1 year ago today, I first heard the words Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). As I sat there in the doctor's office, the words barely registered. A sense of relief flooded over me. By this time I had been sick for 14 weeks. I had spent nights in ERs (Emergency Rooms), been to countless walk in clinics and had watched myself disappear in more ways than one. I remember this sense of relief roll over me because this monster that was eating me alive finally had a name, an entity, a title, a description. I was not crazy, which after having been sent home from one ER with a diagnosis of "there's nothing wrong with you, you're just fat", I was positive that I was. I was sick. There were tests to confirm it. I definitely was not crazy. And so my heart journey began...
To celebrate my 1 year CHFversary, I decide to climb to my favourite viewpoint at the top of Christopher Rock to pop a bottle of champagne at sunset. As I start climbing, I come across a couple of Elks up by the watershed. How beautiful, majestic and peaceful they look.
Living in Youbou, coming across Elk is a daily occurrence. I wonder what the significance of the Elk is? I remember something about it meaning that you need to take care of and protect your inner child. As I climb higher, I ponder...Have I taken care of my inner child? Have I been listening to it? Have I protected it? Have I set it free or did it need military precision to teach it a lesson? Have I fulfilled its wish? How does my inner child feel with everything that has happened in this past year? Is it overwhelmed? Content? Anxious? Angry? Have I made a safe environment for my inner child? How do I even know what my inner child thinks? Is there even such a thing as an inner child?
As my mind is contemplating, I suddenly realize that I had been climbing for over half an hour. Wow!!!
Thinking back to last winter, there was no way that I could have made it 5 minutes up the mountain, let alone a half hour. It blows my mind that I am not out of breath, nor tired. A year ago, I could barely make it from the couch to the bathroom. Now, here I am practically running up this steep mountainside. How did I get to this point? What were my successes? What were my failures? (uh hmm...I mean "learning opportunities") What skills have I learned? Or have I taken skills that I already had and used them in a different way?
Suddenly, I realize that I am at the top of Christopher Rock. I stand there with my hands on my hips in Superhero Pose...eyes closed...the wind swirling around me...the golden sunset warming my cheeks...I take a deep breath and slowly exhale...the words of Vietnamese Philosopher, Thich Nhat Hanh, came to mind...
Breathing in I calm myself, breathing out I smile.
My chin lifts towards the setting sun and a smile and a sense of being comes over me. I love this moment. I live for moments like this. The ones that root you to the earth, make you feel free, whole, connected to nature and alive.
Sitting down on the Rock, I take off my backpack and stare at the magnificent colours appearing over Cowichan Lake skyline. I realize that I really had not answered any of the questions that had been running through my thoughts. I think back to the last time that I spent answering my own thoughts, when I walked the Caminho Portuguese. I walked 608km in 28 days. It was a calming, grounding and inspiring time for me. I would love to do another Caminho to reflect on this past year. However, due to Covid, I am stuck on the Island for the time being. Interesting...what if I were to walk the island? Or at least the Trans Canada Trail portion? Isn't there a part that goes from Swartz Bay to downtown Victoria? What is it called...right. Lochside Trail. Ok. So that covers Swartz Bay to Departure Bay. What about after Departure Bay? Where will I go from there? Hmmmm...I don't need to worry about that right now. I can worry about that later. How will I do it? With Covid, I won't take public transit, so I will have to loop back to my car everyday. This is doable, I will do it!
I take out the bottle of champagne and pop the top. Here is to life, love and adventure...
Caminho do Ilha Vancouver! Let's do this!