Blue Skies & Nudie Swims

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I’m sure you have noticed that despite being a fitness professional I don’t always write about health & fitness (H&F) stuff. The tagline of this site is, ‘a simple blog about how to live a good life.’ H&F is vitally important to living a good life but there is so much more and it’s these little gems that I love to write about most.

I firmly believe that there are lessons in every decision we make and if we are open enough to recognise these lessons we will continue to grow. Some of us are very comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s become part of life for some people. An identity. But I have a mantra that I live by and it’s helped me to move on very easily from otherwise challenging situations. I don’t believe in being stuck.

I don’t believe in being stuck.

Whether that is physically or mentally I believe there are always choices to be made in order to change one’s life direction. I’ve had many years of practice with this and completed numerous courses to help me grow alongside reading many different books to reinforce my belief in our ability to make better choices.

Let me give you an example or two.

Last week my wife and I went on our honeymoon. Being 25 weeks pregnant we didn’t want to fly anywhere. ‘G Pup’ is growing fast and we wanted to keep things simple so we did what we love to do. We went on a road trip to the mountains.

We are beach people so this was slightly different for us. Being autumn it was the perfect time of year to go 4 hours North East of Melbourne. Nature plays a big part in what we love to do as a couple and the Highlands of Victoria played its part in supplying us with stunning views, rivers, forests, friendly locals, wildlife, history and gourmet delicacies.

The Great Outdoors can be a challenging environment for someone in a wheelchair and even though I had a few adaption’s to make life just that little bit easier I still managed to get stumped by numerous roadblocks along the way.

IMG_3842Bush walking is always hit and miss for us. We love it with a passion but you never know if you’re going to be able to complete the walk or get 100m in and have to turn around. We read the descriptions in whatever publication we have handy and unless it says the trail has 1000 steps we usually tackle what comes our way. I’ve been on so-called inaccessible trails before only to find that there was one step or a steep hill to push up. If we took much notice of descriptions in brochures we wouldn’t have many options.

So we set out to see how far we could get along the Keppel Falls trail in Marysville. It was a 2km walk to get to a waterfall, along a river in what felt like miles from anyone or anywhere. The sky was a blue as you could get it and the temp was in the mid 20’s. The trail was wide and well maintained so my chair could easily fit along the trail. We were all set for an adventure.

The trail started off at a meandering pace with a slight incline. This was going to test my fitness but the trail looked pretty good so far. There were some big ass hills to negotiate eventually and at times I was huffing and puffing. Georgia, despite her state of pregnancy, helped a lot even though I was very conscious of her not helping too much. Some of the hills we had to go down were too steep for me to go solo so I turned around and Georgia supported me as we went down backwards. We did this maybe 3 times. At the time, we were too excited to be amongst it all so we didn’t really think about how steep that fella would be to get back up again!

After an hour of some pretty good going, we were very close to the treasured destination. All this hard work would pay off by seeing nature at its best, a waterfall.

But unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. 30m from the waterfall there was a massive boulder and a tree stump blocking the way. It was easy for people to walk over but it my chair was too fat to fit through. I contemplated getting out and dragging my ass through but decided against it. We worked so hard to get there and there was a strong feeling of anger, disappointment and depression at that time but those feelings were quickly turned around.

30m from the waterfall there was a massive boulder and a tree stump blocking the way. It was easy for people to walk over and through but my chair was too fat to fit through. I contemplated getting out and dragging my ass through but decided against it. We worked so hard to get there and there was a strong feeling of anger, disappointment and depression at that time but those feelings were quickly turned around.

At that time, there was a choice to make. Continue those negative feelings and gruff my way back to the car and ruin an otherwise perfect day or look at the situation from a different angle.

We didn’t make it to our destination (well, Georgia did) but we had travelled an hour through some of the greatest bush I’ve been in. We were alongside a river, which passed on its energy to me. Water, especially waves and flowing rivers brings my spirit to life. It was a stunning day and we were doing what we love to do; push the limits and enjoy nature. 99% of the trail was doable and we would certainly do it again. The birds were in tune and we felt peaceful. My mind was relaxed and calm and I was on my honeymoon with my gorgeously pregnant wife.

What the firetruck was there to be angry about?

I’m trying to tell you without it being too obvious is that the journey we went on that day was entirely more important than getting to the waterfall and no amount of being sad or angry was going to bring the destination any closer.

This was a great experience and an amazing lesson in gratitude but it also strengthened my resolve to never remain stuck. Being angry means that you are stuck.

For 7 days we bush walked. We had to turn around numerous times but we also conquered some obstacles that others may not have.

One of our last walks at Lake Catani just kept going up and up. I was tired. It was getting late into the afternoon and I was just about done. On the verge of turning back, I decided to keep going and we stumbled upon an elevated rock formation overlooking a valley of stunning bushland. We were on Mt Buffalo and the boulders on this mountain were huge. Luckily for me these particular boulders were accessible. There was a naturally formed ramp to the summit. I was able to precariously roll to the edge and perch myself on top just before the face of the formation plummeted down the mountainside. We sat there for 20 minutes sub-consciously meditating. It was breathtaking. I got a real buzz out of being there because it just didn’t feel like it was a place that wheelchairs should be. I love that.

The lesson I took from that day was if we had given up on that walk we wouldn’t have found our little utopia. You just never know what’s around the corner and often we are so close to our goal but we give up too early.

Regret is something that holds a lot of people back from growing. Regret is living in the past and is nothing but wasted energy. What is the point in stressing about it let alone trying to somehow change it?

As I was sitting riverside at a picnic spot at the foot of Mt Buller I knew I would regret it if I didn’t strip off and get into the water.

Swimming in rivers was something I did as a child and I have vivid memories of how good that time of my life was. I needed to reconnect with that time and the only way I could do it was getting naked, dragging my ass over the rocks to sit in a little pool at the base of a bigger rock. The water flowing over this rock was like a high-pressure shower, a man made spa pool but in this case, it was ice cold freezing.

This is what it means to feel alive; naked (with undies on though) and freezing. The invigorating feeling stayed with me for hours after and I’m still smiling with joy at the thought of living my life with no regrets.

Our week was full of these experiences and we left with some strong memories but we also galvanised our relationship with nature and with each other. Georgia and I have a symmetry that works amazingly well and this trip gave us the break we needed but also in some way prepared us for what is to come in 15 weeks time.

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