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Evolution, significant events and epiphany moments

I wanted to record the milestones of my metaphorical journey from annual walking holidays and occasional bimbles up hills to knowing that the most important thing for me to work towards was spending a year outside walking, cycling and camping.

I tried to organise the events in my journey in a chronological order, but that didn’t work so instead I thought about them like this –

  • Evolution
  • Significant with hindsight
  • Epiphany moments

And that made a lot more sense. When I thought about the events, I was struck by how many were people being generous, enthusiastic and kind by taking an interest in my half-formed ideas and sharing knowledge that they thought would be useful. How inspirational conversations took place when I least expected them. How wanting to connect with like-minded people who seemed to share my values pushed me outside my comfort zone by not letting these people just pass me by. 

Evolution – moving forward slowly but surely on my journey. Gradually moving into new communities of interest – Facebook groups, podcasts, newsletters about travelling, personal development and adventure. Setting my goals (currently exercise every day, live adventurously and plan my trip) and working towards them every day. Building the foundations that will make my dream possible through knowledge, connections, experiences and a series of small events.

Meeting someone – a self-declared protagonist – who told me about micro-adventures and who introduced me to some life-changing reading. 

Meeting someone – a genuine protagonist who told me about elegant frugality and cycling.

Going to the Do Breakthrough workshops and telling 49 other people that I’m going to leave my job and do what I really want to do. 

Starting to save money for the first time in my life.

Starting to journal every day. It really does make a difference to what you focus on and what you don’t.

Discovering the Tough Girl podcast and Tribe- what a group of absolute legends! I dare anyone to disagree with Sarah Williams’ mission.

Using the time inside provided by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown to apply myself to route planning and it turns out that in a couple of lockdown enforced afternoons indoors with everything the world wide web can offer I can make huge progress. 

Telling people about my plan, and being entertained by their reactions.

Significant with hindsight events – the things I remember when I look back thinking how did I get here? For me these events have mainly been meeting someone and the conversations we’ve had. Something they’ve said has made me decide to act or set me off in a particular direction.  When I look back at these conversations they seem to have only been with men! What’s that all about? Sorry, guys, I love you all, but I wish there had been more actual women – not just the ones I listened to in podcasts or read about in magazines! More women in the future please.

A chance conversation with a work colleague about how he has done at least one wild camp and one wild swim a month that year. I vowed to do the same and started with a New Year’s Day swim in the North Sea and a snowy camp on a favourite nearby hill, which connected me into the fabulous community of Adventure Queens.

Being excruciatingly brave and thanking Alastair Humphreys at the Night of Adventure for the micro-adventures inspiration. I got a top tip about the Trans-Caucasian Trail and it started (sorry Alastair) an irregular but generous-with-time email correspondence, which really has made a difference to how I see myself and what I’m capable of. 

Epiphany moments – my favourite. The lightning strike of complete clarity that enables you to make a decision in seconds and jet propels you along your evolving journey. They don’t come along very often, which is probably just as well as they can cause alarm in others.

Having a moment of complete clarity clambering up the side of a glacier in Nepal – I’m going to spend my 50th year walking and I’m not going on a plane in that year.

Deciding to never plan to travel by aeroplane again. 

Finally deciding where I will go in my year of walking. Then realising that you can’t walk to Nepal in 6 months, so turn walking into ‘human powered’. And then again into ‘mostly human powered’ when I realise how big Kazakhstan is, even if travelling across it by bicycle.

All of these events are a vital part of my metaphorical journey, which is also one of personal development. I have the dream of a trip of a lifetime but that will be just the start of how I want to live my future life. My own principles and values, and those of others, are now what I use as anchors, signposts, guiding stars, bullshit alerts and inspiration in my life. 

More of this in a future post.

 

My version of The Doorstep Mile (please buy a copy from Alastair Humphreys)

My adventure is called Slow Trip to Nepal, but it might be better named Very Slowly towards a Slow Trip to Nepal. I will have been planning and preparing for three and a half years before I actually get going. Three and a half years of the Doorstep Mile.

For people in the same position as me – independent, working full time and more, in what seems like an ‘important job’ you love with a salary to match – the idea of stepping away or even building more adventure into your life can seem an impossible dream.

This is where you may need inspiration and supportive, but firm advice from Alastair Humphreys. The inspiration comes from his many books about adventures big and small and advice  is provided through his Living Adventurously newsletters and The Doorstep Mile book. Alastair is not going to accept any ‘yes, buts’ if you try and tell him all the reasons why you can’t live more adventurously. 

Look at www.alastairhumphreys.com for more information and useful tools, like these spider grams I created last year setting out HOW I could live more adventurously and WHAT I would do to live more adventurously. VERY useful..

If you reach out to others for inspiration and give yourself time to reflect you might reach the conclusion that yes, something in my life has to change. You can then start to work out what will be different, how you could have many small adventures or a big one (hopefully both), and how it could be possible not work for a while without certain destitution.

I can see that the things that were difficult for me are apparent barriers for so many people in my position. Namely, identity, status and money. 

It’s taken me a long time to feel secure in an identity that isn’t primarily influenced by my work, but it’s been an absolute game-changer getting to that point. Liberation!

It’s taken me even longer to get the same pleasure from saving money as from spending it and to be completely in control of my finances. ‘Kate’s monthly expenditure’ spreadsheet detailing how I’m spending and saving gives me so much pleasure! 

In comparison, it’s been quite straightforward and enjoyable to prove to myself that I’m physically and mentally competent enough for a year of travelling. I just keep putting the rucksack on and trundle off, learning something new each time. Usually around the theme of ‘don’t carry so much stuff if you don’t want your rucksack to be so heavy’!

Society wants us to identify ourselves through our paid-for work so we continue to earn money that we can spend on instant, disposable and short-term items and activity to keep our fragile economies afloat. It doesn’t want us to earn less, become frugal, save and basically stop buying things. Which is why we can feel bombarded with inviting opportunities to buy things. Even attempts at sustainability and being friendly to the environment seems to involve buying things we don’t really need. 

So it’s taken a long time to be ready to move on and that’s with all the help, advice, inspiration and encouragement that has been generously given when I’ve looked for it. People have come into my life just when I needed them. I know I’ll need a lot more of this to actually get me through the Doorstep Mile, but none of this is rocket science, an impossibility or unique to me.

The point I’m trying to make is that if I can do this anyone can. The likelihood is, like me, you’ll have to work hard at becoming a person who changes their life and if you are turning away from what society tells us is ‘success’, i.e. the pursuit of a better job, more money, more things, some people around you will be confused and either think you’re having a mid-life crisis or being highly irresponsible. Hopefully, most people will be secretly jealous, get inspired and start to work out how they can live more adventurously.

A blow by blow account of my Doorstep Mile in a future post!