One of the things that I believe is integral to living a life of freedom on your terms, is working out what you don’t want. I think a great example of this is when you go through a branding process. So often, when very smart people are working on a new brand or look for me, the first iteration they come up with (based on me being what they think is super clear on what I am looking for) is something that I don't actually like.
This happened with my latest rebrand earlier this year. But then I realized that my amazing designer had simply given me what I thought I wanted. This is an integral part of the creative process and means that you can then work out what you do want, and come up with something exceptional. I highly rate Bronwen Hurford who is not only a designer, but also an illustrator, check our her brilliant work at DecemberandCo and JanuaryandCo. She was very patient with me, while I worked out exactly what it was I wanted, without really knowing at the time! Needless to say, I am thrilled with the end result, and have never received more positive feedback from clients and friends alike.
Here are some of the first iterations of my branding....
Someone kindly informed me that they thought it was a bit childlike, which is definitely part of who I am, but I realised I wanted to bring some more substance, elegance and beauty to it. Here is what we ended up with... ( I actually have six versions of this, ie six different colour versions to play with, the orange themethat is presently reflected in this email template and on my website is only one of them).
I am thrilled I took the time to worth through the iterations, because I believe the end result is way superior (however I am sure there will be someone who replies to this email telling me they prefer the first one!) I think the same applies for the most exciting creation possible, our life! There are things that I have historically thought I might be in to, that now , If I am really straight, I am not! Here are two recent examples;
1. Voluntary Adrenalin – ie theme park rides
Nearly two weeks ago we came back from a family holiday in the GC. We were adamant that this was a holiday totally focused on the kids, which meant an unnaturally large number of theme parks to visit in four days. There were some magical highlights, the dolphin show at Seaworld being the stand out, but for me, the experience of going on a reasonably fast ride (not even a massively high adrenalin one) was hideous. I think we have as a societybecome a bit immune to thrill seeking, because the sheer drop of some of these rides seems to be way steeper than last time I did it (yes, I also get I could be coming more of a weenie wag in my old age).
Case in point, a vertical drop at a water park, with my quite adventurous nine year old Lucas in an inflatable boat. My not so adventurous six year old Cam had also clambered up the monstrous structure, willing to consider it.
‘Hey buddy’, the controller at the top said to Cam (his eyes most likely rolling behind his dark sunglasses having to trot out this conversation for the 10th time that day). ‘I know you are feeling scared now, but I promise you, you will have fun on that ride’. I remember telling myself to prepare for FUN although that was the last thing I was feeling…. Then whoosh, we were off… my heart feeling literally in my throat, the speed simply frightening, and thankfully it was over pretty quickly. Lucas loved it, Cam thankfully had decided to abandon it (I have no doubt he will be keen to do it in a couple of years) and I realized that I am never going on a high thrill ride again.
It is just not in my make up. Sure I can think, conquer that belief, ride through the fear and the limitation, but why? Once many years ago, I was on a leadership course at Solway Park near Masterton. As part of the ‘development’ I had to scale a lamppost high pole, stand on the tiny platform (harnessed of course) and leap up onto a trapeze. My legs were wobbling so much I almost fell off the thing.
‘Come on’ came the voices from way below. ‘You will feel amazing and such a sense of achievement’. Fifteen minutes later, after realizing that clambering back down the pole was probably going to be way worse, I leaped…, I swear the facilitator was in tears of joy. Not me, I did not feel one skerrick of satisfaction or accomplishment, more like PTSD. Kind of similar to the way I felt after some masochistic friends have led me down black diamond runs on icy ski fields...
Thankfully there are people like the kid's dad Geoff, who did a great job of taking on the scarier rides and supporting Lucas through some additional thrill seeking.
2. Half marathons
The weekend before we left, I completed the Keri Keri half marathon (my first and only). I was only ever going to walk it, and had been pretty good in the lead up to it, walking lots, tracking ‘Map my Walk’ and conditioning myself well with gym work and Barre. I thought it would be a nice opportunity to ‘have something to aim for’ and it was with a dear friend who has competed a number of half marathons.
Fast forward to the event, and I was going well. First 10 km and I am striding forth, enjoying the banter with fellow walkers, admiring the views and keeping up with my long legged friend. At 15km I hit a wall, and I mean a real wall. There was a point I was wondering whether I might have to hail a medic, or at least give up. Some people share this experience (admittedly more for marathons) as something to break through, to conquer, against the odds… F@## that! I slowed right down to a gentle walk, recomposed myself, then somehow managed to get across that finish line in a not entirely un-respectable time.
A part of the weekend I was looking forward to was the social bit afterwards. Keri Keri was hosting a street party. But I was so completely shattered that all we did was go back to our hotel room, eat some left over avocado and eggs on toast, and get to bed early. Yes, I get I hadn’t trained in stamina properly, and could potentially do better next time.
‘You will now have caught the bug’ commented one of my lovely relatives on FB. ‘Not feeling that right now!’ I replied. ‘You just wait another week!’ he counter replied. Here I am three weeks later…. and… NO NO NO NO !! No bug. My idea of a great weekend away would have been my girlfriend and I doing our own thing, including a couple of nice big walks, and enjoying magazines, wine and exploring.
SO, my declaration – no more half marathons and no more theme park rides. Why is this such a big deal for me? Because for years and years, I have been trying to ‘prove myself’ and suck up to challenges which I actually in reality do not like...
...(Half ironman swim many years ago case in point – groan). Now I simply accept that I am neither an adrenalin junkie nor a multisporter. It doesn’t rock my socks and that doesn’t impact the friendships I have with the many people I know who differ from me and LOVE them.
Now that I have (hopefully finally) accepted that I have nothing to prove, that I totally accept myself for who I am (and who I am not), life seems easier. Sure there will be people who think I am ‘selling out’ and not ‘challenging myself’. Personally, I think I am just being smart. There are other parts of my world where I completely challenge myself, in a way that works for me (and those feats are probably other people's versions of 'adrenalin rides' for me).
On Friday I woke up naturally at 545am (loving my no alarms wake ups) and decided to go for a walk. My first instinct was to find a pod cast to listen to… and I chose not to listen to anything. My next thought was to kick off‘Map my Walk’.. and I chose instead just to go at the pace that felt natural. I explored my local streets for nearly an hour, discovering a street super close I had never walked down (amazing, the trees were so overgrown that the leaves actually touched your face when you walked past!) observing finches playing and visiting a local pool which looked so inviting, that I will make swimming there in the mornings a priority over this Summer.
I think that it’s a natural metaphor for the way I have chosen to live recently. I am truly grateful to Lorna Patten from Open Up Communication for coaching me this year through this massive shift as a recovering 'doer and pleaser'. Giving up the ‘shoulds’, slowing down and enjoying exploring and discovering at my own pace and level of adrenalin, no one else's. And however you choose to run, walk, thrill seek orlive is entirely up to you, just make sure you are getting clear on what you don’t want vs what you feel you should do, simply to prove a point!