There’s no other way than to just come right out and say it: I’m climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
I’ve been practicing saying it out loud since October to friends and family, and it still doesn’t come out right. Most times, I try to be all nonchalant, like this is something that should be part of every day conversation, but generally, it goes like this:
Me: I’m climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in March.
Person (stunned look as if they heard wrong): What? Wait, what do you mean? Like THE Kilimanjaro?
Me: Yes, the big one in Africa. I’m climbing it. In March.
And then, if there is any other conversation surrounding the topic, I don’t know because I fall into an internal monologue rabbit hole, where all my brain synapses start making pinging noises and the building scream from Pink Floyd’s Speak to Me starts playing on a loop.
In other words, it feels like I’m losing my mind.
Because I am. Sort of.
In fact, more than one person has asked some sort of question along the lines of “Have you lost your mind?” And I have. In the best way.
I’m not offended by this reaction because it seems a good question given that I am a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom who spends most days in pajamas behind a computer. My workout routine is best described as fits-and-startsy, and most days I have to bribe myself to workout with cookie dough. I have also tried a plan where I pay myself $1 for every workout that goes into a book fund, so I can reward myself with a new book. I’m basically a preschooler. With way less energy.
Here are the answers you are looking for:
Why? As most of you know, I run a non-profit called Somebody’s Mama. I have been asked to be a part of this climbing team by Belinda Bauman, the founder of One Million Thumbprints (1MT). We are teaming up with women from all walks of life to raise awareness and funds for grassroots peace-building in three of the most dangerous areas in the world: Syria/Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan.
I am climbing as a representative of Somebody’s Mama, and we have a fundraising goal of $19,341, a dollar for every foot of mountain I’ll be climbing. (For more details about the trip, read here and here.) Scott and I are covering the costs of the trip (obviously), so every dollar raised will go to the program we have adopted in Ibba, South Sudan. I have officially raised $75 of my goal, so I only have 99.7% to go. If you would like to give to Somebody’s Mama now, you can do so now by clicking on the cute little elephant below.
Are you training? Clearly. I have what a like to call a certain level of “genetic fitness.” I come from strong stock, but strong stock is not going to cut it in this instance. We have one man on the climbing team who is acting as our team trainer, checking in with us to see how well we are doing. I fluctuate between feeling like some kind of Rocky/She-Ra superhuman (on the days I get a few miles of stairs in) and a complete and utter blob (basically all of Christmas break).
It’s really freaking cold out, and I hate gyms, so most of my training has involved climbing the stairs in my house, at the mall, or in a rarely used stairwell at the kids’ school. At this point, I’ve built up to three miles of climbing at a time, and my goal is to increase that to six miles. During our climb, we only have to carry a day pack, but I’ve still been walking with a backpack and increasing the weight incrementally.
At one point, I started to have a mini-panic attack about the fact that I live in the flattest part of the country and have no way of training for the oxygen deprivation, and I considered getting an oxygen deprivation mask. However, I decided against it, as I already get strange enough looks from people at the mall or the occasional middle schooler who decides to walk up the empty stairwell at the school as I’m wearing hiking boots and a backpack and muttering to myself because I’m angry. A bane face might just draw too much attention.
Last Tuesday, I walked the hallways and stairwells of the community center where my kids take karate, and I got in a few miles watching Nurse Jackie on Netflix on my phone. If we could figure out a way to stream Netflix on the mountain, this climb will be a cake walk. Anytime my power starts to wane, I channel my inner Katniss and listen to my mountain playlist.
I’ll be updating occasionally about the road to Kilimanjaro. Let me know if you have any comments, suggestions, or questions. Please keep our team in your thoughts and prayers as I know I’m not the only one who would love your support.