Saturday, November 26, 2016

Falling Back In Line...

So a lot has happened since my last post. My reduction has healed nicely, I'm back at all the normal things in life and loving that I am no longer hindered by the weight of my chest.

Even bigger things have happened since my last post though.

I went on an adventure with two girl friends from college. At the age of 38, after a spinal fusion surgery in 2013, a hysterectomy in 2014, college graduation in 2015, a breast reduction in July 2016 followed by an emergency appendectomy 6 weeks later (yeah I had that too), I strapped a 15 pound, 65 Liter backpack to my back, loaded with everything I believed I would need and headed to Ireland and Scotland with two of the most wonderful ladies I am blessed to call my friends...who are also 15 years younger than I am.

If you would like to catch up on the details of that adventure, you can follow our blog at Once there, you can also find a tab called "Individual Posts" and scroll to the bottom and find my personal writings from the trip if you like.

A lot can be said about loading the essentials of life, or those you view as essential, and setting out to experience a world you have never touched. You very quickly realize what things you do not need to survive or enjoy your journey, the value of a clean hot shower and the importance of a comfortable pair of shoes.

I learned that I spend far too much time in my head, and not enough time diving into the depths of my soul and allowing myself to just BE. There is something about living simply, not staying in one place and finding yourself in the journey. It was an adventure, to say the least, to travel with people I've never traveled with before. Three women, each opinionated and emotional, stuck together for 25 days is pretty much a guarantee for drama, bickering and hurt feelings. However, this is also a way to strengthen a friendship, learn where your own shortcomings are and to grow into an even better friend to those you value. Even someone who works hard to be considerate and flexible can learn that they are more selfish than they thought, I know I learned that about myself along the way.

I think that the things that I learned most about myself through these 25 days was that my body is stronger than I have been led to be believe. With all the surgeries, the health issues and my extreme difficulty in losing weight, I have come to look at myself and my body with this sort of depressed pity. It is how I have come to believe the outside world views me. I know that in some cases this is a very real opinion of me. I especially saw it in eyes of strangers as they watched me, not my younger, thinner companions, lift and strap on a heavy backpack to walk the next mile or so from a train to the next destination. These people did not know the incredible journey my body has already been on leading up to this trip. They just see an overweight woman, older than those she travels with and they assume I'm struggling to keep up. What they don't know is that I was not winded, I was not weak by the end of the day or by reaching our hostel. Instead I dropped my pack, moved some things to my day bag, retied my shoes and walked several miles more to excitedly experience this once in a lifetime opportunity.

I am stronger than I believe.

I didn't come back 30 pounds lighter. I came back 2 pounds heavier. By the end of my trip, my pack weighed over 30 pounds. My day bag, a smaller backpack I carried on my arm while wearing my fully loaded larger backpack I came to call "Dumbo", was loaded with 10 pounds of stuff as well, including my camera, lens, tablet and my beloved Nana's ashes. In all I carried close to 50 pounds on my body while also carrying my own body weight (which we all know is no less than 200 pounds as that has been my constant weight range for the last several years).

That said, I took nearly 350,000 steps. I did things I never thought I'd be able to do again.....and then I pushed myself even farther past that point and did more. I challenged myself to be away from my husband and kids for nearly a month and to allow myself to not be the wife or the mother, but to be just the writer, the wanderer, vagabond, gypsy and photographer that I am at my core.

I wholeheartedly believe that I have found that my direction is to have no specific direction at all. I have to silence the voices in my head that tell me I'm not enough, that I'm a the "fat guy in the little coat" trying to squeeze my oversized being into a size and shape I'm not worthy to hold. I don't have to make myself fit into the space provided to me. I can and must just...go. Go where the world fades away and I stop caring what others think, where the voices fall silent in my head and all I hear are the sounds of my heartbeat and the breath in my lungs. Where all I see is the beauty that surrounds me, the smile and the companionship of those who believe in me and value what my body can do and challenge me to push it beyond those limits.

So now that I'm home, I'm back at my regular job....but my spirit still wants to be roaming. I don't want to become comfortable, just staying put and not breathing in the exotic spices that float on the air in far off places or touching the earth in places I have seen in my dreams. I'm already daydreaming about the next adventure. I don't know where it will be, when it will be or how I'm going to get there....but I know I'm going, I must.

But for now, I'm looking at graduate school programs, trying to find something to occupy my mind and ease my restlessness.

For now, I'm just falling back in line.