This week I thought I'd give you all a break from beautiful weddings and babies, and share one of my newest passions. I set myself a challenge this summer: Get some climbing boots and get good. Pretty simple right? Well the journey I've had has turned out to be so much more than that..
Please don't mistake me here, I am completely new to the world of climbing. Aside from a school trip to Anglesey a hundred years ago, I had never really climbed at all. My other half, and his family, had these incredible stories though, of adventures and climbs. And the photos.. oh the photos. Also,
the reality of my wonderful job has really set in this year.. hours upon hours upon hours of computer work.
I had battled through a couple of super busy summers, but this year I was adamant the stress would not get me.
Amazingly.. Bouldering turned out to be the perfect choice, and not just for getting me outdoors, or for increasing my body strength (which it definitely has done).
At the start, I just wanted to get to the top of the indoor wall, un-roped, and not freak out. Once I started to climb higher up these bouldering walls, I would struggle to get down. For the first time in a hundred years, I was scared. There were no safety guards, no supports; just me.
It was refreshing to actually be scared of something immediate and real though. I loved it.
After battling crippling anxiety all my life (most of which, I had no idea what was wrong) I realised I had spent every second of it, afraid; and of invisible, sometimes improbable things.
Now here I was, at the top of a bouldering wall, looking down at fear itself. I could feel my whole body tense up, my knuckles would turn white and my body would be paralysed by the instinctive fear of falling.
The key though, was that I couldn't hide from that feeling, or numb it, or ignore it. I was at the top of a bouldering wall, and I had to get down somehow. I'm too proud to show my fear, or to let it beat me in public.. so I had to face it. I had to work through it. It may sound a little dramatic, but in a general life sense, this is a strength I never thought I had.
Thank god for crash mats. Once I realised I could jump down and not hurt myself, the liberation was indescribable. I didn't hold on so tight to each hold;
I was no longer holding on for fear of letting go.. But holding on so I could move up the wall; I was in control.
And if it wasn't working so much, I could just jump down and try again. I can now throw myself at holds which seem out of reach, and be hyped not doubtful.
The life parallels keep going. Every time I try a new route, indoors or outdoors, I find myself being bolder; trusting my own strength, and sometimes just having a little faith that I can at least have a go, even though I am not roped.. So that initial fear, when I first started, has become something I use to push me forward.
That fear, which held me back all my life, has become the conversation I have with my body and mind, every time I climb. And if I don't have it, I'm not trying hard enough.
I cannot tell you how immense this all is, on an entirely self indulgent level. Professionally, I take more risks; I am learning to have more faith in the things I can do, than worry about the things I can't.
I am learning to trust my own strength, and to speak to my fears and insecurities, in order to propel me further.
As a creative, I am a mentally busy person; my brain is constantly active, searching and asking and creating.. it is so important to do things which link my brain back to my body. Grounded.
Thanks to anyone who has read this. I implore anyone who feels anxious, or a little disheartened, or disillusioned, physically and/ or mentally, to pick up something active in nature. No gyms, no dvd fitness regimes, no diets, no self help books; just get out there in the beautiful outdoors, and make your heart pump faster; give yourself something to aim for. I've had enough of the obsessive body shaming/ celebrating..
Our bodies are not trophies, and our brains are not passive transporters..
Link 'em up people. Do something wicked.
I have to give a massive shout out to Adam, my better half, who has shared this obsession and encouraged me no end, to keep trying. He is the super strong climber pictured here, who also took a few snaps of me having a go.
I'll be back to photographic chat next week I promise. I just thought it might be nice to share something non-work related :)
"There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask "What if I fall?"
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?"