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!

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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.

 

 

Throwing knives and a YouTube doco

In my last post I wrote about sucking at stuff in 2020. I started by using my throwing knives and the GoPro (for separate things) and I wasn’t disappointed at my expectations of sucking.

On the 1st and 2nd of January I set out in my kayak with the GoPro attached to my head to film what I thought would be an awesome documentary on the Burrum River. I paddled around for ages giving a running commentary of the goings on, while imagining how great it would all be look once I was able to edit and post it on YouTube.

When I got home I was excited about watching it and making it look really cool so my fantastic footage could go immediately viral. Rubbing my hands together in anticipation of critical acclaim and vast fortunes, I set about attempting to view what I’d recorded. I could see it on the tiny screen on the GoPro itself, but none of the media players I have on my computer would let me see the visual. I could only hear the audio. I downloaded it this way, then that way, then yet another way, but none of it made any difference. After around five hours of dicking around and being close to tears of frustration, I decided I’d better pack it in for the day.

The next day I went out and took some more footage with different settings on the GoPro. I was certain this would be the answer. It wasn’t. I dicked around with it a bit more, but after a couple of hours I still felt like crying, so I had to leave it, and googling the problem wasn’t any help.

On the third day I posted my problem on a hiking facebook group that went something like this: Help me, I’m too stupid to work a GoPro, and lots of lovely people, who were once stupid, just like me, responded with helpful advice. In the interim, I’d decided that I’d just upload it to YouTube as it was because I had an inkling that YouTube might be running under a better system than my Asus laptop, which I’ve had since 2009. Guess what? I was right, YouTube’s system is better than Windows10. Who would’ve thought! This is the video here:

So, what I learnt here is that  I made a buttload of assumptions about how this whole exercise would pan out, which is probably something I do all the time.  I also learnt – quite sadly – my laptop is too old to edit stuff from the GoPro and that no amount of dicking around with it is going to help. Now I forge on with the advice provided by the hiking group to see if I can download some of their suggested software to bridge the gap between my geriatric laptop and the already superceded GoPro Hero 7. I almost cried a few times while learning this stuff and it made me feel really annoyed, but I made it through the challenge and came to no ill fortune.

Then it was time to throw some knives. This is one of the activities I highlighted in my most recent post: I’d never thrown knives before and I thought it would be interesting to see how I progress at learning something totally new. I knew I’d suck at it to begin with and yep, I was right:

As you can see in the vid I miss every single one! At least some of them are actually hitting the target. I managed to get one knife into the target out of about forty throws, but it was right on the very edge. I lost one knife in the leaves on the ground and the cool guy I’m married to had to go and buy a rake so we could find it the next day.

It’s hard not to be good at something. It makes me feel stupid and useless. I know that’s normal, but it’s still a difficult feeling to embrace. I guess this is what stops most people when they discover they aren’t an expert straight away when they try something  new, and probably prevents them from even trying in the first place.

The start and finish are irrelevant because

GREATNESS COMES ON THE PATH

 

Me and the Road

I wanted to do something cool today, but couldn’t come up with anything, so I decided to walk to Childers. It was a good opportunity to try out the sign I had made for the back of my pack for the charity hike I’m about to do. I also thought I should re-familiarise myself with hiking along the road.

It was cheating a bit because I got dropped off 16km out from Childers AND the pack only weighed around 10kg. I imagine it’ll weigh at least twice that when I get going on the actual hike. PLUS, I had a chocolate thickshake when I arrived in Childers after only 3.5 hours of walking. .

It’s been three years since I did my last charity hike along the road and man, I’d forgotten how damn terrible walking along the road is! There’s two reasons why it sucks: one is the traffic and the other is the shoulders. The shoulders are nearly always sloping and that makes the going very difficult because even though the slope is only really slight it’s enough to put extra pressure on one side of your body. I don’t have bad knees, even so, this does get to my knees after a bit. There’s nothing I can do about it though, so I just have to suck it up. I can’t do anything about the traffic either. After all, that’s what the road is there for. It’s hard to describe what it’s like until you’ve hiked along the road. It gives you a totally new perspective of being a motorist. Some of the stuff people do on the road is pretty unbelievable. The overtaking is the craziest. It’s for that reason that I try to walk only on the left. I nearly got hit by this crazy overtaking mofo on my last charity hike. You just get to see stuff when you’re walking that you don’t see when you’re driving. Some of it is a real eye-opener!

I didn’t really see anything particularly interesting on the 16km other than a dead bearded dragon. Poor thing 😦 I picked him up and put him in the bush near the road so he wouldn’t get all smooshed up. He’d only just been hit.

I snuck into an avocado farm and walked along the edge of the plantation for a fair way to avoid a section of road with almost no shoulder. I always get scared when I do these cheeky maneuvers  because I don’t want to get into trouble, but no one came out ranting and raving. At least  I’ve got the sign this time. I didn’t have that on the last charity hike I did.

I took this photo because it’s quintessentially Childers; cane bales set to go to fibre production with canefields in background.

While I was walking I got to wondering what it is about hiking that I like. I think the main thing that gets me is that it allows me to rise above all else because when I’m hiking, there is only hiking. I can’t go and do just one more thing (something I do to get past feeling unmotivated), I can’t tell myself that in ten minutes I will go get the washing off the line, send one more email, write 100 more words, and I can’t go and have a little lay down. I just have to keep hiking because that’s all there is. It basically absolves me of all of my responsibilities, which means I don’t worry about anything at all while I’m hiking because what would be the point? Ultimatley, it’s a way to free my mind.

Free your mind by way of adventure

 

 

 

It’s Simple, but Hard

Challenging yourself is a fairly simple concept, but not easy. Take hiking for example, it’s simple enough; you pack your gear, put one foot after another and walk, just like you do everyday at home to get from one place to another. But, hiking is hard.

It’s hard because it hurts. There’s nothing anyone can do to take away the pain. Even the fittest athletes in the world have to endure pain when they are training, competing or just taking part in their sport of choice for a bit of fun. I’m a fit hiker and I’m used to carrying 20kg+ in my pack, but it hurts like a bastard. My muscles ache, especially my legs and I have a weird hard lump that comes up on my right shoulder. Sometimes it goes down, sometimes it stays put for a couple of months at a time. I get blisters, my pack chafes my lower back and hips. If I hike for more than one day my feet really hurt and it feels like every step I take is a step into a bucket of boiling water.

All of it hurts, but that’s the whole point of challenging myself. I don’t love the pain, I’m not a freak, but I do love the fact that I can push through it and get to the end of the trail and basically say, “fuck you, pain, I smashed you down!” That’s when I feel like I own the world.

Photos online of adventures and adventurers mostly show happy people who are having a great ol’ time in nature with their buddies, but what the photos rarely show is how hard adventuring can be: the brand new tent that leaked like a sieve in a sudden downpour, saturating my down sleeping bag; the rat that ate through my previous hiking tent in an attempt to get to my granola, which I shouldn’t have had in the tent in the first place; getting shot at and having to spend the night at a police station in a town thousands of kilometres away from my home; getting covered in leeches and ticks and having to go to the doctor because almost my entire body came up in a disgusting pimply rash; having to cut a shirt up to tie socks to my feet because my boots caused most of my toenails to lift off; getting lost in the bush and wandering around for hours in the dark; on and on it goes. Yeah, these things are hard and some of them bad, but they didn’t kill me and I got through them, just like I get through the real pain of challenging myself.

I don’t get through these things because I’m better, stronger or more physically able than other people. I get through them because of the story I tell myself about who I am. That story is about a person who is one tough mofo. This mofo can smash down enemies and rise above those who seek to bring her down. It’s a story about a bad-ass mofo who is the master at overcoming adversity and coming out the other side of a challenge with her integrity intact. I get through the hard stuff because I tell myself that I’m a person who can get through the hard stuff, after which I literally become a person who can get through the hard stuff.

What I’m saying here is this: It’s pretty much all in your head. If you accept the pain and suffering, the only thing that will prevent you from achieving your goal is the voice in your head; your voice: It’s all up to you.

Smiling on the outside, crying on the inside.

Taken in 2015 right before most of my toenails lifted off and I had to tie socks to my feet to continue the hike. I still had more than 20km to go and one more night at a walker’s camp before pick up.

The $40 000 Fundraising Project

On the 17th of September 2019 I set off on a 450km solo and unsupported hike from my home in Woodgate to the Brisbane CBD (itinerary). I did this to raise funds and awareness for Brain Injury and also because I wanted to have an adventure. During the hike I raised in excess of $5000. My target is $40 000, so I still have a ways to go and the best part of the year to get it done. All that money will go to The PA Research Foundation and STEPS, which are collaborators in providing rehabilitation for those struck down with a traumatic brain injury. Please contact me if you are interested in collaborating with me. I’d love to hear from you!

Having a brain injury myself, I am a member of my local STEPS support group who meet in Bundaberg every month. Brain injury is known as the invisible disability and I got to talk to a lot of people, including the Minister of Health (Hon. Dr Steven Miles) about what it means to live with such a disability. “Gees, you look fine.” “There’s no way I’d ever think that you had a disability.” “Yeah, but there’s nothing wrong with you though.” Were some of the responses I got from people I met along the way.

This was the second big hike I’ve done. In 2016 I walked almost 400km to raise money for brain cancer. Since I completed that first hike I’ve been training pretty hard, which made my hike to Brisbane much easier than the 2016 hike. My attitude has probably shifted a fair bit too because on that first hike I came to learn that I am an amazing person who can achieve unbelievable things, but that I’m not special. I’m just like everyone else; the only difference being that I’m someone who had an idea and I made the idea happen. All of us can do that; you have my permission to be awesome too!

me, damien and Minister

Damien Topp (CEO PA Research Foundation) Me and the Hon. Dr Steven Miles (Health Minister) in Brisbane on my arrival. (photo: Sue Wright STEPS).