If you’re a follower of my Facebook page or Instagram account you’ll know that I end each week by asking you to celebrate your proudest achievements of the week.
There are two reason for that; the first one is that to be honest I’m pretty nosey and love hearing what you’ve been up two; but also because it’s bloody important that we take time out to celebrate our achievements not just sometimes but all of the time, no matter how big or small.
Last week Timehop reminded me that it was ten years since my greatest ever achievement.
And, once I’d gotten my head around the fact that was a whole decade ago rather than the year or two it feels like (eek!) that really got me thinking about how that experience had changed me and how, after all this time, it also hadn’t too.
Let me explain...
Introducing the proudest me
Ten years ago last week I made it to Machu Picchu, Peru.
That was somewhere I’d wanted to go for a good few years beforehand, so was a pretty big achievement in itself, but it also represented a damn sight more than that.
My trek through the Andes was a charity one to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society, in honour of my lovely grandad who’d passed away three months earlier; and also marked the last stop on a four month solo trip around the world.
Emotionally all of that was a huge deal – I’d made it around the world on my own; I was about to fly home and back to normality after the trip of a lifetime; and of course since I’d been on the other side of the world at the time of my grandad’s passing and subsequent funeral, this was really my chance to say goodbye to him.
Physically though it was a huge deal too; time and time again in the run up to the trek I’d heard people say that it didn’t matter how prepared you were, it was always the altitude that would get you – something I’d never had to worry about before. And if we’re honest I wasn’t in any way prepared, having done too little training and too much eating and drinking throughout the rest of my trip to date.
But I made it. A big part of that was down to the amazing people I was walking with (many of whom I still keep up with on Facebook and one of whom – although we don’t talk as much as either of us would like – remains one of my favourite people in the Universe) and the fact that every time I grumbled I’d hear my grandad laughing at me in the back of my mind; but as with any of our achievements, most of all it was down to me.
Standing there at Machu Picchu that day I felt pretty much invincible: if I could do this, particularly at my current level of fitness, then I could do pretty much anything.
Far from my body being something detached that I had criticised and disrespected over the years it felt as though we were a crack team who could take on whatever the word asked of us together; and after four days of walking and thinking – not to mention four months of travelling – I’d come to know myself better than I ever had before.
A couple of days later I began the journey home, and a couple of weeks afterwards was back in the office of my old job, catching up with friends and settling back into my normal life. And although I’d changed; the crisp and sharp memory of those achievements was already beginning to fade.
Getting back in touch...
Fast forward ten years and I’m feeling pretty bloody good again – albeit after a lot of work to get me there – but let’s be honest, some of those Machu Picchu feelings have still very much faded.
Yes I know myself, yes my body and I remain a crack team, but do I still feel invincible? Not really, because it’s been a while since I did anything that entirely bucked what was expected of me.
But that little Timehop message last week took me right back: for a moment I was standing on that beautiful green grass, overlooking the scene I’d gazed at so many times in books and online, being bitten by mosquitos and celebrating even them as a reminder that I’d made it!
For a moment I was touching my hand to those ancient stone ruins, feeling their energy buzz beneath my fingers, connecting with it and letting it stir up the maelstrom of emotions within me - relief over making it here, sadness over losing my grandad, gratitude over being able to celebrate him and his life in such an amazing way, contentment to have completed a goal I’d dreamed of for so long and fear that this wonderful chapter of my life was over.
For a moment I was reliving that entire day – from the second our porter began to shout “Coca tea?” outside our tents at 5 that morning up until the hour I spent in our hotel’s weird little casino before we headed off to bed that night.
And within every one of those memories was the stirring of that feeling that I was invincible… and what’s more, the bubbling excitement that came with knowing that whatever did or didn’t lie ahead for me I was carrying that invincibility forward and knowing that I was capable of absolutely anything in my future.
So it made me think, what if we were all to take some time out regularly to reconnect ourselves with those big achievements?
I’m not suggesting we spend our lives dwelling in the past of course, because that would do nothing but keep us from all of the amazing achievements that still lie ahead. But that’s not to say we couldn’t put the photo somewhere we’ll see it every day, or take some time out every few weeks to just stop and reconnect with those feelings.
Because if celebrating our small achievements as they arrive in life can help us to feel good and remember how amazing we are, then just think how amazing we could feel if we plugged into the huge achievements every now and again too?
So with this week’s blog post I’m setting you a challenge – to get in touch with your proudest self and find out just what she has to remind you of...
And then to see how much of a difference plugging into that part of yourself that can achieve anything makes. Today, and to your journey towards the life that you love.