Roger, my husband, and I have already begun packing our bags. I leave on the 15th for San Antonio, Texas for for a “Come Meet the Author/Book Signing” event for my new book, Stop Breathe Believeand to co-facilitate at The Daring Way™ National Training from Tuesday through Sunday. So…the packing MUST begin now! I will then catch up with Roger and the rest of the Above + Beyond Cancer team in Atlanta, GA on Sunday…and then we are off to Peru for 10 days!

On September 21, 2014 a team of cancer survivors and caregivers led by Above + Beyond Cancer will embark on a transformational journey to Machu Picchu, Peru.  The team plans to visit a local medical center to learn about cancer treatment in Peru, and we’ll be hiking to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain to hang prayer flags in honor and remembrance of those in our lives who’ve been affected by cancer.  Each person on the trip is unique and special, and each comes with his or her own motivations, dreams, and hopes. Each one of our roles on the trip will be determined as we go…step by step…every step.

We have been coached well on what to pack from a practical perspective: clothes, hiking shoes, money, passports, Band-Aids. But as I packed my suitcases, I began thinking of it from another perspective as well.

My conversations with Roger at the dinner table recently have centered on the ways we want to be intentional when we are in Peru—in other words, focused and purposeful in our way of being. As always, we have many choices on how we want to live life, and Roger and I love going at life “full throttle”! This is what has motivated us to climb mountains, travel many miles to spend time with family, write a book together and try new adventures. And while we’re eager for the experience of Machu Picchu, our discussions for the trip have been about how to be intentional about being “present.”

Our desire is to be present with others on the trip—with each conversation, with each beautiful scene, with each picture taken, with each meal shared, with each campfire gathering, with each struggle shared. I love the quote “A sorrow shared is a sorrow cut in half and a joy shared is a joy doubled.” My guess is that we will share both some sorrows and some joys as we travel together! Roger and I have set our intention to be fully present with all of it, the highs and the lows.

So, here’s what’s going in the bag—and what is getting left out.

I want to leave behind some fears. Fear of not keeping up on the hike; fear of not knowing something about international travel that more seasoned team members will know; fear of missing our normal connecting times with our family members; fear of not having enough stamina; fear of becoming ill while on the trail; and the fear of not having the solitude I need to write, pray, think, and contemplate.

The reality is that every one of us on this journey will have some fears. That’s okay—it’s perfectly human. And we will have new fears on the way. That too is okay.  But we can also leave some of our fears back home. And we can refuse to let any of these fears dissuade us from going on this amazing journey! That’s true for Machu Picchu, and it’s true for all of life.

So here’s what I plan to pack: courage. I want to take the courage to believe that each team member is prepared physically (thanks to Mary, the Peru team trainer), mentally, and spiritually for an Above + Beyond journey; courage to be me and exemplify my life desires of living love as a verb, walking difficult journeys with the brokenhearted, listening deeply to others, and having FUN; courage to take the next step, even if it feels like there is nothing left; courage to capture as much as possible through the lens of the camera and to capture moments of significance to share with others; courage to be open to the unexpected; courage to learn new lessons, and courage to explore what God will show me as I trust Him on this journey of life and more specifically, this journey to Peru. I especially want the courage to carry prayer flags all the way to the top for Dillon, my cousin’s son, who died of brain cancer at age six,

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and Rhonda, Roger’s sister, who is a breast cancer survivor.

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In her amazing book, Daring Greatly, Dr. Brené Brown writes, “Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.” Thanks, Brené! I owe to you the idea of holding courage in one hand and fear in the other.

And THAT is how we do life and THAT is how we will undertake this journey to Peru…one brave step at a time!

So zip up the suitcase, buckle up the backpack, lace up the hiking boots – here we go!


Dianne Morris JonesDianne Morris Jones is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator and Consultant (CDWF-C) practicing at Family Legacy Counseling in Des Moines, Iowa.  You can find out more about Dianne and the work she does at her website.

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