20110309

Latest News... March, 2011












March 31st, 2011...

Book Complete!

There are time in life when I sit back and just appreciate the feeling of living. Kind of like the feeling you get when you have a good stretch in the morning with your arms outstretched above your head. Today I am enjoying this type of moment as I type. My emotions are peaking; I have the excitement of flying to Vancouver tomorrow, the adrenalin of a naked skydive and the satisfaction of completing a walk across France all buzzing through my body at once. 

The reason? Well 117 days after beginning what I think will prove to be one of the most significant challenges in my life, I have completed writing my book! Since December i've been reliving and writing about every moment of a journey that began in my mind just over 4 years ago. At the risk of sounding like i'm being silly; it's been emotional!


The moment i finished writing my book! 

As you may or not know, this journey is a product of a curious mind; that's all. I'm not brave and I certainly don't think i'm lucky; I'm just actively trying to find some kind of purpose, perhaps some fulfillment, in life. What has happened since penning down a simple list of 100things though has blown my mind. It's been unplanned, unknown and ultimately unbelievable. 

This journey I've found out though is not confined to just 100 separate points put down on a piece of paper; it's somehow into tapped something a lot bigger; something I'm still trying to figure out. I don't know the answers and I certainly don't claim to be a fountain of knowledge but one thing that I am 100% positive about is that there is a message within this story that has resonated in a good way with people all over the world. Who'd of thought? Not me! Dare I say it, I think it's been a catalyst for change with some people, and this lays the future direction. 

Sure I have 52 items still to complete, and let me tell you that I can't wait to knock these items over, but I know now that there is another calling. This is the next challenge.

Life seems to be one huge opportunity. We just have to realize it.

My emotions as I mentioned are all over the place right now; I'm excited; happy; motivated; fulfilled; and nervous all at the same time and if I keep writing I fear I may end being here for hours but for now I just needed get my thoughts on paper, and share them with you; someone who has taken the time to look at 100things. Thank you for that.

With less than 24 hours before I fly to Canada to attempt a challenge that you will read plenty about below, it's also probably a good time to begin packing, and so with that I should leave.

What a rush. 

With our minds we're able to dream; with our bodies we're able to achieve.


100things… What's on your list?




March 30th, 2011…

Doubters

Usually when giving a talk, I begin by saying; some of you probably think I'm crazy. I say this because over time I've found that a lot of people actually do think I'm crazy.

I don't mind this of course, in fact I quite like it; I take it as a compliment, but for every thousand people who offer such support there is always one person who is negative. I call these people; doubters. There's nothing wrong with these doubters of course, in fact I love them. The best thing is that I always seem to meet them at the right times.




Do you think I'm crazy?


When I left Australia, over a year and half ago to embark on this journey armed with nothing but a big smile, I remember people telling me that I was being silly. More recently when I flew to New Caledonia to attempt to live on a desert island for 1 week, someone suggested to me that I was needlessly flirting with danger that may indeed kill me. Fast forward now to last week when I entered the local bike store to pump up my bicycle tyres and I was met with my the most recent doubter; the bike-pump guy!

As this guy unscrewed the tyre valve; attached the tyre-pump; and began pumping ferociously, he asked me what it was that I was training for.

"Oh, me and a mate are going to cycle a tandem bike from Vancouver to Las Vegas"

Like most people, his reaction was to laugh. This I always think is a good sign though.

"Wow, that's a long ride, dude. How many months will you take to do it?"
"We have 14 days actually!"

Immediately he stopped pumping before then looking up at me in confusion. I could tell straight away that bike-pump guy was in fact a doubter.

"Dude, you're going to have to use a little realism here; that ain't going to happen." 

"What do you mean?" I implied politely.

"Dude, there's no chance. I'll give you 2 days before you give up. you won't do it."

This doubter had come to me just at the right time. It wasn't so much what he was saying, it was more his attitude. He looked almost angry that anyone would even suggest that a ride of this sort was possible. Where was his festive spirit. Immediately I was motivated to prove him wrong.

"I tell you what, when I get to Vegas I'll give you a call and tell you about the trip. How about that?"

We had a deal.



I have no doubt that this challenge of riding 160km per day for 2 weeks will be nothing short of extremely difficult, but at the end of the day it's challenges like this that allow us the opportunity to achieve things that we previously thought were impossible. Doubters, such as the bike-pump-guy, are not bad people at all; they're just allowing pre-conceived norms to dictate the way they think and live. I guess ultimately that's where the main difference lays between us, in mind-set; I'm just convinced that there's a world beyond norms and attempting to reach that place is just as satisfying as actually getting there. It's the unlikeliness that makes the journey so much sweeter. 


On the way out of store, the doubter shared one more thought with me;

"It's not your legs or your heart I'd be concerned about; it's your arse! You won't be able to sit down after the first day of riding"

This is something i'll have to find out. I fly out to Vancouver this Friday 1st April before peddling with my good mate Dave Cornthwaite on Sunday 3rd April. 

For all of his negativity, the bike-pump guy was indeed fantastic at pumping-up tyres and so after he gave me back my bike I bid him farewell before spending the next 4 hours battling 80km of hilly roads. I'll admit it was hard. 

Are Dave and I fully prepared yet? No. Do we even have a bike? No. But will I be ringing bike-pump guy from Vegas on the 14th day of cycling? Most definitely.

100Things… What's on your list?



March 29th, 2011…

Apologies in advance for the lack of updates but with a looming flight this Friday to Vancouver I've found that I'm flat out with a few things that are absolutely crucial to the trip. The first of which being finding a tandem bike!

Admittedly it's quite funny that Dave and myself are still without our mode of transport but we will be making a decision on this in the next 24 hours….I hope.

Aside to this I am also handing in the first draft of the 100things book on Thursday to Random House. Frantically reading through pages and editing as much as I can (did I mention i'm 30,000 over the word limit!) I've found little time away from my laptop over the last few months, but I'd be lying if I said I haven't enjoyed it. In truth; I've loved every minute of it.

There are a million emails to respond to, a thousand phone calls to be made a hundred things to do right now but without all this going on I suppose i;d be quite bored!

I will be doing a big fat update with plenty more information that this little one in the next day or two.

I'll even reveal the other item I'll be ticking off next month once Dave and I reach Las Vegas and give our talk to the guys for Professional Investment Services at Planet Hollywood!

It will be epic!

100Things… What's on your list?


March 22nd, 2011…

12 Days until Dave Corthwaite and myself take our first pedal on our tandem bike as we attempt to cycle 1400 miles from Vancouver to Las Vegas!

One problem though; we still don't actually have a bike! 

But fear not, these things have a funny way of working themselves out and no doubt in some bizarre way, come April 3rd we will find ourselves sat upon a magnificent seated bicycle of one sort or another.



Now for those who don't know Dave Cornthwaite, allow me a brief moment to introduce this man to you. Now I could start with a physical description which no doubt would end with a cheap joke about red-headed adventurers, but I won't. Instead what I'll say is that this guy is one of the world's best endurance adventurers going around. Dave has a project which on paper is quiet simple; all he wants to do is complete 25 journeys. Simple, right? But now consider that each one of these journeys has to be 1000 miles in distance or longer and each 1000 mile journey has to use a different form of non-motorised transport (before you say it; yes a pogo stick does qualify). This simple little challenge Dave calls Expedition 1000, and Dave has committed his life to it. Legend.

Anyway riding a tandem bike from Vancouver to Vegas is a big tick for Dave, as it is  for me as well, and so together we can't wait to get going! I suppose we should also decide on a route soon!


So after a quick Skype chat this morning, we devised a few more crafty ideas on how to obtain a bike, the worst of which involves hiring a bike in Vancouver and riding off into the sunset with the idea of sending it back in the post 2 weeks later. We both hope it doesn't come to this.

It's funny, for a journey that will be unbelievably tricky both mentally and physically, we have only now in the last few days began to turn our attentions to it. This includes training of which my longest ride to date was 50km and that was last Friday. I need to up my game.

As I said, we both share a belief that it'll all be fine. It always is I've found.

On the topic of massive adventures in bikes, I'd like to share a video with you. It's not one of mine, in fact I think it's a commercial for a bank but regardless I'm certain you'll like it. I'd like to thank Anna from PIS for sending this one in!


I knew you'd like it!

Keep posted for more news from Dave and myself and be sure to look at Dave's website at http://www.davecornthwaite.com

100things… What's on your list?


March 18th, 2011...

Amazing People Everywhere!


Just quietly, I've fallen in love with the process of writing a book. Sure there's plenty of spelling mistakes to get edited and at times I wish I had another word to use in place of 'realised' but these are insignificant happenings in comparison to the satisfaction I'm feeling as I near the end.


So far I'm up to about 95,000 words in the book and the end is in sight. I hope so anyway because I'm only meant to handing in 80,000 words! 

One thing that i've discovered is that when I get into the full flow of things, my emotions go up and down in line with whatever it is I'm writing about. This week for example I've been writing about being shot in Colombia (Number 73) and as I sat and typed from the comfort of my lounge room, I found myself feeling the same nerves as I did when the gun was pointed at me in a remote factory on the outskirts of Bogota. It's incredible.


Similarly, today I've been writing about my feelings towards the end of my stint overseas and the realization that the focus of my journey had changed from my the completion of my own list to that of other people's lists. These guys I called Campaigners, and I still remember the first email I got from a complete stranger who wanted to simply share their list with me.

Anyway, why am I telling you this? Well I keep in touch with all the campaigners but one I have met lately is called Mark Rostoks. Now Mark has a list of 150 things and you may remember me talking about him a few weeks ago. Basically Mark is confined to a Wheel Chair, and at the age of 32 is still undiagnosed with a disease that has left him immobile and at times speechless. The fact that Mark has taken the time not only to make his own list but also commit to ticking some of these items is amazing and I think we can all draw strength from such people.

Now today whilst flicking through Facebook, I noticed Mark had posted pics of his latest achievement; Number 65- Pose Nude for an Art Class. Now I'm not going to put all the pics up here as Mark might not appreciate but I think that you should check out his website HERE to find out more about this man. He really is incredible.







An artists impression of Mark with his kit off!

On that note I'd like to talk about another guy I met at the end of a recent talk I gave in Sydney. After an hour of chatting about my story, 
a guy by the name of Jude approached me and said hello. A tall, good looking bloke, Jude was an ambitious 21 year with a good head on his shoulders. He said he'd been following my journey for a while before the telling me his. At the age of 19, Jude had aced high-school with every sort of accolade imaginable and had began to absolutely kill it at university (although he didn't tell me at the time he seemed like the sort of bloke who may have been a child genius). Anyway, with the world at his feet, and even a little bit of back-packing under his belt, Jude was suddenly diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 19. In his words, he felt like the ground beneath had been ripped away from him. Anyway therein lays the story of how Jude from being on the brink of exploding out of university, had to begin
 an intense 2-years of chemotherapy and put his whole life on hold. During this time he lost 
all of his hair and even went into a 2-day coma which could have taken his life. Things were bad but with a proud smile Jude then told me that just two months ago, he found out that he has beaten his illness and is now back at 100%.


Like Mark, Jude literally blew me away with his approach to life and to be honest i'm humbled that people like that follow my journey. There are times in life when things can seem so dark but the light at the end of the tunnel is enough to get you through. 

After chatting to Jude for an hour after the talk, let me tell this bloke still has the world at his feet and you'll hear about him more in the near future.

I might also introduce you to our two newest campaigners who have joined up today; Hap and Courtney. To read their stories, click on their pictures.


  








Hap














Courtney

Enjoy!

For now, it's back to book writing!

100Things… What's on your list?




March 16th, 2011...

Message in a Bottle- FOUND!


I'll admit I have just been sitting on my couch here for the past 30 minutes laughing out loud. For those of you not quite sure what this is all about; whilst living on a desert island for 7 days 50 kilometres off the Southern tip of New Caledonia I decided one day to write a message and cast it into the ocean after placing it in an empty wine bottle. My hope that was someday, at some far-off place in the world, someone would find it and contact me.

Little did I know this would happen only a week after I sent it! This mornings email from a girl named Daphne was just awesome, she even sent me pictures of the very message in the bottle to prove she was legitimate.



"Dear Sebastian, 
was on the Ouatio island arround 3 nautical miles of "Ilot Gi" in New Caledonia a couple of days ago with a catamaran of my work, and found a bottle of wine with a message inside. This message was yours :) I scanned your message see attached. 

I was myself very happy to find your message has I could see on the news arround 15 days ago your mission on the island. What a mission !!! Also a great idea to do what you do.

Your message didn't go so far unfortunately your bottle message stoped in the lagoon on New Cal. 

I'm a french woman. I was born in New Caledonia. I'm working in a bareboat charter company in New Cal. If you want to reply to my message it will be a pleasure to chat with you.

I hope you will reply to me.

Enjoy your day. 

Daphné"

I am absolutely stoked that the message was found of course but the humour of course lays in the fact that the bottle was picked up a stone's throw from where I sent it!

This is all made even funnier when you consider I filmed the very moment when I sent the message. Check this out.



Hilarious. This will be the first of a series of video so keep posted.

I will be contacting the lovely Daphne shortly.


100Things… What's on your list?

March 10th, 2011…

No Rest for the Wicked

It seems that I can't get away from planes at the moment; having touched down in Sydney after ticking off Number 67- Live on a Desert Island for 1 Week, I had just 1 night back home before then having to return to the airport in order to fly to Melbourne. Why? Well I've been asked by the lovely guys at Professional Investment Services (PIS) to do a few motivational talks for them about my journey and after saying YES, it's turned into a great little adventure.


After a day of talking in Melbourne on Tuesday, it was straight on a plane again yesterday to the Gold Coast where I now have a few talks ending today in Brisbane. It's go, go, go here! Tomorrow of course I jump on one final plane back home to Sydney where I can relax for what feels like the first time in a long time.  
Motivational Speaking

WIth no plan in my life other to simply tick items from my list, it's interesting to see what opportunities come my way. Each thing that presents itself is ultimately like a little surprise and often I find myself trying new things that I end up falling in love with. 

Motivational Speaking is an example of this.

Having touched down back in Australia from a year and a half overseas last October, I got a lot of interest from people asking me to speak at certain events around Australia. Seeming like an interesting thing to do, I said YES! and within a short time I teamed up with good friend and professional adventurer Dave Cornthwaite for what ended up being a 3-week motivational speaking tour in Australia in November last year. It was epic and this was the beginning of what has become a fun speaking circuit for me in 2011 and something that with a fun company in PIS; I'm exploring, enjoying and dare I say it; inspiring.

The first talk I ever gave I remember mainly just trying to make people laugh at bizarre stories like marrying a stranger or losing $1000 on a roulette table, but since that day the talk has developed into something of more structure where laughing is now complimented by thinking. In a strange way I try to highlight important messages or ways of thinking that I've discovered along with my adventures and through these insights I think are ideas that people can walk away with and use for themselves. It's an interesting concept and something that is evolving constantly as I tick more items from my list. The beauty of it is that as an individual i'm still trying to figure life out and as such as I develop; so too does the talk.

In a taxi yesterday from Gold Coast airport to a speaking venue, I got into a great little conversation with the female driver and after chatting about eachothers lives she turned to me and asked me a question that made me think;
"What motivates you to do motivational speaking?"
This made me think. The idea of questioning and checking-in with yourself occasionally as you battle through life is crucial and this question made me think about the talk I was about to give. It would be easy for me to book a full calendar of talks without ever realizing why it was that I gave them but the lovely taxi driver had a point.

After some reflection I realized that I genuinely enjoy giving the talks and in honesty the nerves I feel before I step up to the microphone each time I talk are the same nerves that I think help me grow on a personal level. These of course are personal reasons why I talk but something I've been feeling more and more with each talk is that for the first time in my life I think I am being useful! In some way I think that the message and positive energy that the 100Things journey has naturally developed over time is now being felt by people whenever I talk and I want to thanks everyone for the positive feedback I've been getting of late.

The 100Things journey for a long time has become less and less about me, but more about others. I love that and want to develop this more and more.

I also want to say a big thanks to PIS for supporting me within the speaking circuit and I'm very much looking forward to rolling out a 3-week Australian Speaking Tour in May. 

So to answer the taxi drivers question of what motivates me to do motivational speaking; well I think it's the opportunity to influence people in a positive way. This is enough for me to know that I want to continue down this exciting avenue.

That's why when I talk this evening in Brisbane, i'll have a big smile on my face. I'm happy.

Number 51- Tandem Bike

If you're confused, I understand; this does seem strange, but let me explain. I've always wanted to test myself on a bicycle; take on a challenge that promises to be grueling, testing and rewarding all at the same time. For this very reason when PIS invited me and Dave Cornthwaite to talk at their annual conference in Las Vegas, we decided that it made perfect sense to also incorporate an adventure into the trip. After all what's the point in flying all the way to America just to give a 30 minute talk!


Dave and some of his challenges

Now as you may know, Dave is aiming to complete 25 separate 1000-mile journeys, each one using a different form of non-motorised transport. He's already skateboarded across Australia and paddled the length of the Murray River in a kayak which of course makes him an absolute legend. So after putting our heads together we decided that as opposed to flying directly to Las Vegas, we'd instead get dropped off at Vancouver from where we'll jump on a Tandem Bike and start peddling all 1,400 miles to Las Vegas. It makes perfect sense, right?

For both of us, this trip will be hard and also a huge tick on our lists!

If you think that's funny though, that's not even the beginning. You see both Dave and I have been flat out recently doing various activities around the place (me living on a island for 7 days in the middle of the Coral Sea and Dave learning to paraglide in Nepal) and as such our planning and preparation has been limited to say the least. In fact, not only have we both not been able to start training but we don't even have an actual tandem-bike yet!

All we know is that it's going to wet and cold for the first half of the ride and warm and dry for the second (hopefully!). That and the fact that we'll need to ride about 160km per day to make it to Vegas in time for the talk. We leave on April 3rd and the talk is on the 17th!

We're up against the clock in a big way.

With all this in mind, I was hoping to ask for a favour; I know I have a few Canadian friends out there who might be reading this at the moment and I'm wondering whether anyone had any ideas about Tandem Bikes in Canada i.e where can we get one, does anyone own one, how fast do they go, is it accepted for 2 blokes to ride one together etc etc. A long shot I know but if there is anything you can share with me, please let me know on seb@100things.com.au.

In the meantime, here's some footage of the last time Dave and I completed an adventure together; hopefully you'll get a laugh out of it. We certainly did. On this occasion Dave helped me tick off Number 72- Stay Awake for 72 Hours


Any help is massively appreciated. Talk soon.
100Things… What's on your list?
















March 7th, 2011…

Number 67- Live on a Desert Island for 1 Week: COMPLETE!

I'm back!

It's becoming a habit that every time I get back from completing an item from my list, I claim it to be the best experience I've ever had but as I sit here now in Brisbane airport with a smile from ear to ear, I'd have to say that living on the deserted island of Ilo Gi was one of the best experiences I've ever had!


It's hard to even begin to explain this one.

Picture a tiny sand island located 55kms off the mainland of New Caledonia, perched very finely on a tropical reef teaming with wildlife. A blistering sun would illuminate the turquoise water by day, revealing an ocean full of fish, sea snakes, rays and turtles whilst at sunset the shimmering waters would entice packs of sharks who'd circle the island for an evening feed. Snorkeling was interesting to say the least and the sunsets were the best i've ever seen.


A coconut would offer me breakfast every morning and after hacking it open with a borrowed machete I'd complete a 30 minute walk around the island looking for any materials that the tide may have brought in over night. In between setting myself daily challenges to keep my mind ticking over it was all about reserving energy and jotting down my thoughts in a notebook as I sat and stared out over the horizon. 


The daily walk

On Day 1 it was all about setting-up camp. After being dropped off by boat and waving goodbye to friends as they slowly disappeared into the distance, a looming storm to the East saw me set-up my hammock and stash my bags in record time. Taking in every moment of a long day, the sense of remoteness never left as I realized for the first time just how strange it would be to be alone for 7 days. 


The parting shot! This is what a lone man looks like from a boat.

It was only on the first night that I remembered that I'd never actually made a fire myself before and it could be said that this task proved ridiculously difficult for me! After an hour of trying to ignite tinder with my flint, I managed to start a raging inferno that lasted about 2 minutes. Thankfully my man-skills improved over the week.

The second and third day was all about exploration and discovering new parts of the island was something that kept me busy all day. Even though I'd been told that the highly venomous sea snakes were not aggressive, I still took a wide birth whenever I saw one (on the first day I think I counted 6!). 


Exploring

With threats of cyclones in the week leading up to the island escape, I was lucky enough to cop not one bit of rain for the entire time. So hot was it in fact that the heat ensured that my movements on the island were slow at best but this was fine; I had nowhere to get to! I remember at one stage watching my shadow walking beside me and it looked very similar to an ape-like hobble.


With limited food and water rations, self-control was needed and at the risk of sounding slightly pathetic, on the first day I decided not to kill any fish to eat. Hear me out; I had every intention of eating fish before I got to the island but after taking my spear-gun for a snorkel across the reef on the second day, my conscience got the better of me just as a fat Parrot Fish swam into my line of site. The way I saw it I had just enough museli bars and coconuts to get through 7 days and although it wasn't a lot, I thought that spearing this little fish to eat was needless. Any avid fisherman reading will be cursing me when I say that there fish of every sort there, including huge Barracuda who would occasionally come right up to shore! I left the Parrot Fish alone and instead just enjoyed watching him and his mates hang out. Luckily this test was not about living off the land, instead it was about testing my mental resolve when alone. 


The beginning of sun burnt backside!

The feeling of solitude was something I'd never felt to this degree and after shedding my clothes to get back in touch with nature, nudity no longer felt cheeky, instead it was normal. By day 4 i'd seen all of the island and so exploration quickly turned into stimulation; I needed to keep my mind busy. This was tricky! The smaller challenges of sending a message in a bottle and making an island costume from leaves and bark took serious concentration and after writing a song on my ukulele I found i'd spend hours taking in the things that usually I wouldn't. Watching clouds pass overhead or watching the tide rise and fall became meditative and when I wasn't talking to myself I'd be filming everything on camera. I have a feeling this footage will be amazing.


Message in a bottle (almost)

With no shower, razor or even soap; cleanliness was the first thing to go and with limited activities at night-time all I could do was curl up in my hammock and stare up at the stars for hours before catching broken sleep through the night. Hermet Crabs and curious sea snakes keen to check out my campsite would occasionally wake me up as they crawled over my bags and at times I tried to urge day-break just so I could go for a walk. 


Funnily enough I never used the pan!

Once every few days a distant sail boat would cruise by but often they were too far to see anybody on board. On one occasion a fisherman who had heard my story on the national New Caledonian news came out looking for signs of life but instead I hid behind a bush until he left. I didn't want any contact.


It's amazing what a a few Palm Leaves and boredom can do!

This is only a brief overview of course of an experience that I will soon be making a little documentary about but in the coming days i'll post some of the video's in their raw form so you can not only see the island but also see my declining mental state haha. 

It's been an amazing time in New Caledonia and there are so many people to thank for making this happen but firstly I'd like to say a big thanks to Maz, the girl who organized the entire trip for me! A true legend, I was also lucky enough to meet the majority of her family whilst staying at their Kuendu Beach resort near Noumea. They treated me like family and the whole trip was seamless. 


I also want to thank the lovely people of New Caledonia who showed me a great time out there, including the local TV station for airing a couple of stories as well.

For now I have a million emails to get back to and also a date with my razor but keep posted for more updates tomorrow and some news on what's up next!

100Things... What's on your list?


Read earlier blogs HERE

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