The declaration

It’s four weeks until my flight leaves.

I’m freaking out a little. I’ve actually avoided writing about this until now, mostly out of fear. Although I’ve alluded to it in previous posts, I’ve just kind of popped it in there really casually, and so far no one has questioned it. But the time for casual allusions has passed. So I now declare: in about four weeks’ time, I will begin my attempt to solo through-hike the Bibbulmun Track, which stretches about 1000 km from Perth to Albany, in the south-west of Western Australia. I want to write a separate post about my reasons for doing the walk, which vary depending on when you ask me, but it is definitely related to mental wellbeing, movement, nature, challenge

So, why so scary to declare it?

Mostly because I’m afraid that I will fail in my attempt. For various reasons, such as:
– My body will break down and I will get an overuse injury and will be in too much pain to keep going (this is my number one fear).
– My body will be going well until I have some sort of injury/accident (roll my ankle, break my leg etc) and I will be too injured (from a one off occasion though, not from overuse).
Actually they are the main two reasons I think I would be most likely to ‘fail’. Other minor reasons have crossed my mind but they are so unlikely that they hardly bear mentioning (but I will anyway), namely:
– I get raped/murdered by a freaky bush dude, (although as I type this two thoughts go through my mind: a) would that be MY failure to complete the walk? I dont think so, and b) if I were raped and murdered, somehow I don’t think I’d be caring about the shame of failure)
– There’s some massive natural disaster like a big bushfire or something that makes it unsafe to continue
– I just get sick of it and give up. (Should this one be in the top list, as more likely to actually happen’?)

Anyway, that’s my list/s of why I think I might fail.

But why is failure such a big deal?

Why is my fear of failure such that I don’t even want to publicly display/announce my intention to do the walk in the first place? I find it uncomfortable and also interesting to observe my internal environment when I imagine writing another post being like, so, I lasted X number of days, and now I’m back home, I didn’t finish. The biggie that comes up is really shame, I suppose. In case you’re wondering about the difference between shame and embarrassment, Brene Brown differentiates shame, guilt, humiliation and embarrassment as follows: Shame, I am bad; guilt, I did something badThe only difference between shame and humiliation is I don’t feel like I deserve my humiliation. The hallmark of embarrassment is I know I’m not alone. It’s fleeting

So, to expand on that – it’s about my self-talk.

If I viewed it as: if I fail on my mission to complete the walk in one go, I have failed as a person, and/or, I’m not good enough as a person ? then that’s shame. If I viewed it as, dammit, I did that thing that so many other people have done and I underestimated the training needed, so now I haven’t finished, oh well, it won’t be a big deal by the time next week rolls around; that’s more like embarrassment. The difference between my worth as a person resting on my ability to achieve this goal I’ve set for myself, and my worth as a person being completely intact regardless of whether I finish or not, is quite big. And putting it in writing like this makes me think, wtf? Of course my worth as a person doesn’t rest on this fact. And yet, there is an underlying (high achieving, high standards) part of myself that is very much tied to achieving goals and this being related to self-worth. I don’t know where exactly I learned this life lesson but obviously it’s happened at some point. I also don’t actually know how to go about changing this belief, but I figure that awareness is the first point. So far, even given my awareness of this part of myself, all that’s happened is I just continue to put myself in situations where I might fail (or do something that I could construe as failure, which in my high-standards life actually means not doing everything perfectly the first time) and every time I do fail – feeling really, really really uncomfortable, instead of hiding in a corner and never doing anything risky. I don’t know if it’s possible to get to a point where I could actually feel truly ok about failing – and I don’t mean telling other people I feel fine while I’m cringing on the inside, or telling myself some long-winded justification story where I try to convince myself that I should feel fine about it when really I feel shame. I mean actually just think to myself, oh, thats not so bad. Every one fucks up sometimes. You’re alright.

It’s on the list of things I’m working towards!

Anyway, all that to say – I’m planning this big walk, and yeah. There’s a lot about it that scares me. I haven’t even gone into the fact that I’ll be alone in the remote Aussie bush with no phone reception and no tv to watchNext time!

xx

How to eat crickets

I’m currently trying to plan what I’m going to eat while I’m doing my upcoming long distance hike. One of the sticking points is how to get enough protein.

I don’t eat milk, so this cuts out many milk based protein powders. There are many vegan options, generally made of pea, soy, or rice protein, but when I think about the amount of processing needed to extract the protein from those legumes/grains, I don’t want to eat them. (Not to mention the colours, flavours, additives etc). And sure, I love nuts and legumes, but the actual eating of them (or too many of them) can quite easily upset my delicate flower of a digestive system. Also, they are quite heavy to carry.

So, how to get enough protein? In my normal life as well, I have this issue. I could just eat meat, but I’m less and less inclined toward this option. Partly because I feel sad thinking about killing an animal, and partly because I feel sad about what farming said animals is doing to our earth. (Also in a hiking context, jerky is often full of preservatives and sugar, as well as being super expensive!) So, the idea of eating bugs has come up on varied occasions, and I’ve been starting to get interested in them for a while. I caught up with a friend recently who is also getting interested in bugs, and after talking excitedly about the concept I started looking into it a little more. I was surprised to see how many new bug-based foods are popping up. Protein bars, chips (crisps), generally made of crickets over other bugs.

There are also specialty foods available to buy, like chocolate covered spiders (the thought of this makes me want to vomit and shiver at the same time) as well as high class bugs used in certain restaurants. Crickets though, they are big news. And, it turns out, big protein. 70% protein, in fact. Also a great source of calcium. And did I mention the sustainable aspects? Much less water, less land needed, less processing equipment, less methane, less blood and guts

So I found only a couple of places that sell cricket powder/flour online in Aus, and they were both fuck-off expensive. About $90 a kg! Which is prohibitively expensive, in my book, for something you are planning to eat more than a gram of at a time. I widened my search and found some much more affordable options based out of Thailand. Now, does buying an overseas cricket powder cancel out all the environmental benefits of eating the crickets versus meat in the first place? I don’t know, I haven’t done the maths. Possibly.

I got all excited and posted on facebook, ‘who wants to buy some cricket powder with me and share the shipping cost?!’ After preparing myself for being inundated with enthusiastic comments of similarly forward thinking sustainable people like myself, I was surprised to only get one comment. From my friend with whom I’d had the cricket conversation before all this started. Hmmpf. Ok, fine. So instead of going and buying up a couple of kgs, I just got a sample of 100g. And I am glad I did.

Attempt number one

I got the sample from the first company after a week or two. Opened the little foil sachet up and was first up surprised at the colour. I saw some pics online of the powder, and was expecting pale sort of beige colour. But this was more dark green/brown. Then I gave it a sniff and, ergh, it was not good. I’d seen it described as a mild, nutty flavour. I would not under any circumstances describe this as such. I would more put it along the lines of meaty, mealy, organic, animal mulch scent.

I thought, maybe it’s just the smell. Maybe it’s like gelatin, which is an animal product, which smells gross in the packet, and when you dissolve it in hot water, but once it cools down it doesn’t smell much like animal.

So I made some pancakes. I made them the way I often make a savoury pancake for myself; eggs, zucchini, a touch of rice milk, salt. And two heaped teaspoons of cricket powder. I fried up the first few little guys in coconut oil. I could smell the mealy meaty smell wafting up from the pan. Gross. I tasted them. Gross. They tasted like they smelled. I thought fuck, I’m not wasting all this pancake mix. How do I hide it? So I added a bunch of cacao powder and some rice malt syrup. Chocolate pancakes. Yum!

Not yum. Chocolate animal flavoured pancakes. I am a generally somewhat frugal and non-wasteful person by nature (Food waste! Sustainability! $$!) so I thought shit, I have to eat all this. I cooked up the rest of the batter, in little pancake blobs. I was eating it as I was cooking it, to try and make it disappear quicker. This was not a stack of pancakes I wanted to sit down and savour. However, I still ended up with a small stack of them. I forced them down, sitting outside on the balcony. By the end, I was literally holding my nose while I stuffed them in my mouth, and * almost * got to the point of retching. It was FUCKING TERRIBLE. But I was like shit, $40 a kg, I have to eat this! (Food waste! People starving! Precious cacao!)

I was pretty disappointed. I texted my boyfriend later in the day saying, ‘I tried out the cricket powder. It was not good’. While writing him this text, the thought of it actually made me feel sick. It was like when you smell a bad smell, and then its almost like that smell gets stuck in your nose? I totally had cricket pancakes stuck in my nose all day.

I wanted to give up there and then, but I had already ordered a second sample from a different company to compare. I was not waiting with bated breath.

Attempt number two

When it arrived, I cautiously opened the package. Pale beige. Good start. Gave it a sniff, and while there was a very very slight animal-y kind of undertone, I’d say the main scent was more like malt. So I was willing to try again. This time I made a pan-cooked quick bread, using some spare gluten free sourdough starter I’ve been fermenting, a bit of almond meal, a splash of rice milk and a teaspoon of cricket powder. I’m pleased to say it was a success. No gross flavour, it blended in well with the other ingredients, and I had a slightly higher protein content to my bread. The amount of protein in one teaspoon though? Pretty negligible. I want to try and increase it to the recommended serving size of TWO TABLESPOONS but I’m afraid of wasting a whole bunch of food if it turned into a repeat of attempt number one.
I’m also planning to try out attempt number three – the ‘protein bar’. I’m thinking coconut oil, nuts/seeds, cacao powder/butter, chia seeds, and cricket. Oh and maybe some rice malt syrup, but not much, as I’m trying to condition my body to run more off fat and less off carbs, so Im not relying on a constant carb intake while Im doing my upcoming long distance hike in a couple of months time.

Does anyone know of a good way to eat crickets?? Also if you have ideas of what I can do with the leftover sample number 1 powder…please let me know…

How to live in a screwed up world (I don’t know)

Sometimes I’m actually not sure whether my sensitive soul can deal with living in this world. It seems that my heart (soul?) hurts more (when I’m exposed to the hardhships of life) as I get older, insted of less, as I’d expected.

When I was a child and I would cry about something like having a fight with my friend, or getting told off, or a small animal dying, it seemed like a fairly expected thing for a child to do, right? But as an adult, I find those things, and more, somehow even more painful than I used to.

I used to walk around cities, as a late teenager/early 20’s adult, and seem homeless people, and…I don’t know exactly what I did. I still offered them food, but I wasn’t so saddened by their existence. Perhaps I found them a bit scary or something. But now, my heart aches every time I go into the Melbourne CBD, and see the (many!) people sitting curled up under blankets and carboard, on the concrete. Last night I was standing on the footpath at the edge of the street, waiting to cross at a set of lights. Ont eh opposite side was a man, who looked as though he’d fallen down. He had a black bag next to him, and he was kind of sprawled/hunched over, and holding on to one of his legs. I saw multiple people glance at him, and walk past. I thought, what the fuck? What if he’s hurt? When I crossed, I stopped and asked him if he was ok, if he was hurt. Just after I stopped, a guy riding past on a bike also stopped and asked the same question. The guy on the street couldn’t really answer, he was slurring his words a lot and didn’t seem to understand much of what we were saying. I guess he was wasted. Eventually he asked to be helped up; bike guy helped him and I got his bag for him. He was staggering around and I was worried he would fall onto the road and get hit by a car. Bikeguy was helping him figure out where he was going (Coburg?) so I left him to it. I had someplace to be, you know?

I honestly didn’t know what I could really do to help, other than to ask if he was ok, to care just a little bit. As opposed to all the people who just walked past, and didn’t even acknowledge him as another human being. I don’t know what he needed, but I don’t think I could offer it. Certainly, I don’t personally have all the resources to provide food, shelter, emotional support for all the people living on the street in Melbourne. And yet my heart aches to just walk past.

The other day I stopped and bought a guy a Subway footlong (meatball, his choice). Because I was on my way to go buy some hiking gear, and I felt so guilty considering spending a couple of hundred dollars on something I want, but don’t need, while this guy was sitting there apparently cold and hungry. I say apparently, because I don’t know for sure what his experience is (was). That’s how he looked, and what he told me. I have also heard the opinion that you can actually make good money begging, and that some people wll do it even though they are actually alright, financially. Personally, I can’t see the appeal.

But is that enough? Can I buy a guy a Subway, ask another if he’s ok, and then just continue to walk past and do not much else to help? Does the fact that I managed to hold onto my sense of self enough to not get into drugs, to get a house to rent, to get a job, go to Uni, mean that I’ve earned all the privilege I hold and I shouldn’t feel guilty about it? In all honesty, seeing them makes me want to turn away. Because it aches?too much to see. But I keep being reminded of something that Glennon Doyle-Melton wrote (I love her blog), about the refugees in Greece recently:

“But let us not say: I can’t look at this. It’s just too much. That is not true. It is not too much for us. It is too much to be them, but it is not too much to look at them. Please look and remember that if that was our [family] (and it is) we would want good-hearted people to draw close and help – not to look away. We will not look away. We will not protect our own hearts: we will work to protect our human family

When I think of that quote, I think, I’m doing a disservice to the humans of the world by trying to protect my own heart from pain, by looking away and trying to avoid going into the CBD. How then, to see the pain of the world, but not get engulfed in it? How to witness it, to hold it, to use the pain as a prompting to do more good in the world, without falling over and getting trampled by it, until I’m just crying mush and can’t do anything at all helpful?

That is a question/s I don’t currently have an answer for, and I’m working on it. So far, all I’ve gotten to is this: just love. Just do as much as possible from a place of love, as often as possible. Put out more love into the world.

Working on it!

Big love,

xx

Ps – I’m anticipating some people might encourage me to volunteer. I have thought about this, and for some reason Im not sure about it. Mostly, although I see that volunteering to help serve (for example) a hot meal to people might be helpful to the person on that day, but would it contribute to a solution to the greater problem? Im not sure.

PPS – I originally copy-pasted this from a word doc, and all the formatting went weird. I rewrote the whole thing, and still wordpress insists on inserting some random characters into the preview and deleting other important bits – like apostrophes – even though it looks normal in the editor section. If you see some random characters that look like they shouldn’t be there, or apostrophes that are missing, please use your imagination to fix them and carry on.