Unsurprisingly, I love being told how-I-should about as much as the next person. Some of the unsolicited advice I’ve received includes: don’t set up your tent in the middle of the road (seriously) and; don’t use your stove in your tent or your tent will explode.
The last one was more reasonable because it came from a man who lives in the southern region of Argentina where houses are heated by leaving gas stoves lit on maximum (maximum to avoid the flame extinguishing overnight and causing death). So the following is my insight into surviving advice and resolutions.
Background: I’m an Aussie in pursuit of becoming the first woman to walk the length of the Earth. It bugged me that, of all the people who have attempted the hike, about 10 men have completed it… but no women. So I began planning. Yes, just like that.
Two years on, I’ve walked the length of Chile through Tierra del Fuago, Patagonia, the coastal wine region, and most recently the Atacama Desert. Shortly I continue through the Andean Mountains of Peru, then through the Amazon towards Panama.
4 years ago….
Resolving to have a healthier, stronger body and be more open-minded to alternative medicine (how original of me), I followed the insistings of my then boyfriend to consult an iridologist...
For those of you who don’t know, an iridologist is basically the eye version of a palm reader. A clinician, who uses an antique magnifying glass to examine the colourful part of your eyes and tell you what’s wrong with you and how to fix it.
If I said I was brimming with enthusiasm, I’d be lying, but I was resolved, so…
We arrived at a dingy, tax dodging, hotel room. The first thing I noticed (other than my discomfort of visiting a medical professional in a hotel room) was the mountains of unmarked clinical bottles, grouped by their various sizes.
I continued swallowing my cynicism and drew on my newly found open-mindedness.
Said boyfriend was present, and teeming with positivity and encouraging nods. He gestured me forward.
After much umming and aahing from behind the iridological magnifying glass, he announced my ailments…. including the discovery that I was not in fact, a coeliac.
And just like that, I was 100% on board.
He handed me my 3 prescribed concoctions and warned that first, my body would detox.
Fine by me!
I gargled, I drank and I eye-dropped diligently, blind-sided by the promise of my next appointment and more importantly, first bakery visit in years.
Oh, how I detoxed.
Two weeks on, said boyfriend was lifting me out of the bathtub because I’d become too weak to get myself to the toilet. Guilt struck, he kept a close eye on me… partly worried I’d drown.
His mum rang the iridologist, who at this point was holidaying in the Caribbean (really), so the assistant relayed his advice: since I’d been gluten deficient for so long, my body was reacting severely and I needed to halve the dose.
Let me tell you something about rationality: It can be corrupted by investment.
The Sunk Cost FallacyThe Misconception: You make rational decisions based on the future value of objects, investments and experiences.
The Truth: Your decisions are tainted by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.
I had spent so much money on the non-TGA approved, quack-certified garbage, that I persisted for another week until I induced an iron deficiency.
I rang the quack (still vacationing) and spoke to the assistant.
I demanded to know the ingredients. She refused, referring to their concern for patents. So I did the only thing my malnourished brain could think to do: I feigned threats of a lawsuit, quoted the requirements of ingredient listing as regulation according to Food Standards Australia, and told her I could have them shutdown before her boss returned from holiday.
Sure enough, I had been poisoning myself with gluten-rich wheat juice for nearly a month.
I threw out my investment and went back to the cynic’s life.
Undoubtedly, I had changed in that time, but not for the healthier, stronger or more open-minded. While wrapped around the toilet, developing an iron deficiency, I couldn’t help but wonder what a happier life looked like (as you do), when I remembered my sister’s advice.
For those who don’t know, I have two badass sisters. This one founded a life transforming criminal diversion program that realises the potential in people who aren’t considered (institutionally) to have any.
We do our best life-ing when we look at what we have, and build from there.
Focus on what you’re already doing? Apparently.
So I wrote down the important aspects of my life, turned it into a plan by scheduling more time doing the things I enjoyed, and allocating time for projects I want to be working on… and my tax.
Like a charm, my sister’s savvyness did the trick.
4 years later…
Building on this I’ve had a number of revelations all of which have led me to the path I’m on today.
I’m not going to say that at times, I wouldn’t rather be wrapped around a toilet than be walking into oblivion. Sometimes I really would. Sometimes I have. But in these moments I can draw on what’s important and remind myself (painfully) that I’ve chosen to be where I am, think of what the alternatives are, and if I really wanted, I could plan myself out of here just as easily as I planned my way in.
I acknowledge that not everyone is as fortunate as I am, but I’ll also warn you: my outlook doesn’t come freely, it takes a lot of resilience, self-determination and sacrifice to do what I do. Like everyone, I am not free from misery. But practicing the above is a good reality check in those moments of doom and gloom.
Keen for detail?
If you’d like to read a blow-by-blow how-to, and see my plans for the year as an example… or if you’d like to know how I tackle setbacks…. or something else along these lines, let me know in comments.
Before you roll your eyes like I typically would, know that a collection of my friends have since gotten on to this and we’re all still friends (unlike the iridologist).
The trick to it all is pretty underwhelming.
Enjoying this interlude?
Here’s how people have been helping (bribing) me forward:
1) Luggage mules
If you’re planning a trip to Peru this year, or Ecuador… and you’re happy to bring me a jacket, or some tights, or a set of dog booties… please contact me!
2) Clothes and equipment
You can contribute towards specific equipment here, which will be sent to a friend, waiting for a luggage mule… They’ll even write your name on it.
3) Ice cream, hot chocolates and dog toys for the road.
These delightful variations from rice and stock cubes are made via PayPal.
The more people who know about us, the more chances we’ll receive sponsorship, and the more likely we are to finish!!!! Please talk about me and Wombat, even the bad, and have your friends join us through the calamities!!
5) MOST IMPORTANTLY – Keep reading
I love your feedback and love having you with me. It’s no longer possible to respond to emails and one-on-one update requests, but know I read all of them, and appreciate you.
If it wasn’t for the community, I wouldn’t be out here researching how to fit Wombat to his backpack. Yep. That’s happening.
To the peeps at GoHosting who continue helping me through my WordPress meltdowns!
Surviving the desert: how did I do it, why did I do it, was it hot, did I hate it? Answering all the popular questions and more…. as soon as I have a replacement phone, access my Apple account and the notes for the story… which also includes wishing for toilets among the finer moments of life.
Lucy + Wombat
G’day, sounds pretty tough for you at the moment? No advice here , just watching and supporting in awe !
You have proven remarkable resilience and continue to find ways to develop your inner strength into outward resourcefulness, so we believe in you!
We’ve spoken before when I first saw you interviewed on Australia’s ABC. I’ve been quiet but still following your journey and loving the memories you are making for yourself and writing for us to read. You are going to write one amazing book to read one day!
It’s great to have you still here following alone!
Wishing for toilets!!! Yep I’m hearing you. Love it.
Hi young lady great read, and I have said many times you are a class act. I look forward to watching you accomplish what you set out to do.
Thanks Wayne, I’ll be on the road again soon getting closer to that finish line!
Looking for advice outside yourself can always invite problems. The same can be said sometimes taking advice from your desires as well. The Benefit to the latter is that you may eventually learn to listen more closely so that you stop misinterpret what true self desire is saying. Before you take my spiritual advice, read the first sentence over again. :). I really have no idea where you are right now, but i am sure your there (I think that’s Zen), and it’s always nice to see your smile.
Haha. Thanks Randy. I’m not sure Zen frequents as often as I’d like but I am nearly organised for another year!!
Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou
…. you are a seed for the flowers of tomorrow. Inspiration dedication and true grit! Sending love, and prayers for a successful and complete recharge before your next leg. Ultreia!!!
Thanks!! I’m almost ready to head off again. Here’s to another great year!!
You are still a gutsy woman. No, thats not advice, just a comment. Love your posts. Love Wombat.
Haha. Thanks Robby!
There’s that Beautiful smile once again I just love it, you are truly a Wonder Woman. I pray for you all the time, God be with in your travels.
– interesting! now i know you are not only brave & adventurous … but also a writer … & once were a tad foolish about ‘medical’ ‘treatment’!
– i’d love to hear more about your recent desert experience … as well as the next phases … will try to help with a contribution!
– & will try to add my older granddaughters (getting close to your age) to your ‘team’.
– stay safe! wombat’s cute … but i kinda wish he was more the type of dog one might more-likely name
‘Wolf’ or ‘Hulk’!
Hahahaha. Thanks Tim.
Yes I’m working on the desert updates this week. Among other things. Keep an eye out on your notifications
Hi Lucy, you are truly amazing.
how nice to see a photo of hat lovely LUCY smile …Wombat looks good too Take care special lady xx
Hey Lucy, soooo wished to do desert with you, wasn’t well enough. Hope to catch up though – someplace on this trek. Planning and preparing! Proud of you girl. So proud. Max
It’s amazing how life does catch you when you jump. You’re an amazing lady. Sending hugs and best wishes and a donation. Take care beautiful.
Thanks so much Beth!!! Yes! Jumping back into this year is going to be a challenge but I’m nearly ready. Eeeeek
Lucy you’re a very tough, gutsy lady – I’m full of admiration- keep going please – I’m glad you have your Wombat with you- company is so important for your mental health. Enjoying your blog and look forward to hear more of your trip. Esther
Thanks Esther, I’m nearly ready to start for another year!!
I think that you are amazing.
And I too love blue cattle dogs.
One was Klaus, our second was Diesel and our girl is Katie.
How can they say so much without a word.
Lots of love
So true! I can’t believe you manage three of them!
I think you’re amazing for undertaking this adventure. Do you find it hard to source food both in towns and while hiking which are gluten free?
Yes, I really do. Not always because of lack of options, sometimes because of lack of stove fuel.
What great photos, Lucy! Ben and I hope you’ve been able to manage your Chilean visa without needing cooperation from the Bolivian border crossing guys again! We’re sending you all our good vibes from the snow and cold of Ohio.
I am in awe of you. What a fantastic journey. Love wombat. I’m sure he makes the journey easier.
Hi Lucy, just a quick note to say Hi – you are an amazing young woman and I love following your adventures. Talk about guts! I also love that you have Wombat to keep you company. A dog (especially a working dog) is the best friend a person can have…FYI – My doggo is called Lucy (!), shes half bluey (half staffie), nearly 15 and just the best! We both wish you well as you head towards your goal.
I am impressed. Good luck on your journey. “Wombat” (seriously?) looks very cute. (Love the name)
Best of luck on your goal.