Friday, April 27, 2007

A summer of kayaking and climbing is waiting...

This morning was really warm and the bike ride in to work was lovely. The birds were singing, the smell of Spring was in the air and I just wanted to turn away from work and keep cycling. Lucky for me that’s pretty much what I’ll be doing when I leave tonight. You see, tonight I start a four month travel adventure in Europe. There’ll be plenty of time for kayaking and climbing and visiting old friends. Maybe I’ll even find time to squeeze in a castle and a museum now and again.

The trip will start by flying to London to buy a van. From there it’s off to Italy to compete in the Teva Extreme Outdoorgames. Then the time will be right for paddling and climbing in the Italian and French Alps. And that’s just the beginning as over the following month there is still much that I would like to explore in Slovenia, Austria and Switzerland.

June will see me returning to UK for a wedding and then I’ll be off again to discover Norway. I’ve already beeen to Norway several times but it’s such a spectacular country I just can’t keep away. This trip there should be plenty of time available to visit the fjords and admire the scenery as well as do some hard core paddling and big wall climbing. With the midnight sun I’ll be able to play quite literally until I drop!

If all goes well there’s a final adventure to top it all off and that is Tajakistan. While it’s still in the pipeline, the plan is to meet up with some old tramping club buddies from CUTC and complete our own climbing expedition on the over 6000 meters peaks. The culture experience of visiting this country which sees very few westerners is going to be just as exciting as the climbing.

So it’s an exciting summer ahead for me, and maybe you can be a part of this adventure too. I’m looking for some more paddling buddies, so if you’re going to be in the same place as me then send me an email and perhaps we can hook up. The other thing I’m looking for is some help with gear in exchange for sponsorship on my site. If you can help me out don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can always find me at

Finally, I’m sure you’ve got a lot of exciting things happening over the next months too so I invite you to join my email list. If you want to be notified when I write something new, just type your email in the box on the right side of the page. That way you’ll never have to miss another adventure.

Catch you again soon.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sunlight sends me on my way – Part II

The true story about what happened when I came back to Sweden in the middle of winter.

Before I went home to New Zealand for Christmas, I wrote an article “Sunlight sends me on my way” about overcoming depression by putting energy into your life. I still believe everything I wrote in that article, but I think I should add that sometimes the best way of helping yourself is to ask for help.

Because I learnt the hard way that you can't just keep putting energy into things without getting energy back in return. It seems some problems, require too much personal sacrifice to make it worth it. Everyone has a breaking point and I found mine just before I went home to New Zealand.

Luckily, when I hit this point, I was with my family and old friends. NZ was both a place to escape to and a chance to ground myself again. When you travel I believe that it’s important to be open to new ideas and ways of thinking, but I think I took it too far and I lost my own sense of self.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some good supportive friends in Stockholm also, but at that time life and work were spiraling out of control. I needed to get away. I am deeply grateful for the love and friendship shown to me of everyone, both here and there, during this time. It was so important to know how much you all cared.

Unfortunately I wasn’t home long enough and when I got back to Sweden things fell apart. The darkness, alone at home, the same old place and the same problems were too much and I realized I needed professional help. But it wasn’t easy seeking psychiatric help in Sweden. I couldn’t speak without crying and yet I had to ring four different numbers, all in a foreign language just to get an appointment. The first day I gave up after three.

Luckily with help from my workmates, on my third attempt I finally met someone who could really help me. This person helped me make sense of what had happened. He helped me see that it was very destructive for me to try and fix everything myself. It was time to walk away for a while.

So if you’ve been wondering why I didn’t write much for three months, it’s because sometimes there are more important things to spend your energy on than telling the world how good life is. However honesty is important to me, so now I want other people in a similar situation to know that in truth I didn’t fix my depression on my own. Friends maybe great, but sometimes they lack both the time and knowledge that can really make the difference.

I don’t feel embarrassed about my depression, because is simply part of who I am. I feel it makes me humble and compassionate and this in turn makes me a better mentor and teacher. I also don’t judge other people so harshly because I know that normally happy, loving people can sometimes do really crazy and mean things. I know it because I am that crazy person just as I am that loving person.

Now I really do feel better again. The warm glow has slowly returned and in truth I feel an inner peace that I have missed for the last couple of years. I have more energy to do the things that are really important to me. Things like writing this blog in the hope that it helps you to accept your weaknesses and remember all the wonderful things about yourself. And if you can't do that then maybe it's time to seek help from someone who can help you remember what is so special about you.

As my mum would say, "The world would be a boring place if we were all the perfect".

"Egoless State" - it's an interesting read

Friday, April 06, 2007

From tourist to tourist attraction

I arrived at work on Monday to my workmates’ shouts that they had heard me and then seen me on the news the following night. Scarey! I hadn’t realized the guy with big camera was from Sweden’s national TV station. This came after an exciting weekend’s competing in the middle of two of Sweden’s most popular tourist spots.

The first event was Kvarnkrossen, a kayak cross competition in front of the magnificent Uppsala cathedral. The races started with a spectacular ramp built by a local high school. In this competition all went really well until the finals when I got tangled with another boat going round the first marker which allowed the other two to get away. However, I was still happy with a 3rd placing.

The next day were headed to the castle in the centre of Örebro for the Black River Mystery Challenge. This fun freestyle competition has its own creative rules where personal style counts a lot. Also you can choose how big you want it! The size and stickiness of the play-hole can be changed and how big you dare to go is factored in. What really topped it off the day however, was the spa beside the river to hop into when the fingers and toes started to freeze. A really fun day, with good music so many thanks to the Örebro paddlars for putting in the hard yards.

Sunday’s competition was done in good paddling style with a bit of a hang over after the the pyjama party the night before in the Örebro clubhouse. It was super fun meeting everyone again at the start of the paddling season. There were lots of story telling from our Winter trips to away to Uganda and New Zealand. Old friends, new places, and newer friends, older places. It was pretty funny to be asking my Swedish friends what the Wairoa Extreme Race and Bullerfest were like this year. It’s so nice to know that we are all part of an international paddling family.

So the paddling was worlds away from wilderness boating at home in kiwiland. However nice backdrops, large crowds and good food certainly have their advantages.

So now I’m world famous in Sweden. You too can giggle at me and my intelligent comments about freestyle paddling feeling like being in a washing machine! See Mystery Challenge and Kvarnkrossen for video clips and Edge Magazine and Orebropaddlarna for some great pictures. (I'm the one in a yellow boat with the red helmet!)

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