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

Another epic weather fail

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe rain on the tent sounded like an army chucking thousands of buckets of water over it. It had sounded like that all night; a constant drumming as the torrential rain pelted the tree above us, which jettisoned the water directly onto our tent. To say it was wet was an understatement.

We’d completed the three-day Tongariro Northern Circuit trek the evening before and had set up camp in Whakapapa Village (it had already started to rain by that point). I was still gutted that I hadn’t been able to climb Mt Ngauruhoe – what should have been volcano number seven in my quest to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 (#40by40) – because of the crappy weather. But this would be rectified – the plan today was to make the drive west towards Mt Taranaki, the 2,518m peak that pokes out the side of the west of New Zealand’s North Island. Tomorrow we would climb. Continue reading

When not to give up

Say you’re running a marathon. You love running, you’ve trained hard and you’re running for a good cause, yet about halfway through you hit a wall – not literally but figuratively. Your energy levels slump, every movement creates a shockwave of pain radiating through your body, and your heart wants to leap out of your chest. Tears prick your eyes as the evil little thoughts start to infiltrate into your head – “You can’t do this,” they say. “You’re tired,” they say. “It’s ok to give up,” they say.

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Experiencing self-doubt

Almost a year ago I quit my editor’s job to go freelancing. That was a big decision; it was tough. But equally it was liberating. And now I can’t imagine having to step foot in an office everyday, let alone share a commuter train twice a day with stressed-out lemmings.
But this almost-year of freelancing has been interesting and more difficult than I expected it would be. If I thought quitting my job was hard, that has been nothing in comparison with grappling with the fear and self-doubt of venturing out on the hare-brained idea to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40. The woeful tally so far being a big fat one! (I sit here writing this with the self-pity coming off me in waves).
The fact is, in the past 10 months I’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions – from the jubilation of employment freedom to the finger-biting worry of where the next pay cheque will come from, and a whole mish-mash in between.

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The tentative plan – and how it all changed

It has not passed me by that we have already entered March and I have yet to tick off volcano number 2, let alone have any constructive plans in place. I have no excuses for my woeful expedition planning. But shame on me all the same.
Last year, I had a brilliant strategy. Mt Vesuvius, Italy, and Mt Teide, Tenerife, last year and then seven volcanoes this year: Stromboli and Mt Etna, Italy; Mt Eyjafjallajökull and Thrihnukagigur volcano, Iceland; Mt Ararat, Turkey; Jebel Sirwa; Morocco; and Nevis Peak, St Kitts and Nevis, Caribbean.
And then it all went a bit Pete Tong.

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Facing negativity

Some people – namely the boyfriend – would say I have a negative mindset. I would argue I’m just realistic. But when I came up with the stupidly ambitious idea to set myself a quest of climbing 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, I think I was neither negative nor realistic. I was in the realm of wishful thinking. 
Having missed by target to climb volcano number two before the end of this year, while also excelling at procrastinating on all other research, planning and preparation for next year’s volcanoes (now eight after failing to climb Mt Teide this year), I have spent the past couple of weeks mopping about feeling sorry for myself.
But what a kick up the backside a work Christmas party can be. The conversation with a former work colleague went something like this:

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Cultivating a growth mindset

Being new to rock climbing is never going to be easy. But to fail what should have been a relatively easy grade 4 climb – that I’d already climbed, I might add – is beyond annoying.
In response, I did what a lot of people would do – I sulked, stomped about, pulled faces, made excuses. And of course, when I tried again I still struggled to get off the ground (literally). What does this say?

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