When I'm 64 - A Story from Jan Blythe - Outward Bound

When I'm 64 - A Story from Jan Blythe


Jan's story:

I am slowly starting to integrate what happened at Outward Bound over those 21 action packed days. I am finding it strange settling back into ‘everyday life’ and I am holding onto the advice they gave us at the end.

I am being mindful of what I replace the Anakiwa water with, and I am aware that others have not had the life changing experience that I have over the last three weeks. I try to listen to their stories. However, OB keeps bubbling out. I remember something new and hold my tongue sometimes and hug that memory to myself until its appropriate to share.

Outward Bound is incredibly well organised and we had two amazing instructors. I loved nearly every minute of my time at Anakiwa.

There was one day, day 19, (after having no sleep during the night) when I felt like I was 105 years-old. I think I was just mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. But even on that day I could still enjoy kayaking backwards down the Pelorous river. (When they told us to use vertical blades I took it literally - how we paddle waka, but in hindsight I don’t think they meant quite that vertical!)

The other thing I didn’t enjoy was when I realised that we had to celebrate the end of every expedition with a jump off the wharf. I was pretty annoyed after the first expedition - a couple of hard, slow days bush bashing, I didn’t want to do it Scotty! But somehow he encouraged me and talked me round and I did jump, eventually.

I learnt that I really am an MDMTC (Motivated, disciplined mentally tough chick) as my boot camp instructor told me before coming to Outward Bound.

I learnt that it is good to know exactly what my fears are. The jumping off the wharf had to be the greatest challenge for me. I thought it was a two-fold fear, that I was only terrified of the deep water and of the cold water. It was only after I had done the high ropes (which I loved) that I realised that stepping off into ‘the great nothingness’ onto the flying fox was my third fear (and probably the biggest of the three) for that jump off the wharf.

Once I realised that, I knew that to do it without hesitation, I needed help. So together with a watch-mate, we worked out a strategy while we walked the last of the half marathon so that I would be able to do it.

With the support of most of my watch on the wharf and holding Darlene’s hand, I stepped off into nothing, into the deep and cold water and I ate that frog without hesitation! (They have a saying that "if you have to eat a frog don’t look at it for too long" - I had been staring at it and scaring myself silly.)

I am really pleased I put so much effort into my preparation for Outward Bound. That was what got me through it, along with my experience, my attitude, a lot of humour (even if some of that was slightly left of centre), the support of my watch and lots of warm clothes.

I am impressed at how the instructors encouraged and built such a sense of trust within the group from day one. I am also impressed to know just how much I can handle, at how much more there is within me that I have never known or acknowledged.

I have never run more than three km before and even that was a challenge some mornings. I did crack the 20 minutes one day (19 mins 35 seconds). Then I ran the first eight kms of the half marathon (all be it slowly) and ran/walked the next three km to Davies Bay before I fell and re-grazed the same knee I had grazed the day before. I walked the rest of it, but I completed it.

All in all, I had a ball. I would do it again tomorrow (well perhaps next week) given the chance. 

Jan scott watchjan blythe