Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Kilimanjaro Experience

In October 2012…  I met a girl in Brussels through my Bikram Yoga classes and we became friends.  One day after class, she mentioned she was planning a trip to Africa to climb the Kilimanjaro.  My response “That sounds awesome… Can I come?”  I don’t think she thought I was serious or at that point understood my carefree, daring, adventurous nature. 

The thought of going to Africa and climbing the Kilimanjaro…. I knew this was my opportunity to experience this once in a lifetime experience.  I have to be honest and all I knew about the Kilimanjaro at that time was….... uh… Nothing.  I just knew it would be an adventure and an incredible experience and that I had to do it.  Once my mind is made up… there is no turning back!

Of course not knowing anything about this trip, as time got closer, I was getting nervous of what I have signed myself up for.  The equipment list itself was so overwhelming!  I had to review it over and over again and went to ask the outdoors retail store experts what all this was for…. Most important is Your Hiking Boots… so that’s what I started with.  One item at a time, I gathered my things. 

I wasn’t so worried about the physical or mental aspect as I knew I would somehow manage as I always do.  My best preparation was not to worry so much and just deal with things as they came.  I was fortunate to have my 2 bestfriends from Toronto join me on this trip who shared the same mentality so together we would support each other and help one another to survive.  It’s important to have a strong team with you.  The Physical aspect will help make the climb easier… but the Mental aspect and support is what determines whether or not you will get to the Top!

Thank goodness for my “Don’t think.... Just Do” mentality… because if I had thought and researched the Kili more in depth beforehand… I may have opted out.  Rather, I followed my heart and intuition and just dealt with what I needed to to make it happen.

It was a struggle to the top!  Challenging you both physically and mentally beyond your limits.  7 days of Hiking.  83 Km total.  5895 m high.  We experienced all types of weathers…. wind, rain, hail, mist, snow, sun…. and honestly would not have had it any other way.  Had the best team with me to get thru mentally and we were all resourceful and used and shared everything we had and needed to get thru the day (ie.  Who needs a rain poncho when you can use garbage bags to cover up!).  I felt like we were in Survivor and every time we reached the camp we had a dinner to reward us from the challenge.   The Kilimanjaro is all about surviving and learning life skills.  Nothing will ever be perfect.  You have to use what you have and do the best that you can with it.  Every second that passed, the only important thing was NOW and the next step I had to take infront of me.  Just as in life, the time you have infront of you is a present, so do the best that you can with it.  Live in the Present.  Don't hold back.  Use all that you have.  Make it count.

The last and final day was the hardest.  There was no doubt in my mind that we would all make it, but I knew it was going to be a struggle and required all that we had inside…. In the words of my chingoos “we need to Dig Deep.”  It was a blessing that we started the ascent to the summit at midnight.  If you could see the trail going up while you were climbing, that itself is a major struggle and could break you down mentally.  "Pole pole" is the only way to do it to conserve your energy.  With freezing toes and hands, we all pushed each other to the top and supported one another.  We all made a pact that we can Never Give Up!!!

Once you are at the TOP, there are no words to describe the feeling inside.  So many emotions.  All mixed into a big mumble jumble, solidified into one solid concrete piece embedded inside of you.  It will stay with you forever.  It's always been there.  You can draw upon it when you need inspiration and you build on it as you continue the struggle to survive.

Standing on the Roof of Africa (Friday, May 10, 2013 approx 6:40am)…. An amazing experience and achievement and another example of Never giving up on your dream… You will get there.  It doesn’t matter how long it takes, the end will be worth all the effort and will give you strength to continue to dream big and reach even higher beyond you thought possible.  Congratulations to all that have reached this point!!

What goes up must come down.  Life is a roller coaster with ups and downs. So down we go… another 9 hours total over 2 days to reach the bottom. 


Dream Big Beyond Yourself

We Killed the Kili!!!
Chingoos for Life <3

Finish Line!!!

Above all, can't forget all the great people and friends we met and made.  The fun, laughs, good times we had singing and dancing to our favourite song:

Kilimanjaro Song

Jambo Bwena
Habari gani
Nzuri sana
Wakari Bishua
Hakuna Matata

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fall in love with Ireland

Ireland is one of those places you have to visit in order to understand and appreciate the beauty and rustic charm of the land, people and culture (this includes the weather).

Often people characterize Ireland as the land of rain and unfavorable weather….. it is true!!  However, those that fall in love with Ireland, such as myself, have learned to dance in the rain.

From county to county, city to city, town to town and village to village, there is a distinct and different feeling and sense of community.  Besides the evident difference in accents, strong rivalries exists between them arising from their undeniable passion for sports and unwavering commitment to their teams; rugby, hurling and soccer (many more I’m sure… even darts;).  However, amongst all of Ireland you will always find that people outright enjoy life and are out for the craic just for the craic!  Irish Pubs are truly one of a kind.  Whether it is a pub, housed with people out for a coffee and some banter, or a pub crowded and packed with people drinking and dancing, nevertheless…. everyone is always having a good time. 

Live music is very popular amongst the Irish pubs and culture.  In Ireland, talented artists and local bands have so much opportunity to just do what they love to do, without all the Hollywood glam and fame, while the fans are all smiling and cheering the same.  The people of Ireland know how to appreciate music and have an extensive knowledge of great music dating back years and ages beyond my time.  Be sure to stay out late in a pub so that you can break out in a sing song…. where groups of carolers or sometimes just one solo brave soul… will belt out songs of old Irish tunes.   There is no shame here and with good reason….. it’s all for the craic!

It’s easy to see why people are born, grow up and live happily in one spot in Ireland.  It’s a place where everyone knows your name.  Everything around you is familiar, comforting and reassuring.  Who you are counts versus what you have or look like.  Your action draws in the respect from those around you and people here do good for the sake of doing good.

I have only scratched a surface of the country, but what I can say from my experience is that it is a country that is plain and simple…. with meaning and beauty beyond extraordinary!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What could your life look like in 30 days?

“I literally spent the entire morning at work, reading ur blog from start to finish… It’s inspiring and motiving!  I feel like this is the most ‘at peace’ Ive been at work forever! Lol  Your blog makes me wanna take up yoga…. This is my new goal in 2013”

A friend messaged me this today and it inspired me to take the time to reflect and write another post.

It’s been exactly 3 months now since I have been teaching in Ireland.  The studio is currently at our 2/3 mark in the 30 day challenge!   Hoping for at least 10 challengees…. The final count is 37!!!  Of those 37 students, 35 have never even thought of doing a 30 day challenge or never thought possible.  The determination and motivation of the students have been truly inspiring.  The strength, dedication and discipline in their practice reminds me of myself during those long hard weeks working 50+ hours… but making it a priority to put myself first and making it to Yoga class no matter what. The students here at Limerick have all been so positive and full of support and encouragement for another…. It’s so amazing to see what one studio can bring to a community in just over a Year!

As students head into their final leg of their 30 day challenge… there is no going back.  The only way is to keep going forward!  The smiles, energy and health and mental benefits around the challenge continue to illuminate across the studio and out into people’s lives.  I love hearing all the stories of the students and feel very strong and passionate about making people realize their own potential…. You are always stronger than you think!

I feel so blessed to have been part of BYLimerick’s first 30 day challenge.  An experience that will only strengthen my own practice and dedication to the yoga and teaching.  After the challenge... there will be 37 more stories to share.

As for my friend, and others thinking about doing Yoga…. I have a challenge for You!!
Don’t wait to start making a change in your life and health.
Sign yourself up for a 30 day Challenge (even if a studio is not having one… sign yourself up and put yourself thru this Torture Chamber for 90 mins a day for 30 days!)

I guarantee you will come out a different person with more clarity of who you are and what you want to do in life, and at the same time, lead a more healthy life style.

If you think you can…. You Can.
If you think you can’t…. You Can’t.
The choice is yours.

For those who think that they can’t do it or need a little inspiration on those tough days… check out this post.  http://keepitlocking.blogspot.ie/2012/02/elaine-inspiration.html

Give me 30 days, I'll change your body.  Give me 60 days , I'll change your life
— Bikram Choudhury