Rise to the challenge – FACE IT, DON’T FLEE IT!

I’m here at the moment in a sport’s rehabilitation centre in France recovering from my shoulder surgery. I’ve been told I will probably not regain full mobility with my arm… But how many times have I been told that I won’t be able to do something in my lifetime of 46 years!

As a youngster, I would come back from my winter holidays and say, I want to be a ski instructor, my brother would say, “that’s not a real job”… I went on to join the Austrian ski school in the early 90s before going to university. I then worked as a ski rep for PGL school ski holidays, where I met a snowsport’s instructor who I fell madly in love with (and looking back, I think I must have been mad at the time!). When I said I liked the idea of doing the job of a ski patroller… he replied, “that won’t be possible, you can’t ski!”.

I went on just under ten years later in 2007 to pass the formidable French ski test and gain a place on the sought after ‘Pisteur Secouriste’ (ski patrol) training and earned the 1st degree.

In my workplace, the ski resort’s name I won’t mention, many of my male colleagues said I didn’t have the experience to go to the next level. I soon rose to the challenge and gained a place at ENSA, the renown Alpine school in Chamonix to do the 2nd degree – which I passed.

This was when I was given the privilege of taking on a puppy with the French fire brigade mountain rescue unit to train as an avalanche search and rescue dog handler. Again, I was told that I was probably not up to the standard to pass the exams. But when I left for the course two years later, my boss just said with no encouragement for my own competence in this field, that “I had a good dog”. I passed the 2-week course with flying colours. It is often said a dog is what it’s owner makes it.

Maybe every time I am goaded, the fire in my belly gives me the force to go forward in these male-dominated professions. I have learnt that even if someone says I’m not capable, and yet I feel the capacity deep down – I keep pushing forward. Also in those bleak moments, and we all have them, I get outdoors with my best friend, my dog Fjord. I feel so much better after a stride into the hills in the rawness of nature. I am now channelling my energy into educating British children on mountain safety, viewed through the eyes of Fjord, my search and rescue dog. Don’t be put off by a challenge, RISE to the challenge and push through, it will make you stronger. We all need a purpose in life!

Submitted by Caroline Elliott – visit her website or follow her on YouTubeFacebook, Twitter or Instagram.

From hating running, to a desert ultramarathon!

Photo credit to Ben Tuffnell / Wadi Rum Ultramarathon – www.wadirumultra.com

A few years ago I didn’t run. I may have even gone so far as to say I hated it and wondered why people ran for fun.

Then I was going through a tough time in my relationship, felt unfit and wanted to do something to get out the house – and running was quick, easy, free and on my doorstep. I don’t know what happened that was different, but running just stuck, it provided a safe haven and some headspace in the following year through a separation and divorce.

I realised I had become one of those people I secretly admired and wanted to be – someone healthy and active. The more I did, the more I wanted to do more, and the better I felt, and I found I wasn’t half bad at it! I kept challenging myself, and this year I completed the Wadi Rum Ultramarathon, a 260km 5-day run through the Jordan desert – something I never thought I would be able to do in a million years. But with hard work, training and perseverance, I did. And boy, did it feel good!

Submitted by Tara – visit her website or follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Women with paddle power!

When I was training for a marathon swim, several people paddled for me so I could stretch out into the open water of the lake, practice passing food back and forth, and let us get to know each other.

Marsha LaPoint was the first paddler to set off on a multi-mile swim with me, later admitting she had never been out in the middle of the lake. She was amazing. She quickly adapted to staying in line with me so I could see her easily while I swam, she handed me food and water periodically and guided me to a sheltered area when a storm blew by. We were out for over 4 hours and covered about 7 miles. Marsha was calm, cool, and collected, even when the waves picked up her kayak and boosted her ahead of me a few times. I knew I wanted her to paddle while I swam again.

Marsha was part of my kayak rotation on my 32-mile marathon swim, joining the adventure early in the morning (I had started at 9 pm the previous night) and stayed with the team until I finished at 1 am. Wow. Marsha is action packed! A retired art teacher, Marsha always has style on the water. I can’t wait for spring, and hope she will come on more adventures!

Submitted by Bridget Simpson – you can visit her website here.

Thought I couldn’t

I was the oldest person in my diving class.

One of our learning skills had us watch the instructor remove all their equipment piece by piece and give it to their dive buddy (the last being our tank and bcd fin), surface, take a breath and descend before reversing putting the equipment back on.

We students politely clapped underwater – I thought to myself I will never in my wildest dreams ever do this.

When we surfaced the instructor asked who wants to be first to do this, and it just came out of my head to say ME!!. And I did it and it was one of if not the greatest achievements in my life. Diving is a pure joy. It opens up another world of adventure to experience the underwater world.

Submitted by an anonymous but wonderful woman in adventure.

You are never too old

I’ve surfed for over 50 years but my body was struggling with old injuries started nagging at me. So at 58, I started a new water sport. Surf ski paddling. That has grown into racing. And outrigger canoe paddling.

The best part? I don’t have to wait for the waves to be good to go and have a wonderful time. It’s never too late to toss things up a bit!

Submitted by an anonymous but wonderful woman in adventure.

Just Do It!

Working outside often leads me into the trap of thinking that after a hard day the best thing would be to sit in front of the TV. Sometimes this is right but so often I know it is not what’s best for me. I may drag myself out on a bike or for a walk/run kicking and screaming, but once I get going instantly it is the cure. No matter how bad things may get, just being outside and in the fresh air is the medicine I crave. We live in a beautiful country and we are made to experience it!

Submitted by an anonymous but wonderful woman in adventure.

PTSD Relief

Having recently been diagnosed with PTSD, I have been prescribed road cycling, mountain biking and hiking by my psychiatrist. When I’m outdoors in the fresh air I feel as if the veil of darkness that clouds my day is completely lifted. When I’m alone cycling or hiking I’m relaxed which subconsciously gives my brain chance to process my memories which aides the PTSD recovery process. If you know anyone who is silently suffering please drag them outside for something as simple as a walk, it works wonders.

Submitted by an anonymous but marvellous man.

Do the unconventional!

As a kid, I never knew what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. And to my dismay, that sense of no direction lasted well into my young adult years. I had hobbies, sure. I loved to write, and I loved to travel and be outdoors – ever since I was a toddler, in fact. I’d go outside and search for “natures” – which were usually just pine cones and mossy rocks. But those were only hobbies, and my family was more geared towards practicality.

So, not wanting to waste time or money on a college degree I may or may not use, I started working. From the time I was old enough to be working, really. I worked at a chocolate shop, hardware store, restaurants, title insurance company and then finally I landed a job at a law firm as a legal assistant. It was a great job, but it was overwhelming. I was afraid to ever take a sick day since I knew I’d come back to piles of work. I was often working overtime and honestly; it was taking a toll on me. I was temperamental, I complained all the time, and I was starting to fear I might push the people I care about away. I mean, who wants to hang out with someone who’s miserable 24/7?

So I decided, to keep my sanity, I’d set a “quit by” date. At the end of that year, I would quit my job. I’d take whatever money my husband and I had saved, and we’d travel the world and write about our experiences. It was perfect! It was everything I ever wanted to do.

I could tell people thought we were crazy. And there was always those questions “What is your plan?” “How will you make money?” “What will you do when you get back?” – I never had an answer. But it didn’t matter to me. I was over the moon. I was living my dream! It honestly didn’t even matter to me if I made no money at all. I just loved my life and loved what I was doing.

It’s been almost a year now since I quit my job and got on that plane, and I still haven’t run out of money, I still haven’t given up, my relationships are healthier than ever, and I’m happier than ever. And honestly, even if I walk away with nothing, I feel I’ve still succeeded – because I took a risk and did something that brought value and meaning to my life. Something that healed my mind and made me kinder, wiser and more confident.

Maybe travelling and living out of a tent is unconventional, but who’s to decide what’s conventional anyway? Do what you love. And when someone tells you it’s crazy, take it as a compliment. Because it means you had the guts to do something most would never dream of doing.

Submitted by Kristin Quinn – visit her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.