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Kalahari Resonance

“It is our birth-right as human beings to be telepathic. It is as intrinsically human and available as any other of our other five senses.” Amelia Kinkade

As a storyteller I’m accustomed to the talking trees, animals and other creatures found in folklore from all over the world. But when I watched the South African documentary on Anna Breytenbach, ‘The Animal Communicator’ my view of life changed inalterably. Impassioned, I signed up to Anna’s newsletter, facebook page – along with 42,000 other followers … and dreamed of the day when I may attend one of her workshops on interspecies telepathy.

I planted the dream like a seed. I read books on the subject, meditated more, even stopped eating refined sugar and drinking caffeine and attended a few workshops with UK based interspecies communicator, Pea Horsley to get me started.

And then arrived the email with details of an Animal Communication Safari with Anna B alongside expert guide and tracker James Kydd. Due to anticipated high demand and in the interest of fairness subscribers were being invited to register their interest so that names could be pulled from a hat. Game on! Happily I registered mine before proceeding to forget all about it.

I’d been on the Isle of Iona before I got to open my mailbox. And there it was the very first email, “I am very pleased to inform you that your name has been drawn”. The door was open … my dream was about to come true!

Of course there was a lot more to it than that. A substantial deposit was required to secure my place. Did I have the resources to follow this through? There were travel arrangements and flights to book, was I really going to go all the way to South Africa for one week’s workshop? I’d never been to a desert, did I really want to head into the heat of the Kalahari – days from anywhere with a group of strangers? Transfers and accommodation were being organised by the agent in South Africa, could I trust them? Could I trust myself and the unknown?

Whatever questions and fears raised theirs head over the following 10 months, my heartfelt answer and resolve to release the resistance was always the same, “YES! I can do this, I deserve this – it’s a wonderful opportunity. This is an experience of a lifetime.”

And so the adventure began… into the Kalahari …

Words are fairly inadequate to articulate what was and still is essentially a non-verbal experience. My doubts and fears melted away as I stepped onto the red hot sand of the Kalahari. Emotion rose like a wave as I realised in that moment I’d arrived. In the following days the group bonded easily. We were all there for the same reason: to learn from Anna and James and to connect directly with nature and wildlife.

Each day involved a two hour workshop with Anna where we were given fun exercises to expand our senses and the opportunity to practice telepathy. The vast expanse of the Kalahari and her warm desert wind was the perfect cradle for our practice. The wildlife was abundant: herds of grazers, including the gentle faced Kudu and stunning Sable antelope. I quickly became aware of the inter-relationships between the wild ones. The way different species would visit a water hole, each one displaying unique characteristics depending on the moment and who else was there. I recall the morning watching a pack of African Wild Dog.

A warthog with baby trotted passed heading to the water – the adult cast a wary look in the direction of the pack before hastening on.

One of Africa’s most efficient predators, the pack was relaxing in the dense shade of a black thorn bush – close to the local water hole. With bloody muzzles and fat bellies it was a lazy scene. I watched one scuff out a shallow dint, turning over cool sand before flopping back onto the ground, tongue out and panting. I observed the other animal-beings – some standing in the shade of nearby thorn trees and others wary, slowly moving closer to the water hole. The air was thick with suspense and respect.

Then a herd of Blue Wildebeest arrived, skittish and mistrustful they closed ranks to protect their calves.

I relished it all. Each moment of every day was a blessing and perhaps the bush walks most of all when cameras were left behind and we walked in a silent line deeper and deeper within, never knowing when or who we might meet. With a sense of inner peace and a quieter mind I discovered a profound resonance and connection not only with the Kalahari’s desert wind, red rolling dunes and immense sky but also some of her wild ones – Elegant Grasshopper, Tsessebe, Giraffe and Desert Fox to name but a few.

We live in a Universe made up entirely of energy and vibration. Each one of us is constantly receiving and transmitting a frequency – interpreting the information through our senses. We are continually interacting with the world around us on a vibrational level, whether we’re conscious of it or not. Have you ever walked into a place and felt a distinct “vibe”? Have you ever been into Nature, to the beach or into a forest and felt better for it? Nature and the wild is rooting for us, calling us back to ourselves, reminding us we are interconnected from within and without and that it’s time to wake up.

As I reflect upon my Kalahari adventure I realise the call of the wild is in us all. In fact nature is all around us, even inside our homes. We are nature! We are one of many millions of species living on Earth. Viewed zoologically, we humans are Homo sapiens, a culture-bearing, upright-walking species that lives on the ground and very likely first evolved in Africa about 315,000 years ago. Nature is coursing through us every moment of every day. It’s up to us as individuals to listen and respond without thinking we have to go somewhere exotic to experience it. “Most of the time when people think about nature, it’s of places untouched by humans. ‘Nature’ is often considered something that exists far away from cities.” (National Geographic)

Open your eyes, be still and listen. Wake early if you can, as close to sunrise as possible. Go for a walk – find a quiet spot maybe where there are some trees or open water. Even in the busiest city you can find animals before the day’s bustle begins. Choose your spot, wherever it is and sit in it for up to 20 minutes. Anna calls it the “Sit-Spot”. Relax become aware of your breathing and then take your attention to a small area in front of you. Stay with it, what do you see? What do you become aware of?

If we allow it, Nature shows us how to live in harmony and connection with all life including the relationship we have with ourselves, others and our global communities. The natural world and all its wild ones are continually helping us find our way back to that which never left us, and which instinctively feels like home.

Alexandra Simson

Read this story and more at , my website featuring stories about Inspired Wellbeing.

See here for more photographs of my experience within the Kalahari.

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The 100 Days Project – round two!

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The 100 Days Project – round two!

Do not underestimate the power of YouTube videos, for it was a YouTube video that ignited one of my Yes moments. 

In the video, JP Sears suggested doing one uncomfortable thing every day.

For some reason I decided this felt like a challenge that I wanted to take on, and that I would do one small uncomfortable thing every day for 100 days.

My family and friends had plenty of suggestions when it came to uncomfortable things they thought I should do. I retained the final say, however, which was important!

Here are a few from the list (I’ve written about the rest of them here):

             ·       Starting conversations with strangers

·       Finally deal with paperwork I’d been putting off

·       A Yes Tribe campout

·       A cold shower

·       Dealing with criticism in a healthier way

·       Trying a new class at the gym – the one I chose involved jumping up and down on a tiny trampoline for 45 minutes

Because I was doing one uncomfortable thing for just a day, it wasn’t that daunting (and the variety kept it interesting). This also made me realise that doing little experiments can provide the valuable evidence that we are able to handle more than we think we can.

The sort of view you get on a Yes Tribe campout

The sort of view you get on a Yes Tribe campout

In the year since I undertook the 100 Days Project, I have been able to say yes to a few uncomfortable things I wouldn’t have done previously, partly thanks to the extra boost of confidence I gained from it. Of course this doesn’t mean I’m now a completely fearless person - but it’s funny how, bit by bit, little actions do add up and help to change your thoughts which then influences your behaviour. 

This sounded really deep so of course I had to put it in

This sounded really deep so of course I had to put it in

This year, I considered doing another 100 Days Project but I have been somewhat overwhelmed by my schedule. I decided that instead of not taking on a project at all, I could choose to do a simpler version – it involves doing the following 3 things every day for 100 days. I'm calling it 100 Days of Appreciation and Creativity) – each day I will:

1) Write down 10 things I appreciate

2) Write down 10 random ideas; this comes from James Altucher - he calls it the Ultimate Guide to Becoming an Idea Machine  

3) Meditate for at least one minute 

While the huge adventures that many Yes Tribers undertake are wonderfully inspiring, not all adventures have to be epic and require months of preparation to be memorable. When you decide you can also have adventures in everyday life you may end up having an unexpectedly thought-provoking conversation with someone you’ll never see again. Perhaps you’ll take a walk in the woods near your workplace that you’ve never explored before. Maybe you’ll decide to meditate a tiny little bit every day (which is better than not doing it at all). You might even go a bit further and spend a morning paddleboarding with amazing Londoners that change your perspective about the city you live in.

Sadly some of our fellow animals are less welcome in the woods

Sadly some of our fellow animals are less welcome in the woods

If you’re like me and compare yourself to other people a bit too much, just remember that a project like this is only worth doing if it feels meaningful to you. And if there’s any kind of mini-adventure that does sound appealing to you, the least you’ll get out of trying it is a story that you can share with others. 

Roshan

www.tinyadventuresinliving.com/adventures

https://medium.com/@Roshan.Daryanani

https://www.facebook.com/roshan.daryanani.3

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Taking Bigger Steps: Following Walk for Aoife

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Taking Bigger Steps: Following Walk for Aoife

Since going on my life changing journey, Walk for Aoife two  years ago - where I hiked 600km and kayaked 100km across the Irish sea - I had the opportunity to train to become a nature connection guide. My professional background is in the food and farming industry which is closely linked with the outdoors and an appreciation for how nature enables our survival.

However, the training with Way of Nature UK was far more challenging  than I had expected - it really pushed me beyond my comfort zone. Knowing all I had to do was accept this challenge and keep saying Yes to it, was what kept me going throughout.

After visiting friends in Tuscany in October 2017, I decided to say Yes to moving to Italy with my family - as if a change of career wasn't enough! This was a big life change because I had lived in the UK for 20 years in roughly the same area, and my wife Beth had lived in the UK her entire life. However, the excitement and mystery of the move helped my family and I (Beth, our daughter Rae and Suzie the dog) make the big push to get our house packed up and rented out - doing all the DIY jobs I had been avoiding - so we could step into the unknown.

While preparation for the move was going on I began my nature guide training. The process involved many opportunities to be alone in nature. This was a new challenge. Sure, I had walked alone for 600km during Walk for Aoife, where I had the company of audiobooks, plenty of music and even the sound of my own beautiful singing voice, serenading  passing fields of cows and sheep as I walked with painful blisters, my own inner questions and working through the grief of my sister's death. 

A big part of the nature training was going to be about sitting with my 'stuff', the kind of experiential learning that, even as I began it, made me think this is going to be difficult and maybe even pointless; and I'm going to have to resist from looking at my watch too much if it feels as though time is passing slowly. In truth, it was at times very difficult but it definitely was not pointless.

The training involved an exploration of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ nature - a kind of ‘cleaning the glass’ exercise in seeing where I was, both how I related to my own inner mind state and my place in the wider world - using nature as the base for this exploration. Part of it involved learning nature connection techniques which fostered a state of presence and the other part involved spending a lot of time alone in nature. I had two ‘Vision Quest’ experiences during this training.

A vision quest is based on Native American rites of passage. It’s not so easy to explain but when I spent three days and nights alone in nature without food, on more than one occasion - just sitting with my own busy head - clarity started to emerge in a mindblowing way.

For example, even just the realisation that my thoughts were ruling my life and decisions and often in a negative way was a huge revelation and I was learning how to pull what I needed from the clutter of thoughts. This was a great skill for me to learn.

These tools took me on a journey that has impacted every area of my life and brought me more in line with my own beliefs, and strengthered my confidence. The clarity has helped me appreciate the people around me more deeply and really helped me hold personal issues in a lighter way, freeing me up to be kinder and more accepting of others. This work also showed a new way of being, and I don’t think I would ever have found this if I hadn't taken on the Walk for Aoife challenge.

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Living in Tuscany, Italy - a wild place that feels like a massive nature playground - means I can spend plenty of time outdoors, being in nature, exploring and practising the nature connection tools I learned on the guide training. Now, I feel ready to share the tools I have learned, so they can benefit others as much as they have me.  

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All of these new things in my life - country, training, people, environment – were challenging initially. The upheaval and unfamiliarity took some time for my family and I to adjust to. But I was convinced it would all be worth it and that challenge brings nourishing experiences that help you grow, in yourself and in the other roles you play. So it has not been hard to commit and embrace the changes.

I know that if I keep saying Yes that even more challenges will present themselves, and the journey of expansion and adventure will continue. 

Your invitation to the Endless River retreat - May 2018

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Come and explore the beautiful permaculture farm in the rolling mountains and forests of southern Tuscany. I will be guiding people alongside fellow nature connection guide Jez Le Fevre. We will set up camp next to the gently flowing river, far from the well-trodden tourist path, and immerse ourselves in the peace and tranquillity of nature, supported by nature herself. Being, listening, exploring and relaxing.

Running this retreat is really a dream come true for me – it means I can share all the nature connection practices I have learned, and hopefully help others experience the transformative powers of just being in nature, solo (always in an expertly held supportive space) and as a small group.

The retreat is May 22-26. See here for more details.

Fill in the contact form if you have any queries or call me on 07568 577 062 (free to call as I have a roaming deal).

My blog is here if you'd like to read more about me.

Alan

 

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The Accidental Yes

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The Accidental Yes

Growing up on a remote farm in the Yorkshire Dales, I developed a love for the outdoors and adventures. School was not for me; I was bullied due to being dyslexic and for suffering from extreme shyness. I struggled finding work after finishing my education but an Accidental Yes changed my life and led me unexpectedly down an adventure-filled road.

My Yes Moment

When it came to leaving College, I was nervous about starting life in the working world. I had just finished a course in Animal Management, so I was looking for work involving animals and the outdoors.

Pets at home, vets surgeries, zoos and bird of prey centres were my target. I had been working part time in a bird of prey centre already so I was hoping to go full time there.

Suffering from shyness and anxiety meant I struggled with interviews. Often I would stop just before walking through the door and talk myself into turning around and going home. 

A few jobs I had applied for held telephone interviews, which I preferred as I didn’t feel all the pressure in that set-up, in comparison with sitting in a room with other people going for the same role.

Then one afternoon I received an email, offering me a role at the bird of prey centre. It provided  accommodation and food, which I thought was amazing. It gave me the chance to move out and grow as a person. Within a few minutes of scanning this email I replied – I said YES to accepting the role!

Turns out the role I had accepted was not in the UK – I had accidentally accepted a job in South Africa! I had never been abroad – but at 18 years old I knew I had to go for it, so I found myself flying off to a completely new continent! At first I panicked but I thought: go for it!

I worked with birds of prey from eagles to owls. I also helped with the Big Cats, which lead to me getting attacked by a cheetah. A cheetah’s claws are like running spikes and are not retracted like other cats; so as I stood up with the cat on my back, its claws ran down my back leaving me with a nice scar.

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I also helped to raise orphaned animals, like cheetahs, lions, rhino and a hippo called Humphrey; now when a 30st baby wants to play you know about it. It was like taking on Anthony Joshua. Humphrey later killed a man, but if you try to ride a fully grown Bull Hippo, it’s never going to end well.

I loved my time in Africa and I learnt so much.

Returning Home

When I returned home I did many random jobs, from making chocolate to working as a porter in a auction house. I even became an actor in a film version of Wuthering Heights (I don’t recommend watching it) and also appeared in a Mars Bar advert with Peter Crouch.

I started to become depressed as I knew I wasn’t happy - so I went from job to job.

But I remembered my time in South Africa which instantly brought a grin to my face.

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So I left my job, packed a bag and went to Asia. I rented a Scooter and rode it around Vietnam, through mountains, jungles, deserts and swamps, and back up a road with so many unexploded bombs that it would take 300 years to remove them all.

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I found my happiness by saying Yes to something I had never dreamed of, and this has now led me to becoming an Expedition Leader. I now share my passion for the world and its wildlife to groups of people.

All because I accidentally said Yes!

Matt

Follow me on Twitter

Facebook: Matt Kettlewell

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Walking in a winter wonderland: 30 mile trek to our work Christmas party

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Walking in a winter wonderland: 30 mile trek to our work Christmas party

Our Yes Story is pretty small compared to some of the amazing ones featured on Tribe Stories– but that’s partly why we love it!

Despite my colleague Rory and I having relatively exciting careers working for a humanitarian charity and travelling quite regularly, we have bonded over our feeling that our day to day working lives are not quite enough for us and that we need more adventure, excitement and challenges in order to be satisfied with what we’ve achieved in our short life on this crazy planet.

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We’d been playing with ideas over the past year about what we could do – drive a tuk-tuk from Nairobi to Cape Town, cycle across Asia, rollerblade across Europe – but, whilst our dreams are definitely big, reality has unfortunately got in the way. We’re broke to start with! We also not only need our jobs but LIKE our jobs. And I am the mother of a crazy two year old so it is not realistic to simply  disappear for weeks at a time in pursuit of adventure – as much as I would like to!

But, despite the challenges, we’ve kept the faith and kept talking, often over too many glasses of wine, about the adventures we could and should be having. This desire to live life differently and break out of our comfort zone led us to Dave Cornthwaite and the Yes Tribe – and the ideas that had been zooming around our heads started to seem less and less crazy.

That’s what led us to a London pub on a freezing night at the end of November to join the Yes Stories monthly meetup! Weirdly, we were both really nervous about going along and felt incredibly intimidated by all of the amazing adventurers and speakers we knew would be in the room. It was as if we were outsiders or frauds because we hadn’t quit our jobs and walked across Mongolia, or something equally adventurous! But, after a bit of Dutch courage, we got ourselves seated and settled in to be inspired. And inspired we were – not only by the big adventures, the walk across India, the trek across Israel and Palestine, the waterbike around the coast of Iceland – but also by the smaller adventures, the ones being fitted into everyday existence.  And one quote from the night stuck in our heads most of all – “Say Yes and figure it out afterwards.”

So, that evening, still in the pub and still drinking wine, we wondered “what shall we say Yes to?” We decided it had to be something soon – something we couldn’t overthink, something we could afford but something that felt like a proper adventure that we could be proud of. And we somehow came up with the random idea of walking overnight from home near St Albans to our South London office in time for our work Christmas party. When I woke up the next morning to a text from Rory saying “we had better start planning the walk”, I of course had no idea what he was talking about for a few minutes but, after a shower and a coffee, planning commenced!

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And by ‘planning’, we found two Ordnance Survey maps and looked at them in the office for 10 minutes; we bought a head torch and we checked our walking boots still fitted. But we were still quietly confident – even when four inches of snow fell two days before we were due to set off and we started getting texts from alarmed friends and family saying “nobody would think less of you if you didn’t do this you know”. But this just spurred us on even more. Plus, we were fundraising for Concern Worldwide (our employer) and turning up in an Uber to see all the people who had sponsored us for the walk just wouldn’t cut it!

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Luckily for us, despite the icy conditions, the night of the walk was mild, the sky was clear and, as we set off at 1.30am, dozens of falling stars twinkled overhead – a rare meteor shower that we were so lucky to walk beneath as we set out on our adventure!

By 3.30am, we’d hit St Albans and, by 5.30am, Radlett. We followed the line of the numerous train stations that I pass through on my daily commute without a second thought, usually with a nose in the armpit of another commuter, smartphone in hand, scrolling through social media and dreaming of more.

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We thoroughly enjoyed these first few miles. Walking in the dark and passing through deserted towns and villages and imagining everyone fast asleep in their beds whilst we were on our journey really added a twinge of excitement that we hadn’t expected – and  this feeling that “we’re living life a bit differently to most people right now” is what we had been searching for, and can already feel ourselves becoming addicted to.

Crossing the M25 at 4.50am was weirdly one of the highlights – the most hellish ring road known to man and the barrier between London and ‘everywhere else’. My horrendous sense of direction meant I had never really known where the M25 is in relation to where I live so reaching it stimulated some excitement! Even at this time of the morning, it was absolutely packed with lorries and early commuters and was a truly depressing view of our modern world. Yet walking over the top if it, head torches blinking and flickering and maps in hand, was a real milestone.

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From here, we suspected it would get easier – we’ve crossed the M25 so we’re in London right?! The commuters were starting to appear and the first hints of dawn appeared on the horizon. But this was actually the hardest section by far – walking through Elstree and Borehamwood and on to Edgware was rather monotonous. Straight road, fast cars, narrow pavement, and an increase in the number of fast food shops, garages and industrial estates. We’d left the countryside yet still had a long way to go to reach London, and the ‘adventure’ side of things was definitely waning.

But, then we hit Kilburn at around 11am, my old stomping ground, and our spirits lifted immediately – ZONE TWO of the underground! This was actual London! We were going to manage it despite aching muscles, Rory’s sore knee and the hole in my toe! So, we stopped for a pint! This was a glorious idea and a terrible one at the same time because, even with alcohol soothing our aches and pains, re-starting the walk  after an hour of rest was very difficult, and this was probably the closest we got to actually calling an Uber  - but we heroically resisted!

After this, things got better – through Maida Vale, Royal Oak and on to Hyde Park and ‘proper’ London. With our Concern Worldwide tabards, maps around our necks and disheveled appearance, we received some baffled looks from the Kensington crowd but by now we had our eyes on the prize. The glorious feeling of seeing the Thames and belting out Heather Small’s ‘What have you done today to make you feel proud?’ was briefly overshadowed by the lack of shop to buy Prosecco.

But Google Maps came to our rescue (Benedict Allen, take note, so handy) and we finished the final mile with bubbles in hand and a spring in our step, to be greeted by the cheers of our colleagues and a very enjoyable Christmas party, even if we did have to bail early due to exhaustion.

It was a small challenge compared to what some people achieve but one that we wanted to do in order to prove to ourselves that we could devise, plan and execute our own adventure  – even with minimal preparation and in the middle of winter – and now we’ve been spurred on to more . We have some exciting plans up our sleeve. Watch this space!

Jen and Rory

Reach us at:

Twitter @jenwilliams33

Twitter @RoryCrewACA

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Kayaking for Blackthorn

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Kayaking for Blackthorn

To say that Yestival 2017 had a big impact on me is an understatement. I had no intention of coming away with the resolve to undertake a big physical and mental adventure, but that’s what happened after hearing Darren Edwards talk.

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Motorcycle diaries of a former soldier

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Motorcycle diaries of a former soldier

You've all heard it before, the comments coming from friends and family down the pub or wherever,  who claim they are going to do 'this or that' one day. What actually is ‘this or that’ is anyone's guess. Most of the time, we convince ourselves that at some unspecific point in time, we will break free from the chains of normality so we can disappear into the sunset. Yet sooner or later, the realisation of what it takes to achieve this dream hits home – and we stumble at the first hurdle, because actually,  the hardest part of ‘this or that’ is just getting to the start line.

I've always liked to travel, experience new things and be on the move, so I was well suited to the military and all the moving around it entailed.  

After returning from my last tour in Afghanistan, I decided to settle down…. you know, do the things you're ‘supposed’ to be doing at 33 years old. Well, I tried to settle and embrace the 9-5 structure that keeps other people ticking along, but something inside was screaming at me. Ever since my exit from the army, I felt as though I was constantly battling some inner demons – they go by the name of Anxiety and Depression.

Trying to be the proud tough soldier, I didn't want to be labelled with anything and have to deal with the consequences of being told I had a ‘problem’. Later, my engagement ended with my partner, and so I started the process of living with friends and moving around a lot whilst self-medicating with a party lifestyle and the instant gratification of shallow attention from the opposite sex.

After disastrous attempts at finding a new relationship and telling myself that my job was great because it was easy, I decided I was in desperate need of a total shake up…something dramatic. I needed the old Aaron back. I knew it was going to take something big to restore me to the world.  

A plan starts to form

I had been riding motorbikes for about two years at this point - not much time at all. And certainly not enough experience to go anywhere far, right? Well, sod it. I had this crazy idea in my head for about two months. One day I visited my parents and told them: “I'm going to ride a motorbike around the world. Oh and I'm going alone too.” That was my Yes moment! My dad's reaction was: “That's great son!” My mum's was: “Is that even possible?!”

I was certain it was possible. I heard other people had done it, so why can't I?!

A plan comes together...

I spent the next year or so planning the trip. Everything I did revolved around some element of the trip! I was throwing everything at it…saving money and selling many of my possessions – I thought to myself, “If I can't carry it on the bike, then it gets sold, and I will turn it into fuel money instead.”

The trip became the new focus I’d been searching for. My next mission, if you like. Sure, I still had some shit times. Mental issues don't just go away overnight but I was slowly learning to understand my issues and how to live with them manageably, so that I could still get excited and passionate for life, and the thought that revolved around my head most days, and often got me out of bed in the morning, was “I'm going to ride my motorbike around the world and nothing can stop me!”

The last couple of days before I left were unreal. I couldn't sleep because my anxiety was in overdrive. But when I looked in the mirror, I was beginning to recognise the face staring back at me. I was rock climbing almost daily, doing long distance assault courses, and I had stopped drinking - all these things meant I was feeling fit and strong again. But was I ready for the trip?

I don't think you're ever ready. You just have to go with it: cross that start line and embrace everything that comes your way. It's been just over a year on the road so far - right now, I am in Colombia, which is country twenty two and continent number four! I have made friends with people I will be connected to for the rest of my life, which is more than I can say about some of the friendships I was struggling with back home in England.

The future

So where do I go from here? I still have a destination to get to: Ushuia, the most southerly town in the world. I am still making it up as I go and I'm grateful to be learning every day as new challenges present themselves. Motorcycle touring is my life now. I’ve gained so much self confidence, and am immensely proud of myself for making this happen, rather than being someone who daydreams about doing ‘this or that’.

I'm putting plans together for future trips and expeditions when I return to England. If you're reading this and have been chewing over an idea for a trip, lifestyle change, or perhaps a new business idea, then my advice is this: take some time, breathe, create some rough plans, and let the plans evolve as this can guide you towards taking the first step.  

As cheesy as it sounds, just say Yes! I doubt you’ll regret it.

Aaron

www.AaronMitchell.net
www.Facebook.com/AaronMitchell83
www.Facebook.com/AaronMitchellUk
www.Instagram.com/AaronMitchellUk

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Are you in pursuit of unleashing your best, most authentic self?

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Are you in pursuit of unleashing your best, most authentic self?

Me too.

It’s been quite a journey for me so far over the last eight years.

Akin to floating down a river; sometimes coming across rapids and waterfalls, other times long calm stretches that meander along; and quite often, stopping to meet a fun tribe, try a new float, have a go on a tyre swing, or hear a few words of wisdom from a wizened monk.

Most recently, I’ve exchanged floats and embarked on a new journey of creating, and hosting a podcast called The Lilly Wild Show to help you become unstoppable, to unleash your potential and forge new connections with other like-minded souls.

The Lilly Wild Show

When I started finding mentors for my own health and business, my life transformed. I would now love for you to have that experience too.

Each week, I’d love for you to join me, as I jump into the nitty gritty of how to unlock and unleash your best self with some of the brightest, most badass world changers and forward thinking minds in adventure, health, fitness, entertainment, science, entrepreneurship and much more!

Intimate, raw, open and often intense, these are conversations that will motivate, inspire, empower and provoke you to discover, how you can become the best version of you and create a life you truly love.

This has become my passion over the duration of my winding journey of ups and downs, that I would love to share with you, openly, honestly and vulnerably, so that you feel you can create a life you love too.

It All Began With…“If They Can Do It, So Can I”

Sometimes it’s the simplest questions that prove to be the key to unlocking and unleashing our best, most extraordinary self. 

Tony Robbins says the quality of questions you ask, creates the quality of your life. 

I now know what he means…

It was a cold blustery morning in Vancouver, where I was studying for a Geography degree. I stealed myself away into the student union, a large glass building, it’s gloominess reflecting the outside weather. It was empty at 6am.

When I got onto Skype to talk to my life coach, I felt despair and sadness encroaching in, silent tears rolled down my cheeks. I wanted to quit, but fear was holding me back. 

He asked me ‘Why can’t you quit and do something you love?’ Why can’t you create your own brand and business like Al Humphreys, Rich Roll or Sophie Radcliffe?

I hadn’t been challenged in this way before and my rather pathetic counter argument was.. ’but I can’t’, to which he replied ‘Why?’

It was like a light had been switched on and I suddenly thought to myself, ‘ Well if these people who I follow and love, like Christmas Abbott, Belinda Kirk, Tony Robbins Tim Ferriss, Brendon Burchard and Anna McNuff are creating a successful life for themselves doing what they love, then maybe I could do it too.’

That was all I needed. A whole new world suddenly opened up to me. I used this as my mantra and decided to quit University for the second time, the first being due to ill health. Almost instantly, I signed up to Escape The City.

I was met with resistance, but all I kept saying to myself was; “If they can do it, so can I!’ This gave me the momentum to follow my intuition and heart.

During this time I also created a vision board of how I wanted my life to look; this continues to evolve as I grow to know myself, but now I have my vision and I know I can arrive there.

My vision is to create a life that intertwines the worlds of adventure, action sport and start-ups with life transformation coaching and brain training. 

My passion lies in self-mastery; pushing the boundaries of your mind and body, going against the grain of conventional wisdom, the pursuit of adventure and unlocking and unleashing your best, most extraordinary self - regardless of gender, background or experience.

Creating A Life You Love Starts With Your Mind

The key to thriving is your mind. I have learnt this lesson many times over and it’s finally hit home.

The first time I learnt this invaluable lesson was four years ago, when I fully recovered from four years of moderately severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bladder Syndrome and Irritable Bowl Syndrome.

Using a powerful combination of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Hypnosis and Coaching, in 3 days I was trained to recognise when I was using my body, nervous system and specific language patterns in a damaging, stuck way and how to develop new, healthier, wonderful neurological pathways.

I’ve found these tools to be incredibly powerful and fascinating, so I’m now training for my Masters in NLP, Hypnosis and Coaching. 

Together, these tools have enabled me to be a catalyst for transformation, for myself and others. 

I can help people uncover and put into action the tools, resources and strategies that they need to unleash their most extraordinary self, achieve astonishing results, reach incredible levels of personal fulfillment and live a life they love.

I believe that everyone is a genius, either at useful or not so useful behaviours.

We all have the resources we need within us to get what we want out of life and most importantly, we always have a choice of the emotional state we’re in at any given time.

Learning and understanding how we can create powerful, useful emotional states and choosing to be in the most useful states at any given time, is crucial to living a life you love. This allows to surf the waves of life, instead of crashing into them.

The Importance Of Mentors

I’ve been fortunate to have three amazing mentors, who have come into my life at the perfect time and have pointed me in the right direction. 

My life coach was the person who empowered me to take action and gave me the confidence and courage to stand up for myself, as previously mentioned.

Another mentor that stands out to me, was one I met in Australia…

Having just arrived back from a thrilling time working on a cattle station, we were sitting in a bar talking about the future. He sensed that I wasn’t very excited about studying Geophysics at Southampton University the following year. 

So he asked the simple question; ‘What the f*ck do you want to do that for? Just quit and do something you’re passionate about’. 

I never knew that it was an option available to me!! So I withdrew my application to university pretty much the next day.

Be Like Water

I have something to confess…I’m a self-improvement geek and junkie. 

I love making mistakes, failing fast and receiving feedback, because I can then improve, develop, grow, and take another step closer to my best, most authentic self. 

My life coach first taught me to go with the flow by being like water. 

If you try to hold onto water tightly, then it will just run through your fingers and you’ll never get anywhere. 

However, if you allow water to flow and cup it in your hand gently, then you will have more success in holding onto it. 

So this is what I try to do: go with the flow of the universe with ease, comfort and a sense of calmness and a knowing, that whatever happens, it has happened for the best, even if you can’t see the wood for the trees at the time.

As Steve Job’s says, “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.’

The Yes Moments

For me there is no singular Yes Moment that has transformed my life and led me to where I am today, but rather, a series of Yes Moments.

The feeling to break through the constraints of conventional wisdom had been bubbling powerfully away inside me since 2012, when I heard Paul Rose’s talk about Frank Wild: Antarctica's Forgotten Hero at the Royal Geographical Society. I heard Wild’s quote and thought, THAT’S ME!

‘Once wedded to Nature there is no divorce - separate her you may and hide yourself amongst the flesh-pots of London, but the wild will keep calling and calling forever in your ears. You cannot escape the "little voices” - Frank Wild

Adelaide on Durang Durung glacier, Ladakh

Adelaide on Durang Durung glacier, Ladakh

The dream of embarking on a polar adventure drove me to fully recover from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and so my most powerful Yes moment was a year after this. In April 2013, I said Yes to learning how to re-wire my bran (in three days) with the powerful combination of NLP, Hypnosis and Coaching.

This has been the single, biggest transformation I have ever experienced.

My Next Yes Was To Adventure…

I had never been adventuring before, but decided to join an Explorers Connect event soon after fully recovering. Safe to say, one microadventure had me hooked on exploring, pushing my comfort zone and having fun in the great outdoors.

The next Yes moment was withdrawing from university for the second time and joining Escape The City’s Startup Tribe. This gave me a spring board for learning how to create a business, including The Lilly Wild Show, and my new coaching business.

Dave Cornthwaite and the Say Yes More Tribe continually inspire me and give me the incredible energy to Say Yes More. Without them, the Explorers Connect community, Project Awesome, and the Escape The City communities, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Every member is unique and whether they realise it or not, they have all inspired and motivated me every day to continue along my path.

_______________________________________________________________________________

If you’re intrigued by my story and curious to know more, plug into The Lilly Wild Show to listen to my short n’ sweet episode '0' where I talk about my journey, or you can dive straight into one of the fabulous episodes! A few of my guests have been Yestival speakers too :)

Stay Wild!

Adelaide x

Host and Founder of The Lilly Wild Show, a weekly podcast designed to delve deep into how to become the best version of you, with some of the most badass world changers.

Transformational coach | I can help you unlock and unleash your most extraordinary self in minutes, when normally it would take years.

Join my weekly newsletter to discover the Tools and Tactics you need to Unlock and Unleash Your Most Extraordinary Self

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Minimalism, van-dwelling and DIY

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Minimalism, van-dwelling and DIY

I bought my first van during my travels after university because I got fed up with trying to sleep in noisy dorm rooms! My YES moment to buy the van was actually quite spontaneous and was based on the need for better sleep, more freedom, and knowing that I could also handle any DIY required.

I instantly fell in love with the freedom it gave me – I could choose where to go based on how much I liked a location. I was no longer constrained by cost or the availability of a dorm bed.

I have always been fond of living the simple life, unrestrained by unnecessary ‘stuff’ and owning things, which end up becoming a huge anchor! Planning what colour of sofa or wallpaper to buy has never interested me – what appealed to me far more post-uni was drawing a scale plan of a tiny space and figuring out how to live most comfortably in the confines of that space. And I still feel the same way.

My first van was a Toyota Liteace. I bought it from a few travellers so it was already kitted out and ready to go. However, I always fancied doing one up myself, so in 2011 I bought a Nissan Serena and installed a bed and curtains. It’s a small van so there’s not much room for anything else.

Nissan Serena

Nissan Serena

Nissan Serena - bed structure

Nissan Serena - bed structure

Nissan Serena - cosy interior!

Nissan Serena - cosy interior!

My latest van has definitely been my biggest project. I bought it as a nine seater VW Transporter; the first thing I did was reduce the seats to five and levelled the floor (seat anchor points are a converter’s nightmare!) Other upgrades include a new elevating roof, solar panel, second battery, low consumption LED lights, swivel around passenger seat, fridge and a small unit with a wash basin. In total there are two double beds: one in the roof and one down.

VW Transporter van - tinted windows were the only modification

VW Transporter van - tinted windows were the only modification

I bought my latest van during a period of uncertainty in 2015, during a redundancy situation at my work. However, the uncertainty was motivating, and encouraged me to part with my hard-earned savings – this felt better than simply hoarding my pennies and fretting about what to do next!

I knew that, worst case scenario, I could just move into my van permanently and therefore free myself of all the expenses of renting an apartment in Barcelona. After all, I’d lived in a van for 18 months previously. Living in Spain also meant I could head south and enjoy milder weather even in winter.

In the end, I retained my job, so I still had a source of income to fund the renovations to make the van my dream home on wheels! I could also take more time to think about how I would upgrade it, rather than having to move into it and then improve it based on immediate necessity.

A priority for me was upgrading the van so that I could live in it as self-sufficiently as possible. I installed a fridge but wanted to avoid the use of gas canisters to popwer it – so I turned to solar panels.

Solar panels on the van roof!

Solar panels on the van roof!

Whenever I hear the thermostat click on, I’m still mesmerised by the simple brilliance of the fridge being powered by a square black 100w solar panel on the roof. My little cooker is butane but I’m eyeing up some neat compact solar ovens for the future.

I’ve spent 24 months making incremental improvements to my current van.

DIY in the workshop

DIY in the workshop

VW Transporter double bed inside

VW Transporter double bed inside

 

Office cabinets modified to fit inside the van, and a DIY sink

Office cabinets modified to fit inside the van, and a DIY sink

Unit with salad bowl for the wash basin - I cut a hole in the bottom for the plug

Unit with salad bowl for the wash basin - I cut a hole in the bottom for the plug

The van heals

Having a van means space is limited, and this has been a helpful constraint as it tempers a less-welcome side of me: a need for more. Living in a van means you are restricted to only buying and retaining things that are genuinely useful.

This is hugely freeing and means I take more pleasure from the few possessions I do have, as well as from situations, such as when I find a new spot where I can park up the van and make some food, camp up for the night, and decide the next day if I want to stay or carry on the journey.

I still toy with the idea of full-time van dwelling. I’ve recently discovered the joy of making and drinking spinach, melon and kefir smoothies – perhaps one day I’ll set up a smoothie business, selling out of the van to passers-by.

However, as life unfolds, the realities of this existence, and the footloose and fancy free lifestyle, are becoming less plausible. But that’s ok: I’ll always have the van and can still take shorter trips with my fiancée, who owns the new elevating roof! The van has become a labour of love, a shared love that represents our thirst for adventure and our enthusiasm for the simple life.

Some advice if you’re thinking of buying a van and/or living on the road for a period of time:

1)      Start with the basics

I’ve known a few people that kitted out their dream van from day one and they have all regretted it. Get the basics in there, probably a bed, and see how you interact with the space. Small, incremental improvements are wise – this could be as simple as making a pocket in your curtains in a strategic place to store your glasses! Experiment with the space by doing some trips and then adjust according to your needs.

2)      Magnets and clothes pegs

These two simple things can solve a lot of issues when you are too scared to drill your precious home on wheels. Drilling is scary, especially when something is brand new. My current curtains have magnets sewn into the corners, and I use a mosquito net pegged around a half open window to keep the mozzies out at night.

3)      A sock and cat litter

As odd as that one may sound, condensation is always an issue. Cat litter is hugely absorbent so throwing a load in a tied sock and just placing it under a seat or in a cupboard will keep your van nice and condensation free.

4)      Making furniture

If possible, work right alongside your van so you can constantly cut, and test out. This speeds up the process enormously. For my latest van I built all the installations on my balcony of my flat which made the whole process far more challenging. If you have the same dilemma, try using paper or card to test the addition of new pieces into challenging shapes and spaces.

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The Matriarch Adventure

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The Matriarch Adventure

by Catherine Edsell, Expedition Leader

"10 days, 10 women in the Namibian wilderness, tracking elusive desert elephants (the most iconic matriarchs there are), having an adventure, dawn yoga under huge flame-red skies, group coaching round a camp fire, sleeping out under a myriad of stars, meeting with Namibian women and hearing their story and all else that expedition life has to offer…..”  

I was writing a heartfelt letter to my friends, conveying my wish to open up my world of expeditions to women, like them, who had never done anything like this before (or at least not for a very long time), either because they had been rearing children, or were bogged down with work, or just hadn’t taken the plunge…yet. 

I could relate to how they felt, because I had recognised the need in me, and explained how, as a woman and a mother I had noticed the limitations around what we allow ourselves to do. “We are always compromising”, I explained,” multi-tasking, taking the slack, holding the fort, and this is all great, except when we do this ALL the time, and don’t give ourselves even a few days to go off on our own, to re-connect with ourselves, to challenge ourselves physically, to marvel at the wonders of nature, to learn, to grow, and also to strip away, to get back to basics, to clear our thinking, and to change, where necessary, our mindset.  When we even THINK about doing this we meet amazing resistance – particularly from ourselves, even if its what we actually really need.”

I was offering them an adventure to explore not only the wonders of the world, but their innermost selves.  I took a deep breath, and pressed ‘SEND’.  It was out there, and now I had a responsibility to myself and to those who read my words to make ‘The Matriarch Adventure’ a reality. That was my YES moment!

Eight years ago, my life couldn’t have been more different; I had received a birthday card from my brother with the words, “I wanted to go out and change the world but I couldn’t find a babysitter” written in kids plastic alphabet letters.  He meant it to be funny but, actually, it was so painfully true that it physically hurt.  I laughed – and then cried. I felt stuck: I had two clingy children, no childcare, and I realised that instead of being ‘an expedition leader’ (my profession before having children), I was a frustrated housewife who had big dreams but no way of making them a reality. The card got lost, packed away, forgotten.

Two years later I discovered that very same card in a drawer and was instantly hit by that familiar wave of pain and disappointment. My situation was pretty much the same: still two rather clingy children and no babysitter.  But something stirred in me that day, and I stuck the card to the breadmaker (that I never used), and looked at it long and hard.  “Stop making excuses!” I thought to myself.  

That was the start of a new chapter of my life, and of our life as a family.  First I took the kids on an adventure to Thailand, working in an elephant sanctuary; they loved the hands-on contact with these massive beasts, and I loved being out there, in the heat away from the humdrum of everyday life.  Shortly after my return, driven by a desire to incorporate my family and my skills even further, I trained as a Divemaster and applied for a dive job with a biodiversity conservation expedition company in Indonesia, on the condition that they let me bring the kids.  I could dive and teach, and the kids could play on a beautiful coral atoll in the middle of the Banda Sea. What could be better?!

The next few years were punctuated leading other expeditions, (with and without the kids), both diving and terrestrial, and became quite an expert in marine conservation, but most importantly: I WAS BACK!! I was an expedition leader again, I didn’t have to talk about myself I the past tense, and even without a babysitter I had managed to change MY world.

Back to present day….

So, on 1st March 2017 the ‘Matriarchs’ met for the first time.  It was a very surreal experience, all sitting round the table for dinner –  it felt uncannily dreamlike, mainly because up until that point that was exactly what it had been, a dream, a design in my imagination, words on a piece of paper.  But here they were, real life, eager, visceral, exuberant women ready to embark on a transformational adventure, and they were all looking to me to guide them safely through it.

The days were filled with the practicalities of tracking and monitoring herds of elephants who deviously camouflaged themselves as rocks by spraying the red earth over their backs, mixed with the physical demands of trekking in 40 degree heat to witness amazing geological formations and ancient petrified forests, and with the bonding and openness facilitated by group coaching, quiet reflection and good old belly laughter! 

It was an intense ten days, but in the words of one of the participants,  “I felt like I got back to ‘myself’ on this trip.  It would have been so much easier to cancel, and say that I had too much on my plate, kids didn’t want me to go, blah blah blah.  Thank god I didn’t. The kids were fine and the world went on turning without me.  It was a wonderful and amazing experience, and I’m SO glad I did it!”

So I guess it worked!

Now, back at home in rainy London, I’m still pinching myself. Did this actually really happen? Did I actually manage to conceive the idea, put all the logistics in place, find women who actually wanted to come, make it a reality, track the elephants, feel the heat and breathe in the expanse of the desert, facilitate a transformative experience for the women who joined, and come home and write about it all in just three months?! YES.

 

Quite amazing actually seeing as I, by my own volition, ‘am not a business woman’, ‘cannot do social media’, and am a complete ‘technophobe’ - it just shows where there is a will there’s a way!  I cannot lie, there were days when I woke up and had to override my inner critic who was telling me that there was no way I could pull this off, that I just didn’t know enough, or have enough time, but the commitment I had made in the moment of writing my intention to my friends was enough to hold me accountable.

I have grown in ways I could not have imagined by embarking on this adventure, as it was an adventure for me too, (in a different way).  Now the fire has been lit-  The Matriarch Adventure is to set off into the Namibian wilderness once more in November this year….

Let me know if you want to come too!

www.cathadventure.com

Twitter: @cathadventure

Facebook: The Matriarch Adventure

Catherine Edsell FRGS is an adventurer, a global expedition leader, PADI divemaster, Reef Check Trainer, yoga teacher and mother of two. As an avid naturalist she has demonstrated her passion for adventure and effective conservation through independent and collaborative expedition work around the world. She often brings her children on expedition and is now embarking on a series of transformative adventures solely for women.

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