May, 2012

Me at Mt. Kaukau

Yes, that’s me – with a giant antenna sprouting from my head. Consider it a metaphor. I’m named after Pallas Athena, who in Greek mythology is said to have sprung fully armed from Zeus’ head. She was goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration and heroic endeavor among other things. When you are named after someone like that, you feel a little pressure to try to live up to at least a little of the mythology.

In reality, I feel a little like I’m giving birth to a new me. In this picture, I was feeling very alive with a new kind of energy, after hiking up a few hundred steps to get to the top of Mt. Kaukau in Khandallah. It was 8am on a weekend morning and the wind was just starting to whip on the Skyline Walkway.  My friend and I were nearly blown off the mountain  just steps later, as we made our way along the summit pass. My British buddy is fitter than I, having regularly “tramped” with a group of seasoned hikers. They sometimes spend 6 hours a day walking up and down rocky hillsides. I was intrigued by, but not too eager to join such hardy veterans. Instead, I took what I thought was a baby step and invited my friend to join a brand new group called Wellington Women Walking.

The group was put together by a new and fabulous friend’s daughter. She followed her mother, who’d moved to New Zealand, and decided to stay. Now she’s embraced the sporting culture so wholeheartedly, she just completed her first triathlon! Her next challenge is tramping. Her group is starting with some of the best known walks around the capital city. And yes, some walks will take 6 hours. But that’s nothing compared to her end goal. The idea is to train for a much longer, more meaningful walk next  March. The OXFAM Trail Walk: 100 kilometers in 36 hours. Teams of 4 must cross the finish line together. It is NOT a relay race…everyone has to do the full 100k. Oh, and sleeping along the way is not encouraged.

I will admit, when I said I wanted to join the group, I didn’t want to commit to do the big walk. I just wanted to enjoy the scenic hikes, but apparently, I just can’t help myself…I’m giving it a go. Some of my friends wonder why I would sign on for something like this when I finally have a life with no outside pressure, deadlines or expectations?  Clearly, I like a challenge. (Maybe my choosing to be a military wife, tv news reporter, and moving halfway across the globe at the first opportunity might have given me away…)

Our group’s next long walk is this weekend. I’ve been trying to tackle several smaller ones with my friend in preparation. To be honest, I’ve been worried by a few joint issues that have made me doubt if I’ll really be able to make 100k. But I can be satisfied by giving it my best effort. Deciding to work toward a goal like this is exactly why I moved to this wonderful country. I’d like what I do in life to reflect who I am inside and what I believe in; a quest to drill down to and reveal my authentic self, and in the process refine the best parts. It started with sidestepping away from my career, consolidating my belongings and focusing on my family for a while. And although it’s an ongoing process that’s required courage and strength, it continues to reward me with happiness and new experiences along the way.

Now, back to the fun stuff. I’ve mentioned before in my blog that one of my favorite tv shows here is “The Almighty Johnsons”.  It’s a sometimes rather indulgent series about Norse gods who took refuge in New Zealand centuries ago and now walk among us, leading what look like ordinary lives. I love the idea of blending mythology and Kiwi culture, so let’s just say I’m putting my spin on the idea with my own “Pallas Athena” theme. I promise to keep you posted about my attempt, but in the meantime, I want to turn the focus on you… What challenges are you choosing in your life? And what motivates you along the way?  What grand heroic theme may be guiding your way?

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