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August 2017

Feel The Fear …and all that

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I’ve always been cautious, safe.

A yoga mat is about the most extreme piece of equipment I own.

Nevertheless, I was once strong-armed into going white-water rafting by family in Canada. My protests of ‘I’m really scared! – no really! – really scared!’, seemed to go unnoticed among everyone else’s excitement.

I got fitted into a helmet and a life-jacket that was pulled so tight that I could hardly breathe. I sat as low as I could in the boat where I could still manage to work my oar, following the shouted instructions of ‘left back!’ ‘left forward!’

I concentrated as though my life depended on it; (it did), to row in the required direction at the required time. One other person who was almost as scared as me kept asking the guy doing the shouting about the size of the waves – ‘was this a number 5, or a number 4?’ I didn’t want to know the answer.

I survived.

If they had told me that someone had drowned there the week before, I definitely would not have gone, but (this is the bad bit – they told me afterwards!)

Since then, cycling and walking is quite extreme enough for me, and even then only on a good day. It happened to be a really good day on my birthday recently, and I just wanted to be outside enjoying the weather.

My husband who is great at planning cross country walks planned a route in the Cotswold countryside, and we stayed out most of the day because we were enjoying ourselves so much.

We walked twelve miles – much more than I thought I could do. The strange thing was, I wasn’t tired. I was so wrapped up with the beauty of the day – warm gentle breeze, scudding white clouds, blue sky, endless green fields and gorgeous villages, that I just wasn’t aware of feeling tired – instead, I just felt energised, elated.

If had known I was going to do a twelve-mile walk, I would have said I couldn’t do it.

The next day was just as lovely, so we had a bike ride.

Usually, the day after going on a long walk I wouldn’t entertain the idea of a bike ride, but I decided to go for it.

Cycling is fine but going up hills is not my strong point, but I have a strategy – don’t look up, keep your eyes down and pedal.

On this trip, I added another strategy. At the steep bits, I took no notice of the thoughts that said: ‘you’re really tired, for goodness sake you walked twelve miles yesterday, what are you trying to prove; you’ll pay for this tomorrow; you had your 64th birthday yesterday, do you want to make your 65th?’ and on and on.

Instead, I imagined my body filled with energy.

I made it up every hill.

When my husband said ‘did you realise we’ve done nearly thirty miles?’ I was stunned, I thought it was nearer fifteen.

If I had known beforehand I was going on a thirty one mile bike ride, I would have said I couldn’t do it.

Sometimes not knowing is empowering – it’s the ignorance is bliss thing; but ‘knowing’ something can also limit us. Bit of a conundrum, that.

I’m going to be taught how to roll a kayak next week – a family outing with grandchildren. I’ll keep you posted.

By the way, I’m the one on the far right next to the man in the blue helmet!