Those words above said to me by Paula McGuire: Adventurer, Speaker and Writer of website paulamusttryharder left me pondering on the reality and importance of developing wellbeing in life.
Swimming the waters around the UK, is not an idea you’d think an aquaphobic suffering from anxiety would come up with but when you want to turn barriers into climbing frames, taking on a big mad swim around the UK’s 1800 miles of rugged coastline, and raising funds in the process for the Mental Health Foundation to support the organisations work (follow link to donate) is definitely a way to do that.
Paula has already tested herself doing many different activities. From wing-walking, having a go at bungee jumping, to triathlon participating (Something I had vowed to do by 50 and failed by not motivating myself to get moving.) I wanted to know a little more about her.
What does adventure bring to your life?
It keeps me sane and keeps me challenging myself. I’ve tested lots of parts of myself. Endurance is this one.
What have you learnt about yourself in the process?
Nothing is bigger than me. I discovered I am bigger than the fear. I thought that things used to happen to me but now I’m happening to things.
Something resonated with the person in me when reading through her website. It was when Paula started listening to herself, change began to happen. As a Humanistic Practitioner, I know the benefits that therapy can bring to a person dealing with daily challenges but I also know that without engaging in the work internally – then no change will come. Wellbeing is an important part of our lives. For Paula, the combination of adventurer, writer and speaker enables her to have balance. Because each aspect of what she does supports the other parts of herself.
As I observed Paula, she lit up, becoming animated each time she talked about her adventures and the changes, facing those adventures head on, have brought to her life. The support she has received from her husband and the decision she made to put a boundary around the questions and concerns others had, when she told them what she wanted to do next – as a non-swimmer! It meant they had time to voice their opinion but she decided when enough was enough and they needed to get on board with her or not mention it again. I found her inspirational to listen to, as she is in the process of defining and redefining her life.
What do you think is the importance of fear?
Fear is natural – it helps provide balance. We need it to remind us we are alive.
The main concern and fear Paula has for her coastal swim, is being in her head for six hours at a time as she swims. Its been getting out of her head and throwing herself into these adventures, which has helped her connect with her courage which she believes comes from within.
We all have courage and need experiences to bring it out.
Building mental strength in the process has helped her develop resilience in life. One of the things she looks forward to most of all, is being able to see the places on the west coast of Scotland, she visited as a child – but this time from the sea.
I’ll see it so differently. No boat or ferry. It gives it a different perspective.
Paula has learnt that the one thing she needs to do when applying herself to achieve, is to manage risk and this is one of the messages she wants to put across through her talks. That you must find a way to manage the risks involved in what you are choosing to do.
Risk is a part of life and figuring out how to manage risk is an important part of the process.
Evidence suggests that a small improvement in wellbeing can help to decrease some mental health problems and also help people to flourish. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) on behalf of Foresight, sets out 5 actions to improve personal wellbeing. GOV.UK
I asked Paula to share with us her 5 ways to wellbeing. As set out in the guidance above:
Connect – Who do you connect with the most. Myself! A glorious answer.
be active – What activity did you enjoy the most? Wing Walking.
take notice – What do you take more notice of now? Other Peoples compassion.
keep learning – What are you learning at the moment? How to swim.
give – What does this mean to you? Everything. Being part of this world and doing something positive for it.
I personally don’t think Paula needs to try harder. She is an example to the rest of us to get out there and experience life even when it does scare us silly.