Updated: Apr 9, 2018
At a retreat training in LA in April one of the girls had the realization that she had only been to bad Retreats. I felt so incredibly sad when she said this because no Retreat should be bad.
Each and every Retreat has the potential to be life changing and make a difference in peoples lives. This in turn made me realize that a good Retreat Leader is a story teller - this realization in turn was enhanced while while reading The Storytellers Secret – How TED Speakers and Inspirational Leaders Turn Their Passion Into Performances by Carmine Gallo it is one of those books, that by a few pages in, you know it is going to change you by reading it. It is the kind of book that makes you realise something that you have known all the time – that they are talking about you and your deep seeded knowledge.
It made me think about all the times I tell stories – they are in most conversations, they can be everyday occurrences or ones that make you envisage magic and a different way of life.
Today I am going to tell you the story of Penny.
Many would say that Penny’s story is one of inspiration – that she is brave. She told me that her story is one for those who don’t think they can climb a mountain – she is here to prove that you can. Four years ago she was not in a place of wellness. She has Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, she felt depressed and inadequate and worried constantly about her children particularly her son who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. She was grieving for a past and a future that she felt she would never obtain. She had travelled to India, Nepal and Europe in her early thirties and had foreseen travel in her future as well.
Then there was that life changing moment where she made a decision – one that changed everything. She was presented with the opportunity to travel to Morocco, raising money for a charity that was close to her heart Muscular Dystrophy Australia. The challenge was to climb a the highest mountain in north Africa Jebel Toubkal – she had done trekking in Nepal and had gone much higher than this – mind you she conveniently forgot her issues with altitude and vertigo – she would be fine after all she had 9 months to prepare.
Eventually the day arrived when she was in Morocco – a place where you envisage that you might see Ali Babar walking through the Medina. She was determined to give it her best shot. Three days hike into the refuge (base camp) were pretty tough for Penny and her body didn’t like it, she wasn’t eating much, so her energy was really low and she felt the odds were against her It was the final day, and she describes it as one of the hardest of her life - ‘A couple of hundred metres into the climb I knew I would not go on. My legs were a dead weight, I had no fuel in my tank. Tearfully I called it quits. Rachid (the Guide), sensing my distress tried his best to install some confidence in me that I could go on. But to no avail. So he made me a promise then and there. If I came back to Morocco he would get me to the top. Sad and defeated I went back down to the refuge. So much for making a change I thought. In my self-pity I failed to acknowledge what I had achieved. Here I was, middle aged, overweight, unfit, depressed and suffering some serious health problems thinking I hadn’t done anything. But on reflection I had. I had raised a substantial sum for MD research. I had tried my hardest and despite everything still managed to complete some difficult trekking. But most importantly, on a personal level, I had committed myself to the unknown, entered the territory of fear, survived and came out stronger Fast Forward 2014. It still rankled that I didn’t get to the summit so I decided to return in April 2014. This time I was more prepared, fitter and trained harder. So much so that I managed to tear a hole in my Achilles tendon. It wasn’t going to stop me! Even though my sports physician expressed doubt that I may not heal in time, despite throwing every treatment at me. He was right I didn’t heal completely, but I was confident that because I was fitter I would be ok. I was right. I got to the summit. I can’t say it was easy. Toubkal is challenging for anyone. But I took it slowly, had pain relief on hand and when the swelling was too much, took my boot off and put my foot in the snow!’
The sense of achievement that she felt was exhilarating and embedded in her a sense of attachment to the land she had concurred her fears in. She went away one person and came home different. It was from this that an idea was born – a company called – Nomad Journey’s was formed (http://nomadjourneys.com/ ) – she wanted other women to experience what she had – she wanted to prove that you can climb a mountain.
Her story is one of those that fills me with awe that you can achieve the seemingly impossible if you have a goal and a dream. Her story will lift you to the heights in her achievement and you will feel her pain of when she was at her lowest.
It shows that you can do anything!