2019!

A new year! I sincerely hope it is a wonderful one for us and my warmest wishes to you all.

Tobermory Sunrise, January 2019

I decided at the turn of the year not to set myself resolutions because I know full well I won’t uphold them. This doesn’t mean I’m without aspirations for the year ahead. In fact I think I have far too many ideas and plans to squeeze into the twelve months of 2019.

First things first though and I want to announce I have put on hold my plan to kayak to the rest of the R.N.L.I. Lifeboat Stations around England, Wales and Ireland. I had announced this with some flourish late last year and went as far as getting the planned adventure endorsed by the R.N.L.I. in preparation for approaching sponsors and donors. Then I wrote a book and have had this accepted for publication. This is the book about my sea kayak journey around Scotland in 2015. I was faced with the dilemma of delaying publication while I undertake the kayak journey or cancel this and focus on the book. I chose the latter. The book has taken three years to come to fruition and to delay it further would be demoralising for me. This is the first book I have written and I want it to be something I’m really proud of. Therefore I need to focus on making sure this is the case.

Additionally, there are family concerns which have recently emerged and I can’t in all honesty take myself away for a seven month adventure.

I’m disappointed not to be undertaking what would have been the largest adventurous challenge I will have ever faced and there are moments when I express a big sigh when reflecting on this. However, this is the nature of adventure. There is never a certain outcome and I’m philosophical about the decision I have made. The 3900 miles of coastline and the lifeboat stations will be there in future years.

In the meantime though, I have plenty of ideas for shorter kayaking trips and other adventures. Realising I have these opportunities before me reminds me how fortunate I am. We have the yacht to sail locally and further afield, I have my kayak and endless miles of incredible coastline on my doorstep, and there are hundreds of square miles of mountains and wild land to climb and explore.

Attending to my mental health is a high priority. Thankfully I am feeling strong at the moment and have been for a couple of months now. Writing the book has helped with this. I’m keen to build on my strengthening sense of self and to share more about my experiences with depression and suicidal desires. I have ideas of achieving this through writing, social media and public speaking. Many of you may know me through Twitter and this is where I am most vocal about my mental health experiences.

I would like 2019 to be a year of connectivity for me, where I reconnect with friends, old and new, and forge new connections. To this end then, I live on the Isle of Mull and if you find yourself in Tobermory, I’d be delighted if you looked me up for a chat and a coffee.

Thank you for reading this and for your continued interest and support in my life.

Finding Focus

The summer is speeding by for me. This is probably a good thing in a way, because it means that I'm living it fully. I think this is probably true, though I have difficulty in recounting what I get up to each day. Not a huge amount to be honest. 

Anyway, I've recently returned from a journey down south where I gave a presentation in Aberdyfi about my 3 Peaks by Kayak journey, visited my parents in Herefordshire and then spent a few days camping with a group of friends in Pembrokeshire. This journey turned into a rewarding experience for me where I gained significant insights which I believe will be useful for me in my future. 

My presentation in Aberdyfi turned out to be an unqualified success. Seventy or so folks came along to the Yacht Club in the village to hear me give an illustrated talk about my 3 Peaks adventure. To be honest, I hadn't really prepared in any detail what I was going to talk about. I had chosen a number of photos to show and these would offer me prompts to recount anecdotes from the journey. I did have the intention of speaking about how profound the journey was for me and how I gained deep insights into my mental health recovery process as a result of it. As the presentation unfolded, I found myself speaking with eloquent openness about my struggle with my depression, ideations of suicide and how powerful moments of insight into these were highlighted by incredible experiences I encountered. Without preparing for this, I found my voice and it carried impact. 

The feedback I received afterwards was difficult to accept because it was so effusive in its praise. Such is my low sense of self-worth that I literally had to force the compliments into my 'memory banks'. It was when people I had never met before came up to me and spoke of the profoundness of my talk, that I realised that I had given something worthwhile. This was a good feeling for me. 

A few days later down in Pembrokeshire, the compliments continued to roll in and this time they were more thoughtful because folks had given time to thinking about the impact of my presentation. I couldn't help but glow with a sense of satisfaction that my voice had such impact. My intuition that sharing my personal struggle with depression and suicide as an adjunct to the powerful experiences I encountered during my kayaking journey had paid off. With relief, I realised that my desired future path of publicly sharing my outdoor adventures as a source of inspiration for others struggling with mental health issues and general self awareness, was a good one for me to pursue. 

Driving north to the Isle of Mull, I pondered on how I can build on this and make it happen.

Writing seems to be the most obvious pathway. I like writing but I'm not good at focussing and completing writing projects. However, recently submitting an article about my recent kayaking trip to the notable sea-kayaking publication, Ocean Paddler, and having this well received, with an invitation to submit further articles, has boosted my confidence and provided me with the incentive to approach my writing seriously. I have a number of books I would like to write and of course, many shorter pieces specifically about the transformational power of Nature, the outdoors and adventure per se. 

Public speaking is also an obvious route to embark on. I have come to accept that I'm adept at this and I can hold an audiences' attention through my voice and story. I have much to say and I do enjoy sharing my views and tales when these moments arise. However, I'm slow to grasp opportunities to speak publicly or even seek them out, instead waiting to be invited to do so. This will be a challenge for me, to publicise myself as a worthwhile speaker, worthy of hiring. 

Running workshops was another consideration of mine. I enjoy being a facilitator, managing group process and working with the 'here and now' material as it arises. Again, like my writing aspirations, I have a myriad workshop titles in my notebooks. The key here is finding a market for these and more to the point, a relevance for them. In my time, I have worked as an independent workshop provider and facilitator but I found this a stressful process for me. I'm not business minded enough to have made this a success and this dissuades me from following this path. 

Of course there is social media where I can highlight what I have to offer. My Twitter account is a healthy one with wonderfully meaningful engagement with friends, acquaintances and strangers. Here, I largely present myself as I am, not really hiding much away. It would be easy for me to build on this online persona and 'market. what I want to offer. Facebook is a little different and since the international wrangle with 'false news' and manipulation, I'm wary of this platform. I am on Instagram but I don't engage with this as best I could.

Then there is this website and developing my 'Life Afloat' brand. This is an obvious point of reference for what I want to develop and share. Like my writing, I will need to focus more on this, developing useful content and make it an interesting resource for folks to want to visit and remain connected with.

Finally, my Blog. I simply need to keep up with this and keep writing material for it.

If you have ideas and suggestions in response to what I've shared here, then please drop me a line through my contact page. I welcome any feedback you may wish to give me. Thank you.  

The Beginning

Every journey begins with a single step and so it's true with writing a blog. My intention is to write here as often as I can, sharing ideas, thoughts and feelings about my life on the boat, my sea kayaking adventures and my life in Scotland in general. I enjoy writing, particularly if I'm sharing matters that excite and interest me.

I'll write about just about anything that catches my attention but I'm sure the common theme will be my life as a sea kayaker and a yacht live-aboard. It feels exciting embarking on this blog because I cannot be certain about what lies ahead. Whatever transpires I hope I catch your attention too and in some way evoke a variety of responses to what I am sharing.