It’s early Tuesday morning, the 6th of June.  3 more sleeps until I head to the airport and make my way to Gander Newfoundland to begin our expedition.  I am flooded with emotions as it comes with a great deal of excitement, but also a ton of anxiety.  It’s not often I do any type of activity without my husband by my side for support. With him by my side, I can sometimes forget that I have this thing we call PTSD, but when I am on my own, all of my fears are amplified and anxiety sits right beneath the surface of everything I do.  He assures me that I will be fine, and tries to instill some confidence that I can do this, and I will be better for it.  He gently reminds me of how I got through the 5 day Project Trauma Support cohort on my own, and then the TPL Training Camp.  Even with his kind words of encouragement and support, the truth is, this is where I usually find some clever way of backing out of such huge commitments.  The anxiety gets the best of me and I retreat to my safety net. While my circle of friends and family state their level of jealousy and see this as an amazing opportunity and adventure (which it truly is)…..I also see the fear of airports, crowds, anxiety triggers, unknowns, and my biggest fear….being without him.

Throughout my career with the Canadian Forces, I have been to the other side of the world, yet never got to see much of our own country. I am super excited to experience Newfoundland, but even more so, to meet the people at our destination of Fogo Island.  Growing up, my Mom used to always tell me that the nicest people on the planet are from Newfoundland!  She would refer to them as ‘The salt of the earth”.  After meeting Paul, our guide, I know she is right!  I just wish I could understand half of what he is saying!

In preparation for the expedition, we were advised to start working out if we hadn’t been already.  I haven’t found this part too difficult as I was already an avid gym enthusiast and find the gym to be my sanctuary for quite some time.  The biggest challenge for me physically was to incorporate more cardio training into my already existing regime, comprised mostly of weight lifting. It’s been beneficial, not only to my waistline, but also in preparation for my next career move, which will be in the Fitness industry once again.

Last week we were paired up with our Civilian mentors, and I am extremely happy that I was paired up with Jaime.  She’s young, vibrant, successful and full of energy!  This is exactly the type of person that I want as a mentor and I am confident that we will both bring something to the table during our time together.

My plans leading up to Friday morning are to pack my bags and I will likely pack them again and again until I finally depart bright and early Friday morning. Once I am packed, I think it will finally sink in that this is really happening.  Months upon months of anticipation and excitement that led up to this point, is finally becoming a reality!  I am super excited and have chosen for this emotion to take the lead over the next 10 days!!!

Tina Panos