The Bibbulmun: an afterword

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. I wrote this four weeks after I finished.

It feels like something is happening. A really deep, seismic shift. The deep cores of worthlessness, hopelessness, self disgust and despair are being aired, opened, examined. In a new light – the light of feminism (I was conditioned to hate myself by society!).

There’s a part of me unfurling – it feels inevitable and un-doable. And as though it’s going to change a bunch of stuff. There’s a crack, and I can finally let the light in. I don’t need to hide anymore. I can actually be me. Embody myself. All of myself. With love and acceptance. And without blame or judgement. If feels like I might finally be able to love myself. For reals.

I’m kind of shy and excited to meet this fresh new self who’s emerging, like a soft pink new born. Like when you’re a kid and you see your favourite cousin who you haven’t seen for ages, for a few moments you feel shy and don’t make eye contact. Then one of says ‘you want to go play?’ and then you hold hands and go off together, inseparable until your parents force you into two separate cars at the end of the night. It’s like that, meeting this new, soft and shiny self. Only this time we get to hold hands and run off together, and not leave in two cars. This time we stay and play together.

Right now though, I’m still at the shy part. I’m anticipating it’s going to be fun but I’m not yet brave enough to offer my hand. It also feels good not rushing it. I can sense the unfurling, but there’s no shortcut or speeding it up. It’s going to bloom in it’s own time. Somehow I feel certain that it’s happening though. Even though there’s not that much evidence yet, something feels different.

When I finished the Bibb, I was disappointed that with all the time I spent mulling over the problems in my life, I hadn’t solved any of them. I didn’t think I had any answers, no conclusions about whatthefuckdoidowithmylife. And yet, since coming home, everything is shifted and nothing is what it was before.

Each day, each km, each step – they were like gentle waves on a beach, each washing away another fine layer of silt, to eventually reveal what beauty lay beneath the whole time – beauty that was previously concealed. Me.

The Bibbulmun: day fourty eight – West Cape Howe -> Torbay

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Beautiful easy day. 16.5km. Wound through quite a lot of burnt section around West Cape Howe, from fires in March this year. I actually don’t mind the burnt parts – visibility is great, no shrubs to hide snakes or scratch you. There’s a kind of stark beauty to the blackened trunks and branches. Up onto a high hill overlooking Shelley Beach – beautiful. Some people on the launch ramp but no  hang gliding action as I watched so kept going. Just continually blown away by the jewel blue/aqua of the sea – especially Dingoes beach. So amazing. So lucky.

2-3 crows/ravens hanging around me at the moment – Lisa would say it’s meaningful. Protectors, or something to do with my soul journey. Got into Torbay hut around 11:30, instant mash and tuna sachet and cheese for lunch – YUM. Chill out, went down to Hartmans beach with Lynne and Alison. Walked another km or so to check out the potential burn diversion but no sign of it – although I could see the burnt section. So many orchids around here – I’ve lived here all this time and never knew! Less than 40km to go now until THE END. It feels weird being here in this oh so familiar land. It kind of makes the whole walk feel surreal, like it never happened. Starting feels so long ago. Halfway feels so long ago!!

Met a girl walking north to Denmark this morn, carrying a huge pack! She had a chunk of foam under her hip belt and each shoulder – too bony, she said haha. Plus it’s a pillow when she stops. Lyn just pointed to the beach and said, so we’re doing the left side of this tomorrow? And I said, all the beach you can see, we’re going to walk tomorrow. No! She says. That’s more than 4km! Uh uh, I said. All the way to the rocks. Haha.

And this hut is where it began. Being here on NYE last year with Mum and Rach, seeing all the entries in the book of solo e2e’s, thinking, I could do the whole Bibb. Maybe I will. And now look at me: I did. Mum will meet us at Cosy Corner beach tomorrow and pick up our packs and take them to Muttonbird. She’ll walk a little way with Poet too. I’m pretty sure this trio of crows is the same trio that was hanging with me down at Hartmans. Also not sure that I’ve gotten that much better at sitting around doing nothing. Still wanting distraction with Harry, phone (when internet avail). Even this writing.

I’ve got a vague headache – have had for last couple of days. Not sure what from. My nervous system is definitely chilled out. It’s nice. Still not sure how I feel about going back to city life. Feet not as sore today so that’s always a thing that makes me think I could keep going. It’s funny with Lyn here, even though she’s a hiker and did the 1st section/s, she’s on a diff schedule/zone to the rest of us. She slept in much later this morn, and the other 2 left without her after she hadn’t packed up and was hanging out having her second coffee. Perhaps that is her normal way, but all the rest of us are so in the habit of just wake up, pack up, eat, go. I woke around 4:50 today – a sleep in! Dozed around listening to waves until 5:30. Fucking mozzies flying around woke me – even thought they can’t bite me through the tent, the noise still bothers me. Just my fingers are brown and tan – and I think I have a few more face wrinkles. I haven’t lost much weight – maybe just the tiniest bit off my legs. I actually don’t want to put it back on. I feel like I already put some that I lost back on, maybe being in so many (relative to first 2 sections) towns and carrying more food? Eating 2 packets of ‘2 serves’ back countries meals a day, on many days! Thanks to Peter and Sonja’s boxes. Also much in the way of energy/protein/fruit bars. It’s my second last night. I’m already transitioning, making plans to catch up with friends when I’m in albs etc.

Enjoying reading the red hut book* notes of Seri, Bacon, etc. Seri wrote one yesterday, I’m bummed I didn’t photo it – something like: ‘if to get ‘track fitting’ means that my body hurts all over but I still keep walking everyday anyway, then I suppose I have gotten track fitting. ‘ So glad I’m not the only one who’s still in pain @ this point in the game! She said she had sore shoulders, back, ankles, feet. I’m mostly feet/ankles. Also hips ache, but that could happen anywhere. I also had grand thoughts of getting track fit and that I’d find myself being this walking machine that just gets through the km without much effort/pain. Nope, not at all. Similarly to Seri, my version of track fit means being in loads of pain and just walking anyway. Hah.

Getting hungry again – 4:40. Might have pre-dinner of more mash and tuna. Bag too heavy! Don’t need much to walk into Albs, only 12km from Sandpatch – assuming I make the double from here tomorrow. How will I manage to stop eating when I get home??

Things I’m looking forward to

– a gong

– a haircut

– wearing a dress

– a bath

– clean toenails

– clean self in general

– shaving my legs

– grooming in general.

I’d actually like to embrace that feminine side of myself more – I have something about wearing makeup/heels/dresses/dressing up, where I have this story that if you do it it’s tacky or tryhard or means you don’t feel good about yourself/are sucked in by consumerism. But why not embrace my feminine side and enjoy feeling pretty? I can be manly and tough when I’m doing aikido. Time for new mental stories. Same with stories about money – if you have it/want it that means you’re spoilt/up yourself/a wanker – GET RID OF THAT STORY – new story – dressing up and wearing heels and makeup and having styled hair can be an enjoyable way of expressing my femininity – and I AM NOT too dorky to do it. (Although someone might need to teach me how to put on makeup (Youtube?))**

*shared journals in each hut where hikers write down thoughts or rambles or draw pictures etc

**Note: my level of dorkiness has not improved since finishing the Bibb

Is this the end of The Mind Movement? (you tell me)

Hey there!

This note has been a long time coming, right? I haven’t written for some time. Due to a few different reasons, but there’s a couple of biggies. Namely the following:

  1. My life has changed a lot in the last 6 months. In a good way! I’ve quit my job, moved house, I’m doing new things. I’m really happy with how things are going.
  2. With this change has come a change in where my attention and curiosity are focused. I loved Elizabeth Gilberts talk on hummingbird curiosity and following these roads, so I’m rolling with that.
  3. Part of this shift in focus has meant that I’m less focused on the scientific world of exercise and mental health. Which was a big part of starting the blog.
  4. Part of the change in my life has also been a change in some of my theories/opinions on …life stuff. For example, I’m leaning away from our current western medical definition of depression as an ‘illness’ caused by brain chemical imbalance, and exploring other ways of seeing depression, such as that written about by Kelly Brogan.
  5. A big, big part of where my interest is going is into wilderness and nature. I’m very interested wilderness therapy, equine experiential learning, bushwalking/hiking, and I’m currently planning a long distance thru-hike for myself. I see all of this as very much related to mental health and wellbeing, as well as movement. But at the same time, I see it as a very different approach to the more traditional ‘gym workout three days a week for 12 weeks to see if your mood improves’ typical ‘evidence based’ exercise for mental health.
  6. I ended up being ‘depressed’ (I’m currently unsure how I want to frame that particular title) for much of last year, which left me feeling really depleted, and like I didn’t have much of anything left to offer to other people (including you lovely blog readers).
  7. I’m really, really, really over the whole online fame/instagram/marketing game at the moment. The idea of yoga poses in natural landscapes, pictures of lattes with props arranged just so and the like is just so not my game right now. (Totally fine for others to go ahead if thats what they’re into! This is not an attack!). I’m finding it difficult to fit myself in to current popular social media trends and would prefer to be a bit more dirty, gritty, swear-y and real. Not that I’ve been inauthentic in anything I’ve written, but I’ve often censored myself for fear of offending, and often feel the need to provide linked evidence whenever I state an opinion. And I’ve found myself, from time to time, trying to create posts or photos to be more like those peeps who have 1000’s of followers, coz that’s what the world says is a good thing for a blog and for a business. TBH, I’m a bit over that. I just want to write what I want to write, while giving zero fucks.

So there’re a few big changes, right?
What I’m questioning at this point is the following:

  1. Should I keep the blog going in its current form? Was it helping anyone? Was anyone reading it? Were people getting any meaning from it?
  2. Should I divert the focus of the blog incrementally towards the things I’m currently into (aikido, hiking, alternative ways of looking at mental health. Feminism, energy healing, horses. Sustainability. SLOW (seasonal, local, organic, whole) food. Tuning into the seasons and living accordingly.)
  3. Should I start a new blog about the non-movement related stuff I’m doing at the moment? (see above).
  4. Should I give up the blog altogether and just write things for myself? And not publish it?
  5. Should I just do what Ive been doing and avoid all these questions by not writing anything and leaving the blog sitting there?

I’d love your feedback on this, because as much as I have written this blog as place for me to record my own thoughts, I’d hate to shut it down if people were finding meaning in it. I just feel uncomfortable with it sitting here doing not much. It’s kind of like that nagging thought: Is there something I forgot? Did I leave the oven on or something?

Hope you are all making meaning in your lives and finding a way to move that works for you.

Big love,

Louise xx

What’s the difference between self-care and self-fixing?

Today I’m feeling hopeful. It’s the first time I’ve felt hopeful in a while, so I’m pretty excited about it. So excited that I rang my boyfriend to tell him – I thought it would be a nice novelty for him to get a happy phone call from me rather than a grumpy or crying one.

 

I’ve been feeling crappy for a pretty long time now. Not 100% constantly crappy, but up and down-y, when I think back over time I mostly see it as grey, forget-about-the-happy-days kind of crappy. And when I saw a long time, I mean months, not days. When I first started feeling consistently down, as opposed to just having a bad day (or a bad week), I had so much happy-and-well-ness built up in my tank, that I was ok about feeling shit. I was almost (not quite) looking forward to the challenge of depression (again) in a sort of yay, now I can try out all of those strategies that I’ve been talking about for so long! Put it to the test! kind of way. When I felt good for a few days in a row, I had this (very, very, tiny) sense of disappointment – oh, it’s over now, I didn’t even get to let myself get to the depths so I could write some really great depressed connecting blog post about depression and it’s shitness. But oh well, to be well is better anyway.

 

But then I wasn’t really well, for a long time. The happy streak didn’t last. Even the mildly cheerful didn’t hang around. The grey kept going (keeps going). And that big tank of happy-wellness that I had carefully cultivated over the previous few years slowly dwindled, as I drew on it again and again without ever really having the opportunity or energy to refill it. And then I found myself empty of it, completely. And shit got cray. And when I saw cray, I mean, bad. Unhappy. Crying-y. Life-has-no-meaning-or-purpose-y, why-do-I-even-bother-being-alive-y. And I dragged myself onwards, in this state, for weeks. I cried every day, often multiple times a day, often triggered by almost nothing. I raged and snapped at the people I love most in the world. I avoided my friends because it was too much effort to pretend to be ok, and if I let slip that I wasn’t ok, I was going to collapse with the outpouring of despair and sadness. And on the good days, I put on my shiny face and I laughed and worked and I did life, like a more or less normal kind of person.

 

And then eventually I took some drugs that a doctor gave me because it was either that or a slow rotten death of my life and my love and my relationship and my job. But unlike in the past, the drugs didn’t help that much. They helped enough that I didn’t cry every.single.day anymore, and I avoided my friends less. But I still had recurring thoughts of what the fuck is the point of my life?

 

Interestingly though, I fell for the story that this life pondering was a meaningful, legitimate question. I thought I was searching for a purpose, like all the good entrepreneurs and life-changers and move-makers. But, all of a sudden, after reading a line in a book a few weeks ago, I realized that all this pondering of purpose and meaning and point to life, while veiled in an illusion of ‘productive action-taking to define your mission and fire up your doing-ness’ was actually a destructive thought pattern that was triggering me over and over into grey-pointless-meaningless land.

So there’s that.

You think you’re being proactive and bettering your own life and then BAM! You realize you’re bringing yourself down.

 

Then, shortly after, I admitted another hard truth to myself. Somewhere along the way in between my tank emptying and now, all the strategies and things I was doing (there were many – like: going to integrative doctors ($$$), taking buttloads of supplements, movement, reading self-help, talking about ‘it’, doing things that made me laugh, etc) somehow ninja-ed without me even noticing into something they didn’t used to be. They started off as beautiful acts of self-love, where I cared so much about my health and my wellbeing that when I saw I was down, I was offering my love to myself through actions, in the hopes that I may accept those actions of love and feel better. Along the way though, unbeknownst to me, they turned into actions of desperation. A desperate, clawing attempt to fix my broken self, to rid myself of this fucking way of being. A product of disgust, despair, and dislike about who I was as a person, and a last-ditch attempt at escaping this horrendous way of life, which as many of you know, can be quite excruciating with its discomfort.

So there was also that.

My acts of self-care and kindness had become acts of self-loathing and fixing myself.

 

Farrrrrrout. Where does one go with these realisations? How to get back to a place where my self-care is about love and kindness and not fixing? How to fill up my tank again? How to accept myself completely as I am, and love myself through that, while simultaneously acknowledging that how I am is pretty fucking uncomfortable right now, a lot of the time? I don’t necessarily have the answers to these questions, but I am letting them marinade while I continue with life.

 

I also want to point out that I haven’t shared a lot about how I’ve been faring for months, as I really resonate with what Brene Brown writes about vulnerability. I’m paraphrasing, but it’s something along the lines of how sharing your vulnerabilities with people when you’re still hurting and healing isn’t being vulnerable, it’s over-sharing. She says, “I don’t tell stories or share vulnerabilities with the public until I’ve worked them through first” and goes on to say that sharing a vulnerable story in an attempt to meet a need for attention or care isn’t a great idea. All this to say that while I’m still going through things, as we all are, I want you to know that this isn’t a desperate cry for help, I’m doing ok. I deliberately haven’t shared it for a while, but now seems like a good time, for whatever reason. So there you go.

The one thing you need to do to be healthy (it’s not what you think)

The one thing I would suggest you do to be healthy, is stop reading articles like ‘the one thing you need to do is…’ and trying to apply them to your own life.

 

We are living in this somewhat crazy world full of social media and online marketing, and click bait is where it’s at. It’s also all about random people who have gained social-celebrity status by being attractive and flexible telling the masses how they should change their lives in order to be more healthy (skinny, happy etc). This could be by going vegan, working out in accordance to a particular guide which will whip your flabby body into a bikini-ready state (just look at all the before and after photos!) or drinking a particular bum-flavoured tea.

Can you tell this culture doesn’t sit well with me?

I was walking on the beach recently, first thing in the morning after waking up while on a solo camping trip (an aside – this is a great kind of trip for pondering life). As I strolled I was considering my own health and what I need at the moment. I came up with a few things that I’d like to change in my current lifestyle. I’m not going to tell you the nitty-gritty of the particular things I settled on, because you know what? They won’t be the same for you.

(Well, given that we’re all humans and many of us are suffering from similar afflictions of too much stress and not enough sleep etc, some of them might overlap, but you know what I mean – my prescription is not your prescription.)

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I really believe that people are their own experts.

I did some training recently in Recovery philosophy, which is a framework used in mental health. The philosophy is that everyone is on their own journey; that people already have what they need in order to be well; and that their recovery/wellbeing is up to them and what they want it to be, not what a mental health clinician or psychiatrist tells them it should be. I think the same philosophy should apply in the whole of health care. What you need to be healthy is best known by you, because you know yourself from the inside out. So much of the time people know what it is they need (more sleep, less stressful work, healthier eating, less drinking, the list could go on) and they don’t need someone to tell them that, they need someone to support them to make those changes. But when the decision comes from you, where you say ‘this is what I need’ the motivation is so much stronger to actually create the change.

This is not discounting the role of doctors or health professionals: what you most need, at time, might be to seek the expert opinion from a specialist or doctor or naturopath or exercise physiologist – but on your terms. Going at a time when you’re ready, when you’ve decided this is the best course of action for your own wellbeing.

What do you need to be healthy? Let me know in the comments or drop me an email instead!

Why exercising because you think you’re fat is ineffective

Fat shaming.

It’s a topic that I feel really strongly about. There is such a culture of ‘we are so fat, everyone needs to do whatever they can to lose weight’ in Australia. If you’re fat, people automatically jump to blaming and shaming (neither of which is helpful when it comes to making change). There is this underlying opinion that if you’re fat, you must be lazy. I once saw a post on Facebook where a ‘friend’ wrote that he was disgusted when he saw obese people on mobile scooters, because, he said, they were obviously so fat because they were lazy and didn’t like to walk (and rode a scooter instead). I don’t usually enter into debate with people on Facebook, but on this occasion I couldn’t help myself, and asked him if he’d stopped to consider that perhaps a person might have a disease, injury or disability that stops them from being able to walk far, and they put on weight after that because their metabolism was greatly affected? Telling overweight people that they are disgusting or lazy is just a way to shame and blame.

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Shame and blame are ineffective.

As I’ve written about before, shaming people doesn’t actually do much to create change. It’s an ineffective tool. Yes, there are a large number of people who go to the gym day in and day out because they think (or someone has told them) that they’re fat, and need to be thinner (if they want to get a partner/look good in a bikini/get famous on instagram…) However, I would argue that exercising from this frame of mind isn’t actually making you much healthier.

Your thoughts affect your body.

Your body is an intricately complex system, with all of its parts affecting all its other parts. What you think affects your physiology, and how you move affects the resting state of your body. If you’re exercising hard, pushing yourself too much, and feeling stressed every day because of how overweight you think you are, you are possibly putting your body into a state of chronic inflammation. Ongoing inflammation really screws up your body’s systems, and has been linked to everything from developing heart disease to cancer to autoimmune disorders. Michelle Bridges infamously wrote about how getting fit isn’t ‘fun’, and exercise professionals should stop promoting it as such. But in my opinion, if you’re hating what you’re doing when you’re moving your body, and you’re only moving because you hate yourself, you’ve got it wrong.

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Well, fuck it. I’ll stop exercising then.

Nope, that’s not the point I’m trying to make. Moving your body is one of the best ways you can look after your health – but I reckon that it makes a difference WHY you’re doing it. Regardless of your weight or weight loss goals, if you decide to move your body from a place of love and care for yourself, you are changing the internal environment of your body. There’s no doubt that being significantly overweight is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including heart disease and arthritis, but there’s no reason that you can’t begin to lose weight from a place of love and care, instead of from a place of fear and shame. Moving your body because it feels good and brings you joy is a world away from slogging it out on the treadmill even when you hate it. Check out this amazing video of real women moving their bodies because they love it – it’s super inspiring!

Map that shit out.

If you want to get more active, eat healthier food and even lose weight, getting clear on the why is super important – what your values are behind these choices. It’s also the way to make choices from a place of self-care, instead of self-hatred. I’ve got another blog post coming up about how to lose weight, with love, where I’ll go into this in more detail. For now, just know that knowing why you want to lose weight is key.

Why do you move your body? Is it because it feels good or because you think you’re not good enough? Let me know in the comments.