Turning Dreams into Realities

Future pacing

I used to be a dreamer…

Head in the clouds, moonwalking through life. But for every dream I had I wasted a day in the real world.

It can be easy to get caught up in the day to day. Waking up and thinking how many minutes you can lie in bed before you have to get ready for work…

Watching the seconds tick away as you procrastinate until the end of the day.

But what about those future plans? When is the time for dreams?

Life doesn’t start at some indefinable point in the future, it doesn’t start tomorrow, it starts now.

This is an exercise designed to make those dreams of yours something tangible and achievable that you can start working on today.

It’s crammed full of NLP exercises, designed to motivate you and structure your thoughts to achieve your future goals.

It’s something you can do in a few minutes, but you can continue to use for years to come.

Whenever you’re feeling tired or de-motivated I want you to stop for a moment and perform this exercise. It only takes a couple of minutes, and once you get good at it, it will trigger automatically when you’re having doubts.

Resource anchoring.

I want you to imagine a moment in the future where you have everything you’ve ever wanted: absolute happiness…

I doesn’t have to be a complete vision of success, just a moment in time where you feel like you’re there. Like you’ve won.

Maybe it’s sitting in front of a cosy fire surrounded by your future family…

Maybe it’s walking into your dream home for the first time…

Maybe it’s standing on top of that mountain you’ve always dreamed of climbing…

Now step inside yourself and think about what you see, what you hear, what you feel.

Maybe it’s the warm touch of a lover, the feeling of elation as you watch the sun rise over the peaks, the pride of finally achieving your goal.

Close your eyes and take a moment to feel this, to live this…

 

How does it feel? Good right?

I want you to save this in your mind. The sights, the sounds, the emotions. This will be your light at the end of the tunnel, the thing that get’s you out of bed in the morning, that lifts you up when you fall…

This is your “Anchor.”

I want you to give it a name. Make it real. Use it like a resource, a trump card. For the sake of this article let’s call it “Absolute Happiness.” Because that’s what it really is.

Side Stepping

When you’re feeling demotivated I want you to close your eyes and perform this simple exercise.

See how it makes you feel now. Compare it to the state you were in a moment ago. Realise the “Trigger” that got you feeling the way you were.

Maybe it was something someone said that made you feel down, or something you saw, like looking at your bank statement.

When you get good at seeing the cues, it will trigger the thought of performing the anchor automatically.

If you want to take it further, you can take a deep breath and imagine side-stepping out of yourself.

Look down at your current self and think about what they look like. Think about how this state of mind will hinder them from achieving that goal.

Compare this to how you think being in the anchored state will help you to achieve your goal.

Shake your head at your other self and then step back inside and perform the Anchor.

 

Small chunks

Now I want you to image that this moment, Absolute Happiness, was going to be tomorrow.

How does that make you feel? Do you feel excited, nervous…prepared?

If you were to achieve your ultimate goal tomorrow, would you be ready for it?

Chances are, the answer is no.

Now can you see that your ultimate goal, absolute happiness, isn’t something that you can wave a magic wand and it will appear. It’s a process that you must build up to, that you must be prepared for, that you must achieve.

And how much better is achieving something than having it given to you?

This will help you bring that dream down to earth.

So let’s take a step back.

Now I want you to think about what it would take for you to be able to experience Absolute Happiness.

Perhaps in order to have the dream home you need a certain sum of money and financial security. If it’s the family you dream of, then perhaps you need to meet your future partner. And if you’re climbing the mountain, perhaps you first must have the physical or mental strength to achieve it.

So let’s make this the future goal. Because if you have this, you have the tools you need to experience the Absolute Happiness you named earlier.

Let’s call this “Readiness.”

Now I want you to think about how long it would take for you to achieve Readiness. If you started today that is, and put all your efforts into it. Just this one thing, nothing more.

Think about it…

 

Would it take 10 years? 2 years? 2 months?

Chances are, when you actually think about it, you could achieve this in a relatively short amount of time. Perhaps shorter than you’d previously thought.

Isn’t that amazing? To think that you could achieve Absolute Happiness in such a short period of time…if you started today.

So what would you need to do in order to achieve Readiness?

If you need a some of money and financial security, perhaps you would need to have a good job. If you needed to meet the partner of your dreams, then perhaps you would need the confidence to start and nurture a relationship. And if you needed the physical and mental strength to climb a mountain then perhaps you would need a personal trainer, or life coach.

So what would it take?

Let’s call this “The Vehicle.”

Think about what that Vehicle is for a moment…

 

So how long would it take for you to obtain The Vehicle?

What do you need to do in order to obtain The Vehicle?

Step back again, and again, and again, until you get to Today…

What do you need to do Today in order to achieve Absolute Happiness. Maybe it’s something as small as buying a book, hiring a life coach, or getting up an hour earlier.

Imagine if the road to achieving Absolute happiness started with something as simple as reading a book? Imagine that your road to Absolute happiness started toady?

Wouldn’t that be worth it?

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

 

Life gates

To be able to think about something in this way is incredibly useful. To be able to say:

“In order to achieve (Absolute Happiness) I must first have (Readiness)…and in order to obtain (Readiness) I must first have (The Vehicle)…and in order to obtain The Vehicle I need to (insert action here) Today…”

These are your Life Gates.

So you see having an actionable plan with a time frame for achieving your life goals isn’t difficult. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to plan your life.

And there’s nothing stopping you from doing this today.

You see in this way, you are motivated by this moment you named earlier, your Anchor, your Absolute Happiness, whilst at the same time you can see The Vehicle you need to obtain Readiness.

That intangible dream that used to float somewhere off in the future has now been brought down to earth. We have defined it, defined what you need to achieve it, and set an action plan that you can start today.

I want you to practice this every time you are feeling lost or de-motivated. Re-live your moment, Anchor those feelings to now, then break it down in to small chunks, and focus on what you can do Today to achieve it.

Identify your Triggers, use your Anchor, practice Side-Stepping.

If you can plan in this way, then you Will achieve your moment. You will achieve Absolute Happiness.

 

And so you see minutes don’t matter: Plan in years, live in days.

I used to be a dreamer…

Now I’m a doer.

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Take Back Time Part Eight: On The Precipice

So I travelled far and wide, all over the world: Africa, China, Europe, America, seeking out the most beautiful and desolate places on earth…

So I could ask them the question…

I walked naked through the Gobi desert alone, stood on mountaintops and sang to the peaks with not another soul as far as the eye could see…

Avalanches, lightning storms, hurricanes, all the most powerful and violent forms of nature…and the most beautiful…I saw them all…

And do you know what is there…?

Only what you take with you…

I did not find god or reach enlightenment, though I thought I came close…

I did not find some font of eternal youth, or some mythical wish granting fish…

I only found the self…not myself, I can already see some of you cringing at that statement, this is a far too overused phrase…

What I found was The Self

The Precipice

2 years into my travels I sit here staring out over a 1000ft drop down to a verdant jungle. This is one of the hundred secret places of Zhangjiajie, Hunnan province, China.

A towering sandstone obelisk sticks out of the ground in front of me, its base thinner than its top. And from a crack down its entire length, life spills out like a great wound…

I am all alone, and I am trying to overcome my fear by sitting on a precipice so thin and narrow I can’t even see stone beneath me…

At first the fear grips me and I cannot relax, my body tense, my breathing erratic. One false move and I could slip…

What if the rock breaks? What if the wind blows too strongly and I fall? What if I get dizzy and collapse? All these questions harrow me like crows circling around my head…

After what seems like an eternity, the fear slowly subsides, and at last I begin to relax…

The air moves around me every so softly, the warmth from the rising sun slowly bathes my body and the sound of absolutely nothing surrounds me…

As this feeling of relaxation spills over, I do the unthinkable: I fall asleep…

And in my sleep I have a dream…

The Dream

In this dream an ever changing figure traipses an endless plain of white. A shadow stretching on the ground without a body to create it, like a candle made of darkness…

Eventually the figure transforms into a white bird and flies off. The world becomes the scene in which I sit again and the white bird flies towards me and when it reaches me it becomes a winged horse and beckons me onto its back…

Suddenly I wake and realise that I had fallen asleep, that I’m sitting on a precipice and reaching out into the empty air in front of me, millimetres from death.

Fear strikes me in the heart once again, but it quickly fades and as I overcome it I smile deeply.

“I am here” I whisper “and I am not afraid.”

“I see you.” It says back.

Was this some kind of vision? A metaphor for my own life? A message from God? No. It was just a dream, and this is just a memory.

The Reason

You see I used to think I travelled the world looking for a place to call home.

Then I met someone I called the love of my life and thought that I had instead been looking for someone to share the whole world with.

But on that day I saw that, while both of those thoughts were true to me at the time, they were merely oversimplifications of a common truth.

And what is this truth you ask? Well, it is as different for me as it is for you.

Some people follow their favourite sports team religiously, some follow religion itself, some pour all their energy into their career, or family, or a noble cause such as justice or politics.

In truth, though people may appear to want very different things, they are all seeking the same thing:

Absolute happiness.

You can call this fulfilment, gratification, enlightenment, whatever you like…

The feeling is indescribably unique and yet universal to everyone.

So I ask myself: “I have none of these things. Does this make me lost?”

“While I may not have anything in particular to focus my attention on: no faith, no cause, no state; am I destitute?

On the contrary, in the last 2 years I have experienced happiness almost constantly and I know that because of my personality, I will always continue to do so.

I move from occupation to occupation, from place to place, I explore the world and experience great things, things others only dream of.

This is the life I have cultivated for myself, and as I sit here staring over this indescribable scene, I am beginning to realise this, or rather remember it.

You might call this a life of self-indulgence, and you may be right – by your standards – but what’s important to you is very different from what’s important to me.

I don’t care where I sleep, what tomorrow brings, or what troubles yesterday served, as long as I have this happiness, this freedom.

And I don’t judge others, or consider their lives less meaningful, or less fulfilling than my own. We barely understand ourselves, let alone those so different from us…

But all of this is essentially irrelevant.

I am happy in this life because, for the first time in my life…

I have the knowledge in my heart that when I die, I will become dust and nothing more.

Even if I leave behind a family, a legacy; within two generation my actions, no matter how great, will be forgotten.

Do you know the name of your great-grandmother? What did she do? I don’t.

This rock that I sit on was once a billion grains of sand, which were once a part of a billion other rocks, and in another billion years they will be sand once more.

We have been on this earth for such a short amount of time that we forget that the earth has barely noticed us at all.

We are but a breeze in eternity.

What does it matter what we do in our short lives? Who will it matter to a hundred, a thousand years from now?

We will be but dust and air…

If I were to pick up a stone and throw it from this cliff, would you miss it? So then, if I throw myself instead, will the world miss me?

I twist the stone in my fingers and ask it… “Are you afraid?”

It says nothing…

“Then why am I afraid?”

Six Seconds

“When you hit the ground you will smash into pieces, but those pieces will become a part of the forest floor, and one day they will become a part of this rock again…

“I will be long dead by then, but you’ll still be here…”

And what will have happened in between…?

I will have lived my life…and I will have died…and other people will have been born and died…

“So why am I afraid…?”

“I am afraid because I think that the end of my life is the end of everything.”

And why do you think this?

“Because I have been so afraid that I couldn’t let myself think about anything else.”

Why?

“Because I am afraid of living in fear…”

Why?

“I am afraid that this fear will stop me from truly living…”

Why?

“Because I want to live my life without fear!”

And How Will You Do This…?

I throw the stone over the edge of the precipice…

It is six seconds before the rock smashes into pieces and the echo of its existence travels up to my ears, and in that time I have overcome my fear of death…

“I will no longer be afraid, because I know that I am the same as the stone!”

I was once dust, and over millions of years this dust formed into the thing that is currently me

And when I die I will become dust again

And in millions of years this dust will once again form a person and they will be alive!

“I am an inseparable part of this universe…and the life of the universe is my life…and the universe is infinite…I am infinite…”

Six seconds…

Once I found out why I needed to rid myself of fear….it took me six seconds to figure out how

In Part 9…

So what did I do after I discovered the answer to my fundamental question…?

After I had learned the secret to finally conquering fear…?

Did I throw myself off the rock? No.

There’s an old Chinese proverb…

“Before enlightenment: chop wood, paint fence…

 After Enlightenment: chop wood, paint fence…”

Life, as it is, goes on…

In Part 9 I am going to tell you about The Great Separation, why people perceive themselves as separate from the rest of the universe.

Subscribe to find out how you can become one in Part Nine: The Great Separation.

Take Back Time Part Seven: The Dancer

I was walking down a deserted beach in Kenya when I came across a young man dancing in the sand. I thought this was the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen, so I joined it.

Little did I know that this would be one of the most important discoveries of my life….

Baraka

He First introduced himself to me as Joseph, and we spent long days dancing on the beach and wandering amongst the deserted streets of a tiny, run down town near Mombasa.

After we got to know each other a little better he told me his real name.

“Dean, my name is not Joseph.” He said to me one day, with a deep frown. “Joseph is name the Christians gave to me. My real name is Barakka. I don’t think it’s fair to take someone’s name away from them…”

He stared out over the ocean, watching the brooding clouds in the distance, and then he told me a story.

He had been in love with a beautiful local girl named Beckah and they had been happy, but she had been scouted to become an actress.

After a while she began having nice things and this made Barakka feel less of himself. He felt that if he could not give her nice things then she would not love him.

His hair was shaggy, his clothes were old and he could not take her to places she wanted to go.

Even though he was in love and had everything he had ever wanted, he was afraid of losing her.

He was afraid that she thought less of him for not having money, or clothes, or being able to give her nice things…

So he left her…

She still loved him and she came after him, begging him to come back to her, but he told her that until he had money, they could not be together.

So after telling me this he looked at me and said:

“Dean, I have a dream. My Father, he had a friend like you, an Englishman named Mr Phillip, and his dream was always to do business with this man. So one day I want to come to England, like you have come here. Then maybe I can have my Beckah…”

What could I say to Barrakka then?

The Traveller

After a few days I left that part of Kenya, but before I did, I wrote Barrakka a story and left it with him.

The story went like this:

There once was a dancer who lived by the sea. He had a happy life, content with what god had given him, but each morning he would walk on the beach and stare out at the ocean, dreaming of dancing on distant shores.

One day he was walking on the beach and he saw a strange man. This man was not like anything he had seen before. His clothes were different, his hair, his skin, but the man stared longingly over the seas as he did.

“Who are you?” asked the dancer.

“I am a traveller.” Replied the man, “and I have come from a distant land.”

“From where have you come?” asked the dancer excitedly, for he had never met someone from another place before.

“It is the land of dawn.” Replied the traveller with fond recollection “and it is good and righteous, for the people who live there make great things and do fine deeds.”

“Where is this great land?” asked the dancer, for he saw the strange clothes and manner of the traveller and wished greatly to see it.

“It is to the west, across the distant sea, under a bright sun.”

And for a while the dancer danced, content with dreaming of the land of dawn.

The next day he did not walk along the beach, but instead lay in bed all day dreaming, for each time he opened his eyes he saw only the plane things he had and wished to dance under a new sun.

Eventually, he could not lay in bed any longer and went down to the beach once more. There he saw the traveller walking and ran to him.

“Show me something from this new land.” He said, and the man brought forth a strange object from beneath his coat.

It was smooth and golden and moved without any effort from the man.

“This is a watch.” said the traveller “Each time the hand ticks, time moves forward.”

“Will it tick forever?” asked the dancer.

“No.” the traveller replied “Time is always running out and one day it will stop for you and I.”

And the dancer danced happily again, for he had seen a great thing.

The next day he did not walk on the beach, but he could also not lie in bed, for he remembered that time was always ticking and that one day it would run out. He paced up and down thinking all day about the new sun and dancing on a distant shore. In the morning he ran to the beach, for he could not wait any longer.

“How do I get to the land of dawn?” he asked.

The traveller looked at him gravely and said:

“It is a long journey across the sea and you would need a fine ship.”

“But how would I get a ship, for I have only plain things and know nothing of great deeds?”

“Cut down these trees.” said the traveller “And I will instruct you.”

Many days the dancer spent cutting down the trees, thinking about the new sun and dancing on distant shores, and when he was finished, he asked the traveller:

“I have cut down the trees as you have said. What now must I do to see the land of dawn?”

“Now you must cut the trees into planks and lay them side by side.”

“But how will I make the planks?” he asked, for he had no knowledge of such things.

“I will instruct you.” replied the traveller.

And for many months the boy cut the trees into planks and laid them side by side, thinking always of the land of dawn and of the ticking clock.

When he was done he asked the traveller:

“What must I do next to see the land of dawn?”

“Now you must make nails to hold the planks together and arrange them into their proper shape.”

“But how will I do all these things?” asked the dancer, for he had no knowledge of them.

“I will instruct you.” replied the traveller.

For many years the dancer worked on the ship and the traveller instructed him, until the traveller grew too old and would just stare out over the sea.

But the dancer continued, thinking always of time and of the completion of his labours. When the ship was finally finished, he asked the traveller:

“Now I have done all things you have told me, instruct me how to sail the seas and find the land of dawn.”

The old man brought forth the watch and turned it over.

“This is a compass” he said, “it will guide you to the land of dawn.”

And the traveller gave it to him.

“Will you not travel with me?” he asked.

“I am old and I shall travel no more.” he replied.

And so he left the traveller and sailed the seas in his fine ship. Long he sailed until he reached a distant shore to the west where the sun was setting.

“This cannot be the land of dawn.” he said “For it is the same as my homeland.” and he sailed on.

For many years he sailed the seas, searching for the land of dawn, always with the watch in his hand, but each time he landed, the sun was setting and it was just like his homeland.

One day, so conscious of time, he sailed all night and arrived at a new shore at dawn. There he saw a man dancing on the beach and asked him:

“Is this the land of dawn?”

“Yes.” replied the dancer, and the traveller climbed ashore, weary of his long journeys. “And where have you come from on such a fine ship?”

“I have come from the land of the setting sun.” he replied.

“Then perhaps you have news of my father,” asked the dancer “for he sailed for that place long ago.”

“I have met your father.” said the traveller. “This once belonged to him.” and he gave him the watch.

“What is it?” asked the dancer.

“It is time.”

“What shall I do with it?” he asked.

“Do with it what you will, for it is done with me.”

“Will you not dance with me?” asked the dancer.

the traveller looked out over the sea to the east longingly.

“I am old.” He said “and I shall dance no more.”

 

You see the problem is not just confined to you. It is not just you who suffer. It is a problem as old as time.

Everywhere in the world there are people who feel the same way.

They feel like something is missing in their lives and that they will find it somewhere else.

What else could I say to Barakka? Had I not left England searching for some other life? And now he wanted to go back the way I had just come to find a new life for himself.

We were both the same…

Do you know what his question was?

“Will I ever be free from doubt?”

So why wasn’t I happy? What was I searching for?

That’s the problem…I didn’t know.

I didn’t know what I was looking for.

Was it divine inspiration? Enlightenment? Some greater purpose to hold onto that was bigger than myself?

What was the answer?

I looked at Barrakka that day, tears ready in my eyes…

But he was smiling…

He had the same look as me when I first started out on my journey: He had hope…

In Part Eight…

I sat there on the precipice of a 1000ft drop, on a ledge so small…

All I needed to do was to lean forward and I would have been free of my fear…

In Part Eight I’m going to tell you the story of how I finally overcame my fear of death.

Subscribe to find out how in Part Eight: On the Precipice…

Take Back Time Part Five: The Question

We all have a fundamental question that lives in our hearts, and it guides almost every action we make.

For some it may be something simple like: “Will this make me happy?”

When you are choosing whether or not to have a regular coffee, or an orange mocha frappacino, you may ask: “Will this make me happy?” and the choice is obvious.

But to someone else who has a different question in their hearts, they may ask: “Will this make me lose weight?” and then the choice is obviously the opposite.

Everyone has a question that lives deep inside their hearts. Some may have two or three, but there will always be an overarching question…

The great writer Alexandre Dumas once said that a man’s fundamental drive should be:

To seek all pleasures that can be honourably sought, whilst avoiding all pain that can be honourably avoided.”

So his fundamental question when taking any action would be: “Is this honourable?”

Why do you do the things you do…? What fundamental question drives you onward? What question will help you overcome this insurmountable wall before you?

“Find your why and you will find your way…”

Not How but Why

The problem then becomes not how you will overcome this wall, but why do you need to?

What dream, what desire it is that lies on the other side?

What fear or pain is it that makes up this wall?

Why? Why do you want to break it down so much?

Why do you need what’s on the other side so badly that you’re willing to risk it all, spend your entire life hitting at it and chipping it away, staring at it, cursing at it, screaming at it to break, only to one day slump down against it old and grey and regretful…

When you find out why…this fundamental thing that drives you, then how is really obvious…

The Five Why’s

When you encounter a problem in your life you should always try to break it down to find the root cause. Because the first answer may only point to a symptom.

“Why were you late today?” Asked the boss in a huff.

“My car wouldn’t start.” Replied the employee apologetically.

The boss huffed in disbelief and marked him down on his next quarterly review for being late.

So what if the boss had asked him again: “Why wouldn’t your car start?”

“Because it’s broken and I need to take it to the shop.” Replied the employee.

“And why haven’t you?”

“Because I can’t afford it.”

The boss’s expression turns to mild surprise. “Why?”

“Because my wife left me and took everything in the divorce.”

The boss’s expression turns to one of mild shock. “Why?”

“Because I’m an alcoholic!” Cries the man and breaks down on the floor.

The boss stands there and stares at him for a moment and then his expression turns to one of deep regret. “I’m sorry.” He says, and puts forward a proposal for a company sponsored Alcoholics Anonymous program.

SAD

So let’s have the conversation between Mike and his doctor:

“I’m depressed.” Says Mike.

“Why?” Asks the Doctor.

“Well…It’s not all the time, it’s just in winter.”

“Why?”

“Well…I suppose it’s because winter is depressing.”

“Why?”

“Because…well, I just hate winter.”

“Why?”

“Because winter makes me depressed.”

“You have Seasonal Affective Disorder.” says the doctor. “Winter is why you are depressed.”

“Then I’ll live somewhere there’s no winter!” cries Mike, and off he goes to Rwanda.

This is How.

And you see that once you have realised Why you have a problem then suddenly you have an epiphany, suddenly How is so obvious that you look up from the sand and see the sea.

In Part Six…

So what was my question? In Part Six I am going to share with you the struggle I went through to find what my question really was. I searched all over the world for answers, but it wasn’t until I found My Question that I was finally able to understand my fear and conquer it.

Subscribe to receive email notifications and look out for Part Six: Infinite…

Take Back Time Part Four: The Journey

There will be times in your life when there seems to be this wall in front of you. You have gone down the straight path all your life without ever looking around and suddenly you find that you cannot go on.

But it is in these times that you wake up from the trance you have been in and shake your head and suddenly you realise that you’ve been searching in the sand all your life for a drop of water, not realising that it was a beach and that there was a sea right next to you…

You see there is always a choice.

You can stare at this wall and think about how high it is, and how difficult it seems to climb, and that the ladder you had been on your whole life is now in tatters on the floor…

Or you can look around and realise that the wall is only blocking you from what is on the other side…

You see if you travel with a river, so that you swim along with it, you’re going with the flow and everything is moving with you…you are at rest.

It’s only when you try to swim against it that the water rushes against you and pushes you back…

And what happens to a river when it hits a wall? It simply flows around it.

As long as the river flows, that is as long as life flows, the water will always find another way.

There is always another way…

You only need know there is a way and you will inevitably find it.

And there IS a way…

This is the key.


To Africa

So I took the money from the medical trial and the money from my redundancy settlement and I disappeared…gone with the wind…

I decided that I would do everything I’d always wanted to do. My old life had nothing left for me anymore and so I decided that I would find another way to live.

I had nothing to lose right?

So I went to visit my friends in Africa. They were living in a small house in Rwanda with no hot water, no cooking and barely any electricity.

Mike was a bicycle mechanic for the Rwanda cycling team and Melba was starting her own jewellery up-selling business.

I hadn’t seem them for years and they had been living the most extraordinary lives all over Africa, living from hand to mouth, from country to country, doing what they could to get by.

And I thought “Wow, how can they be living like this?”

So I asked Mike “Are you happy?” and he said to me “Dean, all I ever really wanted was for it to be warm.”

You see Mike has Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. He get’s depressed in the wintertime, and on the equator there is no winter…

For him it was a choice as obvious as whether or not to wear a rain coat in a storm. He saw the problem and saw the solution.

Because you see a problem is really just a solution upside down…

Problem: you hate winter. Solution: remove winter…

Does anyone else have a problem like that?

Problem: I’m fat…solution: remove fat…

But these things can be difficult, as I’m sure we all know.

So the question really is ‘How?’ Right?

Wrong…the question is not how.


So you’re friend says “I’m depressed.”

You respond: “How will you fix this problem?”

“I will become happy.”

“How?”

“I will think happy thoughts, and do happy things and pretend that everything is alright.”

Does this solve the problem? Does that ever solve the problem?

No. Because you never really find out what the problem is…and if you don’t know what the problem really is, you’ll never find a solution.

The question you need to ask is not “How?” but “Why?”

If you can find out why you are unhappy, why you are afraid, why you do the things you do, why you are at this wall, not how you got there, then you will be able to break free.


The Why

“How is it that you can do so many things?” asked the boy to the adventurer. “You can build a ship and sail it across the seas, and read the starts, and always find your way home. How do you do it?” pleaded the boy.

“It’s not how you should be asking” replied the adventurer sombrely, “but why.”

“Why?” asked the boy, confused, “but why?”

“Why do you do the things that you do?” asked the adventurer. “Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you eat breakfast, why do you look up at the stars and wonder what they mean?”

“Well…” hesitated the boy, “Well, I don’t know.”

“How comes after Why my boy.” whispered the adventurer with a secret smile, “It is his little brother. It follows him, learns from him and aspires to him. It grows to him, feeds from him and finds all paths that lead from him, no matter how hard or far: it always meets him in the end. So do not worry about How, find your Why and you will find your way…”


In Part Five…

In Part Five I’m going to tell you about The Question. There is a fundamental questions that lives in all our hearts, that guides almost every action we take: it is Your Why.

And if you know what your Why is then your How will become obvious.

Subscribe to get email notifications and look out for Part Five: The Question

Take Back Time, Part Two: The Invisible Ladder

Have you ever felt like your whole life has been building up to something, but that you’ve never really arrived?

Do you ever get that anxious feeling like there’s something you’re supposed to do, or that time is running out?

Are you always thinking of the future at the expense of the moment?

It happens to all of us and it’s the route of so much anxiety. So What’s the rootof it all?

The Root

The famous philosopher Alan Watts once said:

“Don’t you remember when you first went to school and suddenly there was a path already laid out before you?”

Before you’d just been playing in the sand, now your teacher begins telling you all the things you’re going to learn and all the things you have to do in your life in order to become part of ‘The World.’

And you’re captivated…It’s like an oracle is telling you your future. So you climb aboard this ship that is your life and begin to sail.

You go through your first year at school and there’s this pressure to learn so that you can do well in the next year, and before you know it you’re sitting your first exams, and this is the moment you’ve been preparing for your whole life…or so it seems.

And then you’re in secondary school and it’s a whole new world, and you sit down with your new classmates and your new teacher tells you that all of that was just child’s play, and that now you will be really learning, and there’s all this stuff to prepare you for.

So you go on up the years and there are more tests and more pressure, and then you graduate from secondary school and someone sits you down again and says:

“OK, so you made it this far, but that was just a stepping stone, and now you need to study hard to go to college, and university, and if you ever want to be a part of the ‘real world’ you better do well, or else!”

So you go to college and you go to university and every step gets harder and harder and there’s more pressure, and when you finally graduate you go out into this famous world…

And there you begin the struggle for success in the workplace.

And again it’s like there’s a ladder before you and you have to do well so you can get a promotion and climb up the next rung, so that you can have that house and that mortgage you’ve always been told about.

And somewhere along the line, maybe when your 40 or 45, in the middle of your life you wake up and go:

“Huh…I’ve arrived. And you know what I feel just about the same as I’ve always felt, in fact I don’t know if I don’t feel a little cheated.”

Again, stop me if this sounds familiar…

And some people work all their lives until they’re 60 or 65 and when they retire they say “Aha! Finally I can live my life…but now I’m old and have no teeth, and a bad hip, and two bad knees, and I can’t climb that mountain I’ve always wanted to climb, or skinny dip in that lake because I’m all saggy and old and I don’t want people to look at me anymore.”

Because you see you were fooled…You are always living for somewhere you aren’t.

And when you finally get to that future and it becomes now, you’ve not really there, because you’re living in some other future that hasn’t happened yet.

And so you will never be able to truly inherit the fruits of your actions.

You can’t really live at all…unless you live fully…now.

The Proof

One morning a violinist stood in the middle of a subway station in Washington DC and began to play. He played for nearly an hour, and in that time no more than a handful of people stopped to listen. He made about $50.

This was the great violinist Joshua Bell who has commanded millions of dollars playing in the some of the greatest venues in the world. The case where people threw their change usually housed a $1,000,000 violin.

You see people are so engaged in attempting to climb this invisible ladder, that they never actually stop to appreciate the beauty in the world all around them.

And their anxiety springs from the fact that they are always reaching for something that they cannot grasp, so they will never be happy with what they have, because they’re always looking for something more.

Forever is not a point far in the future, or something that happened a long time ago. Forever is now!

So Live Forever!

In Part Three…

In part three I will tell you about The Wall. This is the moment in your life when you feel you cannot go on, when some insurmountable object lies in your way. I’m going to tell you how I came across The Wall and how I got around it.

Subscribe to get email notifications and look out for Part Three: The Wall

Take Back Time, Part One: Death

Why are you here?

Hi, my Name’s Dean O’Shea and I’m going to teach you how to take back time.

Disclaimer…you won’t gain immortality from reading this. I’m not God, or the Devil. I’m not going to give you some pill for immortality in exchange for your soul.

But what this story will teach you, is how to let go of the fear and pain in your life so that you can finally start living the way you want to.

There’s a fundamental question that guides almost all of our actions, but there’s a fundamental fear that stops us from ever finding out what that question really is.

If we never find out what that question is, we can never truly understand why we are here, and if we do not know why, then we can never truly live.

I’m going to help you find out what that question is and show you how to conquer the fear that stands in your way.

Then, and only then, will you be able to live fully, forever.

If you are reading this it is probably because you have been searching for the answer to this question before. You may have followed other gurus, or travelled the world in search for answers, or even paid a therapist, or a hypnotist to pry them from your brain.

Don’t worry, I am not a therapist, this is not a journey with no end, and I’m not going to hypnotise you and then bill you at the end. All I want to do is show you the path I walked and help you walk it for yourself.

It can be scary to tread the path, or to uncover your fears. Most of us keep them buried our whole lives. But what you will discover is that once you truly understand what they are, and how to deal with them, you can conquer them with ease.

You may be suspicious as to what my motives are. In truth, I had lived my whole life in fear, and now that I have finally conquered it, I feel like it’s my moral obligation to help others to conquer theirs.

I believe that this journey has had more of a profound impact on my life than anything I’ve ever done, and that it is the most noble pursuit anyone can undertake.

I cannot tell you in words the feeling of joy and gratification letting go of my fears and embracing my life has given me. My friends, my family, my relationships, even my wealth has improved seven-fold from what it was before.

And you can experience those things too.

So sit back, relax, and let me tell you a story…

The Fear

When I was a child I used to be terrified of death.

I would lie awake at night and imagine what it would be like to experience nothingness, forever and ever.

I would panic that if I went to sleep I might never wake up again, that’s probably why I’m a bit of an insomniac.

I’m sure we’ve all felt it, that inescapable fear that keeps us awake at night…that follows us through life…and may still do to this day. But that’s why we are here right?

I remember one night, I must have been about 24, I couldn’t sleep and started having a panic attack. I started having convulsions, saying “No! No! No!” over and over again. I leapt out of bed, paced around, tried to distract myself, but I couldn’t.

It was as if death were knocking on my door right then!

In my desperation I picked up the phone and I called my ex-girlfriend. It was late at night and when she answered she was confused.

I asked her to do something I’ve never asked anyone to do before, or since.

I asked her just to talk, to not ask me why I was calling, or what it was about. I made her promise to never ask why I called her, or ever mention it again.

And we just talked about nothing. After half an hour or so I said thank you, I put down the phone and I went to sleep.

And we never spoke of it again.

Why did I do that? Why didn’t I tell her? She would have understood, maybe even been able to help.

I didn’t tell her because I was so afraid of death, it was the worst thing I could possibly imagine, and though I was destitute and had no-one else to turn to, to save me from my fear, I also couldn’t bring myself to infect another person with it.

It was like a disease.

And so I held on to it my entire life, without ever telling anyone I carried this horrible secret, this vile illness, festering inside of me, because I thought that if I ever told anyone, it might awaken inside of them and spread.

And now I am here, in front of all of you, sharing this terrible secret. Why?

Because I’ve finally found the cure…

In Part Two…

In Part Two I will tell you about the ladder that we’ve been led to believe is our lives, and why it is so important that we break away from it.

Subscribe to get email notifications and look out for Part Two: ‘The Invisible Ladder

Terror

In the light of the third terrorist attack in the UK this year, I find myself wondering, like many of you, what the future holds. Having posted previously about Struggle, I wanted to share my thoughts on the impact of “Terror” and the strong emotional responses it inspires in the human experience.

The Human Experience

I hate to condescend you with a dictionary definition, but this one is quite apt:

Terror: intense, sharp, overmastering fear:
to be frantic with terror. (dictionary.com) 

If “Fear” unlocks the fight-or-flight response, then “Terror” is the flight component. Whereas fear can inspire courage and strength as I suggested in Struggle, Terror cannot be mastered by definition, it is an “overmastering fear.”

Terror inspires “Abandon” the temporary shutting down of logical thought, giving in to the primal need to save ones life by fleeing from danger.

Abandon: to yield (oneself) without restraint or moderation.

When I read the news and watch reports of these incidents, I see images of people running, screaming, panicking. These are all normal responses to those immediately involved in “Terror.” This is the target for terrorism, to evoke these kinds of feelings from as many individuals as possible, in an attempt to destabilise a community, or cultural identity, by the direct act and threat of attack.

But as you read on, you hear about people immediately adjacent to, but not in the heart of the incident, who do not run away, but towards the scene, in order to offer help to those affected. This is the “Fight” response, one of the normal responses to fear without the impact of terror. This is what terrorism cannot effect.

Those not in the epicentre of these incidents have a choice of how to act. Yes, some people will be caught in the crowd and run away with others, without even knowing what is going on – this is a proven psychological concept in most mammals – but others will always rally to aid.

The Wider Impact

So the short term effects of terrorism are fear and terror felt by a small group of individuals, but what about the wider community?

“Besides the injuries and deaths immediately brought about by terrorist attacks, survivors often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and major depression. The economy suffers an immediate impact due to building and infrastructure damage, but it also suffers long-term effects from trauma to financial markets, a rise in spending on security and defence, and the impact on supply chains of enhanced security at land, sea and air border crossings.” (terrorism.about.com)

So the long term effects of terrorism are actually negative effects for those committing the acts, as communities and countries respond with defiance against them, but what about for us, the targeted society?

“Equipping the military and police for retaliation and defence includes the passing of legislation that targets terrorists, deportation of unregistered aliens, granting of additional powers to police and military, fewer restrictions on the detention and interrogation of suspects, and possible direct military or police action to eliminate perceived threats. It also may include the creation of new agencies or enhancement of existing agencies to screen mail and other forms of communication and to guard essential national and local infrastructures.” (terrorism.about.com)

You could look into this many ways and analyse it with many different political or personal biases, but the facts still remain: terrorism does have a lasting impact on society.

So what’s in it for them?

A Northern Ireland spokesperson once said:

A terrorist is a criminal who seeks publicity. This sets him far apart from what British officials in Northern Ireland have taken to calling the ODC, or Ordinary Decent Criminal, who understandably shuns the limelight. They require publicity. It is their lifeblood. If the media were not there to report terrorist acts and to explain their political and social significance (the motives inspiring them and so fourth) terrorism as such would cease to existAnswers.com

So terrorists want to attract attention to their group in order for us to see their message. Is this really any different from the need of most young people to use social media to garner attention to themselves and their views (myself included)? Not really, but I’m sure you can see there is a vast difference between intentions and actions in these two cases.

It’s this need that terrorist organisations use to emotionally control and indoctrinate people to commit acts on their behalf. They prey on their need to be part of something larger than themselves to validate their existence.

So can we just stop reporting it? Will not listening to them make them go away? No. Sadly it doesn’t work like that. The only thing we can do is support our neighbours and lookout for one another. As long as there are people willing to come to the aid of their fellow human being, then we will never be defeated by terrorism.

Special Thanks

I want to end by commending the rapid and efficient response of our police and armed forces here in London with regards to the attacks on London Bridge and Burough Market last night. Police were on the scene withing 2 minutes and armed forces had neutralised the terrorists within 8 minutes of the first 999 call. This just goes to show that not only are we not daunted by the wave of attacks, but that we are becoming stronger and more prepared.

Also special thanks to everyone involved in the training and deployment of armed response units since the Mumbai attacks. A great and sustained effort has been put on by these individuals and institutions in the background, resulting in last nights legendary counter terrorism efforts. We thank you all.

I’d also like to apologise for my use of poor references. I’m sure I could have done some more comprehensive digging, but I wanted to get this out today as it is particularly relevant now. I hope you forgive me.

I don’t always write about morbid topics, but do challenge some human issues occasionally. Follow below if you like to hear more travel stories and issues discussed. One Love all.

 

Lethal force: a game park ranger’s guide

You can arrest someone on a schedule 1 offence for having sex with your rhino, but if they kill it, they won’t be committing a schedule 1 offense.

He’s making a joke about loopholes in the law to break the ice, but this is a serious talk. I’m sitting in the back of a wooden hut, in the middle of a game reserve in Zululand, South Africa, listening to a lethal force expert give a lecture to a bunch of armed private security contractors.

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It’s hot and the room smells of animal skins and rooibos tea. I’m privy to this as I am currently training to become a game park ranger, though not an armed one. Yesterday was rhino tracking, today is gun law. Our lecturer is a man who was a private security contractor for 32 years. He’s old, tough and has the eyes of a man whose probably seen more dead people than most people have birthdays. He is white with a deep tan and a thick Afrikaans accent.

“I know exactly how you guys feel.” he says when the young hot headed rangers roll their eyes. “I was in the APU business for 32 years, I’ve been in firefights, and I’ve been in the bush. It’s not like I’m reading this from the books, I’ll try and give you relevant information that applies to your specific situation.”

“First thing your lawyer will say if you shoot someone is “Don’t make any statement.” But you can’t do that. You have to have a working relationship with the local police. If you refuse to make a statement, they will look at the smoking gun and send you straight in front of a judge.”

The law doesn’t seem to be on their side. Apparently, a private security contractor is just a normal person in the eyes of the law and has absolutely no license to shoot anyone. If you shoot someone without good reason you’ll just get sent straight to jail.

“Necessity allows you to shoot a dog attacking a child in a built up area, or shooting a black rhino attacking a visitor on a wilderness trail, though in the latter, it would be career suicide.”

The problem seems to be that although people are caught a lot, in the private sector, people are not usually charged. What this tends to lead to is private security rough housing or shooting at poachers to deter them, rather than making useless and expensive arrests. I mean can you really blame them?

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A full grown male Nyala can fetch $10,000 at auction, but are mostly killed for meat by poachers

“The old section 49 of the law said that you could shoot someone for a schedule 1 offence if you could not reasonably arrest them any other way. Also, you must have the intention of arresting the person in order to justify that they were fleeing from arrest. Never use the term “Ambush”” The lecturer says, “that implies that you were trying to kill them, not arrest them. Say “Lying in wait to arrest.””

As a summary to this part of the lecture, he gets a bit sombre.

“Taking a human life is going to be the biggest decision you ever make, so if someone is joking about it, then don’t believe they ever did it. These things will break up your marriage, will give you ulcers, you will be looking over your shoulder your whole life, waiting to get convicted.” Let alone the guilt of the actual act.

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The skull of a hippo. More fatalities are caused by hippos than any other mammal in Africa.

We had an incident here just last night with poachers digging under the fence. They let there dogs through to hunt and bring back prey to the fence, then they drag it under and sell it as meat. This method has been developed to escape the law, putting the poacher out of jurisdiction of the ranger and out of actual bodily liability.

I’ve sat through some pretty boring lectures in my time, but this definitely wasn’t one of them. They say travel is the best education. Well I’ve sure learned a lot since I’ve been roaming. If you’re interested in more unique insights follow the blog below. Who knows, you may want to pursue a career as a park ranger too. Just think twice before pulling the trigger.

 

 

6 signs of an average holiday and how to avoid them

No one wants to be average, so why spend your holidays doing the same thing as everyone else? I mean no one wants to sit on a beach all day, then go eat at the hotel buffet right?

I’ve been travelling the world for years now and I always try to do something different. Whenever I see myself slipping into the conventional, or falling for a “package deal” I keep myself in check. Here’s six easy ways to make your travels more interesting and avoid those tourist traps.

1. Are you lying on a beach?

We spend most of our lives sitting at a desk or lounging on a sofa watching T.V. make your holiday your chance to do something fun. Yea relaxing your stress away is one of getting out of work mode, but zooming along on a jet ski, or plummeting down a mountain is so much better.

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I always go to places I know there’s lots to do, whether it’s hiking in the mountains, snowboarding, diving, or horse riding, I want to do things I can’t normally do at home. You might discover a new hobby, or life long interest if you get off your ass and go do stuff.

2. Is there a buffet?

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If you’re staying somewhere there’s a buffet, don’t just eat pizza and chips. I’ve worked in so many places abroad where British holidaymakers just sit at their hotel buffet and eat stuff they eat at home. Whether it’s Paella in Valencia or Tagine in Morocco, its a chance to try out new things and explore new flavours. You never know you might just enjoy it.

3. Are there English people everywhere?

You’ve flown hundreds, maybe even thousands of miles to explore somewhere different, so why go to somewhere that’s just full of English people? The world is a vast and ever changing tapestry, so go somewhere you’re not familiar with, or better yet somewhere you’ve never even heard of before.

So many people end up in tourist traps full of other tourists and never even so much as converse with the locals. If you meet a bunch of English people and just get drunk with them, you might as well be in your local pub.

When you get off the plane at the airport talk to the guy in the bar of cafe and ask them whats going on, ask them where they hang out and what there is to do. Chances are there’ll be local customs and subcultures going on that are far cooler than whats on trip adviser and many locals are happy to show you round for free, just because you’re interested in their country.

4. Does someone have a megaphone?

If you’ve joined a tour group and someone is shouting over a megaphone, you’ve lost. If you’re being told where to go and what to take pictures of, you’ve lost the wandering that goes with wanderlust. Take off on your own, arrange your own transport to sights and spend time focusing on things that really interest you, not just a tour of the gift shop.

5. Are you taking a selfie?

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In this day and age everyone’s holidays photos look the same. Here’s a selfie with me on the beach, here’s a selfie with me on a boat, here’s a selfie of me with dinner. If you really want people to pay attention to your photos, buy a tripod, or mini gorilla pod and take photos with a difference. Craft a story (not on snap chat) that really captures the moment and then explain it to your friends.

6. Are you on your phone?

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We spend most of our lives staring at our phones these days, scanning other peoples lives for some source of fulfilment. The easiest way to know you’re not having a good time is that you’re looking at what people are doing back home.

When you’re travelling you are surrounded by sights and sounds, smells and feelings you can’t get through a small glass box, so leave your phone at home, or in the hotel and go explore. don’t let “what’s the wifi password” be the first thing you say when you arrive in a new place. Buy and watch and a camera and use these things instead. Besides, no love story ever started “I saw this cute guy staring at his phone…”


So what have we learned from this?

Be in the moment

Don’t go where everyone else goes

Meet local people

Eat great food

Leave your phone at home

Take good pictures

Go out and do stuff

If you’re committed to not being average, why don’t you follow the blog below to get more updates on living an adventurous lifestyle. Don’t just be yourself, be your best self.

 

WAW Climb for Justice: Week 3

This is the WAW (Women for Afghan Women) Climb for Justice, a weekly blog to raise awareness about women’s rights and human rights in Afghanistan and around the world. Each week I’ll be climbing a new mountain in Andorra to raise money for WAW, a charity that provide life saving support, shelter and legal aid to women and girls suffering from human rights violations.

DONATE NOW

I thought I’d start off this weeks blog with an inspirational poem by a young Afghan woman.

I can’t lock away my voice

I can be beautiful and put together
Without an occasion
Just for my own gaze,
And I can not.

For my own happiness,
I can adorn myself,
Darken my eyes with kohl and color my lips
And I can not.

I can be angry,
I can laugh, I can cry,
But I cannot tolerate imposition.
I cannot remain silent in the face of pain.
I cannot be neutral to oppression.
I cannot accept being the second sex.

I am not a poet,
But I can write.
I can’t read my words
Only in the bed, in the kitchen,
Within the four walls of my home.
I can’t lock away my voice.

Hosnia Mohseni (Free Women Writers)

Her words ring clear about standing up to oppression and not remaining silent in the face of inequality. No one should have to lock up their own voice, stand up, speak up and take up space in the world.

This weeks climb

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This week I climbed Pic d’Arcalis in Andorra to help raise money for Women for Afghan Women. It was a short but difficult climb, mostly due to the incredibly hard snow and ice on the western face. It had been snowing buckets the last couple of week and the winds had been a gale force, constantly freezing and stripping the soft snow off the mountain and turning it into a thick icy sheet.

I decided that I’d take the most direct route and climb straight up, so with ice axe in hand and snow shoes on foot I set off at around about midday. They were just setting up the face I was climbing for the Freeride world tour next week, so that just goes to show how steep it was. After a brief stroll through some powder i hit the face with a squeaking noise as the spikes in my snowshoes dug into the hard snow.

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It got steadily steeper as I went on and I soon realised that it was too dangerous even to stop to rest, as there were no features flat enough to sit on. This meant climbing the whole face in two goes. My calves were on fire and my back strained from clinging on to and pulling myself up with the ice axe. My breath heaved in my chest and I thought that my legs would fail me, but there were only two options: go on, or fall.

The snow shoes were not the best tool for the job and I would have kicked myself for not bringing crampons, if I had a spare muscle to use. When I finally reached the summit it was with a torn calf muscle and another one pulled in my lower back. The view from the summit was spectacular however and my aches and pains were washed away in the triumph and sunlight. It took me two hours to climb the face and by the time i had gotten up there it was time for me to come back down. But how?

I couldn’t go back down the way I came and I couldn’t traverse the ridges to a safer place as i did not have enough time. Pondering this for a moment, I decided to do what the world cup team specifically asked me not to do, and bum slide down the world cup run. The snow was slightly softer there and so i was able to do some breaking, sliding all the way down the toboggan-like path.

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roughly 30 minutes later I was back in resort, trawling through a powder field back to the chairlift where I had left my skis. It was altogether a quick jaunt, but one of the most challenging so far, both mentally and physically. At the end of the day I skied back to the bus stop and was on time for work!

If you’d like to donate to Women for Afghan Women visit my JustGiving page HERE. For weekly updates don’t forget to subscribe below and follow the campaign. If you’d like to see first hand the work that WAW do, visit their website HERE. Follow the campaign on my Youtube channel HERE and visit the Facebook page HERE

Thanks for reading. See you next week.

WAW Climb for Justice: Week 2

This weeks film: The French Crown

In this weeks film a tackle a crown of peaks leading from Arinsal and spilling over the French border.

At the top of the mountain in Arinsal ski area you get off the lift and look out onto a distant crown of mountains, snow capped, cloud crested and inviting. I’d been eyeing these up for some time now, the solitary eagle circling above. It looked like a very good circuit to attempt and from line of sight, not too time consuming.

Unfortunately these particular mountains fell off the side of my map and so I had to plan my day purely by line of sight. Who needs maps anyway? I set off at 8.15am from my hotel, my new pair of hired (for free) snow shoes strapped to my bag. I’ve never used snow shoes before but always wanted to and since I had a good deal of deep powder last time and my crampons were pretty useless, I thought I’d give it a go.

It was a gruelling 11 hour day and left me exhausted and walking home in the dark. So without further ado, here it is:

Women for Afghan Women: The work they do

Let’s not forget what this is all about. WAW provide women and girls with life saving support, shelter and legal guidance in human rights violations in Afghanistan.

In 2013, one  of Women for Afghan Women’s clients was 17 years old when she was married to a man who already had a wife and children. The man physically and mentally abused her for years. Unable to endure more, the client decided to divorce him. She went to the local Department of Women’s Affairs who referred her to WAW. This woman is currently living in a WAW shelter and attending empowerment classes while her defense lawyer is working on her divorce.

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So If you’d like to donate to this wonderful cause, visit my JustGiving page and tag a friend on Facebook to donate too. Follow my weekly climbs in support of WAW and keep donating each time I release a new video.

Climb for Justice: So here’s what I did

After grabbing a pair of skis from the hire shop I headed outside, but unfortunately I didn’t realise that the first lifts don’t open until 9am, so I was sitting waiting for half an hour impatiently at the top with the other dawn patrol. These dedicated snowboarder and I watched the sunrise over the mountain before the gates opened and got on the very first chair.

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A couple of chairlifts later and I was at the start of my hike. I had originally thought that getting the chairlifts and having skis would save me a bunch of time and effort, but by the time I finally got started it was already 9.30am. I did however, get about 1000m of elevation gain for free, so trade -offs. My route for the day was as follows:

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I ditched my skis and boots at the top of the resort, planning on collecting them and skiing down later, and headed out in an anti-clockwise direction around the crown. The weather was fine and sunny for most of the day and the first part of the hike was a slow and steady walk in regular hiking boots to the start of the bowl.

When I hit the bottom of the bowl at 11am where the forest began, I donned the snow-shoes for the first time and wow! The extra surface area made a big difference in the soft powder and I glided down as if on skis.

The forest was beautiful and the sound of birds filled the air, much more inviting than the constant thrum of chairlifts in resort. I kind of lost track of time here however, and after a slow and tiring traverse I found myself at the first ascent by 12.30pm, much later than I had planned. It had now been three hours since I started and I was only just at the first ascent of the bowl.

Throwing off the snow-shoes, I headed for hard ground and climbed up the right hand side, not resting until I had gotten to the top (Peak #1). The sun was now on my face again and I went from cold to too hot in no time, shedding layers until I was just in my T-shirt and waterproof. After A further two hours I was finally at the top where I had picked out my meditation spot for the day (Peak #2).

But I was still against the clock.

Rising up, had a quick warm up with some Thai Chi and then threw on some beats to get me through the next section: The Ridge.

alone-at-the-topThis one wasn’t nearly as severe as last time, but It still presented it’s challenges and was a lot longer than I had anticipated. In fact, the entire left hand side of the crown had been hiding a nasty little ridge with many ups and downs, constantly losing and gaining elevation. I was very conscious of time by this point and so I pressed on through exhaustion to get round the crown, trying to motivate myself by keeping the end goal in sight: my skis. If I didn’t get back to them on time, I would be walking home…

The technical climb section, previously hidden from my sight, took up a lot of time and required some axe work, but It wasn’t too bad. It was more the time of day dragging on that really took it out of me. I thought to myself “Why do I put myself through this?” and then I remembered: for all the women and girls suffering in Afghanistan and around the world.

Then I hit the ice sheet.

Coming down the final descent towards the road I had planned on making up a bunch of time by sliding all  the way down, but when I got there I immediately slipped and launched myself down at high speed, saving myself with the axe once more. The entire northern side of the mountain was sheet ice, having been kept shaded from the low sun. I then had to be extremely careful, inching my way across, digging in with the axe and inching some more. At one point I slid down backwards, looking through my legs at the world moving upside down, using the axe as a brake. This was quite disorientating, but amusingly original. I always find that good humour can carry you through the toughest of situations, and laughing at one’s self is the best medicine for panic!

I made it down to the road by 5.30pm, a further three hours from my meditation point, pretty much without rest. I was now on safe ground and as the sun had already set, lost hopes of seeing my skis today. It’s one thing to ski home after the mountain is closed, but it’s another altogether to ski home in total darkness. This was not an option.

It would have taken me about two hours to walk to the town, where I could have called a cab, but It was now pitch black, I had been walking for nine hours, and I was now extremely cold. So, what to do?

I called my friend Matt and he came and met me with his van. It was a very pleasant walk for about an hour to where I could meet him and the night sky was spectacular. The old moon was in the new moons arms, a term for when you can see a slither of moon and the dark side is illuminated with the reflection from the earth, a beautiful sight. Jupiter was also out in full splendour just behind it and The Milky Way was splashed across the sky, with not a light to pollute it anywhere.

When he met me I pointed out all these wonderful astronomical sights and we star gazed for a while before heading home to get some food and a cup of tea.

All in all the day finished at around 7.30pm, I was walking for ten hours, and I had to go and collect my skis the next day.

So if you thought I put in a good effort, check out Women for Afghan Women’s website and see all the amazing work they do to further Women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Once again thanks for all your support and don’t forget to follow the blog below for weekly updates, a new video release and visit my JustGiving page to donate. Thanks for reading.