An open heart and an open mind, opens doors and light appears. An unanticipated week in the hospital with pneumonia, I found light.

As pneumonia spread through my lungs, chaotic thoughts raced faster than the intravenous infusing toxins necessary to get me back on a healthy trail. Simply holding awareness in each moment, I moved forward breath by breath. Resisting or fearing this climb, angst about what felt like a detour on my trail, would not lead me back on it.  Life experience has nurtured strength to counter the chaos. I could not control the circumstance though I could control my reaction.

In the wake of my traumatic brain injury, taking my recovery to massifs around the world came with the intention of working towards inner peace. Each trail leading me en route to acceptance of that which I cannot change. Nonresistance, being open and flexible to what life gives, has allowed me to embrace the present. When life hits with a hardball, feels like an endless monsoon, or throws a curveball like pneumonia, flexible thinking cultivates inner peace.  

It is natural to experience agitation and disharmony, equanimity is challenging for the most pure of spirit. My blueprint for the Himalayas included exploring inspiring new mountains in Nepal, running trails leading eventually to Bhutan. The sketch did not include grave health nor recovery that requires respect of my body and patience of my spirit.  However, being flexible in my thinking, not fearing the future rather working to stay present, I am able to find courage to explore what felt like a detour and, at times feels like, storms on my trail.  I am able to see opportunities that have come shedding light.

Challenging myself to accept what is and be flexible with circumstances with a spirit of non-resistance, with an open heart and an open mind, opens doors and light appears. An unanticipated week in hospital with pneumonia in Nepal led me into the hands of compassionate clinicians and company of inpatients and empathetic visitors from across the globe. Heartfelt connections and friendships blooming from a seed of adversity.

Culture spanning the globe constantly publicizes and reminds what is missing in life. Developing deep appreciation for what is rather than what is not, by deliberately taking time to recognize all that there is to appreciate, I am uplifted by the force of gratitude. Following days of visiting their ill friend, a Spanish climbing team walked away from hospital with tear-filled eyes after leaving me with empathetic hugs when their friend was discharged. Empathy breaks language barriers. They have checked on me everyday since. Hearing the sound of my name, spoken with love brightens my smile. Knowing I was alone and had nothing but the clothes on my back, my first roommate returned quickly after discharge with a new set of clothes for me to grace the corridor with. For people I have met in recent weeks and inevitably since my traumatic brain injury, the warmth of smiles, faces contorted with one-eye closed to make me laugh, truth in words, for those who simply listen, believe in me, share knowledge and patience, take interest and lend an eye or a hand, I have infinite gratitude.  For challenges placed along my path which at times can feel like setbacks, obstacles, or battles, for learning and growing from experience and navigating through sunshine and storms, it is not what is missing rather all I have that inspires me to courageously embrace impermanence, keep breathing in gratitude, fearlessly facing uncertainty.

Not conforming to shoulds or giving attention what society tends to suggest is missing, I cast away anxiety. Opinions of where I should be or what I should be doing, many such suggestions were sent my way as what felt like tabloids noting the rocky ridge I stumbled upon travelled through cyberspace. Travel creates opportunities to learn first hand how resources, infrastructure, hygiene, education, procedures are different everywhere one roams. My trail has led to experiencing health care across continents some more complicated than others. Some with rigid standards and pointed protocols, others with sparse sanitation, roaming rodents and crawling critters. Letting go of shoulds, having no expectations or feelings of what healthcare should look like, I am able to create space for better things, compassionate people, learning opportunities and new trails to enter my life.

I celebrate the eyesight I do have and the trail I am able to find light upon rather than giving energy to missing vision. As clear or dark as the sky above, as smooth or rocky as the earth below my feet, keeping peace within is the only should I feel. Feeling like an impassive stranger wandering in dense fog, I respect what my body needs to heal and navigate a healthy trail ahead. I will follow my heart quietly into the Nepalese jungle, a trail shining a little light, a trail I would have otherwise never considered. I will not fight darkness. Like pneumonia, it will pass.

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  1. Judy Gerry says:

    What an interesting read! We admire you more and more with each read.
    You are a very young and amazing woman!
    We so enjoy and love reading of your travels and adventures.
    Take care.
    All the best, Love Judy and Dave

    • mountainsofmymind says:

      Thanks so much Judy and Dave.
      Quite some time now yet I reflect with gratitude for the perspective I was able to see. Creating space for better things, compassionate people, learning opportunities and new trails to enter my life led to more inspiring doors opening here in Nepal. Life experience has taught and provided me strength to find patience, simply breathe and allow the rapids to carry me. – Namaste x

  2. Nadine says:

    Yikes! Pneumonia? Definitely an opportunity in one sense, and wonderful to know people are showing the best of what humans can be. But here’s wishing you a quick recovery so you can get back to the trails soon!

  3. Kellie MacKenzie says:

    Wow Jill! I admire your ability to be able to see the positive in adversity. Reading your posts is really a lesson for me in resilience and looking at the positive. I very much enjoy reading about your travels both through various places but also your travels of self discovery! Thank you for sharing!!

    • mountainsofmymind says:

      Thank YOU so much sharing Kellie!
      Feeling such connections, whether digital or human interaction, certainly fosters reciprocal inspiration and, for me, emotional oxygen to challenge of any mountain no matter how rocky or steep. Thank you for that virtual hugs and sending such bright stars from Sudbury. x

  4. Tom Stevens says:

    There are new tests and old ones. You keep passing them and moving forward. Sometimes the body and mind need to force us to rest and reflect, before advancing.