Belonging and deprivation go hand in hand. When we lack a sense of belonging it is usually because something we needed in order to feel appreciated and needed was deprived. Not being needed and a lack of appreciation to what we have to contribute to this life makes us feel insignificant as if we didn’t belong to this world. Soon we wear the label of an outcast, someone of less importance, spiraling down into a painful hole of self doubt, minimal self confidence and a growing feeling that something is wrong with us. We simply don’t belong…
These feelings and issues always seem to be imposed from our external experiences, the behaviors of others, because why on earth would we put ourselves through that torture, or otherwise bring it on, right? We are good at justifying our sense of not belonging to the faults of the other parties involved. What do they know! They have no clue who we are! They don’t understand! They are wrong! They are selfish and have written us off! They have not made us a priority and therefore we are not important might all be thoughts you have entertained at one point or another. These are all reasons and facts we have told ourselves to justify and explain what happened. How else could we make sense out of it. We push any fault and wrong doings away from us because it is much easier to deal with someone else being wrong vs. us being wrong. To recognize our own wrong doings involves a brave and honest look, and it is here where the work really starts if we want change and authenticity.
So what about this deprivation thing, is it always someone else’s fault, always our perception or could it also have something to do with our own behavior? In my travels around the sun I have learned that perception is often the furthest from the actual truth. Things are not always as they appear and to believe in such I had to take an honest look into the perception of others as well as my own. I had to learn that I am not always right, that I can be wrong just like everyone else and that my perception may also be the furthest from the truth. For example: Maybe you have felt yourself neglected within a friendship at one point and your mind had no problems coming up with all the possible reasons as to why, placing fault on the other person for making you feel this way. Your feelings got hurt and you soon withdraw, causing an even further rift. The other person feels your withdrawal, unbeknownst to them as to why because in their own mind they never were aware that you felt neglected, nor did they do anything wrong in their own mind that could have caused these feelings. When it comes to our feelings and emotions they are a fickle matter and are not always the same on a daily basis. Sometimes we are more sensitive and sometimes the ego plays misery loves company with our minds, making up stories and scenarios that couldn’t be further from the truth. And so the torture begins…
In our attempt to stay away for whatever reason, because we don’t meet the expectation of others and life itself, because we feel we are in the way or not wanted, we inadvertently choose to have less contact. Our mind admits that something is wrong with us and that we are not worthy. And now we have reason enough to feel sorry for ourselves and nurture our hurt feelings, again deflecting the reason and the cause. But by doing so we hide a part of ourselves away that we no longer make available for others. We are the ones who are depriving ourselves of the sense of belonging. When we look back at our lives, can we see how many times we have removed ourselves from a situation or even a friendship, from the sense of belonging? How many times have we not felt good enough and worthy! How many times was it actually our lack that brought on the sense of not belonging while it never had anything to do with the other party involved. We have to take a look back at our life and find where this wound of not belonging was created. Where our sense of not belonging came from and what caused it. Only then can we do the work and heal, while going forward and stand firmly in this world knowing that each and every one of us belongs.
Where do I go from here after yesterdays post? It would feel wrong and untrue to myself to skip the emotions and write the usual inspirational post, as if I could bounce back so fast, back to business as usual. So here we are, at it again, doing more work.
I do believe that it helped me to write everything out. It’s been an ancient method of mine and reminds me back to the days I kept a diary. To put the emotions into words and sentences, emptying the heavy weight from inside has always served as some sort of relief. I have read your comments several times by now and although I haven’t answered back yet, your insights are invaluable to me. Thank you. Your words allowed me to come back to my own reflections, learnings and conclusions (once more) as I am approaching a new doorway I must enter through yet again. Looking back at my life, I sit here shaking my head as I say to myself that my journey has been a journey and a half. What else is there to deal with, will it ever end and be peaceful!
I don’t like to compare who’s journey is more challenging and I believe we all have difficulties ahead of ourselves that we would find impossible to overcome if we knew ahead of time. If we knew what lies ahead, we might give up before we even get a chance to start. To avoid failure and the pain it takes to endure these life lessons. And yet, I feel that my entire life has been a little “extra,” a string of challenges, from one to another. And it’s never been the little to mediocre stuff but always the big stuff that has found me. The things we imagine we’d never overcome. It feels as if I came out of the womb already in battle mode. I have faced my fears, learned to let go and overcome so many times already that it feels impossible that there is anything left to let go of. And yet there is and sometimes it takes awhile until it reveals itself in it’s own way until we finally become aware. So even if we think that we faced it all, there might be just a little more that is waiting in the wings for us. It almost feels like a little downer when that happens because I know that I have worked so hard to get “here,” and I want the “more” to turn into “none.” No more big stuff to work on for awhile. I want to finally rest in the rewards of having arrived, of being home.
Last weekend was difficult and things were extreme. New leg blisters appeared and the pain was excruciating. I know that I have put boundaries into place, have put myself first, and yet I need to do a better job to protect my own energy and not absorb what isn’t mine to carry. I need to remember that what he is experiencing is not my journey to carry. That doesn’t mean that I can’t care or help, but I can’t carry the weight of it, wishing he wouldn’t suffer so much, nor can I change what is meant for him to experience. Maybe I’d still wish there wasn’t so much suffering, but I definitely can’t carry it for him. I can’t make peace for him and release the energy and negativity he holds inside. I can only guide him and the real work has to be done by no one but himself.
I know that I have to release some things with this coming full moon. And just the awareness of it is bringing a little lightness to my heart. I have to let him go and he has to find his own way. I realize that when it comes to this work, nobody else can really do it for us. My help is still there but with more limits. I can’t run myself down in a way that it takes me several days of emotional and physical distress to recover. While I have removed and worked on so many hurdles of stress and hardship in my life, I know that there is one final hurdle and this is it. At least it is one I am aware of, even if other challenges hide in the wings that I can’t see just yet. I’d probably get discouraged if I knew, but this issue comes as no surprise and I have known and dealt with it for years. I do believe it is the main challenge that is standing between me and truly being free. And I know that I will bounce back stronger and even more confident when everything is said and done. I have been here before when I cared for Mom and had to meet some difficulties with a love that was forgiving and unconditional. It was hard at times to keep my heart open but for me it is the only way, as love is the answer to everything.
I can’t help but feel that some things fell a little short while I was in Germany. Some of it was my leisure time and my mind keeps wandering back to two special people I had planned to meet during my 2 1/2 month long stay. Sadly that never happened and perhaps deep down I had an inkling this might transpire this way. After all I didn’t come to Germany on a vacation and there was much emotional and physical stuff that needed to be worked through.
Not seeing these two wasn’t a matter of transportation since I was mobile for the most part. So what was it then? I’m going to be very candid with myself because I don’t believe in excuses about being too busy and the likes of it. If something is important, we will make the time and we will always make it happen, regardless. So what am I saying here…am I giving the impression that these people simply weren’t important enough for me??? This statement couldn’t be further from the truth and yet, my time expired and I never got to meet my dear blogger friend Irene and the awesome Streets of Nuremberg photographer/blogger Marcus. It was a few years back that I got to meet Marcus for the first time on a Blogger Meeting and we have been friends ever since. It was during our meeting that Marcus gifted me a beautiful mug with his blog / photography logo on it and I have used it most every day while I was in Germany. I still hold very fond memories of our initial meeting that I will forever hold dear in my heart.
Irene on the other hand, I sadly never had the pleasure of meeting in person. This would have been our first time and up until then, we continuously stayed in contact. We’ve known each other for quite some time now and I feel that we share much common ground. There is an understanding that does not require words. There is a seeing each other for what is true, raw, vulnerable and authentic. Although we have never met, it doesn’t feel like that at all. As a matter of fact, I feel connected to her from a way of the heart-space and she has gone out of her way to support me and help me through the journey that was Germany. I couldn’t have asked more and there truly wasn’t a stone she left unturned to make our meeting possible. Many times we wrote each other, exited about finally meeting, and I am truly sad this never happened. It’s worse than feeling sad…I feel awful, like someone that broke his/her word. That disappointed and gave false hope and information.
I couldn’t have foretold how Germany would transpire and along with challenges such as no running water at the house, getting sick and family obligations, my time was used based on priorities. I believe it’s always priorities in our lives as to why some things happen and others don’t. It is the honest truth no matter how terrible it sounds. Not being the priority sound like someone or something is less important and is therefore put on the back burner. I know that this wasn’t the case for me, but I knew that the little free time that I had needed to go to someone who I felt needed me more at that time. I had to make a choice so I could live with my conscience and I can’t say that I sacrificed my time because being able to be there was important for me too. Still I feel bad of having missed a meeting with these two wonderful people and I can only hope life will present me with another chance.
During my stay in Germany I got really really sick. I still believe that I never experienced anything like it before. I had the worst respiratory infection and for about 3 weeks I was in truly poor shape. then, finally I got better but I don’t think I ever fully recovered. Two days before I left Germany I seemed to relapse with what started with a sore throat. I was afraid at that time that I might not pass the mandatory Covid test for the flight to the US, but I did. I left Germany and the soreness would come and go. What did stay absent was my voice and for the first time in my life I had lost my voice.
Talking was strenuous and everything turned somewhat to whisper mode for me which presented plenty of other problems. Even the flight attendants struggled to understand my drink order. Well, it never truly went away and I still struggle three weeks later after my return. Some days are better than others, but it’s truly a pain. Doing some research I suppose it could be normal after a bad respiratory infection and antibiotics might be required to get fully rid of it. There are also other possibilities that I might have injured my vocal chords and I was dealing with acid reflux for a bit.
The reason I haven’t seen a doctor yet is because the better days always bring hope that this might subside by itself. I chalk it up to the RA meds that compromise and suppress my immune system as to why it is taking me so long to get over it. And of course I stay hopeful that there is no permanent damage. I can’t see this as my permanent future, it even if it was, we’d learn to adapt somehow aren’t we!!!
The movers came today and the few processions I picked to bring along are making the long journey to the States of America. it was a strange feeling to see this special selected pile that once was mostly Moms leave. So much has left the house already but this felt different. I suppose it’s because everything selected has meaning and I’m vested in those selections. I am almost a bit nervous and scared, crossing my fingers that it will make the journey sound and safe. There is so little time left until I leave, it’s packed with things of importance, things such as outings and people I saved to the end, things of my choosing and still it almost feels hectic. I recognize a pattern and I think back to the last time I saw Mom alive. It was similar and I got myself so busy that I hardly had the time to feel anything. Today I know it was to distract me from the pain of saying goodbye. Something similar is happening now and im trying to stop, to slow down, to feel it all but it is scary and sad. With Mom I always wished I wouldn’t have hurried so much. Now I have another chance and it’s going down the same way, I tend to hurry to protect my heart but I don’t want to feel the sane way later again, wising I had slowed down. Dad asked me today if I thought that we’d see each other again in this lifetime and the sadness in his voice cut me to the core. Of course I summoned all of my strengths in that moment, asking him back why he would place such a burden upon himself and torture his heart. Now in a moment alone, the tears are rolling down my face because it is a question no one knows the answer to and it’s quite possible that we won’t see each other again.
There is so much to say but it’s very personal, even for me. I’m not one that hides from anything and I openly share my life on here, but I am still processing. I have felt you closer than ever over the past weeks. I know you were with me during the signing of the sales contract of your house. Three Storks stood near the road as I drove by and it is said that storks symbolize a mothers love.
I finally understand. I know that you were always here for me. What I needed was different than what you learned to give or even what you’ve been given. You were never shown or taught but that doesn’t mean that your love wasn’t there. Mom I wished we could have known each other in much greater detail, but even so I could never have loved you more. Mom I miss you and being surrounded by your walls that soon will belong to another, has been hard.
I have learned many lessons in this important trip and I know now that you are walking right besides me. My heart lies before you, open, honest and raw. Not one feeling is hidden and my gift to you is to look deep and see the love that has always been.
The journey has intensified over the last couple of days and many feelings and emotions have surfaced. Whether it is finding some hidden treasure that speaks to my heart or a childhood memory, or whether it is feeling, the light entering the room at a certain time, or perhaps I am given glimpse and a better understanding of the person my Mother was, it is definitely pulling on my heartstrings like never before. I feel deep inside my heart the love she always carries for me, a live she struggles to show and yet it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t there. It was and I try hard to steer away from the risk of feeling that I have wronged her in many ways. Like she hurt me not being able to show her love, I have wronged her by not seeing it anyways. But this is not a time for blame and who did what. Time has passed and is now gone, and I am here feeling her love, feeling my love and it still hurts and nearly breaks my heart. Grief is love unexpressed, unable to give it to a living person.
I cried today. Overcome, I cried today. Not inwards, swallowing all the sound, unable to express the raw emotions, no…I cried today. Loud, letting it all flow, expressing the pain my heart still holds. It was a cleansing cry, but also one of loneliness and missed time that will never return. Still I walked besides you and felt you with me as I opened my heart for you to see all the love it always held for you.
Later in the day I went to the cemetery and picked/ordered your headstone. It will be a heart with your name, dates and a dragonfly added to Dads and for the past nearly three years, your grave. I made it so I will always be able to take the heart with me at a later time when the grave time runs out. You see I carry your heart with me wherever I go.
Tomorrow is the signing of the sale for the house and it’s another trigger that makes the tears flow. I don’t have to be out of the house until June and yet it feels like my last night here. At least as the owner of what you’ve built with so much hard work and dedication. After tomorrow I can’t go back and I know I can’t go forwards either keeping the house. I know I am doing what must be done but it still makes my heart bleed all over the place and I wish you were here to hold and hug me just once more. This is hard Mom and I miss you.
I recently wrote about my shattered exterior and many of you have responded in kind. It is quite something to look back and acknowledge each and every version of ourselves, as we change to a point we often don’t recognize ourself. It takes adjustments and time to get used to. It takes however long it might to process the change, get comfortable with ourselves again, and to understand it in all of it’s detail. Maybe pieces of these details are constantly adding. Looking back in how far we have come allows us to perhaps feel a bit accomplished as we go through each metamorphosis, and we should. It’s hard work and with each version our beautiful wings grow a little more. But we also need to not forget and pay homage to the initial time, that painful process that feels like we are barely keeping afloat. Oh, how real that struggle is when we are in the midst of it. I found some words by Donna Ashworth that spoke to me and perhaps you too need to hear them too.
“To the woman who is slowly fading away. To the woman who has lost her spark. To the woman whose get up and go has well and truly gone. This is for you. This is to remind you whose daughter you are. This is to remind you, that you don’t have to be everything to everyone, every day. You didn’t sign up for that.
Remember when you used to laugh? Sing? Throw caution to the wind? Remember when you used to forgive yourself more quickly for not always being perfect? You can get that back again. You really can/ and that doesn’t have to mean letting people down or walking away. It just means being kinder to you, feeling brave enough to say NO sometimes. And rest.
It starts the moment you realize that you’re not quite who you used to be. Some of that is good, some of that is not. There are parts of you that need to be brought back. And if anyone in your life is not okay with that…they are not your people. Your people will be glad to see that spark starting to light up again. So, if you have been slowly fading away my friend, this is the time to start saying yes to things that bring joy and no to things that don’t. It’s really pretty simple.”
What I liked about these words is the reminder that some parts of us need to be brought back. As we shed our different versions, sometimes we shed things we shouldn’t lose as well. Not everything falls to the wayside because it no longer serves us. I think there are casualties along the way and we need to recognize what we might have lost along the way that we now miss or wished we had back. We need to make peace with what was, what has been out of our control or what we could have done differently. Perhaps we need to remember that we did the best we could with the knowledge and the resources we had at that time. Perhaps we need to be gentle with ourselves and we too deserve forgiveness, forgiveness that comes from us.
Perhaps we need to bring back our believe, our way to play with childlike abandonment, or our patience, our sense to perceive everything or everyone as innocent until proven guilty. That doesn’t mean we have to be naive and while one bad apple can ruin a bunch, we can’t let one bad experience dictate and be the judge of our future.
Through your transitions and ascension, have you lost something or someone you wished you’d have now?
Here I am again, with yet another picture of me standing in “The Wave.” It’s been a week since the hike and never in a million years could I have imagined the impact this hike and this experience would have on me. Anxiety, fear and initial worry has transformed into astonishment, appreciation and gratitude. As the days pass, I realize that this was so much more than just a hike, than just an adventure, seeing a new place, pushing myself to once known now vanished heights, more than a road trip and getting out for some exercise. Little did I know how important this hike would become for me, and that it would be turning point and therefore the memory of a lifetime. In the end it would mark that very special moment that made all the difference. If you haven’t read about how much I cursed the hike initially while I was in the middle of it, you can do so here. Sometimes we just don’t understand what’s ultimately good for us in that particular moment. It takes hindsight and a different perspective. One that is much easier to come by when we are comfortable and don’t have to huff and puff, scaling mountains and physically exert ourselves. Who has ever enjoyed that? Believe it or not, some do, I just don’t happen to be one of them, although I often wished I was and that this feel good feeling didn’t require all that much effort. Deep down I know it wouldn’t stand for the same if it did, yet I have to remind myself of it in the midst of struggling to achieve that high.
One week later and with each passing day more clarity sets in and the gratefulness is growing to new proportions within, making my chest swell up like a proud parent. For the first time I am not ashamed or feel that there is something wrong with giving myself some kudos. For the first time I am not searching for ways, subconsciously or conscious, on what could have been better and how I could criticize myself. Now matter how much I dissect the adventure, there is nothing but appreciation. I am seeing this experience from all angles, in every way. I recognize all that it was and still is, and it is blown wide open, including my heart, with no secrets to hide, leaving me in amazement and awe. I have reached a different level of gratefulness and therefore this has turned into a profound “matter” for me. I am content, at ease with what I have achieved, and nothing needs to improve, nor does anything requires changing.
A week later I can see how much this hike has meant to me and how many others have lived vicariously through my experience. I have received cheers and congratulation messages. Compliment over compliment and many have stated that they have found inspiration and hope in my journey for dealing with their own chronic dis-ease. A week later the picture is still developing as new realizations find me and feed me with hope, pride, a gratefulness like no other, and a self love and respect that has come to the surface and never quite existed on this profound level. A week later I see this experience that others have named as brave and courageous, through a different set of lenses. Quotes such as “No guts, no glory” are embodied and lived, experienced word for word and the meaning is understood with a great new appreciation.
I have also come to realize that my journey with the RA always required that “profound matter” to carry me through the darkness. And it was a matter that was never given to me, but rather it was self created, self invented and self driven. It was self initiated, from a mind set that was not about to give up and has always believed, while keeping hope alive. When I talk of this particular darkness, I am talking about my bouts with the RA, overcoming it and sending it into remission. Within this week I’ve received comment in regards to my post about hiking the wave on social media. Others who fight the same battle as I do, and who have never been able to send the RA into remission. I count myself extremely lucky and blessed that I have been able to do so several times. “Why me” has taken on a different meaning as well and I am learning about the underlying reasons as to why. I believe that I am meant to share this journey. Perhaps to spread hope and shine a light for others stumbling through their own struggles. And if that is my purpose and my meaning, then I most humbled accept the challenge. Looking back on this now, I realize that it took something profound each time when I battled this pain. Something that would fill and sidetrack me with such intensity and interest that it allowed to replace some of that darkness with rays of hope and light.
After the initial onset of the RA and after being diagnosed with what felt like a death sentence, someone special introduced me to hiking. It felt crazy to think of hiking and physical exercise while I struggled to dress and complete basic daily functions. Why do something that inflicted even more pain, was my initial thoughts. But I did it and I learned that there was much more to life and working your butt off, having no time at all for yourself and no balance from day to day. I fell in love with Mother Nature and combined my time out with my passion for photography. I gifted myself that time out, made it a priority and it was me who put me into the foreground. It was me who decided that it was important enough and it was me who made it happen. I was presented with a gift, an opportunity, but I had to seize that opportunity and put it into action myself. Nobody could have done it for me. I got stronger, slowly, and eventually I overcame, with the RA going into remission. During a flare up, years later, and the RA coming back, that “profound matter” became my artwork and I started to paint. Again, the same happened and the RA subsided. Later it was writing and this blog was created. Yet later, I became an energy healer and certified as a Reiki Master. Expanding beyond Reiki and taking a holistic approach, co-creating my life, my nutrition and being actively involved was a great approach for me, but the past 3 years and many lifestyle changes have been extreme and brought yet another flare. The worst one and most powerful / painful one yet. I tried to rely on everything that I had learned in my battle with the RA, but it wasn’t enough and nothing really seemed to help and do the trick. I needed something new, an experience, an adventure, a hobby, another “profound matter.” It was time to level up once more and gather new insight.
I was searching and looking everywhere, not really finding anything. Until I became complacent with my days and the same routine. My new circumstances were wearing off and I was searching for my purpose, about what’s next, about the next chapter. I had taken the first steps to create the new, but then I was hanging there, in mere limbo, existing, with the days passing by, just making it, for another day of the same. That could not be my purpose and what was in store for me. I never believed this status being “it.” I was dwindling into the rabbit hole, a routine, a sense of just waiting for things to change, to get better, to adjust to my new, of coming to terms with all the changes, of people leaving in the midst of it, of ending relationships and a big part of my life, and trying to understand it all. I became very vulnerable, very soft, very raw, fragile, emotional almost unstable at times. I needed to break and shatter to prepare myself for what was next, only I couldn’t see it while it was happening. Again it took hindsight and not resisting. To let it unfold, to go with the flow, to trust, even when the path seemed unclear. And then I started doing the work. The hard stuff, the inner work, facing the shadows, the darkness, the less desirable aspects of being human, of being me. I became actively involved in my future, the things that needed to acknowledged and worked on. The things that needed to change, the things that needed to be healed foremost to lay a new foundation. By then my awareness, as well as my consciousness had taken on deeper meanings as I leveled up once more and started to see, feel and experience things at a new depth.
When it comes to the RA, I still believed that anything was possible. That it came on it’s own and that it could leave on it’s own again. Many would consider such an approach as foolish or naive, but then again this was my way and by no means would I recommend it to everyone. For me it fits and for me, it has worked and that’s all that matters. What I needed was to not create an environment where the RA wanted to hang around. You see it thrives on stress, fear and worry. It loves misery and it steals your hope and otherwise positive outlook. It’s a battle to see the bright side when you are riddled by pain and there were times I didn’t know how to make it out of the hole I found myself in. Luckily for me, the slightest break, even if just for a few hours, brings the biggest motivation and a will to go on that is unmatched and surprises me to no end. Despite of all the uncertainties, and this pain potentially being my new future, I surrendered the need to force and control the outcome once more. But I refused to believe that this fate was meant to be mine and if it was, then it was out of my control anyways. All I could do was trust.
A plan was put into action and I forced myself to walk more, gritting under pain every step of the way. I needed to build resilience for Germany as I surely need to go. I understood that everything had transpired the way it needed to, that nothing and no experience could have been spared, missed or fast forwarded, it was needed and everything had it’s place,b coming an essential lesson in my learning process. Now was the time and I started walking. More and more, building myself up and falling back again. A fight that was motivating at times, yet a vicious cycle of defeat during other times. You know the story and I don’t need to elaborate. I have recorded my struggles, challenges and victories well over the months of this year and beyond. And then “The Wave” came into my life and you had a chance to read about this as well.
Now a week later, I see that experience as one of these “profound matters” and exactly what I needed and what I had searched for. Could I have done it earlier, while I was searching to find that one special thing that would carry me through the darkness!!! We know the answer to that all happens on their own schedule, in divine timing. You have to be ready and be prepared on all aspects of it. The foundation has to be laid, the mindset has to be right, and the opportunities have to be recognized and seized. Further it requires physical and mental strength, a willingness to go on and that special extra to carry us through. To me this was more than just a hike. I have gone on more difficult challenges and longer ones in the past that instilled equally a sense of pride and accomplishment. But this one marks a turning point for me. The end of the extreme suffering and the limitations that this period has brought for me. This hike has reminded me that miracles happen every day, that anything is possible and that rewards will follow when we don’t give up. When we surrender and express gratitude for what is. I went into this hike with zero expectations and whatever was meant for me, I would gratefully accept. No regrets, no guilt, no shame, all replaced by motivation, a will to try, to be actively involved, to giving it my best. That was enough, regardless of the outcome. And now, once more this hike has shown me what wonderful things can happen and what gifts we receive when we drop those poisoning expectations that so often bring negative outcomes to so many situations. This hike has fueled me and motivated me. To sit in this magical place has been a spiritual experience that has restored and tipped the balance of light and darkness. For now it has laid a new foundation, one that I build upon daily. It has provided that turning point even if the actual point was created slightly before to make it physically possible. It was the moment of realization, the moment that enabled what’s to come. A moment I will never forget and that will always remain as one of theses “profound matter.”
2021 has been a year of many different endeavors and adventures, but when it comes to hiking this is my biggest and my only one to report this year. It still seems surreal that I got to experience this place and that I made it. This is my story of what it was like.
If you follow this blog regularly, then you know that on the physical front and health wise 2021 has been a huge challenge for me. I have encountered one of the most powerful RA flare ups, which had rendered me unable to hike and accomplish normal daily tasks. For months, days were filled with pain of different levels and just walking on slightly uneven ground presented a huge challenge for me. Walking was hard, period, and I felt stiff and uncoordinated. And then came a break and I managed 2 miles and then 3 miles before the trip. Two days before the “Wave” hike I made it to 4.2 miles and 4 Miles the next trying to build up my endurance. My feet felt like they had gone through a meat grinder which didn’t help ease the anxiety I had about the hike. From the beginning on after learning that we had won the lottery and permits to hike the wave, my excitement was muffled about this rare and at times NEVER in a lifetime opportunity that I was presented with. I had my doubts that I make it, that I would be physically able to do it. I was nervous all the way up to the trailhead and beyond. 4.2 miles was the furthest I had managed so far and what was ahead of me was a 6.4 miles round trip, another 2.2 miles. I should be able to make it if I take my time I convinced myself. Too late to turn back now and I knew it was now or NEVER.
The trail started out in a wash, a dried up riverbed that can flood quickly and at any time during flash floods. These floods can occur rapidly and suddenly, carrying a wall of water, 12 ft high from storms that often occur far away. Challenge #1 keeping an eye out to not be taken by surprise or off guard should such a thing happen today. This was not the way I planned on being swept away today.
A half mile later, following the wash, a trail was leaving the riverbed, leading into a short but steep rocky climb to higher elevation. I took my time, huffed a little and thought that just recently I would have not been able to made this climb. Overall I was glad to be at higher elevations as this 12ft wall of rushing water was still in the back of my mind. What followed next was a good stretch of sandy path that was actually easy on the feet. Cinnamon loved it and pranced around with temps still on the cool side and an overcast sky. Partly cloudy was the forecast in the mid 60’s. By the end of that stretch my phone said that I had gone nearly 1.5 miles already and I felt confident that I’d make it. After all I was halfway there already while assessing my energy levels and current condition.
The sandy, soft on your feet section ended across another wash that appeared wet and just recently flooded. In front of me was a moderately to steep rock wall. “What, we have to climb this wall” is what I recall myself saying and it was in that very moment that what was described to me as an easy trail taking on a different meaning. Easy? Apparently your type of easy and mine are a lottttt different I thought. You got to be kidding me. Slow and steady does it and I climbed the wall, feeling then already that a few times I was hitting my physical limitation. Yeah it was cooler which is better for me to hike, but going from 0-100 in practically no time of adjustment was something else. This would push my limits at the end of a major RA flare. Pure adrenaline pushed me on, but this was only one way and I would have to make it back again as well. I remember fearing that I’d exhaust all of my energy, that I’d run my tank on empty, but that 6.4 miles round trip number still brought some comfort. Hopefully some time of rest would be enough to recover for the way back.
What goes up must come down and on the other side of the rock wall that I had just climbed was waiting the descend. Worse than going up for me with the arthritic knees and having to step sideways down the steep “Paul Bunyan” steps. And of course I made that as well. Further hilly stretches of ups and downs, with sand and slippery rock followed where you either follow the footsteps of others who came before you in the sand or the pictures on a map you are giving that shows landmarks along this mainly unmarked trail to the wave. 4 miles had passed, aren’t we close yet? I should have arrived already. “See the people (the tiny dots) ahead of us….that’s where we are going. “You got to be kidding” made a reappearance and by now I started to feel anger, frustration, fear, worry and doubt, all rushing in at the same time. An encouraging “I am proud of you and you are doing great” was shot down by me saying that being proud had nothing to do with this. That this was borderline stupidity, that I felt in danger, at risk of getting hurt, of doing more damage to my joints, that I had no health insurance if something did happen, and that it might was a bit much for Cinnamon to manage as well, since she had never gone this far in her little short life. Again, just like before I called for higher protection to be able to make it and to keep me safe throughout it all. This was not what I had signed up for and I felt that the decision of whether to be able to attempt that hike was taken from me and had never been mine to make. How foolish, I thought, feeling misunderstood with no clue of what I endured with this relentless disease so far this year. It’s so much more than just a little arthritis pain. It’s excruciating, debilitating to the point of that it is deforming your joints and bones. Not to mention the fatigue and all the other side affects it brings along with itself. Honestly, had I known, I most likely would have not gone, and I’m sure it was no secret even though the words were never spoken. But like always anger always passes, and in all my big achievements it was better for me not to know what was ahead of me. Perhaps I would have doubted myself, not believed in myself enough to make it, stressed myself out prematurely or what have you, despite of my strong believe that we can achieve anything if we put our mind to it.
The tiny dots ahead of us were scaling another rock wall. Steeper and more daunting yet, than the initial one and prior ones I had climbed. Between us a sand dune with deep sandy parts and another descend. Wet sand, wet and dry rock and sheer cliffs caused extra need for caution. It was slow going with one step forward and two steps back in the sandy, climbing parts. Having reached the rock wall we took a break and it was suggested that we don’t have to go any further. I was still fuming at that point, but frustration was turning into desperation, fear and another prayer. How could I have lived with that decision and the only way I would have stopped, denying myself and everyone the view of the destination would have been if I felt Cinnamon was at risk. We were so close, stopping or turning around was not optional, I would have never lived this one down. On we went to the final stretch, the final climb, dousing Cinnamon once more with water along her backside to keep her cool. The overcast sky had cleared to partly cloudy and it seemed like the temps had shot up by 20 degrees which caused part of the difficulty. Unbelievable, in November, and I can’t imagine hiking this in 100+ degrees that it easily reaches in the summer month.
The final ascend was the hardest, steep and slippery. Here I was in my new shoes, men’s walking shoes to accommodate my wider foot now that had spread out over the summer, courtesy of the RA. In my opinion the sole and profile of my shoes seemed non sufficient for such a task, too flat with not enough profile and it wasn’t proven as secure yet that they could handle such terrain. Not to mention my own ankles and agility. I don’t know how many times I thought that any minute I would roll my ankle over the uneven ground and having to walk sideways, over the angled rock. All while keeping my eyes peeled for rattlesnakes, tarantulas and scorpions.
And then we had finally made it. We had arrived at a (for me) once in a lifetime opportunity and stood at the entrance to the wave. I knew this would be my only time seeing it and that I most likely would never make it back here again. Here I was 5+ miles later with another 5+ to make it back to the trailhead, grateful and overcome by this natural beauty. How many times had I been in this position before, cursing, on the brink of wanting to give up, on the edge of tears and anger, somehow finding the courage and strength to push on and be rewarded with something that is always worthwhile in the end. You just can’t drive up to a location like this and the most stunning views require hard work to get there. Before the hike I knew and thought to myself that this adventure would definitely show me what I am made off, although deep down I already knew the answer to that. It’s amazing what we can achieve by sheer willpower, when we don’t set our own limitations and believe that anything is possible. There truly is no guts and glory in the passive, in waiting, but it is in the daily choices we make for ourselves and we are always one choice away from a completely different life.
We were able to stay a few hours and take as many pictures while enjoying as many angles of the wave as possible. In the end we had it all to ourselves which was my favorite part. Listening to the silence and feeling the magic of this place that definitely holds a healing vortex, I sat in stillness, grounding and replenishing myself for what was ahead. Eventually leaving, we allowed ourselves plenty of time to make it back with breaks and before darkness would hit. Getting back took actually a bit longer and I chalk it up to just being tired from having walked so far already. I was extra cautious to not make mistakes and get careless because of fatigue. Surprisingly my feet felt decent with the extra cushioning of the metatarsal pads I was wearing inside my roomy shoes, but they were tired to say the least. Back at the trailhead and 10+ miles later, it felt surreal that I got to see and experience this magnificent wonder. That I had made it and could mark this off of my bucket list, being given that second chance after missing my first one as I left for Germany to care for my sick mother in 2018. That I could share this adventure with someone special and that I had help and support through the sketchy parts. Surely I would have made it on my own if I had to, but it would have been far scarier, with additional time requirements shortening my stay. It will be an experience that stays with me forever and a testimony of the human spirit and making not even the sky your limit.
Now a few days later, I made two posts on social media in hiking with dogs and another group, with this very picture and a much much shortened version, basically just expressing gratefulness of being able to hike it after my major RA flare up this year. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring and support and the comments I have received. I am humbled by how many people have been touched by this story, how many still have this as a lifelong goal on their bucket list and how extremely lucky I have been to have seen it. The responses have shown me that we all are in need of a good story to motivate us and to keep us going. That we all carry each other home and that we are the co creators of our own such story. Keep shooting for the stars my friend, you have just witnessed that anything is possible.