The Pennine Way. Inception and planning.

I have wanted to walk the Pennine Way for a long time, probably for as long as I had known it existed.  Certainly, after the West Highland Way trek with my son Ross.  There was never the time or an opportunity to do so. Ross and I did several other shorter long distance walks, but the Pennine Way was never a reality.

At some point last year my wife suggested that maybe I should do it in September this year, whilst I was still able to, leading up to my sixtieth birthday in October. The idea was intoxicating.  My first thought was ‘yes’, tempered with being away from my home and family, my wife in particular, for that amount of time.  We had promised that after a week apart when Ross and I walked the South Downs Way we would never be that long apart again and here we were talking about a month.

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59, well going on 60.

One of the nicest things I had said to me recently was during a supervision meeting.

 ‘How old are you?’ I was asked.

‘59’ I replied.

‘Wow’, the gentleman replied, ‘you present as much younger’.

And as my wife has taught me, because before I’d have poo poo’ed it, I just replied, ‘Thank you’.

It’s one of those moments I hang onto when life is difficult, and anxiety is threatening to rise up engulf me. When belief and my purpose seems like an uphill struggle that is too hard to endure.

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A cure for Anxiety, No thank you!

Not at the moment anyway.

Really, you ask, you’d say ‘no’ to a cure, to living without anxiety?

And right now I would have to say ‘yes, yes I would’.

It actually fuels my positivity, gives me creativity and is the trigger for some of my personal choices.

Where to begin. Anxiety has been a part of my life for longer than I care to remember, however I’ve only known what I was dealing with for the last few years. It provides the trigger for the public speaking I do and also the writing I do. The nervous tension I am fuelled with just before I speak, but also when planning what to say and what I write means that when I give release to those ‘juices’ the words just flow out of me.

I reach a level that I couldn’t reach by formal planning. You’ll have heard of the phrase ‘piss poor planning results in piss poor performance, well that’s not the case for me.

At all.

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Who would you have in your boat?

A wise man once said, ‘You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with’.

That’s an incredibly powerful statement.

Who do you live with?

Who do you work with?

Who are your friends?

Are they your friends?

You can’t easily change the people you work with, at least not quickly. 

You can’t change those you live with, at least not quickly.

You can though change those people who are your friends, should you choose to do so.

The question then, is why would I want to change the people I spend time with?

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The POWER of a Positive Decision

One of the secrets for a happy life, I believe, is to never give up. Remember why you are doing whatever you have chosen to do and keep chasing it. The payoff for persistence is huge, however, working out a positive plan B can be, a vital, if sometimes tricky, necessity.  I think it comes back to the difference between a reaction and a response. Let me explain…

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Even without the Fairy Godmother…

I was having a chat, or discussion with my wife the other day. We had watched Cinderella a day or two before. A movie, incidentally, that I love, and I happened to say something along the lines of ‘life should be like a fairy tale, don’t you think?’  Initially she looked at me like I had lost the plot.

No pun intended.  And its not just because I have a tendency to wear frock coats either.

Let’s just think about it for a minute, what exactly is a fairy tale?

A fairytale is a genre of magical story usually originating in folklore.  Typically, a poor, brave, and resourceful hero or heroine goes through testing adventures to eventual good fortune and love. They include a wondrous or magical element, and include fantasy, supernatural or make-believe aspects.

Let’s start at the beginning then.

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When to wallow and when to stand!

When something bad happens it’s natural to spend some time wallowing in it. Retreat to safe place and process what’s happened. You see it in the animals we live with for example, if my dogs have got themselves into a difficulty, or hurt themselves they will go to their bed and spend some considerable time cleaning themselves. ‘Licking their wounds’, as it were.  Often children will go to their rooms.  They often don’t need to be asked, they just go. Often as adults it’s one of the many criteria for, ‘I need a drink’ or ‘I need a cigarette’.

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Life Skills. One. Talk to the person who can make decisions.

You may have realised, life doesn’t always do what you want and it doesn’t matter who you are or what you are; what’s important, is how you deal with it. That’s what matters.

And that can have massive impacts on your mental health.

There are two recent examples that spring to mind.  One from my own experience, and one to George Ford, England RFU Flyhalf.

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The Baton and the Ravenmaster, or how much do you want it!

Have you ever looked at the odd couples, the ones where one appears to be visually for more attractive? Especially the one with the stunning lady and the plainer fella. Come on, we all have, it’s impossible as humans not to prejudge and make assumptions. We might not say it, but we’ve all thought it from time to time.

The one occasion where I, or my partner, or wife have known them the response from the lady was, ‘well, he asked me.’

Have you ever not asked for something you really wanted because you didn’t think the answer would ever be ‘yes’?  Or because some else told you to be realistic, ‘you’ve got no chance’? And that then fed into your fears, and you just didn’t bother.

Again, I bet you have, or rather, haven’t.

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