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

 

 

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

Life after the Te Araroa Trail: Re-entry into society and post-adventure blues

20190414_115546On the outside I look normal.

I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt – clothes I bought from a fashion, non-outdoors store. My body smells perfumed and clean; my hair, washed and shiny. Black pencil lines my eyes. There is red rouge on my cheeks.

My tan has faded while my muscles retreat behind a new cuddly layer of fat.

For all intents and purposes, I look like a regular run-of-the-mill person. Certainly not someone who has walked 2,000km of the 3,000km Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand.

But outside appearances can be deceiving.

Because inside me, long-distance trail walking oozes through my blood. My legs twitch. I dream of solitude and lonely mountains, the gurgling of streams, the feeling I get from walking uphill or busting out more than 4km an hour along a flat stretch of road.

The inside and outside are opposites of each other. I feel off kilter.

I’d been warned about “re-entry” to society after finishing the Te Araroa Trail. Like the rest of the trail, nothing can quite prepare you for it. 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

Almost a month into #WalkNZ: A review

20181126_093634According to the Te Araroa website, the 3,000km trail down the length of New Zealand can take 180 days at a “leisurely pace”.

This is the politically correct way of saying the trail will take 180 days for those people passed their prime, who haven’t done enough training/aren’t fit, and who have to take lots of rest days because their body is slow adjusting to trail life.

In other words – me!

Now before you all get on your high horse; yes I know this isn’t a race, that I have to listen to my body and that this is my journey. But hear me out. Continue reading

How much training is enough?

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3,000km. Five to six months. Mountains, forests, knee-high mud, wet river crossings, kayaking, road walking. The legendary Te Araroa trail down the length of New Zealand. How much training is enough?

I put my hands up – I think I’m not doing enough. At least when I was walking up Box Hill last weekend with a 9.5kg backpack on my back it certainly felt like I hadn’t been doing enough.

Annoying, when back in March I’d put together a comprehensive four-month training programme for this adventure. But life gets in the way. I haven’t stuck to it. Actually, I haven’t even come close. Continue reading

This is what it’s like to live with self-doubt

I don’t need a bully. That nasty someone to belittle me, call me names, tell me I’m no good, that I’m stupid and ugly. Nope, I don’t need a bully – and yet I’m bullied every day.

That’s because I’m my own bully; I’m my own worst enemy.

Since my school days, I’ve barraged myself with negativity, put downs and self-doubt – you’re so uncool, you’re boring, you’re stupid, you’re not attractive, I would tell myself. I’d question what I thought and what I did. I’d tell myself other people were better than me, that I should be more like them, but that I could never be because I wasn’t good enough. Continue reading

Overcoming self-doubt when ice climbing

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“Let’s do this cool gully,” said Richard, discussing the Sunday adventure plans in the Lake District, while sizing up his crampons and ice axes.

We were still in the cosy confines of the hut, nursing hangovers and savouring strong coffee, yet I was absolutely terrified of climbing a wall of ice with just some spikey bits of metal being all that would stop me from falling down the mountainside.

Even before setting eyes on the beast, just the thought of my first ice climb was making my hangover worse. I felt positively bilious.

All the usual doubts rose up and crashed down on me like a tidal wave: I’ve never been ice climbing before, how was I going to cope? I’m not good enough yet so how can I possibly do an ice climb? I don’t have the right kit with me. I don’t want to let the others down. What if I freak out and get stuck? Or worse, what if I fall off the mountain?

To be honest, that last thought wasn’t the one that concerned me most. It was the others – the ones that were like neon signs pointing out that I just wasn’t good enough. Continue reading

5 things I learnt in 2017

2017 – one blink and it was gone. Or so it seemed.

In reflection, it was a manic year of epic highs (awesome month-long trip home to New Zealand, gaining my British citizenship and starting a new journey of self-discovery through my mind). But it was also a year of epic lows (not one but two volcano failures, putting my volcano plans on hold while sorting out my British citizenship, and adjusting to a new reality of frequent hospital visits to see the boyfriend’s father who had a life-altering stroke).

At the start of 2017, I set myself a huge list of goals (not resolutions). The fact I can’t even remember half of what those were a year on probably says it all. Continue reading