Hell YES!

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Say Yes More. The tagline to a weekend spent in a field somewhere in Surrey with over a hundred strangers. Sounds a bit weird if you say it like that. But it wasn’t. It was pretty damn special. A weekend festival full of camping, adventure, positivity, hugs, inspirational speakers and unicorns. Led by Dave Cornthwaite, founder of Say Yes More and the Yes Tribe, a movement designed to encourage living the life you want, outside the usual confines of 9-5 life.

It’s the kind of event that if I just wrote down what went on, it wouldn’t do it justice. Or convey the energy and the effect it had on people. It was potentially life changing for a lot of people, me included. It was an event that everyone came away from buzzing, wired and high on life. Ready to face the world and anything that was out there. Imagine the highest high and triple it, stick a unicorn on top with a cherry on its horn. I didn’t take any photos (or even turn my phone on all weekend) because I wanted to fully throw myself into the experience. So there won’t be any pictures from me. But you can find plenty on social media if you just google.

There were speakers. Inspirational people. From professional adventurers to people who had decided to live life a bit differently, or been on an adventure. All normal people, just deciding to live a bit differently. So many amazing people. Not just the speakers, but everyone who went. I’ve never been surrounded with such a brilliant bunch of people. Everyone so super positive, friendly and encouraging. This is what really made it. Two days of intensely charged positive attitude. It’s intoxicating. Like the way there’s a cheer if anyone mentions quitting their job (YES! ESCAPE!). It’s the hugs you give to and receive from strangers like you’ve been friends for years. It’s the way I only met some people for 48 hours, but already my life feels richer with them now in it. Almost a bit too intoxicating though. SO MUCH AMAZING STUFF IN ONE GO. I got totally pissed on it. And like any high, there’s been a comedown. I got a Yestival hangover. Yesterday was a bit flat. Normal life seems a bit shit after that, even though I feel my life is pretty bloody sweet as. I felt like I needed to go sit in a dark quiet room by myself. Concentrating at work on Monday was HARD. How the fuck am I supposed to follow a weekend like that?

By creating a YES LIST. Not a bucket list. Or a fuck it list. A Yes List. Stuff I’m going to say Yes to. Mine is still a work in progress. I’ve spent the last 4 years without a list, but just doing anything and everything, and it’s worked pretty well so far. But, I know sometimes [read: lots of times] I get a bit lazy and procrastinate to SHIT. So, I’m going to take Dave’s advice and have a Yes List to give myself a kick up the arse when I need it. I’ve got loads of ideas, I just need to figure out what to start first. Going part time in 2 weeks time with my new job will help. Only working 4 days and having a 3 day weekend. YES. Fridays will become Fucking Do It Fridays. F-DIF. Helps to have a handy abbreviation I find; let’s brand this shit. Joke, I’ve got no idea about stuff like that. What I mean is I will write things down in a book under a heading of F-DIF. Step in the right direction, right?

What was pretty ace for me though is that I felt like I was a proper part of it. There were people just like me. On the same wavelength. This amazing group of people and I felt like I am one of them. Not stood on the sidelines, unable to join in because I’m not quite doing what everyone else is, or that I’m not part of the clique, or that I haven’t done a massive adventure. No, I could join in. And the nice thing is that I haven’t done a massive adventure, and aren’t doing half the things that other people are or haven’t got a crazy thing planned, but it’s not about that. It’s about mindset and ideas. The mindset of saying yes, regardless of what may happen. Of taking the leap, taking the risk. Saying yes or saying no to make more room to say yes. Being open to other ways of doing things, of looking at life differently and willing to explore, just for the sheer fucking hell of it.

It helped me realise you don’t have to be a full time adventurer. Or do a crazy adventure. Or get sponsors. There are no comparisons. Just have the attitude and mindset and the rest will follow. Be aware there is a different way. Ignore the people that say it can’t be done. The people who say that you have to return to ‘real life’ eventually. Who says what real life is anyway?

I can’t mention all the speakers but I do feel I have to mention the Meek family. Parents and two kids who have been on a journey around the UK in a caravan for the last 18 months, and who are about to upgrade to a campervan and start touring around Europe. They sold their house, quit their jobs, took the girls out of school and went off on a family adventure, and aren’t about to stop any time soon. And I think that is bloody amazing. Anyone who thinks anything but what an amazing thing should meet this family. Meet the two girls who are a credit to their parents. Confident, adjusted, educated and well rounded. Speakers at the festival at ages 12 and 10. Fully grown adults would shit themselves at that, but not these girls. Are they missing out by not being at school? Meet them and decide for yourself. I’m a firm believer that education is so much more than sitting in a classroom for hours a day; the Meek family are a prime example of this. They call it ed-venture. Inspirational. I don’t have kids but if I did, well, I’d be a prime example to want to follow the Meek’s lead.

Oh, and Project Awesome. How can I not mention Project Awesome? A free fitness movement led by Danny Bent and Anna McNuff. Mainly in London but now expanding to Bristol and elsewhere. SO much fun, happiness and craziness is squeezed into these sessions and mega energy radiated out of every single person doing it. I only did a little taster session at the Festival but I know if I lived in London I’d be right there at 6:30am to start my day shouting, cheering, hugging, pledging affinity to unicorns and doing killer burpees. Absolutely fucking awesome.

I still don’t quite know what I’m here to do in life, I don’t know my purpose yet. But that’s OK, because I know I’m doing the right things to maybe eventually figure it out. Maybe I won’t ever figure it out, and maybe that’s the point. Who knows? I’ll just keep on plodding on, doing what feels right and trying new things. There were several open mic sessions to give everyone a chance to share anything they wanted. A story, a commitment, or just a comment or thanks. I didn’t, I didn’t really feel I had anything to share. I told some parts of my story to individual people, but not into a microphone. But, now I’ve thought about it, this is what I would have said “4 years ago I had an epiphany and left my job [CHEER], my home, my [now ex] husband and my cat to live life alone and head off round the world on an adventure to see what was out there. Since then I’ve said yes much more than no, and discovered things about the world and myself that I never would have dreamed of. I’ve brought adventure into my life and am not about to let that go. I’m now back in ‘real life’ but about to work part time instead of full time to give me more Yes time and carry on the adventures, big or small, and carry on trying to figure out what my purpose is.” [LOTS OF CHEERING AND SHOUTING AND WARM FUZZY FEELINGS]

That’s my story so far. Still so many pages to fill and hopefully many more adventures to come. South Africa at Christmas, that’s the next travel adventure. And next year has got a few things in the pipeline but I don’t like to plan too far ahead. Let’s see what the next few months bring first eh?

HUGE MASSIVE thank you therefore has to go out to Dave and his team who did an amazing job organising Yestival in just 8 weeks. It just shows what can be done with a bit of effort and the right attitude. I think it’s pretty certain that there will be a re-run in 2016. And in between there are Yes Tribe events popping up. Mainly in London but not exclusively. So if you like the sound of it (and come on, you have to admit, it sounds pretty fucking incredible right?), check it out, join the tribe and change your life, someone else’s life and the world.

And of course a massive thank you to every single person at Yestival. You’re all bloody ace.

Let’s go change the world.

 

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#adulting.

Do other people secretly not know what they’re doing with life, or is it just me? Sometimes I feel that at some point, someone will find out that I don’t actually know what I’m doing, work-wise or life-wise, and that I’m not a proper adult. Like I’m pretending. Pretending to be responsible and make proper decisions and stuff.

I met my old boss this week, and he admitted to feeling the same. And he does a proper grown up, responsible job. And is good at it. So if he feels it, then the likelihood is that other people do too.

Internet research shows me that adulting is a popular internet-slang-hashtag. So not just not me. Obviously this is all tongue in cheek, as last time I looked in the mirror I definitely looked every one of my 34 years (that’s a week of driving hundreds of miles, late nights, drinking and partying for you). I’ve got a mortgage, I’m a landlord, I manage to dress and feed myself and all that kind of stuff. But deep down I still feel like a teenager just playing at life most of the time, and one day people will realise.

And sometimes, #adulting is fucking HARD. Especially if you have no one to #adult with. As then you can share the responsible grown up stuff and make them do shit. Have someone to tell you whether you’re doing the right thing or not.

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I’ve long since stopped thinking about what I want to do with my life. It changes all the time. I just do what feels right most of the time. I embrace the unknown and trust my gut feeling. It’s usually right. Focusing too much on an end game means the bits in the middle get forgotten. I try to spend most of my time doing what I enjoy, and I’ve found the rest just follows. No over analysing here, just Fuck It, Do It. If things don’t work out, it’s usually for a reason. And who gives a shit? Just try something else. At least you gave it a go.

And when #adulting does work, it’s pretty cool. I’m often surprised how things have worked out for me, but then I remember it’s probably because I did something. Those #adulting decisions work out sometimes. Maybe I am an adult. Just don’t tell anyone.

 

 

Sliding door moments.

You know, those moments that could go either way, in a split second. And then the way moments do go define what happens next and shapes your life. Life is full of them really, and I’ve always thought that it’s better to regret things that you’ve done, rather than things you haven’t done. I hate ‘what if’s’, I find them harder to deal with than the ‘oh fuck, why did I do that’s’. And I’ve got a few of them, believe me. But, they’re all life lessons. Even if they don’t always stop me sometimes making the same ‘oh fuck’ mistakes. Sigh. Anyway, I digress.

So yes, the sliding door moments. The blink-and-you’d-miss them moments, or the make-a-decision moments, or the right-place-right-time moments.

I’ve had a few of those too. I don’t mainly think about what would have happened if things had gone a different way, but this weekend I did. Because I realised that what I was doing was partly down to a sliding door moment. Mainly because the person I was doing it with was met in one of those moments.

Back in 2013 I met Vicki in a dingy hostel dorm in India, which in itself is a one-in-a-few moments because there aren’t that many hostels in India, it’s more guest houses where you don’t always get to mingle with other guests. So there I was, sat on my £1.20 a night damp bed with a barely-there mattress and a pillow you’d never want to take the case off, when Vicki swept in with with a tiny backpack, a northern accent and a massive smile. Over the next couple of days we went hiking, climbing about in waterfalls and ate forgotten birthday curry, and she told me about her plans to cycle the Manali to Leh highway. On her own, with no real plans as such and no bike as yet. I was amazed, inspired and in total fucking awe. That was some serious shit. Part of me wanted to do it with her, and part of me was glad I didn’t have the time, and part of me didn’t think I could anyway. That was what other people did, not me.

We kept in touch, and when I had moved onto China I was pleased to hear she had made it OK and had a sweet little adventure. I was blown away by her pictures and the stories of the ride. And so, a seed was sown. That was the moment that gave me the inspiration to bike round Tasmania. And after doing that, that’s when I knew I could do something like London to Paris earlier this year. And then, that’s when I knew I could cycle to Brighton with Vicki last weekend (we don’t just go to the pub for a catch up like most people, we go climb mountains or ride miles before hitting the pub).

If I had gone out for dinner back in Mcleodganj 10 minutes earlier, would we have met in the same way? Would we have hiked to the waterfall, or laughed at Richard Gere’s picture? If I hadn’t have met Vicki, would I have biked round Tasmania? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. But she helped showed me that adventure was out there, if you just get out there and do it. And ordinary people can do the stuff that I used to think only explorers and adventurers did. Well after all, they are just normal people too.

So I’m 100% glad this sliding door moment went this way. And I’m glad I can call Vicki a mate, glad I have a fellow adventure seeker to do crazy shit with and be inspired. She’s moving to NZ for a while at the end of the year, so maybe I’ll just have to head out there next year so we can go climb a mountain or two.

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