Hi. I’m Jen. I’m an everyday person who loves adventure. Check out how you can become adventurous too. It’s not as hard as you think!

Featured

Adventure can be anything you like. It doesn’t have to be a massive feat of physical strength and death defying endurance where you freeze your butt off on mountainsides or get chased down by a gang of rabid koalas looking to make even all the wrongs of their past. I mean, if that’s what floats your boat then by all means go for it, but I’m guessing that for most people (me included) the koalas are out and so is the mountain…for the time being that is. Once I build my skills and my self belief and maybe even my own crew I’ll be able to get Zen with that mountain and perhaps convince the koalas that revenge isn’t the best tactic for a peaceful revolution nor for their image. I used to think they were so damn cute before I wrote this. Now I’m not so sure.

Adventure is for all of us. It’s inclusive and is something you can pursue in your everyday life. All it takes is the first tiny step outside of your comfort zone.

Step onto the path and courage will find you.

 

 

Drilling in all Directions

Lots of nice stuff can come from drilling down on one thing: you get to be really good at something, you might win some prizes and meet some cool people along the way, but what about all the other awesome stuff that you didn’t get to do because you were so focused on only being good at one thing?

I read a book a while ago that really brought it home for me. It was about an amazing mountain climber who climbed impossible climbs. He was able to do this because he has climbed since he was a kid and he totally drilled down on it and got to be one of the best climbers in the world. He’s still really good at it. He also seems like a really nice guy. There’s a movie coming out about him next month that I’ll definitely watch (trailer below).

Until reading the climbing book, I’d always wondered what it would have been like to have become really good at one thing. I’d always chastised myself for not sticking with anything long enough to gain the respect of my peers for my expertise. Sure, I’m pretty good at some stuff, ok at other stuff and piss-poor at pretty much everything else,  but I’m really expert at nothing. The phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” has always sat just on my periphery, haunting me.

What I didn’t realise though, is that the whole time I’ve been drilling sideways, I have actually developed an expertise; one that I didn’t recognise until today: I’m an expert at living. I know how to apply myself to living a life that matters and the only way I was able to develop this awesome skill was to immerse myself in the entirety of life. To become everything and nothing. To be all of it at the expense of none of it. To experience and learn everything I can about what it means to be alive right now, the best time there ever was to be alive.

Being an expert at life means that I’m a better runner because I’m a dancer, I’m a better dancer because I’m a skipper, I’m a better skipper because I’m a rider, I’m a better rider because I’m a hiker, I’m a better hiker because I’m a reader, I’m a better reader because I’m a writer, I’m a better writer because I loved and I lost and all of it because I’m a survivor. Each thing I do and each thing I’ve ever done has lead me to the next and the next, and the next. Everything has built on the shoulders of the thing that came before it and man-o-man, I’ve built myself one shit-hot castle of a life; the whole thing made of golden bricks.

I know it’s pretty unlikely that I will ever get really good at anything other than being good at being alive and that’s ok because I’m going to keep drilling sideways.

Drill sideways by way of adventure

 

 

 

 

Scared but not

At the moment I’m working really hard on not letting fear get to me. Basically I’m on the verge of having a total freak out, but I’m somehow managing to keep it under control, which, if you knew me, you’d realise was some kind of wayward miracle.

There’s lots of shit going on that warrants a freak out – a new job, a new way of living, making hard decisions, my first half marathon and of course, the big one: The Women’s Adventure Film Tour. Aaaargh! Help! This is how I look on the outside:

happy-lady-1301190_1280

This is how I look on the inside:

freak out

That’s because I don’t want to see this:

empty theatre

Well, not that I would really see that, because that’s actually the Sydney Opera House, not the Moncrief Theatre, but still, it’s empty and that makes me sad.

I’m scared, but not. The “not” part of that comes from the way I’m choosing to see myself in relation to the fear and the faith I’ve got that everything will work out in the end. I feel like that because I know that worrying about the event won’t actually change the way it all pans out. Worrying about it will make me cranky and that has never helped anyone AT ALL….EVER. In fact, I can recall quite a few times when getting cranky has actually made things a lot worse than they had to be if you can believe that! Yeah, yelling, stomping and throwing yourself on the ground doesn’t work. Not once you’re past the age of two. Letting go of the outcome, but without letting go of the personal responsibility I assumed when I agreed to host the tour has really helped me let go of worry. That means I’m free to enjoy the adventure of being scared but not.

Be scared, but do it anyway

 

 

 

 

Tickets, tickets, tickets!

Tickets for the Women’s Adventure Film Tour now on sale here. It’s $12 you will never regret spending.

I’ve just spent the last 3 hours dealing with tickets for this event and buying tickets to go to another event. I’ve had what seems like a bazillion conversations with other people and with my own self in the last week about tickets for one thing or another (Florence and the Machine, Scooter, dance parties, a half marathon, Woodford Folk Festival, flights, train travel, blah, blah, blah) and now the word ticket just seems like the weirdest word I’ve ever heard. Know what I mean? If not, just pick a word and keep saying it over and over again until it just sounds really stupid. It’s a weird phenomenon! Phenomenon, there’s another one. Say that fifty times and see how you feel about it.

Putting on this film is one giant adventure. I’ve never done anything like this before and I have no idea what I’m doing or what to expect. Yeah, it would be easier for me to just say, “nah, let someone else do it. I don’t know how.” But if I did that I’d be missing an awesome opportunity to do something that basically scares the pants off me. Doing stuff that’s hard, scary and uncomfortable is the best way to learn new shit. In that case I must be one of the most learned people out there!

If I chickened out of doing this, then everyone misses out. The film isn’t going to promote itself and magically arrive in town and screen on its own. If I want people to embrace adventure as something that can shape their lives, then this is what I have to do; I have to go outside my comfort zone. Banging on about stuff on this website can only reach so many people (I think I have a total of 3 followers and my Facebook page has a total of 1).

I want adventure to be inclusive, so I’ve included the community of Bundaberg on the national tour. I hope you’ll include yourself in the audience.

Here’s some Scooter to round things off:

 

 

 

Women’s Adventure Film Tour

Because I care so much about adventure and women’s health I am giving the lucky buggers in Bundaberg and surrounding areas the opportunity to come to an awesome event on the 8th of September. The Women’s Adventure Film Tour is a conglomeration of inspirational short films about girls and women of all ages from Australia and around the world. It showcases everyday women and girls doing amazing things in spectacular locations all around the planet. The films are all beautiful and moving; once seen, never forgotten.

I am personally hosting this event at the Moncrief Theatre and I really hope I can count on the support of the community to make it a success. If nothing else, you will get to see me get up on stage and talk for no more than five minutes about how great I am. Then, if you are really lucky, you will be able to buy my book called One Foot After the Other, which is an account of a long distance solo hike I undertook in 2016…hopefully…the book isn’t published yet, but fingers crossed it will be. I can always take orders though, so don’t despair, you won’t miss out!

I’m still trying to sort tickets out, so I will post a link for them when they become available. They will be $12 each, which is a reduced price I have negotiated based on social inclusion and demographics. Normally they’re $25.

Here’s one of my favourite films from last year’s tour:

Running into the Moon

I went for a run on the beach. It was just getting dark as I arrived. I’ve been avoiding running in the dark for a while because some bastard stole the three $2 solar lights I’d put at the start/finish and the 8km and 10km turn arounds. I don’t know how (or why) they got them down because the one at the start was at the very top of a huge pole (although this one could have rusted off) and the other two were way up in trees in the dunes. I must admit, the ones in the trees were kind of freaky. You could see them way off in the distance bobbing around like they were spectres hanging in mid air. Perhaps curiosity, not tightarsedness got the better of whoever took them.

After the lights disappeared I tried running a few times in the dark, but everything just looks so different at night. I could never make out where the start/finish was and a couple of times I ran straight past it. I lamented, “Oh woe is me! I need to run, but it’s dark, how will I cope? Oh, life is so hard.” Then I remembered that I had a headlamp.

“That will never work. It will just keep falling down the whole time. It will be annoying and get in the way. Don’t do it. Just go home and do nothing instead,” my mind said.

“You again! How many times have I told you to shutup?” my brain yelled.

Gees, I thought, aggressive much? Someone really needs a runner’s high by the sounds of it.

So off I set with my headlamp, which by the way, doesn’t fall down, doesn’t get in the way and is only the smallest bit annoying.

The moon sat huge in the distance, not far above the water, and as I ran I felt that I was running into the moon. I didn’t even need my headlamp because the moon was its own dark sun. My bare feet hit the sand at their own pace and my breathing became steady and rhythmical. I marvelled at the awesome tool my body is. I felt my abdominal muscles flexing and working with the slight rotation of my body as I moved ever closer to the moon. I visualised my shoulder muscles working and building as they moved my arms in time with my legs. I ran into the moon and I was the moon. I became the beach and became the run. I was the air and I was the night.

I was able to surrender myself completely to the experience because a while back I decided to try something new. I’d never been a runner, never. In fact, I avoided running with the same conviction that I now approach it. I’m never going to be the fastest or best runner, but that’s not my goal. My goal is to run and sometimes, just by doing that, I get to run into the moon.

I’m not interested in personal bests or negative splits or sprint training or timed track races or uploading my stats to Strava. I’m interested in beauty and that simply can’t be measured. I want my runs to be beautiful and I want to feel beautiful and be beautiful because of them. And I do and I am.

Don’t be put off by what others can do or have accomplished. It’s what you can accomplish that matters. It took me what seemed like forever to run 5km without feeling like I was going to die, but bit by bit, I got there. If my goal was speed I would have given up, but with a goal like beauty, I can’t lose because beauty is everywhere, especially when you’re running into the moon.

runner-1863202_1920

We arrive in the night, We come alive in the night…we’ll run the expanse in the absence of light…under stars we breathe the night.

Hilltop Hoods

 

 

 

 

Rigid Thinking and its Monkey

Yesterday I went to a meeting and I was reminded again of the limiting nature of rigid thinking. Rigid thinking is when you have ideas and beliefs about the world and your place in it that are absolutes; there are no grey areas, it’s either this way or no way at all and there’s no room for considering alternatives because new information and evidence are disregarded to protect the rigid position of the person in question.  I used to do this all the time and I still do, I’m sure, but I’m heaps better at overcoming rigid thinking than I was in the past.  The first thing I did to smash this stupid practice down was to acknowledge it. I also evicted the monkey.

Rigid thinking has its own little pet monkey that you get to carry around on your back when you let yourself be rigid. It sits there and smashes its toy hammer on your head every step you take. It never lets you forget that its sitting there because its always smashing away and over the years it gets heavy and bloated. Its quite a load to carry, and it will invariably invite its friends over for a head smashing party and they will stay for an indeterminate amount of time. “Far out, I’m so sick of the racket! Will you guys just shut up?” You might scream, but they just laugh maniacally and keep hammering. One day, after years of monkey-oppression you decide that enough is enough and you take one of your rigid ideas and you look at it from all angles. You hold it in your hand and turn it over and see that it’s actually quite an unattractive thing. It has no colour, no depth and there’s a slickness to its surface that you find terribly unappealing, but because it’s been there for so long, you can’t just chuck it away in one fell swoop. Instead, you put it back inside your head, but now you keep your eye on it. At the same time, the monkey sends some of his friends home and the hammering quietens down. You watch that rigid idea from the corner of your eye and you can really start to see how it colours your experience of the world in a negative way. The more you watch it, the more you see it doing this and eventually you decide that the idea is taking up too much real estate in your already overcrowded brain, so you kick it to the curb. To your great amazement, the monkey, and eventually all his buddies, get evicted too. You feel a great weight lifted from your shoulders and the world all at once appears to be amazing in a way you never believed possible.

One monkey is all it takes, just one. If you can challenge a rigid belief or thought and experience how it feels to alleviate the burden of carrying around something that restricted your life rather than enhanced it, the whole thing will come cascading down.

Adventure is an awesome way to shake monkeys off and adventure is available to all of us regardless of who we are, where we live and how much money we have because adventure is about novelty, innovation and creativity: qualities that are purely human and transcendent of anyone’s’ personal situation. Also transcendent of monkeys.

 

monkey-309461_1280

 

 

Conondale Range Great Walk

Last week I went on the Conondale Range Great Walk with my friend Freya. It was pretty cool, but pretty damn hard as well. I think it would have to be one of the hardest hikes I’ve been on.

We have no photos of the trip because Freya accidently left her phone at the caravan park and the battery in my 14 year old camera died in the first five minutes. The two brand new replacement batteries I’d ordered were waiting for me when I got home, which was pretty annoying. Aargh! Oh well. I guess not thinking about taking photos of stuff the whole time kind of tethered us to the moment, which helped when I came across a giant python sunning itself on the track. I reckon he would have had a go at us if we’d tried to walk straight past him. I shooed him away with one of my hiking poles. He wasn’t very pleased at all and kept striking at me. Lucky it’s spiders I’m afraid of, not snakes.

At the first campsite someone had left a heap of tinned food on a little shelf in the toilet. There were a couple of Tom Piper meals, so I grabbed one of those and added it to my already huge dinner. “You won’t eat all that,” Freya said. “Watch me,” I said. I was kind of astounded that people had brought such huge tins hiking with them. My pack already weighed around 22kg and I had all dried food and no tins for the four days. Those Tom Piper tins are 400g each!

The next day was hard…I felt like Freya and I were on the set of some kind of commando movie where the heroes are racing against time. At one point Freya said, “we should have brought machetes.” There were huge trees down across the track and vines hanging down everywhere, so we had to clamber over and through obstacles for a fair part of that day. I even had to take my pack off and push it through the snags in one section. Both of us were pretty worried that we wouldn’t get to the campsite in the 8 hours that the track notes suggested we would need. Freya had read a blog before we’d left that said the distance was more like 22km, not 17km, but I tried to put that out of my mind because there was nothing we could do about it anyway. We managed to make it in time to discover that no water came out of the tap at the campsite tank and that we both had lots of leeches all over us. Yuck!!! I got a bit scared about the water, but luckily I discovered a second tap at the back of the tank and water came out of it ok even though it was brown, brown, brown. It was just tannins though, so no big deal.

That night some possums came down to visit us and one of them had a stumpy tail. Stumpy and his buddy were seriously huge, like the fattest possums I’ve ever seen. Stumpy came right up to Freya and I thought he was going to jump on her lap, but he jumped up onto the wooden platform we had everything strewn over and made his way over to Freya’s pack. He jumped on her clothes and picked up her thermal leggings in his mouth. “Quick! He’s got your pants!” I yelled and she immediately shooed him away. He jumped up a tree and sat at the top glaring at us. Little did we know he was calculating how to get even. He waited until we’d gone to bed before coming down and upsetting Freya’s stove to get at the coffee and milk sachet she’d  put inside ready for the next morning. “I came out of my tent just in time to see him making off with it!” She said.

Stumpy wasn’t impressed with us and somehow managed to get the word out to his mates at the next camp. This time it was a team of bush rats. They were scurrying around the site and I hoped that they didn’t continuously run up over my tent like they had at the first campsite. No, instead they ate right through my tent. I’d just gone to bed and could hear this rustling near my head. I thought that I must have somehow collected a giant rainforest cockroach in one of my ziplock bags, so I turned on the little light Freya had lent me (my solar light died a couple of hours earlier and I’d left my headlamp back at the caravan park – what a dick!) only to see a little grey face poking through a nice big, freshly chewed hole. I lost my shit! I’ve never really been a huge fan of my hiking tent (it’s not quite high enough at the foot end), but I’m less of a fan of having to shell out a couple of hundred dollars to buy a new one. At least it didn’t eat through my $500 Deuter pack. I would have been much less impressed with that, which is why we decided to stow all our food inside the tents in the first place.

At the end of the hike we had a couple of hours to spare at the Booloomba Creek day use area and I got to go swimming in an awesome spot. By this time I didn’t care about a lot of things – one of them was being seen in my bra and undies – so I stripped off and jumped into the freezing water. It was awesome and my timing was perfect because not long after I’d gotten out and gotten dressed again a bunch of school kids came through on their school camp! There were actually several schools and there were more than 100 kids in total. Thank god we didn’t have to share any of the campsites on the hike with them, especially the last one where I totally lost my shit about the rat!

That night we ate pizza in Kenilworth and the next day I had a really awesome Nutella donut at the Kenilworth bakery. I really wanted to take their 1kg donut challenge, but seeing I’d eaten all the left over pizza only about an hour earlier I thought maybe I should go back and do it another time. I love donuts! I love pizza too, oh, and burgers, chips, umm, and pasta, and caramel tart, and fresh bread, and icecream, and lollies yeah, and chocolate and, well, just everything really. Food: it’s my favourite.

This is what Freya and I looked like when we finished the hike:

superhero JP and FK

This is a leap of faith. I got heart, you can count on that. It’s all mind over matter…just believe in yourself, you are your own hero. Look at your cape in the wind! Everything you do is cinematic…what you will realise is that you’re more powerful than you can ever imagine. (Bliss n Eso)