Earlier this year ( I believe in February), I received a phone call from Louise Cooper of Project Athena with some splendid news. I'd been selected to participate in one of Project Athena's adventures -- Keys 2 Recovery (where participants would kayak and bike from Key Largo to Key West).
Project Athena is a 501c3 non-profit foundation that encourages women who've endured life-altering medical setbacks to unleash the Athlete and Adventurer within and complete the journey of a lifetime—whether that's to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, cross the finish line of an Ironman Triathlon, or fall into the arms of a proud family at the end of a local 5K.
Since my diagnosis and treatment, I've been on a mission to keep exploring LIFE and making an intentional decision to live life FULLY ~~~ on and with purpose! The promise of the Keys 2 Recovery trip - it's challenge and expected elation after completion was something I've been looking forward to since I received the call from Louise.
The Keys 2 Recovery adventure is much more than a physical challenge. It's an emotional journey that began from the moment I started hearing the introductions and stories of fellow Athenas & Zeus as well as the gods and goddesses (who fundraised and provided incredible support and encouragement).
Before I turned my first oar, fellow Athena, Amy and I became roomies and quickly seemed to jump straight through and past this thing called stranger. We were kind of hooked at the hip throughout the weekend as much for our differences as our similarities. Before I ever turned a bike pedal, I cried my first tears listening to Kerry Boyatt's story and later that night more tears would come as I listened to my fellow Athenas and Zeus share the reason why the adventure would be impactful. No, I didn't feel sorry for any of them. We are not victims but victors!! Yet, these were tears that shed because I could relate to the rawness of their story -- at times, unadulterated PAIN.
Over the course of three days, we traveled 120 miles ("ISH") on kayak, bike, and foot (for some). We experienced hot nights and wet days - headwinds & choppy waters. Each day, Robyn and the crew (who by the way were PHENOMENAL) - kept us safe, encouraged, mended, fueled, and happy. When you're depleted both physically and emotionally, the people around you from whom you can draw strength are vitally important. Thank God for the caring folks who work with/for Project Athena and to those who support its mission.
I experienced alot of 1sts -- camping, kayaking in the ocean, riding across several bridges on the road with traffic. I mentioned to my kayak mate, Amy, several times while we were on our last paddle to be sure to stop and take in the scenery. We had objectives each day & sometimes the grueling portion of 'getting there' made us forget to stop and gaze out upon the ocean, landscape, or the colorful, tropical, bright buildings along the way.
We live in a GO, DO, REPEAT kind of world. It's easy to get lost in the shuffle & forget to count the many blessings bestowed upon us.
There were so many beautiful moments along the 120 ISH miles between and amongst the group.
*Tents filled with giggles and laughter in the wee hours of the morning and during a thunderstorm.
*A hand on the back of someone who needed it
*A hug to express understanding and empathy
*Tears of joy & pain,
I make a conscious effort to #KeepItMoving. Quite honestly, there is always the lingering thought that tomorrow is not promised. What if I lose the ability to 'move' tomorrow? Keep it moving is more than a motto. It's an appreciation for today! It's a hope for tomorrow! I also aim to #KeepItMoving for my survivor friends who are possibly waging a war with cancer and/or any other setbacks.
This adventure is the culmination of a year in which I aimed to KEEP IT MOVING. It was everything I hoped it would be & so much more. I met and made friends that I know I'll have for a very long time. Our common goal was to overcome and finish! We did that & along the way an inner strength was born or reborn within each of us.
We did it!!
We kept it moving in spite of what might have been meant to hold us back or down. We kept it moving because we did not feel there were any other options. We ..... We ..... We got it done!
3 Sprint Triathlons, A 2 day 30 mile walk, and 120 Mile ISH adventure & loads of training - I am STILL moving. Thank you, Lord !
Thinking ahead to 2016 & hoping that it is filled with all the goodness this year provided to me.
(side note: And, for 48 hours - I have been talking myself into the Santa Barbara adventure with Project Athena June 2016 :-))
Keep it moving (while you're at it - don't forget to stop & enjoy the scenery along the route), CC
For more information about the organization that changes lives - Please visit: