I shut my eyes and in no time at all I am pulled to Hawaii…simple sunny days spent swimming with dolphins and working on the farm. After all, my fastest season of cross country was after a summer of training on the Big Island and living organically. Funny how that works.
I rode in the bed of my host mother’s truck to the volcano, biting into avocados and taking in the spectacular view. I was snuggled in a sleeping bag with Mama Lou by my side. My brown hair was blowing around wildly while her little puppy ears were flapping fast in the wind behind her face…I couldn’t tell who was more blissed out. I have never felt so at home so far away, and I soaked in every sweet second of this sanctuary I had discovered.
From the moment I met my host mother, who we will call Kanoa, “free one,” I felt safe in her presence. Her aura was undeniably bright. She loved to share stories about her deep connection with the Island and the healing powers of her South Kona farm. I knew it was no mistake that our lives intersected.
In addition to harvesting the richest goat milk you will ever taste, Kanoa actually uses her farm to heal people from around the world battling serious illness. Oh, and let me tell you about her farm! It’s totally off the grid…imagine a rolling hillside paradise, laced with flowers and palm trees overlooking the bright blue bay…the warm breeze blows, and the brilliant floral tapestries speak mysterious messages in the crisp, fresh air. And when the sun sets, millions of stars paint a portrait so magnificent you are sure to be swept into your dreams. To the nature obsessed girl who spent childhood making crystal decorated tree forts in the woods of New Hampshire…this new adventure was a real life dream come true! I couldn’t wait to learn from the Island and to learn from this new Mother.
For over an hour we rounded cliffs towering over the pacific, past hillsides rich with wild cattle, and watched as the landscape changed from lush to volcanic. The true beauty of Earth really struck me in this moment. I appreciated the dramatic change of the Earth’s surface. It symbolized something greater…the outer surface of life and of people. Both of which can take many different shapes and forms. The view can change from bright green to black rock in a few small steps. Who is to say the new scenery isn’t as beautiful as the rolling grassy pastures that the cows grazed on? The black volcanic rock tells a different story than the fresh wild meadows. If you listen to her story, her words, you will find value just as beautiful as the flowering hillsides. Beauty is only skin deep. Whatever her surface appears to be by the naked eye, on the inside, Mother Earth is always glowing…brilliant and hot. Giving us life and feeding her love. Constant love, constant light. You can judge her surface, judge the life that she lets live, but we need to realize it is within her core that you will find her heart. And it is her constant heart beat that brings rhythm to our footsteps.
I looked down at my toes and found complete respect for the ground beneath my feet. We stood at a distance in the dark of night, staring at her glowing red heat…proof of how real this Mother we share actually is. We sent our dark energy to Pele, goddess of the volcano, and meditated. Kanoa taught us that if you give Pele your negative thoughts, the thoughts that keep you from thriving, that she will send the energy back to you, new and bright.
I open my eyes, and oh yes…it is very bright! Bright beaming rays of light sting through my eyelids. I squint through my lashes and there it is elevated before me…my broken femur, completely constricted in all of its thigh high casted glory, reflecting the morning sunshine. I take a deep slow inhale, slowly filling my lungs and close my eyes. Exhaling, I wiggle my toes pressing them against the plaster casting just enough to activate the muscles in my lower leg and stimulate blood flow. Humble, happy, healthy. Humble, happy, healthy. I repeat my affirmations that have accompanied me through many past moments, good or bad. With another deep breath, I totally relax and send more energy and strength to my knee and leg…I refuse to give in to this limitation.
I hear my father’s voice in my head, guiding me through my first meditation training session…his optimism is contagious. “Breathe prana into your lungs and through to your broken femur with every conscious inhale. Envision yourself as the strong runner you are, and remember, you are training…pick a new path everyday, run it. See the ground before you, witness its beauty. Feel your strength in every stride you take. Breathe. Never forget to breath…feel prana with every inhale.” He tells me that prana, or chi, is the universal life force which embodies not just us humans, but all life on Earth. “Thought precedes form, connect with your prana using positive energy and pure thoughts, and let the healing begin!” He instructs me to devote time everyday to my foot exercises, to my “running meditations”, and to envision breaking the records I was previously training to surpass.
My dad and I have spent countless hours finding inspiration together…usually through coffee house conversations or hiking the tree-covered trails of Keene. We have built off one another’s ideas since I was a child. He is not just my dad. He is a teacher of life and the smartest man I know. He is a family man and a retired Colonel US Army Special Forces with an action packed life story. He is an orthopedic surgeon and emergency health practitioner who holds additional credentials as a holistic practitioner and certified in the ancient practice of Ayurveda. This fearless yoga teacher doctor dad of mine is your complete balance from the East to the West. He has taught me all that I know about trusting my feet and how to understand and protect myself in an unpredictable world. My dad is the most complex, yet simple example of balance in life…and I am his seed.
When he presented his idea to me about training in my cast, I was immediately bought in and not at all surprised. My dad has been highly trained for survival, and I’ll do anything to speed up my recovery. It’s no broken femur, but I cross-trained en route to my collegiate PR in the 5000 meters after rupturing my plantaris tendon…but that’s a story for another time. So yes! I love it! I will continue to train, everyday in my mind. I will train to run faster than I was before. With dedication and a positive mind, I will be back with my team in no time.
I shut my eyes once more and start training. Inhale. Exhale…the warm Hawaii air recognizes my skin as I revisit this familiar home. Stronger. Faster. With my sneakers laced and hair pulled back in its long ponytail, I step out of my tent to the healing wonderland I have since only seen in my dreams. The bright tapestries whisper secret messages in the breeze, blowing freely through the silent and mysterious air. It feels like one of those mornings Kanoa would talk about with a sparkle in her eye. One of those mornings when you cannot deny that there is a divine presence guiding every step you take. Deep breath in, and again. Exhale. Looking around, I see no one. Stronger. Faster. The Earth is still, and I run…
Happy reading, happy living, and of course…happy running!