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6 Days till Kili: Attitude Adjustment


August, 2016
Mount Kilimanjaro Image
Today my trainer called me a baby. Can’t remember what I said to provoke her, but I do remember thinking, well, I can’t really be a badass AND a baby going up that mountain. So I decided. Adjust my attitude. In the countdown to Kili, everywhere I turn there’s work to be done. Getting everything organized for a two-week absence. Three months ago, I felt like I had all the time in the world to buy stuff, but astonishingly, I still don’t have all the gear I need. So these days, beside training and working, I’m all about lists and powering through. But there are moments when the joy and gratitude hit me. My mind will flash on photos of Kilimanjaro and I’ll think, isn’t it amazing? Aren’t I one lucky badass? I’m going to Africa, for Pete’s sake. I don’t want to be so frantic that I lose track of that. Especially today. It is a day to remember, to have perspective, and to be grateful. On my dining room table (now known as “the staging area”) are many things. Snickers. Check. Go Girl (I dare you to Google this). Check. That’s exciting. My husband has been doing his favorite thing by helping with all the gadgets: the solar charger, the water zapper. And he got me travel insurance (do you know how hard it is to get travel insurance when you’re climbing that high?!?) My Kili sisters are all sharing last minute tips and words of encouragement. So I have this team. I’m not Thoreau, roughing it out on Kili all by my lonesome. I’m doing this in community. Another flash: this is my second trip to Africa. Mercy College asked me to make a documentary five years ago when our students were on a medical mission to Mali. On impulse, I took my son, Sam. Changed my life. Changed his, too. The story was tremendously inspiring, the most intense thing I’ve shared with Sam other than his birth. And in that experience were echoes of stories I reported on in network television in my former professional life. In some miraculous way, everyone involved in all of these stories leaves, changed. This is the key to my attitude change. It’s not about forcing; it’s breathing and living the story, mindfully. With each interaction, whether it’s the practice climb we did in North Carolina, last week’s conference call, or an interaction with my trainer, I’m drawn in further. When a group of people comes together to take on a challenge, they become a community. They share stories and they make a new story together. And magic happens. So, yes, I’m racing around, a little frantically. But I’m also making more space for those moments. And in five days, when we climbers plus the guides, cooks, and porters who will accompany us assemble at base camp, a new community will be together. That space will open up, like a parachute, helping us haul our badasses up and down Kili, while we create the story of our adventure, all the while sharing stories of where we’ve been. And that, I think, is truly awesome. Attitude adjustment? Check.
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