Many of you have been in touch wanting an update on my trip to New Zealand, and I’ve realised that I’m finding it hard to write about it. So much happened and I had such rich experiences that I can’t find the words to explain them on paper. Those who have heard me talk about it have found the opposite – I can’t shut up! So the struggle to write about it explains the long gap on my blog. I’m now going to do my best.
I had an amazing trip to visit Sally in Paekakariki on the North Island, full of adventures both large and small. I spent time at her home there and we crossed to the South Island for 8 days to visit the north coast, including Marlborough Sounds, the Abel Tasman great walk and Golden Bay. I kayaked for the first time, trekked with my gear on my back, played like a child on the sand dunes, visited a winery, forded rivers, crossed a suspension bridge, traveled across the world by plane and found out how to get a shower in Hong Kong airport. And throughout the trip I did as I intended and lived my values. These are some of the things that I learned along the way.
- I am smaller than Sally. Size matters! Or it does when trying to ford across a river on foot. On two occasions I came close to being swept away. On both I experienced momentary panic – when safety is at stake we can get scared. And on both occasions Sally (3 inches taller) came to my rescue and allowed me find my feet again – both literally and metaphorically. The things that I learned are that it’s ok to be rescued. It doesn’t have to make me feel
incompetent or or a failure. And it’s also ok to be scared and say that out loud rather than trying to put a brave face on it. Once said out loud it shifted my perspective somehow and I was able to tackle things that had previously been outside my comfort zone. The final piece of learning here was that I can be scared and not end up blaming someone else for it or going to feeling like I’m a victim. Anyone who has a tendency to blame others when they feel exposed, fragile or in some way outside their comfort zone may recognise this behaviour pattern. I’ve been doing it for years! And I stopped.
- When I can’t see what’s under my feet it pays to move forward one inch at a time. Because I was in the spirit of adventure I have to own up to not thinking a whole lot about the risks in front of me. That’s a great way to be in many circumstances, especially for those of you who are very risk averse. Have a go! Yet it’s not the best way to be when waist deep in fast running water with soft sand underfoot. So one inch at a time serves me in some circumstances.
When something really matters I can endure a lot of discomfort to obtain it. And I’m tougher than I give myself credit for sometimes. On the first day of our trek I managed to trip over a tree root and fall, carrying a full pack. Not easy to stay upright in those circumstances. It hurt, a lot. Yet to give in and go back would have meant missing out on the next 2 days. So I got back up, put some Rawleigh’s salve on it (fantastic New Zealand all purpose healing magic) and kept going. The bruises were monumental.
- And finally I can ask for help. With my bruises and swollen leg I was worried about traveling back across the world on a 30 hour trip with 2 plane changes. So I asked if I could have a seat with more leg room – and they gave me one. So I sat with my leg up, taking my arnica and watching films whilst Air New Zealand carried me back home.
There was loads more. More fun, more adventure and more connection. I’ll return to Sally and New Zealand as soon as I can afford – as a visitor. Many people have asked me if I would move there. The answer is, I was tempted, briefly. Yet my roots are in the earth of Yorkshire, here is where I intend to stay.