Peru + Beyond: The Journey is Just Beginning

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I am thrilled to announce we all survived the Wellfit Girls Challenge in Peru! It was an incredible experience for all of us to experience what Peaks Foundation and Peru’s Challenge had in store for us once we were “in country”. The work of both organizations is inspiring and empowering. Check out what they are up to in the links above!A program/expedition/film project of this scope requires a village and I am beyond grateful to so many friends and organizations along the way. From monetary donations to volunteer hours to advice, thank you!Our time in Peru was not without surprises, challenges and successes. It took me several days to metabolize the experience, and I still am digesting. As a leader and visionary of this five month expedition training and film project, I held the space for many moving parts. Let me repeat, I held the space. I didn’t say I always held it together. Some aspects of the expedition did not go as planned and such is life. Diverse personalities, individual preferences and multi-cultural differences required a great deal of flexibility and forgiveness–enough said (for now).

It was a challenge. It was a challenge for many of our girls and leaders to breathe in the cold, high altitude thin air, to hold down food, to sleep, to stay warm and to endure.

It was also a success. We all survived–as for who made it on the challenging backcountry trek and who didn’t, you’ll have to see the documentary for that. Friendships grew in the way that only pooping in the woods and peeing on trails can be made. Our girls came back forever changed.

As the leader, my experience will always be different. As one of my cameraman expressed, he is documenting the experience, not experiencing it himself. I was acutely aware about half way through the expedition, as producer of a film and leader of a backcountry expedition with 41 people and 20 something horses that I was not experiencing what everyone else was either. Some of my final words to tireless and amazing Production Goddess, Colby Robertson, toward the end of the trip went like this: next time I have a really big idea, please be there to scale it back for me. 

I joke and jest and yet there is some truth to it. While I was running all cylinders and had my heart completely in every aspect of the program, I can also easily play Monday Morning Quarterback, wishing I could have pleased every one. But I know better. It’s not possible and that is their lesson, as well as mine, after all. As the Tao says, if you get what you want, good; if you don’t get what you want, even better.

If you’ve heard of the outdoor fun scale you’ll understand when I say that the kind of fun that many of us had on the trip was Type II Fun. While Type I Fun is fun while it’s happening, it’s not super memorable or worth any barstool storytelling after the fact. Type I Fun is a day on the beach, an awesome hike or an afternoon paddling perfect waves. Type III Fun is at best miserable while it’s happening, miserable when it’s over and somewhat traumatizing in the retelling. Alex Blackmer described Type III Fun as “anything that ends with you eating your own shoes, being evacuated by helicopter, or being featured prominently in a non-fiction bestseller.”

Our trip was somewhere in between. While some may have felt their lives were at risk or that they were dying from pain, oxygen deprivation and cold, sleepless nights, we look back with a fondness, and even a longing to go back to the sheer magic of out of the comfort zone suffering that unites us and awakens us to our true potential.

The vividness of the cold, the pain of each step, the frustration of the inconvenience and lack of control made the breath-taking (literally) views that much sweeter and the hot tea that much warmer and the company we kept feel even more precious.

People don’t trade Type II Fun in for a day at the beach because in the re-telling, they realize they are now heroes; they write themselves as the heroes of their own stories. They are warriors. They are something so much greater than before they came to the challenge. The reward of the suffering is great pride and confidence.

We are those heroes. Our girls are those warriors.
The name of our movie, you are hearing it now for the first time is:

Warrior One.

We look forward to sharing the journey with you.

In loving-kindness,

Jill Wheeler

 

3 Comments
  • Mommy
    Reply

    What a wonderful account of a most challenging adventure! I am a proud mother of a “warrior”!

    June 18, 2014 at 5:27 pm
  • Jayne
    Reply

    I love the way you write. It is a great journey you will always remember and the strengths and challenges you have taken. Very wonderful!!

    June 18, 2014 at 7:21 pm
  • Stay with this guys, you’re heipnlg a lot of people.

    August 6, 2016 at 11:48 pm

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