Sunday, April 11, 2010

Flower Power

Who knew the desert could be so colorful? Rare are those occasions when wildflowers bloom, their bright petals turning the dusty landscape ablaze with color and life.

I've always loved flowers - even though I'm a notorious plant killer. I've got my Mom to thank for this one, not the killing part. The beautiful plants and flower part. She's got the most incredible garden and green thumb of anyone that I know, and one step into my parent's house and one is greeted with the earthy smell of potted plants, fresh flowers, and orchids.

I love it.

With this in mind, Nathaniel and I decided to harness the healing power of plants, flowers and all-things-Mother-nature-like, and enjoy a hike near the Anza Borrego Desert (currently in full bloom).

But before I share the beautiful flowers, I need to say something.

Constantly being sick, feeling ill, wondering about my long-term health hasn't been easy. Its been tough, going from racing Ironman Hawaii to being unable to enjoy the lifestyle that I once did. Scary, unnerving, frightening, NOT fair, NOT fun...and filled with worry about why this is happening to me.

After I broke my back, I tried to pretend that everything was okay and convince myself that it was a GREAT thing and that therefore everything would be SUPER. But during that process I lost sight of and completely ignored my true feelings - which (in part) lead to major depression.

Luckily, I've since learned my lesson, and today feel totally prepared to deal with my lack of training, lack of racing.

I've tried to remain as true to myself as possible through this blog. Call it as I see it, one bout of illness after another. And I know that I'm definitely NOT the only person who writes about their journey - the struggles, the hardship, the good and bad, the promise... I try to keep it real; to keep it me. I make no apologies for writing about sinus infection # __________, or about my health struggles.

There may be some who are tired of reading about it, tired of seeing my walk/hike photos. Well, get in line - I'm tired of it too. But it doesn't change the fact that it is happening to me and I have little control over what my body decides to do (or not do). On the flip side, hiking and going for walks is where I feel the most like myself. I'm outside, working towards a goal, learning about myself in the process, and staying physically active -

Which is what I miss so incredibly much.

And if you've had enough of my illness, get in line behind me first and then - you can find another blog to lurk. Because this is MY life; if you're tired of reading about it, you are not welcome here. Imagine for a moment, if you were left wondering, week after week - why you kept getting sick, trying one remedy after another, never entirely sure if what you were doing will work or not. Would you be scared? Would you wonder about your future - let alone your future in sport? What if it was your Mom, Dad, spouse, or friend?

I refuse to give up and will keep searching for answers as long as it takes. And I'll keep writing. The support I've received has been overwhelming; and for that I'm grateful. And at the end of the day, I know that I'm not alone with my struggle - there are others who endure much worse.

I don't usually say anything like this, but for you, Anonymous - I'll make an exception.

For everyone else - thank you for your support. This community is a GREAT one, and I'm truly lucky for the amazing friends I've made.

Now - the power of flowers.

Who knew the desert could bloom? We snapped a few shots on the way to Villager Peak. No - we didn't summit, as the path (or lack thereof) was pretty terrifying. The technical parts of the climb were well beyond or experience, and after finding ourselves on the edge of a 4,000 foot sheer rock face - we did the smart thing.

First: Carefully navigated back towards the trail-like thing we were on before we got there.

Second: Sit down and lean away from the edge. Hold back the tears (that was all me).

Third: Realize that while reaching the summit would be fantastic, that any idiot can make it to the top - but it takes guts to turn around when you can see the peak, but don't feel safe making an attempt. Yes, we still had an additional 700 feet to climb in just over half a mile - but the wind was picking up and for the lives of us, we could NOT find the trail. Period.

Fourth: Descend to a safe spot and cook lunch with great views overlooking the desert floor on one side, and Salton Sea on the other.

Fifth: Pick out the M&Ms from the GORP.

A few shots from our day...

Morning sunrise over the Anza Borrego
Posing before our adventure. The "hill" that we climbed is the claw-like feature over Nathaniel's left shoulder - a little over a mile from where we parked. We followed the ridge-line, wide at first, but narrowing dangerously later on.
Throughout the day, we followed stones pile atop other stones...called "ducks", as our only trail markers.
Finally climbing! (Up up up the claw-like feature...very steep, with a crude trail hacked into the side. Incredible at the same time)
Slopes of Villager, looking towards Rattlesnake Spring Finger.
Nathaniel + flowers + backdrop of desert.
Flowers in bloom...with one of the largest North American scarps (part of the San Jacinto fault) in the background.
More plants in bloom...
One of many sheer cliff drops - somewhere between 3,500-4,000 feet.
Do you see a trail? Our turnaround point somewhere around 5,000 feet.
"We will have lunch somewhere over there!"
Happy to be descending!
One of the many narrow saddles we trekked over. Thankfully there was no loose stone on this one. Interestingly enough (from a geological standpoint) - the white marble you see are some of the oldest rocks in Southern California. Fascinating topography...
Blooming cactus.
Many cacti on the lower slopes.
Large Pineapple Cactus.
Farewell flowers! See you next year!


SSB said...

I love desert flowers. It's such a contrast in beauty.

San said...

1. Beautiful pictures and flower and hike

2. It's your blog, it's your right to write about whatever comes to your mind and if it's the fantastic color of your socks today and the pair of socks you wore yesterday and what color of socks you'll buy next. Whoever comes here is free to leave. It's their problem not yours.

3. Being sick sucks, I'm right there with you though it's my knee and not my nose.

4. Ahhh, run out of comments. ;-P

You'll be fine eventually and I'll stick with your blog. Have a good new week.

Pedergraham said...

Hi Marit, now I feel bad because I've been meaning all last week to send you an email to tell you how much I've enjoyed seeing your hiking pictures. Of course, I have bee trapped in bed with a sinus headache for most of the week and when I ask the doctors why I keep getting sick, this week I heard a new one: "it is just a phase you are going through." !!!! I think the next phase is menopause???? Anyway, I wish I could wave my wand and make you better because you've been sick for long enough. And, as far as being a faithful reader, bring it on. Snots, coughs, catheters, neurologists, urologists, deployments, along with all the fun like kitties, desert flowers, reading books at REI (my fave), practicing violin, noontime masters swims, coastal bike rides, and hilly runs. I wouldn't want you or your blog any other way.

Pedergraham said...

PS I would read about your socks, too!

ADC said...

Beautiful photos. I am glad you are enjoying the time with Nathaniel. As for your blog, I LOVE reading it. I cannot believe I have been reading it for over a year now - time flies. Just keep doing what you're doing. It is your life and your blog. I often think that I bore people with my stuff about how much I miss Shaun etc. but it is MY life and my blog.

Zora said...

Oh Marit - how beautifully you see the world, and how beautifully you write about it! There is not too much I miss about Burbank, California (where I grew up), but I do miss flowers, desert and ocean - three of nature's very best gifts to us. On the other hand, Anonymous got short changed by nature - he/she was not given a sense of empathy, a sense of tolerance, or a sense of compassion. He/She experiences only some of existense - just sees the drudgery of gardening, the emptiness of the desert and the salt of the ocean. If anything, feel sorrow for him/her for he/she is only half a person.

Sherry said...

Hugs to you, Marit. You are a fighter. Keep your chin up. You WILL get answers.

Gorgeous pics! Gorgeous! I wish that I had someplace like that around here to go to and just zen out. Ahhh... would be so nice. :o)

GoBigGreen said...

Oh bummer. I guess all I can say is patience has been my mantra with rich at mayo and knowing he and you will come thru this stronger! I love your blog
and I love hiking pics. We all can write race reports
till the cows come home bug we all can't see dessert flowers!
R u coming home this summer?
Hugs and hang in there

Trigirlpink said...

Hi Mz Marit.
I'm saving my kitty wine for this WEEKEND! Even though I can't bike or run yet (grrrrrrr) it's marathon weekend and Rob is coming down from Maine and I WILL CRACK OPEN MY WINE and be nice and share it. :-)

You live in an awesome place. Those pix are so beautiful.


Angela and David Kidd said...

Looks like an amazing hike. I don't know what a GORP is but if it's a flower with M&Ms growing from it than I want to try and grow one of those in my home.

And you will figure your health out, it may take longer than you'd like, but you and your doctor will figure it out. And it's your blog and your journey and I'm glad you are not letting some lame ass anonymous poster deter you from telling your story.

Trigirlpink said...

It's me again... I somehow missed the posting AFTER the Easter earth quake.

Sinus infection? NOOOOOOOOoooooo!

Hang in there...

cherelli said...

I love your blog Marit, you have such a skill with translating thoughts and feelings onto "paper" and you sure have had a heck of a journey over the past few years (even before I started reading). I really hope you can trace your heath problems back to a cause so you can right it once and for all. In the meantime though, I definitely think there is a connection between mind and body so it's great you're spending time in the outdoors hiking and nurturing your spirit - and having the time to take some beautiful photos; what a stunning hike! And you caught the ocotillo in bloom - neat! We only saw one in full bloom down in Joshua Tree a couple of months ago. Oh - and I am so the second generation gardener too, my Mum is like the "orphaned plant Mum" - she can make any tired looking abandoned plant or cutting grow into a beautiful plant. Me...I'm a green thumb wannabe...but trying! Love your work Marit - keep it up!

Teresa said...

I am so glad you are doing your best to enjoy the gorgeous hikes. There is life beyond triathlon and you are experiencing it to the fullest.

It is so often about the journey and when dealing with sickness it is out of your control. You are doing your best to get better and you will be stronger than EVER when you return.

PS. I am so sorry there are such mean people in this world. Please don't waste another minute on a "nobody". Keep doing what you are doing and keeping it real.

Big smile!


Kathrin said...

Hello Marit,

Have a great day and keep plucking along! It is going to get better!

From a lurker, but a supportive one! ;-)

PS: The blog has your name on it, you do whatever you want with it!

Anonymous said...

I'm just catching up here..... are you STILL SICK SISTER? OMG, I am so sorry. I know you hate this.

But you are moving in the right direction, stay the course!

Anonymous said...

I'm just catching up here..... are you STILL SICK SISTER? OMG, I am so sorry. I know you hate this.

But you are moving in the right direction, stay the course!

Midwestern Dot said...

Awesome pictures!
Screw anyone else, this blog is for you and about you! Go Marit!

Heidi Austin said...

beautiful marit and thanx for sharing!!!! i love hearing about your life and how you truly feel. you cant fake the funk. for ANYONE that has ever been through trauma/illness like you knows that the healing comes from dealing with the now and present. NOT trying to pretend everything is all roses... obviously your anonymous lurker knows nothing of this.

sending many hugs your way girl! hope you continue to heal :)

Stacy said...

Keep your spirits up Marit! I know you are in good hands now!
Was great to see you yesterday. Thanks for the support. I totally heard you out on the course :)

Stef said...

The Blooming Cactus pic is my favorite! They are blooming over this way too.

Take CARE! :-)

Molly said...

Who could possibly be sick of your hike pictures and stories??? I'm just glad to see updates from you and that you're getting some enjoyment out of life, even if it isn't the things you most want to be doing yet. That stuff WILL come back and I'm glad you are filling your time well in the meantime. Stay strong, Marit!!! Wish you could visit us all on Facebook more :-)

Beth said...

Love, love, love the pictures again! It's such a different landscape than from there I live. When I finally come for my visit we must hike!! (and eat Noodles afterwards of course :)

Hope you are feeling a little better this week!

Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) said...

First of all, I cannot even imagine what it must be like for you still not to have any answers as to why you keep getting sick. I can only imagine that it must be very frustrating and scary. I truly hope that you get some answers and your road to health comes sooner rather than later.

I actually love reading about your hikes b/c I love hiking so much and I haven't been able to do it in a long time. It's hard to get up to the mts. when you have two little ones. Keep the posts coming...good, bad, sad, happy, whatever...I'll be reading them all! :)

SSB said...

Sorry about your anonymous commenter. I finally turned off anonymous comments, people can still leave a comment with no real name attached, but it's a little more effort. I just don't understand why people read blogs if they don't like them.

Alili said...

Marit - Do you know why I read your blog? Because you are REAL. Honest. Raw. A Survivor. Strong. Diversely Talented. Witty. Shall I go on? You have friends from coast to coast that are on this journey with you, good, bad and sniffling. :)

Melissa said...

Hi Marit. I've been lurking for a bit (fellow-Jen H athlete, but I'm taking this season off to make a baby). I think your blog is great, you don't hide what you are feeling and all the road bumps you are going through right now. Life happens with, around, and outside of training & racing.

Plus, like Beth said, I love the pictures b/c they are so different than where I live.

I also like when you post pics of the furries :-)


maija said...

I like seeing your hike pictures!

I am so sorry to hear about all your sickness, but that is a part of your life and it's your blog, so you can write whatever you want. I understand the feeling of wondering why this is happening to me, why I am the one who is sick and the feeling of unfairness. I know it's definitely not good to bottle it up and not feel those feelings. I think it's just important to do things that make you happy in the mean time (like hiking and eating M&M's) and being happy for all the amazing things that you do have. I hope things get better soon.

Jennifer Harrison said...

Well, you know exactly how I feel. I missed all the crap with the Anon. know...some people are just like that. I have been w/ you from the beginning and NEVER tire from any details of your life. And, I agree w/ everyone else - you are REAL...and that is much more refreshing than bubblegum and lipstick (like I always say!) lol.

You have come back from much this is just another minor setback...onward we go! The sun will rise another day! xo

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

Thanks Marit for all you share. The pictures are beautiful.

Mer! said...

LOVE the pics!! You guys look so happy! I felt like I was out there hiking with you!

You're right..your blog..your thoughts!! Keep on truckin' and if someone doesn't like it, they can read elsewhere!

Thanks SOOOO much for coming out to support me/Dave on Sunday! TOTALLY appreciated seeing your face----I felt so badly we couldn't do lunch, but such is life with a little one sometimes! Thanks for being there!! We loved seeing you!!

Cassie said...

I love your positive attitude! It sucks that you can't train the way that you would like to. As an injured athlete, I totally understand the frustrations that go with being unable to train the way you would like to. I love that you are getting out there and doing something active and sharing your photos with us (which by the way are AWESOME!).

Don't let the negative people get you down. Stay true to yourself! I love reading your blog when I get the time as it always makes me stay positive and true to myself! Keep up the great work

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