5 Essential Lessons for any Challenge

Orange Breasted sunbird2 climb 272 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Sunbird (male) quietly surveying the city below                      Photo Credit: Natalie du Preez

As I sit here I can’t believe nine months of the year have come and gone.

Thirty nine weeks have rocketed past and being in an extreme challenge like this, climbing Table Mountain every day, brings with it extreme learnings.

Observing  how many people focus, even 277 days into my challenge, on what could go wrong and ‘negative aspects’ – weather, injury, sickness, ‘stuck in Cape Town’, you name it, it’s been said.

It’s the perfect mirror of life.

Few think about all the positive aspects – seeing the mountain in every way imaginable; the phenomenal views from my office; the personal growth; the extraordinary people I get to meet; and the conversations that brings with it.

Ignoring the difficulties I face would be fool hardy. It’s important to understand all the aspects of a challenge including difficulties – just don’t focus on them.  This reality of potential dangers was given to me when Gert, challenging himself to climb Table Mountain every day in September, sprained his ankle badly with just five days left. It can happen that quickly.

My focus cannot waiver for one second.

What a Week

This year, last week was the second longest amount of time spent climbing the mountain – but because of the extreme weather differences; my toughest to date.

Thankfully, I only had two solo hikes and five amazing groups to pull me through. Not just any groups:

Top of Table Mountain Heritage DayMonday: two special men, Bulelani and Siyabonga, started a tour group called Corner2corner tours and arranged a group to climb up on our National Holiday – Heritage Day. Not just hike up though – clean the mountain too. They believe the mountain gives us so much that they wanted to give back to her. It was 30 degrees at 11am and after a bitterly cold month, a bit of a shock to the system. Everyone made it up and we walked off with three full bags of rubbish removed.

VML Foundation Day climb on day 270Thursday: VML, a creative agency worldwide with offices here in Cape Town, have a yearly day to volunteer with various organisations – I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of them. This day was windy, icy cold, wet and downright miserable for a tricky ascent and descent. This usually deters people, but fourteen amazing people came and challenged themselves for the benefit of others. They had wonderful smiles, never complained and helped each other get down safely. Real team spirit.

Family climb 271 365 Ubuntu ClimbsFriday: I’m blessed with an amazing family and Aunty Di and Uncle John have been terrific with their support. Having seen them (they live in Durban) in February they promised they’d be back in September and would join – this was the day. After loads of rain, they were treated to the spectacle that is Table Mountain with rivers in full flow and waterfalls galore; even paths become water features. Their spirit and tenacity to get up adds to my memories of people who’ve pushed their limits; and chatting about all their holiday ‘s overseas is how I get to travel this year: vicariously.

Climb 272 365 Ubuntu ClimbsSaturday: a fellow blogger for Future Females and friend, Natalie, joined with her husband. We had a hot day again; thankfully with a breeze. My legs were taking strain, and they were happy to stop often and get pictures (picture above is hers!) much to my weary legs delight. Hard to fathom the previous 4 days were all cold and wet, and tomorrow is going to be even hotter…

Tibetan Monks on top Table Mountain 365 Ubuntu Climbs

Sunday: Lisa, Amanda and Alice brave a 06:30 start – always impressed by people willing to do that on a Sunday. Its Amanda’s birthday too! We start early for two reasons – on hot days sunrise hikes equal avoiding the heat and we have the privilege to host four Tibetan Monks, an astrologer and a healer all the way from India at the top. It felt as if the monks were already at the top and hauling me up step by step as we ‘rushed’ to ensure we didn’t keep them waiting. Thankfully we made it up in time meeting them at the cable car. This experience would never have happened without this challenge happening and my good friend Nicci connecting us. Something I could never have predicted.

Although I’m not a practicing Buddhist – I resonate with their desire for peace and love to permeate this planet – the reason they’re here, creating colourful sand mandalas.

Experiencing another belief and cultures ritual and respect for nature and our mountain was beautiful. Seeing them in their robes and prayer flags flapping in the wind was soothing and even though I had no idea what they were saying in prayer – felt at peace.

Being the end of the month too I chose rock number nine: a physical representation of another month completed.

I was originally keeping these but before meeting the monks, had the idea to rather take them all back at the end of the year and create a memorial pile on the Platteklip Gorge hiking trail. Hearing him speak about releasing attachment reinforces the idea.

Geshe wished to hold it and shared some beautiful words with me about what I’m doing. Though our time was brief together, it was reminded of quality over quantity.

What Can You Take Away from This?

As I said extreme challenges bring extreme learning and realisations after this week some are becoming ingrained in me:

  1. Focus on today. Even the toughest week came to end and the same is true for great weeks. Simply focusing on today’s climb means I give it every opportunity to become one of the most memorable ones.
  2. Lose attachment. Weather, health, mementos, even people. Things can change so quickly and holding on to something keeps you rooted in the past. A perfect follow on to point #1 because this keeps you grounded in today and what you can
  3. Find the flow. This has been one of the unexpected challenges of the year. I had grand designs of what needed to happen and what I needed to organise; yet the best experiences have all come from allowing the climbs to happen with whomever is supposed to join. Set your intention of what river you want to use, and let it take you where it needs to. Stop trying to control everything. This becomes the difference in creating meaningful experiences as opposed to a bucket list tick box exercise.
  4. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Everyone’s in a rush: to find a partner; to be successful, to be first, to get up the mountain. All this means is you miss the opportunities along the way to see the beauty in each step, in life. Why do people burn out? Feel disconnected? We’re rushing to this appointment while making the next. Slow down. If I’d come out the gates trying to do every climb as fast as possible my body would’ve shut down months ago. My legs may be fatigued – but my heart and soul are energised.
  5. Gratitude is not important; its essential. Every climb starts with gratitude for my health, my legs that work and are strong enough to do this every day; my eyes to see the beauty around me and my mind that is actively learning every day from this experience. Gratitude for the mountain being so close to where I live and providing me a spiritual path to walk every day and always teaching me. It takes less than five minutes to show gratitude and once you start? You realise all the ways you’re blessed. Family, partners, friends, their support, and it helps spot the greatest beauty in the tiniest moment. Beauty is not one big thing – it’s an endless string of moments.

 

See you on the mountain

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town every day in 2018 helping raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity (housing) One Heart (teaching children to read) and The Sunflower Fund (increasing the donor database for blood diseases like Leukaemia) To donate visit http://www.365climbs.com

Nelson Mandela’s 100th Birthday: How He Influenced Me

Neslon Mandela

Today would’ve been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, it coincides with my 199th hike up Table Mountain joined by Elliot (from Langa) and Raquel (Switzerland) – this makes it 100 days that I’ve been joined by people this year. My gran was Swiss and if she were alive – would’ve also been 100 today.

Life’s synchronicity is beautiful.

His first seed planted with me

I was thirteen years old when Nelson Mandela visited our school and spoke to us. The youngest boys always stood in front which that day, was our blessing.

Neslon Mandela at KES 1993 Renaissance Guy
1993 – the beginning of a sweeping change for South Africa

I was too young to fully take in the message he gave us, but thankfully able to go back into our school’s magazines archives the sentence ‘his message to the young boys was that the privilege they enjoy carries responsibility.’ Reminds me 25 years on.

Being a white male in South Africa means there’s a dark past attached to you. My journey to come to terms with that and what it means hasn’t been an easy one. As recently as five years ago, I thought ‘I didn’t personally benefit from Apartheid.’ And thought I was kind of ‘in the clear’ if you will.

This was an uneducated thought rooted in ignorance.

It took a woman by the name of Dr Jackie Naude (author of Finding the Rainbow) to come to Distell and provide a transformation workshop to begin to change this. She provided and open forum discussing a painful past from an objective point of view in a safe environment. The first time I had a detailed explanation of our past in this manner.

Understanding what the British did to the Boers (Afrikaners) by putting women and children in concentration camps (yes that’s right, the British invented this); The Afrikaners rule and desire to never be subjugated again, creating apartheid through to the release of Nelson Mandela and how he, somehow, managed to stave off a full blown civil war – a horror I can’t even begin to comprehend.

I wasn’t just understanding how we got to the present day, I started to understand how I benefitted from a system purely because of the colour of my skin.

I started to understand I was privileged.

My Journey with Privilege

I understood that one of the biggest problems with BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) was the communication around it and that it wasn’t a call to immediately thrust previously disadvantaged people in to high positions; but rather an opportunity for business to understand the previous injustices and to work together with government to rectify this over a period of time.

This is a contentious issue but effectively, business buried its head in the sand not truly understanding the requirements.

White privilege is a phrase that makes most people feel guilt or shame. I know I felt very uncomfortable so avoided public talks about it and if it came up, tried to defend myself that I personally hadn’t done anything wrong.

This is not something to defend.

It led to a profound understanding I live with today and where one of 365 Ubuntu Climbs pillars was born:

Just because I’m not personally responsible for someone else’s suffering; doesn’t mean I can’t be part of the solution to help them.

Mandela’s Deaths Impact

I was driving on the highway past the airport, a profound sadness came over me as I heard it on the news. A quick gaze right and my eyes were met with a sight I’d seen every day twice a day for two years: shacks.

We’re not doing enough…I thought.

I started thinking about the 5 000 staff at Distell and I imagined every staff member donating R10 a month – that’s R50 000… then I realised our Southern Africa offices pay R50 per person for parking; not exactly an amount that hurts your pocket. Using that amount it quickly rises to R225 000! In one year: that’s R2.7 million.

And we think we can’t do more to help others?

On the rest of my drive took questions like who builds homes? How do I find them? And who do I speak to? All rolled around in my head.

Simply sharing this idea with colleagues over coffee’s where I got my first break – ‘you should contact Habitat for Humanity’. And so, my relationship with them was born. Distell human resources department didn’t bite, but the Corporate Social Responsibility department, with whom I’d built up a relationship thanks to my work with the Sunflower Fund – did.

They got involved and built two houses which, both times, I was away on business unfortunately.

Opportunities to Think Differently

The Jacob Zuma protests in 2016 made me question how the protests were being conducted, because I saw them creating more of a divide in our country. I asked (didn’t assume) why weren’t black people joining in? A quick response around a tragedy here called Marikana, a mine where 14 miners were shot (unarmed and running away) in the back, again opened my thinking.

There were no protests organised then.

It hit home the hypocrisy around what marches were organised and that the marches against JZ were only because whites were affected by his actions.

I was seeing how its not always what we say, but sometimes what we don’t say that can be as damaging. This made me realise another painful truth on my part.

I’d never spoken to any black person (friends or colleagues) about what life was like under apartheid.

To understand today you must understand your past. “YOUR” as in country not personal. That means talking to people with alternate views and experiences to your own.

Those were some of the most heart breaking and difficult conversations I’ve ever had in my life. I appreciated all of them taking the time to go back and open wounds to share the madness and atrocities they experienced. Its why I wrote ‘South Africans – It’s time to Wake Up’

It wasn’t about trying to make things better for them; it was about opening my eyes to understand why certain protests happen now.

You might not condone an action like burning tyres on highways, but you can understand where its coming from. Instead of replying in ignorance, I now have a conversation with compassion.

None of us are in control of the privileges we are born into.

Was everything easy for my parents? Definitely not. But this is where my false sense of entitlement came from – I compared struggles without fully understanding the varying degrees of struggle.

Struggles of life are vastly different to the struggle against oppression.

Privileges come in many forms and I’ll never forget driving with my mom as a youngster and a man was in a wheelchair working tirelessly up a long hill. He was grimacing, and my mother pointed out how grateful we should be. That, as well as his determination, have stuck with me to this day.

It’s another form of privilege I have and why before every walk I take a moment to be grateful for what I have – my legs that work and are strong enough to hike Table Mountain every day.

Privilege is a word that makes people feel uncomfortable. It’s a word that today implies guilt and shame.

I used to say: ‘can’t we all just stop living in the past and move forwards together’ and now I try put myself in the shoes of those that have been oppressed. How would I feel 24 years on and nothing changed?

Its easy to want to ‘just move on’ when you’re on the right side of privilege.

Instead of feeling guilty or uncomfortable that I have privilege – I now think about how I can use it to empower others.

I can’t change the past; but I can change how I think today to make a better future for all.

It’s not about taking responsibility for Apartheid. Its about taking responsibility for the privileges it afforded me.

It’s amazing what can happen when you decide to stop carrying around negative baggage and decide to recycle it into something useful instead.

His Legacy’s gift to Us All

Together with all the freedom fighters, they gave us a South Africa to be proud of. We almost had a civil war – and came through peacefully. That should be celebrated every day.

We have the most amazing constitution in the world. Be proud of that.

The people of this country have endured some of the biggest atrocities in the world – and their spirit was never broken and are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met on three continents. Just look at how we blew the world away in 2010. The smiles in this country are unparalleled.

You don’t believe we can make a difference? Go to www.365climbs.com and make a R50 donation and challenge everyone you know to do the same – and I promise – I will show you how wrong you are. Your contribution is invaluable.

If this project changes 8 000 peoples lives and each of those go forward and changes another 10 people, and then those people another 10 and another 10 then in 5 generations we have the power to empower 800 million people. That’s fourteen times our current population. You think you can’t impact 10 lives? Join us and be a part of that.

I want a phenomenal country for all that live here. Not just a few.

Imagine if you were living in poverty and got a helping hand out of it.

Final Thought

Asking questions is one of the most powerful forces for long lasting change. I speak from experience.

Instead of making social commentary about what happens in this country – I invite you to ask better questions and then: seek out those who can answer from their experience and not from their opinion.

I hope to see you on the mountain soon.

Nelson Mandela Renaissance Guy Passion

A Week to Remember

365 Ubuntu Climbs Halfway view
After several days in rain and poor visibility – this greeted me on my halfway hike

Week 27 sees me starting on a memorable day – exactly halfway.

182 days behind me.365 Ubuntu Climbs halfway mark

182 days ahead of me. 365 Ubuntu CLimbs halfway mark up

Half way rock’s where my moment takes place (albeit that I must hike back down due to strong icy winds.) It snowed up top this morning but due to constant waves of rain predicted I chose the drier afternoon. After three days in the wet, I can safely say I loved being dry and having a view up top as well. Hard to believe I’ve climbed the equivalent vertical kilometers of 37 Mt Everest’s and raised R226 000. I’m very proud of what has been achieved with the help of all of you.

Interesting thought is that in life, we have no idea of when halfway will be. At any moment we could have less days ahead of us than we’ve got behind us.

I celebrate with two of my favourite ladies – Lisa and Jessie – at Mykonos in Sea Point. My brain still doesn’t compute that I’ve done 183 days (at that point) which is the equivalent of thirty-seven Mt Everest’s. How appropriate too then, that they’ve both done the most number of hikes; Lisa 19 Jessie 13 (at the end of her week here from San Francisco)

There isn’t enough paper in the world to talk about how special these two are and how they define support. Perhaps a chapter dedicated to each in my book is needed.

Wednesday Bonus

Joined by Carrey and her son, the four of us including Jessie on her second consecutive day, end up chatting to a tourist wondering if he’s on the right track.  William is from Holland and three days into his month-long visit.

We welcome him to join us instead of hiking alone. I’m rewarded with his tales of why he chose South Africa and that he spent a month in Nepal the previous year. I might not be able to travel this year, but with all the tourists that have joined me thus far? I feel I’ve been to many distant lands.

At 24 this man already is far wiser than his years.

Sharing his experience of acclimatizing to Nepal’s food, culture, altitude and being alone reminded me of my trip to Iceland and the value of traveling alone. His plan is to get tattoos from each place that speaks to what he learned while there.

His Nepal tattoo is incredible.  Just the story on the tiny village it was done in would be enough. Written in Nepalese, its one of their beliefs: Everyone you meet is superior to you in some way.

Gold nugget: In writing this I’m making notes to do my best to listen (not hear) more to understand what people share instead of just trying to respond with what I already know.

We head to Mojo market for a drink to chat more. San Francisco, Cape Town and Leiden only needing one beautiful thing to connect: our travels.

William enjoying the view on 365 Ubuntu Climbs Hike 185

Non-Profits versus For Profit companies

Jessie, who’s also involved in empowering others around the world by building schools with an organisation called Pencils of Promise, and I head to my dear friends 40th. I pick empty seats next to gents that own a gift store in Cape Quarter called Baraka. Incredibly, this happens to be the store where Jessie bought me gifts last year before she left.

Conversation was great all night and later that evening, one’s whole demeanour changes at the mention of my project and raising money, due to one question: ‘how do I know where the money’s going?’

Excellent question!

Simple answer: always ask – reputable non-profits won’t have any issue sharing all their info.

It’s something I’m trying to instill with people this year; to do their homework. Habitat for Humanity, The Sunflower Fund and One heart are all registered Non-Profits as well as certified with SARS (South African Revenue Service) to provide donors with Section 18A’s – a document that allows you to claim your donation back from the tax you owe.

What’s more interesting though, is where the discussion went after we answered his question. He wasn’t satisfied that not 100% of funds raised always goes to said causes. This baffles me. If 80% of funds raised goes to the cause and 20% to administration costs which allows the organisation to help people, isn’t that great? (Disclaimer here – check with each individual organisation what their percentages are – some guarantee 100% of donations go to their cause)

Why is it we so quick to judge where and what the money’s being used for with non-profits; and yet have no problem with business practices of For Profit companies?

There’ve been some serious abuses of money management in Non-profits, but there’s been just as many cases of fraud and unethical business practices in for profits.

Whether you donate money or buy from a company – is it not fair to say we know both have running costs?

Jessie put it beautifully when she said, ‘we vote with every dollar we spend’.

My wish is we’d hold more companies accountable for their business practices. We forget we have the power. If a company still tests on animals – everyone choosing not to buy their products because of that means they’re out of business.

When faced with deciding whom to donate to, here are some tools to help you separate the cheaters from the world beaters:

  1. Ask for Financials. Reputable companies will have these available for you.
  2. They are vague. Perhaps their websites don’t give too much information about what they do, how they do it, when they started, who the Directors are etc – but that could mean they inexperienced and simply use it as a funnel supplying emails and contact details instead. However, if making contact via these channels is difficult and vague, trust your gut as it will certainly alert you.
  3. Any organisation should be able to supply you with references for what they do. If a charity builds homes; ask for details of where and who received it. Again, if people get uppity with you on the phone to supply this and your gut sounds alarm bells – You have the right to say no. It shouldn’t be difficult to get info like this.

 

I said it twice already but its worth telling you again. Trust your gut.

The reality is we live in a society where scams are something to watch for, but just because one woman cheats on you doesn’t mean the rest will.  If you hear about a non-profit being ‘dodgy’ don’t paint all of them that way.

Be vigilant.

Ask questions.

Vote for a better world with how you spend your money.

See you on the mountain.

If you’d like to invest in 365 Ubuntu’s Project, please click on http://www.365climbs.com and you’ll be kept up to date with who we empower. Stay tuned for our delivery of books to help teach children to read coming up this month at two schools.

Renaissance Guy Andrew Patterson

Hiking and Life’s Connection

Highs and Lows of Life and hiking
Even reaching the top of a hike doesn’t guarantee a view

Week 25 – The parallels of life and hiking

First up – special thanks to Wings Herbal Synergy for sponsoring me with supplements to keep my legs and body in the best health possible. Amazing because they didn’t want a big announcement about it, they are doing it simply because they believe in what I’m doing and want to help. Huge respect to them for that.

Whether hiking or living; you’ll experience highs and lows. The only difference between the two: hiking generally starts at the bottom for you to climb up.

Some days though, you can start extremely high. Recently though, my day started as close to the bottom as you can get with the news of my dear friend Joshua’s death.

Week begins with high and low

Monday the 18th is my grans 94th birthday and Joshua’s funeral in Melbourne. It’s one of those crazy days where you feel two opposite emotions simultaneously.

My gran and family still live in Johannesburg and this is now the longest I’ve gone without seeing her. She’s unable to travel so I’ll only see her again when I’m finished with climbing Table Mountain 365 times this year. I miss her.

Speaking to her before my hike, I can hear the sparkle in her voice as she sat comfortably in her new chair that had arrived earlier. A comfy lazy boy with massage function. Its great to hear her voice and it always leaves me incredibly grateful that at age 38, I have the privilege to speak to her still. Especially on a hard day like this.

Memorial hike

I promised Joshua’s mom and brother I’d hike at the same time his funeral and wake took place so in some small way, I could be ‘present’ from across the oceans. Fittingly, the weather is glum and overcast, almost as if the weather was mourning with us. I took a candle with me to light and sit with his rock. I picked up one on the day of his death to honour him. High winds meant the cable car wasn’t working and I hiked back down.

I chose to sit quietly on Ubuntu rock with the candle fluttering next to ‘Josh’. Amazingly – Ubuntu rock had not a breath of wind for the candle to burn uninterrupted. There we sat. As if inside a cloud, on one of the most recognised mountains in the world. Honouring a beautiful soul that now lives inside all of us that knew him.

He had endured such tragedy this year and I will forever be grateful for his incredible support for my project. I take solace knowing that he found some peace.

With the last quarter of the hike left, the biggest rain drops I can remember since running around in our garden as a child, descended on me. I tried to capture it in a photo to no avail. Felt like the last perfect send off to Josh. Lifting my face up, I felt rain against my face for the first time. Usually the peak of my cap and hood of my jacket serve to shield my face. It was the type of experience I would have jumped on to Whatsapp to tell him about because I knew he’d appreciate that.

Fittingly, the 365 Ubuntu Climbs shirt he wore with such pride went with him.

We all miss you my friend.

My friend Joshua crook supporting 365 Ubuntu Climbs

A break in the weather

In 34 days I’ve only had a view from the top 13 times. In the past 11 days, once. One of the greatest lessons to date is understanding that there’s no bad weather; just bad preparation. Thanks to Cape Union Mart and their brand K-Way – I’m prepared, and I’m kept warm and dry which translates into safe.

The rain pants in particular, are amazing. The day Josh passed I made the mistake of not wearing them and a serious downpour happened in the first twenty minutes. Now they’re on even  if there’s a remote chance of rain.

Rain is glorious news and I get excited every time for it. We’re in the grips of one of the worst droughts Cape Towns had in a century. Our dams collectively, have just squeaked past the 40% full mark. This is why I said at the beginning of the year I hope to hike in rain for 200 days.

You’re probably thinking “Whaaaaaaaaat?!?! Hiking in the rain is dangerous surely??” I think the mountain is more dangerous on clear warm days than on windy rainy days; because people think it’s a playground and don’t pay enough attention and respect to the mountain. Many rocks are slippery even without being rained on. Being in nature requires presence, in every moment and step. I believe injuries come from two things: fatigue and lack of respect.

Even today as I start my 176th hike this year, I pretend it’s my very first one. Every step is closely monitored, and I even check to see what rocks have changed position, look loose and are cracking open/off.

It’s a gift being on the mountain around the time of these storms passing through. To see the mountainside alive and water flowing in the most unexpected places is phenomenal. Summer hikers would walk past without ever thinking twice about a waterfall. What a privilege to get to experience it in every way.

My latest understanding

I was given an opportunity to speak to the South African Property Investors Network (SAPIN) again on day 171 having spoke on day 73. This gave me a unique opportunity to gauge who’d heard me speak then and whether they thought I’d be back having not missed a day on my quest to complete 365.

I admire their honesty, pretty much all of them said no.

I always knew most people would think that way and the only way to build trust is to keep doing what I’m doing. People watch your actions more closely than your words – and rightly so.

I’ve come across many talkers proclaiming to support, and they disappear into the distance like a tumbleweed blown across the desert floor.

These talks give me a great opportunity to share the purpose of climbing a mountain daily: to show the power we have as individuals and collectively when we stand together.

Why donate money at all? Well – having been involved in various projects since my high school days with King Edwards and their KESFAM drives, I can tell you there’s nothing like seeing the gratitude in the eyes of those you empower.

Just because we’re not responsible for others suffering, doesn’t mean we can’t be part of the solution to help them.

I don’t believe in charity – that involves keeping people out of their own power. Working with Habitat for Humanity; One Heart and The Sunflower Fund means we collectively empower those we help to take ownership of their lives.

Empowering those without the means to empower themselves now.

Speaking on Wednesday I realised that most people look at themselves as a Mt Everest of donating. In other words, it must be large sums of money to be meaningful. What they don’t realise is that even Mt Everest isn’t just one mountain: its made up of thousands of individual stairs from base to summit; each stair as important as the next.

Think of yourself as a stair to someone else’s Everest.

If every South African gave me R1 – we’d raise R56 million.

If 50 000 Capetonians donated R30 a month (not even 2 coffees) we’d raise R1.5 million a month

Ask the 2.5 million people in the UK that didn’t bother voting on the Brexit issue if they still feel their vote wasn’t important.

Our power lies in our collective efforts. Don’t ever say “I can only give….” Because your act of giving has the potential to change another human beings’ life.

Just ask each of 365 Ubuntu Climbs donors whether they thought they’d:

  • Add 20 people to the donor registry and potentially save 20 fathers, 20 mothers, 20 friends lives impacting all their families, friends and colleagues;
  • Help two of the largest primary schools in the country teach thousands of children to read and track the children’s progress
  • Help 10 families improve their living conditions to feel safer, warmer and drier.

And we not even half way yet.

Final thought for the week

My 300th climber to join me was Iona this past Saturday and her takeaway was Ubuntu rock and the accumulation of love that makes the walk into a prayer of love, hope and connection.

It was the first time I’ve asked for feedback like that and what an incredible answer to get first up.

Why? Because its what this is all about summed up perfectly. Life’s shorter than you imagine, don’t waste it living in fear. I promise you – I’ve never been more inspired by how much good there is in this world with all the people I’ve met thus far and through all the donations received.

I’m grateful to each and every one of you. Creating a better world requires active citizenry. As Gandi said – be the change you wish to see in the world.

Try it – I’ve never been more fulfilled in my life.

See you on the mountain

Andrew Patterson is hiking Table Mountain every day in 2018 (175/365 completed thus far) to build homes; teach children to read and build a database for Leukaemia. To become part of the Ubuntu Family (ubuntu is the spirit of humanity and compassion towards one another) head over to http://www.365climbs.com share your contribution.

It Comes in Three’s

 

table-mountain-hiking-trails-1511856660-1000X561
Devils Peak (left) Table Mountain (center) Lions Head (right)

Even the most Iconic mountain in the world is part of a trio.

The culmination of April see’s us complete a third of the year.

As I write this, I’ve completed 122 consecutive days hiking up Table Mountain. This gives me a unique opportunity to explore the 3’s that have followed me through the experience to date.

3 MONTHS WITH 3 FULL DAYS HIKING

When I was training last year, my thoughts wandered to “but what happens when people who join aren’t as fit and take an extra 1-2 hours longer?”

I’m almost ashamed to admit that I had plans to have cut off points and politely excuse myself as I continued without them.

Thankfully, sense prevailed.

I quickly realised on the mountain the value of the conversations and an old army saying (even though I never went) rang true: leave no one behind.

The important thing to realise here, is when I was on my own that’s exactly what it was about: me.

When 365 Ubuntu Climbs started, the focus was no longer on me; it was about the people we can empower. Building homes; building a database for Leukemia; building childrens minds by teaching them to read.

The irony is that even with the slower hikes, the longer months (January March and April) have still only yielded a full 3 days of hiking (and some change).

This means everyone who joins has invested in our idea with both time and money.

That deserves every ounce of respect. These are perfect examples.

Craig, having traveled with work almost two weeks away from home, was delayed for three hours on his flight back the night before our planned hike from Durban (2 hour flight): and still joined at 06:30 on a Sunday morning. No excuses.

Jessie, flew half way around the world from San Francisco to support me and hike up seven times in eight days; including the very next day after landing. No excuses.

Lisa, has hiked up with me 13 times; early mornings, cold, and on the second windiest day of the year to date. No excuses.

My sister Caroline, has adrenal fatigue and an under active thyroid. Truth be told, probably should never have climbed with me. Her commitment, willpower and sheer determination to support me pushed her up that mountain. She made it up on day 62. No excuses.

Each of my family members that hike up with me get to choose a rock to represent them. This I keep on Ubuntu rock (13% of the way left to go) and with about 50 stairs left till Ubuntu rock and utterly exhausted – she chose what is now lovingly referred to as ‘MF Rock’. Yup – that’s exactly what MF stands for.

It’s this type of commitment you can’t foresee when you have ideas and why it’s so important to follow your gut when an idea sits well. It’s why doing what you love can only bring you rewards you never dream of. Seeing others put themselves outside their own comfort levels in aid of others? Priceless.

3 TIMES WATCHING THE FULL MOON RISE ON TABLE MOUNTAIN

A blue moon is when we have two full moons in a calendar month.

I watched on the 31st January (second full moon in Jan and first Blue moon month of 2018); the 31st March (second blue moon month in one year – hasn’t happened since 1999 and won’t happen again until 2037) and on the last day of April: the end of my first third of hiking up Table Mountain 365 times (which is why this is even more appropriate)

I’ve wanted to watch the full moon rise at the top of Table Mountain since day one, but my first time relentless wind meant the cable car wasn’t working and I had to hike back down, so watched on my own half way down Platteklip Gorge to avoid hiking in the dark –  where I found my January rock.

       January’s second full moon     April Rock, March, February and January Rock               

March fell over Easter Weekend and I was joined by two special people, Jaclyn and Avril. What I love most about being accompanied up is the fascinating conversations shared about each others experiences in life.

Up top was insanely busy. Intent on not waiting in a mammoth queue, Jaclyn and I hiked back down to my previous spot where, in the ever increasing icy wind, we sat mesmerized by the full moon rising into the dark sky. Our journey to Winter responsible for the darker moon rise.

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The moon peaking its head behind the corner of Table Mountain as we sat huddled about 2/3 up

The 3rd one, Monday the 30th April, was finally at the top. With perfect weather conditions to catch the cable car down, Imogen and I (having lost 3 of our companions) settled up top to enjoy this natural wonder. With the sun setting even earlier, unaware people left around sunset (18:05) and missed the spectacle of seeing the beautiful full moon rising like the sun, while darkness shrouded us above the twinkling city.

April full moon
I truly wish you get to experience this in your lifetime

3 RAINY DAYS IN ONE WEEK

I always knew this was coming.

Like mid year exams looming in the distant future.

I’m exceptionally happy about the rain. We desperately need it – our dams are collectively sitting at 20% full. I’d be happy to hike in 200 days of rain – its all about mindset and dressing correctly plays a massive role in this.

I’ve been blessed to have Cape Union Mart (a South African outdoor, hiking, camping – gear and equipment store) come on board as a sponsor. This means they’ll help me stay dry, warm and safe. It was serendipitous that our meeting happened the day before I hiked up in complete mist (which is as good as being in fine rain) and the week before it rained three times.

The rain means the mountain transforms into a winter wonderland of sound and sight as waterfalls appear in places summer hikers would never conceive of. I consider it a great honour to bear witness to these changes that happen hourly as water collects higher up and rushes towards the ocean, as if in its own ‘rush hour traffic’.

This was highlighted on my second rainy day hike when, after a thunderstorm hit us between 3 and 5am, I expected a bigger rush of water at the start of the hike. Strong winds up top meant the cable car wasn’t operational and so I hiked back down; frozen hands dreaming about the gloves I’ll get from Cape Union Mart for just such future days.

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Yep – the exit is down… down Platteklip Gorge!

Thankfully, my parents sponsored me a proper K-Way rain jacket last year already. When it started raining on the way down I was even more grateful. Well, I say rain, but I didn’t see any water falling to earth. It was more like precipitation seated in Airline Cloud traveling up Platteklip gorge. It was blowing directly into my face. Already warm from ascending 760 vertical meters and on my way back down I felt life flowing through me as life happened all around me.

Every step was as careful as though stepping onto thin cut glass. My Barefoot hikes perfect training for this as I become completely mindful in every step, and lost to anything else happening.

I’m alone on the mountain and I feel absolute peace. Bliss. Gratitude.

Some tourists have started hiking up (with appropriate gear, which is a first) and have just made it to half way as the rain and wind picks up. They turn back wisely, and I see them up top the mountain on day three – ironically also a misty and cold day with rain.

Day three the cable car, however, is working and cold soaked hikers fill the wifi lounge huddled around coffee cups.

Mervi, all the way from Holland with her husband, had heard about me through a friend and pushed on through the rainy bit to experience Table Mountain in a way most people avoid. Her smile at the end echoed her understanding of what she had just achieved.

Once again, the weather had been incorrectly ‘predicted’ and rain slammed into our faces  at the top. Having hiked back down the previous day my heart sat heavy at the prospect of the cable car being closed. This wasn’t in the script for Mervi’s hike up and, conscious of time, hoped it worked for them to do more exploring in Cape Town. Thankfully, that wasn’t a problem and we were able to enjoy a fantastic lunch at The Roundhouse where they spoiled me.

Here’s to the next 122 days

For the first time in my life, I’m creating my own adversity instead of waiting for it to happen to me. Reading this and my previous blogs this year gives you a snippet into the support I receive to make this possible.

I’m not doing this alone.

This happens because of my family, close friends, new friends and even strangers messages on social media’s support. Together we understand that this is about a greater purpose: empowering those without the means to empower themselves (yet)  – this is how I’ve climbed over 366 000 stairs.

Never underestimate the power your positive words of encouragement has on the recipient.

Ever.

This post is dedicated to all the people that have donated and the 215 people that have hiked up with me to date. Together we are making Madiba proud.

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Andrew Patterson has embarked on an ambitious project in 2018 to climb Table Mountain 365 times. This is all in aid of raising money and awareness for three organizations:
  • The Sunflower Fund – building a database for Leukemia
  • Habitat for Humanity – building homes for those living in poverty
  • One Heart – helping under resourced schools teach children to read.
To pledge your support and invest in this project visit: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs

 

 

How are Your NY Resolutions going?

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Milestones seem to be raining down on me this week – hopefully a great omen for a water strapped Western Cape this winter.

It’s incredible to think what’s transpired in two years since I started writing my blog; never mind the fact that I pledged to hike Table Mountain 365 times this year and as it stands: just this past week I hit triple digits for consecutive days (none missed) hiked up Table Mountain and successfully hosted my first ever fundraising event. To date:

  • 108 consecutive days hiked up Table Mountain
  • 53 days alone
  • 55 days taking 206 people up with me
  • R176 000 raised to build a home; teach a child to read and give someone with leukaemia a second chance at life
  • 682 km of hiking with 73km just vertical climbing (equivalent of 20.5 Mt Everest Summits)
  • 186 567 Calories burned, the equivalent of 2 248 glasses of wine

That second last stat is the one that doesn’t compute the most. Which leads me to my very first lesson I’ve learned these past few months.

    1. One day at a time, step by step

Goals can become overwhelming. Work or personal. What’s important is the daily action you take and thereby focus on. I’m not going to lie – 100 consecutive days hiking still seems daunting and outside the realm of reality; never mind the fact I still have 257 days left. However, now that I have 100 under my belt I have no doubt I’m going to achieve it because I have a formula that’s proven.

Breaking targets down into smaller bite size chunks is what will get you through.

  1. Be Open to the Unexpected

Rain, Lightening storms, gale force winds, fire, sore throats, people feeling sick (and being sick) on the mountain – there are no guarantees. I have a plan B and C in place for such days and thankfully, haven’t had to execute them.

Ask for the best

Plan for the worst

Be ready for anything

All these three mindsets require one important aspect: planning.

  1. Swap Expectation for Appreciation.

While training last year I thought anyone taking longer than two hours going up meant I’d have to walk up without them for my sanity.

My perceived value: was getting to the top.

Then I started my challenge and that all changed. I began to naturally fall into a rhythm of walking with whomsoever at the back. That’s when something extraordinary happened to me: incredible conversations flowed.

I understood people donating and choosing to hike up 730 vertical meters for a cause greater than ourselves is the real value of 365 Ubuntu Climbs. THAT’s what this is all about.

Individuals pushing their own boundaries and physical capabilities is the order of the day.

I appreciate every single person that’s joined me on this journey.

GPUU4656Dexter’s (far left) first time and it rained the whole way up – no complaints once!

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International guests from the UK Joining
  1. Time is not an Excuse

Many people have asked “what do you do???” or “how do you work” because of the perceived time spent hiking on Table Mountain. I even had a gent recognise me on the mountain and proclaim “I wish I was retired to join you”. Simply put, even WITH 40% of my monthly hikes being double the time I’d take if I was always on my own – I’m only hiking 10% of a month.

That’s 3 full days.

Let’s say you sleep on average 8 hours a day that equates to 10 days. That means hiking AND sleeping adds to 13 days combined. We’ll use February which only has 28 days to prove the point. IF you work 8 hours a day that’s 7 days. We’ve just hit 20 days and you still have 8 24-hour days to do what you want.

What I’m saying here is what you prioritise you will achieve.

There are no excuses.

If you have a family, that will be your priority and it will demand your time. Point is – you have time for your family because it’s a priority.

Be honest about the real reasons you not following your gut and passions.

Time is not it an excuse.

  1. Keep. It. Simple.

Spending time in nature means I observe it. The ability of flowers to grow out of cracks in cliff faces; vegetation staying green through a drought; flowers lasting three days (pink flower to right). If you want to grow – grow!

Life. Finds. A way. You can too.

Fire burns old vegetation so new seeds can prosper. There’s no good or bad it just is.

I’ve subsequently come to the decision on the mountain that, for me, there’s no such thing as bad.

What I thinks ‘bad’ today, in 6 months time becomes the best thing that ever happened to me.

The Sunflower Fund – an organisation designed to help other families not suffer the death of a loved one – was born from one sons death. It’s a tragedy beyond epic proportions for a mother; yet so many families since then have loved ones because she acted on her experience.

The ‘bad’ I see that is disturbing? Is good peoples apathy in life.

Unintended consequences

One thing you’ll never be able to predict, is the unintended consequences of you taking action. The incredible people you’ll meet – many wanting to help you. The inspiring conversations you’ll have. The lessons you’ll learn along the way, particularly about yourself and how you view life.

Life is a continuous flow whereby we’re constantly developing. No one got to the top of the mountain just standing there thinking about it. None of us have the answers first time, the ones that can share their successes are the ones that took that first step and kept going. No matter what.

The question is – how bad do you want it?

It can be scary as all hell but that’s just because its like standing in front of a dark room before you flip the switch.

I’m telling you from experience.

Flip the switch.

MOtivation

Focus on the Journey

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The journey of life has infinite experiences – and yet we tend to focus on a finite amount of them.

Destinations have somehow become the focus; and that’s as good as looking forward to death.

My path in the last eight months has given me great insights into what happens when you shift your focus to the journey and the path versus the end result or destination.

Climbing a mountain has a result of getting to the top and experiencing a phenomenal view; but that only happens when you climb the path to get there. The experience is in enjoying what the path has to offer. How different it is as you start compared to half way. Absorbing the changes in vegetation and elation.

There’s a difference between taking a 5-minute cable car to the top and seeing first-hand the layers that make up the mountain in a one hour hike.

Giving back

One of the aims of climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 is to use it as a platform to raise money and awareness for those born into far more challenging circumstances than you and me. I’m working to empower one million peoples lives and that requires a lot of support and money to raise.

That brought many limiting self-beliefs to the forefront. One of which has been my hopes of always finding that ‘one big win’. Waiting for the lottery of life to land me my big break.

I had that exact hope for this challenge. I was introduced to a connected and wealthy philanthropic individual that I could see help me explode this across the world making it a huge success. Reflecting on my pinned hope showing no interest at all, means I now understand something very important. Had he jumped on board so early on: I wouldn’t have been learning what I am now about building this support network. I wouldn’t be focused on one avenue and be thinking about new ways to get the message out there. I’m not sure I’d be meeting the incredible people I am as well as being grounded in what a gift it is for them to come into my path.

Being taught to read instead of being read to.

The greater the lessons we learn the better equipped we are to empower others. My experiences are becoming far more valuable than my degree.

By not getting what we want – we get exactly what we need.

I certainly got what I needed by starting on zero instead of 90%.

They say you need to set goals so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can. How true that is, and what they don’t mention is how much fun it is learning all the new skills and meeting all the new people to help you get there.

Things I may never have experienced if my ‘knight in shining armour’ had rode in on day one.

When things don’t work out exactly as you want stop worrying why, trust the process and smile knowing that all will be revealed at some point. You don’t need to see the oxygen in the air that’s helping you live – just be the lungs that breathe in the air never doubting its filled with oxygen.

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain (Cape Town) every day in 2018. His aim is to raise money and awareness to positively empower 1 million South Africans born into more challenging circumstances than ourselves. He’s doing this by channeling the money raised to

Habitat for humanity to build homes

– One heart for kids to help under resourced schools teach children to read

The Sunflower Fund to build a bigger database for Leukaemia

To be part of this movement DONATE HERE:

https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs

do for others

Putting the Shoe on the Other Foot

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There are many people ‘climbing’ their own personal mountains daily.

Today I want to transport you into the world of three people and what life is like for them; feel their daily climb.

The big difference: they can’t see the summit like an ordinary mountain so have no idea how much further there is to go.

The purpose isn’t to make anybody feel bad; nor guilty. These are wasted emotions and are signs you’re focusing on the wrong part of the equation. In fact, you should feel inspired and full of hope. The smallest actions combined with consistency can transform lives, landscapes and entire generations.

Sticking your head in the sand is one of the reasons people feel so isolated and disconnected. It’s better to know the truth and feel empowered to do something about it; than pretend nothing’s wrong and keep doing what you doing (because you can’t hide from truth no matter how isolated you make yourself)

We’re all one and working together for the benefit of all mankind is crucial and it’s where our path to ultimate peace starts.

You doubt donating R50 a month will make a difference? I’d like to put the shoe on the other foot and at the end – you tell me if that still rings true.

The following three stories all take place on the same day from different perspectives.

The Cursed Blessing

Having been in the grip of a terrifying water shortage, you’d think that the onset of Cape Town’s rainy season would be welcomed by everyone. This Tuesday saw the fifth straight day of torrential rain as the second massive cold front battered the cape of good hope.

Good hope.

That’s all Jackie was holding onto as strong winds decimated shacks all around her in the Joe Slovo informal settlement, an area with roughly 146 000 ‘houses’ – none of which have their own toilets or running water. Everything is communal.

With torrential rain and gusts of wind whipping through the shacks a simple task of going to the toilet becomes extremely dangerous dodging missiles.

These storms always bring fresh fears of flooding and destruction to these fragile homes. While those living in standard homes made of brick dance in the streets, Jackie’s street is starting to look more like an offshoot of the Atlantic ocean – with every centimeter of water rising, her heart beat rises in unison.

With such few valuables already, losing more yet again feels like a cruel punishment with no crime.

How I would give anything for four sturdy walls around me right now.

On Death Row committing No Crime

Jack used to whoop with joy when it rained like this. Back in the days when he could put on his wellys and splash about in the streets celebrating one of the planets ingredients for life: water.

Those days feel an age away. Isolated in his hospital room, his only ‘access’ to the outside world for the past few months have been his window, tv and visitors allowed in one at a time.

Your body’s at it’s most vulnerable during treatment of leukaemia and the greatest threat is infection of any kind. Quarantine starts to feel more like prison than treatment.

Being cooped up in a single room was starting to take its toll on Jack and thoughts of whether a final walk down the corridor to death was not an easier option, started drifting into his head. This was no way to ‘live’. Even though he felt weak from all the medication and treatments – he would give anything to be outside. Feel the rain against his skin. Smell the freshness in the air. See water flowing on the streets instead of down his window.

If only I could be outside.

A Dire Future

While rain was relieving many peoples panic of the immediate future, Jessica’s thoughts were further down the line.

Her daughters adult life.

She may have be watching her play outside but her thoughts were rooted in the future.

Every parent wants the absolute best for their children. Especially when it comes to education. Jessica grew up in a time when, just because of the colour of your skin, you were dictated to get the bare minimum in education. She vowed that would never happen to her daughter.

She was feeling distressed as barely a few weeks into her daughters schooling the teachers hadn’t received any materials to start teaching the children to read. No books. No educational material. Nothing.

Panic gripped her heart as the teacher looked dejectedly up at her from behind her glasses. Like dying of thirst with nothing but sea water around.

She felt like she’d been preparing for a tennis match only to arrive and being told you playing water polo.

By some small miracle – if only the school had help to teach all these children to read.

…………………………………………………..

You just read that. In fact, 80% of children in South Africa at grade 4 level can’t read this. THAT. Does not bode well for our future.

What kind of workforce will we have in twenty odd years?

Just because we are not responsible for the problems of today does not mean we can’t help with the solutions of tomorrow.

I learned this recently which, I think, is important to remember. Past mistakes (no matter how far back) give us clues as to what lies in wait for our future.

Most people know the story of the Great Library at Alexandria; it rivaled our modern day internet with knowledge and scrolls from every corner of the globe – a truly impressive collection: for the few.

Maybe most of you know it was burnt? How many know it was set alight by the masses kept out from the library? Excluded from having access to all the knowledge at that time?

Knowledge is and should be free to all to have access to. Educated minds are inquiring minds.

I don’t know about you but I want to live in a country where everyone has the freedom to expand their minds – just by picking up a book.

We can help make this happen together.

I want to live in a country where we do everything we can to provide people with the basic right to safety and access to their own toilets.

We can make that a reality together.

I want to live in a country where everybody is a donor for leukaemia (and organ donors too!) to help those who contract the disease have a second chance at life.

Now – tell me with certainty R50 a month doesn’t make a difference?

Be part of the movement.

Believe.

Giving

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 to do his part for social upliftment. Building homes with Habitat for Humanity; Empowering schools with One Heart for Kids and increasing the Leukaemia database with The Sunflower Fund. There is no amount too small (whatever number you thinking about imagine the other thousands of readers thinking the same thing – it adds up quickly) You can pledge your support at:

https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs

The World Needs more Doers

Well done

We live in a time when access to people all around the globe and information is as easy as opening an app on our phones. Thinking about nationalities is a dying breed – we’re all global citizens now.

While there’s a lot of negativity around the use of mobile phones and how society is being turned into ‘walking zombies’; I believe they’re still important.

It’s not the device that’s the problem; it’s how we decide to let it run our lives that is.

Anything in excess is bad; it’s why it’s vitally important for children to be educated about balance.

So should we adults not be educating ourselves about balance as well?

Times change so rapidly, most people prefer to ignore the change and pretend it’s not happening; but just as tax lawyers and accountants need to keep current with changes every year – so too do we need to keep up with changes in the modern world. In fact, we should be proactive about what the future holds.

Ignorance is not an excuse.

Every person on this planet is responsible for themselves: their happiness; their successes; their character. When we blame others for our circumstances we give away the one thing that’s our prized possession – our power.

Yes, people are born into more challenging circumstances than our own, granted, and that’s where the onus is on us born into an ‘easier’ life to work together for the betterment of all humankind.

The reality is, no one’s guaranteed an easy path in life. How many people with tons of money end up in worse positions than they started in? Or are just plain miserable? That’s because there’s a word lacking in today’s culture that people should ultimately be striving for:

Fulfillment. The feeling of being happy and satisfied. A full heart filling the mind.

We could die at any moment. That’s a fact. In that moment before you leave this earth you’ll have a chance to think about everything you wanted to achieve and how completing them made you feel; then – and in that final moment. Why wait when you can imitate that right now?

Take a moment to reflect how you feel at this exact moment about your life.

I’m sure you’re thinking about moments you were doing something. Taking action on what you love. Things your heart told you to follow.

Not what you had thought about.

Most of us confuse being busy with being a doer. Hiding behind a screen or keyboard definitely does not make you a doer.

Where can you start?

My dramatic shift in life happened when I made a decision based out of love; and not fear. When I started listening to my heart and allowed synchronicity to show me the power of doing just that. When I chose retrenchment rather than a paycheck to pursue something greater.

You don’t have to wait until something dramatic happens to you. Read books from people who have done just that and taken action on their dreams and learn from them. Don’t just be inspired – be inspired to act. Understand that even pursuing your dreams brings uncertainty and doubt around ‘should I carry on?’. Am I terrified about my new path? Absolutely. But boy am I excited about my future like never before.

Watch interviews with Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, JK Rowling. Find as many as you need until you understand this one major principle:

They all took action and listened to their hearts and kept trusting their gut (intuition).

What can you do to move into the ‘doing’ heart space? Think about:

1. How many ideas have you had this past week and how many have you acted upon?

2. Write down who your closest people are and whether they are talkers or doers?*

3. Who/What do you follow on social media? Are they positive role models on taking action?

4. Do you write down the ideas you have? Places you want to see? People you want to meet?

*I’ll tell you a secret that makes this easy to spot. Start becoming a doer and you’ll rapidly see who the talkers are around you.

Create accountability.

Put a marker down detailing when you’d like to achieve something, that way the years don’t continue to roll by.

I remember wanting to visit New York. It was one of three major cities that, for some reason, I always wanted to see. The other two were Paris and Rome, cities I ticked off in one European vacation back in 2005.

I’d never put down when I wanted to see New York and in 2012 – still had no plans in place. Enter the universe giving me a kick up the pants and one of the happiest phone calls I could ever receive:

“Andrew – I’m engaged, we plan on getting married in July next year and I want you to be my best man”

This was one of my great friends, Koos living in Aberdeen South Dakota, USA.

I’d never dream of missing his wedding, never mind miss an opportunity at such an honour. I agreed without hesitation and immediately, put plans in place to spend three weeks in the states and – you guessed it – stop over in New York.

Lessons from Travelling.

That stick in the ground gave me the impetus to make it happen. To plan the length of my stay and how much I’d need. To this day, it’s one of my all time greatest holidays and I learned some valuable lessons about travelling:

1. It’s the best opportunity to follow your heart every day and explore where it takes you. I’ve never been lead astray. In fact, my best experiences are the unplanned days doing this.

2. Three weeks is a great length holiday to maximise the long haul flights.

3. Splitting it into three equal weeks, doing something different in each is also a great way to maximise seeing what you want to. I.e. a week in New York gave an opportunity to fully immerse myself in the culture and city itself.

4. Poor exchange rates are just an excuse – you always find a way to make it work.

My challenge to you: Pick the top destination you’d love to see before you die. Depending on how far it is, decide the length needed to maximise the experience – and book a date now!

One of the best feelings in the world is the build up of anticipation before your trip. A month out; a week out; a day out; the moment your bum hits the seat in the aircraft – its all like being a child on Christmas eve again.

These are feelings you’ll never forget and fuel your excitement and enthusiasm for life. It gives us an understanding of tapping into our ultimate humanity.

I carry these memories with me up the mountain, making me smile at every step no matter what the weather or discomfort I may be in. Even better, I’m meeting people in Cape Town from the countries/cities I’ve visited and we share our travel stories while immersed in the beauty of one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Travel stories connect us on another level where words need not be spoken – the twinkle in our eyes says it all.

The funny thing is, once you start down the path of listening to your heart and becoming a doer – its a fantastically slippery slope and ‘doing’ happens without needing to motivate it any more.

You have a thought born out of feeling.

You put plans into action.

Then you speak about it.

That’s how you change your world. And then?

That’s how you change the world.

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain every day for a year, in an effort to rally global citizens and positively empower a million people in 2018. To get involved click here:

https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs

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2018 – Start the Way You Want to Finish

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We’re already a week in to 2018 and boy has it kicked off in style.

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My very first step

The saying ‘the longest journey always begins with the first step’ has never been more appropriate for me than 04:33am on January 1st when I began my year long journey to make a positive impact for those born under more challenging circumstances than us.

What that saying never talks about though, is the support that others will give you on that journey. I had the absolute pleasure of being cheered on by my mom and Aunty San via my sports tracking app Endomondo as they were both awake in support and incredibly; met by this amazing human being at 04:15 before I started:

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What a legend – David Thompson (left)

To have somebody: Meet me. In the dark. On New Years day. At 4am in the morning.

Thats special.

It meant I started the journey of a million stairs with miscued high fives (it was dark okay!) massive hugs and sleepy smiles. In my book – I couldn’t have asked for a better start.

Why start so early? I hear you asking… well, I felt it was perfect way to begin 2018; watching sunrise at the top of the mountain. It would’ve been easy to go out partying sleep in and hike in the afternoon; but this is a year of focus and dedication and you should always start with your best foot forward.

I wasn’t even guarenteed with a view of sunrise as we were blessed with rain the previous day. As the light of dawn started to illumiate my path above, I saw Platteklip gorge, the route I’ll be taking every day for a year, blanketed in mist at the top. A mystical sight, but not boding well for a sunrise view.

I arrived up top to the mist having cleared – then reappearing below me – and the clouds above Table Mountain dancing in the wind. They parted for just enough time to allow me the opportunity as our first sunrise of 2018 appeared. All alone at the top, the same feeling I’d experienced the previous year in Iceland washed over me.

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We have the most incredible home

My first summit was complete. 1 down. 364 to go. (check out my blog here to read more about my 2018 challenge)

One week in and I already have donations coming in from around the world:

– ICELAND: I met Huni at JT Foxx’s Mega Success conference in November where he promised to support and has already followed through and I have no doubt will join me on some hikes later in the year too. He’s another amazing human being that I have no doubt will feature in more blog posts.

– NEW ZEALAND: Melanie Davey, whom I’ve never met, took the time to email me the most incredible letter of support and appreciation for my project. Words that reminded me how powerful they can be and that we need to be more mindful of what we say to others: and ourselves.

USA: Greg and Therese were hiking up on the Thursday with their daughter before the headed back to Denver a couple days later. They’d been chatting to my friend Achmat, a man who completed 131 Table Mountain climbs in 2017 and did 7 hikes in a row last week too. Walking up to them I was greeted with massive smiles and they wanted to know more about the purpose behind the 365 consecutive hikes. Upon hearing my desire to build homes; help teach children to read and increase the database for leukeamia they hunted me down on the net and found my blog to get in touch and pledge their support too.

If you haven’t guessed it yet the support has gone from a snowflake to a snowball the size of my hand getting bigger with every step I take.

6 January 2018

Enter my coach, Karel Vermeulen. We’ve only just joined forces but already his influence on my business ideas and suggestions for 365 UbuntuClimbs is being felt. All people who donate and/or help me increase the reach on social media to hit our audacious target are invited to climb up with me on one or more of the climbs; it’s a great way for people to be part of it more than just donating. They’ll forever be in history as they’re remembered in day X of 365.

Karel lets me know he’s planning on joining me and invites his friends to join on the morning of his birthday. Due to rain we move it forward to the Saturday morning instead. I’m doing videos up top every day and after we’d finished he suddenly requested Lezelle to do another one of us together.

My heart overflowed with his words and his additional pledge of R5000 over and above his donation of R1 per day; my minimum request for people to sponsor me as I undertake this grueling challenge.

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Karel (3rd from right) Lezelle (2nd from right)

Enter a chat with Lezelle post the video where she shares this experience and being part of 365 UbuntuCLimbs (her first time and the first group joining) is in her top three lifetime “awesome” experiences. She smiles as she states: “I am one of the million people you aiming to empower this year and I feel motivated for 2018”

Feeling absolutely pumped up from this, I head home where I had a catch up meeting with another new friend created through the JT Foxx organisation; Carolyne Opinde a.k.a the NGO Whisperer.

Hot tip: if you want to dramatically improve your network, head to one of the many JT Foxx events this year. There are a thousand plus motivated successful positive people attending for you to connect with.

My catch up with Carolyne leaves me feeling even more motivated and inspired with actions to complete this week. Embarking on an audacious project like this means I’ve inadvertently created a company (non-profit) which keeps me busy: learning, growing, implementing, taking action.

Interestingly I’ve created a full year working program with no days off; but importantly I get to spend two plus hours a day in nature. And truthfully, having the opportunity to execute this is far beyond what we define as work. I’m having a tremendous amount of fun!

Sometimes you might feel overawed by an idea you have or a task you need to complete. These can all be broken down into bite size chunks. 365 sounds a lot; focusing on the one I need to do today sounds much more manageable doesn’t it? Doing 3000 stairs in one go seems immense yes? Focusing on just the very next step means before you know it – you’ve completed a quarter of the climb; half the climb; the whole climb. Whatever you tackle in life:

It’s one step at a time.

To pledge your support please go to:

https://www.backabuddy.co.za/365-ubuntuclimbs

every little bit helps – just ask the people who’s lives you’re helping change.

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