The Happy Walk Final Preparation Update

Sunday, Sep 09, 2012 at 23:03


The Happy Walk starts in less than 24hrs.

A huge THANK YOU!!! to everyone who has been following my blogs, newsletters and facebook page. I cannot adequately express my appreciation for your interest and support. Your support has made the preparation much easier.

This will be the last of the preparation instalments. From tomorrow I will be posting regular blogs from the road as I travel and writing newsletters at the end of each of the 15 sections of this 7 year/32,000km walk around Australia.

The first time I thought of doing this walk was way back in 2004 but the general distractions of life sent me in other directions and I completely forgot about it. After a rough year and some intensive recovery the idea resurfaced and since about November 2010 I have been preparing for this massive campaign.

Amongst the many things that have happened during this time of preparation some events stand out more than others:
Meeting my psychologists, Bronnie and Susan, helped me discard my baggage, work through a lot of trauma and recognise and manage the things that trigger meltdowns and panic attacks.
Leaving an unhealthy relationship gave me time and space to reflect on my life purpose and direction.
A name change has been something I have wanted for a long time, about 35 years. I could not decide on a name that felt right and I was a bit unsure how Mum and Dad would respond but when I finally found the right name and started using it with friends, family and especially new people in my life it just felt right.
Attending a Mental Health 1st Aid workshop with Geoff from Mind Strength taught me some of the basic principles to help others struggling through a mental health crisis.
The Love Summit in Sydney was challenging. I had become somewhat of a cynic about love but this conference opened my eyes and my heart to the vastness and potential of love in our everyday lives and interactions with everyone and everything around us. You can’t love everyone all of the time but if you try it makes life much more pleasant.
The Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium in Ballarat was very informative and educational. Getting a bit of insight into the many programs and services existing and developing was inspirational. Some of you know I am neither academic or business minded but it felt comfortable being around hundreds of people all working towards the same goal – improving mental health support in rural and remote Australia.
Happiness and It’s Causes, an annual conference all about Happiness gave some tickets to Lifeline and they gave me one. It was a lot of fun, a real buzz and motivating. If I save carefully I might one day be able to afford to go to another.
Walking 150km alone along the Sydney coastline helped me break free of a few of the main fears that used to paralyse me while in crowds and cities. Using some of the methods introduced by my psychologists I managed to not only complete the walk but enjoy it tremendously.
Travelling to Alice Springs to walk the Larapinta Trail was a bit of a disappointment getting sick but in the last few days in town I met a couple of amazing women, Deb and Christine, whose work with aboriginal communities is selfless and life changing.
Joining Walking Feat as the support vehicle driver for a month during July/August this year showed me a whole other side of raising mental health awareness. Seeing how emotionally, spiritually and psychologically hard it is to be constantly sharing personal experiences and the pressure of meeting an event schedule and itinerary has helped me reassess my own ability to cope with these types of pressure and make adjustment accordingly.
The Lifeline ASIST, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, workshop last weekend was the best thing to round out almost 2 years of preparation. The group was a collection of caring and compassionate individuals from many walks of life with as varied experience and knowledge of suicide and suicide prevention. The workshop gently but firmly guided us through the best way to help someone experiencing thoughts of suicide and I highly recommend everyone attend one of these 2 day workshops.
Each time a new sponsor and major supporter offered me help was a huge boost. Through these companies and organisations I have pulled together a kit of some of the best camping and hiking equipment, boots and clothing, professional shirt embroidery and connections with thousands of other travellers at a fraction of the cost I had expected to pay.
Moving back in with Mum and Dad was kind of scary, just a bit weird, but a massive budget saver. They refused to accept rent so long as I helped out around the house and contributed to meals. I didn’t do much of the cleaning but certainly enjoyed cooking for them and sharing meals. Without their generous assistance I would not have had the money to buy everything I needed.

This chapter of my life has been very busy, full of changes, challenges and a great deal of new thinking. All the highs far outweigh the lows thanks to a great bunch of people in my life and some perfect opportunities I didn’t hesitate to take advantage of.

Tomorrow I start out on a new voyage at 2pm or 1400hrs EST Australia. As Sarah, of Walking Feat, finishes her 3 month walk/ride from Armidale, NSW, to Melbourne I will be starting my walk around Australia. We will be meeting at St Kilda Pier at 1.45pm and start walking 4.5 kilometres to Station Pier where I will be later boarding the ferry to Tasmania. Sarah has been carrying an engraved baton for her last 3,000kms and is passing the baton as a symbolic gesture for Walking Feat to hand the walk for mental health awareness to The Happy Walk. Hopefully, 7 years later I will return to St Kilda Pier where my walk will finish and the baton will be passed to someone else.

If you’re in Melbourne with a bit of spare time tomorrow please come and join us for the passing of the baton and an easy sunny afternoon stroll along the water front. To find us look for Sarah with a Walking Feat shirt and I’ll be the large woman with a recently shaved head, blue Columbia shirt embroidered by Ocean Guardians with bright smiley suns and the ExplorOz Australia, green trousers from Mont and a large back pack from Wilderness Sports in a bright yellow and white logo embellished cover. You won’t be able to see it but there are lots of Strive Food camp meals inside the pack which I will be eating just about every evening, lucky they’re yummy. (Cheeky sponsor plug)

If you can’t make it you will be able to see some pictures on The Happy Walk facebook page, the first walk blog at Wordpress, the website at and possibly the local news or ABC within the next week or so.

I’ll finish off with some pictures of Walking Feat and a bit of my preparation.

Take of yourselves and be kind to each other :)


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