When 4 months becomes 7

For some reason, over the last few years, saying ‘yes’ became increasingly difficult. ‘Buy the expensive dress’ – no. ‘Have a one-night-stand’ – no. ‘Go on a walk instead of a run’ – no. For many things, it’s always easier to come up with a thousand reasons not to do things.

Before I set off from home, back in January, one of my goals when travelling was to say ‘yes’ to more things. Being a stubborn little sod, it was difficult at first, but as you can imagine, the power of saying yes became addictive. Each time, endorphins exploded, new adventures were had and new stories were to be told. By saying ‘yes’ you begin to see more, feel more – live more. You realise how narrow-minded and silly you were before.

“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity to do something and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes. Then learn how to do it later.”Richard Branson

Saying yes can open doors. Not only does it allow for a fantastic experience, there and then, but it can allow for a snowball effect of positive outcomes. You will probably have hundreds of examples when saying yes to a certain thing, meant that you had a string of good things happen after that. Maybe it was that by saying yes to go ice-skating with your cousin, meant that you met Derek who became your friend and helped you get a job, and at that job, you ended up meeting the love of your life at the company’s Christmas party? My most recent example, started with a certain ‘yes’ last year, but I am still reaping the benefits. Last year I had planned to spend some time in LA. Unfortunately, I felt that I didn’t fit in there very much. A friend, Joe (who, at the time I barely knew) kindly offered that I stay with him, up in the mountains in Mammoth Lakes (near Yosemite). As amazing as that offer was… I couldn’t leave L.A. I had planned to spend 2 weeks there. That was my plan. I couldn’t stray away from the plan. But the reality was, my plan wasn’t right for me. After lots of mmms, errrs and maybes, I eventually said yes to going to the mountains. Guess what? I fell in love with Mammoth and Joe is now one of my best friends. So, fast-forward a year and I am staying with him in Mammoth Lakes for 3 months – writing and altitude training. I am, quite literally, living my dream.

But like all dreams, there comes a point when you have to wake up. And guess what? I am almost at that point. I have been away from home this year for almost 7 months, and in less than a week, I will be flying away from the mountains, towards Leeds Bradford Airport. I’m feeling a mix of emotions and struggling to articulate my current thought process regarding the situation. I think because I feel so at home out here, the concept of leaving for home feels a little unsettling. And it’s a blooming long journey: I will leave Monday evening and not reach Leeds until midday on Wednesday. I repeat, Wednesday.

However, I am comforted by something that Joe said to me: “You’ve got to go in order to come back.”

In addition, never will I forget what my Canadian soul-mate (Anne) who I met in Thailand said to me: “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened.”

 Happy is an understatement. Amongst writing, altitude training, endless hiking in the mountains and stage management, I have also been privileged to try the ‘grapple’ (a grape flavoured apple). Thank you California, you’ve been “totally awesome, dude.”

 

 

Going to the mountains is going home

“The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir.

Be curious. Be bold.

I am a big believer that if you want to travel the world, you can. We are born to do so much more than just a 9-5, pay bills and then die. (Even though that’s really the only certain thing in life: death). We should live for the week, not just the weekend. I’m not saying we shouldn’t work. We need to work. Work is good. Work helps us be determined, focused, set goals (it also = money). And boy, oh boy, I am very aware that money plays a big part in how much of the world we can see. A huge part, in fact. But don’t use that as an excuse. If you want something enough, you’ll be willing to do whatever it takes.

Please trust me when I say that saving money for travel can be easier than you think – if you’re smart and strict about it. The main thing, whilst saving, is being able to distinguish between want and need. Living a simpler life is key. Ah, I’m desperate to preach about my money-saving tips BUT, sorry folks, that is quite a big chapter in the travel book that I am writing (for first time, solo travellers) and I don’t want to give too much away…

So for now, back to John Muir – I also disagree with him. He describes the world as ‘big’, but to me, since travelling, it now seems so much smaller. In my daydreams the world was ginormous, never ending… but now things just seem… accessible. For instance, a couple of years ago, never in a million years would I consider moving to another country. Italy – language barrier. China – bigger language barrier. New Zealand – too far away. Canada – too cold. California – too hot. (I lie in the last one. I blooming love the heat). For me, it was England. Just England. Had to be England. For I am English and England is what I know. Even Scotland… well, it’s not England, is it?

Fast-forward a year and I would happily look for and apply for jobs in New Zealand, Australia… especially Mammoth Lakes, California. If you have read my previous posts, this is where I am spending the summer (3 months) and my goodness, I feel at home here.

The scenery is phenomenal and the people are so kind, genuine and welcoming. Not to mention, the running community is what my little running geek dreams are made of. In addition, the people find my British accent ‘intriguing’ which makes me feel like Colin from ‘Love Actually.’ Don’t take that the wrong way – I’m certainly not out here to ‘date,’ but to embrace every moment of the lifestyle that feels perfect to me.

Today I ventured out with Joe and Ryan and we did a 12 mile hike in Yosemite. Casually we had our lunch on the top of North Dome, graciously looking onto Half Dome. Yesterday was a track session on the Asics track – being amongst and certainly being inspired by the incredible athletes (Olympians). THEY SPEEDY. And the other night: bathing in the natural hot springs with new friends, as we watched the sunset behind the mountain range, now a silhouette.

Even if you can’t travel right now in your life, why not explore what your hometown has to offer. Be adventurous, be open to trying new things and do your very best to make everyday an absolute corker.

(Now for those who don’t know me too well, I’m a poetry geek. That sunset was too good I couldn’t resist scribbling something down…)

A sunset in Mammoth Lakes

 

Ribbons of indigo wisps

are the remains of the worn out rain;

 

Again the tangerine peels

behind heart-monitor silhouettes,

 

Minarets mimic His crown

not quite jeweled, or gold, but black –

 

Almost

 

Coasting in yesterday’s sins

below disjointed fingers of rock;

 

Locking up the love songs &

salty eyes; in the name of John Muir,

 

You’re realising

Something –

 

Some things are

Bigger than                you and i.

Does altitude make you crazy?

I was thinking about this question as I watched back the video that I took of myself in Yosemite National Park yesterday. As I perched on a rock at 9,000ft, in my Paula-Radcliffe-style sunglasses, I sang snippets of The Lion King, whilst holding an imaginary Simba, looking onto the ponderosa pine trees and waterfalls.

I then dramatically rummaged through my CamelBak for a honey and lemon throat sweet. I was ill. I couldn’t breathe.

image1

When you’re really run down with a cold – painful chest, agonising sand-paper-like throat, nose like a snotty tap… you ought to keep warm, drink lots of hot lemon and honey and put your feet up. Why on earth did I think it would be a good idea to hike through Yosemite National Park? As beautiful as it is, pretty much every step I was taking I was thinking ‘why, why, why, why.’

Does altitude make you crazy? Does it make you make stupid decisions?

I googled.

Classic Google.

Does altitude make you fart?
Does altitude make you tired?
Does altitude make you pee more?
Does altitude make you swell?

(If any of these really interest you, please research them in your own time).

Turns out there is nothing on, ‘does altitude make you crazy?’ So, I’m going to go with ‘no’. Apparently, I just don’t know when to stop.

Some of the pictures I took were awesome. But the pictures don’t show the sheer discomfort I was in. HOWEVER, even though it made me feel a bit worse, if I could go back in time to yesterday, would I do it again?

Erm. Yes.

Consumed by wanderlust, Yosemite may have hindered my body slightly in the recovery process – but the breath-taking beauty of the place, wins hands down for me.

Yosemite. “Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.”

 So, as beautiful as it is, pretty much every step I was taking I was thinking ‘why, why, why, why.’

But then I looked up.