Monday, April 27, 2015

I Am an Athena

Athena, Goddess of war and wisdom. I think those two words go pretty well together, for me anyway. I've been through a "war" and I have most certainly gained some wisdom because of it.

I am an Athena. I have been given a grant by the Project Athena Foundation to go on an epic adventure. I will be hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim, all in 2 days, at the end of June! That's 40+ miles, in 2 days, walking...ahhhh!! (You can stop laughing now:)

The Project Athena Foundation is a nonprofit organization that gives women who have faced traumatic injury or illness the opportunity to live out their adventurous dreams, all as part of the healing process. It was founded by Robyn Benincasa, a local San Diegan and all around badass. Seriously. The foundation all stems from her belief that "it isn't about the setbacks, it's about the comebacks!" God, I love that! So freakin' inspiring.

I read about Project Athena in a local newspaper article while I was getting a pedicure. My mom had saved it for me, saying she thought I would love the story and handed it to me as I was walking out the door. Robyn, the founder, had been nominated by CNN as one of their 2014 CNN Heroes, and being a local, the paper did an article about her. I was instantly moved by the article. I felt like I was literally being called to be a part of this. I couldn't get home fast enough to send an email and reach out. I just wanted to be a part of it, I didn't care in what way, I needed to be involved with this. Even if it meant going door to door handing out stickers for them, I was in! After hearing my story, they didn't ask me to pass out stickers (although, I still happily would), but offered me a grant to go one of their adventures.

It was instantly all systems go and I was signed up for the Florida Keys adventure where we would kayak and bike our way through The Keys. I had done pretty much all the training and was probably only a few weeks out when something out of the blue happened. Starting immediately, I had a job offer! So HUGE for me since at the time I was unemployed and had been for some time following my whole cancer, surgery, breakdown ordeal. Suddenly out of nowhere, work became priority number 1. This was a huge opportunity for me and I had to fully commit and put everything into it. It killed me to do, but I had to back out of the Florida Keys adventure. Luckily, the Project Athena crew being as amazing as they are were incredibly understanding and supportive and still offered me a grant for an adventure of my choosing the following year. So here I am, all systems go for the Grand Canyon, and I am happily still in that same full time job!

I chose the Grand Canyon mainly because I've always wanted to see it, so even cooler, why not hike it?! It was one of those things that sounded awesome in theory. Get to go to the Grand Canyon and hike it, how rad?! Then I got the training document......."well, shit." That was my first reaction. I definitely felt a little overwhelmed after reading the required training that was expected of me. I am halfway through the training and I still go through waves of "What did I get myself into" to "I got this!" This hike is no joke. It's like 2 twelve hour days, back to back. When I think of it like that, I get freaked out. During my training I've taken on the whole 'just get to the next telephone pole' attitude, then without realizing it, I've gone like 10 miles. I'm hoping that 'small chunks' approach gets me through it. Yes, I'm aware, there are no telephone poles in the Grand Canyon so that's potentially problematic for my mindset, but you get the jest. I know I can and I will get through it. It's one of those things you just kind of have to let marinate for a while. That's how I operate when the gravity of something is pretty big. I just let it sit there, think about it, feel about it, what's my gut saying, start putting in the work and then you just start to realize, ok, I can do this. I've learned through my cancer journey that you never know how strong you really are until you have to be, and more often than not, you will surprise yourself.

I will be in good hands along the way with seasoned endurance athletes who literally do these things for fun. I am putting in the work to get myself prepared, I have all of the proper equipment, I'm excited and I want this! So don't worry mom, I know you're freaking out all over again while reading this, but I will be ok! I cannot wait to see what this incredible experience has in store for me!

Just another reason to always remember...Be thankful. Everyday.