The Norway Expedition was my hardest yet. I’ve never been challenged in such a brutal way as I was during those 9 days learning new skills and surviving in extreme temperatures. The Arctic was relentless. I had the challenge of learning how to ski pulling a pulk while getting my head around camping in temperatures as low as -32 (and as someone who has bad circulation and feels cold even in the summer!). The hardest for me was the lack of escape from the cold. I don’t think I had a minute where I felt properly comfortable.
If you haven’t already, read my summary from this expedition (and check out more photos) here.
On day 3 I told my tent buddy Seanna that I was hating every second. I remember thinking to myself then ‘wasn’t this what I’ve been looking for?’. That’s why I signed up for something so difficult and so new, right? so that I could challenge myself and really see what I was capable of.
Well, the Arctic didn’t fail!
So many lessons learned
It’s a bit cliche to say that I came away a different person. All my expeditions have taught me something but this one was different. I felt like it really stripped me down and I learnt a lot about myself and my life. I’ve been in a strange kind of reflective state since.
Here’s what I took away…
#1 The power of positivity
Every time I’d feel the warmth on the verge of returning, I would have to do something that would involve taking a layer off or going outside to face the elements – going for a wee, setting off again after lunch or removing a glove to pack down the tent. I’d groan, swear and tell myself how crap this was.
I changed my tactic, mostly because I didn’t want my teammates to think I was moaning. Instead, I’d say something upbeat when something bad had to happen. SIng a song, think of something good that would happen later in the day. And it bloody worked (except maybe annoying the teammates – this was probably more irritating). The way I chose to respond to the situation had an absolute effect on the difficulty level that followed and on my overall mood.
I’m practising positivity from now on.
#2 I can be comfortable being uncomfortable
My toes, my hands and my ears were always taking it in turn to suffer, but that was ok. It bothered me so much in the beginning but I learnt to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I knew that the blood would eventually return (even if it came with an excruciating stabbing sensation!) and that even when uncomfortable I can still laugh and have a good time.
It changed my perception of fear and the cold really petrified me. But I could learn to face it and live with it, even if I didn’t like it.
#3 I’ve got to slow down
I am such a multi-tasker. Always working fast and juggling many things at once. The Norway Arctic Expedition speed was sloooow. There is no room for error in those sort of temperatures and even simple tasks require your full attention. This frustrated me to a point of restlessness initially but that soon changed. I embraced the slow pace and the simplicity, one task at a time.
My first day back from expedition I tried to cook breakfast whilst doing my laundry and catching up on Facebook. I just couldn’t do it. And I kind of liked that!
Less really is more. Giving your full attention to tasks makes them more enjoyable and makes you more effective.
#4 Social media has been controlling my emotions
This was the biggest lesson I took away. Finnmark Plateau forced my phone and wifi from my hands for the first time properly in over a year. It was ridiculous how many times I thought about my notifications and my emails. There are a few things that struck me…
…I am properly addicted to my phone
…while I think social media is a brilliant and powerful tool, I am not using it well and I keep getting sucked into procrastinating
…the world (aka Love Her Wild and my blog) survived even with me gone for 2 weeks. It didn’t collapse, 4,000 women didn’t leave the Love Her Wild community and my sponsors still like me (I think)….*sigh*
But the most important of all was acknowledging how bad my social media feed has been making me feel. I thought about what would be waiting for me when I checked my notifications and that knew would be posts and images that would make me feel bad. I like to follow individuals and businesses that make me feel insecure and like I’m not doing enough. Why? I don’t know!!!
On return to my phone, I did a social media detox by unfollowing my obsessions. You know the ones I mean – the people you follow who can’t help but check even though you know it’ll make you feel like you aren’t good enough. Well now they are gone and I don’t have to be on a constant emotional rollercoaster comparing myself to everyone else and feeling like a failure.
Life is too short for that!
#5 I must be more present
Being in the moment. Right there, away from it all with no distractions is pure bliss.
Unless I am in the middle of the Arctic circle far from civilisation fighting strong winds and freezing temperatures, I need meditation to help get me there. I’ve been glued to my Headspace app since returning and hope I will stay there forever more!
Check out this vlog I made about my time in the Arctic: