1 more week to prepare

Hard to believe, but I only have one more week to prepare (my bags, my body, my mental state...) for my Kilimanjaro adventure.

After the time and effort that has gone in to raising the funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation (and not on my own - with a lot of support from many) and strengthening my body - this trip is going to take me much farther outside of my comfort zone than anything else in the last several months. 

I'm anxious. I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm a little scared. And some days... I'm a lot scared.

I know I'm not the first to do something like this. Nor will I be the last. Kilimanjaro is big, but it's not that big. Raising over $16000 is big, but it's not that big. But as far as my personal life experiences go, this will be one of my biggest adventures yet.

And I'm humbled by the support of people around me.

I've already started receiving "best wishes" from many friends and colleagues who I won't be seeing again until it's all said and done. I've been prayed for at church. But it's not just "have a nice trip" kind of send offs. It's "I'm rooting for you", "we'll be thinking of you", and even "I admire what you're doing".

And I'm holding on to all these comments and all that support, so that I can pull it up if and when things get rough on that mountain.

I'll also be holding on to a few "tactile" objets to remind me of important reasons for taking on this project in the first place.

- a little pendant with emerald and diamond like gems that will remind me of my husband and girls (May and April birthstones).  Not that I'll need a reminder. I don't want to leave my family for 2 weeks. I do want to take this time for me and make them proud.  And even though my girls are very young, I hope that this is something that will speak to them as they get older.
- a picture of a special little boy - Justin Guestier - the son of one of Brandon's colleagues who was born barely a month before Layla. We nominated Justin for a wish and found out very recently that he was accepted. I'm very excited to see (so close) the power of a wish - for a child and their family.
- a "Kids in the park" tuque. This children's weeknight "club" raised $100 for the Wish Foundation over the fall.
- a picture of little Layla Grace... the little girl whose story started me down this road last year.

... and all my gear. Girl "pee" aid and all (!)


Less than a month...

29 Days...

I can't believe that I'm so close to starting the final chapter of my "Summit for Wishes" adventure. But I am. In less than a month my bags will be packed and I will be boarding a plane for Moshi, Tanzania. The realization is quite surreal actually. Maybe even a little crazy.

When I think back to April, when I first decided that I needed to do something that would have a positive impact on children suffering from sickness or disease, I don't think I could have imagined the events of the last several months.

And when I think back to the first phone call and asking for more information about the Make-A-Wish foundation's SUMMIT FOR WISHES fundraising activity; the excitement that followed that call... and the doubt and questions that plagued me before (and for quite some time after) making the decision to sign up; I am happy and proud to say that I did it (the fundraising!) and that I really am going to do it (the hike!).

Who would have thought?

I have a feeling that this next chapter will be one of the hardest yet. As anxious as I am to experience it all, this trip and this trek will take me so far out of my comfort zone. And while I don't expect to have any great epiphanies or "aha" moments, there's a part of me that is hoping and praying for them.

Don't get me wrong, this adventure has already been incredibly interesting. At times, very fulfilling... and at other times, very frustrating... The only constant that I can see from my current perspective is that it was, is and will no doubt continue to be a very important learning experience for me.

So what is it that I'm hoping to find on that mountain? Well for starters I really hope I make it to the actual summit (!) Assuming that goes well... I’m hoping that at the very least, the incredible views of Africa will take my breath away and that I will be encouraged and motivated by the experience. And that I will make my loved ones proud of me.

But if I could get anything and everything I want to get out of it... sigh... I hope that I will be inspired (to what? I don’t know... and by what? I’m not sure). I also hope to gain some personal clarity and perspective from the hours of walking (and thinking!)...

It doesn’t sound like much when I write it down. But I have a feeling that it’s a tall order...

So why do I want more clarity? Why do I want to be inspired?

It’s almost certainly more complicated than what I’m about to write... but I’m starting to realize that this journey of mine didn’t really BEGIN in April. And it probably won’t END with Kilimanjaro.  And I'm not saying here that I'm going to start a new fundraising project or find another mountain to climb.

If you’ve followed my personal blog A.O.K. (which has been very neglected these past few months) since I started it in June or July of 2009... you may have an idea of where I’m coming from.

I’m 29 years old. I’ve been married for 6 ½ years and been working in a “real job” for close to the same amount of time. I have 2 beautiful girls who I absolutely adore. I have a home, a car and a dog to walk. I have love and laughter in my life. And still I find myself asking an innocent and hopeful child’s question:

What do I want to be?

Will Summit for Wishes help me answer this question? Will Kilimanjaro? Or is it all just a part of the journey? Is the experience in the “climb” and not so much the “destination” (to quote Miley Sirus! Goodness...)?

Maybe one day I’ll have the answers... Regardless, I don't want to give the impression that I am not proud of how far I’ve come... I am. And I can’t wait to see if I can “handle” the mountain too.