A step forward

Welcome to the first post for Fierce Mind since the travels of LEJOGLE almost a year ago. Since that adventure much deliberation, contemplation, reflection, and frustration has occurred over one simple question: so what happens next?

The frustration angle, though perceived as a bit of a negative view for some, did in fact give rise to problem solving. I became increasingly demoralised with the lack of momentum that I was able to muster, and it was mostly because I didn’t have a direction to focus on. The generalised theme of supporting mental health awareness, charities, dialogue is all noble, it’s all justified. But what tangible goal could I fixate on in order to keep my arrow flying in a meaningful direction?

YM fundraising poster 2017v2 copy

Challenge5Alive, a series of challenges that I created towards the end of 2016, it was a step in the right direction. But what it lacked was my mojo. The idea hovered for months, the start date being pushed back, time and again, whilst I battled with relinquishing my fitness, an increased frequency of rapid cycling episodes, and the sense that I was failing in my duty to uphold what Fierce Mind is all about.

There came a point along that journey, just when I was questioning my own sanity as to why I had to experience so many depressive episodes, and what the point of the mind behaving in such a manner was, that a little spark of insight flickered. Just a little image in the back of my mind.

I saw a star shape, and each point of that star was an area of growth, pushed out through discomfort with more room to grow. This was my discomfort zone shape. No longer a simple elastic band-circle-thing. Instead, the star was indicative of the changing nature of learning, understanding, confidence, experience, fear, regrowth, rebirth, starting again.

By April, I was giving my first TEDx talk on the subject of the Fierce Mind and how we are all twinkling stars of infinite points, my third speaking engagement of the year. Sharing the message, just talking about it, was a lesson for me:

Walking the walk, is just as hard as you can imagine it to be.

This journey of the evolution of the Fierce Mind as a concept really took shape at this point. I could allow myself to be beaten down by my mood traits/condition/illness/disease (the jury is still out on what is actually going on), and this was such an easy option to take, because it only required letting go, and fading into obsolescence.

Or, I could learn from others, read strategies, try them. Be open and frank about this process, it is shape-shifting as long as I keep the idea alive. Plan the follow up, what will happen post-Challenge5Alive? Don’t leave this to chance ideas. What is the long term vision, what do I hope to achieve, and put it out there into the universe.

There are gaps in this journey, we don’t always explain all of the angles, some are too personal. The biggest gap here is my journey and role as a mother-of-three, with children of different needs and expectations. This has certainly played a significant role in shaping the course of my vision for Fierce Mind. Here’s why…

IMG_20170101_120227_182Firstly, #Challenge5Alive is a series of five multisport endurance adventures that will take place all across Wales.

Wales: because being so far from home is not an option this year. My partner Tom missed out on freelance adventure work because of my tardy trail tales, my children didn’t see me for such a long time that our relationship suffered, and LEJOGLE only barely touched the south of Wales which made me feel quite sad. So, Wales, beautiful Wales, is getting the full works, in little doses (hence 5 events spread out over five months).

Secondly, as with LEJOGLE of 2016, I am raising money during Challenge5Alive for a national mental health charity. This time just the one charity, last year it was 5 to cover every inch of Britain.  For 2017, YoungMinds is the focus, and specifically because of the support that we have needed as a family for our children, and are still struggling to receive. An ongoing process of trying to access the right support, with many dramas, the worst possible outcomes envisaged are what we have experienced, and yet, nothing has changed for one of my children. The system isn’t fair, and it doesn’t go far enough. I know that this isn’t down to those whose vocation is in youth mental health. It’s a logistical issue, of resources, pennies and minutes.

IMG_20160530_161555_edit_1I’m supporting YoungMinds this year, but what I really want to support is a local initiative that will help my daughter. Because the work of YoungMinds does not actually extend to my child as I had wished it could. But it will support other families, and that is why it’s a necessary goal. If there was an option though, I’d choose a local initiative and fundraise directly for that.

Action. Proactivities. The equivalent of seeing my daughter go off to theatre to receive surgery for a burst appendix. With a game plan and recovery strategy. It baffles me that this GP/CAMHS/School etc. process is so exhaustingly arduous, when it needn’t be. Funding for research is likely the issue here, to take out a lot of the running around in circles.

Thirdly, very much linked to the second issue of fundraising for the right cause, my goal for Fierce Mind is to support those very local initiatives across the country that do exist somewhere, and are still needed in their droves. But the other side of fundraising is the support that people receive from the public, corporations and the charities. It’s not balanced at all. cropped-img_20160530_155434_edit_1.jpgThe number of miles you run will not equate to a certain number of pounds raised. The farther the distance you cover, the more dangerous the journey, will not transcribe into increased media awareness and increased fundraising support. Unfortunately, it comes down to who you know. Charities will support individuals and highlight their heroic journeys, if there is a celebrity link somewhere. High profile events such as the marathon in London, with such a high fundraising target for each runner, will be given preference for media stories over the individual, humbly traversing mountains alone, for thousands of miles. It was my experience last year, it was a battle to not be defeated by high profile corporate events. I’ve had to bite my tongue on many occasion to not sound so…jealous? Frustrated that I couldn’t raise the amount that my challenge deserved is more accurate. The system feels biased against the extraordinary tales of going it alone.

So, I have an idea. I’m going to be sending out a series of opportunities over the course of Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May) and, just maybe, these ideas might be the answer to many folk in the same boat that I was, and still am in.

Here’s a sneak peak though…

It’s good to be back.

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