I am writing a book. I never thought about being an author although I always found writing a powerful avenue for self-expression. When I decided to climb Kilimanjaro, I felt a call to write about the experience, not only to share my training and the climb to the summit but also to record the many coachable opportunities I found along the way.

These last few weeks following the climb, I have allowed my feelings to evolve and take shape, stepping back and bearing witness to what was and remains an extraordinary experience, a “letting in” as a way of opening and “letting go.”

Before the climb, I spoke with my spiritual guide whom I first met in Thailand. I mentioned I was hoping the climb would produce a spiritual experience for me. His sage advice was to stay present and quiet, spend time alone and let my feelings surface without judgment. And off I went.

Then the most surprising thing happened. The call to summit and the journey there and back was the spiritual awakening. The moment I saw the sign that announced arrival at the summit, I began to cry, as an uncontrollable and unexpected explosion of joy and gratitude surged through my body. As I walked towards the sign, I continue to cry, for several minutes, until I came to stillness under the sign where I then sat. Those last steps not only broke me open, they also, as I later recognized, opened me to wholeness.

I have been on a journey of self-awareness and healing for more years than I care to count, taking both baby steps and bigger steps, always looking, searching, exploring and healing. The prior four years with the Ford Institute culminated in extensive inward examination and discovery. Self-love was the elusive goal. I have gotten closer and closer over the years, always thinking I had arrived or at least on my way. Staying in integrity with my word fueled me the most, and I realized, as those tears sprung from my heart, the call to summit was my soul’s call to self-actualization. Reflecting on the whole journey over these years revealed the path the Universe set for me and, without ever knowing it, I now see that this climb was set in time and place as the zenith of all that learning and growth.

The research, training, preparation, accumulation of all the equipment and the endless hours and months of obsession and drive were of a piece with the journey. Readying my body and stepping up and out to do this trek alone at 61 years of age was my way to prove to myself what I can do. I didn’t merely climb Kilimanjaro; I rocked it. I was so well trained I sailed up the mountain. I had no issues with altitude or the daily grind and I was poised and ready for whatever challenge awaited me. It was hard, make no mistake. As I took the last steps to the top, I focused on how my commitment to myself in getting ready avoided injury or illness; I was grateful for how much I devoted to the experience. In looking back, I left nothing to chance, and even as many fellow trekkers got sick and dropped back, I stayed strong and true to myself and my journey.

And yet, it wasn’t until I saw the sign that I knew I had it. Those tears were a combination of relief and gratitude for my guide who assisted me each day and especially the last night to summit. They were tears of gratitude for who I was, how committed I had been and how hard I had trained and prepared. That moment encapsulated who I was and everything I need to be. I am never alone because I always have me. I can cast fear aside because I always have me.

A life-defining search is over. I have arrived. I am here and I am so in love with who I am. I know the journey and self-exploration continues but for now I feel at peace.

Find your call to summit and make it happen. You will not see yourself the same way again; I know I won’t.  Stay tuned for the book.

Sending love, peace and light.