Posts tagged dangerlou

Join Danger Lou vs. Robot of Mediocrity

This Saturday, Danger Lou has a very special mission on her hands. The Robot of Mediocrity thinks that creativity is unnecessary, and Danger Lou is determined to prove him wrong. Here’s a short missive from Danger Lou, explaining why she is participating…

Robot of Mediocrity & Danger Lou

Why is creativity important?

I have a background in psychology and research. For a long time, going through school and college, I was told that I was “too smart for art.” However, the onset of a long-term health condition stopped me in my academic tracks and I realised that I was on a path I didn’t want to be on. I wanted to do something that was much more directly connected with people in the real world and the changes they wanted to make, something that used both my smarts and my arts. In fact, something that destroyed that whole notion of “smarts” vs. “arts” – why do we see those two things as binary?
Yes, I draw and doodle… however I think that creativity is much more than that. I also kick ass in excel, making spreadsheets that count on their own and show data in new and interesting ways – and I think that is just as creative as doing a quick doodle. I know people who excel in talking about emotions and making them more concrete and easy to understand. I know people who tell great stories. And I know people who play clever games with their kids to encourage them to help with household chores. These are all creative acts.
The Robot of Mediocrity says that you’re only being creative if you have a paintbrush in your hand, some glue and scissors nearby, or a stack of sticky notes at the ready. The Robot also says that creativity is unnecessary – that it’s a waste of time, pointless. Danger Lou totally refutes that. Creativity is a crucial part of every day life – it’s at the heart of decisions we make every day that lead to feeling healthier, happier, and more connected. I wish more people could see how creativity turns up in their lives on a regular basis and celebrated it. Coming up with a tasty dinner with those three random ingredients in the fridge… working out why the windscreen washer is squirting the inside of the back window of the car instead of the outside… thinking of a way to help a friend in need. All products of creative thinking!
If you join me in my altercation with the Robot of Mediocrity, you will learn to identify and name the things that hold you back on a daily basis. You’ll understand how those things operate, and you’ll also identify some ways to overcome them. We can’t let that pesky robot win, can we? Thought not. So if you can, please join us at CreativeConf, this Saturday. See you there!

Check out CreativeConf and apply the special code SpeakersFriend to get a 15% discount.

Lou Shackleton

Change-maker in Chief

The Best Laid Plans and All That… Danger Lou’s Impossible is finally here

Lou's Feet in her Running Shoes

Last December, my husband signed me up for the gym. I didn’t manage to make it there at all that month and I finally had my induction in January. I wasn’t exactly over the moon with the whole gym idea. For a long time I’d been convinced that I’d reached the fitness limits of my health condition; I’d had lots of tweaks of medication over the years and was told, “Some people just feel rubbish on the medication you’re taking, because it’s not the same as your body making it yourself.” I’ve been running for a few years now, which has helped, but I was stuck at running around 2km.

I surprised myself quite quickly at the gym and despite being unable to lift a cup of tea to my lips the day after my first strength session, there were almost immediate gains in my energy levels. And so, in September, I set myself a challenge – an Impossible challenge. To make the shift from running 2.5km on a regular basis to trying my first 5km run.

I started my training schedule, with a date firmly in the diary at the end of October. It was all going so well. I rocketed through the training and my energy levels rocketed too. At the beginning of October, I wrote in my journal…

“Up to last week I still felt unsure about running 5km. It seemed a big jump from running 2.5km, 3km. Can I really do this? From my running rate it seems that it’s going to take me 40-45 minutes. Am I fit enough? Yesterday on the treadmill, I managed 3.9km and it started to feel real. But then, today, I totally surprised myself. I walked for 5 minutes, ran for 25 minutes, walked for 5 minutes… and at the end the treadmill dashboard said it loud and proud – I did 5k! This is it! I feel certain now, 100% certain that I will finish the run and still be standing. I might even enjoy it! I might even do it in a good time!”

It was amazing! I felt invincible! But since then, this challenge has been more about patience, flexibility, and healing. First, I started getting a niggle in my heel. I listened to it, and eased off on the training. I reduced the amount I was cycling. Then I picked up a throat infection, just three days before my run date. It all happened very quickly and before I knew it I had sky high fever and difficulty swallowing. The pharmacist dispatched me to a walk-in clinic and the duty doctor made a “Ugh” sound with accompanying facial expression when he looked at my tonsils – antibiotics for me, and no chance of a run. I shifted the date a few weeks down the line, needing to have total rest for a week. Then after my rest, feeling much better, I started back into my training and my heel flared up in a major way. I took it really easy with my training and got some tips via the Internets from my cousin Aimee over at Revitalise Fitness; these really helped and it stopped getting worse, but it still didn’t get better.

It was time to call in the big guns, and get some in-person physio. I checked in with Tom at Core Fitness, and it turned out to be a classic beginner runner’s injury, my Achilles. There was nothing serious, just some early warning signs. The tips from my cousin were perfect, I just needed a couple of extra exercises. It was time to do some learning – learning how to better prepare my body for running, and help it to restore afterwards. And absolutely no 5k until I could consistently run 3k without pain the next day.

My date got shifted again. Serious frustration alert! Am I ever going to be able to do this run? I had two potential November dates in my mind, and they both had to get swept aside again. I did a fair amount of huffing and puffing and whingeing – mostly to my husband, Mel and Ruth at You Can, and my fellow Impossibles in our facebook group. They encouraged me to hang in there. I responded well to the exercises I was given, and in two weeks I was back to running with no pain. Result! Excitement, but still taking it easy and some words of caution from the physio – you’re lucky, you caught it early, you probably feel like it’s all back to normal but it’s going to take a while to settle down so don’t do anything to shock it. So I’m staying away from my bike until after my run, because cycling seems to make it worse, and I’m being super-good about my warm ups and cool downs, and I’ve been slowly increasing the distance with a mix of walk-running.

And now, here I am. The day before D-Day. Or is that 5K-Day? I’m actually going to do it. And I haven’t run or walk-run 5k since that amazing day on the treadmill back in October. James Altucher writes that it takes practice to be the person who is a source of compassion and honesty. This journey towards my Impossible could have been about pushing through, just powering on to stick to my committed date. But defeating my nemesis, the Robot of Mediocrity, isn’t always about fighting. I’ve learned much more by doing things this way – being honest with myself, showing myself compassion, letting myself heal and learning new ways to be compassionate to myself – even in the way that I prepare for and wind down from a run. I’m also in awe of the compassion and generosity of my friends, family, and supporters who have continued to back me with messages and donations – as for an extra level of accountability, I decided to make my challenge a sponsored event to raise funds for our work.

I hope that I show myself this same level of compassion tomorrow, whatever my time. For now, the predominant feeling is: Eek!

Wish me luck.

_ _ _

You can read James Altucher on patience here. And yes – maybe, just maybe, I’m on my way to becoming a Jedi Knight. And that beats running a 5k, any day!

And of course there’s still time to make a donation, if you’d like 🙂 Head on over to my sponsorship page here and hit the big orange “Donate now” button, and any donation up to £10 will be matched by our local community foundation, so you can double your money. Serious feel good factor! With match funding and gift aid I’ve already raised over £1000. So thank you to you fabulous donors!

If you want to take on your own challenge soon and you want some friendly support, check out the Impossibles. Your challenge doesn’t have to be sponsored and you can have a whole lot of fun along the way!

Lou Shackleton

Change-maker in Chief

The Best Laid Plans and All That… Danger Lou's Impossible is finally here

Lou's Feet in her Running Shoes

Last December, my husband signed me up for the gym. I didn’t manage to make it there at all that month and I finally had my induction in January. I wasn’t exactly over the moon with the whole gym idea. For a long time I’d been convinced that I’d reached the fitness limits of my health condition; I’d had lots of tweaks of medication over the years and was told, “Some people just feel rubbish on the medication you’re taking, because it’s not the same as your body making it yourself.” I’ve been running for a few years now, which has helped, but I was stuck at running around 2km.

I surprised myself quite quickly at the gym and despite being unable to lift a cup of tea to my lips the day after my first strength session, there were almost immediate gains in my energy levels. And so, in September, I set myself a challenge – an Impossible challenge. To make the shift from running 2.5km on a regular basis to trying my first 5km run.

I started my training schedule, with a date firmly in the diary at the end of October. It was all going so well. I rocketed through the training and my energy levels rocketed too. At the beginning of October, I wrote in my journal…

“Up to last week I still felt unsure about running 5km. It seemed a big jump from running 2.5km, 3km. Can I really do this? From my running rate it seems that it’s going to take me 40-45 minutes. Am I fit enough? Yesterday on the treadmill, I managed 3.9km and it started to feel real. But then, today, I totally surprised myself. I walked for 5 minutes, ran for 25 minutes, walked for 5 minutes… and at the end the treadmill dashboard said it loud and proud – I did 5k! This is it! I feel certain now, 100% certain that I will finish the run and still be standing. I might even enjoy it! I might even do it in a good time!”

It was amazing! I felt invincible! But since then, this challenge has been more about patience, flexibility, and healing. First, I started getting a niggle in my heel. I listened to it, and eased off on the training. I reduced the amount I was cycling. Then I picked up a throat infection, just three days before my run date. It all happened very quickly and before I knew it I had sky high fever and difficulty swallowing. The pharmacist dispatched me to a walk-in clinic and the duty doctor made a “Ugh” sound with accompanying facial expression when he looked at my tonsils – antibiotics for me, and no chance of a run. I shifted the date a few weeks down the line, needing to have total rest for a week. Then after my rest, feeling much better, I started back into my training and my heel flared up in a major way. I took it really easy with my training and got some tips via the Internets from my cousin Aimee over at Revitalise Fitness; these really helped and it stopped getting worse, but it still didn’t get better.

It was time to call in the big guns, and get some in-person physio. I checked in with Tom at Core Fitness, and it turned out to be a classic beginner runner’s injury, my Achilles. There was nothing serious, just some early warning signs. The tips from my cousin were perfect, I just needed a couple of extra exercises. It was time to do some learning – learning how to better prepare my body for running, and help it to restore afterwards. And absolutely no 5k until I could consistently run 3k without pain the next day.

My date got shifted again. Serious frustration alert! Am I ever going to be able to do this run? I had two potential November dates in my mind, and they both had to get swept aside again. I did a fair amount of huffing and puffing and whingeing – mostly to my husband, Mel and Ruth at You Can, and my fellow Impossibles in our facebook group. They encouraged me to hang in there. I responded well to the exercises I was given, and in two weeks I was back to running with no pain. Result! Excitement, but still taking it easy and some words of caution from the physio – you’re lucky, you caught it early, you probably feel like it’s all back to normal but it’s going to take a while to settle down so don’t do anything to shock it. So I’m staying away from my bike until after my run, because cycling seems to make it worse, and I’m being super-good about my warm ups and cool downs, and I’ve been slowly increasing the distance with a mix of walk-running.

And now, here I am. The day before D-Day. Or is that 5K-Day? I’m actually going to do it. And I haven’t run or walk-run 5k since that amazing day on the treadmill back in October. James Altucher writes that it takes practice to be the person who is a source of compassion and honesty. This journey towards my Impossible could have been about pushing through, just powering on to stick to my committed date. But defeating my nemesis, the Robot of Mediocrity, isn’t always about fighting. I’ve learned much more by doing things this way – being honest with myself, showing myself compassion, letting myself heal and learning new ways to be compassionate to myself – even in the way that I prepare for and wind down from a run. I’m also in awe of the compassion and generosity of my friends, family, and supporters who have continued to back me with messages and donations – as for an extra level of accountability, I decided to make my challenge a sponsored event to raise funds for our work.

I hope that I show myself this same level of compassion tomorrow, whatever my time. For now, the predominant feeling is: Eek!

Wish me luck.

_ _ _

You can read James Altucher on patience here. And yes – maybe, just maybe, I’m on my way to becoming a Jedi Knight. And that beats running a 5k, any day!

And of course there’s still time to make a donation, if you’d like 🙂 Head on over to my sponsorship page here and hit the big orange “Donate now” button, and any donation up to £10 will be matched by our local community foundation, so you can double your money. Serious feel good factor! With match funding and gift aid I’ve already raised over £1000. So thank you to you fabulous donors!

If you want to take on your own challenge soon and you want some friendly support, check out the Impossibles. Your challenge doesn’t have to be sponsored and you can have a whole lot of fun along the way!

Lou Shackleton

Change-maker in Chief

It's raining, it's pouring, I don't wish I was snoring…

Twenty days ago I wrote a post explaining why I was getting up earlier in response to Mel’s question, “Why would you want to do that?!” It’s incredible to think that I’m now on Day 27 of my 30 Day Sunrise Photo Challenge, with only three days to go. Twenty seven days, twenty five photos.

When I was only a week in, everything still felt pretty easy. I was really enjoying the novelty and I guess I was still in the honeymoon period. Then things got tougher – about eleven days in, I got sick. I caught a particularly nasty and fast-acting form of tonsillitis – my resistance is always lower in the Autumn and Winter months. 

This challenge was never about forcing it – it was about supporting my well-being, not detracting from it, so I made sure to take care of myself on the days that I was ill. So on some days, I took the photo from the warmth of my window before heading back to bed, and on two of the days when my temperature was raging I left the alarm off and didn’t make it out of bed at all.

It was tough to get back into the rhythm again. It was an interesting time because although my body was struggling to get out of bed, there was also this urge to be outside. A sense of what I was missing. At the same time thinking, I have to do this every day? I wanted to, but it also felt like a big commitment.

Today, it was absolutely chucking it down when I got out of bed. The last time it rained properly (Day Two) it didn’t look like rain when I left the house and I didn’t wear waterproofs. It was stunning, with the rain on the lens smudging the image and giving it an even softer focus. Then it also started raining on Day Twenty, and you can just about see it in the puddles in the foreground while the sun stakes its claim on the day. Both days, the beauty was the most obvious thing, the first thing, and the rain came second.

This morning, the rain came first. It was grey. Grey, grey, grey. I thought, well, it’s not going to be spectacular. Dark clouds everywhere. I set off with my hubby in the car. Here’s a couple of blurry shots to give you a sense of the blustery downpour:

silhouette trees against sunrise in the rain umbrella fights against the wind in the rain at sunrise silhouette trees against sunrise in the rain

We were soaked; it was kind of funny! Our waterproofs did us proud, and we got back in the car. We set off for home, and decided to take a detour and try a different location. As we arrived, the rain lessened and we set off for an explore. The paths were streams; it was less soggy on the common. We walked and talked and looked and pointed things out to each other. We saw a heron flying through the sky, saw him swoop down to land, hop over a fence and explore a pond, his head just poking up above the reeds, peeking around. Then taking off and flying around the corner. The cows looked at us curiously. One of them gave us the stinkeye. One of them licked hubby’s coat.

For much of the sunrise, the clouds were obscuring the sun, and the gaps for the light to come through were all in the western half of the sky. Eventually, the wind blew them around so that the sun could show its face. We walked through an avenue of trees, the sun streaming through all the intertwined twigs and the leaves transitioning from green to yellow. I took my chosen shot of the day:

27th October 2013 - Day Twenty Seven

I’ve been very lucky on this challenge I think, that it hasn’t rained more. On the three occasions that it has rained, I have realised that something very special happens. If the sun and the rain combine, they have more power than either one. These shots that I’ve taken where the colours of the sky are reflected in the river (Day Two) or the puddles (Day Twenty), or where the wetness of the rain makes the surface wood of a fence much more reflective (today) – these are the days that I love the most. I’m continuing to answer the question, “Why would you want to do that?!”

As at Day Eight, once I’m out, I still find it difficult to come home again. And I think that the thing about commitment is, once you make it, it becomes easier. Getting up at sunrise every single day makes it easier to get up the next day; while having a break makes it harder again. Committing to make a change, one change, and see it through for 30 days has changed other things too, and I will try to explore these in my next post. This wasn’t a challenge I was scared of or excited about, but it was a change I thought was impossible, or at the very least would be really hard. It felt dangerous, because I really didn’t think I would be able to do it. And that’s what Danger Lou’s all about, right?

The magic of this time of day has seeped into my bones and my life and I really think that it has changed me. Three more days to go. What will I do after that?

Check out the full set so far here. If you like what you see, I’d love it if you would consider supporting my 5k challenge.

Lou Shackleton

Change-maker in Chief

It’s raining, it’s pouring, I don’t wish I was snoring…

Twenty days ago I wrote a post explaining why I was getting up earlier in response to Mel’s question, “Why would you want to do that?!” It’s incredible to think that I’m now on Day 27 of my 30 Day Sunrise Photo Challenge, with only three days to go. Twenty seven days, twenty five photos.

When I was only a week in, everything still felt pretty easy. I was really enjoying the novelty and I guess I was still in the honeymoon period. Then things got tougher – about eleven days in, I got sick. I caught a particularly nasty and fast-acting form of tonsillitis – my resistance is always lower in the Autumn and Winter months. 

This challenge was never about forcing it – it was about supporting my well-being, not detracting from it, so I made sure to take care of myself on the days that I was ill. So on some days, I took the photo from the warmth of my window before heading back to bed, and on two of the days when my temperature was raging I left the alarm off and didn’t make it out of bed at all.

It was tough to get back into the rhythm again. It was an interesting time because although my body was struggling to get out of bed, there was also this urge to be outside. A sense of what I was missing. At the same time thinking, I have to do this every day? I wanted to, but it also felt like a big commitment.

Today, it was absolutely chucking it down when I got out of bed. The last time it rained properly (Day Two) it didn’t look like rain when I left the house and I didn’t wear waterproofs. It was stunning, with the rain on the lens smudging the image and giving it an even softer focus. Then it also started raining on Day Twenty, and you can just about see it in the puddles in the foreground while the sun stakes its claim on the day. Both days, the beauty was the most obvious thing, the first thing, and the rain came second.

This morning, the rain came first. It was grey. Grey, grey, grey. I thought, well, it’s not going to be spectacular. Dark clouds everywhere. I set off with my hubby in the car. Here’s a couple of blurry shots to give you a sense of the blustery downpour:

silhouette trees against sunrise in the rain umbrella fights against the wind in the rain at sunrise silhouette trees against sunrise in the rain

We were soaked; it was kind of funny! Our waterproofs did us proud, and we got back in the car. We set off for home, and decided to take a detour and try a different location. As we arrived, the rain lessened and we set off for an explore. The paths were streams; it was less soggy on the common. We walked and talked and looked and pointed things out to each other. We saw a heron flying through the sky, saw him swoop down to land, hop over a fence and explore a pond, his head just poking up above the reeds, peeking around. Then taking off and flying around the corner. The cows looked at us curiously. One of them gave us the stinkeye. One of them licked hubby’s coat.

For much of the sunrise, the clouds were obscuring the sun, and the gaps for the light to come through were all in the western half of the sky. Eventually, the wind blew them around so that the sun could show its face. We walked through an avenue of trees, the sun streaming through all the intertwined twigs and the leaves transitioning from green to yellow. I took my chosen shot of the day:

27th October 2013 - Day Twenty Seven

I’ve been very lucky on this challenge I think, that it hasn’t rained more. On the three occasions that it has rained, I have realised that something very special happens. If the sun and the rain combine, they have more power than either one. These shots that I’ve taken where the colours of the sky are reflected in the river (Day Two) or the puddles (Day Twenty), or where the wetness of the rain makes the surface wood of a fence much more reflective (today) – these are the days that I love the most. I’m continuing to answer the question, “Why would you want to do that?!”

As at Day Eight, once I’m out, I still find it difficult to come home again. And I think that the thing about commitment is, once you make it, it becomes easier. Getting up at sunrise every single day makes it easier to get up the next day; while having a break makes it harder again. Committing to make a change, one change, and see it through for 30 days has changed other things too, and I will try to explore these in my next post. This wasn’t a challenge I was scared of or excited about, but it was a change I thought was impossible, or at the very least would be really hard. It felt dangerous, because I really didn’t think I would be able to do it. And that’s what Danger Lou’s all about, right?

The magic of this time of day has seeped into my bones and my life and I really think that it has changed me. Three more days to go. What will I do after that?

Check out the full set so far here. If you like what you see, I’d love it if you would consider supporting my 5k challenge.

Lou Shackleton

Change-maker in Chief

Why Danger Lou's goal is to get up earlier…

Goal posts in the sunlight

In the past seven days, I’ve been making a start on my first 30 day impossible challenge – to get up, get outside, and get a photo of the sun rising. As Mel recently asked, “Why would you want to do that?” – and I thought you might like to know too!

Ever since I was ill back in 2007, I have really struggled to get out of bed in the morning. I had some problems with getting diagnosed which meant that by the time I got appropriate treatment I was spending three quarters of the day in bed and still not feeling rested or refreshed. I found it incredibly difficult to wake up in the morning; I didn’t respond to the alarm, and my now husband used to have to wake me up, almost like being woken from a drugged sleep.

Once I was on the right treatment, I still had problems. I’ve struggled on and off with chronic fatigue and after some experimentation with medication in the years after my diagnosis I was finally told “some people just feel rubbish on the meds you take” (I take a synthetic form of a hormone that my body has stopped producing as a result of an autoimmune disease).

Related to my health challenges, I’m planning on running a 5k this Autumn (something you’ll hear about soon if you keep an eye on #theimpossibles). This is something that would have been impossible for me not that long ago. A side-effect of needing to do more training to build up my fitness was a need for more space in the morning. So it was time for an experiment. Could I get up earlier?

This felt so difficult I knew I needed two things:
1) An incentive
2) External accountability

I voiced my concerns to my good friend and photographer Israel Smith and he set me a challenge – get up and see the sunrise by the end of the week. Then report back. I reported back in the form of a photo:

First Sunrise Challenge for Israel

It was a great experience. I learned that I could get up early, actually – it wasn’t physically impossible. And I learned that I enjoyed it. The only thing is, after a few days I was back to struggling to get up again. They say it takes 30 days to set a new habit, so I decided to turn this little experiment into a 30 Day Impossible Challenge and see if I could make a more permanent change to my daily routine.

So, what does it feel like to be on Day Eight? With 22 more days to go? It’s actually kind of surprising…

I’m really enjoying it.

The last couple of days I have been awake before the alarm goes off. The “problem” that has emerged is that I am actually struggling to come home. Once I’m out, it’s such a magical atmosphere and there’s so many amazing things to see and learn. I’m developing a friendly relationship with my local cows – although they’re getting a little too friendly with my bike:

Play "Spot the Bike"

Play “Spot the Bike”

I’m noticing the patterns of the day – the way the cows move around the fields in the morning, the way the birds are hidden but singing at first, but then once the sun’s gold emerges they start dancing through the sky. The way the water on the river is milky still some days, and rippled on others.

I am tired. But actually, I don’t think I’m any more tired than before. I’ve had days where, at the end of the day, I’ve felt very tired. But that just means that I do less in the evening, and think more carefully about what I do with my energy at that time. And actually, I’m sleeping a lot better. I was sleeping really fitfully before, and now I sleep right through. I’m being careful to get to sleep earlier and have a good sleep routine. The week before I started the challenge, I had a week away with my husband and we had a sort-of retreat – we made a pact not to watch TV. And I found that’s really helped too; not watching TV in the evenings means that I’m more likely* to make better decisions about what I need to do to look after myself.

It’s funny because for the past five years, I haven’t thought of myself as an early riser – not at all. And this little experiment might just have turned that thought on it’s head, and had some unexpected benefits – the discovery of some magical creative time in the morning, time when I can take photos of cows and spiders and bikes and grass and feel just a little bit more grateful about things.

What about you – does my “Impossible” seem like a walk in the park for you? If you did a 30 Day Challenge, what would it be? Which area of your life do you want to experiment with?

* No one’s perfect, right? 🙂

You can see the full set of photos I’ve taken so far here: Lou’s 30 Day Sunrise Photo Challenge on Flickr. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Lou Shackleton

Change-maker in Chief

Why Danger Lou’s goal is to get up earlier…

Goal posts in the sunlight

In the past seven days, I’ve been making a start on my first 30 day impossible challenge – to get up, get outside, and get a photo of the sun rising. As Mel recently asked, “Why would you want to do that?” – and I thought you might like to know too!

Ever since I was ill back in 2007, I have really struggled to get out of bed in the morning. I had some problems with getting diagnosed which meant that by the time I got appropriate treatment I was spending three quarters of the day in bed and still not feeling rested or refreshed. I found it incredibly difficult to wake up in the morning; I didn’t respond to the alarm, and my now husband used to have to wake me up, almost like being woken from a drugged sleep.

Once I was on the right treatment, I still had problems. I’ve struggled on and off with chronic fatigue and after some experimentation with medication in the years after my diagnosis I was finally told “some people just feel rubbish on the meds you take” (I take a synthetic form of a hormone that my body has stopped producing as a result of an autoimmune disease).

Related to my health challenges, I’m planning on running a 5k this Autumn (something you’ll hear about soon if you keep an eye on #theimpossibles). This is something that would have been impossible for me not that long ago. A side-effect of needing to do more training to build up my fitness was a need for more space in the morning. So it was time for an experiment. Could I get up earlier?

This felt so difficult I knew I needed two things:
1) An incentive
2) External accountability

I voiced my concerns to my good friend and photographer Israel Smith and he set me a challenge – get up and see the sunrise by the end of the week. Then report back. I reported back in the form of a photo:

First Sunrise Challenge for Israel

It was a great experience. I learned that I could get up early, actually – it wasn’t physically impossible. And I learned that I enjoyed it. The only thing is, after a few days I was back to struggling to get up again. They say it takes 30 days to set a new habit, so I decided to turn this little experiment into a 30 Day Impossible Challenge and see if I could make a more permanent change to my daily routine.

So, what does it feel like to be on Day Eight? With 22 more days to go? It’s actually kind of surprising…

I’m really enjoying it.

The last couple of days I have been awake before the alarm goes off. The “problem” that has emerged is that I am actually struggling to come home. Once I’m out, it’s such a magical atmosphere and there’s so many amazing things to see and learn. I’m developing a friendly relationship with my local cows – although they’re getting a little too friendly with my bike:

Play "Spot the Bike"

Play “Spot the Bike”

I’m noticing the patterns of the day – the way the cows move around the fields in the morning, the way the birds are hidden but singing at first, but then once the sun’s gold emerges they start dancing through the sky. The way the water on the river is milky still some days, and rippled on others.

I am tired. But actually, I don’t think I’m any more tired than before. I’ve had days where, at the end of the day, I’ve felt very tired. But that just means that I do less in the evening, and think more carefully about what I do with my energy at that time. And actually, I’m sleeping a lot better. I was sleeping really fitfully before, and now I sleep right through. I’m being careful to get to sleep earlier and have a good sleep routine. The week before I started the challenge, I had a week away with my husband and we had a sort-of retreat – we made a pact not to watch TV. And I found that’s really helped too; not watching TV in the evenings means that I’m more likely* to make better decisions about what I need to do to look after myself.

It’s funny because for the past five years, I haven’t thought of myself as an early riser – not at all. And this little experiment might just have turned that thought on it’s head, and had some unexpected benefits – the discovery of some magical creative time in the morning, time when I can take photos of cows and spiders and bikes and grass and feel just a little bit more grateful about things.

What about you – does my “Impossible” seem like a walk in the park for you? If you did a 30 Day Challenge, what would it be? Which area of your life do you want to experiment with?

* No one’s perfect, right? 🙂

You can see the full set of photos I’ve taken so far here: Lou’s 30 Day Sunrise Photo Challenge on Flickr. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Lou Shackleton

Change-maker in Chief

Snakes, sharks, and surrender

Snake

Since Danger Lou first made her tentative steps on screen, many of you have been talking to me about the kinds of risks that you take every day, and particularly the things that scare you. There’s lots of things that we find scary: flying is a common one, sharks; speaking on a stage in front of people. Some fears are rational: things like sharks, heights, snakes – because they’re based, on some level, on keeping us alive. Sharks are dangerous – you know, sharp teeth and all that. Snakes can be poisonous. Heights – well, there’s always the possibility of falling.

Somewhere along the line, fears that help us to stay alive became fears that help us to stay safe. What does staying safe mean to you? Not risking letting people down? Not risking having what it takes? Not risking saying what you think? Fear becomes something that, instead of keeping us alive, is keeping us from living.

Chris Brogan tells us that the opposite of fear is not bravery, or courage. “The opposite of fear is surrender. The opposite of fear is giving up. The opposite of fear is not really taking the swing.”

Fear is personal. For me, fear is being willing to go on video dressed in a superhero costume you made yourself. Fear is committing to raise the funds to make it to a tiny conference in the middle of nowhere that no one has ever heard of, and asking people to believe in what will come next. Fear is then travelling on my own to the States for the first time. And it is also turning up to the gym for the first time back in January – and then keeping on turning up at the gym, even if I have weeks where I can’t make it, or a session that feels extra difficult. After I talked to Ann Hawkins on The Social Media Show about travelling to Fargo, she wondered if I was scared – of course I was. Danger Lou is all about being scared, and holding your hand up to say so.

For Mel, fear is being willing to go on stage in front of 2800 people dressed as a cardboard robot with just two days notice – and taking your robot head off in front of all those people so that they can see the person behind the box. And it is also just picking up the phone to query something.

What are the risks that you take, every day, every week? What is it that helps you to keep trying? When was the last time you were even just a little bit scared, perhaps about something that you think other people find really easy? And, what are the swings that you don’t take, where the risks seem too high? Where in your life do you give up?

In my next post I’ll be exploring three ways to think about fear that might be useful. Make sure you don’t miss out, and sign up here.

You might also be interested in joining Danger Lou in Cambridge at the end of this month: click here.

I’d love to hear from you! Leave your response below.

Lou Shackleton

Change-maker in Chief

Special Announcement: Ready for Danger You?

If you’re in Cambridge at the end of August, you’re up for a treat. You can join in with the very first of the Danger You Challenge Series!

Join Danger Lou!

August 27th 2013 – 6pm to 8pm

If you’ve watched the movie and you’re inspired to buy tickets right away:

Eventbrite - Danger You Challenge Series... 1 - Show Up and Speak Up!
This workshop is for you if:

  • You want to build your confidence in small steps
  • You want to create good habits
  • You want to share the experience of taking on challenges with others, in a supportive group
  • You want to show up and speak up – in different aspects of your life
  • You want to be confident to contribute

You will:

  • Take the first step and do something challenging (with people there to hold your hand)
  • Develop a simple structure to help you show up more confidently
  • Get awesome feedback from the community in the room with you on the spot
  • Boost your confidence
  • Take away real usable strategies for overcoming fear next time

**UPDATED DETAILS FOR INTRIGUED ADVENTURERS**

We can now reveal that this first challenge will be a speaking challenge. So if you aren’t confident meeting new people, if you don’t like picking up the phone, if you keep quiet in meetings because you think everyone knows better, if you don’t like being put on the spot or starting a conversation – then this is the workshop for you!

You will:

  • Take the first step in speaking in front of others
  • Practice in a supportive environment
  • Identify a clear strategy to help you get talking, sooner

You will be working with two experienced facilitators including Danger Lou herself.

Spaces are limited. The session is for only 10 people so that you have 1:5 attention and get the most out of the session.

All you need to bring is yourself, and some fear and excitement!

Are you an Intrepid Explorer?

Until August 6th, only Intrepid Explorer tickets are available. This means that if you sign up now, you’ll get the best value AND an awesome title. Who doesn’t want to be an Intrepid Explorer? If you wait until after 5pm (UK time) on August 6th, you’ll miss out on that title. Tickets for Intrepid Explorers are now closed.

Are you an Intrigued Adventurer?

Hey there, adventurer. Up until now, you’ve been watching from the sidelines, keeping an eye on development. You’ve been intrigued! You want a piece of the action but, well, you didn’t want to be first. Well, good new! You don’t have to be! The Intrepid Explorers have leapt in, and now the way is clear for you. Until August 13th, 5pm (UK time), only Intrigued Adventurer tickets are available. If you weren’t ready to jump in as an Intrepid Explorer and you needed more information, now’s your chance!

Ready to jump in? Intrigued adventurer step this way!

Eventbrite - Danger You Challenge Series... 1 - Show Up and Speak Up!

We can’t wait to see you!

We’ll be releasing more information as the event gets closer – but if you wait for more information, the price rises. So what will it be? Are you an intrepid explorer, intrigued adventurer, inspired follower, or last minute lemming?

If you’re not ready to jump in just yet, sign up for the latest Danger You updates below. This also works if you’re not in Cambridge, UK and you’d like to hear about online opportunities to get more dangerous.

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Lou Shackleton

Change-maker in Chief

Why is Danger Lou in Portland for the World Domination Summit?

Why Portland? Why the World Domination Summit?

Danger Lou and a robot

DangerLou and her Nemesis – The Robot of Mediocrity

#DangerLou is in Portland because 10 months ago, I took a risk. I knew that I’d seen the awesomeness that is Chris Brogan giving the best speech he ever gave from last year’s conference on vimeo.

I know that it is the conference to get to if we want to kick conformity’s ass and meet people trying to find different ways of living and earning.

I didn’t know that I definitely had the money to go. I did know that it would be very competitive to get tickets. So, I took a risk. I waited for the day and time to apply for a ticket and made myself a deal. If I put my name in the registration page and got a ticket, then I would find a way to get there. If I didn’t, I would be sure to catch up online.

I took a risk and the Universe decided I got a ticket; now, here I am in Portland. I inspired my co-conspirator Mel to take a risk too. So here we are, ready to meet you.

So if you are also in Portland, come and find us. Today, Friday, you may even spot Danger Lou in her cape alongside her nemesis, the robot of mediocrity. And if you are wondering what this Danger Lou thing is about – “Sure, it’s fun but what’s the point?” Then check out the Danger Lou trailer here and remember these three questions and prompts that Danger Lou is keen for everyone to explore and answer:

  1. Do something small that both scares and excites you every day
  2. Every superhero needs sidekicks
  3. Strike a pose – copied from your favourite superhero – it will help you feel like a superhero too*
  4. Define your impossible – what are you stopping yourself from even starting?
  5. Name your nemesis – what’s holding you back?

#DangerLou is about celebrating small risks, being playful and helping each other achieve our impossible Danger Lou is my not-so-secret identity – what’s yours?

What would happen if you answered the questions above? That’s why I’m in Portland. To help myself answer these questions while prompting you to answer them for yourself too. Meeting a whole ton of people who are revealing their superhero powers. And if you need a team of sidekicks, you can join the You Can community and we’ll do our best to keep you laughing and living and taking risks every day.

*Check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on the value of power poses and how they can help you.

So let me know – what’s your secret identity? I’d love to hear it, in the comments below…