It has been a strange year and no matter where we all are in the world, we have faced some difficult times. There is, however, no doubt that the challenges we have faced have returned some extremely valuable life lessons and personal growth, even if we have not realised it yet.
Hanging in Limbo
I honestly feel like, for the past 8 months, we have been stuck in that weird time between Christmas and new year where you kind of don’t know what to do with yourself! It took me a little while to adjust to a new way of living and working and ensure that I had a healthy routine that I was motivated to stick to. I’ve realised the importance of a healthy mindset. One that is not overcome with fear and negativity because, I’m sure you can agree, there is a lot of fear and negativity flying around right now.
I’ve also realised that not everyone can protect their minds from the fear and negativity. That, for me, has been the hardest thing to deal with – seeing people suffer, overcome with so much fear that it has pretty much made them a different person. Routine has been super important and I’m so grateful for the people in my life that overflow with positivity and stay true to themselves. They have kept me sane.
Distanced from the Water
I’ve not been diving since earlier this year. I’m going to be honest, it has been a break which I needed. My last job in the diving industry came close to breaking my spirit and stealing me of my passion. As much as I say being a diving instructor is the best job ever, the industry can be brutal. Especially when money is put first. I learnt the lesson the hard way, and now know to be so careful where I invest my energy into. I’ve seen the break as a time to heal from this experience. But, I can say one thing for certain, I look forward to meeting new dive buddies and getting back into the water early next year, when lockdown and travel restrictions are lifted.
The intermittent travel restrictions have prevented me somewhat from getting to the coastline this year. I’ve been living vicariously through those lucky enough to live by the sea. I had several trips planned which had to be postponed due to restrictions – just my luck! But hey, I’ve accepted that these things happen for a reason. Saying that, I have still managed to visit waterfalls and forests, wild camp, wild swim and practice breathwork out in nature. We also hiked 7 mountains across two days in Snowdonia National Park, check out some of the photos below from these adventures!
I have a few things on my bucket list for next year, including venturing into the world of tech diving and freediving. So watch this space!
Finspiring Change & Make Stewardship Count
If you have followed me on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll know about Finspire Change. We were super excited to fly past the 100,000 signature mark on the petition in September. However, the work is not over. It is vital that citizens and their MP’s remain engaged with the topic and we have been working on several ways that people can help. We are still waiting on a date for the debate and working closely with our campaign partners and legal professionals to gather the information needed to lobby for a ban on shark fin imports and the removal of the 20kg import allowance loophole.
I’ve worked in the world of conservation for several years now, and as each day passes, I see more and more companies and organisations greenwashing. Is this becoming more common? Or am I simply becoming more aware of it? Either way, it’s shocking. Shark Guardian have joined a coalition of over 40 international NGO’s and retailers that are campaigning for several critical changes with Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards. You may be familiar with the white tick displayed on some seafood, certifying it as “sustainable”. MSC have an incredible PR and marketing team that have worked wonders of portraying the certification of sustainable fisheries only. But this is far from the truth. This is a huge beast to be fighting so I’ll be writing a separate blog on this in the near future, but for now, check out the Make Stewardship Count website for more information.
Working on the Waterways
I admit, I don’t talk much about my full time job, but I have been super lucky to work for such a great organisation who have really looked after their colleagues this year. I feel like I have learnt so much in my role with the Canal & River Trust and continue to be intrigued by our nations canals and their history. I’ve also gained an unexpected appreciation of the heritage of this infrastructure. They have evolved and many play an integral part in the wellbeing of communities. No longer are they used mainly for transport, but now they are often the closest that some people can get to nature. They link communities and act as corridors for nature. They were once the lifeblood of our countries development, and now provide us with spaces to re-connect with nature, becoming the lifeblood of our wellbeing.
I often see discussions of how our planet is taking a much needed break. In some ways this is true, which is great on the short term. But there are so many long term issues that arise from this pandemic. Tourism has disappeared from many countries that rely on it for their livelihoods. Critical wildlife monitoring programmes have ceased in certain areas of the world. We have less of an idea of how wildlife is coping. And we are seeing communities turn to poaching, illegal fishing and hunting as a means to earn income due to the drop in tourism.
I really feel that the world as we know it has changed. Each and every day it becomes more evident that we are controlled by giant corporations that are driven by greed and dollar signs. Our governments are corrupt and have vested interests in detrimental practices. The system is collapsing and the veil is being lifted. We are moving into a new era where we need to shout, louder than ever, for the protection of nature. But above all, try to disconnect from the reality that is often forced upon us, look after yourself both mentally and physically and seek what you need from within. You can’t look after others, or our planet, if you don’t look after yourself first.