I have started to get absolutely obsessed with Henna. I got myself 6 cones off eBay and I am Henner-ing at every minute I possibly can, I am running out of skin to Henna! I know this isn’t really walk related but it does inspire me and keep me creative. Enjoy my Henna images, I am getting better day by day.. I mean I am not good… yet, watch this space!
I went to an incredibly inspiring talk held by the lovely Paula Reid last night.
Paula skied the Full Distance from the Coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, taking 46 days.
The way she spoke about her pre trip planning, the actual adventure and the after was very calm and collected, she knew exactly what was needed to the T. She spoke in a way which showed me she was a very sure woman. She is sure of herself achieving this incredible distance had reinforced every element. I don’t think one could take up this challenge without being fully aware of themselves and being at one.
I really need to take some of this energy and push it into my walk, I will be alone for most of this and loneliness can eat at your soul causing you to want to quit. I need an empty, clear mind to be able to focus each day and take the steps all the way to the end.
Thank you Paula, I look forward to hearing of you next challenge! See Paula’s website here.
Somebody I knew only for a short time of my life left on an adventure of a lifetime a little while ago. Before she left, she gave me a beautifully crafted notebook from Peter Pauper Press. Chosen wisely, it has a soft tree sketched into the opening page- perfect for me. It also has inspirational quotes dotted throughout as you work your way through the pages. I have not flicked through as I want to come upon them as I mark my words on the pages.
I started the first page today. I wrote out my never ending list. There. My first page completed. Neatly, contented and awaiting. As I wish to go on with 2015.
I just love starting a new notebook it feels so fresh and new, all those thoughts and feelings and drawings and often pointless marks on pages all ready to be placed.
I fully recommend this note book for whatever you may need to write, write it in one of these.
I am currently dipping in and out of this really lovely little book I picked up from Foyles the other day. It is really well written actually and is small enough so I take it everywhere I go. So far I have learnt:
Clovers like to grow on turned up terrain, so often around football goals, where people regularly cross a field, these places clovers grow in little pockets.
I have also learnt that plants grow differently depending on what colours they are exposed to, I am not sure if all colours effect them but definitely red and blue.
This book is one from many of the series of fascinating self-help books called ‘The School of Life’ If you come by one, just pick it up and maybe you might like it. Go for it!
More to follow on this with more learnt facts and fascinating tree-enriched tales, coming your way soon.
What I Learned About Loneliness When I Crossed Antarctica Solo.
In 2011, polar explorer and author of Alone in Antarctica, Felicity Aston, was dropped by plane in the southernmost continent, “to ski by herself across 1,084 miles of uninhabited ice.” The trip took 50 days, and along the way, she learned a few techniques that helped her resist the dark pull of isolation — ones we can all use in our everyday lives.
By Felicity Aston
1. Deny Denial.
The plane that had brought me to the coast had become a tiny black blob in the sky. With every breath, the drone of its engines became fainter. I closed my eyes to focus my ears on the noise but it was slowly, and inevitably, blotted out. When I opened my eyes again, all I saw was blue and clouds.
I was alone.
To my right was the flat expanse of the Ross Ice Shelf, a featureless divide of snow and sky; while to my left were the Transantarctic Mountains, which extended in an unbroken line as far as I could see. In all this landscape, in all this space, I was the only human being and quite possibly the only living thing whatsoever. The sense of absolute loneliness was instant, overwhelming and completely crushing. My heart thumped, I felt out of breath and my hands were visibly shaking. I didn’t immediately understand what was happening to me; then I realized that this is what it feels like to be terrified. It wasn’t that I feared for my life or for my safety, it was the aloneness itself that scared me.
I slumped onto my knees, held my head in my gloved hands and sobbed. It was only once I had accepted the fact that I was scared of being alone that I was able to find a way to cope with that fear. Denial wasn’t going to help me.
2. Channel Your Inner Norwegian.
While skiing out in the open, across the endless ice of Antarctica, I could fool myself temporarily into thinking that I wasn’t alone. I imagined I was skiing at the head of a team and that if I turned I would see a line of teammates behind me.
This changed as soon as I crawled into my tent at the end of the day. The confined space made it impossible to escape the reality. With no one to confide in, laugh with or even get annoyed at, my mind felt clogged with despair. I even found it difficult to eat.
I began spending my days full of dread about the moment I would enter my tent. I would ski for a few extra hours just to put off the experience I knew waited for me when I stopped to pitch camp. Then I remembered a phrase written by Norwegian polar explorer, Erling Kagge. “Let routine command feeling,” which perfectly distilled the idea that strict routines often lessen the emotional response to a situation. Inside my tent, I willed myself to focus only on my routine. I’d repeat Kagge’s phrase under my breath over and over as I tried to think of nothing except my chores of melting snow to make water and preparing my dinner.
It worked. I felt more in control of my emotions and that gave me the confidence that I could, with time, overcome the fear that came with my isolation.
3. Listen to the Sun.
During the Antarctic summer, there is 24-hour daylight. The sun never dips toward the horizon, but instead makes circles overhead. After 33 days alone, the sun seemed to be watching my progress, hovering above me like a guardian. I clung to this faint semblance of company; I needed it. All by myself, with no one to urge me on, I was becoming emotionally indulgent. If I felt upset, I cried. If I was annoyed with myself, I got visibly angry. I allowed my inner emotions to flow into outward expression because there was no one to witness my outbursts. Lurching from one outburst to another, and experiencing such intensity of feeling, wasn’t helpful. I found myself in floods of tears one minute, and the next, I would be filled with euphoric joy at the wonder of my surroundings. Swinging from one extreme to another was unnerving, and it made me doubt my sanity. It undermined my faith in myself.
One day, I emerged from my tent to find the sun blazing in a spotless sky overhead. It felt like it was a friend waiting for me. I began talking to the sun, and not long after that, the sun started talking back. At first, the sun was a supportive voice encouraging me to push a little harder, reassuring me that I was doing well. But over time it became demanding. It complained that I was whiny and threatened that if I didn’t cheer up, it would leave me floundering in bad weather.
I know it sounds crazy, but in retrospect, my mind had created the coach I needed, ready to dish out a pat on the back or a kick up the backside, in equal measure. A little tough love prompted me to implement some emotional self-discipline and regain perspective.
4. Walk Through the Logic.
In Antarctica, I was obliged to carry a satellite phone with me. I could have called anyone in the world directly from my tent. Yet despite my struggle with being alone, I chose not to.
This was partly because although I craved to speak to my loved ones, I was all too aware that eventually I would have to end the call. I worried that after a brief respite from the loneliness I might feel more alone than ever. Furthermore, I was barely able to digest and understand the thoughts running through my own brain, never mind translate them into words and package them into sentences. I didn’t feel I had the capacity to share what I was going through with anyone.
In preparation for my expedition I had been to see a sports psychologist Dr. Stephen Pack at the University of Hertfordshire School of Sport and Exercise Science. He introduced me to a technique called Resilience Thinking, which requires you to walk through the logic behind an emotion, reducing the pain and confusion around that emotion. Resilience Thinking enabled me to view loneliness in a new way. When I sensed the despair begin to build, I would force myself to analyze my feelings. The reason I missed humans so acutely was because companionship represents support, assistance and safety. Skiing across the Antarctic ice exposed me to risk every day, so it was natural that I craved safety, and didn’t have it. There was nothing crazy about my feelings at all. They were rational.
Recognizing this put me in control and restored my faith in myself. Though it’s vital that we respond to life with our emotions and feelings, it’s how we channel those emotions that shapes who we are and gives us the strength to keep going. That’s a lesson I’ll take with me wherever I go…next.
Felicity Aston is a 37-year-old polar explorer who splits her time between her native England and her home in Iceland. She is the author of three books, including Alone in Antarctica: The First Woman to Ski Solo Across the Southern Ice.
I had my first experience with Hillsong on Sunday evening. I was unsure what to expect, I do not regularly go to church, the only time I have really been to church was out in South Africa with TWOWEEKS. It was a very humble experience, the church we attended in SA was pretty cool and young and I felt at ease. Hillsong is a lot like this but even better! Very inspiring and really diverse. The preaching was not in your face it was easy to understand and allowed me to see Christianity in the light I saw it when I was out in Africa. When arriving back in England from my 2 month trip to South Africa in Jan this year I was worried I would lose sight of the new path I wanted to follow… And I did, I fell straight back into the London trap. The moment I stepped back into England, back to my old life I slightly lost the new direction I wanted to take. But today has definitely put my back in touch with why I am here. And the walk is playing on my mind more than ever. So thank you Hillsong!
We can’t all change the world but by believing in others and changing the negative and fearful attitude we have of each other, we can do our little bit to make a difference. Come join me on my journey and see what can happen for you?
Dance Your Way
If you want to de-stress from the Christmas rush or stay healthy over the festive period – here’s an easy tip: Dance. It’s good for your posture, muscle strength and your fun-factor.
Turn on the music and dance around the room, step onto that dance floor at the next party, or find a dance class near you – and salsa, hip-hop disco, freestyle…. Dance your way to better wellbeing.
A thought for today from http://www.innerspace.org.uk/
They have fantastic help sources for stressful London living, try them out they are FREE!
This time last year I was volunteering out in South Africa at Lily of the Valley. Each child at Lily is living with HIV, something they have to deal with everyday for the rest of their lives. To be able to spend Christmas out in Africa was such a wonderful experience, we had so much fun! I would go back and do it all again this year if I could…
From the smiling faces to the incredible songs they sing, they made me laugh every day I was there. These kids might be diagnosed with HIV but they have so much energy and life and they deserve happiness and the chance to shine as much as any other child.
Please show your support on World AIDS Day and give people fighting HIV a chance in life.