Annual Review 2017

Well, it’s been a while! Actually it’s almost been a year and a half since I last published here. I’ve half written a few blog posts and had a number of ideas for challenges and posts waft through my brain but nothing has stuck, nothing has felt right. Part of me has been beating myself up for it, but if I am to give myself more compassion and understanding, then I would concede that the last year, at least, has been a big one. Looking after a baby, my son who was born three days before New Year last year, has been exhausting emotionally and physically. He is now one year old and just that very fact has lightened my burden hugely. OK, the fact I am getting (a little bit) more sleep also helps, but much of the weight that has lifted has been psychological rather than physiological.

So here I am. Why am I returning here you may be asking? What has brought me back to this space? At this point I am a little hazy around that, but there is something drawing me back. The need to be more intentional in my life, the need to get back to me, the need for a creative outlet or space to connect perhaps? I am not entirely sure, but I am learning to trust my intuition more these days and so, this is where it finds me.

I have decided to start with a bit of a reflection on last year and then to set my intentions for the coming year. An Annual Review is an idea that I read about from Chris Guillebeau. Each year he reflects on the previous 12 months to work out what went well for him that year and what didn’t go so well. Then he sets goals for the year ahead. I’ve done goal setting before, but I was drawn to the idea of a reflection on the year that has past. It’s a short and simple exercise, but my efficient, organised, OCD mind likes the idea of drawing a line under the previous year. Sort of like packaging it up, tying a neat little bow around it and then putting it on the shelf. It also kind of clears the decks for the year ahead.

Here are my reflections on the year that was 2017:

Positives of 2017 – Leon’s first year, watching him grow and change and my own personal growth as a result; Our family trip to Portugal, challenging at times but a magnificent adventure that I will remember for years to come; Being able to support a friend through a difficult time; Getting to know/understand my Mum better and feeling closer to her because of it; Seeing one of my best friends get married and have a baby; Communication with my husband has improved hugely this year and we are closer than ever because of it (I still kind of dig him, even after ten years together).

Negatives of 2017 – No progress on making a career change; Still struggling somewhat with my body image; Neglected doing things ‘just for fun’ such as photography, social outings, reading, creative writing; Haven’t saved as much money as I would have liked; I continue to have a lot of negative self talk.

One of the benefits of doing this reflection is that it allows me to be a little more objective about my year. There is no doubt that 2017 was a difficult one, lack of sleep affects my mental health hugely and that makes things tougher than they need to be, but it’s also helpful to be reminded that amidst the difficulty there have been lots of achievements, lots of moments of joy and SO many things to celebrate. It is also helpful for me to give compassion to myself around the detractors – no, I haven’t made any progress on my career change, but I recognise that this was a season for caring and connecting with my gorgeous little boy. And yes, I still struggle with body image sometimes, but I have made huge progress with intuitive eating, awareness of diet culture and catching judgements.

Now that I’ve put 2017 on the shelf, it’s time to get excited for 2018! And I AM excited. I turned 40 just a week ago and initially that blew me a little off keel. But now I am feeling pretty damn pumped about it – how could I not be, I’m not so keen about the alternative! Right now I am feeling exceptionally grateful for being alive, for all the privileges I have been bestowed and all my achievements big and small that have led me to today. How great is it to be alive!

The framework that I am using for my goals comes from a book I read last year called Designing Your Life. The authors use four categories to create a Dashboard of sorts to help you assess how well things are going in four broad areas of your life: Work, Play, Health, Love. Of course you can use any categories you like, or none at all, but I have used each of these categories to set my intentions for the year ahead as it resonated with me. This is what I came up with.

Work

  • Conduct at least 12 interviews with people to explore potential career change ideas;
  • To be earning at least $1,000 from a side hustle by the end of the year;
  • Write at least one blog post per month for Cold Showers Are Good For you and get back into doing comfort zone challenges;

Play

  • Sign up for a regular class for each term this year (i.e. dancing, pottery, etc);
  • Read 12 novels and 12 non-fiction books by the end of the year;
  • Spend one day a month taking photos, just for the fun of it;

Health

  • Meditate 365 days of this year;
  • Drink a green smoothie daily for 30 days;
  • Not to weigh myself at all this year (hopefully ever again);

Love

  • Have a date with my husband at least once a month;
  • To not check my phone (especially social media) when I am spending time with Sophie and Leon;
  • Plan or say yes to at least one social event with friends per month.

As Chris Guillebeau says in his article, you need to have an action plan as well as a vision. I am using a Passion Planner, for the third year in a row (admittedly last years use was pretty patchy), to help me turn these goals into reality. It helps me break it all down and create solid action steps to get from where I am now to achieving my goals. It helps to keep me accountable when I check in each week too, although now I also have YOU, dear reader, to keep me accountable when I check in this time next year.

What are your goals for 2018? Have you ever conducted an annual review? And will you join me in a year of comfort zone challenges to stretch and learn and grow into the person you know you can be?

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Why I’m a F#@king Awesome Mum

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I seem to be very drawn to all things travel at the moment. I mean it’s something that I’ve loved for a while now, ever since being bitten by the travel bug when I first took a gap year at the tender age of 19. But recently I’ve wistfully been reading travel blogs, procrastinating by scanning house sitting websites or flicking through Lonely Planet guides in bookshops. For a while there I started lamenting the fact that as we had now ‘settled down’ and had a child I would never get to experience those crazy travel adventures of my youth. This is possibly the reason why I was so drawn to Erin & Tim, who have inspired me to do more travel – and who, without knowing, convinced me to take Sophie on a recent camping Adventure to Tasmania.

One not-very-useful piece of advice I remember hearing when I was younger was “Get the travel out of the way before you have kids.” It’s as if they are saying that somehow you can get it out of your system and then settle down to a sensible life in the ‘burbs. In my experience it just made my wanderlust stronger. The more I travel, the more I want to see. Before having kids I would have said “Screw that, the kids can just tag along.” , but becoming a parent was a much bigger shock to the system than I imagined and my confidence took a big knock as a result. The idea of travelling with a child suddenly scared the hell out of me. Since then I’ve started re-building my confidence and have adopted much more of a growth mindset.

Actually, the growth mindset is a key factor in the Cold Showers Are Good For You philosophy. It is a concept that I came across a few years ago that has been explored scientifically by a psychologist called Carol Dweck. She argues that there are two types of mindsets that we typically adopt, one of a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Under a fixed mindset people believe that they either have a talent or ability to do something or they don’t. And they attribute their success or failure in any pursuit as a reflection of their intrinsic value. Under a growth mindset people see that their success or failure is a reflection of how much effort or practice they have put in. Here are some of the ways the two mindsets differ:

Fixed Growth
Success is how you validate yourself Success means you have expanded your abilities
Failure is a catastrophe Failure is something you learn from
Effort is a dirty word (i.e. you should be able to do it without trying) It feels good when effort pays off
Criticism is hard to take You can risk criticism because it provides opportunity to improve
“That’s just who I am” “How can I be better?”

I think to some extent having a fixed mindset served me well in the past. I had a fixed mindset that I was smart, and that provided me with a sense of confidence that I was clever enough to do most things – until I couldn’t. But having a baby is not an intellectual pursuit, and therefore my fixed mindset turned out to be quite the liability when I first became a mother. I struggled as the story I had going on in my head (on repeat more times than Back Street Boys when I was 13) was that I wasn’t good at being a Mum. So how the hell would I be able to cope travelling with a child if I couldn’t even manage one at home?

When we decided to visit relatives in Canada when Sophie, our daughter, was 11 months old, I seriously wondered whether I would cope. Luckily I would not be alone, I remember thinking, as my husband Gerrit would of course also be there. We decided to hire a campervan and planned a (in hindsight) very full-on itinerary covering parts of British Columbia and Alberta. While I look back in fondness for a lot of that adventure, it was also in parts seriously horrible. Things went wrong, Gerrit and I argued, Sophie cried, I cried – it felt like a terrible failure.

Fast forward 2 ½ years to a markedly different trip. My brother had been travelling around the country and was in Tasmania over November and December. So I decided to take the opportunity to take a Mother/Daughter adventure and meet up with him to camp at the beautiful Freycinet Peninsula. Things went wrong, Sophie cried, but the difference this time was that I didn’t. When problems arose – and they did, I pity the person who had to sit in seat 12E after us for example – I thought “Ok, how are we going to deal with this?” and granted it took a few different strategies to see what stuck in any particular circumstance, but I now have so much more confidence in my ability to cope with parenting setbacks and in my potential to improve.

There is no denying that travelling with kids is going to be different than the heady days of my youth (which are probably also heavily romanticised in my memory) but I know that it’s not only possible to do it but that getting outside my comfort zone will make me an even better mum and maybe even help Sophie grow up with more of a growth mindset. Having progressively adopted more of a growth mindset I realise that I’m actually a fucking awesome Mum – but only better than I was, and not as great as I am going to be.

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Cold Shower Heroes: How to live a broad life

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Welcome to the second instalment of my Cold Shower Heroes interviews. Today I want to introduce you to Tim and Erin, an American couple who are embracing life outside their comfort zone by travelling the world with their 18 month old daughter and 4 year old son (yikes! I hear all the parents exclaim).

I first came across Tim and Erin on Twitter, which led me to their blog: Abroad Life. Tim’s article Daedalus Rising really captured my attention. I felt that it was a perfect metaphor for the situation many of us find ourselves in after reaching a certain number of milestones we’re meant to achieve in life and feeling like “Is this all there is?”

So Tim and Erin decided to reassess what was important to them and courageously decided to leave their comfortable life in Boston to travel around the world. I spoke to them about some of the challenges and rewards of their adventure.

What prompted you to take this trip?

Erin: We always wanted to do some extended travel and we’d tried previously to come up with different ways that we could take three months or more off work. So the idea wasn’t something that totally came out of the blue for us. But as far as actually deciding to do it, that happened in one email.  We had a really tough winter in Boston last winter, where we got 8 feet of snow in the month of February. We had three major snowstorms that winter – we couldn’t even get out the door for one of them. In February we were snowed in and the whole city was just a mess, even all the way through March. Then in April we all got sick and we had stomach bugs and intense sicknesses that never ended, it was just awful. Then I read some travel blog article about someone who quit her job to go travelling and I was just like “What are we doing?” We’d already been doing all this budgeting stuff and I was like “Why are we spending all this money next year on childcare when we’re just miserable.” Well, we weren’t exactly miserable – but I was sick at the time I said that. (Laughs) That was the tipping point and I just threw my hands up and said “Well let’s just do something else”

How did it go from being just a concept to reality and how long was it between making the decision and going?

Tim: So Erin sent that email to me (the one that’s on the website) on May 1st I think and then we came home and that night and started looking at the budget.

Erin: Well we’re big budgeters, so we already had something to start with.

Tim: Yeah, so every year we go through our budget so we’d been doing all that anyway and thinking about what we wanted to do with our house and we just started Vera in childcare three days a week and had been working out how that affected Erin’s work schedule. So we just added another column for what our costs would be and how do our costs change if we do this travel? Then we got to a point where we said “Hey, this might actually be workable” if one of us could keep an income.

Erin: Then within a few days my parents came to visit and we dished this whole travel idea. And of course I grew up travelling so they were like “Yeah, do it!”

Tim: And then while they were still there we started sorting out the house with them.

Erin: We were basically prepping our house for rental, all within days (of having the idea)! And then within a week I was interviewing realtors and having them come through the house. Within a week and a half we had a realtor signed up to list our house… and at this stage I don’t think we’d even talked to our companies yet.  We basically just decided that with such a limited window of time that we could actually do these things that everything was all ‘GO’

Tim: Unless we hit a deal-breaker.

Erin: So we started our trip all within four months. It was August 21st that we left. We had a vacation planned for that time anyway and we had the flights booked so we thought that if we just change the return flight then we’d paid for at least one portion of the trip.

Tim: And the other part of that was that in Boston, September in the rental market is important because of all the universities and colleges. In order to get someone in September you have to have the house agreed to in June.

Erin: That was really why we were moving so fast. I mean we had to rent our house, that was a deal-breaker. There would be no way that we could support the trip with it not rented out.

Do you think having the time pressure made it easier?

Tim: Definitely, I think that because it was so quick there just wasn’t any room to second guess yourself. We were just kinda throwing all the balls up in the air and seeing where they landed.

Erin: Yeah and although it was four months, we actually rented the house within a month of deciding, so that was the point where we realised “Ok, this is actually happening”.

Did you have to resign from your jobs to take the trip?

Erin: Well we spoke to our employers about working remotely and Tim’s employer had said no because they couldn’t support it. Tim said that he may consider doing the trip anyway and they said they understood that.  And I’m a self employed contractor anyway and I had been working a bit from home anyway, so it wasn’t as ‘off the wall’ of an idea for me.

Tim: Yeah, Erin had already established the principle of remote work after having the kids. I’d been doing that to some extent by working from home one day a week, but for a longer term commitment and for what I do, it’s pretty hard. I’m an architect and project manager so I’m going to client meetings and job sites, and all that so obviously I can’t do all that remotely.  So yeah, technically I resigned.  It’s all on good terms though, so I’ll be talking with them next Summer and most likely they would want to have me back, but you never know.  We’ll just have to see where things stand when I get back.

Was having to quit your job scary?

Tim: Yeah, that’s still a big unknown at this point. I mean I’m not too worried that I couldn’t get a job, but part of it is that I did actually like my job. I liked what I was doing and the people that I worked with, it was 10 minutes away from our house, which was a really good set up. And I’d been there 13 years since I graduated from college so I had really put my heart and soul into the company.

Erin: At the point when Tim realised that he was going to have to quit his job that was the point where I was like “Are you really sure, really?” Because I was afraid that this was my ‘brilliant’ idea and Tim’s the one leaving his job, I thought ‘oh no!’

Tim: Yeah, I did like my job but I was also at a point personally where I was feeling like I wasn’t getting the time with the kids that I wanted. And that we were stuck in these routines between both our jobs and the kids routines and it felt like there was just one path forward and we had no other options for what we wanted to do with our time and with our lives. I was just trying to set priorities and work out what has to be sacrificed. I mean do you focus less on career and focus more on your family? You kind of have this time pressure of your career and your family and of course your own personal interests, and at some point something’s gotta give. So I was really ready for a break and to try to take a step back and think more deeply about what we want from our lives.

Now that you are a few months in to your travels, has it been everything that you had hoped for? 

Erin: Yes!

Tim: I think so, yes. Obviously there are still challenges, but they are much different than the challenges we had at home. The travel days are tough, with the kids. All the packing and everything that comes with moving every two weeks. Ideally we’d like to stay in places for up to a month, which will makes things easier.

Erin: Yeah I think we’ll probably do that come January, we’ll have some longer stretches.

Tim: At the moment we’ve been doing housesitting where we stay at someone’s house while they’re on vacation and mind their property. Based on the way those things have been spaced out it’s been two week stints in each place. Mostly that’s been fine, it’s enough time with the kids to get them settled in and see enough of where we are without feeling rushed, but two weeks comes about fast.

Do you have an itinerary for this big adventure?

Erin: Actually the biggest question that we got before we left was “Oh, where are you going?” And we’d sort of just say “I don’t know” because where we were going didn’t really matter. This trip was never about where we were exactly, but really more about having the time to spend together as a family and experience something new. As much as I’d love to say it’s about where we are, it’s not as much because of the age of our kids. I mean we’re still dealing with two naps a day, so our outings have to be scheduled around that. We knew going into this, and still understand, that we can’t put too much into each outing otherwise everyone’s going to get cranky. You just have to have low expectations for what you’re going to achieve that day. Tim’s joke is that we generally only see 30% of what we would be able to see if it was just us travelling together. But we don’t feel disappointed by that, we don’t feel that we’ve missed out on anything because that’s not the main reason we’re here, so we’re just going with it.

Tim: Yeah, what we’re really finding is that now that we’re here, how much this trip is about the time we spend together and sharing experiences in these amazing new places.

What has been the biggest lesson that you’ve learned from this experience so far? 

Tim: Probably the biggest thing has been the way that it’s changed our way of thinking about what we want to do and how we live our lives.

Erin: It makes the future seem like there are so many more possibilities. I know it seems cheesy, but it’s got us thinking outside the box a little bit about what we’re going to do and where we’re going to go with our lives. When we were at home it was so pre-determined, it was like everyday was “Erin has to get both kids to daycare, sit in rush hour traffic to get to the office and then go home, go to the grocery store on the way home, Tim’s got to leave the office early to get home – even though it’s not even early – and then it’s into the evening routine.” And that was just it, the way things are supposed to be. But here, we’ve starting to think in a different way and look at how we can sustain this, or at least some of the time we spend together.

What have been the biggest challenges of the trip so far? And how have you overcome them?

Tim: Well there are two parts to that: the challenge of getting here, and then the challenges of actually being here.

Erin: Yeah the challenges of getting here were pretty big. We had a checklist of something like 200 things we needed to do before we left, and there were big things that we needed to figure out. Sorting out health insurance for example, which luckily Tim handled because I just can’t cope with that kind of stuff because I just get angry at the health care system. Urgh.

Tim: All the big decisions had a potential to derail everything, but I think what kept us pushing through was knowing that we just really wanted this, and that we were really committed to it.

Erin: Yeah, by that stage we’d already rented our house!

Tim: We kind of threw ourselves in the deep end…

Erin: Also by that stage we’d already figured out what needed to be done and made the assessment that nothing on that list was too scary that we couldn’t handle it. Having said that some of it was so stressful, I felt like I was breathing from the top of my chest for two straight months. But as soon as we left it was fine – and I went back to breathing normally. (laughs)

Tim: Then since being on the road it’s really been about logistics of travelling with kids and general problem solving, plus making sure Erin can work remotely.

Erin: Things like making sure we have internet access is important, plus some type of cell phone use and things like that.

Tim: And like we mentioned before, the biggest challenge on the road is the long travel days, getting packed up and whatever.

Erin: Yeah, physically moving with two kids is hard (we wrote a blog post on it) because we have to carry everything as well as the two kids. And we packed surprisingly lightly – I mean we’ve basically only got three outfits on rotation! It’s actually kind of silly. So it’s not like we packed heavy, there is just a lot that you have to bring having kids. I always get a bit stressed the day before and day of, but we’re getting pretty used to packing and unpacking and we’re pretty good at giving ourselves more time and not rushing.

What have been the sacrifices that you’ve had to make to take this trip? Have you found it difficult not being able to go out just the two of you, for example?

Erin: Actually, just being somewhere different makes you feel like you’re out anyway. When you’re in a different city or staying in a rental that you like it feels like a special occasion.

Tim: Yeah, when we’re at home it sometimes feels like you have to go out just to spend time together because in our normal routine there’s no time to spend together, just the two of us. But here it’s different.

Erin: There just feels like there’s less to do when you’re not in your own house. It’s taken the cleaning thing out of the equation, when you’re here for two weeks you just do a final clean (and a little wipe of the highchair each day) and then you’re all done!

Tim: For me my biggest concern is with Oliver, having him miss out on his pre school experience and not having collaborative experiences with other kids. But then the trade off there is that he gets us, full time, engaging with him. It’s not the same, but that is a struggle, keeping him engaged and interested in what we’re doing.

Erin: As for our friends and family I think that if we were gone for the full year (we’re going home for a visit for Christmas) then I think I would have felt a bit more feelings of angst or separation. The other day I got a bit sad thinking about Thanksgiving, but then I thought “At least we’ll be home for Christmas” because I think we would have had a hard time not seeing everyone for a whole year. Especially because we’re close to our family and we’ve got a good group of friends who we spend time with.

Tim: But we also Facetime a lot and have the blog and Instagram where we can connect with everyone – including new people, like you!

What do you think that you will do differently once you get home as a result of having this year away?

Erin: Well, that’s an ongoing conversation.

Tim: The biggest question for me is what happens career wise.

Erin: I think it would feel wrong to jump right back in to what we were doing before. But I’m not sure just yet how to re-align things to something a bit different.

Tim: Mostly it’s around how we can change the amount of time we both work so we can spend more time together and as a family. That both of us working less might allow us to have a life that allows us a similar experience to what we have over here. But at this stage I have no idea what that looks like at the moment.

Erin: I think that we could possibly do more travel, possibly for three months or so. I’d like to take a bigger chunk of time to take these trips, instead of just having a two week vacation somewhere. Actually making it part of our lifestyle.

What advice would you give to other people who may also want to do what you’re doing but think it can’t be done?

Tim: I would say “Think big”. For us we had to look at all the things that were supposedly big and sacred in our lives – careers, home, schooling (or pre-schooling actually) and we had to burn all those bridges to realise what actually was important. So I think you need to look at your life try and find a way to make the most important pieces fit together a bit differently. I also think that while it’s important to be comfortable with the concept and what needs to happen to get there, you also need to realise that you don’t need to answer all of the questions now. You just need commit to a plan and then trust that you’ll figure the rest out as the experience unfolds.

You can read more about Tim and Erin’s adventures on their blog or follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

And a big thanks to Tim and Erin for taking time out to chat to me. I really enjoyed our conversation and love following your inspiring adventure.  See you in Sydney next time, right? 😉

 

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Cold Shower Heroes: Get Your Boots Dirty

Image via Dirty Boots Photography
Image via Dirty Boots Photography

I figured that you all must be getting a bit sick of just hearing about me and my comfort zone challenges, so I’ve decided to introduce a new series of blog posts called Cold Shower Heroes.

Cold Shower Heroes are people who are embracing the Cold Showers Are Good For You philosophy of doing things that scare them and constantly redefining their comfort zones.  With this new series of posts I am going to introduce you to some of those people.

The first person I want to introduce you to is Alex McGregor. I’ve known Alex for a while now, hmm, actually around his whole life…  Alex is my brother, but even if he wasn’t I would still want to feature him on this series as he is a freaking legend.  Until recently Alex was working in IT on a mine site in outback Queensland. A job that gave him some great opportunities but wasn’t something that really ‘lit him up’.   Knowing that the mine he was working at was drawing to a close and that a redundancy was likely in his future Alex started to see it as an opportunity to do more of something he loves. Alex is a photographer and he is about to embark on a trip all around Australia. But as you will learn from our interview, he is doing things a little bit differently, and he wants to get YOU involved.

So Alex, what is the concept behind ‘You Choose My Adventure’.

I’ve wanted to do a trip around Australia for ages, but I wanted it to be a bit more spontaneous than just planning it out, driving around and posting a few photos on Facebook. Then I remembered reading about a guy called The Dice Man, who pretty much lives his life by the roll of a dice. I didn’t want to go to that extreme so I thought it might be good to get everyone I know involved in getting me around Australia. So I came up with the idea of basically getting people to vote through my website.  Each week I’m going to post a list of three locations or adventures on my blog and then get people to vote on where they want me to go. For the one that wins I’m going to do a video from there about that place and what I get up to. And then I post another poll for people to vote on for the next place.

How long is your trip going to be?

I’m starting off in Tasmania and that will probably be for just under 2 months, then I plan on doing the rest of Australia – depending on where people want me to go – but I don’t really know how exactly long the whole trip will be.

What part of this trip do you feel is you getting outside of your comfort zone?

Partly the idea of leaving it up to chance, but probably the biggest thing is that I won’t have a ‘job’ for the next maybe 12 months.   Not having a regular source of income is a scary thing because I have been working solidly ever since I finished school back in 1999. I’ve been working for 15 or so years full time, so this will be the longest period of time I haven’t been working. The fact that I have to live off my savings and my work as a photographer is a bit scary.

Tell us a bit more about your photography work.

Well probably about 5 years ago or so I picked up a proper camera.   I basically bought a decent camera (digital SLR) before I went to Nepal to do the Everest Base Camp trek. I’d always been interested in photography and wanted to learn more about it so I just started playing around. Then the more pictures I took the more people would tell me that I had an eye for it, so that helped my confidence grow and I started taking more and more photos and kept experimenting.   Also being out at the mine I had heaps of opportunity to take some pretty cool photos and the mining company that I worked for actually started using my pictures for their publications and artwork in their offices. So I started tossing up the idea of becoming a professional photographer. Then when I got made redundant I thought I may as well just do it.

So is this trip about photography?

Well it’s about a lot of things – travel and adventure. But it is also about me pursuing photography in the only way I really know how.   I mean I know I don’t want to do wedding photography but I don’t know exactly what I do want to do. I love travel photography and I really enjoy the technical aspects of photography – using the drone, taking time lapse, like doing star-trails and light painting and I’m getting more into doing videos. Anything that integrates technology into photography basically, which I guess makes sense given my IT background and love of technology. The trip will give me heaps of opportunity for that kind of thing.

It is often said that you should do what scares you most – does photography scare you?

Taking photos doesn’t scare me, but there’s no point in being a photographer if no one sees your work. And with people seeing your work they are instantly judging it and your creativity. So calling yourself a professional photographer you have to believe that people will not only like your work but be willing to pay you for it. So sometimes I wonder if my photography is good enough to call myself a ‘professional’ or more to the point whether people will be willing to pay me for it. But they have, and they do and that’s help me to start believing that I am good enough to be professional.

What has helped push you through that fear of not being good enough?

Just doing it. I know that makes it sound easy, but it’s just remembering that getting outside of your comfort zone is the only way that you get better. I mean once you push yourself to do something and then you do it you realize “yes I can do this” and then the more you do it, the better you get and for me the better my photos get the more opportunity I get and it goes from there. It’s basically a big positive feedback loop.

Are there any other fears or concerns you have about your trip?

I guess the idea of being on my own all that time means that I’m going to have to really put myself out there so I don’t get lonely. I mean I don’t consider myself to be a shy person, but I think I can be if I don’t push myself to meet new people sometimes. I don’t find it uncomfortable when I’m actually talking to people, but sometimes the anticipation of going up to people you don’t know makes me a bit nervous. I think heaps of people have that fear, a fear of looking like an idiot, or probably a fear of rejection. But the majority of the time I do it, that doesn’t happen – or even if it did I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with that kind of person anyway. Haha.

What would you say to other people who have fears or concerns about doing something that they love?

Look at the end of the day we’re all pretty lucky that we have food and shelter so for the most part your ‘safety net’ is about having support of family and friends, which I am lucky enough to have. I mean I am not an expert on getting outside your comfort zone but I know that if I don’t do this now then when am I going to do it? I kind of consider this to be something for my soul. I’d rather go out and have fun, push myself and try and work out what makes me happy than to earn heaps of money working in IT and be dead inside. I could easily go out and get another IT job in the mines but I need to give myself the opportunity to have this experience.   Plus the worst-case scenario is that I come back after the trip and ‘all’ I’ve got to show for it is a whole lot of new skills in photography, videography, using my drone and other things. I think by the end of the trip I’ll have more real-life options than just IT.

What are you most excited about for the trip?

Probably the sense of freedom, adventure and of not-knowing. It is the sense of anticipation. Anticipation of discovering something that takes my breath away, something that stops me in my tracks and makes me go “Wow!”. I don’t know what it will be, but I know it will happen.

How can people get involved?

They can head to my blog http://www.dirtybootsphotography.com.au/blog.html to vote and check out my latest posts and videos from the winning location or adventure. Also you can find me on Facebook, Instagram and my YouTube channel.

I really hope you enjoyed this interview. If you did, please let me know and/or share it with your friends, fans and followers.  And if you know any Cold Shower Heroes that you think I should interview, please get in touch.  Until next time, check out Alex’s awesome video intro for You Choose My Adventure.

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