The motivation behind the #40by40 volcano quest

When I first embarked on my quest last year to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, I was img_0842driven by the desire to challenge myself, push myself outside my comfort zone and find my full potential. Ultimately, I was in search of a new me, to find out who I really was and what I was capable of.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the year and a half since I started this journey of self discovery has been a bit of a rollercoaster. The mental challenge to start and continue has been immense, and it’s been a shock and something of a revelation as to how my mind works and how much I doubt myself and my abilities. And that is incredibly depressing, which really just adds further fuel to the self-doubt fire, becoming a vicious cycle of self-doubt heaped on self-doubt. Continue reading

Feeling the pain: When not to give up

Say you’re running a marathon. You love running, you’ve trained hard and you’re running for a good cause, yet about halfway through you hit a wall – not literally but figuratively. Your energy levels slump, every movement creates a shockwave of pain radiating through your body, and your heart wants to leap out of your chest. Tears prick your eyes as the evil little thoughts start to infiltrate into your head – “You can’t do this,” they say. “You’re tired,” they say. “It’s ok to give up,” they say.

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Why we are more awesome than we think we are

After writing my last post on being paralysed by fear, I was reminded by the boyfriend that four years ago I was s*** (his words) at camping.

A previously successful camping adventure
Yes I remember that first experience with him well – a long weekend just outside Oxford. I had camped a couple of times before – nothing too strenuous and I’d survived.
So in my head this was going to be a lovely drive in the countryside, and a couple of nights, cocooned in a cosy, little tent while the stars twinkled above us. It was still the honeymoon phase of the relationship. Camping; I couldn’t think of anything more romantic.
Until we arrived. It was October – and that was the problem.

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What are you scared of?

Almost a year ago I quit my editor’s job to go freelancing. That was a big decision; it was tough. But equally it was liberating. And now I can’t imagine having to step foot in an office everyday, let alone share a commuter train twice a day with stressed-out lemmings.
But this almost-year of freelancing has been interesting and more difficult than I expected it would be. If I thought quitting my job was hard, that has been nothing in comparison with grappling with the fear and self-doubt of venturing out on the hare-brained idea to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40. The woeful tally so far being a big fat one! (I sit here writing this with the self-pity coming off me in waves).
The fact is, in the past 10 months I’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions – from the jubilation of employment freedom to the finger-biting worry of where the next pay cheque will come from, and a whole mish-mash in between.

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Facing negativity

Some people – namely my boyfriend Del– would say I have a negative mindset. I would argue I’m just realistic. But when I came up with the stupidly ambitious idea to set myself a quest of climbing 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, I think I was neither negative nor realistic. I was in the realm of wishful thinking. 
Having missed by target to climb volcano number two before the end of this year, while also excelling at procrastinating on all other research, planning and preparation for next year’s volcanoes (now eight after failing to climb Mt Teide this year), I have spent the past couple of weeks mopping about feeling sorry for myself.
But what a kick up the backside a work Christmas party can be. The conversation with a former work colleague went something like this:

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Time to stop making excuses

Right now I should be getting excited about what should be an impending trip to the tropical island paradise of Tenerife, one of the seven islands that make up the Canary Island archipelago off the west coast of Morocco. There, I was intending to make an ascent of volcano number two, Mt Teide, in my 40by40 quest.
But I’m not going.

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Things I have learnt: I am a scaredy cat

Most people will have at some point wondered how they might react in a disaster situation. Secretly they hope they will be brave and strong, bringing down the bad guys Jack Reacher style or pulling out a killer MacGyver or Bear Grylls survival move.
I’d like to think I could be the same – despite my weak girl punches and distinct lack of military training. Unfortunately I’m a bit of a cry baby and scaredy cat, as my recent trip to Snowdonia verified.

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Destination: Hanging out over the ocean

Me at the Cattle Troughs, Swanage
I was positively sure I was going to die. Tears streamed down my face, my body shook uncontrollably. “I can’t do this,” I heard myself repeat over and over. But, against the self-preserving urge, I took a deep, shuddering breath, grasped the rope, pushed my bum out to oblivion and attempted the two-metre abseil to the first ledge – some 10 or so metres above a wild, white-crested sea.

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