I’m perhaps not what might some may consider your stereotypical Adventurer/YesTriber. I was a pretty daring and adventurous girl; loved the outdoors, hiking, climbing, camping and the like. When I was 15 I used to scale our 2-storey detached house and sit smoking fags on the rooftop with the boy next door!
But somewhere along the way the twin forces of Fear and Responsibility began to shape my life. I trod the conditioned path of achievement and success: university, professional career in IT, bouncing locations for work, marriage, kids, package holidays....
Then, at 37, I found myself a single mum to my two young daughters, without the financial and emotional comfort blankets of all those outward successes. Socially isolated and overwhelmed by the unfolding car-crash of separation and divorce, I experienced a period of acute stress and anxiety, which closed me down even more.
During that time, I stumbled across the YesTribe; it flashed up among my Facebook feeds, and sparked my curiosity. The ethos, positivity and enthusiasm appealed to me instantly! Dave’s grinning profile photo was heart-warming and welcoming; so without hesitation, I clicked to join.
But then I saw the other tales of epic adventures and expeditions, and I backed off. ‘This is great, but not for me’, I thought. ‘All these 20- and 30-somethings with their freedom and youthful carefree outlook, in stark contrast to me: children to feed and clothe and house and school.
Still, I lurked on the group, peeking enviously at other people’s adventures. Whilst making efforts to overcome some of the issues that were constraining me, I ‘followed’ the YesTribe and the constant drip-drip of posts on adventure, expedition and alternative lifestyles - they began to rekindle my own curiosity for of the things that contribute to a meaningful, more adventurous, spontaneous and carefree existence.
I bought a couple of books on micro-adventure. I dug out my kids’ National Trust ‘Things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ booklets (a great resource). Most significantly, I began listening to the quiet whisper of my own fears and anxieties.
One day, I wrote them all down, every single one: falling, getting lost, pain, not being able to cope, financial ruin, homelessness...(there were nearly 50 in total). Seeing them on the page, I began to confront and accept them and for each, noted ideas of manageable things I could do to ease them; some with the children, some solo; some physical, some emotional.
The only way is up
Balance on a fallen tree, get the tattoo I’ve always wanted, have a camping trip with my girls, reach out and ask friends for help. Each time I felt a fear catch hold, I figured, ‘well, I’ve been through some pretty rough stuff; it can’t be much worse!’
With baby steps and gentleness I am re-connecting with my sense of purpose – I know it was only lost temporarily, it hasn’t disappeared forever. Time and funds are limited, and I might never summit Everest or paddle the Amazon but actually, the small adventures can be just as fulfilling. I’ve done simple and joyful things with my girls like hiking in the woods, summiting our local ‘big hill’, wading in a stream. Exploring the local area with them has been our starting point, and who knows what we’ll end up doing when they’re a bit older!
As for me - I celebrated my 39th birthday doing a guided white-water rafting adventure with a group of strangers. I have plenty more activities on my hit-list, which are all realistic with regard to time and money.
And I am finding that the more I do, and the more people I meet, the more opportunities that present themselves, including writing and sharing my story for Tribe Stories!
A new expansiveness
Most importantly I’ve made a commitment to being open to possibility and opportunity: be it making friends, falling in love or building my own business.
My advice to anyone in a similar position is this: don’t be envious or over-awed by others’ tales of adventure. Be inspired by them. Explore your own fears, challenge and question them and consider how you can shift them, gently and consciously. Recognise your constraints but don’t be paralysed by them.
To parents (especially single ones): don’t be limited by having children; they have an in-built sense of fearlessness and adventure that we grown-ups have often simply forgotten along the way.
Gently does it
Don’t attempt mission impossible. Start with baby steps and build from there. Gradually, you may find yourself beginning to experience every day as an adventure, opening to fears and opportunities large and small.
Finally, remember: Saying YES isn’t necessarily about how far you travel or how high you climb. Adventure is a state of mind.