Sometimes just a good "sit" is a positive

I went to an event last night and listened to Natalia Cohen speak. Amazing. Loved every word. It began with her painting a visual picture with words of her epic adventure rowing across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Cairns. It was broken into three sections, with brief stops in Hawaii and Samoa. When they stopped in Hawaii and Samoa it was for approximately seven days to restock the boat, replenish supplies, and to report on progress to the media.


She wasn’t by herself. She shared the journey with five other incredible women - three completed the entire journey, and three did one section each. The entire adventure took them nine months and they covered almost 13,600 kilometres. She described the waves crashing over her head, a towel that was never really dry, eating rehydrated food every day, being slapped in the face by flying fish at night, calloused hands, no privacy (at all), and the lack of anything green. And then after describing what sounds to many of us like hell on earth she said “and I loved every minute of it”.


And it seemed there was an awful lot to love including clear nights with millions of stars, feeling physically strong, the closeness and strength of her fellow adventurers, the feeling of being on top of the world when perched on top of a huge wave and riding down into the trough below, and seeing whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles, fish and birds.


Still, my mind, like many in the audience I suspect, wondered how they managed to remain a “tight crew” given the length of time, the difficult conditions, and the confined living quarters (their boat, Doris, was 29ft long and 7ft wide). Surely there were times when someone’s frustration got the better of them and all hell broke loose. Natalia said their adventure was filled with challenges, almost daily in fact. For example, ipods breaking, the almost unbearable pain of salt sores and pressure wounds, or how about your favourite tupperware container going overboard. All these frustrations on top of sleep deprivation and the constant state of being hot and constantly damp.


How on earth do you stay positive when you’re up against those daily frustrations?


They focused on the positives. Every day, every single day, they each said what their positive experience was for the day. And while it was often a beautiful sunrise, or a whale breaching, or a gorgeous sea bird following their boat for hours, sometimes it was simply a very successful bowel movement. Yes, she did say that. And there it is right there, isn’t it? You have to focus on positives. Our brains are wired to focus on negatives, we do need to make positivity a habit. And looking for daily positives, no matter how simple they may be sometimes, is how you build mental strength and resilience.


They were the first all female team to row the Pacific Ocean. And they were the first ever fours boat to row the Pacific Ocean. Awesome.


Their team values were Strength, Perseverance, Integrity, Resilience, Inspiration, and Trust. SPIRIT. She had bucket loads of it.

[They also raised over $100,000 for two charities - Walking with the Wounded and Breast Cancer Care.]