Onwards & Upwards

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

This quote is by Winston Churchill and it really resonates with me. I’m sure as hell not always an optimist but I’m learning to be, so when Brian from climb.ie asked if I’d like to climb a sea cliff, I was totally game.

Obviously, this wasn’t my first day climbing. I had done a little in the Alps in September then the crags in Ballyvaughan became my playground for a bit! We started from the top, and Brian went down first.  When I got the OK from Brian to abseil down the adrenaline was alive and kicking. I made the effort not to look down, but I did notice how smooth the rock face was. GULP…

I stopped about three quarters from the bottom where Brian was waiting at a cliff edge. It was slightly slanted and there was just enough room for one foot straight, with the other sideways. I held onto ropes to keep myself steady and comfortable as there was a 15 meter drop beneath me. I was completely oblivious to the fact that my job now was to belay Brian up. Now with the tables turned, he was the one trusting me, and trusting my ability to keep him safe on his ascent.

‘Christ on a bike’ I thought, ‘I hope he’s a fast climber…’

Now, I was completely outside my comfort zone but I’m learning to be OK with that.  I do things like this to challenge my mind and body and push my capabilities. After all, great things happen when we have self belief. Sure, the sense of fear could have risen in me and it was trying to, but fear is just a word, and I try not to let it become a mindset.

I had belayed climbers before, but not in this kind of environment. At this point, my focus was to keep my right hand firmly on the rope whilst my left hand fed rope to Brian as he moved upwards. I was so grateful there was literally no wind.

When he was safe up I gave a huge “whoooo hooooo!” Now the fun started – It was my turn to climb. It was by no means a very technical climb. The foot holes were minuscule at times but the hand holes were great. I could push myself with confidence. I used to think that climbing depended on a lot of upper body strength, and at times it does help, but really it’s all about a good technique and trying to conserve as much energy whilst climbing.

When I got to the top I felt an overwhelming sense of achievement. A high five was in order!

When Emily asked me to write a blog about my experience I was a little morto as I’m still a novice climber. I struggle to even remember the names of all the equipment involved, hence I didn’t try name any! but I do continually strive to learn and be challenged, so like the climb, I said I would give the blog post a go.

So if you can take away anything from this, perhaps take away that we as human beings are capable of achieving great things if we believe in ourselves. Be it running that extra mile or applying for the job you thought you might not be qualified enough for. Whatever it is, don’t just talk about it, make it happen!

I’ll leave you with another quote – Nelson Mandala said “It always seems impossible until its done”.

XXX

Bitchmittens Norma

Brave makes perfect…

So not many of you’ll know this about me, but up until about 5/6 years ago I was a big scaredy cat. I mean huge. Couldn’t walk up on tall things, couldn’t climb a tree, couldn’t go on a swing that was not well made (so not a rope on a tree), couldn’t climb, well anything. I had a never-ending fear of falling, hurting myself and worse, embarrassing myself! I must remind you I was also 3 stone heavier so everything seemed so much harder, everything seemed more unattainable to me than to others. So I just stayed down at the bottom and watched Cormac climb everything, and boy did he climb everything…

Fastforward a few years and the weight has been sweated away through hours and hours of running. And I start to feel a little bit of a spring in my step. Maybe I could climb something? My legs can definitely hold me up. I knew it would impress Cormac and that’s really all I try to do. But I started small. I went hill walking. A tough excursion indeed on rough terrain! I needed a lot help. My body was not used to this sort of exercise, My mind was racing, trying to figure out what was safe, what was easy, all the while Cormac is the barreling through it all. He knew he could do it. I didn’t know that I could… A pull to get over stream, a shove to get a steep incline, words of encouragement when I froze at a rather narrow part. Through the rivers and over the hills I went, safely behind the burliest man I know.

 

I’m the King of the World

As time went on, you can imagine that I got less shit, and then eventually, I got good. I went from being a wobbly, stumbling fool in converse to a steady footed, hiking boot clad (thanks ma!) fool. A fool who wasn’t too concerned with dirt under her nails and having her feet achey from the hours of climbing. I wasn’t too nervous to get down on my knees and get stuck into whatever the mountains had in store for us. Dense forest, highland bog, heather fires, apocalyptic wind. I was turning into the fearless wonder. Cormac was astounded (and secretly a little impressed.) My confidence was growing and with that my fear subsiding.

 

Wait! No I’m not

So when our buddy Art (half terminator/half mountain goat) asked us to come along with him to climb rocks on the Burren, I was jumping at the opportunity. This was my time to shine! I can climb mountains, this’ll be a doddle! Well, I was wrong. These aren’t itty bitty rocks down by the Burren, these were very large parts of cliff after breaking away from the main land and creating their own landscape by the crashing waves. I was in over my head, literally. This wasn’t just steep walking with a few streams. Boulders upon boulders have been piled high to create a walkway to the stars, beautiful but tough. But I persevered and battled through, slipping a lot, falling on my ass several times and need a lot of lifts up. I learned the three points of contact method to climbing and thankfully Art and Cormac were happy enough to drag me up what I literally couldn’t climb. I was wet and muddy and slightly bruised but I made it through. I had never completed something like that before. I had lost all my confidence. I was so unsure of myself all over again. But I knew I just needed practice and the knowledge that I could do it.

 

rocks

 

No wait, I’m back

Last week we went back with more friends and armed with my previous knowledge and I mustered up some confidence and went at these rocks like a bat outta hell. Smart enough to get down onto my hands, I found that following the lads was just not an option for me. They are tall, I am not. They could reach things that I simply couldn’t. So I found my own route and made to the edge of the rocks shortly after them but delighted and smug as feck that I did it all myself. No slipping, no falling, a few moments of “eh no I can’t do this” which I rightly ignored. And only helping hand (it was a really big rock). I wowed them all, I wowed myself.

And as I was pottering up the side of the cliff, proud of my accomplishment, I began to think about how many people I know will make mistakes, slip up, fall and do some damage. Not just because they are unable (though that is important) but because they didn’t think they could. They simply didn’t trust themselves. And at first, I was the same.

Skill and knowledge is indeed involved but if you can only trust yourself you’ll slip up a lot less. Take it from someone who has spent a lot her time falling on her arse…

 

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