Day 13 – this too shall pass


Day 13 – This too shall pass…

5 years ago I did a 10 day silent meditation course that was the hardest thing, mentally, I’d ever done. During this Vipassana course ( you are simply and effectively taught the basics of a Buddhist meditation technique. The courses are run all over the world in the exact same format, are funded by donations and staffed by volunteers who have sat the course at least once before. It was a fascinating experience and one that will forever remain with me in some subtle shape or form. The ultimate goal being love and compassion for all – which is how I attempt to lead my life by looking for the best in others as well as remembering to be kind to myself.

The basic teaching is that there is this law of nature that everything changes. Attempting to change the bad habit patterns of the mind and not to have cravings or aversions to things (as they will only ever lead to unhappiness or suffering), is at the centre of the teachings. Be balanced and non reactive to situations and be safe in the knowledge that whatever it is that is happening or you are feeling right now, will change.
For this reason there is no need to hold on to stuff mentally and by not giving negative scripts more power by indulging them – you simply observe and then let it go (in the wise words of the Frozen lyrics!)

There’s all the evidence in the world for this being a good way to live life and no example more perfect then what we are experiencing right now out here in the almighty Pacific. I’m doing my best to be non reactive, but it’s difficult. I have to constantly remind myself to feel no aversion to the regular soakings and the freezing cold clothes we have to put on before rowing. My sleep deprived mind plays tricks on me, especially at night, and I’m so exhausted that I dream I’m rowing and row in a dream like state through many shifts.
I try not to get too excited when the sun shines or the wind ceases from blowing so hard so that we can row with two arms…and I know that all this is a mere taste of things to come.
We will be tested every stoke of this journey. The key is to take all moments as they come and remember that:

This too shall pass

I have a sneaky suspicion that this next few months is going to become the most difficult thing I will have done to date. Although the physical is becoming more challenging now with the bum issues, wind in a less than favourable position creating hard rowing, cold, constant dampness etc… we know that all this will change. Before long the heat and possible lack of wind will be our challenges and after that a different set of obstacles to overcome – no doubt.

How we deal with most of the physical is through the mind and the mental challenge was always going to be the biggest test out here. That was what had drawn me to the expedition. I will need to remind myself of this when I’m battling the aversions and giving in to the cravings (fresh food, more than 90 minutes sleep at a time, a shower, being able to stand steadily straight upright etc !??!)

What we are going through will be finite and nothing compared to the mental strength needed by a cancer sufferer or woman injured at war. This is where we have witnessed some real strength and spirit. The mind is our most powerful tool and it’s good to remember that.

Update: the wind has died and we were able to enjoy a couple of shifts remaining dry and discomfort free. The sun shone and the sea expanded calmly before us.
Ems and I had a peaceful sunset shift and although I’ll breathe in the moments, I won’t attach myself – as by the next 2 hour shift – who knows what the ocean will throw at us.




  1. JG says:

    Bodies will adapt, harden and cope. It’s the mind that has to be channeled trained and guided. You have that taped Natalia, by all accounts. Great blog with much to think about in it. Not long now to more favourable wind and wave.

  2. pat mitchell says:

    You all are strong. You can do this. On a mission GOD is good.

  3. We’re loving reading your blogs and hearing about your adventure. You’re all incredible, brave and determined and coping so well with the mental and physical challenge. We’re prouder of you than words can express. From everyone at Breast Cancer Care.

  4. Dear Natalia, I love checking on your progress and reading your blogs each and every day. All of you are incredibly inspiring. Today’s blog written by you has really hit home and could not have come at a better time. Feeling blessed to know you and be a part of your journey from thousands of miles away. Sending you hugs and sparkles!
    Love, Jessica

  5. Jim Andrews says:

    Excellent entry, Natalia. You ladies must be incredibly strong both mentally and physically. I was a soldier for 24 years but never endured as you are. I repeat what I post most days. You are awesome, inspirational and very brave, our thoughts and best wishes accompany you every inch of your journey. XX

  6. Ian McCurdie says:

    Like so many others, I’m really enjoying reading your updates, stories & thoughts. None more so than Natalia’s latest blog – really thoughtful and so, so true.
    You are a truly inspiring team.
    Go well out there and keep sharing the adventure……

  7. Natalia,
    you guys are a total inspiration,, i live for your blogs and you are on my mind lots…
    You are total awesome, your physical and emotional strength is incredible..
    In your darkest moments.. give a thought to miss tongue and her latin lessons.. making me walk up and down ringing a bell with you guys trailing behind all chanting something in latin.. or the great mrs edgar or oldfield….
    good luck for the rest

  8. ALC says:

    You are amazing – things can only get better.
    It is so good to read all the blogs and get a taste of what you are all going through and how you are coping.
    Westward Ho, you seem to be going faster.
    Have you seen Edward again, what about Albert and any other sea creatures or birds?
    Good luck. Good luck. Good luck!

  9. Simon TY says:

    Feeling guilty as been in London for last few days, so not checked yr every move. Laura read Francis Chichester The Lonely Sea and the Sky ( one of the most inspiring books ever). When asked “what was yr lowest ebb ?” his reply was “When the gin ran out”. So, think cocktails, think Hawaii. And another quote from Mark Twain: “Only the guy who isnt rowing has time to rock the boat”. Keep strong, keep pulling your way into the record books; keep rowing towards a staggering fundraising goal; keep rowing for all of us ( none of us could do what you are doing); keep rowing as lots of people are thinking of you. Look at the moon: everyone sends love and wishes for a fair wind

  10. Rich Shelton says:

    fascinating insight into an incredible experience. Keep the blog going, it’s great! Strength and honour to you all

  11. Sorry ladies but just read your plight and couldn’t resist this

    Steve Atlantic Lions (Dad)

    The Angry (bum) Birds, Doris and the monstrous plight of the Ocean Rower

    Deep in the Pacific Ocean is one the monsters of the deep which experts thought to have been extinct some 65 million years ago seems to have returned to haut fours ladies in a rowing boat out in the Pacific Ocean. Of course I am talking about the famous Quadruplesorearse Rex.

    The Quadruplesorearse Rex was a fierce predator that sat on eight powerful legs. This meat-eater had an angry looking red head with billowing cheeks and well-developed muscles. It had eight arms with which it used to pull itself along, each with four fingers.

    The Quadruplesorearse Rex had rough, scaly skin, it was bumpy, like an alligator’s skin, and has been described as a “lightly pebbled dash skin.” probably lived in the oceans, where its prey (other salty meat-eating Sorearses) and could find plenty of food. Up until now Quadruplesorearse Rex have been found off the western coast of North America but are known to rome other oceans as well.

    Quadruplesorearse Rex’s brain had a very large area in the brain for processing odors and had a love of nappy crème, lots of it, which it lavishly spread about its person. These creatures spent most of their time seated so are not to steady on their feet especially when came out of their cramped cave like burrow not sleeping that much but enjoying a highly routined existence or so it is said!

  12. Sam says:

    A beautiful post Natalia. I spoke to a friend earlier who has just had her last herceptin injection, she’s been given the all clear and after a horrible year and a few months of surgery and chemo she is now cancer free just before her 43rd birthday. She has asked me to thank you lovely ladies for what you are doing. She is cancer free but now has to cope with going through early menopause. Where does it end?? She has never felt any self pity, she hasn’t made any huge life changes or any bold statements about bucket lists. She just want everyone to ‘be nice’, she wants to love and be loved, and she wants to buy you all a beer when you’re done! Dig deep, you’re more than you think. X

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