This week has largely been preparation for the next three, in which I will walk Hadrian’s Wall with Aaron, recover while doing some DIY and looking after the kids, and then travel with Team Belshaw on holiday to Croatia. Work-wise, I have endeavoured not to start anything new this week.
Instead, I’ve been thinking, planning, and shopping in an attempt to make sure that what seemed from a way off like a harmless jaunt across country doesn’t turn into a world of pain. I’m particularly concerned about:
My feet — while 1-2 day hikes are easy, I’ve never done a 5-6 day hike before
My back — I should be OK with carrying around 13kg in my 75-litre rucksack, but ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯
The cold — it’s forecast to get down to -3°C some nights, will I be warm enough?
As a result, I’ve bought new walking socks to ensure my feet are looked after and I have done my best to prevent blisters. I’m packing as light as I possibly can to help my back, while still ensuring I’ve got the essentials. Although there’s plenty of civilisation at either end of the journey, there’s not so much in the middle! And to prevent getting too cold, I’m taking the very warm sleeping bag I bought last year inside which I’ll place a new Klymit Inertia X Frame sleeping pad. This is in addition to my Thermarest Z-Lite foldable closed-cell foam pad.
There’s lots of advice to be found about walking Hadrian’s Wall, but I’ve found this post to be most useful — including the top tip to walk it from west to east so that we’re walking with the prevailing wind. It also means that I’ll only be around 15 miles away from home! Our planned route is below, but it’s subject to change. The white dots are where we’re planning to stay over for the night, which involves a mixture of pods, youth hostels, and camping.
On the work front, I’ve been helping think through structures for the Greenpeace project that cannot be named, recording the first episode of Season 4 of The Tao of WAO podcast (which will feature Kayleigh Walsh from Outlandish), sorting out invoices, running a community call for the Keep Badges Weird community, and doing other internal stuff.
It’s a busy weekend with both kids involved in multiple sports matches, Hannah doing a practice walk of her own in preparation for the Mighty Hike in July, and me doing last minute faffing preparations. I’m sure a decade ago I would have been giving constant updates on next week’s trip, but instead I’ll just enjoy it. That might involve putting some photos on my Mastodon account, or even a blog post or two. But I’m not going to stress about it!
Earlier this week, a friend and former colleague asked on a Slack channel for resources to help plan the next five years. Along with others, I suggested the ikigai method, but then this morning explored further and came across this resource. It’s seems pretty good.
Planning for the future is something that I should be doing both personally and professionally. It’s something I’m used to doing. Something I help clients do.
I made a start but then kind of ran of steam. I wondered why. When I talked to a friend about it we agreed that it’s difficult to make plans when everything’s so uncertain. But then not to make plans makes us feel like we’re bobbing along a river, carried along by whichever way the currents take us.
Later, I read an article that came my way via a newsletter. I stopped planning. We need to give ourselves some space and not dive right back into the way things were. As the author says, we need to recharge.
I think the real problem is that life is still exhausting because the pandemic was and remains exhausting in so many invisible ways — and we still haven’t given ourselves space to even begin to recover. Instead, we’re just softly boiling over, emptying and evaporating whatever stores of energy and patience and grace remain.
So the first step is recognizing that you, too, need rest. Don’t just want it, don’t just fantasize about it, don’t just talk about it and then deny it, but need it, require it, in order to keep going. The second step is advocating for the structures that make it possible — on a personal, professional, and societal level — so that others can ask and receive rest too.
My wife’s currently working full-time through the summer months on a contract that’s allowed her to change careers. It’s a wonderful opportunity, but she’s not worked full-time since before our 14 year-old son was born, and (as a former teacher) she’s never worked through the summer.
Although it’s disrupted our routines, what her contract has allowed me to do is to gently take my foot off the accelerator pedal for a moment. It’s not time to put it back down again for a few weeks yet.
English translation of title: “Man Plans, and God Laughs”. Image from an original by Karen Bailey.
I was helping someone plan a workshop today. While I was no expert in the content, it made me realise there’s a common structure I’ve come to use.
1. Briefly introduce the workshop leaders. You’ll demonstrate your expertise later, and presumably the attendees were impressed enough by your credentials to book a place.
2. Allow participants to say something. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but you could ask them to rank how they’re feeling out of 10, or finish the sentence, “if you really knew me, your know that…”
3. Get participants to do something. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but if you’re using a new tool later, this is a good, low-stakes opportunity to ensure everyone can access it. You could ask people to add a stick note to a physical wall or a Google Jamboard indicating what they’re hoping to get out of the workshop.
4. Go through the structure of the workshop. Explain what you’ll be covering, when the breaks are, etc. Ideally, link this back to the previous activity, outlining how the workshop will meet the participants’ requirements.
5. Provide some input. If you need to explain a concept, go through some theory, or otherwise lecture participants, do it now! Try to keep it to 15 mins, then stop for questions. If you’ve got two workshop leaders (always a good idea!) switch it you need to provide more input.
6. Stop for a 15 min break. Tailor the length of your breaks to the needs of your participants (accessibility, age, etc.) but give them at least 15 mins.
7. Practice. After asking for any further questions after the break* give participants a chance to practice what they’ve been taught. If there’s no immediately-obvious way to do this, break into pairs or small groups to discuss how they could apply what they’ve learned in their job/life.
8. Provide a space to park ideas and people. Deal with latecomers, off-topic ideas, and other miscellaneous things by having a ‘clinic’ breakout room and ‘Parking lot’ board.**
9. Check in after lunch. Ask people what they had to eat. Food is an easy way for a group to bond.
10. Ask participants to commit to next steps. If there’s a follow-up workshop, set homework. If there’s not, ask participants to commit to an action, and then follow up with them via email / social media / pigeon after a specified amount of time.
There’s plenty more workshop advice I could give, but I’ll stop there for now. Perhaps one more bit: although you should have dedicated Q&A time, there should never be a time when it’s not OK for participants to ask a question.
* always pause for longer than you think you need to (e.g. drink from a water bottle or coffee cup to prolong the pause)