Just thinking aloud…

This morning I met a man that enlightened me. I felt uplifted in seeing the good work he does out in South Africa, it brought me back to the reality of why I am doing this walk in the first place. It has made me want to write a little… so here goes…

I often get rather bogged down on the nitty gritty, let’s remember what this walk is actually all about, why did I start this in the first place?

Kids that need support, that do not have a family, a mother to hold their hand and pick them back up when they are low, they are the ones that I am walking for!

Someone asked me the other day “What will you do when you are so low and want to give up?” Well all I have to do is think these kids cannot just give up, they cannot just walk away from what is happening in their life so why should I? All I need to do is get up and walk, then sleep and eat, and then just get up and walk again and again until it is done. Simple, right?

I have this overwhelming drive and inner soul that is always wanting to escape and I think some people think I am one big joke. “Is this girl for real?” I am for real, I am not a joke and I have so much to give.

Fancy sponsoring my walk? CLICK HERE

Thank you for reading, maybe today is your day to stop and make a difference?

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How to connect with nature.

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!

Hannahs walk

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. (Fantastic post by Felicity Aston)

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.

The Man on the train…

Good morning,

Today I met a man on the train into work, he started talking to me. It was a brief encounter but there was a lot said from the little conversation had. I always enjoy a conversation with a stranger on the train, on the bus, in the shop… I love talking and reading people, after all we are such fascinating creatures. Often we are in the ‘commuter’ trance so people are scared of each other, I hear their thoughts…

“THIS WEIRD MAN IS TALKING TO ME… WHAT DO I DO?? Quick. Just look down and pretend you can’t hear..”

But I enjoy it greatly, it makes me happy and I feel united. After all work is so darn isolating for me at the moment!

Anyway… back to the story. So this man said hello to the little group of strangers he had sat next to, which included myself, and a few nods were given. Then he looked at my the front of my little book I am reading

‘How to connect with nature’

We talked a little about it, and he told me he had said hello to a little Squirrel as he had been at the platform and a gentleman standing next to him thought he was saying “hello little Squirrel” to him. He then said “Of course I wasn’t saying hello little Squirrel to him, that would of been rather strange!! I always talk to animals..” He then went on to tell me about a little Robin he had listened to singing the other day.  It was all quite funny really the way he told the stories and his little floppy hat. He was a well spoken ‘normal’ man just making conversation. I then went on to tell him I needed to connect with nature because I am walking from London to Edinburgh. He said I had best get back to my book then and gave a little smile.

Human interaction can change our whole mood and completely set our day up with a new happier path, it is a powerful, fantastic thing and many people are just so frightened to engage with someone they don’t know. If you are in a busy, safe environment and you are just exchanging words, what is so wrong with that? They are not going to ‘get you’ or become your new best friend, a few words and then goodbye and you may never, ever see that person again. Go about your day.

What is it we are so scared about? Is it that we are a lazy selfish nation? U miserable bunch of sheep herding ourselves to work. What is it that causes the cold silence on the morning commute?

So that is my morning story, do share yours too.

Enjoy your weekends x

Christmas is not always a fun time for everyone.

Christmas is meant to be a time of joy, happiness, the new year is close and we should be celebrating with loved ones. This is not always the case for everyone…

When you have little food and water, your living conditions are low and your whole drive for life is almost on stop mode. The last thing you want to do is celebrate. By providing fresh clothing and bedding, putting a meal on the table for a family, reading a story to a child… All these little things help bring a tiny bit of joy and a smile to someone in need.

There are so many fantastic charities, organisations and support teams out there supporting those in need and it is vital they keep going and people keep donating to their causes. It can be a hard cold time over Christmas all over the world for many families, so think of what you have and be grateful for the life and chances you have been given.

I want the money I raise from my walk to go back into the communities that need it and deserve the help and support. We have so much in the Western world that we take for granted, just to be able to put a tasty hot meal on the table for a family or give a child a chance with their education… If you feel the same please show your support and sponsor me! Support TWOWEEKS by donating, get into that Christmas spirit.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LondontoEdinburgh

Thank you. x

Dave’s Big Walk

I recently discovered this book by David Wilson.

http://www.davesbigwalk.com

‘The remarkable daily account of a 73 year old man’s epic walk around England and the thoughts and memories that surface during the long, lonely hours of distance walking.’

I am going to purchase this book as it looks fantastic and very inspiring.

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