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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 20: Hohne to Ehra

Distance: 32 km

Speed: 4,7 kmph

Time: 6h44m

Soundtrack: Fix You by Coldplay

I’m kinda liking this aesthetic I have going with beautiful idyllic pictures of nature juxtaposed with me whining about my feet and how lonely I am. Aren’t you? No? Well too bad, it’s my project and I’ll whine if I want to…

I actually did have quite a bit of woodsy quiet bits today and I think every single forest path my app indicated I should take existed. Which is good, otherwise I would have been in trouble. So I guess I was right to trust the universe.

And right to trust my body too, because I’m here, I’m alive, and while not exactly kicking can still sort of hobble a little bit.

Today’s first challenge was dealing with anxiety. My already existing anxiety regarding if the map would be correct, and the added anxiety of various incidents that kind of compounded it. It’s been a bit of a weird day and I cried a lot (anyone who knows me well knows that I cry a lot normally, so this in itself is not alarming, though I’ve cried unusually little during this trip so I guess I had some saved up… )

I’ve not written in that much detail about travelling solo for this long with anxiety, and I don’t want to go into too much detail now either, as I still have 10 days left to go – and writing about it gives power to it.

But let’s just say that when you have some anxiety and a vivid imagination you may find yourself walking through the woods, heart hammering, cold sweat, needing the toilet, because somewhere in the distance you hear what you believe is rifles going off, and there was a roped off piece of path nearby. Nevermind the fact that you with your bright pink coat can not be easily mistaken for say a deer or a bird, particularly not when insistently humming to yourself – there could be an accident. And let’s not forget about that one episode of Criminal Minds (or actually, let’s.. ) – maybe someone out there in the woods *wants* to shoot me? And then you may find yourself going past a creepy (abandoned?) building enclosed by a tall barbed wire fence with a hole in it, and you may construct a story about an escaped criminally insane lunatic roaming the woods. You know, normal, soothing stuff like that.

It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t felt completely in myself today. It actually started last night when I thought I was getting sick. And I’ve been feeling this heavy fog in my head, a dizzyness, lack of presence, startled by insects, creaking doors, let alone the thought of escaped mental patients. You’d think the walking would help bring the presence back, but it just didn’t really. I also did some energy tapping under way (as I often do) to try and centre myself, but it also didn’t have as much of an effect as it usually does.

And I just kept seeing weird things. Like this cage/shed with a lock on it and a weird machine inside, a statue of a bear (yes I’m sure it was a statue) in front of a hanging canvas in the middle of nowhere, these eerie looking trees…

It was just not a day conducive to good mental health. So I sat down under a tree and bawled into my bag of baby carrots, as I’m sure we’ve all done at some point in our lives.

And then I cried some more on the bathroom floor and in the shower. I think I’m just exhausted. And starting to miss my man and my cats (and my house) terribly.

The thing is, the walking is painful and it’s hard, but I’ve been doing it so long now that I’m almost convinced I can just continue doing it. It’s everything around it that’s doing my head in.

That being said I did still find moments of joy in the stillness and beauty of the forest and the smell of the pine trees (or as J would have said: “oooh, Christmas trees!” – I really miss you, man… ). But maybe not as much as I would have with 25 km less to walk, a smaller pack and a companion.

Categories
Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 10: Herzlake to Quakenbrück (take 2)

What follows is a more or less faithful (memory permitting) recap of yesterday’s post and feeling – that WordPress mysteriously erased:

Distance: 26 km

Today I wanted to quit. For the first time for real. The rainy highways of Flevoland may have temporarliy broken my spirit, but it wasn’t real then – I still went home at the end of the day. It is real now. And I felt the hopelessness and desperation in my soul and in my bones. I collapsed on a bench in front of a train station and started crying.

And the funny thing is, it hadn’t been a bad day – not really. When I called J in tears saying I didn’t want to do this anymore, he said “but I thought you had a nice day based on the pictures you sent me”. And I did, kind of. I walked for a long time through a lovely bit of quiet forest and I saw lots of animals.

But my feet were wet most of the day from the dewey grass, and I have a blister on the side of my foot where the insole meets the shoe that has been gradually growing. And my left shoulder has been really sore. General aches and pains pretty much throughout my feet, legs and back. I am just so tired, and every day it seems a little harder. And the thought of doing it again tomorrow, and then after a short break again and again and again.. Just sort of broke me.

After some stretching and venting and talking myself down off the ledge I – at J’s suggestion – went to have some Thai food across the street which provided some instant comfort.

And then my lovely couch surfing host came by on her way home from work and picked me up, so I didn’t have to walk the last 500 meters. Bliss.

And then… I was welcomed into the home of two beautiful souls, and we spent the evening chatting about life, adventures and travelling, until I started to feel like a human being again. I was hesitant about the fact that I was going to stay with strangers, given the frame of mind I was in, but almost as soon as I entered I felt like a welcome friend. And I think the miracle of human contact was exactly what I needed tonight. The road can get awfully lonely.

Also, they have the happiest little doggie on earth, who gave me a very enthusiastic greeting – and if that doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart you either have a severe dog allergy or you’re dead inside.

I’m still not feeling ready or able for tomorrow, but tons better than a few hours ago. One day at a time, eh?

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Body Positivity Walk 2019 Mental health and BoPo articles

Go out there and happen to things

.. to paraphrase Leonardo Da Vinci (full quote: “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”).

So… *drumroll*… Yesterday I finished my planning – sort of – for the walk to Berlin. I’ve spent days poring over maps, routes, accommodations, prices, adjusting and re-adjusting. And well the long and the short of it is I have 20 accommodations booked through the month of September, and have inadvertently (because I needed to go where the accommodations were) added 40 km to my route (updated route to come).

This, by the way, means that I’ll be walking a total of 674 kms, averaging 27 km per day of walking. Yikes! Also, that’s almost exactly equal to 16 marathons.

Even though I’m only at 35% of my funding I’ve decided I can still do it, so I’m going to. I’m walking to motherforking Berlin, benches! My ass is going to be broke when I get there, but it’ll be worth it, right? And I already paid for my return train ticket.

So, I should be all giddy with excitement. The overwhelming feelings at the moment however are fear and anxiety. Sure, there’s some positive excitement mixed in there with the dread, but the dread definitely has the upper hand.

Things I’m afraid of (in no particular order):

  • Getting lost (yes, this is bound to happen, probably more than once, but the idea of routinely adding an extra 5-10 km to the existing 30 or so is not appealing)
  • Running out of water WHILE being lost
  • It being the hottest/coldest/wettest September in history (in other words consistently having to deal with extreme weather)
  • Being attacked/mugged
  • Getting injured/having an accident (and being in the middle of nowhere with no phone coverage)
  • My mum became severely allergic to wasps as an adult but was fine as a child. I’ve not been stung by a wasp since I was a child. What if I’m also severely allergic and get stung, in the middle of nowhere and my throat closes up? Or what if I’m deathly allergic to some other random substance I come into contact with when there’s no help to be found?
  • I’m not an experienced hiker. Like, at all. What kind of problems might I run in to that I haven’t even considered (see, I’m also worried that I’m not worried enough – it’s a problem..)?
  • 27 km per day is A LOT. I’m in decent shape, I work out consistently, but I do not routinely go for walks above say 13-14 kms. And my longest hike will be 37 km. Today I walked 20 (with 18 kg backpack) and am sore and limping a little.
  • … which nicely brings me to my biggest fear, which is failing. Not just failing really, but failing spectacularly and early on. What if I do the first day (35 km, nice tough start..) and then simply cannot get out of bed for day 2? What if I’ve gone out there and said to a bunch of strangers (and friends, and family) that I’m going to walk to Berlin, and I actually only walk 5% of the way? I’ve gotten AT LEAST 26 people to believe in me, to fund me even, to do this thing, and I honestly don’t know if I can. Although crowdfunding is buying into an idea or a concept rather than the promise of a finished product, I definitely still feel a strong obligation to my backers, and feel like I’ll be letting them all down if I don’t complete the journey. And I’d be letting myself down too. I had in my mind’s eye this epic adventure, this amazing project that would get us all talking more and thinking more about how all bodies are good and all bodies can move. This project that would be an experience of a lifetime and that would somehow make up for all those times I wanted to go out in the world and do things, but didn’t dare. And instead it becomes another failure. That would make me embarrassed and incredibly sad.

 

….BUT the only thing that would make me sadder would be to not even try. So, I promise you this: whatever happens, and however afraid I get, I will give it my best shot.

 

Peace out!