Summit: Kilimanjaro

I am writing a book. I never thought about becoming a published author, though I always found writing a powerful avenue for self-expression. When I decided to climb Kilimanjaro, I felt a call to write about the experience, not only to share my training and the climb to the summit, but also to record the many coachable opportunities I found along the way.

These last few weeks following the climb my feelings have evolved and taken shape. I’ve stepped back and been a witness to what was and remains an extraordinary experience. A “letting in” as a way of opening and “letting go.”

Before the climb I spoke with my spiritual guide whom I first met in Thailand. I mentioned I was hoping the climb would produce a spiritual experience for me. His sage advice was to stay present and quiet, spend time alone, and let my feelings surface without judgment. And off I went.

Then the most surprising thing happened. The call to summit and the journey there and back was the spiritual awakening. The moment I saw the sign that announced arrival at the summit, I began to cry, as an uncontrollable and unexpected explosion of joy and gratitude surged through my body. As I walked towards the sign I continued to cry, until I sat under the sign and got real still. Those last steps not only broke me open they also, as I later recognized, opened me to wholeness.

I have been on a journey of self-awareness and healing for more years than I care to count, taking both baby steps and bigger steps, always looking, searching, exploring, and healing. The last four years with the Ford Institute culminated in extensive inward examination and discovery. Self-love was the elusive goal. I have gotten closer and closer over the years, always thinking I had arrived or was at least on my way. Staying in integrity with my word fueled me the most and I realized, as those heartfelt tears ran down my facc, the call to summit was my soul’s call to self-actualization. Reflecting on the whole journey over these years revealed the path the Universe set for me,  and without ever knowing it I now see that this climb was set in a time and place as the zenith of all that learning and growth.

The research, training, preparation, accumulation of all the equipment and the endless hours and months of obsession and drive were of a piece with the journey. Readying my body and stepping up and out to do this trek alone at 61 years of age was my way to prove to myself ALL that I can do. I didn’t merely climb Kilimanjaro, I rocked it. Thanks to my training and prep, I sailed up the mountain. I had no issues with altitude or the daily grind. And I was poised and ready for whatever challenge awaited me. It was hard, make no mistake. As I took the last steps to the top, I focused on how my commitment to the summit allowed me avoid injury and illness. I was grateful for how much I devoted to the experience. In looking back, I left nothing to chance, and even as many fellow trekkers got sick and dropped back, I stayed strong and true to myself and my journey.

And yet it wasn’t until I saw the sign that I knew I had it. Those tears were a combination of relief and gratitude for my guide who assisted me each day, especially the last night to summit. They were tears of gratitude for who I was, how committed I had been, and how hard I had trained and prepared. That moment encapsulated who I was and everything I needed to be. I am never alone because I always have me. I can cast fear aside because I always have me.

A life defining search is over. I have arrived. I am here, and I am so in love with who I am. I know the journey and self-exploration continues, but for now I feel at peace.

Find your call to summit and make it happen. You will not see yourself the same way again. I know I won’t.  Stay tuned for the book.

Sending love, peace and light.

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About the Author: Nancy Pickard is a Debbie Ford integrative life coach and a writer for Happiness Series. She wants to help people learn how to live a life of integrity by moving in alignment with their goals and visions. Nancy wants to inspire others, including Happiness Series readers, to move towards personal empowerment with a strong mind and body in balance with a spiritual practice. She does this deep, transformational work through her integrative coaching and her writing. To connect with Nancy and work with her, check out her website at NancyPickardLifeCoach.com.