On my 44th birthday last week, I flew to California for a training at Stanford University. I knew the week would be challenging with the time zone change, the traveling with catheters and a walker, and with the intensity of the training all week from 9-5 during the day.
As you may know about me from reading my blog in recent years, I am always up for a challenge. I am always up for an opportunity to test the limits of my abilities, and was very eager to see how it might go.
I hoped that if nothing else, my excitement for bringing this Stanford developed and researched program to the homeless folks HEP serves would help me through the challenges.
As life usually goes, there were some unexpected challenges and monkey wrenches thrown into the mix as well.
In spite of all of it, I am happy to report that I not only survived it, but rose above the challenges to (dare I say) thrive under all the challenging circumstances. I learned a lot about myself in the process as well.
When I felt like I was in over my head by midweek, all it took was reaching out for some support to feel less so. I did so without hesitation even (yes, I say this almost surprised myself).
I was fortunate that there were several cheerleaders on the other end of the phone at my organization. By midweek, I was also able to get some quality sleep and work on only one time zone instead of splitting between east and west coast times.
During the intensive training that required much attention to a variety of details and processes, I was also still facilitating my online psychology course, compassionately helping others to manage their own difficult emotions, and visited briefly with family I hadn’t seen in nearly a lifetime.
Of course, I missed my dogs terribly and felt a bit disconnected from my own life here on the east coast. I garnered a new appreciation for text messages that served to ease the disconnection, and received lots of updates about the dogs. I met some very cool west coast folks with dogs to get a few dog fixes while away too.
I learned that traveling with a walker is a pain in the ass, but that I was making it more so by always wanting to have it with me on the trip out. I let the airlines take possession and control over it on the way back, which certainly eased that self-imposed challenge.
I learned that I miss learning in that type of environment, and then remembered and could apply everything I knew about research, program development and implementation. It seems like a lifetime ago that I did that stuff, and I didn’t expect that it would come back so easily.
The coolest part was that each day was its own day without much of an effort. If I didn’t do very well in training activities one day, I applied the feedback I received to improve the next. I never let one day negatively influence my performance the next.
My negative performance didn’t negatively influence the quality of time with my family from the west coast either. I was just as present and able to enjoy those times, as well as some other really fun and fascinating experiences outside of the training day.
Having a chronic illness with energy and mobility challenges tends to impose its own limitations without me imposing more in my head. So when I realized that I was doing that, I simply stopped doing it.
I didn’t have to use much effort to be present and open to the opportunities in the moments, and if I had to pick one thing that helped the most through the challenges, that would have to be the biggest one.
While I am happy to be back home with the pups, I couldn’t be more thrilled to have had this wonderful growth opportunity for my birthday!