits first, At 930 pm, it was still 30 degrees.
Second, the breeze. I call it a breeze but it’s more like baby tornado wind. It’s gentle but it’s powerful.
Third was the smells, they were nostalgic. Everywhere I went, the breeze would carry strong scents of the sea. Or far away, a farm would be on fire because of the dry heat and the burning of the wood would smell like the sweetest incense. And of course, the bbq’d meat from the street vendors that would fill up the afternoons. And the intoxicating smells of the jungle, think of the rainforest but even more!
If only I could have brought back all of these scents as a souvenir…
I know I didn’t give it any justice, how can one write accurately about scents?
I should have probably learned a bit of spanish before I left, but I didn’t. For the record, I’m now learning, every sunday I only txt in spanish.
To the Magic that is Costa Rica.
The people are beautiful, and I mean inside and out. Tico’s have a way of being- La Pura Vida! which is to be admired. Its meaning can be interpreted as living full of life, blissfully. Living a life the way it’s meant to be lived, sans stress.
Perhaps I chose my destination for this reason?
To accept how life is and make the absolute most of everything you have, with a smile on your face.
It was beautiful, It was refreshing.
Playa hermosa (means Beautiful Beach in spanish) was my favourite. I was really happy to be there. White sands, seclusion, good book (divergent don’t judge me) a few veg burritos and a couple of beers in my brand new pelican bag! (it’s worth a mention because it’s that amazing) I was set!
Five minutes in to my walk on the beach, I get stopped by the only person i see.
“ You careful. Girl walk alone on Beach- Not safe!” He says in a very heavy spanish accent, shakes his head, points at his eye and walks away.
My response “Well what the fuck!”
He didn’t turn around.
I don’t know if I was scared or pissed off that he had just tried to set the tone for my day but i was definitely frustrated. I can say, this was the only time in my travels that I felt a bit nervous..
Thankfully, It only lasted an hour. I was extra cautious but i settled into my beach routing quite nicely. I met some super nice locals, and even shared a few beers with a captain. I beach combed, swam in the sea, hiked along the shore, it was a great success!
I learned that Love and gratefulness are the only two things that truly matter. Let go of everything else, it’s holding you down. Fear is the only thing holding you back from sharing the two most beautiful words in the universal language.
In my time traveling around, I heard Micheal Boltons greatest hits three times. In the grocery, at the bank and at a bar.
All of the times, I smiled hugely because it reminded me of my parents circa the 80’s. It reminded me of innocent times.
Playa Ocotal, what a little Gem.
Nestled away in a local part of Guanacaste, It’s the only beach I visited where the sea was green!
Black sand from volcanoes border the water, it’s stunning.
There’s an effect that salt water has over the psyche; it’s calming, it’s reassuring, it’s cleansing. Salt water is always the cure.
It was a beautiful day.
I went for a swim and a babe from Vancouver followed me in. We were chatting, flirting, and then I started swearing like a trucker…
I got stung by a jelly fish.
Him and I, we got tight real quick.
We were a long drive away from anything, anywhere and I was in excruciating pain. There was only one solution.
So after he peed on my leg, we got drunk. What else could we do?
It makes for a good story, but a few weeks later I’m still dealing with the repercussions of that damn fish.
I had more then a half a dozen conversations with myself. I’m in a transition that takes more character building then I ever thought I could do. (Again)
To compartmentalize all the change, the acceptance, the love, the gratitude , the letting go, I have needed time. I will need time.
One day, in the ocean, I spent an hour floating on my back and repeating to myself “ I HAD cancer” while pelicans dive bombed all around me. It was magical.
I need to get used to saying it, just as much as I needed to get used to saying ”I have cancer”. It was powerful. I realized, in my time away, that I still have so much learning to do. I still have so much accepting to do.
I’m going to take my time, I won’t rush things. Building who you are, learning who you are, should be done gracefully and with patience. I’m looking forward to it.
As I finish writing this writing, I’m on a plane on my way back home. With more self assurance, more confidence, more ease, a better perspective, more love, more joy, I’m excited.
And I just realized that I do smell of Incense, the jungle, BBQ and the sea. I am bringing it back! And it’s nostalgic.
I am very Happy.