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That’s me in front, carrying my wooden sled over my head. The volcano is Cerro Negro, in Nicaragua. The date was Sunday, November 30th, 2014. I was born on a Sunday, in 1976. Sunday is a holy day, and it’s also the day I was supposed to fly back to Cleveland after our retreat in Nicaragua. I like to see the symbolism and signs in everything, it’s comforting to me.
It was meant to be. I had exactly 15 minutes, the day before this picture was taken, to get a hold of my travel agent via Facebook Messenger to see if she could move my flight back by one day. Within that 15 minutes, and as we were driving away from the wifi, she confirmed my flight change, and I had committed to climbing a 2388′ volcano, the youngest in Central America, and still active. Very active.
Did I mention my fear of heights?
When this photo was taken I was having a moment with myself. The wind was intense, and I went back and forth between being terrifyingly focused on not getting blown off the side of the volcano, and realizing my strength. Not just the physical strength it took to climb that magnificent landmark, but the strength that comes from deep down inside. The strength that showed up for me in all of my Lupus flares, in my divorce, in my weakest moments. I realized on top of Cerro Negro that I had overcome almost all of my fears within the previous 7 days. Then I had to pause and breakdown.
I realized that my past was my past. In fact, I “heard” it. Once again, spirit, God, gave me a message loud and clear; “My past is my past. I don’t need to live in it anymore. From here on out, this is my life, and I am going to LIVE IT.”
It was one of those moments where you feel like telling everyone what just happened, but I had lost my voice the day before, was really focused on not flying off the edge, and wanted to keep it to my self, in my heart, for a little while anyway. I actually felt the experience of detaching from my past. The only way I can describe what happened to me would be to compare it to the movies, when someone is dying and they see their life flash before their eyes. I actually saw my most painful moments from childhood to my current 38 years, and put them to rest. “The suffering portion of the show is over folks, now on to the reward!” – would’ve been what the narrator of my personal imaginary play would have said. I felt all of this and more, in less time than it took you to read about it.
I will never forget that moment.
I also will never forget how much I hated sliding down the side of Cerro Negro! I may be over my fear of heights, but not over my fear of speed!
At the bottom, I needed a moment, mostly to swear and shake off the pure terror, oh, and to just be on the solid, still Earth. There was a boulder and a little tree, about the same height as me, and they were calling to me. So I didn’t sit with my friends, I sat on the boulder and looked at the little tree growing out of the black lava rock, and I saw miracles. I was very shaken up in that moment, embarrassed about my fear of sliding down when everyone else was having the ride of their lives. Then, as I cringed, my friends came over to me. Without teasing me, as I had expected, they just sat with me, hugged me, talked, laughed, and took silly pictures. I felt supported, I felt loved, and I felt even more strength than before. I knew then that those were the type of people I want more of in my life.
There were a lot of “big moments” in Nicaragua, but this one was definitely the most powerful. With fire under my feet, it makes the most sense that my solar plexus was tested, re-charged and fired up on top of beautiful Cerro Negro.