What is the best way to Honor the lives lost in the COVID-19 pandemic?

Respect. Honor. Remembrance.

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” – World Health Organization.

This post is challenging because I know how emotionally charged COVID-19 is, primarily due to the devastation felt by so many. It’s difficult to separate noise from the truth these days – so I listen to my gut as I evaluate what people say and how their actions speak to that. What does someone stand to gain from what they’re sharing? Is there any conflict of interest?

We’re over a year into the pandemic now – which allows us to examine data to remove uncertainty around ‘what ifs.’ This is critical to take emotion out of our thinking as we make informed decisions on how to move forward.

This article serves to expand the scope of understanding and alleviate any fear built up around this virus and ‘opening up.’

Setting the Stage with Context

I’m saddened by the breakdown of “trusted” sources incapable of exploring all the possibilities, especially with anything contrary to the main narrative of COVID-19. I admit, being at the epicenter in New York as it turned into a ghost of its usual self last year, I was gravely concerned. For loved ones, and humanity at large. It immediately spilled into my behavior, cleaning every item from the grocery store before packing it away.

At that stage with fear circulating about the potential death rate of COVID-19, my biggest fear grew: what about people living in shacks where social distancing isn’t an option?

As it stands, 2.9* million souls have died. That’s 2.9 million families, friends, colleagues, partners mourning a loved one. My deepest sympathies go out to each of them – especially as funerals and gatherings have been stripped from them too.  

Death is deeply personal, painful, and tragic. Never in history has our mortality been forced onto our radar simultaneously around the world. In most western culture’s death is taboo, not spoken about, never mind thought of as part of our journey.

That’s another topic entirely – but necessary to put context into our fear currently.

I applaud everyone’s genuine concern and desire to reduce deaths; however, taking a meta-view around what the lockdowns are doing has created one wish:

Can the care we exhibit to save people’s lives, be equally shown for the quality of people’s lives?

Growing up in South Africa exposed me to the reality of poverty. It’s heartbreaking. The exposure has entrenched a deeper perspective to evaluate decisions made in society more broadly and to think about its impact.

Like lockdowns.

This is where it starts getting a bit uncomfortable, maybe even heated for some. As it should! These are tough conversations to wrap our minds around, but it’s necessary to evaluate all sides, after all – isn’t that how we come to the best solutions?

I get suspicious when Facebook and YouTube start ‘deciding’ what’s suitable for us to hear and censor conversations contrary to the current narrative – like the fact that vitamin C is shown to help not just with coronavirus – but all colds and flu. Please take the time to listen to Dr. Andrew Saul talk about this censorship and details the benefit of vitamin C to save lives.

Life.

Possibly the most sacred word that encapsulates this precious gift our experience on this gorgeous planet truly is. This interview comes from someone that values it deeply – I don’t feel the same from mainstream media or governments. Shouldn’t we gladly embrace anything (no matter how simple it may appear) that saves lives?

I do wonder whether the heightened fear-based reactions to this pandemic has a deeper meaning, is it less about dying – and rather the confrontation about how we’re living? What we’re not doing with our life now?

The fear of a life unlived?

I certainly haven’t done everything I should’ve at this point in my life. I’m not immune to the human condition of failing to live up to my capabilities. Death is a reminder about why it’s necessary to work through blockages and live according to my beliefs and values. Knowing I will die – is why my focus is measuring how many people get an opportunity to use their life to express their talents?

I’ve always had a fatalistic view of life from as young as I can remember, but one traumatic event cemented this way of thinking.  

At 23, armed robbers stormed the store I was working in and robbed us. I couldn’t help notice his hand holding the gun shaking.

The first accidental shot fires off – ricocheting off the floor into my colleague’s leg. Moments later, the second shot fires off – bouncing off the floor and passing through my trouser material, narrowly missing my leg.

Next, he raised the gun – I didn’t wait to see if it was aimed at my head. I lifted my arms and bowed my head in submission – waiting for the third gunshot, wondering where it could hit me and survive.

It never came.

I could just as easily have been killed that day.

That day showed me how little control I have over what happens to me, and I started saying ‘yes’ to life more than I said ‘no.’ That created 18 years’ worth of ‘bonus’ experiences: the opportunity to experience living in the U.K. and USA, live in major cities like London, Cape Town, San Francisco, and New York; countless friends made, love shared & found with my wife, beauty felt. Almost gone in one moment.

Building an Awareness around our Outrage

Since then, my journey has incrementally developed my understanding of the lack of equal opportunities in South Africa, and frankly, throughout the world. This brings me to my wish: the quality of people’s lives.

Why does this matter?

Well – I see rage and judgment expressed about masks but is that rage expressed about people living in poverty?

We need to be honest with ourselves – In February, at the peak of the pandemic, the daily deaths worldwide were 17,704 – compare that to 10,000 children dying from starvation every day.

25,000 if you include adults.

Please read that again.

UNICEF estimates an additional 130 million people threatened by starvation through lockdowns, with an additional 150 million people pushed into extreme poverty.

I understand why the outrage is unequal – if I don’t experience it, why would it be a priority?

The reality is we have as much inequality in outrage – as we do in wealth.

I have no issue with outrage – as long as it’s not just focused on what affects your privileges. It’s easy to be outraged when we have the bandwidth to contemplate it; most people impacted by the decisions being made have no bandwidth – they’re just trying to survive and feed their families.

We are not responsible for a human being’s suffering – but we can be part of the solution to change their life once today.

We mustn’t get bogged down in comparing life’s challenges – but being aware is essential to provide context to our outrage and think about what we choose to chastise others over publicly. Is [insert outrage topic] really the standards we should hold ourselves accountable to? I understand how complicated it is to teach children on Zoom – I’ve seen it. Yet there are families without books, never mind laptops, for their children to learn.

There are 1.6 billion children out of school because of worldwide lockdowns. I imagine the quality for the majority of children learning online dropped dramatically too. Having spoken to my friend that teaches – the quantity of work just to get by is staggering.

I wonder how many ‘thank yous’ they’ve received? If you’re reading this take this as my highest gratitude for your service.

I also have the utmost respect for parents juggling work, homeschooling, stress, emotions, partners, and more. I can understand, too, if parents’ outrage is fueled by having no bandwidth to process the current circumstances. Life is unbelievably complex at the moment.

It’s an unbelievably tough situation we find ourselves in; everyone deserves our respect as we collectively mourn the loss of loved ones.

Let’s start thinking about how we honor their memories and the sacrifice these souls have made going forward. It’s time for compassion.

How do we honor those that have died from COVID-19?

I heard a beautiful purpose-led discussion with Dr. Zach Bush on the Rich Roll podcast initially aired a year ago, on March 26th, 2020. His heartfelt hope-filled epilogue directed at nurses, doctors, and practitioners on the front lines succinctly encapsulates the spirit of what I’d love us to embody:

“Life is something much greater than human. Life is a gift. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of the loss, and get better at acknowledging the gain of a life well-lived. This was a person that loved, it’s a person that has created in their lifetime. ….. a state of being that is free of fear, let them be part of the message that this virus is trying to teach us. Let them know that it is not in vain, that we will learn from this, that we have taken too many steps away from our purpose, our real nature, our real potential. Let them know that they are part of the rise of consciousness on the planet and not the collapse of biology. 

Yes, this disease is killing people. Yes, we want to protect as many people as possible – but there are alternatives that aren’t born from fear.

Let’s stop trying to box everything as right or wrong. We can simultaneously hold two opposing views: this virus creates suffering through death, and it causes suffering through lockdowns. There are over 40 million new jobless claims as thousands of small businesses close and people’s ability to earn a living is shattered.

The speed at which this virus spread across the world has shown us how connected we truly are – we can use that to spread positivity just as quickly.

Let’s break down lockdowns, asymptomatic spreading, and our own immune system as a start.

LOCKDOWNS

If lockdowns worked – the truth is we wouldn’t be in this position today. A detailed open letter to the FBI has been put together from ten prominent figures regarding lockdowns’ validity (and criminality).

We are writing this letter to request that a federal investigation be commenced and/or expedited regarding the scientific debate on major policy decisions during the COVID-19 crisis. In the course of our work, we have identified issues of a potentially criminal nature and believe this investigation necessary to ensure the interests of the public have been properly represented by those promoting certain pandemic policies.

This document is compiled by Michael Senger (lawyer), Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding (he has extensive knowledge in trading with China) Sanjeev Sabhlok, Ph.D. (from India), and Maajid Nawaz (political activist & the founding chairman of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank that seeks to challenge the narratives of Islamist extremists) to name a few.

The full article (a 69-minute read) is available here for you to see the detail they provide to back up each point in their investigation. Namely:

  • Evidence about the origin and historical precedent of lockdowns;
  • The scientific literature and debate behind them;
  • The provenance and quality of predominant COVID-19 testing protocols and models;
  • The motivations, biases, and qualifications of confident prominent lockdown supporters; and
  • The source of public-facing communications surrounding these policies.

Re lockdowns, they say:

“Not only are lockdowns historically unprecedented in response to any previous epidemic or pandemic in American history, but they are not so much as mentioned in recent guidance offered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). Judge Stickman continues:

“Indeed, even for a ‘Very High Severity’ pandemic (defined as one comparable to the Spanish Flu), the guidelines provide only that ‘CDC recommends voluntary home isolation of ill persons,’ and ‘CDC might recommend voluntary home quarantine of exposed household members in areas where novel influenza circulates.’ This is a far, far cry from a statewide lockdown”

This begs the question as to why all governments have been so quick to implement this?

ASYMPTOMATIC SPREADING

One of my biggest worries (and I imagine all of ours) was this notion that we could feel fine, have the virus, and spread it to loved ones and possibly those that are elderly or immune-compromised. Not only has this never been the case with any virus in history, but ALL the data ‘supporting’ this comes from China. No other country has been able to replicate this scientific analysis.

DATA ON CONSEQUENCES OF LOCKDOWNS

“Data from the website yelp.com has shown that over 60% of business closures during the COVID-19 crisis are now permanent, amounting to more than 97,000 businesses lost in the U.S. Nearly half of black-owned small businesses have been wiped out. Unemployment in the United States reached as high as 14.7% and highways jammed with thousands of vehicles awaiting their turn at food banks. Nearly 5% of the United Kingdom population went hungry during the first three weeks of lockdown.”

If governments are so concerned about helping minorities – enforcing prolonged lockdowns is clearly counterintuitive.

INCREASE IN SUICIDE

“In Japan, government statistics show suicide claimed more lives in October than Covid-19 has over the entire year to date.

And, despite being at virtually no risk from COVID-19, as a result of lockdowns, children have suffered the most of all. Nearly one in four children living under COVID-19 lockdowns, social restrictions, and school closures are dealing with feelings of anxiety, with many at risk of lasting psychological distress. In recent surveys of children and parents in the U.S., Germany, Finland, Spain, and the U.K. by Save the Children, up to 65% of the children struggled with feelings of isolation.

Children’s health and intellectual development have regressed.”

We are going to have to work very hard with our youth to manage their mental well-being.

Their conclusion finishes with a chilling understanding about why we all go along with it:

“For the general public, the idea that anyone might accept some outside incentive to support such devastating policies while knowing them to be ineffective — needlessly bankrupting millions of families and depriving millions of children of education and food — is, quite simply, too dark. Thus, the public supports lockdowns because the alternative — that they might have been implemented without good cause — is a possibility too evil for most to contemplate. But those who know history know that others with superficially excellent credentials have done even worse for even less.”

This is why it’s incumbent of us to speak up and share these facts with people still scared by a narrative that stands behind ‘back the science’ – but has failed to provide a report what that science is as this.

IMMUNE SYSTEM

I am not a medical doctor. In no way am I giving medical advice – I’m a concerned citizen who researches this information to share. It’s for you to ask your doctor and make your own decision.

I posted the link to the video on Vitamin C and how anything on Facebook or YouTube related to natural remedies was hidden, suppressed, censored. Why?

Why would something cheap, easy to do, and SAVES LIVES be suppressed like this??

Sadly, the main driver looks like money. What has a more significant margin – a vaccine or a box of vitamin C?

$40 for a new vaccine that hasn’t been tested against all strains, OR

$20 for 250 doses of immune support? (a daily cost of 8c)

One is man-made – the other produced by all animals naturally as a defense mechanism. Even though we lived in the epicenter in New York for a couple months, I was never fearful. I believe in the power of our immune system – after all, ours is the product of thousands of years of evolution, tweaking, adapting, and allowing the human race to still be around.

So why isn’t there a focus on the impact lifestyle has on our immune system?

I only know about this because I benefitted from my formative years being a wasteland of infections: whooping cough, mumps (which took the last of my hearing in my left ear), tonsilitis, ear infections by the dozen, chickenpox – all cast indescribable trauma on my parents spending endless days and nights worrying about me in hospital. In a heartbreaking moment enduring another whooping cough episode, I declared, ‘I don’t want to be Andrew anymore.’  I can’t imagine what that did to my parents.

Little did I know this was my immune systems Navy SEAL training to become an elite force against infections. I haven’t had a flu shot since leaving school – and might have had flu once?

Being Careful Doesn’t Make Me “Anti”

The vaccine story becomes even trickier because there are loads of factors to evaluate the risk factor. Age bracket; Health, pre-existing conditions, diet. the current number of deaths in my age group (the US only) is 0.04% – that’s without looking at any other health factors. If you have pre-existing conditions, are worried for your health or life, or in an age bracket where you feel concerned – I genuinely hope you’re able to be vaccinated soonest and feel comforted with added protection.

Again – I’m perplexed how much emphasis has been given to vaccines as THE support for our immune systems.

I understand why masks and vaccines have become people’s savior. Our immune system is complex, and also our responsibility to manage.

Society is only as strong as our weakest link. Imagine how different this past year would’ve been if we had a healthier population? There are many reasons for disease, and I hope a spotlight is shed on the importance of food being a source of medicine for our bodies. I’ve been saddened by the lack of communication in media and government about what people can do to strengthen their immune systems.

There’s a wonderful article by Harvard Medical School with 9 simple ways to build a healthy lifestyle that supports a robust immune system. There’s no silver bullet, and it’s up to each of us to decide what a healthy lifestyle looks like and means to us.

Worst of all: fear switches off the immune system.

It’s a fascinating evolutionary development. Think of your immune system as an army; when an army is at war, they need additional food and resources to defeat an enemy. That means whatever energy we have is dedicated to the effort of defeating them. Now imagine suffering from an infection and coming across a tiger. The body recognizes the tiger is a more immediate lethal threat, thus diverting all energy resources to the flight receptors  (your legs, lungs, and heart) to speedily escape!

It can’t do both.

Engaging in endless hours of fear-driven media, YouTube or T.V, listening to how many new cases and deaths is the equivalent of coming across a tiger. We’re literally cutting off our own supply chain to the army designed to defeat the enemy. That’s like living in fear of being burgled and constantly leaving your front door wide open.

What we feed our minds, is as important as what we feed our bodies.

How do we build a more engaged, conscious community?

I hope understanding the complexity of health is the start.

Becoming armed with as many facts to remove emotional bias eliminates fear-based irrational responses. Commit to listening to all sides of a discussion with an open mind – like people at The Great Barrington Declaration, which say:

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

Coming from both the left and right and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings, and deteriorating mental health – leading to more significant excess mortality in years to come. The working class and younger members of society are carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

My dad sent me a well-constructed video by actuaries articulating all these points. This was shared by a Biz news – one of the few media outlets with this assertion: their community’s intelligence should never be underestimated and they never overestimate their knowledge on a topic.

I love that. This is essentially what this article is all about.

Right on cue – YouTube has taken down the video citing “….removed for violating Community Guidelines” – utter RUBBISH. Thankfully, PANDA has a backup so you can visit their website (Pandemic – Data & Analytics) and see what they’re doing for yourself and peek behind the curtain of the digital dystopia YouTube are busy creating through censorship.

PANDA’s response to being de-platformed is

“After half a million views, an outpouring of emotional positive responses, no complaints about veracity & 100 likes for every dislike,  BizNews presentation, “The Ugly Truth about the COVID-19 Lockdowns” was de-platformed by YouTube.”

These are reputable sources providing facts and data to support their position. It’s worth taking the time to investigate them all.

The most impactful word I heard Nick Hudson use in his presentation succinctly captures the fear being generated:

Homosapienophobia – everyone is dangerous until proven healthy.

I am glad to confirm that asymptomatic (otherwise known as healthy people) cannot spread the virus.

I am not dismissing the disease or the deaths – simply that the methods being used are not based on reality and are doing severe damage. We can no longer ignore the other side of this coin.

How do we move forward?

With compassion. Towards everyone.

Share this information with as many people as possible to reduce the amount of unnecessary fear being circulated. There’s a reason for concern; yes. Concern is healthy – fear is excessive and detrimental.

  1. Taken from PANDA’s website:

In brief:

  1. Lift all Covid-19 specific restrictions and mandates
  2. Offer protection to vulnerable individuals
  3. End mass testing, contact tracing, quarantining, and lockdowns
  4. Ensure public transparency of all efficacy and safety data of vaccines
  5. Reassert open scientific debate and freedom of speech, opinion, and choice.

This will ease the pressure, but by no means relieve it.

Next, we need to ramp up how we think about building our communities again, incorporating the quality of people’s lives as a priority.

Evaluate our Health

We need to share as many podcasts and information about our micro gut biome (Dr. Zach Bush talks about it but check out his website too!) Spend time learning about how food can fuel and nourish your body to naturally assist your immunity. Watch that Vitamin C discussion!

Get Fit & Build Community at the same time.

Let’s honor the lives lost in the best possible way – and work together to build ubuntu into every act we take moving forward. I’ve created the 50in50 challenge to stay fit, challenge my mind, and build community by raising funds for education and housing – I’m nine weeks in. It has two aspects:

  1. Recreate each American State’s outline using my sports tracker,
  2. Climb the equivalent of every state’s elevation by the end – roughly 365 Empire State buildings, an average of nearly 2km of vertical climbing (1,2 miles) every Saturday morning.

This isn’t about how much – it’s about participating and getting support in the process. If you think the numbers above are out of reach – note that I started with 103 flights a year ago (44 minutes) creating a 12-week plan to incrementally built up my fitness, taking a further eight weeks to reach 660 flights (my current capabilities). We’re talking about building a healthy sustainable lifestyle.

It’s not about how much we do – it’s about committing to building the practice. Pledge to join whenever your state comes up (see list for each week below) while using it as a way to invite people to make investments in building communities again. No amount is too small and there’s strength in numbers, after all – for someone with nothing, our something – means everything.

All while creating a healthy lifestyle that contributes to a robust immune system.

I’m committed to demonstrating there are no quick fixes, but we can develop sustainable healthy habitats filled with purpose aligned to our true values. We can create a world where we grow and use resources to support those without hope and opportunity with a hand up. Who’s with me?

Please share with someone you know is feeling overwhelmed by everything, and if that’s you – reach out to me and let’s chat.

After all, my mother taught me well:

A problem shared is a problem halved.

VIRGINIA23 April 2021
NEW YORK30 April 2021
NORTH CAROLINA07 May 2021
RHODE ISLAND14 May 2021
VERMONT21 May 2021
KENTUCKY28 May 2021
TENNESSEE04 June 2021
OHIO11 June 2021
LOUISIANA18 June 2021
INDIANA25 June 2021
MISSISSIPPI02 July 2021
ILLINOIS09 July 2021
ALABAMA16 July 2021
MAINE23 July 2021
MISSOURI30 July 2021
ARKANSAS06 August 2021
MICHIGAN13 August 2021
FLORIDA20 August 2021
TEXAS27 August 2021
IOWA03 September 2021
WISCONSIN10 September 2021
CALIFORNIA17 September 2021
MINNESOTA24 September 2021
OREGON01 October 2021
KANSAS08 October 2021
WEST VIRGINIA15 October 2021
NEVADA22 October 2021
NEBRASKA29 October 2021
COLORADO05 November 2021
NORTH DAKOTA12 November 2021
SOUTH DAKOTA19 November 2021
MONTANA26 November 2021
WASHINGTON03 December 2021
IDAHO10 December 2021
WYOMING17 December 2021
UTAH24 December 2021
OKLAHOMA31 December 2021
NEW MEXICO07 January 2022
ARIZONA14 January 2022
ALASKA21 January 2022
HAWAII28 January 2022
WASHINGTON04 February 2022
SOUTH AFRICA11 February 2022

Want to Build Hope and Community with another Unique Ubuntu Challenge?

How would you like to look back on 2021?

As the year you explored ubuntu? As the year you created a healthy relationship with exercise? As a year you changed a child’s life by helping them learn to read? By changing someone’s life currently living in a shack? By Changing a communities capability to teach their children by building a school?

These are all possible.

It’s been quite an overwhelming year. I don’t know about you – but the sheer scale of death and economic hardship being experienced sometimes feels insurmountable.

And then I’m reminded about my challenge 3 years ago that 99.9% thought was insurmountable: Climbing a mountain every day for a year. With ‘Ubuntu’ as my guiding principle to create a more compassionate world – 744 people of all fitness levels joined me pushing their own capabilities in the process, and together we fundraised almost R1 million building a home for orphaned and vulnerable children; providing 12 of the poorest primary schools with literacy aids teaching children to read; and created 60 new donors with the Sunflower Fund to help them save lives.

My greatest lesson that year was what we can accomplish when we work together. It’s in that spirit that I have another challenge for us.

It’s called ‘50in50’.

Each week the challenge is to create the outline of each state in America tracking a walk/run/cycle across 50 Saturdays – and you can join! I don’t expect you to do it to scale! (Unless you’re Ryan Sands or Rich Roll in which case crack on) The outlines are the tricky parts as you’ll see below. I’ve decided to start this challenge on the 50th day of the year: 19th February 2021.

50 weeks may sound like a big commitment – but in reality the challenge isn’t about long we commit to something. The challenge is what we do today.

While the pandemic continues to affect the lives of so many, the importance of being healthy, having a bigger purpose to focus our energy on, and supporting each other in the process has never been more apparent. The aim is to build a community around what we can do & control our inputs even while external forces continually change and challenge us. We’re all in the same storm – we just using different boats. The way I see it, if you have space in your life raft, pulling one person in changes their life. This time I’ll be asking people to donate $50 aiding companies already doing great work to build our communities and make them stronger.

Where do these Ideas come from?

This inspiration is thanks to my friend Stephan Pieterse.  His charity fundraiser, a biennial event ‘The Gratitude Run’, was hosted virtually instead of at their usual venue Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West. This gave me an opportunity to participate in New York, even  though it’s 12 525km away. One of the 4 categories was ‘creative’ – so using my sports tracker to create a picture, I tried to create a heart with D4D in the middle (Their charity is called ‘Distance 4 Difference’). I shared this map with our friend here in New York and she exclaimed, “Oh that looks like the map of Ohio!”

Those 8 words made me ponder the fact there are 50 states – and two days later the question ‘what if I created an outline of each state?’ inspired my next ubuntu challenge. I’ve added another element just for some fun to see if I can climb the elevation gain of each state across the 50 weeks –a mere 93 967,7m or the equivalent of climbing the Empire State Building 365 times (No I won’t be climbing it every day, unless you have a contact for me to chat to about this??)

The best part about this challenge is just as you can join me from wherever you are – I can still complete my weeks challenge if I travel.  

I’ll be going in order of each states ratifying the constitution of the union – starting with Delaware. Fun Fact: It’s the home state of the current sitting president Joe Biden (46th) and he’s the first president to be elected from this state. It got its name in 1610, after the first governor of Virginia, Sir Thomas West, Lord De La Warr.

The first state outline to be done on 19 February 2021

Building Purpose into Each Step

The charities supported by the donations you can choose from are:

  1. Habitat for Humanity (RSA or East Bay and Silicon Valley area) – building homes.
  2. One Heart for Kids (RSA or New York) – building literacy.
  3. Pencils of Promise (Africa or New York) – building schools.

50in50 isn’t just building community to support one another through unprecedented times, it’s building our discipline; our commitment to helping others; compassion for others circumstances; and last but certainly not least – a healthy habit that contributes to a strong immune system.

This challenge is for you IF:

  1. You’re tired of making New years resolutions about health and/or exercise that evaporate by Valentines day.
  2. You haven’t been severely affected financially by the pandemic and wish to help others out of their hole.
  3. Want to use 2021 to create a milestone in your life of positive change.

Not only will it be fun to recreate each states map, but we’ll forever be changing the course of another human beings’ life. That’s priceless. I’ll be working closely with each charity to provide you with interesting facts about what your impact means to children finally getting a safe building to learn in; learning to read; or own their first home that has running water and their own toilet.

Rabbi Tarfon who lived almost 2000 years ago around 73CE said, ‘You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.’ Covid has certainly shown me how we’re only as strong as our weakest link, and why it’s important to do what I can to empower others.

Understanding the essence of Ubuntu means working on two sides of the same coin: personal development & working together for the betterment of mankind.  I Changed my definition of how to measure success to support this; to borrow Nelson Mandela’s words:

A beautiful part about this challenge is that, just like climbing a mountain, we all arrive at different levels of fitness – BUT – with consistency and perseverance we can track our progress as we travel through the various states creating our own United States of America.

There’s always strength in numbers so these are the ways to get involved and help:

  1. You can pick a cause and donate.
  2. Take part yourself and donate what you can (R50 or $50 a month is great!)
  3. Take part and invite 1 other friend to join as an accountability partner.
  4. Join and create your own team to represent your own state/city and see if you can finish top of the leader board.
  5. Think of people who are looking for a supportive community to build a healthier lifestyle and/or want to empower others and share this with them.

I’ll finish how I started: how would you like to look back on 2021?

Anythings possible. I hope you’ll join me in making 2021 a year to remember (for all the right reasons!)

Head over here to register in 3….2…….1…….

Feeling Overwhelmed by the Coronavirus? 6 actions to help you break out of the fear loop

PHOTO CREDIT: www.asianefficency.com

This is something that effects all of us. We’re in this together. You’re reading this because it feels like we’re waiting for ‘the storm of the century’ to make landfall, and you don’t know which weather station to believe. It’s unsettling – and that’s why I’m focusing on the mental aspect of this to help minimise the stress you’re exerting on your body.

Let’s be honest – this isn’t the first time the media have focused heavily on feeding us a diet of fear. Even before this it was easy to feel overwhelmed wasn’t it? We have more access to problems all over the world every minute of every day than ever before. While Coronavirus is top of mind for everybody, I invite you to think about how this plays out in other ways keeping you in a fear cycle of ‘Oh no! What’s next’ – so you can start to be proactive and make better mental wealth decisions for future events.

Right off the bat the first action is a must when the information coming at you is fear based.

ACTION 1: Get Informed

That means listening to reputable sources, in the coronavirus case – it’s organisations like W.H.O (World Health Organisation), scientists and medical doctors that have educated knowledge.

Case in point – take the time to listen to the two videos included at the end of the article. One is from Dr Mike tackling the media’s poor coverage and how they’re spreading misinformation. It highlights how out of touch the media really is, while providing sound alternatives.

The other video I highly recommend is Joe Rogan’s interview with Michael Osterholm. The beauty of his podcast format is you get 90 minutes of discussion instead of trying to create click bait headlines or a five minute sound bite to keep viewers tuned in. This man is an internationally recognized expert in infectious disease epidemiology.

He is Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, a professor in the Technological Leadership Institute, College of Science and Engineering, and an adjunct professor in the Medical School, all at the University of Minnesota. That’s credibility to take seriously.

Genuine concern about this is fine – panicking and acting irrationally based on misinformation is not. Listening to the experts feeds the next action.

ACTION 2: Take the Wheel of your mind

Understand that all the negativity in the world and external factors are outside of our control. Focusing on what you can do will empower yourself. If you’ve practicing to action one, then you know your actions are driven by facts and not fear. Rather know the worst case and how it effects you and what you can do – than listening to uneducated rhetoric causing you to panic and create unnecessary stress in your body.

Yes, this is a highly contagious infectious disease. Yes people are dying. Yes there are other diseases killing more people. The reality is no matter which way you slice statistics, it’s still a disease we dealing with. Are you being proactive in life or reactive? That brings us to the next action.

ACTION 3: Develop Healthy Habits

We live in a world where disease is all around us. Just in the last 20 years we’ve had SARS 2003 – 813 died (https://www.who.int/csr/sars/country/2003_07_11/en/) ; Bird Flu 2005 – 415 died (https://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/2020_01_20_tableH5N1.pdf?ua=1) ; Swine Flu 2009 – 203 000 deaths (

https://www.livescience.com/41539-2009-swine-flu-death-toll-higher.html) and Ebola 2014 – 11 325 deaths (https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/history/2014-2016-outbreak/index.html) are just a few.

Look at these facts based on the information we have available – bear in mind as this spreads, this can change.

This isn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last, but worrying is like a rocking chair – it keeps you busy but it doesn’t get you anywhere. A better focus is how to strengthen what you’re naturally born with – Your Immune system.

You can immediately start by adding things like garlic, ginger, broccoli, turmeric, spinach and citrus fruit to your existing diet. It’s also time to take stock of behaviours like:

  • Smoking
  • Are you exercising? 
  • Are you maintaining a healthy weight?
  • Do you drink alcohol in moderation?
  • Are you sleeping enough?
  • What are your hygiene habits? How often do you clean your hands?

As important as physical health is what are you doing to boost your mental health? Pay attention to how much negative news takes up your day. What would happen if you replaced that with uplifting stories of what people ARE doing or new things to learn yourself?

Don’t know where to start? Sign up HERE for my 11 day course to guide you and help build a ‘power hour’ of productive healthy habits.

ACTION 4: Practice Gratitude

Expressing gratitude daily has been proven to boost both your immune system and your nervous system. You can say this out loud gargling through the foam as you brush your teeth. That’s two minutes twice a day giving you an opportunity to express gratitude for what you have in the morning, and what happened that day at night. Bonus points for writing them down!

Check out Dr John Demartini’s explanation on the healing properties, especially when dealing with trauma.

The important part of expressing Gratitude, is that you’re alive now. If the thought of catching this virus scares you to death because you want to do more, that’s where the next lesson comes in.

ACTION 5: Take Action!

If you were faced with death tomorrow, what would you do?

I wouldn’t want to spend it trying to do ‘stuff’ – I’d make sure I spent every waking moment with those that matter most to me. That sobering thought should make you look back and think ‘yep, I’ve been doing my best to do what inspires me’ and not ‘oh shit there’s so much more to do!!’

Write. It. Down. You don’t need permission to do everything possible to make it happen. Experience the beauty in this world, take risks so that whatever next ‘catastrophe’ the world throws at us – not only are you mentally prepared but you’re already living your best life.

ACTION 6: Get Involved

It might not particularly apply here unless you have medical experience and are in a high contamination zone, but if a particular news story overwhelms you – I’ve learned the best way to turn that into a powerful force for inner peace and fulfilment: is to get involved.

There is no such thing as too little. Volunteering 20 minutes a month is not measured by your time – but by the impact it has on the person / animal / cause you’re passionate about. Tying back to lesson two, asking ‘how can I help’ creates meaningful dialogue with those closest to you about solutions, instead of moaning. It gets you searching for people already tackling the problem near you, instead of following the rabbit hole trapped in a fear loop. Imagine being involved in drastically changing the course of someone’s life? How would that feel compared to the hopelessness of reading another depressing article?

If you’d like to explore this further but not sure where to start – why not sign up HERE for our ‘Take back your power: building purpose’ course.

Breathe

This is serious, but we’re all in this together. Let’s be sensible about our decisions. If you’re sick, stay home. If it persists – see a doctor. If you have unhealthy habits that put you at risk, start converting them into healthy ones. If you have pre-existing conditions that put you at risk, avoid public gatherings.

Help out the elderly and people suffering from pre-existing conditions that are most at risk of this. Use this as a positive reminder of what’s most important in life.

And focus on that, every day going forward.

How Can You Learn From A World First?

365 Ubuntu Climbs thank you
Me pictured after finishing my last solo climb, number 366 on January 1st 2019

Thank You

(In about 8 minutes of reading)

Climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 was an idea inspiring me to bring people together focusing on what I can do; instead of on the problems.

It worked.

This has never been done before and having completed it – I know why. It was the most taxing challenge on all levels: Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Everything was tested – and I never had a days respite.

I had plenty of fears and doubts creeping in before and during – but I always knew with every cell in my body that I could achieve this to get peoples attention – and participate. And that was summit Table Mountain. Every. Single. Day.

The greatest lesson you can take away from this, is that all the power and strength it took for me to complete this – lies within you as well; and when you believe that? Will take your life from ordinary to extraordinary.

Below is my thank you letter I sent to all the investors of 365 Ubuntu Climbs. I’ve decided to share it in general too because doing something that’s never been done before, doesn’t happen in isolation. It takes a strategy of what you want to accomplish; how you plan to do that; what help do you need from others; and gratitude to appreciate being able to do all of it.

Here it is:

Thank you for taking action and empowering others, so that:

– 7 families now have a warmer home to come back to after work instead of a shack.
– 30 new families will hear that their loved one has found a match because of the people added to the donor registry, and
– 5 Schools have parents sleeping a bit easier knowing that their children are being taught to read through the books donated because of you.

It’s been a busy year, but that’s no excuse for writing so late – while I may be incredibly disciplined climbing a mountain every day, admin isn’t my strong point and procrastination is a daily battle. Apologies for taking so long to let you know about the final numbers and more importantly – to thank you.

Below I’ve included:

  1. Donation Total
  2. Media Coverage & stats
  3. Links to each charity for continued support
  4. Special mentions – The Monthly club and The Mandela Ubuntu Award
  5. A year in numbers – stats
  6. Cash Handover pictures

It’s hard to put 2018 and my gratitude into a letter. I cannot stress this enough – you were responsible for creating an incredible experience. By receiving this email, you’re in my deepest gratitude and will always hold a special part in my life.

365 Ubuntu Climbs wouldn’t have been nearly as soul inspiring without your participation. The 738 climbers that joined; the 500+ donations received and meeting the people we helped, taught me the essence and understanding of ‘Ubuntu’, and what it feels like when we work together. It was a humbling experience to be on the generous receiving end of time, money and spirit.

Together, we raised R 535 679,15 – split between The Sunflower Fund, Habitat for Humanity and One Heart for kids (including the R28 524 received in cash over the 12 months see below for handover pictures) These organisations continue to provide these services – if you’d like to keep supporting them, click on the links below:

The Sunflower Fund  / Habitat for Humanity / One Heart for Kids

UKND0491

            The first stair and the final stair climbed – with 970 898 stairs climbed in-between

Thanks to all the media support, we managed to reach just shy of 56 million people (these are not absolute numbers) worth around R5.9 million in awareness, which essentially equals R17.7 million for the three companies. This excludes all the shares and posts you all did with your support. This reminds me that exposure alone is not enough. If it were and 1% of people donated R1 per climb, we’d have raised R16 800 000 every month. Take heart from these numbers because it shows whats possible when action is taken why it’s also important to bring others along with us. You made the difference.

When a house is built, we don’t expect the plumber to build the whole thing – so we shouldn’t be relying on governments alone to solve challenges.

Just look at what we achieved in a year that has long lasting implications to not just families today – but their generations to come. We’ve helped break the cycle of poverty.
Most of you only know my name or my face through this project, but I’m certainly no island and last year wouldn’t have been possible without the special group of people I’m surrounded by: My Parents, My Sister and her family, my extended Family, My friends, and my girlfriend Jessie.

Initially, I included everyone that contributed to the success of 2018. At last count there were over 50 people – so I decided to leave that out and prevent this from becoming a short story. It’s another reason why currently writing my book is important to me: I get to share the details of all the incredible people and their efforts. From gifts across the oceans to international and local fundraising events done. From sending me on my way at 4:33am in person to messages of well wishes from afar – everything played its part in getting my weary legs over the finish line and my spirits high. 

nelson-mandela_650_330_70_s

THE MANDELA CLUB

Considering this challenge took place in his 100th anniversary, it felt fitting to name this award after him. Going above and beyond is not always about the money. This group of people helped raise over R75 000. The people getting this award are:

Astrid Gillwald and the Crook family – the late Joshua Crook, his brother Matthew and mum Susan.

Joshua was introduced to me and the project simply because Astrid shared what I was doing with him in Australia. Astrid also invited me to speak at her Women’s Property Network events and spoke with Warren Brusse at SA Property Network, where I was invited to speak twice too. He was also part of the final day climbing party after multiple summits and donations.

Joshua and Susan shared my posts and story with people in person and online and Matthew even joined me on climb 110.

This is a powerful message, that its not about how much we donate individually – but how we get behind one another and share it within our own networks. You never know what may come of it.

A special memorial climb up Table Mountain was held on Australia Day this year, January 26th, in honour of Josh and his late wife Roxanne. Both families joined in an emotional tribute to two special souls.

 

2018.01.01
My first climb, and sunrise on January 1st

2018.12.31
The final view sunset 31st December, the perfect book end

THE MONTHLY CLUB

These 9 people donated every month:
 

Iwona & Jono Smit

John & Di Smale

Allan McCreadie (LA Barista mobile coffee company)
Mark Giese
Nixi Kennedy
Kym & Karl hill
Ragmah Solomon
Lisa Thompson-Smeddle
Gary Light
Thank you for being a constant throughout my year and making me smile at the end of each month!

Cape Town 365 Ubuntu Climbs final climb
The magnificent view on my last climb at sunset – I loved seeing the flat shadow

BY THE NUMBERS:

The money raised is what I am most proud of; what I did to achieve that: is a very close second. I thought I’d share some interesting insights about the year below.

A MASSIVE thank you to Safety Mountain Tracking for always having a volunteer tracking us and ensuring everyone got off the mountain safely; as well as Cape Union Mart for their clothing sponsorship – the rain gear in particular was helpful beyond belief.

I climbed 970 900 stairs in 40 days 4 hours 18 minutes and 43 seconds on the mountain. I covered 2 429km – which is just 400km shy of walking the entire coastline of South Africa. I climbed a total of 262,8 vertical kilometers – the equivalent of 71 Mt Everest.

In 365 climbs:

175  – were solo climbs.
22 – Most solos in a month both January and August
9 – Most number of rainy climbs in a month, belongs to August (bear in mind this wasn’t the actual number of days it rained, just when I was rained on. Tried to avoid it where possible)
40 – Total number of rainy climbs
4 – most number of consecutive rainy climbs
1 in every 4.5 days – how much i averaged climbing up and down.
280 – Number of times used cable car.
R2.29 – the cost of each cable car ride using their yearly pass.
125  – days climbing alone and using the cable car down – my fastest day was May 2nd climb 122 in 1:18:35. I did almost the same time a week later, on climb 129 – 1:18:58.
50 – days done alone up and down. My fastest climb was 1:55:50 on June 17th climb 168.
190 – days when people joined.
155 –
number of times those climbs were just up and down cable car. We averaged 2:58:54 compared to 1:48:35 when I was alone.

35 – number of days joined going up and down, we averaged 3:54:17 compared to 2:39:18 when I was on my own.
9 – Most consecutive days alone (this was the end of June and 2 days in July)
12 – Most consecutive days with people (this was in December)
193 days started early (before 8:30 – remembering sunrise in winter is just before 8am)
33 – days starting around 6am, most common time starting.
53 days between 8:30 and midday
59 days between 12 and 15:30
60 days starting after 15:30
04:33 – Earliest start time (January 1st to watch sunrise up top)
18:07 – Latest start time (December 17th – I was on my own and would summit before dark)
22 – number of barefoot climbs.

I couldn’t go the entire year completing early morning climbs. Winter climbing was especially weather dependent and always tried to go when ‘safest’. This meant, especially in summer when heat demands climbs either start before 7am or after 15:30 – that sometimes I would do a late afternoon climb and then get up 12 hours later and do an early climb. Effectively two climbs in a day.

45  – number of times this happened, almost every week.
7 – most days in a month a late climb followed by an early one happened: December.
13  – Most consecutive early morning climbs (February 27th to March 11th)
7 – Most consecutive late afternoon climbs (January 26th to February 1st)

 

Picture 1: I picked a stone every day to represent the climb, the people joining, your donations made that day, and ultimately the people we empowered together.

This was the final rock picked to sit atop the Ubuntu pyramid. There’s a stone in there with your name on it.

Picture 2: The Ubuntu pyramid complete with the final triangular rock on top. It reminds me that just because you can’t see the first rock – doesn’t mean its not as important: it created the foundation.

The year was about inspiring people to see what can happen when we work together – now – and forever. But now is more important! Now that I know it’s possible, I will continue to work on expanding this idea. I wish you could meet the people who’s lives you’ve touched. Seeing and feeling the gratitude from another person because of how you’ve helped them is one of the most rewarding moments you can experience.

You Get What You Focus On

I chose to focus on what I could do – and you know what? All year I was surrounded by incredible human beings; because dickheads don’t want to get up early on their weekend to climb a mountain for someone else. Its not about ignoring what challenges we experience and living in a bubble – it’s about choosing to let go of what and who doesn’t serve you. Its your choice.

There are more movie critics than there are producers.

It’s easy to point out what others don’t do right. The real question is: what are you going to do that sets. Your. Soul. On Fire.

I believe in you – so take your first step today!

Learning Perspective

 

365 Ubuntu Climbs PerspectiveOne of the gifts bestowed upon me this year comes in the form of perspective.

It’s easy to make snap judgements on what I see or hear; because let’s face it – most things I comment on (socially, politically, environmentally) are based on my own experiences and beliefs.

I’d like to share some mind shifts I’ve had through dedicating a year to climbing the same strenuous route up Table Mountain – Platteklip gorge (a route most people detest) every day.

I’m going to relate them back to the three organisations its supporting: Habitat for Humanity; One Heart and The Sunflower Fund.

  1. Don’t you get bored doing the same route every day?

Stuck in a hospital room

When you understand peoples behaviour reveals who they are, then you realise this question gives me an insight into what the person asking me is going through.

The short answer is the mountain and climb are different every single day. However,your mindset determines exactly what the outcome will be. Instead of saying “You’re doing this for a year?” I say, “I’m only doing this for a year”.

First statement creates struggle; second one generates gratitude – and all with one word.

It goes deeper than this, which I discovered when I was constantly asked the question and realised I needed to think deeper about it. I realised boredom is a lack of appreciation for the gifts you have every day. Your health, your legs, your eye sight.

Just ask a Leukaemia patient who’s not just stared death in the face, but upon receiving a transplant must face up to three months of solitary in hospital to reduce risk of infection during a vulnerable time.

Three. Months.

No outdoors. Limited interaction with friends and family. Now let’s talk about boredom and whether they would trade that room for a chance to climb a mountain every day.

  1. ‘Bad’ weather as an excuse

drowned shacks

I use inverted commas there because I no longer believe there’s bad weather; just bad preparation.

I’ve climbed in all kinds of treacherous weather ranging from heat waves to bitter cold; insane winds reaching 100km/h to torrential rain. Sometimes these can be combined.

The reality is: my challenge lasts 2-5 hours (depending who’s with me and weather conditions) and then I get to go home to secure flat that’s warm and dry.

It’s over for the day.

For the thirty million South Africans living in informal houses, every storm brings with it the panic of what will happen to my home. Flooding is most often a cause from torrential rain and the first family member home from work will start ‘emptying’ the water from their shack and attempt to dry what little items they have.

Wind means there’s potential for other homes to become missiles and your homes relentlessly battered on the Cape Flats by the wind. Until it stops – there is no respite.

shackfires

We can throw in fires on the mountain. These may mean having to choose different routes, but in an informal settlement can devastate thousands of shacks. All because one person may have been reckless causing many to lose every single item they own. The mountains vegetation and life will recover and so too will most people – but the people have nowhere else to go.

Not knowing how to read; living in poverty and time before a donor is found – are all 24/7, 52 weeks a year challenges until help and empowerment are given.

  1. I Can’t leave Cape Town

 

Klapmuts primary school 365 Ubuntu Climbs talk
Children at Klapmuts primary at the handover where I had the privilege to speak about what I’m doing and why

It’s true that committing to climbing every day means I’m ‘stuck’ here. Most people we are helping can’t ever leave Cape Town; never mind just one year.

This was highlighted to me when visiting Klapmuts primary where the principal and teachers explained most children have never seen Stellenbosch (15km away) and if they do – exclaim how big the buildings are. At most they’re seven stories high.

I love that on their school hall walls they have four murals: The Sphinx; The Statue of Liberty; The Sydney Opera house – and Table Mountain.

By helping teach these children to read they have a chance at an education and a chance at going there one day. And that – is priceless.

  1. Pain and Fatigue

I’m adding this one even though it’s not part of who we support because it’s such a valuable lesson.

My legs and body having no day off was always the great unknown. Becoming fixated on the pain and weariness of my legs on each climb is easy, and then I was taught a lesson by a special man.

Lifa broke his neck playing rugby and decided the doctors were wrong when they said “you’ll never walk again” – he’s slowly but surely taught himself to sit upright; then stand; and now walk with crutches. This man is beyond special.

Having successfully navigated Lions Head up and down with friends he wanted to climb Table Mountain. The people at Petro Jackson Fund had met me and sharing my story suggested getting in touch. He did – and only because he’d made it up Lions head, did I entertain the idea.

On climb 145 we made it to the Waterfall and due to time constraints – had to deliver the bad news we were turning around. We’d never make the cable car in time and going further only risked more chance of complications to climb back down. Repeat – time was why we wouldn’t make it. Remember, he’s climbing with crutches – and with more time I believe he would’ve made it.

Lifa Rock climb 145 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Lifa’s rock is the one in line with his head – yes he got up there!

For two hours I watched the human spirit in action with determination and smiles to match. I named that rock he sat on after him and every time I go past it, I think of him and I’m reminded that whatever pain I have in my legs – it’s something he and others hope to be able to experience one day.

His achievement fans my flames and that pain and fatigue reminds me what a gift the ability I have is, to do this every day.

 

  1. Graffiti on the Mountain

Bonus lesson.

On climb 106, I started for a late afternoon climb, with enough time to see the sunset. Within fifty stairs, I saw the first of fourteen rocks spray painted. Not tiny things – entire boulders with the last reminder two thirds up.

It was disgusting and hideous to think that someone could do this. I was trying to contain my anger when something completely opposite occurred. I had two missed calls for the Safety Mountain Tracking people.

Andrew, we have a hiker in distress on Smuts track and you’re the closest – can you help us?

At this stage I was at my fittest and still feeling fresh, so I was able to climb the rest (a little more than halfway) in thirty minutes and then trail run along the eastern table to the highest point, Maclears beacon, and then down smuts track to where the five people were with two SANParks rangers.

Thankfully, because this would be crucial later.

The helicopter was unable to land on the incline and so rescue teams had to carry the woman down. I’d stupidly taken my torch out my bag thinking there was no need for it. How wrong I was.

The ranger asked if I could lead the four people back down Skeleton gorge but with fading light and no torches, I suggested radioing the cable station to ask to wait for us. They agreed and the safer option along the top was what we took. Before setting off, I saw one friend removing the woman’s jewellery and phone; it was only then I realised she’d passed away – a heart attack.

Fading light climb 106 365 Ubuntu Climbs
The cable station sits alone (middle) in the distance as I race to the distressed hikers

Life and death climb 106 365 Ubuntu Climbs
View south as I race along

Those spare minutes gained earlier enabled us to navigate the climb back up to the top table in twilight safely. Along the top, we passed two rescue teams thankfully with spare lights for the final stretch in darkness. Darkness wasn’t what made this the most difficult walk of my life though.

The four friends were in a complete state of shock and showed immense gratitude when we finally arrived back down safely.

At the bottom, I was no longer thinking about the graffiti.

Final understanding

I used to misconstrue having something that others; like legs that work, or opportunities, or money, as something to feel guilty about.

I’ve subsequently learned guilt is wasted energy. Instead I now do two things:

  1. Appreciate what I have even more
  2. Use my gifts/opportunities to empower those born into more challenging circumstances than my own.

The choice is ours.

See you on the mountain.

perspective quote 365 Ubuntu Climbs

Andrew Patterson has climbed every day in 2018 to raise money for three incredible organisations. To be part of the change you wish to see in the world head over to http://www.365climbs.com and add your voice to become part of the Ubuntu Family

Taking Stock of 2018

Table Mountain Panoramic 365 Ubuntu Climb summit

It’s December – and for many that means a downhill slide into holiday mode; a panic for many parents about what to do with children on holiday and navigating the busy malls for Christmas presents.

To me, it represents 11 months of successfully achieving what I set out to do in January: 336 successful climbs up Table Mountain out of 365 with no injuries or any illnesses worth speaking about and 29 days to go…

I cannot begin to express my gratitude enough for my healthy body and legs – even though it’s something I do before every climb.

November’s a wonderful birthday month for me as well many friends and family; all Valentines Day babies methinks.

I’d always known my birthday was 56 days away from the end of the year but never calculated that meant it was the 309th day of the year.

This year I turned 39. You can’t script things like this and has been the type of amazing synchronicity experienced all year to remind me how special this year was meant to be.

And not just on one or two days – but all of them.

Sunset climbing back down 365 Ubuntu Climbs Cape Town Table Mountain

Looking back – Before you look Forward

I invite people climbing with me to take a moment to look back down the mountain; to appreciate for a moment how far they’ve come and what they’ve already accomplished.

Goals are great. They give me a direction to work towards and purpose in some cases. I’ve learned that climbing mountains gives me opportunities to learn valuable life lessons, one of which is – that the end goal and view at the top is not the be all and end all. Its about learning to value beauty in each step as much as the view at the top.

It can be a hard slog no doubt – but no one ever said you had to do the whole thing in one go. We’re allowed to stop every now again and look around.

That’s what I feel like I’m doing now with climb 337 looming. Stopping and looking around at whats come before me.

People have experienced snippets of what I’ve been through but as with most things in life, until experienced for yourself you can never truly understand.

The closer I get to the end now the further away it feels; I haven’t had a day off all year.

A wall of cloud on the summit of a 365 Ubuntu Climb Table Mountain
These kinds of majestic gems await me on some of my summits

Daily Thinking for Final Stretch

I learned when I get closer to the top and/or the bottom, my tendency is to want to ‘just get there’. This is how accidents happen. When I try push my already fatigued body and mind, I lose focus and start thinking about the end instead of the next step – so I’ve taught myself to maintain the same steady pace no matter how close to the end and excited I become.

I need to do just that for the next 28 days.

With immense excitement looming it’s hard.  When your girlfriend (who lives in San Francisco) is flying in under 2 weeks time and your whole family will be coming down from Johannesburg around Christmas time to support me; the mind has plenty to distract you with.

Distracted is dangerous, just look at car accident statistics – an estimated 52% happen within 8km of the home.

I sat with my performance coach around what data we’re going to measure this last month that can be used to analyse my efforts when I’m done. Heart rates, sleeping, emotional state, physical state you name it. We can compare these stats when I’m fresh again next month and do speed tests on the same route.

This is the most dangerous time now, these next few weeks. Keep the mind strong.

These words from him are valuable – particularly that I’ve fallen twice in ten days in exactly the same spot on the way down. Luckily just caused a stiff ankle nothing sprained.

It happens that quickly.

Distractions are compounded by every person you meet asking “whats next?!” and “what are you going to do on January 1st?”

At least the second one is easy to answer: I’m doing my 366th climb in a row and my last solo climb. This is to take stock of what I’ve accomplished in 2018 and how many people we – you and I – have helped by donating time and money to those living in appalling conditions.

Fulfillment comes from walking your most authentic path; Significance is when you can align that to empowering others in the process.

Its interesting to me how people’s reactions have flowed since having this idea.

1st Phase: That’s crazy, why on earth would you want to do that for a whole year?

2nd Phase: (usually only hear this much later on) you’ll never finish

3rd Phase: Oh you’re going to miss this when you not climbing anymore

4th Phase: Whats next??

(sidenote – asking what’s next is expected from someone who’s asked all the relevant questions and understands the persons current feelings and state of mind)

Lessons from these Questions

Very few people are ever willing to sit with someone in their pain or discomfort and challenges. The reality is no one is on this planet to save anyone else. Not when it comes to how you think and what you choose and how you act.

  1. Stop projecting

Recognising that all my responses are based on my experiences and what I would do in that person’s situation.

  1. Ask questions

Listening to understand means asking questions to learn where someone is right now.

  1. Think about the present

Its always easier to say than do but getting a gauge of where someone is right now based on what has happened, is far better than trying to play crystal ball and predict what someone’s future will be. The future is made up of tons of ‘right now’ decisions.

  1. Not my job to convince

Whether my project, religion, Politics, diets, exercise regimes – you name it. It’s not my jobs to convince people whats right for them. It’s my job to hold people accountable to learn to think for themselves and use what they know in action of service to others. What good is it knowing something great and keeping it all to yourself? Significance…

  1. Empathy and understanding

Understanding what someone is going through from their perspective means I can learn why they do certain things or behave in a particular manner. Just because something seems illogical to me, doesn’t mean its very real for them.

Misty Cable car Table Mountain 365 Ubuntu Climbs
We don’t always see where we going – but taking action every day means we’ll get there eventually

Final thoughts

One of the greatest things I’m doing, is learning from other’s behaviour. Sometimes most of these things appear innocent and not detrimental to others. And maybe it isn’t. But is it not worth behaving in a way that helps someone in your life feel completely supported and safe to share their current state of mind?

We live in a world fraught with enough pain and negativity – its time for each individual to start evaluating if they feeding that; or if they shining a spotlight on where all the beauty in this world lies.

I know what I’m choosing

Andrew Patterson is climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 and raising money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity (housing) One Heart (Education) and The Sunflower Fund (Leukaemia) by inviting people to sponsor R1 per climb. head over to http://www.365climbs.com to be part of the Ubuntu Family.

Andrew Patterson 365 Ubuntu Climbs Table Mountain

 

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

It’s not All Proteas (Roses)

Andrew Patterson drenched but not defeated

Week 26

My week starts off with an incredible sunset hike where I do my second fastest summit. Thankfully, because I run into hikers expecting the cable car to work (its closed) and having come from Skeleton Gorge (Kirsetnbosch Gardens which is a 3 hour hike) I safely bring them down Platteklip. We barely make it down before dark sets in but thankfully no injuries. Incredible to think my snap decision to do a sweep round the extremity up top meant I ran into them.

Sunset on platteklip gorge day 176 365 ubuntu Climbs
Always a treat to see sunsets from the mountain

No rest for the wicked, I’m up at 06:00 to start hiking in the dark to FINALLY test a theory of mine that the sun rises between the cliffs of Platteklip Gorge. About 20% left of the way I worry I started too late and I won’t be up top in time. I try push harder but its like those dreams where you need to run fast and just can’t. Thankfully, I made it with time to spare (albeit 5 days after the solstice) but my gut is right and I’m rewarded with the most spectacular start to a day one could hope for. Hike 177.

Cape Town from platteklip gorge 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Cape Town from the contour path

 

SUnrise between the cliffs at the top of Platteklip Gorge day 177 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Sun rises beautifully between the cliffs

Sunrise at the Top of Table Mountain 365 Ubuntu Climbs
Breath taking beauty

Calm before the storm

We all hear the saying. We’ve probably all said it; but this week I get to truly understand that. I also realise that the northern hemisphere’s saying of ‘Red morning Shepard warning red night Shepard’s delight’ is in reverse here in Cape Town. We have the most EPIC sunset Thursday before 4 days of inclement weather descend on us. So, what should our rhyme be?

Red morning Shepard’s yawning, red night shepherds fright?

Anyway, week 26 sees me have 3 days of exquisite opportunities for photos culminating with the most perfect lighting for your eyes Thursday before the storm. And oh yes…. The storm.

Sense of Humour Failure

Warnings of four days of foul weather mean I’m even more alert than usual, like a cat whose tail’s been stood on eight times already.

Friday looks like the mildest of the forecasts, but I still go when the least amount of wind and rain is predicted.

Not only did I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, but I think there was no bed, no side, and no waking. My drive up is fine until I reach the Roundhouse and it starts raining. Then? I reach Kloofnek and its misty. From there you only drive up and up.

Great. Probably no Cable car (its boarded up as I drive past) AND I’m getting wet.

I’m not happy.

Storm hits 365 Ubuntu Climbs

I’ve always said its fine to get rained on. Just not to start in the rain.

I sit in my car before hoping I can climb at least halfway without jackets (I always have two – one standard for warmth and another for rain to stay dry). If it rains – I have to wear both. No use carrying a wet jacket in my bag.

Its not raining. Its like someone’s sneezing constantly. Constant fine mist that’s not enough to be cold or wet instantly, but after ten minutes enough to soak you.

I must wear my jackets. Which – is INSANELY hot doing so. I’m a sweater. I sweat profusely. After 7 minutes I’m almost at the contour path and I’m not sure if sweat or water is pouring off my forehead.

I’ll be fine if I take off the jackets – so I think.

I walk up one flight of stairs from under the tree canopy and BOOM! The mist/annoyingly fine rain returns.

To make matters worse my rain pants I’m wearing keep sliding down so literally every 5 stairs I have to pull them back up. Interestingly, this – doesn’t happen the next day. Being in an ‘off’ mood and have all this happen starts shredding my sense of humour like FBI agents at Watergate. Or Jacob Zuma lawyers at Nkandla.

I’m not happy.

Today will be only the second hike in 182 that I see not a single other person on the mountain.

That means my first of 3 outlandish cries in frustration go unbeknown to anyone but myself, the mountain, and now you.

Small Miracles

All I can think about is how more annoyed I’m going to be, hiking back down pulling my pants up every two seconds. After placing rock 180 and knowing I only have 13% of the way and roughly seven minutes at a good pace left – I start ‘praying’ for a small miracle that the cable car is working

(At this juncture I should share the wind forecast showed it should be closed all day.)

I. Have. Never. Been. Happier. To. See…. A stock take being done.

EVER!!!

In probably my foulest mood ever I went from the Grinch to Santa in 0.56 seconds.

Gratitude

The cable way was closed but the staff were doing stock take at the shop in the station. With the eyes of a puppy wishing to be adopted I asked if they’d take me down.

“Ask the drivers”

Thankfully, one of my favourite drivers – Bululani – is operating the car opens the doors for me. The sweetest sound to my ear maybe in my life. He has one of the best smiles and radios below to bring us down.

Honestly, a split second changed the tone of what my daily video was going to be versus what it was.

Bululani was my daily miracle. I told him that too. And thanked him.

Andrew Patterson and Bululani
Cable Car ‘Uber’ driver for the day

I saw him again Saturday and we ‘laughed’ but man alive after the weather reports and expecting four hikes down in a row? Two rides down in two days was GOLD!!!!

My brain may not comprehend 180 climbs in a row but damn skippy my legs sure do.

 

Show Respect

Storm water 365 Ubuntu Climbs
I’ve never seen water flowing over the boulder to the right. Ever.

I’m reminded of how many people care as they send wishes on days like today – Sunday, where insane water flowed off the mountain.

Truthfully – a lesson I realised early on in this challenge, is no matter what the weather, the mountain must be respected.

And its on these days where the weather is so adverse and changes so quickly, that I look forward to; because it reminds me how important respect is. Not fear. Respect.

Always remember where you are and never get too big for your boots.

The water on the mountain on day 182 is majestic and made that much more interesting because of gale winds on the middle 1/3 only. Lower down and up top: nothing but WHOA on that middle band, waterfalls flowed back up the mountain.

I earned my stripes this weekend.

And once again I’ve seen the duality of perfect days (in our eyes) compared with not so perfect days (all lies).

There is no such thing as bad weather – just bad preparation.

See you on the mountain

Red Repen Protea Renaissance guy
Reward at the end of hike 182 and week 26

 

It Comes in Three’s

 

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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.

march-second-full-moon.jpg
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.

wintery pic
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.

Inspiring-Nelson-Mandela-quotes-A-winner-is-a-dreamer-who-never-gives-up

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?

cover

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!

IMG_2035
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