These are excerpts from my journal written during the Climate Recon Team (CRT) expedition to Glacier National Park as well as reflections since returning back to "society." This experience would not have been possible without the employees of our many sponsors, supporters, as well as Stacy Bare of the Sierra Club's Mission Outdoors - Military Families and Veterans Initiative and Nick Watson of Veterans Expeditions. The CRT was made up of active military and veterans and led by world-class mountaineer Conrad Anker and award winning photographer, Jim Balog (Extreme Ice Survey.) I am, as always, forever grateful to all of you.
August 11, 2012
Just did my initial interview. It wasn't hard... but it wasn't easy. I tried not to break down but I still do - always.
There's so much I feel like people could hear and I want so much to share how important and valuable I think this experience is and is going to be. From Afghanistan, to gardening, to doing my physical training outdoors, to exploring New Zealand - nature is the one place that affords me a sense of peace.
After the interview, Stacy, Jim and the camera guys (Rob, Anjin and Matt) all thanked me. Jim walked with me as I was leaving and said he'd done a lot of speaking and research, for years, on the therapeutic nature of the outdoors to include studying many perspectives in the field. He said that he'd never heard anyone connect the outdoors to healing as eloquently as I had.
I awkwardly thanked him for saying so because I'm sure had he not done so, I would have walked away feeling like an idiot and second guessing myself for every word that I'd said. He hugged me and told me not to - "It was perfect."
I had to come and write this down in my journal because I know that I'll forget it and I want to remember this moment.
Gotta get back to organizing my gear. Tomorrow we're heading up to Grinnell Glacier...
I remember feeling embarrassed even though I wasn't the only one in tears. The film crew gave heartfelt thanks, too and I walked away trying to regain my composure but hold on to the significance of that moment so I could process it. The reason it was so important to write down what Jim had said was because I would forget it in the moments following the interview. I don't retain compliments well, but I want to start being more gracious and appreciative of them. Compliments are...
...gifts and are meant to be received with grace. His, as well as those of the crew, were meant to be encouraging, appreciative and supportive.
I also wanted to be able to remember and remind myself that it's okay to be authentic and true to what I was feeling, thinking and sharing not just for the trip but going forward in life. We all have something to contribute to the world and whether or not everyone agrees with or cares for it doesn't matter.
And most importantly, as I encourage those I coach in my work with Tribe of Warriors to be present and mindful in their lives, I want to lead by example and not let my own thoughts limit me from being who I am - a person who wants to be deeply present and connected to my environment and those who share it with me.
Part of what I wanted to experience on this trip was whether or not I could access that place of peace again and if my peers on this trip would. But I'm jumping ahead of myself here...
In those first couple of days, I had no expectations. All I knew was that I desperately needed this trip... And that intuitive knowing proved to be more revealing than I had anticipated.