A Hitch in Time

7.01.2010 | 1 Comment

One of my favourite authors is Christopher Hitchens. He’s just put out his memoir Hitch 22, and I’m really looking forward to reading it.  He’s doing a book tour right now, and I went to his website to see if his tour swings my way at all. Sadly, I came across this… *sigh*

I first read Hitch’s work in Vanity Fair magazine. I loved him immediately. He is SUCH an asshole. No holds barred, straight up, in your face, jerk. I appreciated his candor and wit-wrapped intelligence. His barbed honesty being at once refreshing and shocking.

In December 2009, I had a small Letter to The Editor published in Vanity Fair, and when the magazine arrived in my mailbox, the first thing I did was to see if Hitch had an article in that particular edition (he didn’t), because the thought of being “published” in the same periodical as Hitch was just mind-blowing to me. I mean, they like Hitch! That means that if they like ME, then my writing is in the same league as Hitch’s, right? RIGHT??

…yah, I know. I just had a nice delusional moment there.

Anyway, on this rainy Canada Day I’d like to wish you well, Mr. Hitchens.  To my favourite water boarded, made-over, bravely incendiary, unapologetic Atheist author and realist… speedy recovery, sir.

I’m off to hike a mountain…


Honesty is The Scariest Policy

6.30.2010 | 0 Comments

I don’t wanna’ go.

I said that out loud for the first time yesterday.

I don’t wanna’ go.

I’m afraid to travel alone, I don’t like that my plans aren’t solidified yet, I don’t want to go into a horrendous amount of debt.

I want to do something good for The Hospice, I want to see the world, I want to experience culture, I want to have memories, I want to climb the mountain.

I don’t want to camp, I don’t want to survive on snacks for 23 days, I don’t want to be scared.

I want to share my adventures, I want to go to Zanzibar, I want to see funky animals.

I don’t want to go.

I don’t want to come home.

I don’t want to go.


Worst. Mantra. EVER.

6.28.2010 | 0 Comments

I know! I know! You don’t have to say it. I know.

I wasn’t anywhere near a computer yesterday, so the blog was not done. That was the first time since I started this whole adventure! And it really did bother me all day. I promise you this, the next time you’ll see this blog skip a day is when I’m on  a plane to Amsterdam, making my way to Dar es Salaam. Well, unless I manage to get a phone with email capabilities.

Nervous, nervous, nervous. By the time I get to Day One I’m going to be a blubbering basket case, and they probably won’t let me on the plane. How’s that for disappointment, eh? Working this hard, doing all this panning and prep, only to be turned away at security because I’m all pale, sweaty and shaking.

I’m not a terrorist, I swear! I just have to go to a foreign country and *shudder* camp for a week.

My god, ma’am! Why didn’t you say so?! Stewardess, bump this poor soul up to First Class, and give her all the booze she can handle!  Captain… fly as slow as you possibly can. It’s going to be ok, ma’am… it’s going to be alright.

I gotta’ go hiking this week. Maybe on Thursday or something. My brother and sister-in-law keep telling me to go to Elk Mountain and then do the Mt. Thurston trail. I’m thinking that may very well be a good idea. Because, you know, I’mnotreadyI’mnotreadyI’mnotreadyI’mnotreadyI’mnotready’imnotreadyI’mnotreadyI’mnotreadyI’mnotready…


Tick tock tick tock…

6.24.2010 | 0 Comments

I get on the plane in 50 days.

I’m not ready.

Whenever I meet people I haven’t seen in a while, they inevitably ask me a variation of the following two questions:

1) How’s the training going?

2) Are you ready?

To which I usually answer with a variation of:

1) Great! I’m getting really excited!

2) I’m gettin’ there!

What I’d like to answer with is:

1) Awful. I feel like I’ll never do enough training, and I’ve gotten lazy and complacent, underestimating the mountain and totally overestimating my physical prowess. I don’t know the exact start date of my climb, and I’m petrified of having to crap into a bucket that some poor ill-paid porter has to lug up a mountain and back. My cardio sucks, my leg strength blows donkey nuts, and the thought of multiple nights of high-altitude camping makes me crazy. I may die before I reach the summit.

2) Nope. Not ready at all. In fact, the thought of getting on the plane is enough to make me want to vomit and convulse with fear and apprehension. I’m going broke, I don’t have solid plans in place, and I’m afraid that I’m going to get robbed and beaten while wandering the streets of Zanzibar. I may die before I reach base camp. But hey, thanks for asking!

So much to do, in so little time, and I’m wasting precious moments worrying about how much I have to do in such a little amount of time.

50 days.


Run, Robyn, Run!

6.20.2010 | 1 Comment

I’ve started running again.

Yes, it hurts my hips the next day, but it’s worth it.  Besides, I know my hips are going to hurt on my Kili climb, so I’d better just get used to it now.

Training for pain.

Well, that’s new.

I’ll be taking it easier on myself this time around, and won’t be doing my 10km 4x/week. That’s too much right now. Maybe I can work up to that again, but for now I just need to work on my cardio and my stamina, and the best way to do that is to run. Because I know I’ll run.

I have a bike that I rarely use, a swim pass that collects dust, and a bamillion work-out DVDs that pretty much still have the plastic covering on. But I’ll run.

I’m going to be stubbornly defiant about this, and I’m sure I’ll pay for it, but I’m just in this rut of non-exercise. I don’t care right now. I don’t want to train. I’ve given up, and I’m trying to justify my slovenly self in any way I can: “I need to have extra weight on! I’m going to need it for the cold… for energy… for the inevitable weight loss that will occur on the climb…”  I’m getting quite creative.

But I’m also getting scared. What if I don’t make it because I wasn’t physically ready? I would never forgive myself.

So… I’ll run.

I’ll try to keep my griping and complaining to a minimum.


He’s right, you know.

6.19.2010 | 0 Comments

The other day I was sitting  with a (totally awesome) friend, and I was recounting the upcoming concerns I have about my Kilimanjaro climb; buying gear, training, getting a Visa, finding a phone to use there, training, altitude, fund raising, expenses, training, packing, culture shock, training… and I sort of threw my hands up and asked, “what am I doing?!”

And, simply, he replied, “it“.

I needed that.


Adventure Seeking 101

6.17.2010 | 2 Comments

I’m not one to make New Year’s Resolutions, because I tend to break them by about 3pm on January 1st. All those years, all those broken promises to myself, over and over again. It’s really quite defeating. To try and atone, I even tried to make a resolution to break my resolution, but I just ended up getting all confused, and had to stop thinking before my brain reached critical mass.

I realized I was going about the whole ‘it’s a brand new year’ thing all wrong. It isn’t about making resolutions. I found that to me, it’s about making plans. So I started to label my years, and then worked each day to live up to the labels. Kind of like The Secret, but you know, not creepy.

2009’s label was “It’s all about me”, and it was absolutely true. I ended up taking that trip to Greece that my friend Bin and I had been planning for more than 20 years, I spent some time on stage again, and I focused on believing that I actually deserved good things, and those good things were even better when I created them myself.

2010 was dubbed “The Year of Adventure” – and my god, does it get any better than it has already? Mt. Kilimanjaro, hiking, kayaking, avoiding camping, changing tires, changing jobs, dating boys who at first glance would totally frighten my parents… it’s all been so incredibly awesome. So much so that I can’t wait for tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

The biggest adventure of this year has been discovering how ok I am when things go completely sideways*. I could at one time expect to lose my mind over the simplest of things, (like changing the duvet cover), but this year I find a new sort of inner tranquility has allowed me to experience a peace in the midst of chaos. Everything is going to be alright.

And so, in 2010, I am constantly being reminded to seek the adventure in all things. Be it in climbing a 19,340 ft African peak, or in drunkenly baking a cake to look like a 19,340 ft African peak… from drinking tea atop Mt. Finlayson, to not running from the white Corporation of Delta van that pulled up to the park where I had my dogs running off leash… from laughing hysterically with Ali as we change a tire in the middle of nowhere, to staying present in Savasana at Open Space.

There is adventure in all things. I just didn’t know how to look for it before. And now that I’ve found out how to go about finding the things that have always been there, I don’t ever want to stop looking.

*This may not apply to sailboat situations


Living the Dream

6.16.2010 | 3 Comments

Sometimes I think about my upcoming Kilimanjaro adventure, and I’m proud of the fact that I’m attempting to accomplish a monumental feat. Yes, the world is full of dreamers and doers, and with the Kili summit under my belt, I too get to be one of those dreamers and doers.

And so I get to thinking about what an incredible, brave, driven company of doers I am in Ed Viesturs, Thomas Edison, Jane Goodall, Christopher Hitchens, … the list is entirely endless. All of those people out there who at one point thought to themselves that they wanted to do something for themselves, or they wanted better things for the world, and they just went out and did it.

Be it an invention, an idea, a manuscript, a sanctuary, an organization, a mountain, or a thousand other things, it’s all achievable. And with that, of all those that did achieve… well, this incredible company of dreamers and doers will soon have one more member: me. And that makes me so proud to be in such distinguished, monumentally important indiv…







Mt. Finlayson with the Himalaya Freaks

6.15.2010 | 0 Comments

Yesterday I had an adventure!

I took the ferry over to Victoria to visit with my brother Todd and his lovely girlfriend Becky. As regular readers of this blog will know, Todd and Becky just returned from 6 weeks of hiking through Tibet and Nepal, where they were able to take a 19-day trek to Everest Base Camp. So of course I thought that hiking up a small mountain on the island with the two of them would be a fantastic idea. Either I need to stop drinking so much, or I need to start drinking far more.

I packed a small bag, threw on my hiking boots, draped myself in all things Arcteryx and was promptly whisked off to the ferry terminal (thanks mom!). The really great thing about taking the ferry is the fact that for $13 you can take a (2-hour) cruise that doesn’t assault your sensibilities by forcing you to listen to steel drums for extended periods of time, or watch horrified as Mr. Creosote waddles up to the buffet line for his 4th helping of lard-covered fat sticks. However, I do not recommend taking this delightful mini-cruise if you have an allergy to patchouli, or if you have an allergy to being in ocean-going close confines with unruly children.


Todd and Becky thought it would be fun to go for a hike with me while telling me all about their trip. I completely agreed, and was so very excited to see them both. Although they certainly had some incredible stories to relate, it was their little pearls of travel wisdom that most intrigued me. We talked food, water, altitude, how to tie your boots for ascent vs. descent, and the effective layering of clothing. I must say this, as mature as I am, and as open as I am to learning new things, hearing about the number of times my older brother changed his underwear while trekking in Tibet was really not high on my list of ideal conversation topics*. And do NOT get me started on the Bowel-Movement Rating System…

The hike up Mt. Finlayson is really quite beautiful. Todd and Becky set a decent pace, and I didn’t feel as though I were struggling too much. At one point I started to get frustrated that I wasn’t keeping up with them very well, but I had to remind myself that the two of them had just spent a good deal of time hanging out where pro mountaineers go to challenge themselves. I had to give my ego a bit of a slap, and it helped.

So, after an hour or so of some scrambly, craggy, trail jaunting, we reached the summit of Mt. Finlayson. We were very proud.

Of course, as I was rasping for breath, wondering how internal organs could be on fire, Todd and Becky seemed somewhat less effected…

I like to call this photo, “Meh.”  I mean really, these two just hung out with lamas in Tibet last week. Climbing the mighty Mt. Finny at a whopping 1375 ft (a mere 17,965 ft shorter than Kili), I could understand that they may have been just slightly underwhelmed.

Regardless, the were both incredibly gracious hosts, sharing their stories, imparting their wisdom, giving me potato chips carrots and celery on the drive up, and treating me to  beer and nachos a healthy dinner before taking me to the ferry terminal.

It was a good hike, and a great day in fantastic company. Both Todd and Becky gave me a lot to think about, and I had my eyes opened again to the fact that I need to get out there and get active, right now. I am so not ready to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, and as I wheezed and burned up a hill whose height is 14 times less than that of Kili, that certainly became perfectly clear.

On the upside, I was certainly well educated on the most important items to bring on my climb that will ensure a mentally successful trip: wet wipes, Snickers bars, and apparently a lot less underwear than I thought was necessary.

*note to self: buy Todd some new underwear for Christmas. Also, buy Becky Hazmat gloves for laundry day*


And so it was.

6.14.2010 | 5 Comments

I’ve always been one to enjoy a good quote. I love how a random phrase can so succinctly sum up a lifetime’s worth of feeling in a single sentence. I love that “EXACTLY!!” feeling that happens when I read something that just ‘clicks’.

And then there are mottos. Words to live by, words to love by, words that give you some sort of hope, and possibly a glimpse at what it could be like to guide your own destiny, should you simply choose to follow those words.

When I started working with people who have Dementia, my motto in life changed after my very first work day was done. It isn’t a poetic motto by any means, and in fact, it’s really rather grotesque in simplicity. But it works for me, and it’s already made a difference in how I choose to look to the future.

At work, I saw so many spouses devastated by the fact that a disease was denying them the right to grow old with the person they love.  As Dementia stole their partner moment by moment in an agonizingly slow progression, so it stole their own life, too.  Here was a person they had married 35, 45, 55 years ago, and had endured a lifetime of trials and joys with them. They had worked hard together, and looked forward to the time when they could both ‘start enjoying life’.

The words, “we were waiting until retirement to…” went from being just plain smart, to being painfully tragic.

I had husbands tell me that they had no idea what they were going to do with their lives, given that their wife was now incapable of recognizing them, let alone traveling through wine country with them. So many missed trips to Europe, so many cruises, golf vacations, RV adventures, and visits to the grandkids in Sacramento… there was no one to do these things with anymore.

All the best parts of life, the reward for all the hard work, had been put on hold until they had ‘the time to do it right‘.

And now, they can’t do it at all.

It was heart-breaking. Aside from grief and anger, the surviving spouse also was left with an oppressive sense of helplessness and disappointment. “What we could have done if only we had more time…” and worse, “we had so much planned…

And so, my motto simply became “Do it. Do it now”.

Do it.

Do it now.

Because everything can become nothing in a single moment. Because looking back should not be all about what could have happened if you had stepped forward, instead of just looked forward.

So, do it. Do it now.

Whatever it is.

Because you deserve to remember that you did it, and not be broken by the fact that you didn’t.

As for me, I’m off to catch the ferry to Victoria, where I will spend the afternoon with my brother hearing all about his 6-week trek through Tibet and Nepal as we hike up Mt. Finlayson.

And I’ll be wearing the hiking boots that will take me to the summit of Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro.