You’re stronger than you think you are

We’d been sailing all night and were coming up 17 hours on the water.

It had been a night darker than coal; no moon, thick dense cloud. I couldn’t even make out the bow of the boat.

The wind had been keen and the waves had whooshed. It was anyone’s guess what they looked like beyond the ghostly froth of bubbles that stirred as the boat ploughed through the water.

It felt like the waves were big. It felt like we were going fast.

Come the grey of morning, we were exhausted and the sea was a confused mess, as if it was throwing a temper tantrum at the injustice of the early start to a new day.

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There is nothing wrong with you

One of the defining features of my previous relationship which was emotionally abusive was the sense that there was something wrong with me. 

There were a lot of things I never seemed to get right – the time in the morning I brought his cup of tea, how I peeled mushrooms, pureeing soup instead of leaving it chunky, not caring about him enough. 

And it was always my fault when he got angry about it; a classic abusive trait. 

But really, my only fault was that I took it personally. I took his claims that I was to blame for his attitude to mean there was something wrong with me – that it said more about me than it said about him. 

When I set out on sailing around Great Britain with my current and amazing partner, fundraising for the UK Charity SafeLives, which works to end domestic abuse, I spoke to the girls at SafeLives and we talked about triggers.

Could there be anything during the adventure that might trigger feelings associated with my previous experience of emotional abuse? 

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Why perfection is a self-limiting belief and counter-productive for goals

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Twelve.

I had twelve fricken blisters. Twelve annoying, excruciatingly painful blisters; twelve little swollen mounds of encapsulated liquid intent on ruining my life.

I sighed, staring at them glumly.

The fact none had popped was beside the point. They were there on my feet, in places I didn’t know you could even get a blister.

And that one between my big toe and second toe, which stretched down and around onto the ball of my foot – on both feet, I might add – well that was the mother*****r of them all.

Nasty bloody blisters.

It was the end of week two on my #WalkNZ adventure where I was attempting to solo walk the 3,000km Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand to show that self-doubt doesn’t have to hold us back from achieving something incredible.

And I was in a world of pain. Continue reading

Why comparing yourself to others stops you from being awesome

I was in Taumarunui, New Zealand – Day 68 and 1,032km into #WalkNZ.

I was just sitting, eating breakfast, really just minding my own business when the Dutch Te Araroa trail walker sat down next to me and proceeded to interrogate me.

“How many kilometres are you walking a day?” was his first question as he tucked into a juicy peach. Continue reading

Starting is the hardest part – the secret to starting

It was a two-hour drive to Cape Reinga for the start of #WalkNZ, my 3,000km solo walking adventure along the Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.

Dad drove. Mum sat up front. I took the backseat, staring out the window as a diverse landscape whizzed past the car windows.

Thoughts also whizzed through my head.

Thoughts that asked me what I was doing, what I hoped to prove. Thoughts that questioned my sanity, my physical and mental ability.

Thoughts that probed to the depths of my soul about whether I was really ready and good enough to take on this epic trail all by myself, with no experience and extremely limited training.

I was scared. Petrified of failing and doubting everything.

And then the what ifs started – what if I got caught by the high tide and I got stranded and couldn’t get to the campsite tonight? What if I got lost? What if I couldn’t put my tent up by myself or it blew away? What if there was no water supply at the campsite? What if I couldn’t get my camp stove to work? What if I’m totally out of my depth? What if, what if, what if… Continue reading

Vlog 1 of the #normalisefailure campaign

It’s been three months since I last did a vlog (you can see them on my Facebook page here) and boy was it a little bit scary. What if I stuffed up or sounded stupid? Could I really do it? Was I good enough? What if people didn’t like it or thought I was an idiot? What if I failed?

And that, my friends, is the whole point of my #normalisefailure campaign; to recognise that failure – as it is generally known in a negative way – is a normal part of being human. And yet so many of us – myself included – are scared of it and its implications.

For this reason, I’m seeking to normalise failure. Every week, I’m going to review what I’ve “failed” and publicly put it out there on my social media for the world to see. And then I’m going to congratulate myself on failing, note that the world hasn’t ended, and see if there is a different way of looking at it.

It’s sort of like keeping a gratitude diary but in reverse. For me, it’s about shifting my thinking from fearing failure and beating myself up about it to being proud of it.

So here, in all its cringe-worthy glory, is my first vlog. Follow the campaign with the hashtag #normalisefailure

 

 

Life after #WalkNZ: Return to normality

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I went to the dentist on Monday. Over the weekend I went clothes shopping for the boyfriend and filled a skip with junk. I drank gin and tonics on Saturday night and the other week I voted in the European Parliament elections.

You can’t get much more normal (or dull) than that.

Life in South London is a world away from walking the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand.

I’ve been asked so many times (that I’ve lost count) what it’s like to be back. My answer is the same – it’s all a little surreal. Continue reading

10 things I learnt about self-doubt walking the Te Araroa Trail

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I’d just returned to Auckland after being forced to push pause on my #WalkNZ adventure after injuring my knee at the 2,000km mark.

I was catching up with friends and family and one friend asked me: “So how’s the self-doubt? Do you think you’ve conquered it now that you’ve walked 2,000km down the length of New Zealand?” Continue reading

Why pushing pause on #WalkNZ doesn’t make me a failure

20190309_095443Three weeks ago, I had to turn around and walk back into civilisation when poor weather conditions and a dodgy leg forced my hand and I couldn’t make it over the second highest point on the Te Araroa trail.

I ended up in Hanmer Springs, a spa resort town in the South Island of New Zealand, for a week, eating a lot of food (notably the spectacular cinnamon swirl buns from the local bakery) and visiting two local physios a total of three times about my bung leg.

The intention was always to get back on the trail.

But when a week rolled around and the leg was no better, it was clear I needed more time off. As it was, I couldn’t see how I could walk for eight to ten hours everyday on it on the trail when after a mere 15 minutes of strolling I was in pain and hobbling (and that was without the beast of my backpack on).

It posed something of a dilemma. Continue reading