Lofty Peaks

When I Grow Up…

I never wanted to be a firewoman, can’t remember growing up with a burning desire to put out fires…

Elusive memories dance within the deepest crevices of my mind. Sure, there was always something which stirred my desire, a shiny object calling to me, but I never felt any strings tugging my calling. I would say that I wanted to be an obstetrician when I grew up but this desire was merely a “want to be” and nothing more.

Often the paths which I chose in life were more a reaction than a calling. My fling with Women Wage Peace began as an honest desire to spark dialogue for change. When I found myself assigned to telemarket the cause, I balked. Lost beyond my comfort zone, I sought a way out. Thus, I found myself signing up as part of the core group of marchers for the March of Hope. The March of Hope was organized by Women Wage Peace and led by Ulfat Haider and Hagit Lavi. By nature, a chameleon I’m not. While I am consistent in my beliefs, often a move which is considered bold by others is merely my best option to remain within my comfort zone.

No Dream of Mine…

Nepal 13 April 24, 2017

Uploaded by Helene Gozani on 2017-04-24.

I never dreamed of conquering the Everest. A brief visit to Quito and its 3000-meter altitude left me gasping for breath after but the shortest flight of stairs. I speculated that I would never trek at these high altitudes and yet I did it: climbed the Everest to the lofty heights of some 4000 meters with a group of Arab and Jewish Israeli women.

One of the nine women of our group jokingly introduced herself as Ulfat Haider’s online stalker. I laughed as I too was mesmerized by this woman’s illustrious wake. Ulfat, our trek leader, is a woman who by all appearances lives far beyond her comfort zone, apparently fully at ease 24/7 in what she calls the stretch zone. Ulfat, an inspiring outward bound Israeli Arab woman uses extreme outdoors sports to promote coexistence and sustainability. Ever since Ulfat and I marched together last October I hoped to join her again on one of her expeditions.

After stepping out of the safety net of my full-time job, lately I’ve been testing the waters treading somewhere between my comfort and my stretch zone, mostly hanging out somewhere on the border. Don’t get me wrong, I dive in and forge my way forwards, daring to stretch beyond my comfort zone but then at the first obstacle or invalidation I hesitate and retreat behind the skirts of my safety zone. I know that I have much to offer this world. I am not sure what it is that I fear more: failing or succeeding beyond my wildest dreams.

It is unclear what prompted me to sign up for Ulfat’s expedition to the Himalayan peaks. Was it the opportunity for naked dialogue with Arab woman? Perhaps the inspiring scenic views which awaited?  Could it be that I wanted to test my vitality and endurance? But then again, maybe it was simply an opportunity to break away from a hopeless stalemate between my desire to change the world and my fear to navigate the unknown waters ahead…

Coexistence

No Dal Bhat dinner for me tonight

I am pleased to report that although I was drawn in by the opportunity for a micro taste of coexistence, any political textbook issues were nonissues. From day one any differences were met with curiosity, discourse and acceptance. It was no longer a group of Arab and Jewish women but rather a group of nine Israeli spirited souls.

We were jacks of all trades, an eclectic group of professionals: part chemist part gay therapist, health coach, refugee advocate, part lawyer part big wig, Peace Now public relations, coordinator for gifted students of science and technology at a major university, midwife and “breaking the ice” sportswoman. Israeli, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, married, single, mothers, grandmother and pet lovers, Toy or otherwise – try to match the names with the titles and surely you shall fail. There are no stereotypes to be found here!

Vices and Virtues

As creatures of habit, we tend to feel on rocky ground when our vices and virtues are suddenly out of reach. Coffee, tea, these were never a problem for me but I surely fear the shakes when I can’t get my regular green smoothie fix…

Last year while mountain biking in Nova Scotia, I managed to wing a blender and ice chest to feed my smoothie fix. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would manage to summon similar. Can you just imagine a “yak-packed” blender from guest house to guest house on the way up the alpine summit?! Sorry, but even I did not have a clue how to pull that feat out of my hat…☺

I diligently prepared homemade treats, apple ginger fruit leather, various raw cauliflower crackers, soaked, spiced and dried walnuts and pumpkin seeds. I made sure to pack my spirulina, flax seeds, dried dates, dried ginger, concentrated cherry juice packs and my friend Alle Weil’s Royal Ghee (raw honey, ghee, greens and adaptogenic herbs) as well as a few supplements (curcumin (turmeric), magnesium, sulforaphane glucosinolate (broccoli), lemon oil and some naturopathic prophylactic defense for common stomach concerns of foreign travelers to the region.

One Way?

If you wanna, you gotta… There is ALWAYS more than one way to skin a cat. I can no longer stomach extremism of any sort be it Socialism or Capitalism, Veganism or Paleoism or any other "ism", especially of the Fanaticism type. I’ve been there and done that – my soap box is vacant if you want a good deal…

I believe that there is always room for flexibility. Adaptogen, are you familiar with the term?  Adaptogens are natural herbs which relieve stress in an adaptive or flexible manner providing more or less of what you need as per your body’s current state.

Homemade fermented apple juice on the trail

People like to ask. Are you Vegetarian? Are you Vegan? Are you gluten-free? Are you Raw? I shy away from these and any like-minded titles. Am I vegan if I eat meat once a week? Am I gluten-free if I eat cake at a party? Am I vegetarian if I eat fish? The list goes on.

Must I declare sides and steadfastly side with one camp or the other? In a word, NO! On my plate I look for mostly whole, natural and mostly vegan foods, less gluten and more raw. Yes, you may have seen me eating a yak vegetarian cheese pizza somewhere in the Himalayans. That was me. Then again, you may have seen me in the morning slurping my green gooey slurpy: a concoction of warm water, spirulina, flax seeds, lemon oil and naturopathic antibacterial drops. That too was me. Of course you saw me peddling my wares at every rest stop on the way up: raw crackers and fruit leather, dried fruits and nuts/seeds. Once again that was me. You just may have lucky enough to have been granted a taste of my wicked green spread – Royal Ghee and agreed. Yes that was DELIGHTFUL. If you were really lucky, you may have seen me with my naked feet up in the air against a gorgeous backdrop of the magnificent lofty peaks of the Himalayans sipping a drop of a friends Coke. Yes, OMG, that too was me (honestly, I do not know what got into me)!

Healthy is as Healthy Does

Making do at breakfast

You see, healthy is as healthy does. Healthy is not a destination, a menu or a specific formula. Healthy is not a specific shape or size. It most certainly is not solely about what you eat. You, there on the soap box screaming Vegan Power – what is that you’ve been eating? Have you been so busy supporting animal rights that you’ve written off your own health? Veganism is Not synonymous with good health. It’s all about our choices. What did you choose today? How did you choose? Where did you choose. Why did you choose what you chose? Who did you choose with? Some food for thought…

The nine lives of the Everest Base Camp Trek included: Ulfat, our leader and mountain of strength; Rose, our self-appointed photographer who never missed an opportunity for the perfect frame; Revital, our unofficial official Facebook correspondent; Rana, our inspirational tower of strength; Anat, our covert Duracell energy reserves; Daliala, our ultimate lover of life with THE best moves on the dancefloor; Keren, our big-hearted spirit who (much to my dismay) could not resist gifting the needy Nepali children with “Nutrition is Power” wristbands; moi, Helene (Hila), the gal who brought the endless supply of the strangest but most delicious healthy treats and whose plate and habits became an incentive of sorts to make healthier choices and, last but certainly not least, roomy – Devori; our eldest 70+ member and our superhero lung cancer survivor – may we all continue to conquer our ailments and embrace our age with the voraciousness of a bright eyed child.

This time I gave away the wristbands

I began our trek happily forging ahead of the pack, pumped by my good fitness and fortune. The magnificent peaks were a golden prize and soon they would be mine. It was not long before I began to feel to effects of altitude sickness: a little nausea, a slight headache, heart palpitations and loss of breath. I was helplessly weak and suddenly found myself at the tail end of our group. Sorry, sorry me. ☹

Just as we were approaching our final day of climbing and I was horrified at being the one to delay our group’s ascent, Ulfat read to us these words (down below). Suddenly I knew that I was going to make it all the way. Healthy is as healthy does and I did it! We all did! Tengboche, we made it. Mount Everest, we can see you clearly. What a glorious feeling…

Tengboche

Find your mountain and climb it!

“Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.”

~ John Muir


Everything comes back to you – Many many years ago back on the kibbutz my husband's "adopted" brother gave him this

“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.”

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values



If you have not yet read about the rocky part of my journey, you can read it here.‎

I would like to thank you for your patience in reading this post to its end.‎

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Finally I would like to request that you please share my powerful animated message!

You Tell Your Future – The Power is Ours!

Imagine you had a looking glass where for a very short window of time you could observe, live the ‎final moment, day, year or years of your life. The picture that you see is clear. Startled, you clearly ‎do not like what you see. A wave of sadness and fright paralyzes you.

Join me: CHOOSE abundant whole health!

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