We have climbed to Limestone Plateau to release our cares to the imp of the mountain. Our yogi tells us that limestone absorbs negative emotions and if we ask, we may leave ours with the little man in the silver jacket.
“It may be comfortable, it may be other, whatever”, Kenny intones.
I lie on the cool limestone, a rock jutting into the back of my head. I shuffle around until my head is comfortable but that results in a poke in my butt. No matter.
I close my eyes and steady my breathing. “What did you bring with you that you want to leave behind?”
My eyelids flutter open to see a wizened face peering at me. A flash of sliver catches the edge of my vision.
I look into his slate eyes and ask, “May I leave something with you?”
He plumps down next to me, impervious to the sharp rocks. “Of course child. What is it you want to leave behind?”
“I need peace. I need to be gentle with myself. I need to accept that it will take time to recover. Longer than I had hoped.”
“That’s a lot to ask of yourself, child. But that’s not what you want to leave behind?”
“No. I want to leave behind my anger and my grief. I don’t want to despise myself for getting sick anymore, and I don’t want to despise myself for how long it takes to heal.”
He rests his hand on mine, “I would be honoured to take that for you. Remember that you’ve left that here, child, no need to do that anymore.”
My body relaxes into the stone until our yogi brings us back to awareness.
I wipe the tears from my cheeks and put on my shoes.
The changeover was always going to be weird. A different group, a different dynamic, but quickly I met people who challenged and entertained me.
Nic and I bonded immediately and proceeded to tease each other mercilessly, disrupting the silent forest walks. Jude and I tried Zumba for the first time and laughed at each other when we failed dismally and high fived when we didn’t. Delia and I took Zumba to the next level, attempting to out-sass each other, and others drifted sweetly in and out shared space.
I struggled with the second week of juicing. After feeling such rapid improvement in the first week, it was frustrating to feel it grind to a halt in the second. I berated myself, disappointed that my dream of a Turkish overhaul was not to be as swift as I had hoped.
I drew zen cards with Kenny and was encouraged with the messages of my place in this world, living intensely, acceptance, sexuality and being alive and full of possibilities. And I spoke to Felicity of recovery. She works with cancer patients and likens it to pregnancy – nine months of treatment, followed by that time again recovering. She reminded me that I only finished treatment three months ago, and while my recovery thus far has been exceptional, it will take more time to heal.
And my recovery has been exceptional, the last two weeks has ramped it right up too. I look and feel amazing, nourished and calm. I laugh and make plans, I think about my future again. And while progress has felt slow, I’ve lost 5-7cm off each my chest, stomach and hips. I walk taller and want to continue eating well and moderately and move my body to keep the momentum of my progress. My chest has opened right up. It still hurts if I overuse or stretch it, but it’s way more flexible than it’s been since surgery. I’m stronger and have more endurance. In the second week I added some of the high intensity workouts to my day and have been able to do most of the activity, with an average day including two rebounding sessions, two yoga classes, a 5km walk and a fitness class. Incredible.
Two weeks have flashed by leaving me glowing with good health and serenity.
The last morning was poignant, as it always is when change is impending.
Rebounding had me bouncing higher and yoga had me stretching further than I have in months. I lingered after on the yoga platform, chatting to the instructors, Kenny and Victoria until the shower called.
“Can you stick around for a bit?” Kenny asked. Odd. But “Sure”.
A few minutes later I heard bustling and burst into tears as they carried the couch from under the olive tree to the yoga platform. In my therapy sessions during chemotherapy, I had pictured my happy place to keep the hysteria at bay, and it was the couch from under olive tree on the yoga platform. They had recreated my peaceful place.
Kenny placed me on the couch and covered me tenderly with a blanket.
Overwhelmed by the sweetness of their action, my time at Juicy Mountain ending and horrific flashbacks to chemotherapy, I wept.
I’ve dreamed of this place, it was my sanctuary as I was undone by the poison administered to save my life. It took me back to a time when I was so broken and terrified, unable to look after myself and dare to hope that I would live.
Tears soaked my cheeks as I sobbed uncontrollably, trying to remember what my therapist taught me about sitting quietly, breathing steadily and thinking of my peaceful place, but being in my vision turned that all upside down.
Kenny returned, bringing a glass of tea and a dirty rock. He told me that the rock was from Juicy Mountain and is limestone so can absorb concerns and suggested I place it in my tea so it could take my worries.
Dirt fizzed to the top then sank as I dropped the stone in. I drank the scalding tea and let my trauma be absorbed by the rock. I’ve been so frustrated by my recovery, taking that time to remember how ill I was reminds me of how far I’ve come.
Peace settled across me like the blanket on my lap as I gazed into the endless valley and drank my gritty tea.
Distance swum since last post: 1.0km
Distance swum to date: 21.4km
Distance to go: 178.6km