I think since Dad passed away nearly 6 months ago I’ve been on Mission Self-Destruct. I’d had a very busy 2017 so was living on the edge anyway when he became seriously ill before passing away and since then have been trying to fill every gap of time with work to keep my mind from coming to the realisation that he is not coming back.
I’ve been booking in extra bits of work to boost my poorly bank balance, extra pieces of free stuff to help people out, flitting here, there and everywhere, taking on things that I never thought were in my grasp, being part of events that make me pinch myself, and maybe, just maybe, saying yes too much fearing that if I say no then I will miss out on the next best thing.
When giving my ‘go get ‘em’ talk at Buckingham Palace last week, I said to both of my Gold DofE groups that I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what I am capable of doing now that I realise that I am capable. That I’ve just started on this bonkers journey although I changed my life a decade ago and have worked my socks off since then to make my life sustainable. I think that maybe I’ve been living the ‘say yes now and work it out later’ vibe on steroids and have forgotten that rest is just as important, for my body and for my mind.
When leading trips, whether they are a one-dayer or last a few weeks I, like many leaders I know, give absolutely everything. You have every part of me for that period of time and gone are the days when I could come home and hide in my own little world, but that is certainly no complaint. Climbing Everest has added something to my life that has been beyond my comprehension and now trying to complete the last 2 of the 7 summits, life really is on hyper drive to achieve the funding needed both for the cost of the expeditions and to further fundraise for children's mental health charity Place2Be.
I’m all for gaining the most out of this one, short, precious life we lead but that actually, doing absolutely nothing is also part of gaining that ‘most’, to absorb what has been achieved and to get ready for the next.
I was supposed to have driven up to North Wales on Sunday afternoon to get prepared for my International Mountain Leader summer training course which starts on Wednesday. The course kicks off with a speed navigation test which needs to be passed. My nav is good but I wanted to go into the course bomb proof with a clear and open mind, not knackered with a fuggy brain that is too tired to remember the word ‘contour’ or ‘spot height’.
This course is just the start of another chapter of my life and a very important one at that. There are only 600 registered IMLs in this country and my goal is to be one of that slowly growing number. The IML doesn’t mean another tick in the box of my outdoor qualifications. There is nothing wrong with being a Mountain Leader, I’m very proud of that qual, but my experience in the outdoors and my quals don’t match up so it was time to address the balance. I also want to boost my knowledge, to keep learning and to meet a new group of like-minded people but it can wait and for me, has to wait.
I made the decision to put the brakes on to this non-stop route to a car crash and have mixed feelings about it, but I know that I have made the right decision. Putting something so important on hold is a good thing, is the right thing, for me.
In the last 6 months and more I haven’t stopped and it’s taking a toll on my body and on my mind. I was zoning out on the sofa this morning before a nice relaxed walk with my girls when this post from uber human Megan Hine popped up and cemented my mind:
‘I’ve just been reading Stephen Hawking’s ‘Brief history of time’. Wow!
Did you know a star is formed from a huge cloud of dust & gas? Under immense pressure it collapses and out of this grows a star.
Maybe just like the formation of a star we too need to collapse from time to time to emerge from the dusty cloud in all our resilient glory’
Please don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love my job and all it entails, and I am by no means complaining for I have said yes to all of this. I am so blessed to have the opportunities that I have through bloody mindedness and a huge amount of hard work and dedication to keep bashing on when so many barriers are popped up in my way, but I do need time to breath. My house is a mess, I keep losing things and forgetting words, in a hurry all the time, my garden is a little too much on the wild side, I feel unfit and groggy, bouncing from job to job, from coffee to coffee and from one chocolate brownie to another and it’s time to sort that out.
I was wearing my comfy Salomon trainers this morning and thought, these trainers were made for running and running they shall do. So, tomorrow morning the girls and I will be out doing a short jog to get things going. I will gradually tidy up my house and tame my garden, I shall work on getting my van sold and refitting my new one. I will slowly work on the crowd funding, both the business and personal campaigns and will complete the things that people have asked me to do and said yes to but then learn to start saying no once in a while, as hard as that will be, but saying no is ok to do, people do understand. Believe me, I'm still a huge advocate of the Say Yes More way of life however there is definitely a balance to be made, it doesn't say 'say yes to everything'.
As much as I love my single life, I don't want to be on my own forever and don't just want to fit someone in. I want to meet an extraordinary adventure partner in crime and if I'm running around like a headless chicken, who is going to want to come near me!
Protecting my mental health is so important to me, I need to practice what I preach, and do as I teach. I want to lessen the black fog, cut out the migraines and come to terms with the fact that Dad has left a great legacy, I just need to protect it. Dealing with grief is tricky, it's like the weather and is constantly changeable and like a river, it just needs to run its course.