Up five stitches, down a front tooth, the sky was laughing at me as tears fell through the wrath of thunder on a new September 3rd.

Powerful winds gathered storm-clouds together, lightning flashed over alps while thunder muttered in a voice of resistance. Following a prospering season of growth, inspiration and sunshine, August stormed out and September approached like a fierce monsoon.

Akin to early stages of a thunderstorm, summer sun in central Europe warmed me. A comforting embrace not felt since early days in hospital welcomed me to Switzerland. New trails and new friends inspired in the shadows of the Eiger. Zermatt, the toblerone herself, her terrain, her trails, irresistible.  The sun bestowed it’s golden rays on Monte Rosa as I ran around her snowy playground. Chamonix connected Manaslu mountain friends making for deep conversation, belly aching laughs and a reminder of the good that has grown from the adverse.

Cool air started to greet mornings,  the sky turned dreary and clouds began to form. Winds creeping from every direction, raindrops started to fall as I circumnavigated the Matterhorn. I could not control the storm nor predict its path. I could control my reaction to it yet I struggled. All the tools in my kit, protective gortex and glasses with lenses of perspective seemed barely enough to weather as a relentless downpour worked hard to defeat; to bring me down with all its might.

Trail running mishaps, insurance calamities with unfound empathy, thundering sounds of rejection and abandonment played on repeat. Up five stitches and down one front tooth, the sky was laughing at me, my tears the rain sobbing through the wrath of thunder. I tried hard to laugh along with it though throbbing TBI headaches strike flashes of the unforgettable storm called Station 44, the Neurosurgical Unit.

Reality is setbacks, like storms, are always possible and storms can hit seemingly out of nowhere. The gales of September 3rd, 2014 cannot be changed, forgotten, edited or erased yet this year’s anniversary hit hard. Progressing towards acceptance of my trail, with increasing consistency, I am able to reflect with gratitude for the support that has helped flourish me and the ways my roots have grown. However, the recent commemoration left me hiding for cover. The storm surged.

Equanimity is challenging in the wind. Amidst the thunder the only thing that felt easy was atrophy of body and mind; to succumb to the storm’s fierce path. I struggled to stay grounded yet experiences such as that of Station 44 render impermanence; the storm will not last forever. Time to dig deep into my foundation. Time to nurture kindly with everything needed to thrive on this mountainous trail: water, nutrients, love and light.

Love and light, glimmers of hope in the storm. Purposefully beginning each day with a note of gratitude mindful that no matter how defeating the storm may feel, there is always something to feel grateful for. There is something positive amidst every storm.  The friendly wave of a local bus driver, a college roommate reaching out and sharing  with admiration, a long-lost friend turned teacher keen to connect me to her class’ year-long theme of resilience, a former colleague picking up on gallery captions and checking in, a driver turned reliable friend offering support in every form, a  call from California, affirmations of an admired author, predawn river runs, a flattering invitation: holding tight to such acts of kindness, breaks in the storm, fosters strength to keep facing the whirlwind.

My breath is my anchor. An empty tank on a trail, a standoff with breakfast, a breakdown in the grocery store, a visa revoked, an unforeseen resignation, feelings of abandonment and rejection, circumstances beyond my control and reminders of loss; when my mind takes me away from the present moment, I am learning through the storm; learning to come back to my breath.

Patience has not come easily in the wake of my accident. Shocking surprises, rushing, and multitasking instigate overwhelm and confusion, inhibit insight and perspective. Breathing mindfully with patience allows me to work deliberately and at my own pace, allowing me to rebuild pathways in my brain. Amoung the tools and strategies taught in neurorehabilitation, and that therapy has encouraged, my breath gets the star for reliability.

My roots will grow stronger from overcoming adverse storms. When looked upon for their capacity to nurture, to purify the earth and restore life in both wildflowers and harvests,  frightening storms can be cleansing, refreshing learning experiences. Once storms’ pass they fill the air with a fresh smell of inspiration and renewed hope; the horrors evoked by the storms are opportunities, lessons of strength. The end result of any storm is contingent upon perspective, how I approach and respond to it. When roaring winds begin to howl, thunder comes crashing, and billowing clouds hover, I seek to find the awe inspiring aspects of the storm, breathe in the moment mindful of the droplets of rain which leave sparkling reminders and shine under the bright sun when storms clear. The wildest flowers do not flourish all year. Blooms will return. A rainbow will appear.  

A catalyst spurring growth, this storm captured my attention. I will listen to it, learn from it and breathe through it.  The storm will dissipate, they always do. Until then, I will not let it cast shadows on my trail ahead.

When the roots are deep, there is no need to fear the wind. ~ African Proverb

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  1. Your Biggest Fan says:

    WHAT?! You lost a tooth? DUDE! Where’s the pic of that?! 😉
    I can’t imagine going through this experience – you’re a machine and the definition of resilience! 🙂 <3

    • mountainsofmymind says:

      Thank you YBF – yes, a front tooth! Down one tooth and one eye. Thankful everyone is on the Beauty Comes from Within bus. – Pictures are between me and the dentist for now. Some things are best saved for another time and place. x

  2. Tom Stevens says:

    I’ve had a few storms that I survived lately. I take inspiration from your writing and forge on. I envy your ability and inner compass.

    • mountainsofmymind says:

      Sorry to hear that storms have been testing you Tom; pleased to know you are finding inspiration and forging on. Hopefully you continue to find strength to weather all that the storms bring in those Rocky mountains. May you find energy in knowing someone keeps you close in thought, through whatever the weather brings, with admiration from the Himalayas.