Monthly Archives: March 2017

7 Ideas For Awesome Quests

The best thing about going on a quest for me, is all the awesome adventures you have along the way.  When you throw yourself wholeheartedly into your quest, you will come back with so much more than you set out to achieve.

Sometimes, when you finally reach the goal, place or object you were seeking, it is better than you ever could have imagined.  Other times you may be disappointed, or fail on your mission.  But when you look back on a quest, it is often the journey to accomplishing your goal that is the most memorable and satisfying part.

On the road in Bolivia.

Having said that, the feeling of pursuing a grand quest is what makes the journey so exciting.  You can build an epic adventure around any quest, whether it is something extremely silly, or wild and extreme.  Here are some ideas to get us started…

1.  Reach a high point of a city, country, or the world.

I recently travelled to Dubai because it is home to the Burj Khalifa, which was the tallest building in the world when I visited the observation deck at the top.  Someone may have built something taller by the time you are reading this, and I will probably be planning to scale that too!  Although going to the top of the Burj Khalifa was the main goal of my Dubai trip, the other experiences I had in that crazy city far outweighed those few moments of bliss stepping out onto the 1/2 km high viewing platform.

View from the top of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai.

Reaching Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal was another significant moment, which was part of a far more amazing trek through the Himalayas.  But you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to reach a high point.  Find the tallest building in your city, or make it your mission to climb all the hills in your area.  It can be as simple or elaborate a quest as you desire.

Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal

2.  Go celebrity hunting.

First of all with this one, it doesn’t have to be a celebrity you have any real interest in.  It’s about the thrill of the chase!  When we discovered a certain B-list celebrity lived near our parents houses, my friends and I had a great time climbing trees and running through muddy fields trying to catch a glimpse of him.  None of us were fans (not that I’m aware of anyway!), but we still had fun with our binoculars trying to see into the blacked out windows of his passing car.  Don’t judge me for this until you try it!

Climbing a tree to get a better view of a local celebrity’s house!

It is best done with friends as a purely recreational activity, otherwise you are just a weird stalker.  Don’t take it too far and get arrested, or develop some kind of crazy celebrity obsession.  If this happens, begin a new quest ASAP!

3.  Learn a new skill.

Learning to scuba dive was the main purpose, and BY FAR the best thing about my trip to Indonesia a few years ago.  However, the gorgeous beaches, stunning scenery, amazing temples and beautiful boat trips were a massive bonus!

Ubud, Bali

My quest to learn basic conversational Spanish while in South America was (almost) fulfilled when I found myself chatting to a local in a bar in Cusco, Peru after a few drinks.  Words were just flowing out of my mouth.  The grammar was all wrong, but we managed a semi conversation.

Long bus journeys passed by in the blink of an eye, while my head was buried in my Spanish book.  It was also a great excuse to relax and watch TV with subtitles, picking up many new words and phrases.  If you make learning something new your quest, I guarantee it will bring enjoyable experiences into your life.

3.  Follow a river all the way to another town.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.  Mainly because I have a terrible sense of direction and it’s hard to get lost while walking alongside a river!  There is something so appealing about the idea of arriving in a new or familiar place the same way as the river.  Plus being next to water is always so relaxing.

You could take this to the extreme and follow a river all the way to its source, or all the way out to sea.  Or you could embark upon a quest to walk its entire length.

4.  Find the oldest tree or building in your area, or further afield.

This one may involve a bit of research, but that’s all part of the quest!  I am planning to visit a really old tree with a friend soon, and it got me thinking, I wonder where the top 10 oldest trees in the UK are?  I could find out with a quick google search, but then I would probably end up on a whole new quest that I don’t currently have time for!

Amazing tree in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Going on a quest to find the oldest buildings wherever you are can be fun, even if you’re not into history.  Plus you might learn something!  Once you’ve ticked off the oldest buildings in your home country, you can go on a quest further afield to discover some amazing places.  When you approach it in this way, you may find that you are more interested in history than you first thought!

Bristol, UK

5.  Give yourself a time limit.

Not all quests need to have time limits, but it can make things more exciting!  I remember going on a quest to find an indoor rollercoaster in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  A fellow traveller and I gave ourselves an hour to get there.  We had no idea where it was, and we ended up running through the city like maniacs.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

When we eventually found it, we realised that it was far too expensive to be worth the money for us poor backpackers, and we didn’t even go on!  But we had a really fun time and an epic mini adventure.  We saw parts of the city and spoke to people we never would have otherwise.

6.  Food quests are the best.

I won’t write too much about this one, or I will make myself hungry.  I’m always hungry, and earning enough money to satisfy my gigantic appetite is a constant struggle!  If you love food, food quests are probably something you undertake pretty frequently anyway.  Just make sure you have an emergency snack with you, or the quest could turn into a hangry rampage pretty quickly.

7.  Turn a goal into a quest.

Want to save up money for your next adventure, further your studies, or start a new career path?  Whatever your goal, life is an adventure, so completing your mission should feel like a quest, not a chore.  Think about WHY you want to achieve this goal.  What aspect of it makes you feel excited and alive?

Start to re-frame your goal in a way that makes it feel like an adventure.  Dedicate a notebook to your quest, and jot down any helpful words or images that come to mind.  What will life look like when you succeed on your quest?  Focus on that, and ENJOY THE JOURNEY.  Remember that being on the quest is as much the purpose as reaching the goal.

You can never have too many exciting quest ideas… please share yours with me in the comments below!

 

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Infinity And Suffering

Before I share what I’ve been going through this week, I want to write a disclaimer.  This is simply MY PERSPECTIVE, and if another perspective feels more helpful for you, feel free to ignore absolutely everything I’m about to say.  I’m sharing this to help my future self, as well as anyone else that might resonate with the message.

I suffer with depression, and have been feeling a lot of what I deemed to be unbearable pain recently.

A few days ago I finally had a breakthrough.  There is such an emphasis on getting rid of or minimising suffering in our society, and being a perfectionist I am particularly prone to this way of thinking.

It absolutely makes sense on one level to try to eliminate painful emotions, as deep down we all want to feel happy.  However, I have found this approach to be incredibly disempowering.  Whatever the cause of our pain, thinking it shouldn’t be there can prevent us from trusting our own emotions, which can lead to all sorts of problems (believe me on that one!).

But pain has a way of creating more pain.  Logically, we want to be happy and break free from this vicious cycle.  We can feel stuck, because we want to feel better, but we realise that we don’t want to push away our emotions.

I have dealt with this seemingly impossible conundrum in various ways in the past.  Switching to focus on something positive often worked for me.  Not just because it made me feel good, but also because it showed me that perspectives existed that were different from the painful one I was experiencing.

However, there was still a part of me that silently suffered when I did this.  So other times I let it take me over.  I would sink lower and lower, until the point I realised how destructive my behaviour was becoming.  Then I would snap out of it and move back into my ‘happy’ self, banishing and denying that darker part of me.

Then recently something changed.  Over the last few years, I have been working on believing in and becoming the best version of myself.  I believe that infinite possibilities exist, and I knew that amongst those possibilities there was a ‘me’ that would deal with this better than I was in that moment.

I have used visualisation to expand myself and achieve success and satisfaction in various activities, such as singing, yoga, making jewellery, and many others.  I have also used this powerful tool to change my emotional state countless times.

This time was slightly different.  My intention was not to change my emotional state, but to feel empowered enough to contain it.  My suffering felt unbearable.  I asked myself if this could be true for my infinite self.  I had my answer.  It was not true.  My suffering was very real, but not unbearable.  As a limitless being, I could hold this suffering and not be overwhelmed by it.

This was a very useful realisation for me.  It may take years to unravel the root cause of my depression, or I may never understand it fully.  Many people are able to identify specific events in their past that explain the pain they experience.  For me it has a lot to do with being highly sensitive and dealing with this in unhelpful ways.

While I learn and develop better ways of responding to the world around me, I absolutely need to be able to bear the suffering I experience.  I need to be that infinite version of myself that neither diminishes nor becomes taken over by pain.

So in the interest of not diminishing suffering, I decided to write this post.  I share lighter things that inspire me all the time, and for me this was an inspiring experience.  It may not be as positive as a lot of the things I write about, but the theme of overcoming limitations is the same.

You may not be able to relate to my experience if you haven’t personally suffered from mental illness.  This is not a blog about depression, but I hope it helps you to get to know me a little better.  I don’t intend to make it a common topic on my blog, because travel, adventures, creativity and the beauty of nature are much more fun to write about.  But I wanted to be authentic and share some of my darker moments too, because in my experience, being open and honest about our feelings is the best policy.

These darker emotions are an important part of an infinitely bigger picture, and the more we can see ourselves as the infinite beings we are, the easier it is to experience suffering without being overwhelmed by it.

 

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Finding Your Adventure Sweet Spot

My adventure sweet spot involves turquoise water and a warm sunny place far away from home.  Or short hikes up to beautiful view points along well marked trails.  Or long days meandering slowly and getting a little bit lost amongst strange landscapes.

Fairy Chimneys, Cappadocia, Turkey

Right now I am snuggled up with 3 cats in someone else’s lovely cosy home next to a warm fire, writing about adventures.  Housesitting, at this time, provides me with the perfect comfort/adventure balance.

It has taken me a while to find the right level of adventure for me, and it constantly changes.  I used to push myself a lot further out of my comfort zone, but often found myself in situations that didn’t make me feel good.

There is a certain exhilaration that comes with surviving being stuck halfway up a cliff face while your climbing partner tells you they can’t find a way up, but this was not an experience I could keep repeating.  There are people that thrive on the epic adventures that trad climbing provides.  I am not one of them.  Give me a sunny hill walk or a scuba dive in crystal clear tropical water any day.

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Travelling to places where I don’t know anyone or speak the language, with no guide book, is fairly within my comfort zone.  But I have to know where to find good vegan food or I fall to pieces!  That is a step too far outside enjoyable limits for me!

I am very comfortable in the water, and love to dive deep under the sea.  Being in water is relaxing for me.  I have no fear of sharks and am a strong swimmer.  However, big waves scare me, and surfing is way outside my comfort zone.  I could be happily lost at sea for hours in a calm warm ocean, but the idea of jumping from a cliff into cold water fills me with dread!

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Sometimes adventure finds me, like the time I lost all of my belongings in a huge fire, and was stranded in southeast Asia with no money or passport.  Or the time we got flung out of our boat on a whitewater rafting trip and I smashed my face on a rock.  Those experiences were far from my sweet spot, but have helped me realise what I want from an adventure.

White water rafting in Peru, seconds before the accident.

Sometimes an adventure for me is as gentle as an idyllic drive through the English countryside to visit a local tourist destination.  But I also love rollercoasters, travelling alone to exotic places, and wild windy days by the sea.  It isn’t so much about the surroundings or activities, as it is about the feeling I get from them.

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, UK

The point I am trying to make with my disconnected ramblings, is that to find your adventure sweet spot, you have to let go of what you think an adventure should look like.  Adventure comes in infinitely many forms, and I have barely scratched the surface here of things I would consider to be an adventure.  Everyone is different, and our comfort zones can change every day.  What is thrilling for me could be terrifying to someone else, and boring to another person.

Write lists of possible adventures that scare you, or that you would find too stressful, and ones that are well within your comfort zone.  Use these to make a new list of ideas for potential adventures that could provide you with just the right level of excitement.

Getting lost outside San Jose, Costa Rica

Once you have some ideas, now comes the fun part… trying them out!  You may find yourself further outside your comfort zone than you intended, or you may find some experiences less fulfilling than you expected.  But over time you will get better at hitting your adventure sweet spot.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

The perfect level and type of adventure for you may change all the time, but chasing after it is such a worthwhile activity!  So go camping, climb a mountain, take a leisurely walk in a national park, swim in some freezing cold water, light a fire, or book a holiday somewhere warm and sunny.  Find that adventure sweet spot, or have fun trying!

I would love to hear your ideas about what makes a good adventure.  Do you need an aspect of danger, or do you prefer to feel more at ease while exploring new terrain?  Do you have a particular activity that draws you in and keeps you coming back for more, or do you love to try many different things?  Leave me a comment below 🙂

 

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The Benefit Of An Adventurous Mindset

For me, the benefit of an adventurous mindset is that everything feels lighter.  If we have many mundane tasks to accomplish in a day, they can seem boring at best, and often quite daunting.  If we are too far inside our comfort zone, even the thought of going to the shops can seem like a mammoth task.

Canaima national park, Venezuela

However, if we have a much bigger goal as our focus, the details all fall into place.  Just the other day, I was having a dilemma over what food to buy for dinner.  I found myself procrastinating and not wanting to leave the house.

Then I thought about what I’ll do when I’m away travelling.  I’ll be cooking a lot on my next few trips to save money.  I imagined being in a foreign supermarket, grabbing a few random items off the shelf, and cooking up whatever delicious creation I could manage with limited ingredients and kitchen facilities!  I certainly wouldn’t be wasting valuable time worrying about what to have for dinner, when I could be out exploring!

Monteverde, Costa Rica

I left the house immediately, got the shopping done in record time, and made a very simple delicious new meal with my spontaneously purchased ingredients.  I didn’t even do anything exciting that day, but by remembering and deciding to be that more adventurous version of myself, the jobs I had to get done became a lot easier and more enjoyable.

I have countless other examples of being brought back to life by my adventurous spirit.  Before I went to Costa Rica, I’d become very comfortable at home in the UK, and was starting to get into a bit of a rut with work.  Booking my trip really got me focused, and I achieved far more with my business in those few months than I had the whole of the previous year.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Planning a huge trip isn’t necessary to feel that excitement though.  If you struggle to get in touch with your adventurous side, I highly recommend going on a mini-adventure.  One of my best days out last year was a completely unplanned trip to the Exmoor coast.  You don’t have to go far, you can just take a few hours out of your day to explore somewhere new, or do something completely random.  Sometimes you’ll get lucky, the weather will be perfect and you’ll see lots of amazing things.  Other times will go less smoothly, but the exhilaration of a spontaneous adventure will be more than worth it.

If we’re feeling weighed down by life, and struggling with the small things, we need to remember that life is one big adventure.  We can get into a comfortable bubble and forget how grand and amazing this world is, but it doesn’t make it any less true.  When we follow our desire to make the most out of life, and start to think and act more adventurously, smaller problems seem to fade into the background.

Bristol, UK

It’s hard to worry about what we look like, how clean our house is, or whether we’re achieving enough at work when we have mountains to climb, forests to get lost in and trips to plan!

Do you naturally have an adventurous mindset, or do you have to work at it like I do?  Whether you struggle to get out of your comfort zone, or are an adrenaline junkie, leave me a comment below.  It’s always nice to know we are not alone!  When we find the right level of adventure for us, I believe we can all thrive.

 

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