The Abyss

A poetic, visual piece of my reality living with Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  This piece is real, and raw, and has been clawing to get out for some time now.  In working to capture the true essence of what’s within my mind on any given day, I had to strip away the layers – both within my struggle, and externally.  Please treat this piece with dignity and respect, as it is meant to showcase art…nothing more, nothing less.


The Abyss

 

i feel the monster creeping, closer
clawing it’s way out from under my bed
i’m terrified
paralyzed
this darkness that i have been lead
into
is gripping me

it’s crushing me
consuming me and fooling me
confusing me and cursing me
blood racing through at record speed
i need relief, an outside hand
to help me through this maze dead end
but frozen here, this beast is fed

i fear
i dread
this monster is no entity
this darkness lives inside my head

it tears apart my thoughts and dreams
it strips of me my identity
stuck in a fog with no recede
it’s cunning, coy, calculating
leveraging what i believe

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“you’re horrible
you’re useless trash
the words you use are far too crass
you’ll get nowhere
you’ll be no one
stop wasting time, you’re far too dumb
you’re all alone and that you’ll stay”
this villain toys with me and says

my weary mind now letting go
no academic, i do not know
the best for me, or how to slay
to make this dragon go away
i’m wilting, weeping, wailing high
seduced by darkness’ lulling kiss
gone limp, i’m drug
to the abyss

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but gaze!
the light comes glinting through
a voice then whispers
calm, bijou
“you have the strength, you do, you do
your claws are long and sharp and lean
the shroud, this cloak, straight through they cut
this darkness trap is not what’s true
the light inside, you have, you do
is all that reigns
and it’s a fact
you’re brave
you’re bold
and you will see the actual reality

that you were born of dust and stars
of mercury and venus, mars
your soul here serves a purpose yet
the birth of hope you will beget
for all those trapped here in the depths
with you, before and after you
the cracks within your heart will grow
to let in light, to let them know
they’re safe

the light inside you have, you do
they’ll realize they have it, too”

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Elemental Necessity

As someone who deals extensively with depression and anxiety on a daily basis, constantly being around people can be a really big hindrance to my recovery.

It’s incredibly draining to always be around that much stressed out, negative energy.

On this #SelfCareSunday, I’m sharing with you an adventure I took yesterday and how being out in my element really helps to recharge my batteries so I can better cope with life when I get back into the city.

I truly believe that when you’re struggling with Mental Illness, it is SO. IMPORTANT. to find something that brings you joy, calm, and happiness – and spend as MUCH time as possible within that element.  It’s necessarily for survival.

This survival element for me is nature photography and mountain climbing.  They easily go hand-in-hand, and I get a great deal of joy out of them both.  It’s nice to be out in the middle of nowhere, with just the sounds of nature – no background noise of honking vehicles and constant voices.  Just me, my own thoughts, the creaking of the trees, and the gusting of the wind.  It’s a great platform to clear my headspace and let go of the pent up stress and negativity that I end up carrying.

Troll Falls

Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada

This Is The Why

**TRIGGER WARNER: Self-Harm, Self-Harm Scars**

Disclaimer: I have received full permission to post my thoughts, and these photos.
Loren, I love you ❤


This is the why.

When I started this blog, I had no idea what direction it would take, and if you’d told me 4 years ago that I’d be making this post, I would have laughed in your face.  That won’t be me, no, never.

But here I am, and I honestly couldn’t be more proud or humbled to be here.

As you probably know by now I’ve dealt with Mental Illness my whole life, but only more recently (in the last year or two) has it become more intense.  One of the things that’s been therapeutic for myself in navigating the chaos has been to write about it and share my struggles.  I didn’t start sharing my story to get people’s attention, or to get sympathy.  I share it because it genuinely helps me to make sense of what is going on, and I needed to know it was out there on a platform that was larger than just myself.  I suppose a sort of hope for divine intervention, if you will.  I don’t even really know myself… I just know that it’s something I felt I’ve had to do as a part of my recovery.

The more that I shared and put my vulnerability out there, the more people that came to me sharing their similar stories in turn, and that made a really big impact on me.  It was really only then I truly realized that, hey, I’m NOT the only one stuck in this tornado of perpetual existential crises.  I’m not okay a lot of the time, but look how many other people are just as not okay as I am.  You just get stuck in this fallacy that you’re the only person out there who is traipsing around wearing this smile that doesn’t belong to you.

Though I had people sharing the depths of their souls with me, I still never imagined that I’d ever really make that much of an impact on someone.  I sometimes thought how nice it might be to have this affect on someone else, but still my reasoning – my why – was for myself, for my recovery.  I continued sharing my journey for my own betterment, and the thought of “hey, maybe someone somewhere will find something positive in all of this” existed, vaguely, in the background.  As humans, I believe we’re innately inclined to helping each other, but I think we forget just how exactly we DO help others in ways we don’t expect.

It’s sad really, because we do not realize the positive power that we hold, that our words hold, that our story holds.

Flash forward to last night when I had this ceiling absolutely shattered in the most unexpected way possible.  As usual, I was browsing my social medias before settling into bed for the night.  It’s been a rough few days; I’ve been feeling really down, hardcore judging myself and comparing where and who I am to those who seem far better and far more successful than I… in short, I was feeling like a waste of skin, if I’m being completely honest.

And then…

I was notified that I’d been tagged in this post:

 

The flood gates were completely obliterated.
H*ck, the dam is gushing as I type this even now.

YOU. INSPIRED. ME. TO. MAKE. THIS. POST.

WHAT?

WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

For someone who is struggling, who has scars that are road maps to the pain and suffering they have endured, who has fresh wounds from the pain and suffering they still endure, to be vulnerable enough to share that with the world can be terrifying, crippling, not even in the question….

Yet…someone was able to share THAT level of vulnerability BECAUSE OF ME.

I literally have no words for that.  All I can do is just let the tears flow, and clutch my heart in endless gratitude that my story has reached someone so deeply.   That my journey has made a positive difference to someone trying to make sense of their own.

I won’t share her story with you because it is not my story to tell, but I will say this:  Loren has endured FAR more than any human should ever have to during their time around the Sun.  I’m not comparing her story to mine or anyone else’s because every single story matters, no matter the weight…but man, her story is a heavy, heavy one.

So, to Loren:

You are one of THE strongest, most resilient people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. You’ve been knocked down, over and over, by things that would completely ruin others yet you get back up EVERY SINGLE TIME.  I admire you SO fucking much for how you’ve handled life’s blows.  You are the sweetest, most caring, loving individual, and you deserve nothing but all of the good this world has to offer.  Your ring is fucking GORGEOUS, you deserve to feel so special, and I hope each day that passes your courage to show it off rises.  Your scars don’t define you.  They are symbols that you’ve made it through every single shit-sandwich day; they’re a symbol of the warrior that dwells within you, and I hope that you always know just how incredible she is.  If you forget, don’t worry – I’ll remind you.  I am SO proud of you, and how far you’ve come, and I know you’ll get to where you need to be.

And, thank you.
Thank you for your trust.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you for being so fucking brave.

Thank you for allowing me to share this piece of your story.

Thank you, for simply being you.

This is the why.  
Because this is a community that holds each other up when times get tough.  This is a community that cheers you on across the finish line, even when you don’t think you have it in you to get that far.  This is a community that continues to support you even after you get there.

This is the why.
Because people (like Loren) deserve happiness.
People deserve to live free of judgement.
People deserve to know they are fucking amazing.
People deserve to know how strong and incredible they are.
People deserve to know just how much they are loved, and how much their story matters.

This is the why.
Because I see now what my words are capable of, and I want to continue on being inspired by others, and maybe (hopefully) inspiring others, too.

Forty Eight

Hello!

I have the most exciting news!!!

As most of you know by now, I’ve opened up quite a bit over the last couple of years about my personal struggles with Mental Illness. A huge catalyst of being able to do so has been Wear Your Label – an extraordinary, rapidly growing, Canadian company that fights back against the stigma of Mental Illness/Mental Health in pretty cool ways.  Along with some stellar threads that showcase positive MH slogans, they also donate 10% of net profits to partner initiatives!

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Their conscious clothing line has given me my own strength; it’s allowed me to take back ownership of myself and not just be seen as the obstacles I combat each day.  It’s also introduced me to a safe community of people that I can look to if everything were to blow up in my face.

Having said that, I am SO SO SO incredibly excited to be able to share with you all that I’m “officially” a member of the WYL family!

I have been chosen to represent them as a Brand Ambassador for 2017!  

My heart is exploding with joy, excitement, and gratitude at the phenomenal year I know lies ahead. This is a company I’ve deeply appreciated and supported, and I’m happier than a kid in a candy store to have this opportunity to further spread Mental Health Awareness with some really awesome people!

There will be some perks along the way, I promise  — like this promo code!

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If you want to help to break the stigma behind Mental Illness and promote healthy conversations about Mental Health, use code MAYETTE10 when you check out to save 10% on your order!  Head on over to http://www.wearyourlabel.com and treat yo self…Or a friend or family member  Share the love and spread the word!

I just want to say  Thank You  to everyone who has supported me, without judgement, who allow me to be me (in whatever that entails), and who continue to support me. I honestly can’t thank you enough, and I hope you’ll stay on this journey with me

Exciting things await this year so please stay tuned!

I can’t wait to generate conversation and hopefully spoil my Marshmallows along the way!

❤ xoxo
Mayette

 

#BellLetsTalk

Hi Marshmallows!

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It’s one of my favourite days of the year  

Just a few years ago, I would have had a very different reaction for this day (hint: it wouldn’t have been excitement…). I would have done everything I could to spend the day like a hermit and avoid conversing at all costs.  It’s a dark place to be in when even you’re afraid of your mental health struggles.

However, today is a different day and a different time; the further I come on my mental health journey, the easier it gets to talk about the obstacles I face and advocate for abolishing the stigma so others feel safe in sharing their stories, too.

So – #BellLetsTalk about how it’s OKAY to make noise about Mental Health.  It’s OKAY to struggle and talk about those struggles.  It’s OKAY to have bad days.  It’s OKAY to give an honest answer when someone asks you, “So how are you REALLY doing?”.  

Donning my #AnxietyAlliance tee proudly from @wearyourlabel to let others know that I’m anxious, too, and it’s a welcome and safe invitation to enter a conversation about it

All of us have hardships and struggles, and lately my anxiety has been a real big one for me.  I’ve had crippling days; days where I can’t get out of bed, let alone even think about leaving my house.  Days where I feel like I’m not good enough for anything.  Days where it all just becomes so overwhelming.  Days where I honestly think things will just never, ever start to get better.  But they do, and they have.  Had I known that reaching out for help and telling my story to someone sooner would have resulted in my healing beginning a lot sooner, I wouldn’t have suffered in silence for so long.  My eyes were also opened to just how many incredible, supportive, loving people I had around me when I allowed the walls to fall and the dam to break, and I am so SO grateful for each and every one of them.  I would not be able to so openly stand up and share my story today if not for them all.  I may not even have been standing here at all.  ALL my love and support right back. xoxo

And I want you to know, if you’re reading this and struggling, that it’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to ask for help if you’re ready to take that step. You are valid, you are worthy, and you’re so NOT alone in your journey. Whether you realize or not, there is a community of warriors and of survivors that will take you by the hand and support you every step along the way.  

It takes a lot, for a lot of people, to talk about what they have experienced or what they are going through, and so I just want to throw out a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has shared their story today.  I’ve seen so many brave, inspiring stories full of strength on my News Feeds…far more than I’ve ever seen – and what an incredible sight, indeed.

Your openness, willingness, and trust is helping to pave this road so that those who have come before us, those who are with us, and those who will come after us will have a much smoother journey. From someone who has only recently taken the first steps toward the sunshine, that is something so amazing.

Today is not just for today.  Let’s keep the conversations going for the next 364 days. Not all of us struggle with mental health obstacles, but we all have mental health to take care of.

All my love to all of you XOXO Never be too humble to reach out.

Thirty One

 

Today’s post is not going to be about fashion.  It’s going to be about something so much greater.  It’s going to be long, and full of photos.  Some of these photos are flattering, some are not.  Most of them I had no idea were being taken but each of them has a story, and each of them carries an emotion.  I wasn’t expecting my journey to be captured in such a raw and authentic way…but for that, I am ever so grateful to my wonderful boyfriend who, in his pride for me, decided to document the steps of my journey – both good and bad.  I couldn’t have asked for a greater gift.


 

Yesterday, I began the journey to conquering my fears.

One of those is a crippling fear of heights.
Like, we’re talking heart-stopping, throat-tightening, won’t-even-walk-near-a-second-floor-railing-in-a-mall fear of heights.

So naturally, I decided to climb a mountain.

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This whole thing started a week ago.  My boyfriend and I went on a casual hike in the mountains to Heart Creek Trail.  While we were there, he took notice of Heart Mountain, which the trail runs alongside.

 

His first instinct – “Wow!  I want to climb that.”
Mine? – “Are you INSANE?!”

But the day went on, and the more I thought about it, the more the idea intrigued me.  It wasn’t until we saw other climbers along it’s edge that I started to think, “Okay, we could totally do that.  It can’t be that hard.”  So with very few hours left in the day (and a watch telling us the incorrect time), we set out to find where this mountain climb began.

We made it (what we thought) about half way up, until the weather turned and a storm started rolling in.  I’ve watched enough movies and documentaries to know that when weather on a mountain starts to change, you don’t take it lightly.  I made the executive decision to turn around and head back down, though my win did not come without a fight.  We decided that we would try again, and next time we would make it.

Fast forward a week to April 10.  We once again found ourselves standing at the base of Heart Mountain.  This time more determined than ever, and clearly having brought our naivety along with us for the ride.  Our previous venture had seemed like a breeze.  I was surprisingly not scared at all, given the circumstances, and regardless of the insane reviews that we had read since our first failed attempt, I was totally convinced that this would be a cake walk.

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I was not at all prepared for the experience I was willingly walking right into.

I was doing this to face a demon, a fear that has plagued me intensely in my adult life.  I had expected there to be some physical challenge, but I could never have prepared myself for the psychological torture I was about to be drug through.

The first part (what we now realize was about a quarter) of the hike went smooth like our first attempt.  We both took notice that we didn’t have the same energy as the last time, but we chalked that up to lack of sleep/lack of heat/lack of warm up/lack of oxygen… basically any excuse we could give ourselves that would convince us to keep going.

Great start, amiright lol

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See? Breezy!

Everything was truly going dandy, until we breached our previous turn-around point.

It was in this moment that I was playing the comedian and scoffed, “Oohh looks like the fun really starts here!”, but little did I know how accurate my ‘comedy’ would become.

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The thought that I was maybe in for more than I realized crossed my mind, but I quickly shot that down and told myself it was just nerves.  I’ve never climbed a mountain before!

I even took a moment to twerk a little since my boyfriend is a genius and brought along a portable radio for us.  (I can’t believe he actually took a picture of this LOL)

Werk, werk, werk, werk, werk, werk…

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Peekaboo!

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Ahh, still happy!  Still quite clueless.

I had already had a few moments of having to reiterate to myself that I could do this, that I was capable… though it was previous to this point that I had decided it was time to put up the blinders, and try my damnedest to NOT look left or right – and ESPECIALLY DO NOT LOOK BEHIND YOU/DOWN.

CHEERS! (Obligatory tourist shot)

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Moving forward didn’t seem so bad now.  I was keeping my eyes on the prize aka staring directly at the ground in front of me, only briefly looking up and forward to remain on path and nothing else.

It was here that my first true anxiety attack came on.  I had tears well up in my eyes, my throat started to close in and restrict my already low intake of oxygen…I was shaking so badly I thought I would slide right off the side of the mountain.

I actually had to stop and bring myself into Tree Pose to reground.  RIDICULOUS, right?! My boyfriend had a mild heart attack when he saw me standing on one leg on the side of the mountain.  It took everything in me to calm my nerves and re-centre myself to keep going; that tiny bit of yoga that I brought with me made a world of difference in that moment.

In fact, here is a photo I took just after I got myself together; for the first time in a long time I snuck a peek to my left…and just about shit my pants.  There’s the slope for ya!

I muttered to myself, “Terrible idea…” and owned a moment of self-hatred for straying from my plan of action.

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I reminded myself, swallowing the lump in my throat, that I could do this, that I was safe.  That I needed to put those blinders back up and everything would be just peachy!

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Yeah.  Safe.  Peachy.  All good!

Well, it must have worked, because my smile was back!

(Or maybe that had to do with having no idea that THIS was behind me!?!)

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It didn’t last for long.  Tackle one hurdle, only to come face to face with another more challenging one.  If it wasn’t having to navigate our way up increasingly steeper slopes, it was having to straight up free style rock climb over a ridge (or two).

It was here that I looked up, said, “Are you f***ing kidding me!…”, turning to my boyfriend like:

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He chuckled at my expression, and I half hoped I was joking – although seeing this photo now, there is no denying the truth behind it.  I was terrified and feeling defeated.  I had made it through the first rock climb required and was hoping with all hope that I wouldn’t have to repeat it.  But here we were.

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I can’t count the number of times that I said both inside my head and out loud, “Why the hell did I think this was a good idea?”…and I wouldn’t know the answer to that question for another almost 2 hours.

Being the sweet man he is, my boyfriend softly suggested I try a more upbeat approach.  We had both been reciting positive mantras to the other when one of us started to question our inner confidences.  It served to help the other, but I think it helped ourselves more.

So I responded:

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Fake it ’til you make it, right?!

I had a moment of utter weakness at this point, and all I could think was, “I can’t fucking do this. There is NO WAY that I can do this.  If I somehow find a way up, there’s no way I’ll find a way down.”

Out of nowhere, like the clouds parting and the rays of the sun bursting through,  I got a second wind;  I had come up for a breath of air.

“F**K IT.  What am I doing?! I’m bad ass!!! I can totally do this.  I’m just gonna do it, and that’s that!”

Off I went with gumption.

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That confidence lasted all of 5 minutes.

“Babe, look back here for a second.”
“No thanks.”
“Come on! Just a quick second.”
“… okay fine.”

CHEESE!

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And, in this moment of looking back when I promised myself that I wouldn’t – my friend Annie Anxiety had returned.  ALL that consumed my thoughts now was, “How the fuck am I going to get off of this mountain if I keep going? I can’t keep going. I have to turn around.  I’m probably already stuck here.”

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A little voice inside me started to speak and I remembered the reason why I was doing this – that I was fighting against this very thought – and it gave me strength to push on.  I had already made it THIS far and there was no damn way I was doing this a third time.  Now or never.  We were way too close to the summit to pack up now.

Onward!  Pull those big girl panties up.  Find a way.

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NAILED IT.

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A short while later and we had reached our destination!  SUMMIT! FINALLY!

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Nothing could have prepared me for the emotion that would hit me like a freight train.

All I could do was cry (and thank God for sunglasses 😉 ).

The pride that overwhelmed me was incredible.

I DID IT.  I ACTUALLY DID IT.  I’M SITTING HERE THOUSANDS OF FEET IN THE AIR AND I’M STILL TERRIFIED BUT I’M HERE.  I MADE IT.

The tears that I swallowed, the trembling, the fear that I had to continually beat down inside of me – to push my body and my mind past its absolute limits – all for this moment.  This achievement. This victory.

Now I understood why I knew this was a good idea.

I drank it in like nectar to a bee.

And then I just sat there.

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Alone with my thoughts.  Totally engrossed in this divinity of nature; in this connection that I was pulled towards so strongly.  Revelling in my glory, but also in sadness.  How can moments like these go so unappreciated by some?  This Earth.  Our home.  Its magic.  These majestic, strong, jagged peaks that literally thrust their power and beauty into your face.

Perspective.  Appreciation.  Respect.  Gratitude.

And I cried again, out of grief for this world.  I was so overcome.

Eventually, I gathered my emotions, and my belongings, and wandered off to explore with my love.  To take in the grand scenery that enveloped us.  To dwell in what we had accomplished together.

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Truly on top of the world, by all definitions ❤

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We were speechless.

The views the whole way through this trek were breathtaking; worth the pain and sweat, worth every tear, worth every thought that I had had to combat.

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(I have a thing for contrasting textures)

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After sending out a little gift of love and thanks, we began our descent.  I had no choice but to look down at this point, and something strange was happening.  The more I embraced the view, connected with the Earth, trusted my own strength – the more my fear and anxiety began to fade.

This climb was far more psychologically challenging than I could ever have imagined.  I wasn’t expecting my anxiety to join me, in all her glory, on this journey; to skip along beside me, chanting taunts into my ear.  I was not at all prepared for the physical or emotion breakdown that I would endure.  The grip of terror that would wrap itself around my throat, choking me.  The breath that would be harder and harder to take, and not just because the air was thinning.

When I made the concrete decision to summit Heart Mountain and face my fear of heights, I had no idea what I had signed myself up for.  I’d seen photos of people who had done it, and I’d thought that it looked so easy.  So attainable…and attainable it is, but it was not without a price.

When I decided to summit Heart Mountain, spending a solid 1.5 of the almost 3 hours it took fighting back tears wasn’t what I pictured.  I had to battle so much of my mind that I questioned each step of the way if this was what I actually wanted to do.

Had I made a good decision?
Was I crazy to think I could do it?
Who the hell decides to do this in their right frame of mind anyway, especially with a paralyzing fear of heights!?!?
Couldn’t I have started with a jungle gym or a ladder?! 

In setting this goal, and stopping at nothing to reach it, I learned a few things.

I learned that the only limitations I have I’ve set myself, and they exist only in my mind.

I learned that maybe to conquer our fears (and our minds), we must learn to walk hand in hand with them.  We have the power.  We always will.

I learned that I can trust myself, because that trust will carry me through.

I learned that I am an extremely emotional being, and to allow myself to live in those moments of emotion is empowering.  It’s brave, and bold.  It’s human, and it makes me stronger.

I learned that I am so much more capable than I ever would have given myself credit for. That when I think it’s time to quit, I’ve only just begun.

My face might be burned to a crisp (because I always fucking forget sunscreen), and my body might be aching in places I didn’t even know could ache – but my soul is so beyond fed and I am so humbled and changed by this experience.   I can’t wait to do it again.