KNOW-MO

It’s funny what happens when you start deciding not to be somewhere. We have all done it. New jobs, cities, hobbies, even nights in armed with tea and binge watching TV happen because we resolve not to do something.

You know what you are missing because you chose not to do it. It doesn’t matter what you are doing instead. From riding your bike with bums you know to selfies or cocktails or selfies featuring cocktails, you know what would be happening IF.
If you were there.

If you decided that the other thing was more important than the thing you are doing now.

But.

It isn’t.

You decided. You have to own it, but it doesn’t make it easy and this is where Know-MO comes in.

Maybe it was your bank account that motivated it. Maybe it was your desire to see the ocean every day, but whatever it was, it was more important than the thing you are kinda missing right now.

I say kinda, because you and I both know that you made a choice. That what is happening right now somewhere else isn’t your jam today.

It isn’t fear of missing out. You have no FOMO. You aren’t afraid. You made a selection based on some type of weighted decision criteria and something else won out.

When I decided to move across the planet I evaluated the pros against the cons. In typical Rory fashion I made a list.

Leave a job I loved in a city I loved with friends I loved for a city I didn’t really know, with a partner I loved to live a life I craved near the ocean with unaccounted for ideas of adventure that I couldn’t yet imagine.

The partner and the ocean weighed more than the job, friends, and city. It was a weird choice. I would have loved to have taken all the amazing things with me, but life is not about what is nice to have.

I chose to give up a life I loved for a life I didn’t know much about. It meant that I would have to accept that things I liked doing in places I claimed as my favs were going to happen without me. It wasn’t FOMO. It was KNOW-MO. I know exactly what I am missing every day.

For the last couple of weeks, I have headed back to visit cities I love, with people I love to hang out and do the things I’ve been knowingly missing and I find myself already thinking about home. I know what I gave up to leave and now I know what I am leaving to visit old homes and already find myself missing home before I have even really been gone.

Each time we leave something we love we make choices. It might be the city we grew up in or a home we selected to make our own, but at the end of the day it is something we knew in exchange for some type of adventure.

I freaking LOVE adventure. I love discovering new places and exploring. A couple of years ago I made a choice to leave what I knew in exchange for what I wanted and a slew of things I didn’t even know I wanted yet.

That is what adventures teach us. That what happens after you step outside your comfort zone might be better or worse than what is inside it. Even more importantly it is about the things we cannot even imagine discovering that begin to appear when we are open to it.

It’s weird to know what you are missing. You have to acknowledge it and move forward.

We talk about FOMO mostly in regard to a night out with your friends  versus a night in with Netflix and comfy pants (you only get to call them yoga pants if you actually do freaking yoga in them…let’s be honest here).

The last few weeks have reminded me that while I don’t consider places like Toronto and Atlanta to be like home anymore they are filled with loving friends, chosen family, and a version of welcome that cannot be adequately described without hugs, tears from laughter, and high fives.

Thank you to everyone who reminded me that I am loved, who went out of their way to renew my welcome, and who took time out of their very busy lives to shuttle me about and help me to arrive everywhere safely. My door is always open to each of you, just remember to bring your passport in order to clear customs en route.

The art of pushing through

Pushing Through-Erin Burrell
The art of pushing through

adjective push·ing \ˈpu̇-shiŋ\

Definition of PUSHING

  1. marked by ambition, energy, enterprise, and initiative
  2. marked by tactless forwardness or officious intrusiveness

preposition \ˈthrü\

Definition of THROUGH

  1. into one side and out the other side of (something)
  2. from one side or end to another side or end of (something)

Based on these definitions in order to push through (you) must be marked by tactless forwardness or officious intrusiveness into one side and out the other side (of something).

It is the concept of officious intrusiveness that makes getting through personal blockages so key in my mind. It’s the idea that in order to get past/over/through something hard you have to stop being polite. You need to knock down the things between you and your goal in a bit of obstacle bowling so to speak.

When you are alone there are a thousand things that you can use as excuses as to why you can’t. They are all about being polite.

I have other things I should be doing: Really? Your laundry will wait for you to write that novel or climb that hill. We know you have clean underwear left in the drawer.

It’s not really what I want anyway: (I’m shaking my head as I write this phrase.) We cannot (and should not) give up greatness because it is too hard. If you want something: GO. DO. Carpe Diem is thousands of years old. Seize the damn day people!

Support-Erin Burrell
Sometimes we need a little support

It’s hard for a reason

If the things you hope to achieve are easy, they aren’t special. When you reflect on the lessons you have learned in the process you will be reminded why so many people never get to say they did this or that. Many years from now you might think back to a challenge you were faced with and it won’t be the finish line that you reflect on, but the hurdles along the way that you defeated.

Remember that you are overcoming something in order to feel the joy of achievement. The rush of victory is a powerful motivator, but you have to get out of your own head and stop listening to your excuses.

Stop being polite and start taking names

Excuses are your enemy. Between you and I we can come up with heaps of them.

Reasons why you shouldn’t be the hero in your story. Reasons why that goal was too big for you. Even reasons why you don’t deserve that achievement.

We are WRONG. The world is yours. Goals are specifically designed to be stacked up and knocked down like freaking dominoes.

Keep moving forward

My friend Anna was writing something that wasn’t easy to say. She is a woman of many talents and professions and had lots of reasons to walk away from the keyboard. BUT she didn’t. She pushed past the voices in her head that told her not to finish it. (You can see her thoughts on a page over at Too Convoluted. She’s funny and honest, read her stuff.)

Facing these fears and thoughts of inadequacy is never easy. They might have slowed her progress, but they didn’t stop her, she kept writing. One. Word. At. A. Time.

It took longer than it should have. It was harder than it usually is. It is some of her more thoughtful writing and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. I get to say that because, she did it. She was marked by ambition, energy, enterprise, and initiative into one side and out the other side. I know that her next goal will be bigger, harder, and more complex than the last and I can’t wait to cheer her on.

There is no easy button on things worth pursuing.

No, it isn’t easy. No, it isn’t fast. It is, however really freaking worth it.

She was reminded (as was I) that by persevering past the blockage, that she could. The mere fact that she was able to do this thing reminds us all that we can continue to pursue bigger goals and achievements.

Pushing through to greatness

  1. Don’t apologise for wanting something for yourself.
  2. Surround yourself with empowering people who don’t accept excuses. They can help get you through the hard times.
  3. Choose big, hairy, goals. Goals that intimidate regular people. Goals that make you a bit afraid just by thinking about them. Then when you accomplish them you will dance by the light of victory.
  4. Use your fear of failure (and actual failures) as fuel. Let them remind you that the odds of achieving your goals can improve when you learn from your previous mistakes
  5. Don’t stop trying until you get there. Famous entrepreneurs, athletes, celebrities cite failure as their strongest motivational factor. A friend and accomplished endurance cyclist gave me some advice on how to achieve a goal. His thought was that any forward momentum, no matter how slow or small was getting you closer to your goal.

It is because I continue to be inspired by great people like Anna that I have accomplished what I have so far. Hopefully, these few words help to remind you that you are capable of doing something great as well.

Are we there yet?

The other day I was chatting with a friend about road trips. I love them. Assembling meals from the gas station, scenery, random giant landmarks, debates over the best choice of radio station.

I used to struggle with long trips as I viewed my destination as the goal and the drive to the destination as the cost rather than a part of the experience. Today that is not the case.

A few years ago I went on a road trip in an RV and surrounded by some of my best friends I experienced the journey. I discovered that the trip including late night coffee stops, peeing roadside and trash talking one another for their choice in music, snacks, apparel, etc. was as much a part of the vacation as the things that we stopped to see or do. I have more pictures and fond memories of us in that RV than at any other location and would go on the same adventure again tomorrow (SNCKR’14?).

Along the way I learned things about myself and that somewhere in between here and there is when I truly realized that memories do not require destinations to be made. They happen with every kilometre you cover, so no…. we aren’t there yet, settle in and just enjoy being here right now.

Adventuring New Zealand

For four weeks in Dec 2011-Jan 2012 I travelled around New Zealand in a camper van.

While I did do quite a bit of research in advance of my trip, you can never really know what is going to make or break a trip and I like to have some resources on hand during any adventure.

For this trip I trusted the 2011 Rough Guide NZ-purchased in Canada for pre trip research and lived on the dash for most of the trip and the AA Travel Atlas (yeah I know only my mom uses a travel atlas)-purchased for $25NZD on day one and used every day.  Living without a data plan on my phone meant that I had to actually navigate with the atlas and this one is well designed.  It also includes some cool highlights and was how I discovered things like the Top 10 Parks and Pancake Rocks.

Going into the trip I had a list of must do items and a rough idea of when I wanted to tackle the items.  Most weren’t really that complicated.

I wanted to walk on a black sand beach

I wanted to bungee jump.

I wanted to see penguins in the wild

I wanted to hike

I wanted to ride my bike 

I wanted to get some real New Zealand Merino wool to make a blanket

I wanted to wade in the Tasman Sea

I am not a complex or demanding traveller.  I prefer to be free to discover things I enjoy (flat whites) and to walk away from the things that don’t inspire in me what they might have in others (Moreaki boulders).

I don’t like to have a tight schedule that involves being stressed or rushing to and from places so that means that I don’t travel in big groups or go on a lot of organized tours.

Fiordland NZ

Things I would do again 

Pancake Rocks

I would love to see these at sunrise or sunset.  I found them inspiring and magical in the sunshine, but I anticipate that I may discover more by visiting without a crowd of tourists on Christmas Holiday

Mountain Biking: I did highlight some of the areas that my bike and I got a bit of a work out, but honestly I would ride anywhere in the country.  It is outstanding.  I will post all about MTB NZ in a separate post in the near future.

Drive through Arthur’s Pass

One of the most amazing locations in the country!   In the space of just a couple hours you see ocean and mountain, cross multiple weather systems and more.  The scenery is spectacular…the sand flies (Canadian Black Flies) were awful though.

Te Papa  

The museum is beautiful and you really can’t do it in just one visit.  It also reminded me that access to our history and culture should be free.  People should be able to take their children to these activities at no charge.

Weta Cave: Hell Ya!  nuf’said

We decided that he should keep the fishOne of the coolest exports from New Zealand is the gift of technology to the world of movies.  Weta is famous for participating in such epic movies as District 9 and Lord of the Rings, but it is also the largest producer of realistic looking chainmail for actors to wear in movies and a number of other assorted secrets that I just can’t tell you.

Go!  It is FREE and while tiny I promise it will spark a layer of your imagination in a way not many places can.

Bungee Jumping:

New Zealand
the “bounce”

Kawarau Gorge is a 43 M bungee jump.  Not the largest around, but it was more than large enough to inspire fear in this girl.

Oh.. and do it with AJ Hacket.  The invented bungee jumping as it is done today.  TRUE STORY

Stay in Top 10 Holiday Parks

There is always a place in my heart for a five star hotel, but these are the best of the best when it comes to living the campervan lifestyle.  There are spotless bathrooms -playing music and armed with hair dryers.

They average about $6-10NZD more per night than their competitors but are worth every penny.  The landscaping is lovely, spaces are designed for giant campervans and the staff are willing to go out of their way to support your needs (can you say extension cord?)

An added perk is the fact that almost every one of them offers at least some free WIFI which is pretty few and far between in NZ.

See the penguins!

Yellow eyed penguins are super cute and tiny.  They spend the summer on the south island of New Zealand where the babies are raised until they are strong enough to go to sea and hunt for themselves.  We had to wait for a few hours to see the parents come in from the ocean, but as the babies got hungry they started to pop out of their dens and I can’t tell you how adorable they are.

Visit Fiordland

Glaciers and mountains make good company, but couple them with rushing waterfalls and dense ocean forest and you have a set from a movie.  There is about a 2 hour drive to get into Milford Sound from the last real town (Te Anau) and I could do it everyday for the rest of my life.

Along the way you will see wildlife and hear birds chirping beside rushing streams and waterfalls.  Stay the night and surround yourself with magic.

Things I wouldn’t recommend 

Moreaki Boulders: 

They look cool in pictures and are really quite easy to get to, but I wouldn’t make a special trip.  Unless you have some passion for alien eggs (which is what I think they look like up close), I wouldn’t go out of my way.

On a secondary note I was very saddened by the signs stating that the stream that was feeding into the ocean a few hundred metres down the beach was not safe due to pollution.

Visiting over Christmas Holiday

While taking advantage of Christmas and New Years gave me three extra vacation days I paid a premium for the trip because of the time I was in the country.  On average the campervan ended up costing about $250NZD a day for a service which is worth about $150 in the off season (after Jan 15).  It is also the prime season for campervan parks and they up their rates by as much as $10-20NZD a day during the season as well.

Trying to see everything in less than four weeks.

While attempting to see a large amount while in the country is definitely worth tackling, don’t try to squish everything in at once.  Take time to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Watch a Kea tackle the rubber around your car window (this really happened).  Enjoy a random chat with the locals at a gas station (yup talking to strangers Sorry Mom)

Have a coffee in a proper cup and enjoy it.

Start and end in Auckland

While we had a place to land as a base camp while in Auckland doing both the north and south island can be done more efficiently end to end.  What I also learned along the way is the fact that most tourists that travel one way do so from Auckland to Christchurch.  If you are willing to do the reverse your campervan rental rates will be lower because the rental companies need to get the vans back to Auckland anyway!  You will also save on the abundantly expensive ferry which is about $600NZD round trip for two people and a campervan.

Ride Your Bike-New Zealand!

On a recent trip to New Zealand I had the chance to do some mountain biking in some of the best* parks I have ever been in.

The best part about the journey I did around NZ other than the people was the changing scenery and landscape and I have to say that the trails and parks followed the same feel.  There are parks and trails operated all over the country and I only had a chance to sample a few, but I anticipate the flavour and outstanding level of maintenance is not localized, but national.

Trails are maintained by great local mountain bike clubs and the Department of Conservation and are proof that the entire country definitely seems to take pride in both the sport and the beautiful land that trails are built on.

This is where we stopped for a snack. Can’t beat looking out over the lake from the trail-Photo Credit Rowan Hick

Queenstown-Seven Mile

Seven mile is a no cost series of trails just outside of Queenstown.  We were lucky enough to steal a local friend to escort us because I promise we would have never found the nondescript parking lot along side the lake without a guide.

While trail levels vary they are all fed by a climb up to the top of a spiderweb that feeds the trailhead.  My Canadian (Ontario specifically) self was used to not really having to climb for very long and I have to say I was fully warmed up by the time we finished the climb to get started.  After a few lighter trails we started to get moving and spent a few hours weaving our way in and out of a beautiful pine forest with tightly packed dry singletrack.  Filled with trails at every skill set I would love to have had more time to explore.  That being said I loved a coulple enough to do them more than once.

Trails were in great shape and the forest was absolutely free from any debris that didn’t belong-proving once again that mountain bikers are lovers of nature and the environment.

Kudos to the Queenstown MTB Club for it’s efforts on this great park.

Auckland-Woodhill

While the only pay per use park ($7NZD/day) I rode in New Zealand, Woodhill is a beautiful forest full of everything from family friendly tracks all the way up to a pretty wicked (looking-I didn’t try any) trick park.  About 30 minutes outside of Auckland this was also the longest we had to drive to get to go for a ride, but the drive was definitely worth the effort.  Locals did speak of a route to the park via open trails but the ride there and back would have been longer than the couple of hours we had available to ride.

With a very sandy base this park is a bit hard on your drive train, but we were lucky enough to visit it after a couple weeks of rain and found it in a pretty good level of packing from the water in the forest.  Great trail markings and maps in different locations made it easy to figure out where you were and to shift easily from a harder trail onto an easier one (or vice versa) with little slowing you down.  I didn’t find the park suggested route flowing quite as nicely as some others I have ridden, but I think that with some time and experience in the park there is lots of flow to be found and more ways than I can count to challenge yourself as a rider.

Rotorua-Whakarewarewa

The Whakarewarewa (faakka-ray-wa-ray-wa…yeah that was hard for me too) Forest is as close to my soul as a forest outside of British Columbia can possibly get.  I was born on Vancouver Island and the giant redwoods of Whakerewarewa made me feel at home.  Rich rainforest like ambiance filled with signature silver ferns on the forest floor and a stream that would rival any storybook combined with a tall canopy that filtered in this amazing gauzy green sunlight and made you feel like you were wrapped in goodness.

Access to the forest is free but the local bike and tourist shops do sell a very cool microfibre waterproof trail map for somewhere between $5-10NZD.  Money well spent as there are over 100km of trails for all skill levels as well as multi use trails for everything from prams to trail running.

Some of the trails were in rough shape because of recent heavy rain and while I did successfully manage to come out reasonably clean, I did have to navigate some trails a bit slower than I would have liked because there were some massive divets from run off that were almost exactly the width of my tires.  What I enjoyed most about this forest was the fact that it was a mere 6km from the downtown core and we were very easily able to ride to the park rather than having to drive to a destination before going for a bike ride.

*This is my first season as mountain biker.  I do have a fair amount of kilometres under my wheel on a road bike, but am no pro.. hell I am no amateur, but a passionate newbie at best.  I do not mean to consider myself an expert on what makes a great trail, but I follow the logic of the smile test and feel that it can be the best definition of any sporting experience.  

The smile test: In sport it is said that it doesn’t matter what level you are performing at, but if you finish the run, ride, swim, wave etc with a smile on your face that is the definition of a good experience.

You can have a flowy piece of singletrack that just makes you feel happy and even if it wasn’t technical you can consider the run worth the time.

You can enjoy a downhill ride with a tail wind and consider that a great day cycling.

You can have a run with the perfect breeze, ride the softest wave and more.  Athletes that enjoy the time they spend should not always question whether or not it was their hardest or most challenging effort, but if they enjoyed it.

Joy can be defined in so many ways..don’t question how you found it.

Special Note also goes to the Queen Charlotte Track.  I am coming back to ride you one day on a road bike!