Since returning from following in Alexandra David-Neels' footsteps, to be honest I've been a bit lost and confused.
The expedition was a huge success, I learnt so much, met so many amazing people, raised lots of money for Freedom Kit Bags and achieved everything I has set out to. On with the next one I thought....
But every time I sat down to plan the next stage of Alexandra's journey I would be filled with anxiety, self doubt and worry. For some reason, I would tell myself that this whole idea was ridiculous and I would never be able to manage it again. What?
I found it harder harder to engage with my project, and before I knew it, a year of had flown by, and as I so often do, I started to beat myself up about it. Why had I left it so long, why hadn't I saved more money to continue the journey, why was I not where I wanted to be? I started to get annoyed with myself, why had I wasted so much time? I had a good thing going and I ruined it.
But then, one day, I found Nan Shepherd. My Mum reminded me of Nan's book The Living Mountain and suggested I should read it. I had heard of Nan before, but for some reason had never picked up any of her novels, her poetry or her literary masterpiece The Living Mountain.
Then, all over again, I was transported into another woman's world, deep into the magic of the Cairngorm Mountains, far away from my worries, just as I had been with Alexandra's book all those years ago. As I read Nan's poetic descriptions of mountain life, the butterflies returned to my stomach. I felt sick, I felt overjoyed, I found my positive mind and started to understand where this project would take me next.
I sat here wondering, why oh WHY were we not taught about Nan, Alexandra or ANY of these incredible women at school. I wind myself up and joke with myself thinking what could I have achieved by now if I'd had these empowering, influential women on my radar my entire life. Don't get me wrong, Florence Nightingale did some great things, but she is the only female figure that I remember learning about in school.
These days I always ask people, which important female figures did you learn about at school, and how have they influenced your life today? Usually, the answer is, 'actually now you mention it, I don't remember all that many..." Can you remember?
So that was decision made. I knew which direction I had to take with this project. What would be better than following one female explorers epic journey? Following lots of female explorers of course! There are so many awe inspiring stories these women have, most of them overshadowed by their male counterparts, and I realised that we needed to bring these stories back to life.
So, Nan Shepherd, your up next!