Sometimes I think that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. A bit of solitude to figure things out; a peaceful place to be calm and think or write in. Maybe then I would have the answers to my questions?
Yoga retreat – Xinalani
Recently I took the opportunity to try this out. I was supposed to be running a half Ironman in Miami; I had been training all year, and had been at peak health, ready to take on this challenge. But in July/August I became ill. It got worse and worse, and all the tests were coming back inconclusive. I was stuck in hospital for a few days, and one doctor even threw out some fairly scary possibilities and left me waiting a month for results. Needless to say, I was a mess. Not only was I weak and tired, I had this fear hanging over me at all times. At one point I almost wanted a result to come back positive because at least then I would be able to confront the problem and would be able to come up with a plan. I would have to go home, and whatever happened would be out of my hands. After all that, the only suggestion they had was ‘it is probably a virus, you need to rest and recover’. So all I had was a series of negative results, the need to rest, and an overwhelming sense of failure. I felt fat and slow and useless. I felt derailed. I also didn’t feel that I had anything to show to the University or to my training friends that would demonstrate why I was in this position. Just a generalised illness with no explanation. I was drifting, creating a sense of solitude for myself, losing my path. I knew how to get back, I have a compass and know how to use it, but I also knew how much work that would be. I did it already. I was tired just thinking about it.
So the weekend of my half ironman (I transferred my place to next November, giving me almost a year to get back to better than before), I went to Mexico. I travelled to a beautiful location on the Pacific shore near Puerto Vallarta, where I practiced yoga in wooden cabins perched above the jungle. I only had four days and three nights, but they were filled with healthy food, friendly people, sea, and sun, and exercise. I was rejuvenated. I was able to do all the yoga, I paddled along the shore in my kayak, and swam out through the waves and knew that my strength was still there, buried deep inside me. Silly as it may sound, I had been thinking that something within me had broken. My stubbornness, my drive to do my best and then more. Perhaps it was actually a physical thing that could dissolve or be snapped?
I came back from that trip knowing that there is a long way ahead of me. I also know that the things that are worthwhile, are also worth working for, but that not everything is equally worthwhile for everyone.
Back on the bike
A comment was made on my blog:
“One way to gauge the road you are on, is to find out which manner of action allows you to be of service to humanity. It is that path of service that allows you to develop your natural capacities. “Self esteem” as a source of personal development is fool’s gold. One actions always need to turn to others; the self will take care of itself”
And then a post was made on the happiness project website:
‘Do the work that you are suited for’
And finally I received an message from a friend (surprisingly not my sister this time) saying ‘You are Hannah, you are strong, don’t take it.’
These are all things I already knew, but often we ‘forget’ or ‘overlook’ our own knowledge because we are caught up in a multitude of other concerns.
I know what I want to do. I have known for a while. This combines doing exactly what I am very good at doing, and being of service. Because doing research for research’s sake is not really something I see much worth in (for myself – of course I am interested in reading the results of others’ work!). I want to see that my research is applicable, timely, helpful in some way. I want a goal: a knowledge gap that should be filled for a reason.
I also have a protective streak. Often I will not speak up just to protect myself or my own interests, but if I feel that someone else is affected, then I will speak truth to power without fear. Surely this is something that I can use. Surely there is a workplace where being an intelligent, honest, sporty, slightly (ahem) eccentric woman is a positive and not a negative description.
I took all of these thoughts and then I spoke up for myself for a change. I also decided to take my future plans seriously right now, and to start moving towards the next stage. Even though that fills me with trepidation, I am sure it will be worthwhile, and that many more mountains will be climbed along the way.