My name is Deb Denis and when I was 45 years old, I decided I wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro before I turned 50. This is the story of that journey.
From my online Journal on June 1st--Departure Day
What is the name of that game where the dealer holds up the cards and says, "Pick a card, any card"? That's been the theme of the past week for me . . . with emotions. Pick an emotion, any emotion, and I have it going on.
A little homesick already but too juiced up on adrenaline and lots to do before I sleep. Up at 4 a.m., going, going, going until 11 p.m. when I set the alarm for 2 a.m. and give it a try . . . tossing, turning, sleeping for a short time, then waiting for the alarm to ring, which it does.
I am packed, ready as I'll be for this adventure, and so very excited for it to begin. For weeks it's been sharing the mental and emotional plate with so many other worries but it's time to go. My ride should be here any minute.
I make it to the airport late but strangely on time . . . the gate doesn't open for another 20 minutes.
The check-in gate finally opens, but the self-directed check-in kiosk can't find me. An agent discovers the problem--I'm flying tomorrow. Ah, it's great to be early at the airport . . . but this early? Flooded with embarrassment--did I actually just go through all of yesterday's craziness a day early? I catch another cab and go home. It's an expensive mistake but on the way home I think about it.
There isn't anything to do. I'm ready, the house is ready, everyone believes I'm flying to Africa today . . . heck, so did I until less than an hour ago. So, what should I do today?
Driving back home at 4:30 a.m., the sky begins its transition, providing just enough light to see homes along the way. I breathe deeper to enjoy wafts of summer blossoms. I do love this place we call home.
* * *
The whole idea of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro started to form when I was in Paris with a group of international accounting practitioners. Two men previously with the group had attempted the climb a year before; one of them made it to the top, the other became sick from the altitude and did not. I'd never known anyone who'd climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. It never would have entered my mind to do something like that.
From Paris I travelled to a presence-based coaching retreat in Asheville, North Carolina. I'm an Executive Coach by training and trade, and a self-declared lifelong learner. They say that when you love what you do it's not work, and I love being and growing as a Coach.
At the end of the retreat, I made a commitment to "being a lighter presence in the world." I didn't know exactly what it meant but had a general idea that it consisted of three parts: lighter, presence, and world.
To meet the objective of being lighter, I thought my plan should include the kinds of activities that would help me be more flexible and move more freely, like yoga. I could be lighter physically by losing weight. I could approach the world with a lighter, less uptight presence, one that could be cultivated through meditation. Think Buddhist without a lot of rules.
I wanted a healthy, thinner body; a less scattered, more ordered mind; and a resulting energy that would extend into the world through my coaching. I wanted other people to experience me as a calm, centered presence. Yoga, meditation and exercise would surely contribute to developing me into a person with a grounded, satisfied, and pleasant presence. Think Zen.