“You know, I’ve not brought a beginner class over here before”. Mike, our instructor, smiles, shrugs his shoulders, and is suddenly off down a red run. 3 days into me learning to ski in Chamonix and things have suddenly got a little steeper.
Sophie and I give each other a knowing look after dinner, saying ‘do we have any chocolate?’. I get up and find some stashed away for emergencies and we both smile guiltily. It’s well into 2015 and we are both trying to undo the inevitable Christmas indulgences but it is so easy to break when you’ve got a partner in crime.
The arrival of winter is being very stubborn, with no significant snowfall and relatively warm temperatures, it was going to be a challenge for Matthias Scherer, Tanja Schmitt and Heike Schmitt with the Cogne Ice Opening Festival.
‘Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up’. Batman Begins
As you may have read, a few weeks ago I had a pretty bad day out climbing. No accidents but I came away very disappointed with myself. I find writing about these experiences very cathartic and I hoped that sharing the experience would help me move on. I wasn’t ready though.
You’ve worked hard for months leading up to that moment and it was everything you thought it would be; the triumph, the enjoyment, the excitement, and even the fear. But, as quickly as they came together they are gone again. A massive void opens up and you feel unsettled, alone, and lost. Welcome to the comedown after a big climb.
The blues after a achieving something at your limit and unwinding after events is difficult and something that I have struggled with on a number of occasions. Even when I know it is going to happen, I can’t avoid that crash and feeling of being adrift.
Something has been niggling away at me recently. I keep reading everywhere that we all must Chase your dreams and Don’t give up, you’ll get there, along with other similar clichés, and I don’t think this is right. I feel that treating your aims and aspirations as something you have to ‘chase’ or so hard to achieve you will got through hell together is just plain wrong.
I consider myself very lucky right now. I am living what most people would say is the dream – I recently packed up living and working in London and moved to Chamonix to pursue a more positive work-life balance with my wife. I’m happy. Really happy, but the day we arrived was not day 1 of living the dream, that started long before we even decided to finally move here.
I nervously turned to Sophie, my finger hovering over the mouse button, ‘Am I doing this?’. The look in her eye and smile on her face confirms this is the right decision. I click the ‘Confirm’ button and I’m done. I’m on my way to becoming a StrongFirst kettlebell instructor. The first step has been taken, here is step two – telling you all and committing to trying my hardest, training hard, and loving every minute of it.
I have sometimes found myself stuck with an opinion that I don’t fully believe any more. A position I’ve taken that I no longer agree with, or wanting to try something that I previously swore I’d never do. I want to change my mind but I’m scared: scared to tell people, scared to embarrass myself, and scared to be wrong.
Recently, I came across a blog article by Derek Sivers in which he talks about how he now loves things he previously hated, he now will only say ‘I hate that today‘ knowing that he might change his mind in the future. I can completely sympathise and I’ve come to the conclusion:
It’s ok, don’t be afraid to change your mind
On 26th April Challenge Sophie, Alex Ledger, and I set off on our first Ultra marathon, to run London to Brighton through the stunning English trails of the Wandle River, the North Downs Way, Sussex Trail, and finally the South Downs Way. We ran 62 miles over 16 hours, on an incredible adventure that showed us some of the beautiful English countryside, pushed our minds to the limits and tested our bodies beyond what any of us we had tried before.
Many of you people may know, last year was rather full on. I had invested everything in my second business, Goals for Giving, and it hadn’t worked out, you can read more about that here. A month after closing my business, I married an amazing and understanding woman, Sophie Radcliffe. I was completely burnt out leading up to the wedding and Sophie and I decided that we needed to have a proper break and focus on our future.
One of the key steps to my recovery was an inspiring and, dare I say it, life changing climb I completed that pushed both my physical and mental boundaries leaving me exhausted but liberated.
If this sounds a bit over the top then please let me try and explain.