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Share my pillow & my cold feet

I’m at my happiest when I’m outdoors, the wilder and remoter the place the better.

I’m at my most miserable when I’m cold, with no immediate prospect of getting warm.

My happiness and the misery often collide when I’m trekking in the hills.

Sometimes it’s easier to say no to things than it is to say ‘yes’ if it means facing and sitting with temporary misery or discomfort. Yet sometimes a little bit of misery and discomfort are so worth pushing through. If I let my cold feet rule my decisions my life would lack a very beautiful and rich landscape.

Six month ago, on a dark November evening in the rural village of Tomintoil, I’m sharing a meal with Simon and his family. We chat through our dream of running women’s treks in the Cairngorms. We want to remove some of the barriers to entry of hill walking to women. By the time we’ve drained two bottles of wine, today’s date is marked in my diary as ‘Well Being Trek, Day 1’.

Starting the Trek

The day has arrived – my friend Simon and I are guiding 6 brave women on a three-day trek and wild camp, “Trekking for Wellbeing’. I’m here in the capacity of Life Coach and Simon as Mountain Guide.

Standing by the mini bus in the Lin of Dee car park I watch as everyone fills their back packs with food supplies. We start walking with a bounce in our step, our feet cushioned on a carpet of moss and needle pins. Scotts Pine and Fir trees mark either side of our way. The lush grass evidently from the endless rain we’ve had this summer.

As we slip in and out of footfall with each other, the conversation feels as easy as the walking.

Arriving at ‘Bob Scott’s’ Bothy I’ve a gnawing hollow in my tummy. It’s a dark, almost black, wooden building, near hidden by trees. The inside lacks light but the bothy has an immediate homely feel. A peaty smell lingers from last night’s wood fire.

We plunder our sandwich bags whilst Simon lights the jet boil – the promise of tea. I devour my smoked salmon sandwich – salty, oily fish, with thick butter and seedy granary bread. We chat about how food tastes better outside and spirits are high as we start moving again.

The land opens out and the path ascends.

We tread through bog and heather.

The hills spread out before us – inviting us forward, deeper into the Cairngorm. There’s nothing made by man but the path and the tiny wooden slated bridge we cross.

As we begin our steep ascent to Loch Etchanchan the weather’s getting claggy and the sky ominously grey.

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Cold Feet on the first night

Lying in my tent, shivering, I question my sanity.

Cocooned in my maroon silk sleeping bag liner and feather down sleeping bag, I’m achingly cold.

My feet got wet in the bog and I’d had no opportunity to take my boots off until we’d set up camp and eaten.

Although I’d excused myself from the group and headed to my tent as soon as I could, the cold had already set in.

Within my sleeping bag I’m rubbing my bare feet against each other – creating friction – skin to skin – desperate to get feeling back.

Slowly, slowly, my circulation seems to come back into play.

My feet are tingly now.

As my immediate misery dissipates I move from survival mode to frustration.

 

Self judgement

I’m here to support this group.

I’m here doing something I’m wildly passionate about – sharing the wild outdoors.

The group has trusted me – they’ve invested time, money and energy to be here. And yet I’ve spend the last 2 hours absorbed in my own drama.

I suffer from Raynaud’s – it’s a fairly common condition which blocks the flow of blood to my fingers and toes.

I’d struggled tonight to put up tents because my fingers had gone numb. I so wanted to be present with the group – to get to know each of them better, to hear their stories – but instead I’d retreated inwards.

When I get really cold and numb I find it hard to think about anything other than getting warm.

I have this weakness –as much as I’d like to be seen to be tough and hardy – the group has witnessed my frailty.

But as time passes so does my self judgement.

 

The bigger and better picture

I self coach by telling myself ‘I am the way I am’.

All I can do is to keep working on improving my clothing and footwear choices for future treks.

Beating myself up about my weakness – adding a ‘second’ arrow to my initial arrow of pain from the cold – will do nothing but make me feel worse.

Rather I cast my mind beyond my tented cocoon.

If you were here, you wouldn’t see the 7 others as grey canvas tents hide them from view.

From a distance you’d easily mistake our tents for rocks in the murky fog.

You’d hear the lapping of the mountain loch, just metres from our camp.

Ben Mheadhoin is covered by cloud but the gift of memory brings her to my mind’s eye. With her vertebrae shaped bumps (tores), she reminds me of a dinosaur. A dinosaur who could rise up and move away at any time – but who choses to stay, lying by the Loch, supping its life enriching elixir.

I curl into myself, still searching for warmth. Drifting in and out of sleep I’m returning to myself, feeling content and hopeful.

I relish the prospect of tomorrow seeing the view that is currently alluding me. More than that, of seeing it as if for the first time, through the hungry new eyes of my group.

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I’m not the only one with cold feet

The next day Fiona and I are walking down Ben Mheadhoin together.

She has sore knees so we take it slowly.

I’d only met Fiona on Facebook prior to this trip. It was wonderful to see this vibrant and courageous woman step out side of her profile picture.

Rather than the glamourous made up lady on her Profile Picture, her cheeks are ruddy – kissed by the wind, her blond hair pops out of the sides of her black woolly hat.  She’s warm, engaging and one of the most honest people I’ve met.

Fiona seems like someone who is most fully herself in the outdoor environment so I’m surprised to hear her tell me that she came very close to cancelling her place on the trip:

“When I read about the trek I felt a rush of excitement but then when I asked a friend, it was outside of her budget.

After I booked I started thinking up excuses: I might not manage the hills, I might not be able to keep up with the group.

Then these thoughts grew into a broader ‘I can’t be bothered’ – it just felt easier to say at home.

But friends told me I’d regret not going, they encouraged me. I remembered that the hills were ‘my happy place’. And now I’m here and wouldn’t be anywhere else”.

It would have been so easy for her to fire off an email cancelling the trip but she chose to bear temporary discomfort – to push beyond her cold feet.

 

Why it’s worth it

For Fiona the pull ultimately felt stronger than the urge to retreat.

The same stands for me.

Old Shona was scared of the cold, she wanted to be warm, safely tucked up at home, looking at other people’s adventures on Facebook.

Now I know I might be a tiny bit miserable but I’ll be a bigger bit happy.

For years I put off having adventures like this because I made excuses – I didn’t like the cold, I did’t want to do it alone etc. etc.  It’s now my biggest joy to have adventures and to inspire others to have them too.

I come home looking weathered after a  weekend in the hills. I throw my washing in the machine and fill my hungry belly with ladles of pasta and fresh vegetables.

I feel the glory of a hot shower and clean sheets as my head melts into the pillow, exhausted I fall into a deep contented sleep.

It’s my dream for more women find the freedom in mind and body that the outdoor life can bring.   Do you want to join me? We have places on our Trek for Wellbeing this August and September. Find out more here:

http://www.cairngormtreks.co.uk/portfolio/trekking-for-wellbeing/

I hope this post inspires to get out there more – or if you already are – it affirms you in this!

Post script: I’m a life and weight loss coach who is passionate about the outdoors. It is my passion to work with you to help you move towards freedom in your life. This could be freedom from body image & weight concerns – or if you are single, freedom to know that you are enough and that you can have all the adventures irrespective of relationship status. I’ve two new courses starting in September in this regard. Message me if you’d like to find out more.

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Follow the bread crumbs: How to lose a limiting belief.

Last June, as I approached my 40th birthday, a self limiting belief hit me smack bang in the solar plexus.

I was trying to decide how to mark this significant birthday.

I’d always I dreamed of having great outdoor adventures.

My vision for my ideal life involved being in a relationship with someone who shared this passion.

I imagined us sharing adventures together – possibly in a VW Camper van with a couple of barefooted kids in tow!

 

IMG_0258-2But here I was, knocking on the door of 40 and single.

I just didn’t feel I could muster the energy and motivation for solo adventures.

When I imagined taking a trip on my own, I felt lonely and defeated.

My belief was: “I’m can’t do this by myself.”

Which boils down to the even harsher belief:

I’m not enough”.

When I think the though “I’m not enough” I feel deeply sad. It’s familiar territory. Territory in which I’d spent many years. Sometimes there’s a comfort in the familiar but I knew it was a place I wanted to leave.

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Self limiting beliefs

Learning how to think about my thinking has been one of the most important things I’ve ever learned.  Why aren’t we taught this at school?

Day to day, we create meaning from the circumstances of our lives. We do this by holding thoughts in our mind.

Thoughts are just ‘sentences in our heads’. They are neither true or untrue objectively – they are our perception of reality. Yet we rarely stop and examine our thoughts.

The more we repeat these ‘sentences in our heads’, the more they become our default way of thinking and seeing the world. Repetition strengthens the neural pathway.

In recent years, scientists have discovered that our brains have neuroplasticity. This means our thinking isn’t fixed; we can choose to think different thoughts and thus we re-wire our brains by creating new neural pathways. Our brain is made up of software not hardware.

So what was I going to do with this self limiting thought: “I’m not enough”?

Dissolving self limiting beliefs

I felt I had two choices.

I could resign myself to the belief that ‘I’m not enough’ and stay safe, bored and wonder ‘what if’.

OR…

I could try and dissolved this thought by thinking a new one:

Maybe I’m enough”.

There was only one way to find out!

I mustered up a smidgen of energy and started planning a solo trip cycling around the Outer Hebrides, all be it half heartedly.

Momentum was slow but I went through the motions.

I went to TISOs to look at touring bikes. This led to the purchasing of the bike and various bits of kit. I began to look the part!

Momentum grew.

Before I knew it I was booking ferry tickets and scribbling routes on my map. Maybe this would be fun after all?

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You can read about my trip and the aftermath here and here. With hindsight that solo cycle trip was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I felt strong, free and invincible. I Was Enough.
Dissolving my ‘I’m not enough’ though and realising that I am enough has set my life on a very interesting trajectory.

Following the bread crumbs

Since that trip I’ve felt a life force lead me forward.

It’s strong leading yet it feels gentle and kind.

A little prod here, a suggestion or a nudge there.

Moment by moment.

An unfolding.

I’m in a forest following a trail, breadcrumb by breadcrumb.

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Each breadcrumb leads to the next following some natural order that I neither understand nor feel the need to question, nor resist.

Here’s a short summary of the breadcrumb trail I’ve followed over the last 9 months:

  • I meet a guy in a pub in Bara who recommends I read Nan Shepard’s ‘Living Mountain’.
  • I read ‘Living Mountain’ and follow an insatiable urge to solo wild camp on Cairngorms.
  • Whilst wild camping I meet Simon from Cairngorm Treks. I pay to go on a group trek and wild camp with Cairngorm Treks.
  • Simon and his family invite me to work in partnership with them offering women’s wild camping and life coaching treks.
  • I join The Inverness Mountaineering Club and Highland Hill Runners to satisfy my growing desire to be in the beauty of the outdoors.
  • I follow my passion to retrain as a Life Coach as I slowly wind down my PT business. My business grows with very little effort.

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I believe all of the above are happening to me because I chose to not believe the thought “I’m not enough”. This thought was holding me back from living my dreams. Through reframing the thought, I now know I am more than enough and I’m having the time of my life!

Good for you Shona – but what has this got to do with me?   

Do you ever find yourself feeling trapped or stuck? Do you shut down possibility before you’ve had a chance to dream?

Chances are that you – like me – are being held back by your own thinking – by your own self limiting beliefs.

The first step of getting out of this stuckness is to name the thought or belief. Then step into the discomfort, challenge it and find a new thought that will serve you better.

‘Thinking about our thinking’ is hard and uncomfortable work. But it will lead to your unique breadcrumb trail. It will lead you on an amazing adventure beyond your current self imposed limits.

I’m passionate about helping people with this work.

Here are different ways you can work with me if you’d like some help along the way:

  • As a life coach I’m running a free workshop in Inverness, Saturday 27th May, with Women@Work – find out more here.
  • Cairngorm Treks and I have just opened up places on another of our Treking for Well Being weekends, particularly for those who don’t feel hill fit – read more here.
  • I’ll be creating a waiting list for my new one to one life coaching service very soon. Sign up to my news letter or email me to find out more.

Always winter but never Christmas?

“I’m driving home for Christmas, yeah,
Get my feet on holy ground,
So I sing for you,
Though you can’t hear me,
When I get through
And feel you near me
Driving in my car
Driving home for Christmas
Driving home for Christmas
With a thousand memories”

I wonder what happened at the end of this chap’s long drive?

Was he reunited with his beautiful partner? Did they spend a magical two weeks in festive bliss?

Or was she fed up that he’d been away for the last month while she had taken care of the kids, shopping, cooking and Christmas preparations?

Did his home remain ‘holy ground’ for the duration of his holiday – or did he over indulge in Baileys, Sour Cream Pringles and Quality Street and get cabin fever?

Love or hate the Chris Rea song, you’ve got to admit for most of us Christmas is a highly emotive time filled with memories and expectations which are generally impossible to live up to.

What I want to communicate in this blog is the importance of letting go of the stories we tell ourselves about what Christmas ‘should’ be like.

I look into where our stories and expectations for Christmas come from and why these can cause us disappointment and pain.

I share how I’ve learned to let go of these expectations and how this has changed my experience of the season radically.

Happy Christmas Memories

As a child, my parent’s religious beliefs meant that our Christmas celebration was actually on New Year’s Day. We didn’t have a Christmas tree or decorations and I don’t remember this bothering me, beyond the slight embarrassment of having to explain it to friends.

We’d put Dad’s socks up by the mantelpiece on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s morning was the most exciting morning of the year. My even more excited sister Jo was always up first, she’d run back into our shared bedroom and update us on the contents of our stockings!

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Presents were exchanged and much feasting was to be had on New Year’s day. We’d have a three course meal at my Granny’s in her old farm house up the road. My Granny, Aunt and Mum pretty much invented the Bake Off with their attempts to ‘out pudding’ each other. Lots of my older cousins were there and we loved playing chase and hide and seek, running up one set of stairs and down the other.

I don’t remember having massively high expectations of the Christmas season, just lots of very happy memories.

New Expectations & Disappointments

Then at some point I lost my childish naivety and started having expectations about what Christmas ‘should’ be like. Or more specifically what I wanted it to feel like.

I wanted to feel special, magical, to know I loved and was loved. I wanted us as a family to communicate well and I didn’t want to have large moments of boredom. Our family Christmas’ couldn’t live up to these expectations as much as everyone tried.

If I was in a relationship, I’d have high expectations of my partner – I’d want things to be perfect between us. Yet a special day was never going to fix a compatibility issue.

If I was single, I’d pine for a partner and a family of my own. I’d feel inadequate and wonder what was wrong with me.

I’d look at all my friends on Facebook sharing pictures of their happy family, ‘baby’s first Christmas’ etc. All of a sudden my life seemed pretty sad, lonely and well…  pretty rubbish.

Christmas came with high expectations – expectations that were met with equally high levels of disappointment.

Why did I have such high expectations?

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Facebook

My expectations pre-date Facebook but seeing as I’ve mentioned it I might as well start here.

Facebook is such a mixed blessing for me – it’s amazing for my business and for keeping up with friends who don’t live near me.

It’s a nightmare in terms of comparing myself to others. Especially when others only share the show reel of their life highlights.

Christmas time can be especially bad for this –

“Look at us looking radiant as we eat our perfect meal”,

“Look at the little darlings opening their presents”,

– what we don’t know is that it took about 15 selfies to get that perfect picture and that the kids are probably driving their parents to distraction.

When I have icky feelings from Facebook I try and limit my time on it. I consciously remind myself that “comparison is the death of all joy” and “don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides”.  #Shonaclichequeen

The season/ our cultural psyche

Christmas expectations are drip fed to us through adverts, TV, radio, music, our work places. Even a trip to the shops…

There’s an expectation that something special is about to happen. Something we should all be looking forward to.

Me in Supermarket last Friday:

Cashier:   Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?

Me:            No. I haven’t started but I’ll do it online tonight.

Cashier:   What? You can’t, it won’t come in time.   (Look of genuine horror!)

My close friend, who’s a single mum, shared how she feels guilty because she can’t cook a Christmas dinner with a huge turkey roast as the centre piece of the table like they show on the adverts. She lives in a small flat and there’s no room for the basics, let alone a 15-pound turkey in the middle of the table!

Hollywood Christmas Happily Ever Afters Don’t Help!

When it comes to our modern day expectations of romantic love, dear old Hollywood has a lot to answer for – and even more so when it comes to the idea of Christmas and love.

Maybe I should go on holiday and hope that Jack Black will come and visit me? Or pay more attention to the single father/ hot widower living down the street, who looks just like Jude Law?

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Maybe I should stand out side the door of my unrequited love’s house, play him a tape of children singing Christmas carols. Hold up signs with a “romantic” speech written on them. Don’t say an actual word and hope that Kiera Knightley doesn’t make an appearance!

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Geek fact: “Happy-endingification” began in the 1930s in response to a time of grinding poverty and uncertainty about the future. Those funding film on both sides of the Atlantic decided that audiences wanted a good dose of escapist fun.

Eighty-six years later many of us still want a good dose of escapist fun and the film industry know this is a recipe that sells – especially at Christmas. There’s nothing wrong with this –  as long as we know it’s just that. Real life will always seem a huge let down if we compare it to the big screen!

At some level, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I know that the Hollywood happy endings were part of a false narrative that I was telling myself about Christmas.

Why humans suffer

In my life coaching studies I’ve become fascinated with human suffering. I know this sounds dark and weird but bear with me!

I passionately believe that much of our suffering comes not from circumstances or events but from the stories we tell ourselves about what these mean. This was the theme of my TED Talk a few months ago.

We are the only creature to commit suicide.

Why is this?

Because we are the only creature that can create abstract stories about a past or a future that doesn’t exist.

Story and language are hugely influential in shaping our thoughts and world view.

Suicide is an effort to avoid future suffering.

One of the approaches I study, ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), is based on the assumption that suffering is a normal and unavoidable part of human experience. Furthermore, it assumes that it is actually people’s attempts to control or avoid their own painful experiences that leads to much long-term suffering.

I am working on myself, and in the future I hope to help others, to learn ways to let go of the struggle with pain, to be more mindful, to get clarity on what really matters, and to commit to living a full, vibrant life.

It’s not about eliminating certain parts of one’s experience of life, but rather it’s about learning how to experience life more fully, without as much struggle, and with vitality and commitment.

Practicing this for me means that I accept that my life and my Christmas isn’t going to be perfect. It means at times I may struggle with being single and not being a parent – and in the future I will lose family and friends who I love very much.

It also means I realise how much I already have, who I have and how precious this gift of life is.

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It’s a wrap

I entitled this post “Always winter but never Christmas” which you may recognise from C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.  I feel that for some years this title reflected my experience of Christmas due to the stories I was telling myself about what Christmas ‘should’ be like.

At the moment my 25th of December 2016 looks like it will involve:

  • run or gym with my younger sister,
  • serving food and washing dishes at homeless people’s Christmas lunch
  • dinner with my older sister and her partner’s family
  • hiding away in bed with a new novel I’ve been saving!

This might not be your idea of a good Christmas but that’s okay because it’s just my story and it sounds kind of perfect to me!

What will a Christmas that’s perfect for YOU look like?

Your story will be different but, like me, you may face some struggle this Christmas. The struggle may be about someone’s absence or presence.

Let’s invite our grief as well as our fun selves. Many of us will feel the absence of a loved one as strongly as we felt their presence in years past. It hurts. It’s hard. It’s real.

There’s something important and beautiful about acknowledging and embracing both the joy and the struggle that this season brings.

If we can lose the cultural expectations of Christmas it’s easier to  find joy in the little things. Christmas can offer us rare moments of stillness, slowed down-ness in our overly busy and overly structured lives.

Let’s let go of the stories we tell ourselves about what Christmas ‘should’ be like.

Somehow in the act of letting go, something more precious emerges.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” Charles Dickens

 

Post Script

I hope you have an amazing Christmas and New Year!!

Thanks so much for making the time to read my blog. I’d be delighted to hear from you if anything in this blog resonated with you. Please drop me a message.

Although this post is not directly weight loss or fitness related I passionately believe that when we are at ease in life we are in a much better position to work on these other areas.

I’m full up as a PT at the moment but I’ve got places on my Online Kick Start Weight Loss programme starting 19th Jan so please message me to find out more.

 

 

 

 

What if I get stabbed in my tent? Calling out your fears, following your inner voice.

I’ve recently re-membered part of me that I’ve kept buried away for far too long.

In this blog I share how I’ve re-kindled my love affair with the out-doors. Expect 2500 words, about 10 minutes of reading time. Our starting point is the origins of my love of the out doors and why I forgot. Along the way we pass the way markers of

  • my re-union with the out door life through a solo Island cycling adventure
  • my fear of wild camping on my own and over coming this
  • calling myself out on my excuses, my fear and rather following my inner voice

Maybe my story can help re kindle an ember that is quietly struggling to stay aglow in you right now? You might have forgotten it’s there – but, like me, you get the occasional niggling reminder of its presence? For a long time, I told myself stories about my circumstances that limited me from living my dreams.

 

The beginning of my love for the outdoors

I’d have traded places with my townie friends in a heart-beat.

I didn’t appreciate being brought up on our family’s hill farm in Invernesshire.

They didn’t have warm milk with ‘bits’ in it.

They didn’t have to get up while it was still dark on a Sunday morning to muck out the cows before two hours of long church services.

Yes, I had restrictions placed upon me. But I had a freedom and a gift that many of my townie friends lacked.

I spent hours of my day out-doors.

  • From games of ‘attack’ with my siblings on the hill, to…
  • 4 mile round trips on back roads to buy sweeties at the local shop, to…
  • helping on the farm – lambing, moving sheep, mucking out the cows in the winter, tattie picking….

But my favourite and strongest memories are of wandering around the hills on my own. For no reason, just because I wanted to.

Sounds idyllic right?  And in many ways it was.

And then adolescence hit.

Going into the hill behind my house gave me a rare sense of peace and a refuge from all my confusion and head chatter.

Being in nature helped me keep things in perspective. I felt more connected to myself, to nature and for that period each day my inner critic stopped.

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Foot bridge from a walk to the Monadhliath Munros, Newtonmore, Sept 2016

My forgetting

Aged 17 I was desperate to leave home. The problem wasn’t ‘me’ – the problem was this place and my circumstances, right? Well maybe not but it took me 20 years to work this out.

So I packed my bags and left this place -and in so doing, left this way of being behind.

I forgot the hills and the out-doors

– I forgot the thing I thought I could never forget.

Yes, I still spent time out-doors, but it was never an intentional focus and never to the extent that my younger self had done.

I didn’t notice it’s absence.

And yet maybe in the same way as I don’t miss being in love until I’m in love again –

now that I’ve re-kindled my relationship with the outdoors I can see and feel it’s absence for all those years.

Life got busy, other priorities took over.

When I moved back to the Highlands of Scotland three years ago spending time out-doors was high on my ‘to do list’ but somehow it never really happened. (Because I never made it happen).

I’d always thought I’d wait and have adventures when I met someone who had the same interests and – to be really honest – someone who would deal with the logistical side of things.

I didn’t just want to meet an amazing partner to share life with – I wanted to meet an amazing partner who:

– would plan adventures for us across land and sea,

– knew which bike rack would best fit our campervan,

– could put up our 4 season tent in a gale!

But Bear Gryll’s didn’t return my calls and turning 40 became a wake up call to my spirit!

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Torridon, Sept 2016

Re-kindling

I realised that ‘waiting for someone’ was holding me back from living the life I dreamed of.

So I called myself out on my BS, gathered my courage and planned the logistics for a self supported bike trip through the Outer Hebrides (you can read more about that adventure here).

I noticed, whilst on my cycling trip, as I eased in to day long bike rides, I slowly felt my joy increase.

Most of my days were spent out doors in the elements.

As the days passed I became more relaxed, more present, freer, less occupied with self-image (I stopped wearing makeup), less distracted.

‘I’ somehow became less and the land became more.

I’d cycle on this beautiful landscape with a big smile on my face – a smile that I felt was bursting from inside me.

In many ways I felt like a young girl again. But a happy free young girl.

As my time on the Islands drew to a close I became scared of losing this feeling of freedom.

 

Can I keep this freedom?

Since making that first scary tentative step out of my comfort zone I’ve felt an irresistible pull to be out-doors in the wild. It’s felt like several serendipitous encounters have confirmed the ‘rightness’ of this pull.

Towards the end of my Outer Hebrides cycling trip, whilst in a pub in Barra I got chatting with an artist. As I shared my desire to keep the the freedom that the trip had given me his eyes lit up. He urged me to read “Living Mountain” – a book which has since given me a desire – nae a compulsion – to walk and camp alone in the Cairngorm Mountains.

Its author, Nan Sheperd, meditates on the wonder of the mountains and how we can be changed by the wild world if we allow ourselves to be.  She articulates ideas and feelings that were growing in me but for which I didn’t yet have language to describe.

Two weeks later, early on a Saturday morning, I stood outside the Ranger’s Station in the Cairngorms armed with a borrowed tent, OS map, compass, a sushi dinner, protein bars and, as I was to find out later, completely inadequate clothing! All set for my first solo wild camping adventure.

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My first weekend away with Inverness Mountaineering Club, Ling Hut, Torridon, Sept 2016

What if I get stabbed in my tent?

A few months prior I’d stumbled across an excellent article written by a woman who wild camped on her own. In the piece she shared her experience and also why it wasn’t a risky thing to do. I remember reading it thinking ‘wow, she’s amazing – I could NEVER do that’.

What changed in those months that now mean I can?

The only thing that really changed is my mind-set.

Having not died nor had any major disasters on my solo cycling adventure I realise I’m reasonably capable of doing stuff on my own!

The pull of being out-doors, experiencing the beauty and the peace that they bring me, far out weighs my fears and excuses.

 

My first solo wild camping trip 

It isn’t easy for me– I haven’t changed overnight from ‘fearful excuse making Shona’ – to ‘courageous and capable Shona’ – I’m not her yet.

I’m scared.

It’s all been very last minute.

Since reading Nan Shepard I’ve known I have to wild camp. And that I have to do it now before I lose my courage and talk myself out of it.

I’m following a clear path heading towards Ben Macdui.

There are several walkers on the hill.

An older man with two younger lads, all clad in red.

They greet me and we share our route plans.

Before they overtake me, the older one paternally offers to look back and check I’m following the right path if the weather comes in.

Its turned wet and windy and, like clockwork, everyone has stopped,

they are putting on waterproofs.

My Rab down jacket, cycling waterproof jacket and running trousers aren’t up to the task.

My clothes are heavy with rain.

I’m cold.

 

Now at the top of Macdui.

No visibility. It’s blowing a hoolie.

Too cold to eat,

just want to get warm and find shelter.

 

Descending and the weathers changing.

A stage curtain is lifting, revealing the dramatic rock faces of the Northern Corries.

The land stretches as far as I can see.

There’s a lochan to my right.

The sun warming my face.

No longer cold.

Breath-taking beauty.

Smiling inside and out.

 

Now climbing up the scree to the top of Cairngorm.

Moving to a section of big rocks.

Jumping from one to the next – my body rather than mind decides where to put each foot – like a puzzle to be solved.

Cold.  Very, very windy at the top.

In cloud.

Keep moving.

 

Nothing for it – I’m sipping coffee and clasping the warmth of the mug.

Back for seconds –warming hot chocolate feels like a heartfelt hug.

I’m in the ski centre café near at the top of Cairngorm.

I know it’s not a hard core mountaineering thing to do but in this moment I couldn’t care less. Being warm and dry is all that matters.

Indulgence over,  I’m en-route to find a place of solitude to camp.

Walking towards Loch Avon, navigating by a tributary.

 

Joy is bursting from me.

Below the sight of glorious Loch Avon.

Nothing else matters.

All I want is to be alone by that Loch, sheltered by the mighty mountains –

Cairngorm, Ben Macdui and Ben Mheadhoin.

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Looking down onto Loch Avon, Cairngorms, August 2016

I’m scrambling down a river side.

Jumping onto stones, crossing the river.

The challenge of getting here makes it even more special.

Cliffs, craggs and the clear, clear water of the loch.

People pay hundreds for lesser views.

 

But, my heart sinks, I’m not alone.

 

Angels in disguise

There’s a small group of tents sheltered on a grassy patch on my right and two tents on the beach far across from me.

Disappointment and relief.

The wind is picking up. Other campers mean that help could be on handed if needed.

 

Approaching the loch side I’m greeted by Simon, a lithe energetic man, late 50s.

We’d met that morning in the Ranger’s Station and he’d told me he’s a mountain guide taking two walkers out on a hiking and wild camping trip.

I’d felt intimidated by his knowledge and confidence but he’d seemed genuinely interested in my trip. I now take his kindly advice about where to set up camp.

 

Thirty minutes later, my spirits are descending again.

My tent is up but the ground is boggy.

What if it seeps though the bottom of the tent?

I’m cold.

The tent is so small I can’t sit up in it to read.

My Sushi sticks in my throat as my mind races.

What if my tent falls down in the night?

I can’t get warm.

It’s 8pm – it’s going to be a long night. Why did this ever seem like a good idea?

F*** it! I’ve nothing to prove. Ask for help.

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That welcome hot drink from Simon from Cairngorm Treks, August 2016

Leaving my tent, I walk around the loch side and find Simon cooking for his 2 guests.

He kindly agrees to have a look at my pitch, makes a few adjustments to the guy runners and peg angles and invites me back to their camp for a hot drink.

Warmed by the hot drink, great banter and kindness of Simon and the lovely couple he’s guiding I return to my tent, joy restored.

 

I read my Kindle. I sleep.

It’s cold but bearable.

It’s the middle of the night and I’m bursting for a pee.

Moon lit view as I pee. Now bursting with happiness.

 

 

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My first solo wild camp, Loch Avon, Sept 2016

The next steps

I learnt a lot from that first solo camping experience – I’ve got better kit, I’ve learned more about planning and navigation – but I’m so glad I did it then rather than wait until I was ‘ready’ or until the ‘time was right’.

Taking action has always proved to be my best teacher. I’d waited over 20 years to re kindle my love of nature. The time for action had come.

I’ve since gone on a 4-day hike and 3 night wild camp with Simon and few others (Cairngorm Treks). He’s someone I trust and consider a new friend. I’ve also joined the Inverness Mountaineering Club and go away for weekends in the hills with them every month.

There’s so much more I could share with you but I’ve taken a lot of your time already.

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Your story

So there you have it.

My love story with the out-doors.

I called myself out on my excuses and fear – and I followed my inner voice.

I find when I follow my inner voice and take action things happen and people help.

Momentum is everything.

I’m now always looking for chances to get back out on the hills, out on the bike or just generally out in the quiet of nature. I find it hard to articulate the sense of well being and connection that I feel.

I believe our current way of living disconnects us from our bodies, from the land and the elements – and that this is to our detriment.

Do you feel this?

Do you have a way of getting away from your every day brain chatter, distractions and stresses?

If so then I urge you to make time to do it more.

If not, is there something that you used to love to do that you’ve nearly forgotten about, that you’ve so buried deep that you need to re-member it again?

If so notice the stories that you are telling yourself that are stopping you from living that love again.

Life is short and precious. Seize it!

“What will you do with one wild and precious life” (Mary Oliver).

 

Post script

If something I’ve shared here has resonated and you want a blether, please message me!

If you’d like to experience the wild out-doors with some support Simon and I are running women only 3-day trekking and camping weekends next summer. You can read more here.

 

“For now I’m living my life” – Kay’s journey with the ‘C’ word.

I first heard of Kay about 6 months ago from a friend. She told me “If you are looking for a local person with an inspiring story then you’ve GOT to interview Kay – she’s amazing”.   So last Sunday Kay and I sat down with Starbuck’s coffee and had a good blether.

She shared her courageous journey with breast cancer, fitness and living life to the full.

Expect: Lots of exercise inspiration, an insight into losing all your hair and the wonderful idea of asking everyone to wear a wig on her 50th Birthday Party!!

Read on to be totally inspired!!

Hi Kay, can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Sure – I’m Kay! I’m originally from Sheffield. I used to work in theatre –  that took me to London and then it brought me up here, to the Highlands. I changed career 25 years ago after the birth of my daughter. I now work for the council.

You seem pretty fit. Have you always been into fitness?

I’ve always been active. When I lived in London I used to cycle everywhere – I didn’t drive until my 40s. I’d cycle and do gym classes.

I’m 49 and I didn’t get into running until I was about 30, so I’ve been running for the last 20 years.

Why and how did you get into running?

Years ago a friend asked me to do a Race for Life 5km with her. I think it was the first ever Race for Life in Inverness. I liked it and got hooked!

I started doing 10 Kms and then half marathons. Getting good race times used to be  important to me. I always wanted to do a 10km in under 50 minutes but I never quite got it.

I love running because it gets me outside – I love being outdoors.

Also in recent years I’ve become a more sociable runner. I go to events and do club runs. Running with others motivates me to go out in all-weather and during the dark nights. 

I understand that you’ve been unwell in recent years. Can you share more about this?

Yes of course. Well everything had been fine for me health wise so getting cancer came as a major shock. I come from ‘good stock’ – we never get ill!

Two years ago, 2015, I was running with friends and – I know this sounds weird – but they and I noticed that I had sweaty boobs! You could see it on my t-shirt. When I got home and checked, I noticed a lump. So I booked an appointment but I didn’t think much of it – it wouldn’t be anything serious.

I had a mammogram.

They called me a week later and told me I had breast cancer.

Four weeks later I had the lump removed. I was lucky that they caught it early.

They do this thing called “checking the margins” of where the lump was and they also tested my lymph nodes.

I was all clear!

I had radio therapy for 4 weeks and they put me on medication for 5 years.

Then that was it. I felt like I’d ‘got away with it’. I didn’t tell many people as I saw no need.

But I decided to now grab life by the horns!

I’d been lucky and I wanted to make the most of my life.

I don’t like the term ‘bucket list’ but rather I just did things – things that  I’d have done anyway – but I felt the need to concentrate the time that I’d do them in.

What did you do?

Well….

I cycled around the Outer Hebrides with a friend,

I did challenging hill walks,

I went on a hiking and running holiday in La Palma on my own,

I bought kit and went cross-country skiing for the first time

and I booked on a Spanish Course!

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Kay on holiday in La Palma after her first lot of treatment.

Wow – that’s quite a list!

Yes, I just felt inspired to be fitter and do all the things I wanted to do. I actually ran my fastest ever 5km in that year. I ran it in under 24 minutes.

But am I right in thinking that you got sick again?

Yes.

I went for my check up mammogram in December 2015. I felt it was just a routine thing and that I’d be fine.

But they found a lump under my arm pit.  They biopsied it there and then and I was told it had come back.

They removed all the lymph nodes on one arm and I had to stay in over night, something I hate.

What does it mean to have no lymph nodes on one side? Does this restrict you at all?

It puts me at increased risk of lymph oedema. For ages was terrified of lifting weight in the gym but I did my own research and I now feel it’s okay as long as I’m sensible.

What happened next?

Three or four weeks after the operation I had to have chemo.

I took sick leave from work whilst I had the chemo. The chemo was for 4 months and I took 6 months off work.

I received it in rounds, every 3 weeks. I started the chemo in February and finished in June this year.

I was warned that I’d get different side effects: nausea and joint pain (called peripheral neuropathy). Although I got the nausea I never had any joint pain. I put that down to me being so fit and active as it’s rare not to get that.

Where there any other side effects of the chemo?

My hair started coming out in clumps. I knew I’d have to shave it off and get a wig but I didn’t want it to be too obvious. I had long hair so first I had it cut into a bob.  I then chose a similar styled wig and got my hair shaved off.

All my hair came off – my eye brows and eye lashes. But it was okay, I wore eyeliner and drew brows on.

One bonus is that you never need to shave your arms and legs!!

I was lucky in that I felt well during my chemo apart from the first treatment which gave me nausea. But my skin was amazing and I’ve never slept better.

And am I right in thinking you still exercised whilst receiving chemo?

Yes!!

The treatment was every 3 weeks, so I’d usually rest for the week of treatment and train for the other 2 weeks.

It was a very active time for me –  I was off work and I wanted to make the most of it. It was during this time that I climbed my 100th Munro!!

Friends who wouldn’t normally hill walk started walking with me as they wanted to support me. Five people did their first Munro with me at this time!

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Kay having completed her 100th Munro whilst on chemotherapy

I’d run, I felt this strong drive to make the most of my life and to be as fit as I could.

But I also listened to my body and if I didn’t feel right I’d stop.

I was told that after the is chemo finished my heart and lungs will be affected. I’m certainly feeling this at the moment with my breathing.

It’s amazing, although friends were ‘supporting you’, you were actually introducing them to hill walking and fitness!

Yes! It was a great opportunity and I really appreciated their company.

How do you feel about the support that was offered to you?

I feel that I was lucky – I’m in a relationship, I have a job that I love and lots of friends. I don’t feel I needed much external support. But I went to a support group that was put on.

In some ways I don’t know if I needed the group.

I don’t feel like a ‘cancer victim’ – I have my dark days and days where I felt beaten up but I feel I have the resources to deal with this.

Everyone is different – they get the disease differently, they get different treatment and also they may not have the support in place like I have.

What have you learnt from this experience?

This might sound strange but good things can happen when you are ill.

Say more!

You realise who your friends are. I received support from people who I didn’t expect to and on occasions didn’t receive it where I did expect it.

I’ve met a lot of really interesting people on the way.

I feel more open, more sociable and humbler. I realise the importance of being connected. I think I was probably a bit more impatient, more focused on my self and would be rushing around in my own world before.

I made 2 good friends from my first round of treatment – we call each other our ‘breast friends’ – we are a strong support to each other.

I’m going to be 50 this year and my brother is taking me on holiday to lap-land to do cross-country skiing which I’m so excited about!

Oh wow, you are turning 50? You don’t look it!!

Thank you!

My partner and I are going to La Palma for my 50th. It is a very special place to me as I went there after my first treatment and felt SO happy and free. I want him to experience it too.

And I’m going to have a 50th party –every body has to wear a wig! and we will do Karaoke. I just tried it for the first time a few months ago and I’m quite good, it’s a fun thing to do. Before all of this I wasn’t going to bother with a party – but now I just feel grateful to be here and want to make the most of it!

 

I love your energy Kay!

It’s like life has become so vital and precious that you want to squeeze all you can out of it…

Yes. I wouldn’t say I’m naturally a positive person – more of a realist.

But I’m not a victim, I had ill-health – I describe it as a blip and then a bigger blip.

I do fear it coming back. I dread the yearly mammogram.

When I feel fear I think:

“If I die, I die… we all have to…”

I try to be quite open.

But for now I’m living my life.

I’m due my next screen in January and I’m booked to a half marathon in Abu Dhabi in February with friends.

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Kay’s daughter Nina, who hates running, ran her last Race for Life with her!

 

Is there anything else that you are taking from your experience?

I know that staying fit and active has helped me ward of some of the physical and psychological side effects of the chemo and the diagnosis.

Some people won’t be able to do the exercise I did but even walking can help.

I’ve also learned that I can inspire people.

Twenty years ago I wanted to train to be an exercise to music instructor but I thought I was too skinny and would be a poor role model. While I’ve been ill I’ve help motivate a lot of people – I know longer care if people think I’m too skinny! I want to make a difference so I’m going to do it.

I’ve learned the importance of living for the moment and doing things for yourself.

Post Script:

Thanks so much to Kay Odell for so bravely sharing her story here. She is a complete inspiration! Neither Kay nor I are giving out exercise advice to those who have cancer here – rather she is sharing her experience of what has worked for her. If you have cancer we’d encourage you to seek medical advice on your training plan.

Rather I feel Kay’s message is for all of us – if we are healthy or suffering from ill health – life is short and precious and you need to make every moment count. And moving more and getting out doors is usually a good idea! Thanks for reading – please share with anyone you think will find Kay’s story helpful.

If you share Kay’s interest in the hills – or would like to – come walk with me! Find out more here:

http://www.cairngormtreks.co.uk/portfolio/trekking-for-wellbeing/

 

Body Dis-ease – My Wild Journey

“You’re not small…” he paused, and scanned me up and down, “…in fact you’re pretty stocky”.

“I’m sorry?” I replied, taken aback by his directness.

“You’re pretty stocky for a lady”.

This short interchange stopped me in my tracks. My bubble of contentment abruptly burst as an old familiar pain flooded over me.

What to expect

A ten minute read, 2600 words. I explore how even in the wildness and remoteness of the Outer Hebrides I had a body image ‘wobble’. I explore why this happened and I share what I did and what I’m doing in my pursuit of a peaceful and loving relationship with my body and self.

Being wild and free

For my 40th birthday I decided it was time to break out of my comfort zone – time for an adventure. I walked into Tiso’s with a half-baked plan to look at bikes – I walked out an hour later with a new bike ordered and all the kit I needed for a 12-day trip cycling around the Outer Hebrides.

My journey took me through the beautiful terrain of Lewis, Harris, Berneray, the Uists, Barra and Vatersay. I stayed in hostels along the way and could only take that which I was prepared to carry.

As someone who didn’t self-identify as a cyclist and who wasn’t much interested in travelling alone, it took a fair bit of mental energy to plan and make the trip. Yet it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I loved the feeling of freedom that came from having minimal ‘stuff’ with me.

I found cycling a wonderful way to connect with the landscape – with the weather – with myself.

Cycling through parts of Harris and Lewis I’d hear the spinning of the weaving mills in people’s homes. I’d smell peat burning in their fire places. I spotted a couple of golden eagles, and numerous other birds, deer, and needless to mention many, many sheep and cows. I felt the sun, the rain and the resistance of the prevailing wind.

There were many moments when rode with a big smile on my face – as I raced down hills, or looked out at the beautiful expanse of land before me – from the lunar landscape of the East of Harris to the glorious beaches to the West.

Everyday I’d put on my ‘uniform’ of my Lycra cycling bib, shorts and top.

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Me in my ‘uniform’

 

No choices had to be made. I wore make up for the first couple of days and then I chose to stop bothering.

 

It felt freeing to be away from the distraction of social media and I felt that I was becoming less image conscious. I was less aware how I looked as I didn’t always have access to a mirror. The less distracted I was by this stuff, the more I felt present in the moment. My focus moved from being guided to look a certain way to being guided by feelings and intuition.

 

Most of all I loved feeling more present in my body – every day I asked of it to cycle and everyday it agreed. When the challenging hills came up I felt so alive – my heart felt like it was bursting. When they got really challenging – like the Clisham in Harris – I’d kindly encourage myself:

“Come on Sho, you can do this”.

By evening I’d go to bed with that glorious happy tired feeling.

 

Seeds of discontent

Yet it wasn’t all happy camping…

It was much harder for me to eat the way that I normally eat whilst on the road.

I was limited as to what I could carry and didn’t always have access to my normal diet of veggies, fruit, lean meat and fish. Shops were very limited due to the rural locations I was traveling in.

Sometimes lunch would be a scone or cake. Dinner was often one of those packets of pasta and sauce that you boil up and add milk and butter to. And the further south I travelled the more I found other hostellers who had beers and wine to share!

I have the nutritional education to know that I’d not put on weight on this trip as my energy expenditure from cycling 40 odd miles a day was greater than the energy I was consuming from food and drink. I had the knowledge to know that I wouldn’t lose much lean muscle from not training my upper body for a few weeks.

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Amazing scones at the Skoon Art Cafe, Harris

Yet what my rational mind knows and what my emotional mind tells me are two very different things!

I’m a creature of habit and I’ve found habits that help me maintain my health and fitness.

All of a sudden I was out of routine and my habits were different. I was no longer able to weight train and I was less in control of my diet and sleep.

Wearing Lycra all the time meant I didn’t have tight jeans etc. to assess if I was gaining. My emotional mind began to make up stories that I was putting on weight and losing tone.

Reading this now I feel so frustrated that I had these thoughts and feelings while on a trip that was also so freeing and life giving. I allowed myself to be out of habit and routine and loosened my reins of control a bit – and this is good for me. But it also created a space which I allowed to be occupied by unhelpful thoughts.

 
It felt like there was battle between the wild and free part of me that was celebrating my body and nature – and the fearful part of me that didn’t like the feeling of not being fully in control. The words that Donald, a random stranger spoke, touched an already raw nerve about my inner fears.

His Words/ My Words

This particular day was a Saturday and I’d ran in a 10km race. I’d love the varied terrain, the scenery and the banter with the other runners and was on a bit of a high as I’d placed second woman in the race. The first trophy I’ve ever won for running!

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I’m cheating here, I didn’t like my Berneray race pic so this is a photo after the Harris Half earlier this year.  (Ironically even in this post I’m showing you pics of me the way I want you to see me).

I was sitting eating at the large dining table in the hostel kitchen. There were about 10 of us seated, all eating our random dinner concoctions.

I’d met Donald the night before. He was from another of the Isles and was in his early 60s. He was with his friend on a fishing trip.

 I’ve still no idea why he made the comment above about my body being ‘stocky’ and ‘not small’. He went on to say that he thought I’d probably been bigger in the past and had lost weight.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter why he said what he said.

I often say to my clients that no one has the power to hurt us unless we let them. Words are only as important as the meaning we attach to them. What matters is always our response.

I wanted him to stop.

I calmly told him that it wasn’t helpful to comment on someone else’s body and that I found his words hurtful. I can’t remember his reply as I my internal chatter was getting louder and louder.

In my head I’d gone back to an old familiar place:

Who did I think I was?

I’m kidding on that I was someone who could advise others on their weight loss and body image.

 Some personal trainer I am – look at me – even middle aged fisher men are commenting!

Everyone can see that I’m out of shape and they are all laughing at me.

 

Another part of me disagreed.

No – it’s not true.

 You are strong and fit and in good shape.

 Look your body has got you all these miles already. And you’ve just come second female in a tough 10km.

 This guy has no right to comment on your body.

 He’s drunk.

 He’s a misogynist trying to find a weakness in you. 

I left the kitchen, walked down to the beach

and cried.

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Solas beach,  North Uist

Making sense of it

Whilst walking on the beach, I cried tears of frustration and anger at myself for getting upset.

My younger self massively struggled with food and with my body image. I’d hated myself. Donald’s words brought that memory back to me.

I cried tears of confusion. I thought I’d dealt with all this stuff. I was getting bored of always coming back to this place. Exasperated that I was back in this place so quickly and so wholly. Writing this now, I still am.

Why had I, in the midst of such an amazing holiday where I felt so connected to nature and at my fittest, so quickly become so full of insecurity and pain at a few thoughtless words?

I said at the beginning of this post that I loved the holiday as I was traveling light and could only take that which I could carry. Yet I wasn’t travelling light in my head – I realised I’m still carrying excess baggage.

I realise that in my day to day life I’m still surrounded by many messages about the idealised body. My Facebook news feed has lots of news from various personal trainers and friends who are on a diet or are body building or whatever. There’s nothing wrong with this and good on them, but I realise I no longer find their images and news helpful. I don’t want to be thinking and caring about other people’s, nor my own body shape and size all the time.  My email Inbox is full of the same stuff.

Although I was in the middle of a wild and beautiful Island I wasn’t free from all the day to day clutter and chatter in my brain. I wasn’t free from our body and image obsessed society’s messages.

I realised that I want to, perhaps need to, have a bit of a brain detox. I want to travel lighter.

Journeying on

The next day I left Berneray and headed further south to South Uist, to Barra, to Oban, to Fort William and eventually to Inverness. I travelled, I rested, I ate well, cycled hard and had some great and meaningful conversations. I nourished my mind and body and it served me well.

I remembered that I love my body. It’s far from perfect – but it’s what I live and move and be in. No matter if I’m in the best shape in the world – or kinda ‘stocky’ – or somewhere in-between – it’s still bloody amazing!

On a day to day basis I am for the most part comfortable with my own body.

There are days when I feel great: full of vitality, strong and lean.

There are days where I feel okay.

And there are days – like ‘the Berenary- hostel- kitchen- table- day’ – where I don’t feel great about myself and these days remind me why I do what I do.

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A  lovely evening with other travellers/ hostel guests in Uist.

I’m so much more than my body shape – I’m a determined woman with an interest and care for others, with a curiosity about the world and a passion to make a difference.

Being upset and feeling my feelings reminded me of how passionate I am about helping others see who they are and why they matter. In a funny way being I’m glad to have had that encounter with Donald.

Somehow I felt that this episode was significant in helping me reconnect with the pain that those I work with feel:

I hear almost everyday from clients who

  • feel intense pain about their perception of how they look.

 

  • feel a huge discomfort in their bodies/ in their own skin.

 

  • are shamed by the hurtful words of others.

 

I work with women who are far more intelligent, capable and who have jobs of far more responsibility than mine, yet who crumble at the thought of going to a gym on their own due to fear of being judged on their body.

In our image orientated culture it is so easy to zone in, with our bodies as the site of our dis-ease with our selves.  Yet if we can remember who we are and why we matter then we will remember that we are so much more than our bodies (although I believe all our bodies are amazing too!).

We live in a world where for whatever reason, people feel they can comment on other’s bodies.  This will continue to be the case.

What matters is knowing the truth and dealing with the things that are in your control:

  • Like me, you are so much much more than your body. You have intellect, gifts and talents, a story and so much potential.
  • If you have struggled with your body image in the past, like me, you may find yourself revisiting old ground from time to time. This is okay – but just don’t stay there.
  • If you want to make changes to your body image and body shape, know that this can be done kindly and sustainably with the right approach. Learn to love yourself starting where you are now. Value yourself as you embark on your fitness, weight loss and mind-set journey. Don’t be led by your emotional mind – be led by your rational mind. If you aren’t sure how to do this contact me or someone else that you trust who can help you.
  • People’s words only carry the weight you allow them to. The more you can work on valuing and loving yourself the less someone will have the power to make you feel bad.

Coming Home

Since coming home, reflecting on the journey, I feel I need to make a conscious effort to be out in nature more. Without wanting to sound too ‘woo’… – I do feel there’s cleansing and healing that comes from being in wild out door places. I feel it’s good for my soul. I’m so lucky to have the Cairngorm National Park on my door step and I feel that hiking, and maybe wild camping on my own, could be part of my future plans.

I’m taking positive, decisive steps to lighten the load.  I’m slowly unfollowing people and leaving groups on Facebook that are no longer helping me in my pursuit of being wild and free in my own skin. I’m spending a bit less time on Facebook and Netflix and am reading a bit more.

What about you?

Does any of this resonate? Are you already wild and free in your body or do you feel you still have work to do on this too?

Being outdoors and finding ways to practice being mindful can make all the difference.

Processing how you are feeling through writing or talking to someone you trust can help.

Looking at the messages and information you are taking in everyday and filtering these may be useful.

This journey has taught me that when I relax on my habits and have less control I can go back to an old place of fear and insecurity regarding the way I look. I realise that I still have some ‘sediment’ of my old beliefs. But this is okay as I also know I’m on the right path for me and I’ve lots of plans to care for my mind more.

If you’d like any help on your journey with any of the topics I’ve raised, please drop me a line – I’d be delighted to hear from you. You know from reading my stuff that I’m very real and open about my struggles  – I get that this stuff is hard! This makes me a good at what I do.

If you’d like to work with me in relation to weight loss and body image I will be running an 8 Week Online Course starting in September. Please message me for more details or visit here