As the proverbial expression goes, what a difference a year makes! Last February at this time I was stretching my wings as I embarked on a trip to Patagonia seeking a big adventure in hope of setting my soul free. At that time I was in some ways lost as I knew not where to go next.
Having arrived at the realization that I could no longer live in the dream home Jake and I built together, because instead of enhancing my existence, it had come to fully encumber my life. That though was all I knew for certain. I had to sell, it was time to leave.
Inside myself I felt much emotion namely deep sorrow from having lost Jake the year before and the impending loss of my home. The place all my dreams once lived but now shattered.
No new dream existed and therefore utter confusion set in and I became stuck in mind and heart. Patagonia was the catalyst that I hoped would break me open and allow me some clarity as I moved forward in my life.
When speaking of comfort zones I had to break down those barriers entirely in order to board a plane alone in NY and fly south to Buenos Aires, the first stop on the way to Patagonia. It was scary for sure, but something else began to occur when I made the decision to take this journey, excitement was born.
The first day I arrived in Buenos Aires I got a map from the hotel concierge who charted me a path and set out walking. In this foreign land they call the Paris of the South, in 95 degree heat I walked around the city embracing the sights and sounds before me. Having laid fear to rest and with a new found courage those ten miles that day gave me back something incredible. I was exploring, I was alone and enjoying myself. I was beginning to know that part of myself that had been buried for the few years previous under stress, worry and grief. It was like being born again.
A few days later, I rendezvoused with my National Geographic travel group at the hotel. By then I felt a bit more sure of myself, confidence was starting to take shape and I was less the widow and more the woman in search of her true self. When we flew into Ushuaia,a city on the island of Tierra del Fuego, in the Tierra del Fuego Province of Argentina, I nearly lost my mind over the beauty of the snow capped mountains. Feeling somewhat like a kid again I exclaimed aloud my delight and worried not what anyone thought about my wild expression of joy. I was in awe of the beauty and felt so fortunate to be alive with the ability to travel like this and I wanted to feel it entirely and as well, express it! I knew how amazing it was because I survived when my husband did not. I was still here on this incredible planet and felt that absolute great fortune. Life is not to be taken in any way for granted. Loss, his untimely death had taught me so. Knowing this, I enjoyed this wonder significantly allowing it to radiate all the way through me.
We soon boarded a ship called Ventus Australis or 'Southern Wind' that would carry us along through the narrow fjords of Patagonia, the southern edge of Tierra Del Fuego and Glacier Alley. With sights unfolding before my eyes like never before I was filled with wonderment and approached every single moment with that in the forefront. Whether donning my lifejacket in preparation of boarding the zodiac to get from ship to the rocky coast of Cape Horn, or watching the moonlight cascade across the waves of the seas of the Strait of Magellan from my window aboard the ship in the otherwise deep dark of night, or stepping foot at sunrise onto Isla Magdalena to see the awesome penguin colony, gratitude and awe were ever present in my mind and heart. The rebirth of my spirit was well under way.
From all this amazement, I didn’t think I could be captivated beyond, but I was incorrect in that assumption. The insane beauty of one of the most awesome places I have ever been was yet to impress its greatness onto me. Shedding tears of disbelief I cried when our van pulled up in front of Tierra Patagonia, an otherworldly hotel that blends so magnificently with the landscape that it looks as if it was born with the planet. It stands in the foreground of Torres Del Paine National Park which is in Chilean Patagonia region and named for the granite horn-shaped azure towers.
Sometimes from the windows of our van, most of the time on foot and one day by horseback I basked in the 360 degree stunning visuals of the mountains, lakes, icebergs, pampas (grasslands). Wildlife too abounded in landscapes alive with flamingos, guanacos, condor and even puma (though I did not get to see one but others in our group did). I have heard it said many times about varying places described as heaven on earth, for me this was indeed heaven. The closest I have ever been to such indescribable beauty that reaches inside and takes hold of your heart and pulsates with awe and love so much so that the spirit within you dances with perfect delight.
Each day on this journey brought more healing, more awakening and the birth of a new sense of myself, what I am capable of and who I am on my own. This trip was more than I hoped for, greater than I imagined and it succeeded in the main purpose of helping me find myself after the long period of loss and grief. Truly in Patagonia I was born again.
There is so much more to share about this experience and I will work on writing about it further. My main purpose in sharing is to raise awareness of what a difference a year can make in anyone’s life, especially someone like me living with grief but choosing happiness each day in my healing process, in living life itself. The tough decisions, the hard work, the deep grief all behind me now. By choosing to be happy and pushing myself out of my comfort zone I am freer to live through all life hands me. Heart is open, I’ve got this.