My Empire of Dirt

“. . .What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end.”

There has been such an outpouring of love and support toward our family.  So much so it hurts to even think about the generosity we’ve seen over the past week and a half.  There are so many beautiful, kind, and thoughtful people in the world.  I am so grateful to know so many remarkable people.  Thank you, all, so much for the love and support.

I’ve thought at lot lately about habits.  I’ve noticed patterns in myself and those around me who are mourning / suffering / trying to make sense of this new life chapter.

When I’m in pain, struggling to deal with circumstances I find myself in, I absolutely cannot sit still.  Not for a moment.  I cannot be still because if I am, the thoughts catch up to me and I am overcome.  As a result I’m in a near constant state of agitation, suppressing anger and frustration and generally doing all that I can to not feel anything.

I drink coffee until late-afternoon then switch to alcohol until bedtime.  I barely touch food, it’s disgusting.  I run and walk every spare second of everyday.  I consume mass media like it’s a drug and consider running away on the back of a comet, out of light, orbit, sound, into perfect delirium.

I cannot touch my yoga mat.  I cannot meditate.  I was able to connect to universal magnetism the first few days I was here, but that feeling is beyond my reach now.  I feel disconnected from so many things, each day more so than the last.  The acts of kindness shown to my family bring me back to feeling, and I am so grateful for them.  But, as soon as I feel myself start to open, I have to get up and run (literally).  Gotta shut that ish down.

That’s raw, but honest.  I’ve grieved like this as an adult before.  I know my tendencies.  I know I will have to go wild for a time before everything will settle itself again.  I know this, and have lost the will to fight it.  I’m not sure it’s something to fight.  It’s like I’m a snake who must shed its skin to process loss.  This is who I am, I guess.  So, there that is.

Mom sees her surgeon tomorrow.  Which is timely.  She’ll go to Seattle next week to be seen at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center before starting chemo.  She’s on disability now and dad is looking for a job.

I will return to Lagos on Monday 25 April.  Everyone keeps telling me not to rush back, but I feel like there are hot coals underneath my feet and I absolutely cannot sit still for another moment.  I need to get away, knowing I’ll be back again in separate trips this June, July, and August.  At a certain point my usefulness here negates itself.

There are so many things I want to unpack, but this blog is far too public and I’m far from being able to understand everything I’m processing.

We’re all a little bit broken, and deserve compassion.  Each person living.  I commit to my lifestyle of non-harming, in hopes I can again find my center.  Eventually.  When the dust settles.

Love and light.

 

‘Silence like a Cancer grows. . .’

Dear Life,

I am breaking.

My mother has terminal cancer.

How could you?

She has worked her whole life in service of others.  Her WHOLE life.

She is an angel.

Please let me keep her.

Please don’t make her suffer.

Dear God, Buddha, Angels, Oceans, and Shaman alike, do not let her suffer.

(please let me keep her!)

I hate you, whoever you are, I hate you so much that if I met you right now I’d kick you in the face.  You are cruel and mean and spiteful.  I hate you.

I also do not completely hate you for reasons I cannot understand. . .

I don’t understand so many things.

I don’t know how to do this.

I don’t know if I can do this.

Life will never be the same, as sometimes happens when the universe cracks open and everything you understood to be right and true is ripped from you.  I do not know where my universe’s center rests without my mother.

I thought dealing with my adoption was hard.  I thought dealing with my divorce was hard.

HA.

I have nothing more to say right now, really, other than when I slow down long enough to think I hurt so much I cannot breathe.

I’ll continue to send all the love I can muster to the beautiful people in my life, the animals, the earth, but I have no love for you, Life.  Not right now.

Dani

 

Timeline:

April 2: my mother is readmitted to the hospital;
April 3-6: tests, tests, tests, tests, tests;
April 7: they finally find a mass in her abdomen;
April 8: my mother learns she has cancer;
April 9: I leave Nigeria for the USA, my mother undergoes massive colon-ectomy;
April 10: I arrive in Arizona, my mother survives surgery but learns she has Stage 4 colon cancer;
“That’s the worst kind,” my dad said when she told me, as if I didn’t already know what Stage 4 meant. I then ran out of the room, out the hospital door, and into the courtyard where I could repeatedly kick an innocent tree until my foot bled. “WHY?!”
April 11, 07:30 AM: doctor says the cancer is definitely curable with chemo;
April 11, 09:30 AM: oncologist says doctor is wrong, the cancer is treatable it is not curable,  I learn the difference between the two words in a very real sense. Her cancer is terminal; terminal. I sleep the night in my mom’s hospital room, curled in her bed and holding her hand for most of it.  How is this reality.
April 12: my father’s 61st birthday, mom allowed clear liquids, subsequent scare with mom’s bowel, a generally awful day;
April 13: waiting, moved up to eating liquid solids;
April 14: portacath inserted for chemo, mom eats first bite of food in 3.5 weeks, And finally mom is released from hospital; the cancer came home with us.

I love you, Mom.  You are my heart.

 

 

 

 

Cycle of Adjustment

cycle-of-vulnerability-and-adjustmentWhen I was in the U.S. Peace Corps they gave us this graph.  It’s the Cycle of Vulnerability and Adjustment!  It explains, chronologically, what volunteers can expect to feel / encounter psychologically at certain points in their tour.

This graph could equally be called the Cycle of Vulnerability and Adjustment for Foreign Service Families!

I remembered this graph recently, while attempting to come to terms with my very real, pervasive bad attitude toward all things Nigeria.  I was again sick with a horrendous case of giardia and feeling trapped and locked in by our security restrictions.  I could not see anything positively.

“Oh, the power went out again?! G** D*** this *blankity-blank* country!”

I was in a dark place.  Though I attribute my lowest-low to my extreme sickness, the weeks preceding this bout weren’t too pretty either.

Enter the graph.  Sure enough, I’m exactly 14-months in to the 24-month tour.  The weeks preceding my blackest moments were smack in the middle of the 13th month.  According to this chart, right during my “Mid-Service Crisis”.

It’s been a rough few weeks, for a myriad of reasons I’m sure.  It’s simply been rough and I don’t have to excuse, qualify, or defend that.

But, it’s unhealthy for me to remain in my dark place.  So, I’m working on it.  And, it is work.  Hard, intentional work.

Some of the methods I’m using:

  1. Trip planning!  We’re anticipating some crazy-amazing adventures during the remaining months of our tour!  First up, Mauritius in March!  We’ll stay at Otentic, Mauritius’ first and only eco-Safari TENT lodge!
  2. EXERCISE!  My darkest days were those when I was too sick to exercise.  I need movement, sweat, and the endorphins that follow, not unlike an addict needs a fix. I am enjoying training for my two up-coming ultra marathons!  Yes, one is never enough for me (remember my addict reference above? It’s a good things I choose not to do drugs. . .).  A month after my 50k in Italy I’ll be running a 50-miler in my home state of Washington!  The White River 50 Mile Endurance Run in the shadow of Mount Rainier, the backdrop to my childhood!  I’m excited.  I booked a lodge for my grandma and I to stay in before and after the race (my grandma won’t be racing, don’t worry).

    Mount Rainier National Park

    Mount Rainier National Park

  3.  My family.  Which, of course, means my cats Artemis & Apollo and the mister!
  4. YOGA.  Moving meditation saves me.  When my mind is clouded it’s hard for me to get on my mat.  But, I’m doing it anyway.  When I keep my intention on clearing my mind from clutter, it helps.
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  5. Alkaline eating.  We have such limited access to healthy foods here.  In fact, the healthier you eat (lots of leafy greens, etc) the more likely you are to get giardia or other parasitic infections!  It’s true!  How depressing is that?  However, there are many creative ways for me to eat healthy and stay within neutral alkalinity.  I’m taking many recent cues from this fantastic book and recommend it to anyone!  Also, apple cider vinegar, tea instead of coffee, plus no processed foods does wonders for the pH balance!
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Thank you for reading!  You are enough and I’m grateful for you!

Onward(assignment)&up(date)

Friends!  I’m no good at blogging these days.  It’s partly because the holidays were somewhat busy, and work has been as well.  It’s also partly because it’s harder to find what’s blog-worthy when the routine is so fixed!

We’re ~14-months in Nigeria now.  That’s pretty crazy, but I’m okay with it (I’m a month returned from R&R #2, and while I’m glad not to be traveling anymore. . . .well, claustrophobia’s arrived, right on time!) So, only 10-months remain before we finish this tour!  I get up everyday at 4 AM, workout for an hour +, work at my desk job, come home and workout again for an hour +, rinse, repeat!

Which leads me to finally write what I’ve been intending to since Friday 18 December. . . .
Our onward assignment
We got our official onward assignment!  It was a Friday night, and the mister and I were sitting on our balcony.  I was coloring and he was looking at this phone.  We weren’t chatting, just relaxing, nothing heavy on the mind.  All of a sudden, an email notification pinged on the mister’s phone and he blurts out, “we’re going to [COUNTRY NAME HERE].”

I felt like I’d been SLAPPED squarely across the face.  Then punched firmly in the stomach.

I was in SHOCK.  Cold, hard, legitimate shock!! No freaking way!

 

After processing and getting over the initial shock, of course I realized I was really excited about our onward assignment (not the forced excitement, but legitimately excited because, well, just wait and see where we’re headed!). . . .

. . .San Jose, Costa Rica, baby!
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Yep!  June 2017 we’re packing up the Diplocats and heading South of the US border to live (for the first time!) until June 2019!  COSTA RICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How amazing is that?!?!?!?! COSTA RICA!!!!!

So it’s 10-more months in Nigeria (ETD 1 December 2016) following by six-months back in Washington, DC for training, then two years in Costa Rica!!!!!!!!!

Which leads me to my second update. . . .
Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (500-hours)
I’m going back to teaching yoga full-time!  Not immediately, I still have my desk-job here, but on return to DC and definitely while I’m in Costa Rica!  And, to help me do that with enhanced success. . . .I applied for, and was accepted into, Mark Stephens Yoga’s Advanced 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training in Santa Cruz, California!  WHAT?!

That I’m stoked to get my 500-hour is an understatement.  I’m beyond stoked.  I love yoga, and its study, so much.  I am so excited for this opportunity!
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Cortina Trail Ultra-Marathon!
My final update for this post is to clarify what my next race-venture would be!  I hinted at it in previous posts (something in Italy!). . .but it’s official!  A friend and I are training for the Cortina Trail Ultra-Marathon in the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy!  WHAT?!?!
Foto
Photo Credit: Corsain Montagna.

Our training schedule is geared toward injury-prevention and getting as strong as possible. . . because, well, there are no mountains around here to train on (remember the circles and circles running around our one-gated community?).  I’ll gladly share some training techniques in subsequent posts.

But, for now, consider this an official UPDATE!!!

 

The Books of 2015

Yes, it’s–more or less–that time of year again!  Like last year I will list the books I read this calendar year!

And, just like last year, why not include the following as well!

Some other bests of 2014 2015:

Movie:  I watched so few this year. . . .maybe. . . .Star Wars? (though, I fell asleep).

Concert: I didn’t go to any!😦

Job: Self-employed yoga teacher in Lagos, Nigeria!

Holiday travel: this year I added 7 new countries to the “where I’ve been list” and loved them all:  Ghana, Spain, Georgia, Benin, Togo, Argentina, Chile!

Life lesson(s): (1) Good for [her/him/them] not (necessarily) for me; (2) everything is what it is.

Now, the book list*:

*Editor’s note:  2015 was the year of really, really good literature!  I read a lot of amazing books.  A lot!  Hard to pick a favorite, but Solnit is simply magic.

**Editor’s note’s note:  Any book with a * is absolutely recommended to any person.  In fact, I beg you to read!

Best book of 2015:  A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

And, now, in chronological order, the stories that filled my mind for the past 12-months:

  1.  Euphoria by Lily King**
  2. Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  3. Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill
  4. Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole
  5. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  6. Missoula by Jon Krakauer*
  7. The Map Thief by Michael Blanding
  8. Empire of Sin:  a Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist
  9. A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit***
  10. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  11. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  12. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng*
  13. We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
  14. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain*
  15. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  16. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  17. The Dinner by Herman Koch
  18. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit***
  19. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  20. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff**
  21. Dear Life by Alice Munro
  22. The Martian by Andy Weir
  23. Facing East by Carol Lynn Pearson
  24. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
  25. Purity by Jonathan Franzen
  26. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  27. Zeitoun by Dave Egers
  28. The Cartel by Don Winslow
  29. The Circle by Dave Egers*
  30. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson*
  31. Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
  32. The Life we Bury by Allen Eskens
  33. Eat and Run by Scott Jurek
  34. Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani

Let’s play CATCH-UP!

It’s been a MONTH since I last wrote in my blog.  This always happens when I travel, which I suppose isn’t the worst thing.  But, then, on return, I always have a ton of things to catch up on and so I put off writing forever!

I’m one week returned from the most amazing month-long vacation in the history of the planet.  Everything about my trip to the end of the earth was incredible.  Everything!

Not least of which was the trek through Torres del Paines in Patagonian Chile.  It was phenomenal.  Absolutely magical on every possible level.  I went into the wilderness and found myself electrified.  I was so vividly ALIVE.  I am a soul drawn to, invigorated and nourished by, nature.  It is my source.  Nothing felt as natural, as energizing, as perfectly calming as that week away from everything.  I was able to push my body physically, while carrying everything I needed to survive on my back, and come out unscathed (despite being several pounds lighter and missing a toenail).  I can pick up the weight needed to sustain me and carry it long distances, and I can do it with enjoyment.  No.  Not enjoyment, with utter jubilance.

For such experiences was I born, and to such experiences will I always return.  Pushing myself physically brings me to a place so spiritual, and personal, it’s impossible to recreate in words.  It simply restores me, realigns my vibrations and tunes them back in to something uniquely harmonious.

If anyone is considering trekking TDP, please feel free to write with questions.  I will gladly answer!

This trip was magic.  I am so grateful.

Now. . . photo dump with a bit of explanation and on to the next post which includes. . . .OUR ONWARD ASSIGNMENT!  First, Torres del Paines:

Then, we went to Tucson, USA to spend time with my family!  We went legitimate caving (as in crawling on hands and knees) for SIX-hours!  Went to several classical concerts with my Mom (plus mother daughter book SHOPPING!  My dad and I went on a 26-mile solid uphill hike from the base of Sabino Canyon to the Summit of Mount Lemmon.  I did our second Consumables Pack-Out, items to arrive in Nigeria in 3-4 months!  And, my dad and I did a marathon FIVE-MILE SWIM.

Then the mister left and my family and I went to Mexico for a proper beach vacation!  I ran miles and miles on that beach, and kayaked in the ocean!  I also read an entire book cover-to-cover in one day while in Mexico.  Reading is my second favorite thing to endurance events. I LOVE getting lost in a great book.

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Then, after 36-amazing days of wonder and delight, I returned home to these two wonderful faces:

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The world is magic!  I am restored.  Love, light, and namaste, friends!

Going off the grid!

ive been slow to update as the internet’s been weak! 

Patagonia is magic. It pulses with an energy that permeates your core, reverberating that everything is going to be………..

Love and light! Welcoming positive energy as we begin our trek! I am indeed nervous! Catch you in a week, for United States’ Thanksgiving at the bottom of the world!

   
    
    
    

    
 

A Walk in Buenos Aires

a few days safe arrived in Buenos Aires!! Mostly recovered from jet lag thanks to being able to fly the 13,000-miles from Lagos in first class!!

We’re in BA as a gateway for what’s to come in America del Sur next week. So we’re mostly taking it easy, going on long walks, and eating at amazing places! 

For example yesterday we walked more than 8-miles for good coffee.:-) sorry not sorry:-).

It’s kind of hard to have the routine disrupted while traveling, but it’s not impossible to stay fit and healthy! Walk to explore the new locale! Eat fresh and non-processed foods! Drink plenty of water! Easy enough!:-)

Now…photo dump!

   
    
   

Love and light to Beirut, Paris, and all those who suffer, anywhere. More love, please!

    
  

First Class and Galveston Island!!

in which we flew first class for our flight from Lagos to Houston…13-hours!!! And spent our 14-hour layover in the USA in Galveston, Texas. And then got upgraded AGAIN to first class on our fupcoming 11-hour flight from Houston to Buenos Aires, Argentina!!!

I mean…what more can I say?!

Galveston was so unique! Today has been exhausting in ways only international travel can be, but fun in the way exhausting international travel can also be!

I look forward to no longer being in transit, though. My need to workout and eat healthy food at reasonable hours trumps all!

Without further ado…photodump  for the day! Blue hair, skies, and a few of my Mrrrrka must-haves!:-)  
    
    
   

Leaving on a jet plane

. . .in which: there’s only one more sleep til we’re OFF!  Across the world and back again over the next 37-odd days!  I will miss my CATS!!!! Flying first class for FREE!!! Blue hair, don’t care! A recovery update! A hint of my next big fitventure! And other randoms! 

Increasingly, as trips approach, my excitement becomes replaced with something more closely resembling a form of pre-departure homesickness?

I’m not even sure that’s a thing.  But, since moving to Nigeria with each trip (work-related especially) I’m overwhelmed by a strong desire NOT to go anywhere.  Instead, I feel this desperate need to root in place.  This insatiable need to stay inside my apartment and snuggle my cats.  The thought of leaving my cats behind, really and truly, destroys me!12189051_1050384411667877_7366456116916110290_nPerhaps it’s that Nigeria isn’t the safest of places to live.  I really can’t undercut how much that must still weigh on my psyche (even though I don’t think about it much anymore.  Safety procedures are so routine by this point).  So, leaving behind something I love so much in a place so potentially volatile (my animals!) is an anxiety inducing experience.  I think I need to own that reality a bit, and sit with it.  There’s nothing wrong with it, in fact, it’s probably quite normal under our semi-locked down existence.
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Anyway, so, yes, I’m looking forward to an adventure, and anxious about it at the same time!
12219359_10153343407987144_5947369502070279531_nI mean, look at how adorable my babies are!!!!!!!!!!!

What is helping with the pre-departure homesickness is the fact that somehow the universe shifted in such a way that we worked a connection to get FREE upgrades to first class for the longest part of our flight to Argentina!  From Lagos to Houston, Texas, USA, aka 13-hours of ouch, we’ll be riding in style!
united-787-8-90lrwI’ve flown business class for free on a long-haul flight from Tokyo to Chicago one time in 2011 and first class for free from Moscow to London in 2010. So this?  Well, this is like the total best thing ever and I cannot wait!

In other news, as promised, in an effort to reclaim a bit of what I consider my authentic self, I dyed portions of my hair blue over the weekend!  The photo doesn’t really capture the full effect, and I plan to add more blue tonight, but, let me tell ya, it’s fun!
12042669_1053000628072922_5150191800971562055_nMy workouts have been pretty strong lately.  After more than a month of feeling somewhat discouraged, it looks like my hip really is. . . .FINALLY. . . .healing.  There’s still some pain when I do certain movements.  But, it no longer hobbles me to a limp, nor hurts excessively when I sit or walk.  I’m still not running much (only five runs since my last marathon, the longest of which was 2-miles!), but that’s okay.  I’d rather not be injured anymore:).  And, I’m definitely, finally, turning the corner with my hip pain! Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:-) Makes me wanna. . . ..JUMP!:-)
591e695cb5b57022884c5f1ff183e07aJust in time, too, because when I get back from this super long trip, I‘ll be registered for my next big fitness adventure in a foreign country with really big mountains. . .to be announced (but here’s a hint!)! :-)!

Finally, I’m participating in Fit Approach’s Sweat Pink Ambassador’s Holiday Gift Exchange!  It’s such a fun idea!  I just ordered and shipped the present for the woman I was paired with (I got her a running vest she wanted!)!  Excited to see how this all plays out!  So fun!  Sweat Pink!:-)984411And, all that talk of gifts got me thinking what I’d want to “gift” myself this holiday season😉.  So, I finally “broke down” and ordered a 23 and Me kit!  It’s being shipped to my parents’ house in Arizona and I’ll submit my spit sample (he he) when I’m there in December!  Really excited, as an adoptee, my heritage is ambiguous at best!  Cannot wait to learn more!!!
JMTAZcDJiG29i-jpqIa2nQ_kit_standingSo, well, that’s about it for now! The next time I write it’ll be from my iPhone somewhere on the other side of the world!  Which, by the way, usually messes with my html something fierce, so bare with me!:)

Love and light!  Catch ya on the flip side!