Why I’m fundraising for mental health

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Three years ago, I attempted to climb Snowdon, England and Wales highest mountain, for the first time.

I was unprepared for the experience, supremely unfit, and attempted to climb the mountain during appalling weather conditions with visibility limited to 10 metres.

The outstanding memory of the experience wasn’t the view (well there wasn’t one because of the cloud), and it wasn’t of getting to the summit. It wasn’t even the thrill and pride of conquering England and Wales highest mountain.

The outstanding memory of the experience was sitting on a large rock halfway up the mountain having a complete and utter meltdown. 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

Tackling one of Te Araroa’s dangers – river crossings

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Photo credit: Iain Gallagher from Lakes Outdoor Experience

The thought of walking 3,000km down the length of New Zealand is equal parts exciting and scary.

Exciting because it’s epic, it’s a challenge and it’s my home country. Scary because it’s seriously hard core, it’s epic, it’s a challenge and mentally I worry about it and whether I can do it.

I chose New Zealand (or rather New Zealand chose me) because it’s where I was born and grew up. In my head, that sits in my comfort zone. I’ve already done some multi-day walks there and experienced New Zealand’s great outdoors so, in my head, the Te Araroa trail sits in my comfort zone. I’ve got friends and family there, there are no dangerous animals like bears, nasty insects, reptiles or diseases. Right now, my comfort zone is so comfy.

When I think of #WalkNZ in these terms, I’m like yeah baby, I can do this.

And then I think of the river crossings. Continue reading

Facing my fear of kayaking – and not letting it hold me back from achieving my dreams

I’ve always been a little trepidatious when it came to kayaking.

Ever since high school when kayaking in the school swimming pool was a component of PE. Physical education, for a geeky teenager who could barely throw a ball to save herself, wasn’t great at the best of times, but the kayaking class was something else.

There I was sat in a kayak, locked in by the spray deck that covered me from the waist down, learning how to capsize and roll the kayak back up.

It didn’t go very well. 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