10 Dec Andrea Bogner
Thank you for the opportunity for me to be here
Your timing is perfect. Its Woman`s month. I’m all about leadership and empowerment, motivation, caring and raising awareness.
Please make notes if something resonates with you. I have a lot I want to cover in a very short time
To raise awareness for me means that people have to hear the dead hard truth of what is happening. We need to be open, raw and transparent.
I just came from Tanzania, climbing the Majestic Kilimanjaro. The Highest Mountain in Africa. The hardest and toughest thing I have ever done in my life. We were 8 people all climbing for different purposes, we called it` Kilionpurpose`. My cause was for Abused Children and Animals……… because they cannot speak for themselves.
My journey began way before the actual day I set my feet on the plane to Tanzania. I said yes to Kilionpurpose , not because it was on my bucket list, because when I heard from Cobus Visser (he is a dear friend of mine, SA top motivational speaker and Master Fire Walker. He is haemophilia and climbed for Haemophilia), they are forming a group to climb Kilimanjaro for a purpose, and for me I always wanted to make a difference to help raise awareness for abused children and animals. But I didn’t know how, until this came my way
One of my challenges was I didn’t have the funds to do this. I am not used to asking people for money, I have always made it on my own.
This forced me to be humbled. Ask and you shall receive, and so I did. And WOW how it changed my perception
You would think that your closest friends, families and colleagues would be first in line to help you, No one did. But when you fail they will tell you quickly told you so, but if you made success of it everyone one wants to be part of it or all of the sudden wants to come and work for you.
they call you lucky when you have achieved something. She got lucky ….or the team got lucky…but no one ever acknowledges or sees the hard work you put in behind the scenes…….Lucky in the Dictionary means – `happening by chance` – But for me Lucky means, … it is that moment when opportunity and preparation meets
My funding came from total strangers and organisations, some of them I didn’t even knew. This made me relook the people I surround myself with. I was humbled to see how much good there is still in people. Just like in your organisation here, I1m sure you see lots of magic happening to and from people. Total strangers stepped up for me and our `Kilionpurpose` purpose
With everything going on in life, one cannot do anything alone. I saw on my journey the strong helping the weak, In fact I saw we all had our different strengths and weaknesses and how it complimented each other.
But together, we were amazing. This is what pulled us through
I had my own mountain to climb. Not just Kilimanjaro but all the metaphorical mountains I and we encounter everyday
But firstly, I want to tell you my story, cause I believe through our experiences, it empowers us to help others
I come out of a broken home. My parents divorced when I was still in primary school. In pre-school I was sexually abused by a family member. I was very overweight. I started going to stores and steel diet pills – those days you would still get the good stuff. I stopped eating and got really thin, have tried on many occasions to take my life in the past. Got involved with drugs for many years, had an abortion and lost a child sadly and have been in destructing relationships and I always had the mind-set Poor me, WHY ME?
The only person I was extremely close to was my dad. For me he was my soul dad. I have been so blessed to have had an amazing dad like this
I lost my dad almost 3 years ago now, He was assaulted and murdered. This has been the worst time in my life. My dad was on life support for 6 days. He passed away from his wounds. His attacker cracked his skull. And the man who did this to him is still around. I remember in court……… He was set free. Typical South African Court. I still struggle with this
In many ways I caused my own pain and suffering and life has also thrown me its share. For many years I was the victim and Life owed me. Who knows people like this?
For some change happens instantly for me it only happened gradually.
The day when I started changing my mind-set around, my world and perception changed. It’s not easy changing your mind-set.
Firstly you start with being gat-vol,
and then when u sick n tired of being sick n tired follows.
When you want to change your mind-set, behaviours and bad habits you constantly have to remind yourself to bring your mind back in positive state.
A bad habit or behaviour gets created when behaviour is repeated over and over again; apparently it only takes 21 days to install a bad habit,
and it also takes 21 days to install a good habit, by repeating a good behaviour.
Your mind is like a muscle and needs to be exercised as well
The day I had my AHA moment I was thinking what a failure I am and I have done so much gone wrong and so much has happened to me, but wait…then it clicked
But so much has happened to me, I have experienced to much.
I can use this. I can help people going through the same I did. I know what it feels like, I`ve been there
I am also helping Mes, also and organisation helping, feeding, housing the poor. So They cant BS when they are on drugs. I can see the signs if people are on drugs.
~Your Wound is probably not your Fault, but your Healing is your responsibility`
I had to switch my mind from – when you feel down or depressed – don’t do quick fixes, drink a pill or drink alcohol, or eat food which taste so good on the way in, but makes you feel sluggish and fat the next day, or what about the quick fix of heroine, cat or coke or what about cheating on your spouse ,cause you`re getting the attention which apparently you don’t get anymore, these are temporary lift me uppers but on the long term very disruptive and not sustainable.
If you want to feel better follow these simple 2 steps:
- Go and Have Fun
- Go help someone
- Does someone know what the 12th step in AA is?
My Kilimanjaro story
I want to start my story from Base camp, because our time is very limited today
Kilimanjaro Base Camp
We arrived at base camp approx… 12:00 the afternoon. The Altitude here at Barafu Camp is 4673m above sea level. We had lunch and were advised to go and get rest. We would start our Attempt to Summit Kilimanjaro at 12:00 Midnight.
The top of Kilimanjaro is Uhuru Peak 5895m and is 5km away.
I was already up at 10:30pm. I wanted to take my time in getting myself mentally prepared. We gathered at the dinning tent at 11:30pm where we had the last of our refreshments. At 12:00 midnight we all lined up behind each other.
From our camp it is a very steep way up. Breathing is very hard and difficult. Walking is very strengious and this needs to be done in very small steps and deep breaths in and out. Starting point was already a difficult start. A steep hill up until you get to a big uphill slab of rocks where you have to climb over. Our porters and guides helped us because if you slip and fall it could be fatal. This alone was very exhausting for me and I needed a breathing break soon after to bring my heart beat down. It felt like my heart was beating out of my chest.
It was pitch black. All what I could see was the majestic blanket of stars above me and thousands of little lights going up to the mountain .We all had our little headlamps on and we were looking like small little ants marching up the mountain. There were so many other groups also summiting. Our guide told us that night alone were over 100 people attempting to summit. I could only see the next person in front of me, about 2-5m, which was a good thing. Later on we understood why we summited at night because if you would see what we were up against in daytime, I don’t think half of us would have made it.
As you walk it gets steeper and steeper until you get to big rocks, then thousands of loose stones and just gravel. It was all the way like that to the top except at the top parts, it was added snow and slippery ice. The first couple of meters were tough. I kept on saying to myself it will get better. I was a constant 45-65 degrees upwards. It was so steep up that we couldn’t walk straight up; we had to walk in zigzag’s up to make it easier between loose gravel and stones. Not one single step was ever going to be easy. The stone and the gravel would slide away as you take a step which made it even more exhausting. What made it even more challenging were the temperatures. That night we climbed the mountain with -15 degrees. For those who didn’t take pre cautionary measures to their water supply which consists mainly of bladders and water bottles, those totally froze up. Mine did. Added to this it was already so exhausting just to suck the water out of the bladder pipe, because on the mountain there is no energy to waste. I had a bladder and a normal steel bottle and an additional bottle with a bag inside. We tried to isolate the plastic pipes from the bladder as per previous advice given, but that didn’t work. My pipe, the bladder and the steel bottle froze up. This was problematic because my 1 x only bottle left was soon finished, where after we had to share water from each other our guides and porters.
The mountain made me crazy. It played with my mind. I totally lost track of time and my surroundings. I felt like I turned into a machine. I only cared about my mountain buddy and followed my guide’s instructions, it was survival for me. My life was in the hands of our guide, because he knew the mountain and has done it over 100`s of times. That was my only world for a while, until we summited. I only focussed on to get to the top. I would see the top of the mountain and would push myself with extreme persuasion to that point, only to find it goes further up. This happen numerous times.
I blocked out everything else that went on around me. I did not know where the rest of my group was, how they were doing or did they cope. I began to forget things, my mind told me to quit probably every 10 minutes 10 times. I did not know whether what I was feeling was real or did my body fake it just to get off the mountain. My toes were frozen, my nose was constantly running, so much that the salt in my mucus was burning my skin until it was red and raw. My lips were so dry and painful; I remember I kept on licking my lips with my tongue only to find the cold wind would dry it out instantly. My lip got so bad sunburned on the previous days because of the UV rays on the mountain is so more intense. The combination of all of that made my lips burst. It was extremely painful.
Amazing how you mind and body just switches to survival mode. Now this way of thinking and acting, has never happened to me. Never have I put my mind and body under such circumstances that ultimately all that matters is` LIFE` and to survive. Man what an amazing switch it is…
All of the sudden things that were important to me before I climbed Kilimanjaro are not important to me anymore.
I remember every time my mind would get negative I would sing `O Heer my God` an Afrikaans Christian song. I wanted to meet God and my Dad at the top. I felt so vulnerable, I felt ready to die. There was nothing more I wanted in my life than to stand next to my dad. I was so sure I would meet him at the top. I was like a rock racing up the mountain, because suddenly I had a purpose. The purpose was to DIE.
Subconsciously I prepared for my death before I came to climb the mountain. I only realised this only after when I started writing my story. In my Testament I prepared all that had to happen when I die on Kilimanjaro. Even where my funeral would be and what song will be played.
I was ready to summit and meet my death and carry on with my existence away from earth. I had nothing to lose only sweet death to gain
`OH MY GOD`……….. – This stopped me in my tracks when I read what I wrote. I had been dead since my dad passed away, we were inseparable. I had spent every day of my life with my dad, my best friend, my soul mate.
This made me realised how my dad`s death had affected me. No one knows… when he died that I had died with him
There is something about when you put pen to paper. Do you see how important it is to write things down, your thoughts, your feelings, your hopes, dreams, even disappointments…………………
And it made me realise how strong my body and mind is.
When I would look up I would see hundreds of little beautiful lights. These were the shining lights of all human beings attempting their dreams and goals, all fighting their own minds, fighting for their own dreams and goals to reach the top…What a real life story! We do this every day, climbing our mountains.
There is such a true saying ` Your attitude will determine your altitude`
May it be a physical or a metaphorical mountain, may this mountain be at work, with your spouse or in life. We all have this light within us that shines so bright, which shows us the way, I call it intuition. But do you follow it?
Some did reach the top, but not everyone. I heard from our guide, there was a group of I think 43, only 25 summited. One of the rules on the mountain is `keep moving` `Pole Pole` they would say which means `slowly`. If you stand still for more than 5 minutes, you would start to freeze. Our breaks were very short, even in few seconds it felt like my hands and feet were freezing. My mountain buddy, Tanya’s hands were frozen and I remember how she cried from pain, our porter named Jackson, he was so sweet. He would take her hands and rub them together and blow hot air onto her hands and gave his gloves to her for additional heat. He would climb further without gloves. He sacrificed, so that someone else`s journey would be easier. How many of us would do this for another person?
I heard someone say to me ` The Mountain does not want us here; he will make it hell for us to reach the top. And so he did! He broke me in so many ways. Today I respect him with grace and thank him for his mercy.
I wanted to die; he made me suffer mentally and physically. He let me life. I’m sure the learning’s and answers will come back to me. All I know is a lot happened to me on the mountain. There is a reason why I am still here
The mountain did not give me what I asked; he gave me what I needed… This is the same in life as well. LIFE does not give to you what you ask; it gives you what you need. To take the learning’s and grow. After all that the only place where you will learn and grow, out of your comfort zone.
The higher I climb the tougher it got. There were no paths only snow, rocks, ice and gravel. Very slippery and dangerous. How typical this is in real life as well, when you walk the road less travelled. It’s Lonely, hard and sometimes confusing and at times we turn back because it’s easier down than up.
At one stage it felt like our guide also lost the trail, because we would make our own way over the snow and ice. I have never felt so lost before. I just told myself you are almost at the top. I cannot quit now. If I can do this I can do anything. I have gained so much respect for myself in my physical and mental strength. I am stronger than I ever thought I would be. It has shifted my bar of expectations to a totally new height. This is typical in life when you reach your goals. You can never go back the way it was, it changes you when you reach your goals.
We must all strive for those moments in life, when something happens, you know life will never be the same again as you know it. Those are the moments we must seek. When life will never be the same again as you know it.
I have one motto in life ` If your dream does not scare you, you are not dreaming big enough` `Everyday do something that scares you`
My mountain buddy at some stage was walking in front of me. The terrain was so unstable and slippery that she slipped and hit her knee on a stone. I remember her just crying of all the pain, cold and frustration.
I told her that we are not giving up now. This is a simple example why we cannot do things alone in life. We all need someone who support us and calls us on our BS,
One valuable lesson I have learnt. From Jason my fellow climber because he expressed human kindness to me on Baranca wall… I have experienced that, when a hand reaches out, reach back to grab it, even if you think you don’t need it. We are always quick to say `I`m fine`, No, thank you` I can do this on my own…but we are not meant to do things alone. Everyone here right now is climbing their own mountain. Stop to think that you are the only one ever climbing a mountain and that your mountain is unique and your circumstances are unique, because it is not. STOP being a victim on your mountain and grab it by the balls, and own it. Take responsibility
I have decided, and hopefully you will to, to take the hand, it made me feel so cared for, wanted and safe.
I remember the sun coming up. Oh my God how beautiful it was and relieving… these were the signs that we are still alive and not in hell. The sun on my face would warm me up and releasing new energy and faith. I learnt here every day is a new day, and every day comes with its blessings. And every day we can start fresh with new energy and thinking.
As we were forcing our way through the ice and snow a sign caught my eye.
Never in my life, had I seen something more beautiful than this board. I didn’t even know what it meant or what it was. All I knew it meant something. Life has given me a sign. Do you see the signs in your life, or do you just keep on complaining and ignoring them?
I summoned my last energy and will and forced my body forward. Tanya was behind me. I collapsed on a stone under the sign board – STELLA POINT and just started crying. All the pain, frustration, pushing myself came out… Afterwards we would laugh about it cause we called it `UGLY CRYING` and that is exactly what is was, very loud and very expressive crying. Never in my life have I heard grown-ups cried like this
… Our guided informed us that Uhuru was still a few hundred meters away.
We hugged each other, cried together, calmed each other down, took photos and prepared ourselves for the final destination. Again the mountain did not make it easy for us.
From Stella point upwards there are no more stones and gravel, just snow and slippery ice. It has not been snowing for the past few days. The snow had melted and froze into rock hard slippery ice.
Every function in your body is difficult.
I was physically so exhausted, as I attempted the final destination, I remembered dragging and scoffing my feet taking mini mini steps. As I was walking I fell asleep. Lucky for me one of my feet started slipping on the ice and it `shocked` myself awake again. For a moment I was gone. I had an angel with me keeping me on my feet, I swear! This could have been the moment I prepared for to die before I came to Kilimanjaro
From there on I prayed to God to keep me awake. I repeated told myself `stay awake` `stay awake`. This is how exhausted I was and willing to let go of my life. It was so easy to let go at that point.
I had a chance to die. Something let me live, my Soul is not done yet.
They say: once you reach the top the View is beautiful.
And it was but it comes at a cost. You will leave a different person than the person you came. And that means when you go back to the place you came from everything is different, because it`s not that the world has changed, it`s you that has changed
It broke my EGO, who I thought I was, in time it will be replaced with the reborn me, the person God kept alive to fulfil my purpose. In some way I did die on that mountain that day.
We had 31 porters serving us in extraordinary ways. Without them this would not have been possible. My question to you is how you treat the people around you that serve you every day. To make sure you reach your destination.
Yes I’m talking about the cleaning lady, the guy who puts petrol in your car, the lady who serves you food, yes I`m talking to every single person that crosses your path daily that makes your life easier, and yes I`m even talking about your toothpaste and toilet paper, even they fulfil a purpose to make your life easier. We have all experience how it feels when your hand goes out to that roll and it`s empty
When last did you say, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you
There is a saying in life if you don’t appreciate the small things in life how will you appreciate the big things in life then.
`I dedicate this climb to my life, my son and my late Father~
~On the darkest days when I feel inadequate and unworthy, I remember whose daughter I am and straighten my crown`