As many of you know, the past few weeks were pretty tough and I had a lot of big decisions to make that would be for the best all round, and whilst I couldn’t speak openly about them, I’m rather relieved to say that a mutual decision has now been made, and actually I’m very excited about the future, and I’m so grateful to all the folk who really have my back, and who just keep reminding me to follow my gut instinct and do what is right for me, and not worry about the rest. Those kind of friendships are just priceless. As was a day yesterday spent with the OPG kids and talking to them about life, the universe, and everything.
With that, I’ve decided to go solo, and to challenge and test myself and to stop being so afraid all the time. I think the turning point for me was when I started to lose sleep and started feeling stressed about wanting to do the right thing and not letting others down, worrying about failing, worrying about stepping out of my comfort zone, or thinking I somehow wasn’t as good as other people. I was felling pressure that I want to maintain the integrity of what I’ve started and what I love, and I didn’t want to hand over my baby for the sake of getting money or having opportunities. Writing a blog for TLG was a great opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in such a short space of time, and I feel especially lucky to have had the support of Amanda and Jacqueline at Sun Yoga Tbilisi as well as the entire yoga community, who have been supporting me in a way which only women can do for other women. I’m so pleased that Jacqueline is visiting us for a few days from London, and it also marks a milestone for me, as Jacqueline was the first person to give me a yoga lesson on 1st May 2011, and now almost two months on, having a really challenging yoga class with her and realising how far my physical ability has progressed was a nice moment, as was talking to her and some of the other students at a session for those who wish to take a 200hour anatomy and physiology course in October. I think I’m now on some weird kind of hippy style spiritual journey, that I hadn’t really expected when I started yoga for fitness! I’ve grown massively the past two months, and actually I’m ready to push myself now, for the sake of OPG and my own development.
I’m still much of a baby in yoga terms, and just as I feel I’m getting the hang of things, a new position gets thrown into the pot, and I realise that I can’t do it and need to work at it. The instructors are good at upping my game, time passes, and then I try one of our early poses again, and find that I can now do it, but couldn’t before. It was great to think about the opportunity to take the Instructors course, and whilst I’m afraid to take it because I’m not ready to teach, or I’m afraid to start studying again after being at med school and losing the enjoyment of learning, I also really want to take my practice further, and I think this really intensive course could help. I’m afraid to teach because I want yoga to be my thing, that I enjoy and don’t have to share, and I’m worried that in teaching yoga, I may lose that love for it. So talking to Jacqueline and the other guys was brilliant, and it also fits in perfectly with something that keeps coming back to me at the moment. It was especially great to hear Jacqueline talk about her time when she was writing her book about yoga spirituality, and that she gave up everything and spent three months living on Temple floors in India, not knowing where her next meal would come from. That really resonated with me, is the kind of thing I did often as a teen, and which I really miss, and was somehow hoping to take away from the ocean row.
Over the past few weeks I’ve not felt like a part of the Coxless Rowers team, and I was getting annoyed at finding things out for the first time, because I just happened to check the Twitter page. Things like, my team mate is going to be away for 50days over summer supporting Dave Cornthwaite’s expdition as he swims 1000miles along the Missouri river. One minute the team were stressed at having no time, no sponsor, and couldn’t reply to my emails because they were busy with work, and then I hear this news, and that they were concerned they had chronic fatigue and might have to pull out of the row. I really like the girls, I think they have a lovely energy, and will succeed in whatever they do, and I wish them well in that. But I think there came a point about 1 month ago, where I realised I was tiptoeing around them, and that they didn’t seem to be focusing on the fact that in May they will begin the row, yet they are still short on crew, have no sponsor, and now off for the next few months with no internet or communication. I was concerned about investing my money and that they would change their mind at the last minute or that I would have to compromise OPG to fit the needs of a sponsor and restructure things to fit around the new training dates. I don’t mean them any diservice at all, both are brilliant and very motivated, but what became more and more obvious was that we were approaching things from different angles, and that I was always very much the last priority and I was starting to doubt them, which isn’t a great sign so early on in the preparation. Was I prepared to put OPG through the publicity mill for something that may or may not happen, and reliant on others doing the work? At first, I was hundred percent there, but when the communication stopped and excuses started, and other things always seemed to take priority, I realised that this wasn’t going to work for me. With that, we both came to the agreement that this wasn’t the right team for me. But I don’t feel like I failed, which is a first for me, as I know I gave it everything I could and to give more would be to not be true to myself.
In the meantime, I had received several other offers to join teams (ocean rowing and other), and it became clear to me that I still wanted to row from California to Australia, via Samoa and Hawaii, and actually nothing has changed for me, only that the thought of us spending 6 months on a boat together, could be disastrous, as I was struggling with one member of the team, not through anyone’s fault, but just because we were coming at things from different perspectives, even down to our thoughts about training and team dynamics. Reflecting back on OPG, I’ve realised that I am capable, and others seem to have the belief in me that I don’t, but for no real reason, other than it would mean pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve had opportunity to give talks at some prestigious events, but turned them down because I’m afraid to give a public talk as I might mess it up and make us look bad. But, I think it was at the point where I was approached by a major sponsor last week, who wanted to fund the entire row, that I realised just how much more important OPG is to me than anything else. And the fact that I didn’t want to share that information with the team, for fear of them keeping me on, but for the wrong reasons, made me realise that it would be disastrous for me to continue with them, even if it meant losing face by dropping out and I sensed they’d probably push me before I jumped anyway, which is never great.
So whilst I’ve now left the Coxless Rowers, I know I still want to row the Pacific Ocean, and actually I think this is something that I need to organise myself, and to do on behalf of OPG, and with yoga and our OPG ethos at its core. It also gives me a lot more freedom for my PhD and takes the pressure off in that. I have 2014 in mind for this, and a plan that has come about of its own free will, but I want to just take some time out over summer, continue training for the row, and let the dust settle and my brain rest a bit, before launching into a new plan. But what is certain, is that I hope to be rowing across the Pacific Ocean in 2014, and that OPG will continue to be my number one baby, with all else as the icing on the cake. Certainly proving to be quite a rollercoaster journey, that’s for sure, but I feel I’m getting stronger everyday, and better at dealing with the ups and downs, so that’s all good news.