It's been a over a week since my last post. Jeez, that makes it sound like I'm in bloggers anonymous! haha. In my last blog post I talked about getting to a frequency of posting every 2 to 3 days. Shit. It's been over a week. I got a text message this morning telling me to get on it! Don't worry, I've been telling myself the same thing.
I have just come out of an amazing week long girls yoga/surf adventure, aptly named Chasing Waterfalls. The week was packed with activity, so I didn't really have the time to sit down and write. Another reason for the delay is that I've struggled with the best way to compartmentalize the week and talk about everything I've seen, learnt, and felt. I keep starting and stopping and rewriting. I finally sorted it out and decided to split up the posts to tell you about my week, so as not to pack too much information into one post. I've decided to devote this post to Megan, so that you understand the significance of her Chasing Waterfalls yoga/surf adventure, before I get into the details.
Chasing Waterfalls surf/yoga is the love child of Megan Pischke, a friend of mine from Squamish. Surf and wellness were always sacred to Megan, a "snowboarder, yogi, surfer and wellness ambassador", but even more so after she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in the fall of 2012 and, rejoicingly, post-treatment is now cancer-free. Meg has been snowboarding for over 17 years and ironically, a volunteer/wellness ambassador for Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC) for the last 16, long before she got cancer. B4BC documented Meg's journey to health, and the resulting short film, Chasing Sunshine, also presented by The North Face, her longtime sponsor. Megan's story is both touching and inspiring, definitely worth a 10 minute watch.
Megan and I share a Naturopath, Natasha Wrenshall, at Sky High Lifestyles in Squamish, BC. Before we really knew each other, I remember passing Megan in the waiting room at Sky High. She was too young to have cancer, with 2 small kids at home. Her story hit home. It brought me back to me losing my dad to lung cancer. FUCK cancer. Throughout the Chasing Waterfalls trip, she shared bits and pieces of her herself, her struggles, emotional and physical, including the after-effects of treatment, like losing her eyesight. (Thankfully, she was able to regain most of her eyesight with cataract surgery.)
I admired her strength and bravery. I empathized with her battle. I didn't have cancer and I am not comparing my wellness story with that of having cancer, but I think you go through the same mental game anytime you are on a path to healing. You are changed when you come out the other side. It makes you want to give back. For me, giving back means providing a place of wellness and community, where people can go to heal from whatever they need to heal from, but also have fun. Somewhere not to be reminded that you've got something wrong with you, but also supported because you do. A small hotel in the tropics that focuses on surf, yoga, and clean living would allow me to create that environment. I wish I had that when I needed it.
When interviewed, Megan coined her cancer "a gift". For Megan, giving back meant that it allowed her to share her story and further help those fighting the disease. Her retreats feed into that.
Besides organizing the Chasing Waterfalls retreats, she also leads wellness retreats for cancer survivors in conjunction with B4BC called Chasing Sunshine. The next one is February 3 - 6, 2016. chasingsunshineproject.org/retreats. There are a number of sponsored spots still available and you can nominate yourself or someone you know here.
Originally a Colorado native, Megan lives in Squamish with her husband and 2 babes. They also have a "surf shack" in Dominical, Costa Rica.
Megan talks about her draw to Costa Rica in a a recent article for Mizulife.com, saying "The communities of beautiful people, along with the ocean and jungle life, have provided so much adventure and healing for us, it has become like another home. There is so much about this place and its energies and inhabitants that I’ve always wanted to share, so the Chasing Waterfalls retreats were born from that desire.
We surf in waters with turtles and migrating humpback whales. We hike hot springs at the base of Central Americas’ highest peak, and visit with an indigenous healer. There is yoga, organic meals, monkeys, and of course waterfalls. I believe we all deserve to experience this kind of nature, and its important for us as humans to do so."
Costa Rica is where she and her family retreated to decompress once Megan finished up her cancer treatments. Costa Rica, out in the surf, is where she began her real healing process, without her sight, "feeling" the waves beneath her.
"If there is one thing I have learned, it’s not to suppress emotions. I would get myself out past the breakers on my surfboard; I would sit and cry; I would stick my head under water and scream until my chest hurt and I was empty."
Dominical was our meeting point to depart on our all-inclusive girls adventure to the Osa Peninsula and Chirripo Mountain, Costa Rica. Chasing Waterfalls promised waves, waterfalls and nature, but I experienced more than that. And I'll give you the rundown on the week in the next post. In summary, I feel privileged to have been able to experience Megan's Costa Rica, her "pura vida", and share, in her words, her "most favourite healing places on this planet".
For more information on her retreats, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.