Have you ever hit rock bottom? I have. When I hit rock bottom 5 years ago as a result of severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I was told by doctors that I would never recover. If it wasn’t for the desire to embark on remarkable adventures, I’m not sure if I would have had the strength, resolve or perseverance to fully recover. Thankfully I did. Now, I strive to live my best life and adventure is a big part of that. Here are 5 ways adventure has transformed my life.
1. ADVENTURE GAVE ME AN EXCITING LIFE TO AIM FOR
Between 2009 and 2013 my health deteriorated to such an extent that I had to withdraw from studying a BSc Geography degree at University College of London. Most days I spent in bed, in a darkened and silent room, too exhausted to move.
Explorers Connect, an organisation leading an adventure revolution, and adventurers gave me a glimpse into a whole new world, one bursting with adventure, passion, wildness and exploration. I knew I wanted to slice of the action.
During the days when I felt low, the wonderfully exciting adventures that were continuously posted on Explorers Connect filled me with determination and ambition to recover.
Reading about other people’s adventures also tantalised my tastebuds for my very own journey, Alastair Humphrey’s blog was an endless source of inspiration.
It’s adventurers such as Alastair Humphrey, Frank Wild and Scott of the Antarctic, that gave me the courage to keep moving forward, to face my fears and challenge conventional wisdom.
[Listen to Angie Butler on my podcast Season 1 Episode 9 to hear about the fascinating life of Frank Wild - he’s spent more time in Antarctica than Scott or Shackleton!]
I spent countless days imagining my life as an adventurer and what it would be like to travel the world by bike or pull a sled across the Arctic’s snow.
I knew I had to find a way to get over my illness no matter what. I wanted a slice of that action.
[Listen to one of my most popular episodes about how I fulfilled my dream of pulling a sled across the Arctic, tune into Season 1 Episode 13 Svalbard: An Icy Wilderness Adventure]
2. SMALL ADVENTURES OPENED THE DOORS TO BIG ADVENTURES
I remember my first two British adventures like it was yesterday…
It was my first summer in which I had totally regained my health and I felt ready to try my first microadventure. Having never done anything like this before, not knowing if I would enjoy it or not and with the lack of adventurous friends to advise, I decided to go on a fully organised microadventure with Explorers Connect.
When booking my first trip I felt akin to a small child in a sweet shop, being completely overwhelmed by the amount of sweets on display and having to choose just one, when all of them looking utterly delightful!
My very first microadventure was in Gower, Wales…
The weather was glorious and the people were fantastic. I remember watching Anton’s pop up tent blow away and Belinda’s ripping in two!
We hiked, dived into a tidal pool, ate ice cream by the beach, drank beer and stand up paddle boarded in the harbour.
I felt alive and full of energy. I loved every second of it. The tales of people’s adventures had me on the edge of my seat and I came away buzzing.
That weekend sparked my love affair with adventure. I felt very intrepid and booked my second trip a few days later…Wild Camping in the Brecon Beacons.
Forecasted for torrential rain, my parents were worried and the guy I was dating at the time thought I was crazy, but I was too excited for words.
It was my first time in the Brecon Beacons and wild camping. And I LOVED it! We hiked up a ridge to the most spectacular views of quintessential Welsh countryside.
A patchwork of green hues, rolling hills, wild hedgerows and dense forests spread out before us. We watched grumbling purple clouds move across the horizon as we basked in blue skies and sunshine!
We hiked off the ridge and into the untamed land, where we explored a magical damp wood and discovered an enchanted pool with a tumbling waterfall — perfect for a quick morning dip to wake you up.
I felt very daring wild camping in the Welsh countryside and as I slipped into the enchanted pool, with the water’s cold shock forcing me to catch my breathe, I also felt rather adventurous.
The time has gone when I was too scared to jump into glacial waters (circa school trip 2008). These microadventures have proven to be the stepping stones to my bigger adventures and with each one, my courage grows and comfort zone stretches.
[Read My Ultimate Adventure Guide To Mongolia: 11 Reasons To Visit which I created after traveling and working solo in Mongolia for 3 months!]
However, I still LOVE the microadventures and am fully enlisted into the weekend warrior philosophy, although now you’ll more often find me clipped into my road bike or running on the trails than strapped into my hiking boots.
[Ever listened to a podcast that was recorded in an igloo? No? Nows your chance! My best friend and I went with Much Better Adventures to learn how to build an igloo in Switzerland for the weekend! Listen here.]
3. ADVENTURE IS A MINDSET
Over the years I’ve come to discover and learn that adventure isn’t a one-off event or journey that involves exploring an unfamiliar culture or landscape.
Adventure is a mindset that you live by and it is unique to everyone.
For me, adventure means embarking on a journey of transformation by taking that one giant leap of faith and trusting that the universe will catch you. It can be building a business, growing a brand, changing careers, starting a family or venturing into nature. It can be anything you want.
The people who take these leaps are those that inspire me to grow, take risks and make a difference to this world.
[Want more adventure in your life or thinking of changing direction in your life? Listen to Season 1 Episode 12: How To Live A Life Of Adventure to find out how others have achieved living an adventurous life.]
The people on my first Explorers Connect microadventure squashed any doubts I had about my solo travel plans, they boosted my confidence about traveling solo and told me tales of their bygone journeys which topped up my excitement, motivation and inspiration to just go!
I have since traveled down a trajectory I never thought existed and my path continues to change, but always down the more adventurous option!
4. ADVENTURE HAS PUSHED ME
By surrounding myself with inspirational adventurers who are continuously pushing their limits and enjoying life’s journey, I have been motivated to push myself further, be better, set higher goals and be the best that I can be.
Jim Rohn’s belief rings true to me…
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn
If you had told me when I was 17 or 18 that I would be wild camping in a field, in a bivvy bag, I would have laughed and thought you mad. Now this is one of the things that I live for!
Belinda Kirk, founder of Explorers Connect, and her incredible community were the first to help me learn new skills in the outdoors, increase my self-confidence, stretch my comfort zone and encourage me to overcome my fears.
When I was 11, I cried for hours after spending a short few minutes on Disneyland’s Rocky Mountain rollercoaster.
While adventuring in an old Victorian slate mine last year, I jumped off a ledge to free fall 50m for fun (attached to a rope) AND with adventurer Laura Kennington we completed the Via Ferrata Xtreme at Honister, Lake District.
I really dislike heights but these small feats bolster my confidence and show me that I am the master of my mind.
Adventure has facilitated me to stretch myself that little bit further, take greater risks and it has taught me to live in the moment.
5. IF IT WASN’T FOR DISCOVERING ADVENTURE, I WOULDN’T BE WHERE I AM TODAY
If I hadn’t picked up Scott Of The Antarctic’s diary, read Rich Roll’s book, sat at the back of the Royal Geographical’s auditorium listening to the tale of Frank Wild, or never come across Explorers Connect, then I hate to think where I would be today. Adventure truly has transformed and changed my life.