The Challengers

On the walls of the day
In the shade of the sun
We wrote down
Another vision of us
We were the challengers of
The unknown     (lyrics from “The Challengers”)

I have been on vacation for two weeks.  Though it’s not the first time I have taken such an extended time off (people asked at work, “What are you?  French???” If only! Mais oui!), It feels like it might as well be since the change in me is profound.

The first week was spent with my sister visiting from Europe along with her kids and husband.  We rented a beach house near Ventura and Shaka and my dad joined as well.  Normally family vacations though well-intended can feel like a pressure-cooker of past grievances.  But it was such an enjoyable time (aside from my sister almost choking on rice and me panic-stricken in the ocean way past my depth trying to rescue my nephew, but I digress) and I even worked on my video projects.  First one is soon to come!  It was awesome to see dolphins and sea lions every day, as we surfed and chatted and fell down and laughed.  The sunsets seemed more vibrant while not having a rush-hour steering wheel clenched in my fists.

vacation

As if time with the family wasn’t enough of an identity reminder, the next week, as Shaka went back to work, my dad went back home and my sis and fam headed back across the pond, I found myself in a staycation of the best sort.  I converted my old audio cassettes to mp3s and I got another shot in the arm of my past (I also realized how annoying I was in these old recordings – but bygones : )

And it comes out to this… I like where I came from (I never thought I would say that).  I like where I am today even more.  I feel more empowered by excavating my memories and putting them in appropriate mental files (as well as actual Windows files – ha).

So with all this blissed-out, love-fest, vacation-girl time, I wondered why I still felt a sense of panic.  A feeling that the other shoe was going to drop.  The internal dialogue sometimes sounded like an external dialogue of theatrical proportions as I was driving around town, working out my worries.

I decided I was going to put old fears in a suitcase that gets lost in a transatlantic flight.  And then dropped in a fire pit.  And doused with forget-me-nots…uh, I wanted it gone.

Progress was underway.  I was driving around, not realizing how hot it was getting and how exhausted I was.  That night, Shaka came home and noticed I seemed listless.  I had a headache and neck ache and felt like I had lost all strength.  Then, right after dinner (with black rice – sooo healthy – sooo hard to find), I threw up.  Shaka looked up signs of a female heart attack – I had most of them.  I scoffed.  It was just hot.  It was just a tiring day.  But I promised him that the next day, I would call the doctor.

I awoke very refreshed but keeping my promise, I called.  The on call nurse wanted me to come into the ER.  WHAT?

Now I was nervous and started to imagine that I was having a heart attack right THEN.

6 hours later, EKGs, Xrays, all kinds of lab work and consultations and a Dr. Oz episode with a segment of women under 55 who have heart attacks (naturally I assumed this was a sign that I was never leaving that hospital bed) – it turns out, I had just experienced a vacation-induced Panic Attack.  Drama much?  If my old cassettes had proven anything, I hadn’t changed all that much.

hospital me

A clean slate feels pretty good (see happy face above – No Pain)

This weekend, Shaka and I headed to our friends’ place in Corona to celebrate birthdays, anniversary, last days of summer (tell that to the weather) and to ground ourselves with a meditation.

Plus there was wine and lots of it.; yummy food, good friends and pool time.  We all felt a bit like we had been tumble-dried this summer with life events.  Many of us had been awakened by physical problems to shift our thinking.  It was very comforting to know that we were not alone with some of what we had been experiencing.  I mean, just turn on the news or sports and you’ll know – the world is crazy lately!

What a balm, a salve, a healing, a …you get it.  It was good.

I made a mixed cd for the hostess.  One of the songs was an older one from the New Pornographers called, The Challengers.

I love the tune. But there is something even more powerful about the lyrics – like we are cutting a swath through this strange plain of existence.

In the end, all these details, all these emotions don’t really matter.  We only have to exist from cradle to grave and experience it all – for good or bad.  But I am grateful for my family, for my relationship, for my friends, for the adventures of the past two weeks.  Grateful for the challenges of what it means to be human and for all these emotions and all these details because they are what make us unique in our common experience.  To be challenged is natural.  How we handle it, is how we learn.

“Until I see you around
Until we clear the accounts
Leave it there
Leave it to us
We are the challengers of
The unknown”

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