Monthly Archives: June 2013

Making it work

My relationship with my current walking boots is a bit like an arranged marriage.  I’d had a ch Smiling in the rainpassionate teenage romance with magnificent calf high Diadora boots that took me on my first trek in 1975. We wore denim flares, jumpers knitted by mum and oily Japara jackets.  And weren’t my boots GREAT?  But I grew out of them.  You change, you know?

Then I moved on to leather Diadoras ankle boots that I’d fallen in love with in my early 20’s.  We covered a lot of ground together, shared many highs and lows, knew each other at our best and worst and had a love that had endured for over 20 years.  Until, suddenly and unexpectedly, while  waiting for a bus after a few days training walk to Changu Narayan near Kathmandu, and just three days before we were to trek the Annapurna Circuit together, my beloved Diadoras quietly died.  Ke garne?*

There was not much for it except to have a short term fling, eyes wide open, with a pair of cheap, tarty Hi Techs.  It was an easy relationship. No expectations of longevity. We were using each other.  I knew that. They knew that.  As expected, the Hi Techs did not last the distance and on day 20 of the Circuit (yes, we were doing it in reverse), they lost their souls/ soles. It was not a relationship worth pursuing.

Just before returning to Nepal in 2008, I had a few hours in Sydney to buy some new boots.  It was a marriage of convenience. Their pedigree was good (Scarpa) the fixer was confident, I was vulnerable and needed a solution fast, and so it was.  From the start it was hard work.  Months of stuffing them with wet newspapers, layers of Dubbin, exhaustive preventative preparations.  On treks I would wear them as much as possible then swap with relief into runners.  But we did not give up, and eventually, after some years, the relationship was going OK.  We had to learn when to give, when to shut up, how to lace, what socks to wear. And so on. But we’re making it work.

With merely the (possibly superstitious) application of a blister patch to the back of both ankles I can walk in my boots for hours, over whatever terrain is dished up to us. Me and my Scarpas.  And my blister pads.  Due to somewhat haphazard packing for my recent Upper Mustang trek, and to your benefit dear reader, I had not one but three different types of blister prevention:

Dr. Scholl, Band Aid and Compeed.

This was a well controlled study.  A pad was applied before the day’s walking which usuallyCompeed entailed a little bit up, a little bit down and a little bit flat.  (This was Nepal remember!)   They remained on for as long as they remained on.   Which in the case of Band Aid brand, was approximately twenty minutes after setting off.  Pathetic.  The Dr. Scholl brand was a little better and sometimes lasted the day.  It was fussier to apply and resulted in more litter.  The Compeed brand was far and away the Rolls Royce of blister pads.  Applied easily, stored easily (those little plastic boxes can be recycled for all sorts of things later!) and lasted on my heel for a very long time.  I avoided too much water on the area and given the conditions this was not a big issue.  I would thoroughly recommend Compeed. Dr. Scholl if you have no choice, and don’t waste your time with the Band Aid brand.  (Please note: I am not receiving any payment for this review but would be happy to accept any free samples that any Compeed executives reading this post would like to send my way!)

*You’ve heard it before and you accompany it with a resigned shrug: What to do?

Living on the edge

This was going to be a review of blister prevention treatment (No, seriously!  I am in a great position to advise on this!) but I can write about this later.  In light of my comments about living a little bit on the edge, a different post seemed apt.edge

I am catching up on the Studio Mojo reading I missed while I was away and in May, Cynthia put the Mojoettes onto this  post by Seth Godin. He differentiates between what we don’t do because we are afraid, and what we don’t do because of our fear of  feeling afraid! Interesting to think about.  He asks us to consider whether we are avoiding the unsafe or merely the feeling of being unsafe?  And his alternative to avoiding the feeling? He suggests we dance with it…to seek out the interactions that will trigger the resistance and might make us uncomfortable.

It fitted with something I read this week by Pema Chodron:

If we really want to communicate, we have to give up knowing what to do. When we come in with our agendas, they only block us from seeing the person in front of us. It’s best to drop our five-year plans and accept the awkward sinking feeling that we are entering a situation naked.

She talks a lot about this.  She is not saying don’t be prepared or don’t plan.  But she warns against clinging onto those preparations and plans when they are not working or helpful.  As a rule I’m not your walk into a situation totally naked kind of girl really.  But I’m learning that dropping my own agenda helps me to connect better with people.  When I am less locked into my way being the ONLY/ BEST way, I can be more flexible and gracious about unexpected Safetythings, and can learn even better ways from (as Seth Godin calls them) the interactions that can trigger resistance.

Then, my wonderful friend Indigo Kate shared this diagram which says so much so succinctly!  So much of what I am doing now sits out side the small circle.  Which is kind of nervy for me. But every day, there is a bit of magic.

PS: A comfort zone for your feet IS important though, especially if you are walking many kilometres each day, so be assured, I will share my blister prevention wisdom with you soon. Strap yourselves down.

Re-entry- back in the Hill!

Sitting down to write this post prompts the feelings I have when I think about the next few months. There is so much to do/ DSCN3888say that I wonder where to start.  I know that I could easily feel very overwhelmed.

In the distant past, I was a woman who liked to feel like I was on top of things…thoroughly prepared…in control.  This was obviously an illusion as life, particularly life in Nepal, revealed. The truth of the matter is that over the years I have sort of got used to this living on the cusp of being overwhelmed feeling.  It is not so frightening any more.  And, would you believe, I have a polymer clay metaphor about this phase:

It is like sometimes when you sit at your work table and you have a zillion ideas in your head and your table’s a mess and the blogs haven’t been written and there clay orders to make and send and emails to write and Skype calls to organise and maybe one oDSCN4109f your gorgeous girls is moving to (very!) far off lands in under nine weeks so you want to savour her presence while she is in the country and you have an exhibition to prepare* and you are trying to sell a house and organise a retreat and another Colourful Journey…(it is SO like that you would not believe!)  Anyway, it is like that and then you just quieten your buzzing brain, take a deep breath to still your busyness, pick up some clay and start to make a Skinner Blend.

And it all just flows from there. Sort of.  When it all is on the verge of being too much, I have learnt to Stop. Breathe. And do life’s equivalent of Make a Skinner Blend. Do something simple, pleasant, achievable and, with a bit of luck, something that will be part of getting another thing done. Just starting makes all the difference.

So, here is the blog equivalent of a Skinner Blend! Write about four of the many things that make me happy right now!

DSCN4072I am just back from two wonderful months in Nepal. Happy to reconnect with my patient and resilient family and friends.  The time there was fabulous, frantic, at times frustrating, physically challenging and one aspect was the fulfilment of a dream I have had for over 30 years: Two and a half weeks trekking in the remote region of Upper Mustang. Words and photos ( especially mine!) will never adequately convey the grandeur, beauty and scope of this area. I am sure I will have a go in subsequent posts. Suffice it to say, it was great.

The time with the Samunnat ladies was, as usual, inspirational and humbling.  I am thrilled to hear about our building progress in Birtamod. Read about it here. So far the monsoon is not slowing things down too much!photo

I love, love, love my new earring tree. They are all over Kathmandu as props – not generally for sale – but a chat in faltering Nepali with a friendly bloke called Indra K.C. meant I could buy one. A chat with lovely trekking buddy Marg meant I could actually get it home. ( Predicting what will actually fit in my bag has never been a strong point for me!)

 Book CoverAnd finally for today, I am nervously excited about the fact that Polymer Clay Global Perspectives will be arriving in bookstores on July 30. Nervous because there’s a chapter and project there by me. Excited because there are chapters and projects by some fabulous artists from all over the world, a gallery of work by over one hundred others including the States’ Genevieve Williamson and Rebecca Watkins, Canada’s Claire Maunsell, Spain’s Natalia Garcia de Leaniz and Fabiola Perez Ajates (who shares more than a passion for polymer with me); and Australia’s own Sabine Spiesser  (to name just a few) and because the whole thing was put together by the amazing, insightful, energetic, encouraging, empowering Cynthia Tinapple. Have a look at the website  and you can buy it here. NO PRESSURE!

*New name for the exhibition- Wendy Moore: Unfinished Works