A timeline of the last year

This one most definitely goes down as the biggest year for me yet in terms of learnings, travel, relationships and work. I've been to Portugal, Cornwall and Devon, cycled to Edinburgh, cycled to Copenhagen (solo in Feb), completed Ironman Wales and the 90 mile Velothon in Cardiff, ran a 36 mile ultramarathon with my friend Zennor in Austria, moved house three times, worked with 5 different jobs, went back and forth to Pembrokeshire like a yo-yo and went to three beautiful weddings. My grandpa passed away last month, my friends have had babies and gotten pregnant and my sister got engaged. I've also been to gigs and concerts including Matthew and The Atlas, Michael McIntyre, Van Morrison and The White Buffalo, done courses in Photoshop, pottery, joined a choir, kickboxing and been to two different dance clubs - Afrodance fusion and a swing dance intensive course.

I've made a bit of a habit of reflecting on the year that's been on New Year's Eve. And this year was no different. 31.12.17. Fresh start tomorrow and 2018 brings plans for many more exciting adventures, more weddings, more triathlons, new work, exploring a side project, spending more weekends with friends and family plus I've signed up for a level 4 diploma in holistic massage too. 

I put my photoshop skills and memory to the test and took a trip down memory lane, this is the result! 


Moments that made my 2017, made by me on NYE 31.12.17 

that time I went to Bangalore for work

Two weeks into my new job working with Civic I found myself waking up in Indiranaga in the heart of the urban Indian sprawl Bangalore or Bengaluru. I was there for just 4 nights, there to listen to some amazing stories of work in the humanitarian sector - specifically around disaster and emergency provisions in The Phillipines, Kenya, Bangladesh and Jordan, but also to deliver a one hour session on who Civic are, what they do and how the digital platform our team has created will help them to better collaborate and share their models of positive social change so they can be replicated across the sector and beyond.

 

 

now working with Civic

They write about themselves:

Civic is a change accelerator. We bring together unlikely allies, people-powered ideas and shared assets to help make social change happen faster, cheaper, better in places around the world.. We're a fledgling, ambitious, start-up - more a movement than an organization. We are currently operating projects in Nepal, Afghanistan, Jordan, Turkey and the UK. And we actively partner with local and global operators to deliver our work.

They have a simple website civic.co to describe their work - check it out, it'll take you just 5 minutes to read. =  ) 

My role is the Digital Community Manager and I am working remotely from Bristol with the occasional trip to London doing 2.5 days a week. My role, as laid out by them is to: 

• Manage a growing and dynamic group of users on the Civic platform • Split focus on communities associated with partners/sponsors and organic users • Input into platform strategy with a focus on community growth and platform development

And it's going well. I'm now about one month into the new job and am learning lots. Apart from my digital work with Good For nothing, The Wild Network and TYF, plus building my site here, I'm fairly new to the digital space. That said my community management and development experience has spanned lots of different industry's - from retail at finisterre, hospitality at surf simply, community engagement and support through good for nothing, events at unreasonable and do lectures - so I'm excited to see how this physical community building will translate across to the digital space - likely to include many of the same values of building trust, being authentic, listening and communicating effectively and often, allowing a space that people can open up in an honest and helpful way... being kind, being generous, experimenting, rapid prototyping solutions, and embarking on a learning journey. 

Our users aren't on boarded yet but will be in the next few weeks, so I'm looking forward to working with that community to get them using the platform and helping us to make it better.

And as always, like most millennials, it's important to me to do work that matters. I am incredibly passionate about the work Civic are doing - essentially aligning with their belief that we can make positive change much faster if we work together, and in doing so share what we are learning along the way so others can benefit from what's been done before. They do that through their place-based work, their digital platforms including impact measurement, ecosystem mapping and this collaboration for innovation tool and capital. 

Providing I pass my 3 mont probation I'll still be there this time next year, so expect to hear more on the Civic stuff soon! 

 

I'm an Ironman (x 2)

Last Sunday was the toughest physical endurance challenge of my life. 

Two years ago I flew to sunny Mexico and competed in my first Ironman - on the island of Cozumel. It was 35 degrees, flat and windy. Shortly after I finished it, I decided I'd one day like to complete Ironman Wales in my home county of Pembrokeshire. So on a winters evening in January this year me and my best mate Jo signed up for the race. Along with my husband Ross and my little sister Jaz. The four of us didn't quite know what we had got ourselves in for but trained hard, with grit, tears, sweat and blood. This determination got us to the finish line last Sunday but not without a battle on our hands. 

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.
— Isak Dinesen

In classic Pembrokeshire style we were treated to a colourful forecast to say the least.

 

Throughout the day we experienced gusts of up to 40 mph from the WSW (head wind to Angle and tail wind to Narberth) an horizontal rain. There were oil spills and other challenges along the way - in the chaos of transition I left my swimming ear plugs in for the first 10 miles, on the 2nd loop of the 112 mile bike I got a flat tyre which I sorted but without co2 or a track pump didn't get the pressure above 50psi... and I threw down ibuprofen and paracetamol to ease the pain of my left IT band on the marathon.  Although I did my first Ultra in June, my self inflicted knee injury meant that for the 5 weeks leading up to Ironman I didn't run more than 7 miles. Not ideal in preparing for a marathon. 

They say if you finish between 11pm and midnight then you finish in heroes hour because you have been going the longest. Our race started at 7am and I crossed the finish line after 16 hours and 6 minutes... at 11:05pm which I guess makes me a hero??! Nice. I was pretty beat coming into the 'Athletes Village' and was treated to a 10 min sports massage which I could have enjoyed all night, a hot chocolate, a slice of pizza and a hug from Ross and eventually my sister too. 

Our fans lined the course in most villages we passed on the bike ride. Seeing familiar faces peppered between crowds of strangers all shouting "Go Alice Go, you got this, you're going to be an ironman, well done Alice, keep pushing Alice, nearly there Alice, one more lap Alice.... Alice Beese You Are An Ironman".... it was all super awesome. 

Why did I do it? You don't get many opportunities in life where you push yourself really, really hard. Most things come easy and you float along on the comfortable day to day hum drum of life. When you sign up for something like this all your free time goes into training - morning sessions in the pool, long days on the bike and short, medium and long runs - sometimes fast sometimes steady. You work so hard for something and then you test what your body can achieve - and if you let it, it will often do much more than you might ever have imagined possible. 

So much of the Ironman journey is a mental one - and 15% of the competitors didn't finish the race last Sunday, not surprising given it's the 10th toughest Ironman course in the world and the worst conditions they've seen in the 7 year history. Still I made it to the finish line with 55 minutes to spare before the midnight cut off and felt so proud to receive my medal - couldn't bear the weight of it though what with the rash on my neck from the swim and my weary legs. 

 

Mohit Mamoria wrote  Are You Who You Think You Are. I think it's pretty bang on article to make that enquiry into who we are, not by definition of our jobs. 

A wise man asks three bricklayers what they are doing. One says, “I am laying bricks.” Another says, “I am building a wall.” The third one says, “I am building the cathedral.”

Also from the article my favourite quote of all time: 

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” ― Dr. Seuss

And this beautiful gem: 

You are a story, yet to unfold,
You are a book, yet to be told,
You are a pot, before it’s mould,
You might be just a rock perhaps,
Just a rock? Yes, but a rock of gold.

I'm going to be making that very same enquiry into myself over the last year of my 20's. Yesterday I turned 29 and will be writing some memoirs of the last three decades and plans for the future over the coming weeks and months as we close 2017. 

 

Alive

Alive

A short story from Spoken* 


 

We busted out the door, catching my left pedal and my right handlebar simultaneously on the white wooden frame, chipping off some flaky old white paint. They’ll touch it up again before the next tenant moves in this winter. Minutes later we are flying down Park Street at approximately 30mph despite the speed limit being 10 notches lower. There’s a bump from a stone and a slight swerve as we dodge a reversing taxi. She's late for her yoga class. Yoga?! Doesn’t she know Ironman is “all about the bike”. Those 112 miles won’t come easy next month - and they are only part of it. I mean don’t get me wrong, we’ve done some decent rides lately, but I don’t see how lying in Savasana or doing Pigeon is going to get us up Saundersfoot Hill.  We dodged the pedestrians and potholes with grace carving from left to right before shortcutting through the arch where the jagged cobblestones cut into my tyres.

We came to a sharp stop and she locked me securely to a black pole embedded securely in the concrete. I look around casually scanning the environment... looks like his chain was last seen silver in the 90s. Another with stickers plastered from his bars to his saddle, when he grows old they’ll peel and then he’ll regret it.

Alice fumbled with the keys and for the hundredth time, I hear her cursing under her breath about replacing that fiddly old lock. Still it does the trick and she patted my saddle and does the Schwarzenegger  ‘I’ll be back!’.

She scurried down the street with her 5yr old pink yoga mat - a thoughtful wellbeing wedding gift protruding from her globe trotting Ortlieb Pannier. Swinging her unusual handbag she bounded up the stairs two at a time, and sat seated with 30 seconds to spare. She was sweating before the class even had began and attempted the calm and collected posture on the front of her mat alongside the other yogis in deep meditation.

Outside I am rudely woken from my own meditation as an unfamiliar hand touched my handlebars and stroked my saddle. My stomach churned as I heard the boys talking about my frame disrespectfully. They sniggered, jeering each other on and began to crowd around me.

“Get your hands off me!” I screamed to no avail.

They cut the wire holding me to that metal pole like it was a piece of thread. My safety belt. My lifeline to Alice. Gone in seconds. I was alone now. Their sweaty palms took me down an unknown street. People around were happily chatting, blissfully unaware of the nightmare unfolding before their eyes. I was totally powerless. We arrived at the home of the chubby one with the baseball cap. They cut my trusted Quadlock holder that had helped direct us to Copenhagen, unvelcroed my survival toolkit from under my saddle, stripping me down bit by bit. They don’t know who I am or the roads I’ve been down. And then they began to unscrew my my bottle cage. My mind was firing uncontrollably on what was coming next. Is this my fate?

“Let’s take it to Dave’s and get ‘im to spray ‘er that matt orange, like the job he done last week”

I felt the fresh air on my frame, cooling with me, with a sense of hope and even better escape. The banter continued.

Then, I was spotted by a man on the corner who looked me up and down. He walked directly for us.

Hey lads, give me that bike, it’s mine”. Said the man with the mohican.

I’m NOT yours!” I cried.

No chance pal, it’s my mates”. Replied the scrawny legs.

“It’s not your mates. You either give it to me now for £35 or I’m calling the cops”.

£35 later and I was with the mohican walking back the opposite way. We got to his house. I quietly leant against a grimy wall in his kitchen and watched cautiously as he typed away, scheming something on his laptop. It seemed like days passed and I fell into a deep dream where I was back cruising down the Oregon coastline headed for Mexico, until he stepped outside on the phone. I couldn’t quite make out the distant chatter from my spot by the smelly fridge.

Then he wheeled me outside, climbed on top of me, heavy and all off balance. He rode me no more than three blocks before we arrived outside what looked like an Adult Shop. A3 Posters sellotaped to the door and neon yellow signs saying Adults Only, No U18’s…. Oh my god no. How embarrassing. Inside there were Asian Porn Mags, Handcuffs, Cockstops and Dwarfs Doing Doggy on DVD. It was filthy. I never thought I’d be seen dead in a shop like this. I shut my eyes and tried to go back to the Highway 1, trying to create a positive mindset, rather than the real fear that I’d be used as a prop in their next movie.

Then the front door to the shop slowly opened and a familiar face peeked around the door….

“Alice it’s you! I can’t believe it’s you! I’m Alive, I’m Alive!!!” I cried out from Dildo corner.  

She looked at me like, oh boy what a crazy adventure. After she'd paid him back the £35, we left the shop bars in hand and on arriving home she took my picture against the bushes, like a soldier back from war, and began to tell the world about my escapades on Instagram and Facebook. Inside the house I met her new bike - just two days old, blue and full of pride, gleaming in the evening light in my spot under the paintings in the hall. I couldn’t quite believe she had replaced me so quickly. I’d only been gone four days. And then to discover I had been demoted from Ironman as well - that was a double blow. Still, New Blue will never be able to take away the memories we have shared together.

The following Thursday a heavy package arrived in the post from Halfords. It was a new lock sent by her best mate.

Hopefully this’ll keep you out of trouble” she said, as she looped it around my frame.

I know one thing for certain. I’m happy to be alive.


*Spoken is going to be a book written by my bike.

This is the first draft of the first piece of writing that may or may not turn into a book. 

Comments below please!!! 

 

 

On Marriage....

I love hand-making cards for friends.

Sadly I don't do it much these days because of training etc but one day hope to have a little studio where I can do this all day. 

When you open up the blinds on the front of the card, the truth about marriage is revealed in the form of a quote from renowned philosopher and best selling author Alain De Botton. 

It's from his book called The Course of Love and it reads: 

Marriage: a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully omitted to investigate.
— Alain De Botton

This was the card that went with their Peace Lily and Painting of the Peace Lily. 

For anyone who has loved, is in love or hopes to be in love > Watch: Alain's talk On Love.... Please watch it. 

Eat. Work. Train. Socialize. Sleep. Repeat. (Jan - September)

Back in January I signed up to do my second Ironman. 

I did my first Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico in November 2015. You can read about that here.

This one is in one month. Well it was a month yesterday. The count down is on. Training is at it's peak. Over the weekend I ate a whole banana bread loaf that I baked on Friday. You wouldn't believe the food I'm putting down. 

Swim 2.4 miles, bike 11 miles and run 26.2 miles. It will be hilly and hopefully the weather will be on our side. Here's the video teaser for it. 36 seconds long. 

Mission2020

There are no passengers on planet earth. We are all crew
— Buckminster Fuller

This phrase has stuck with me since our Swarm event with Mission2020 last month. I have heard it before but this time it meant something different. 

I was hired by Swarm back in the spring to help re-launch The Wild Network and manage the relationship between Boston Tea Party and Good For Nothing as GFN embarked on a new chapter.

This Mission2020 thing kind of came out of know where. One minute I was casually looking for a venue to host 50 people for 48hours in mid July, the next I was calling caterers and before you know it I was writing up the schedule for the event onto big black boards in the entrance hall. 

 West Lexham Barn - our home for the two days. Plus accommodation in gorgeous barn conversion ensuitebedrooms, bell tents and tree houses.

West Lexham Barn - our home for the two days. Plus accommodation in gorgeous barn conversion ensuitebedrooms, bell tents and tree houses.

 West Lexham gardens, stunning walks with wild flowers, bees, trees, vegetable gardens, a river to swim in. The perfect place to open hearts and minds to what's possible. 

West Lexham gardens, stunning walks with wild flowers, bees, trees, vegetable gardens, a river to swim in. The perfect place to open hearts and minds to what's possible. 

This time those famous Bucky words above rang in my ears. I have been involved in event production in one way or another for the last ten years - sure it was all vastly different, some volunteering, some facilitation, some public speaking and some travel but the whole time I have felt a little on the side lines. I mean I am busy don't get me wrong. I bust my ass making sure the events run smoothly, attendees get a warm family style welcome, dinners are nourishing and warm the soul, as do my handwritten welcome notes or moments of recognition to those who are participating. I am not a passenger though. I am part of the crew and these events are something I helped to create. The concepts are proven. The tables set. The beds made. And this go round, I really stood tall and proud in the event I helped produce. 

Early in 2017 we embarked on an exciting collaboration with Mission2020 and Project Everyone with the goal of rapidly co-creating a new story around climate action.

The historic and legally binding Paris Agreement gave us a roadmap to address climate change by limiting future warming to below 2C while striving for 1.5C. This goal is deemed necessary to avoid incalculable risks to humanity, and it is feasible – but realistic only if we bend the curve of global emissions by 2020 at the latest: our climate turning point.
— swarm.gd

We need new stories, new tactics and new ways to shift hearts and minds, that a more beautiful world is possible.

That was what our 48hour swarm in Norfolk in July was all about. 

You can read more from two Matteo Menapace and Owen Thomas who are two designers who wrote their own write ups about the event as well. 

 #onamission #mission2020 #swarm #weareallcrew

#onamission #mission2020 #swarm #weareallcrew

Shine

 “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson

I did a 38.5 mile running race. It was called the Mozart 100

I was at my girls weekend at I managed to rope in my mate Zennor to coming to Salzburg in Austria with me to run a 38.5 mile race through the mountains. We both did it and finished with smiles on our faces. It was an awesome experience. Running is amazingly simple - one foot in front of the other, pump your arms and off you go.

 

You can run half a mile, a half marathon or run around the world. Hell I never thought I would be running 38.5miles but it's amazing what the body is capable of. And let's face it, at my novice level i didn't run the whole thing. You power walk up the side of the mountains, jog along the top and run down the other side, and do it again. And again. All the way to the finish. There were regular aid stations serving all sorts of calorific, salty treats. I remember reaching the point where we had run a marathon. And still had a half marathon to go. 

 Looking very happy here

Looking very happy here

I wore my little light weight back pack with a water bladder filled to the brim, I had snacks and a sun hat. My Saucony running shoes were amazing and although I had compeed on my arches I was surprised not to get one blister unlike poor Zennor who got a corker. 

Ironman is in September. Exciting times. 

 Here we are crossing the finish line, 11 hours later

Here we are crossing the finish line, 11 hours later

Good For Nothing Bristol!

Last night we launched Good For Nothing in Bristol. It was in the Boston Tea Party Cafe on Cheltenham Road in Stokes Croft - a vibrant, cultural and passionate part of the city. There was cold beer, cheese and wine and a group of about 30 individuals who all showed up to find out more about Good For Nothing. There was a real buzz and we're all super happy with how it all panned out - here's a little video about Good For Nothing and how you can get involved.

I helped with the event set up, registration, communications and a bit of hosting and ushering on the night. Today the new chapter has been formed and we have ten folks who are going to crew this local group. Going forward I'll help ensure the chapter leaders are set up to run with this in Bristol and take on the event organising and community building themselves. Tonight Good For Nothing is being launched in Bath and then at the end of the month we're doing the same in Exeter and Birmingham. It's an exciting time for this creative generosity movement and I'm humbled to be a part of it. 

Hugely grateful to Boston Tea Party for providing the space, the wine, the beer, the cheese and the good vibes - hoping this partnership thrives and looking forward to seeing where this journey will take us. 

#gfnbristol