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A Travel Challenge – My New York Experience…

Two months ago, I finally made it happen. I visited the city that has been on my bucket list for over a decade. New York, you were everything I thought you would be, and even more!

Six days, sixty one miles, iconic views, and lots of laughter with my fellow traveller…I’m not even sure where to start! I’d packed my notebook ready to start writing my blog on the plane but, after dealing with a broken monitor, multiple meals (I’d eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner by the time the plane landed and it was only lunchtime in New York) and finding out that The Greatest Showman was one of the inflight movies, there was no chance of me doing anything apart from enjoying some escapism (I’m now totally addicted to the song, “This is Me”…if Beyond the C Zone had an anthem then this would definitely be it!).

Looking out of the plane window, I felt the calmness of being above the clouds…disconnected from the realities of everyday life and on the way to connecting with my New York experience. An experience that started as soon as we landed at JFK airport and we joined a sea of people all wanting to enter the USA. We were separated immediately as I wasn’t a newcomer, having visited the sunshine state of Florida just over a year ago. Once through immigration, I spent two hours people watching as I waited for my fellow traveller to navigate the sea of people and officially enter the Big Apple. People’s stories occupied my time…people on business that wished they had travelled the night before, people who had brought their own tea bags and were regaling their travelling companions of the delights of Marks & Spencer Empress Grey Tea. The story that I didn’t need to be reminded of two hours and forty five minutes after being in New York was that of the film, Taken. Taxi-gate as it will be forever known and the first mistake that took me beyond the C Zone was the taxi journey to the hotel. To sum it up in six statements: inexperienced tourists, multi-storey car park, back streets of god knows where, a “no thanks” to the offer of a sweet (it could have been anything!), an escape planned if required and an attempt at daylight robbery when we finally made it to the hotel. The taxi-gate experience put a bit of a dampener on the initial New York experience and I could feel myself retreating into my comfort zone as we did a bit of exploring. The final straw was being accosted for photos by people dressed up in grubby Disney costumes in Times Square. We quickly retreated to the safety of the hotel, grabbing a quick cocktail and slice of pizza (it was New York after all) before heading to bed.

The mantra for day one was “Carpe Diem” as we went about erasing our initial encounter with New York in order to get back out of our comfort zone. There were two challenges on the cards today, finding WiFi and the subway. Grand Central Station enabled us to achieve both and it was here that I started to see a side to New York that I really liked (and appreciated)…kindness. After deciding to brave the subway and working out which line we would be travelling on we encountered our first hurdle – purchasing our metro card! Thankfully we were assisted by somebody buying their ticket to get to college. He immediately offered to help us and made sure that we both managed to get a metro card that would at least get us to our planned destination, Brooklyn Bridge. We continued to see kindness like this for the next five days. Whenever we looked confused and were struggling with our map reading (this was probably daily), somebody would always stop and ask us if we needed any help. At first I wondered how people even noticed us but I soon began to see a big difference in the people walking the streets of New York, they had their heads up and gave eye contact. This is very different to my experience of other cities where people are looking down, rushing to their destinations or looking at their phones. It’s a bit of New York I’ve tried to bring back with me…you never know what’s going on for people and eye contact, a smile, even a few words of acknowledgement can make someone’s day. I’m still waiting to see someone struggling with a map so I can offer some assistance but I’m not sure they’d welcome my poor sense of direction!

New York showed me a city of resilience, hope, growth and survival. Nothing demonstrated this more to me than Ground Zero. The memorial and museum triggered intense emotions as you were presented with the impact of 9/11 and the stories of loss, compassion and recovery. I reflected on how important it is to make every second of life count as we really don’t know what’s around the corner…”Carpe Diem”, the day’s mantra seemed even more fitting. As we left the museum I experienced real life pathetic fallacy as the sky had changed colour to an eerie shade of grey, the breeze was intensifying causing debris to blow around the streets and people were running to their destinations in anticipation of a storm. When we returned to Grand Central Station we were immediately faced with the effects of the storm. There were people everywhere and you could barely move through crowds of stranded passengers. The force of the storm meant that there were no trains running in or out of the station. Fortunately for us, the hotel was just a sprint away.

From this point on, rain became a daily feature of the New York experience. One of the wettest days was when we took a boat cruise to see the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of freedom. It’s a sight I’ve seen so many times in films and books but nothing could prepare me for seeing the torch bearing copper figure of the Roman Goddess of Liberty in the flesh. The greyness of the skyline seemed to make Lady Liberty even more noticeable. It was a profound experience as I considered the number of people that have sailed past the iconic figure in search of a new life. It got me thinking about my experience of seeking a new path in life following my struggle with infertility and the freedom I’ve felt since I found my voice and owned my story (https://beyondtheczone.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/bring-on-spring/), the freedom to live as I choose and go where I want…and this week it was New York.

The sixty one miles spent on my feet, which included a run in Central Park, and reaching the dizzy heights of the City’s famous landmarks (Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Bar 65) definitely wasn’t easy physically and it tested my map reading skills despite the supposedly simple New York grid system – I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a place where, whenever we resorted to Google Maps, the destination was always 20 minutes away?! Despite this, the overall experience reinforced to me one of my favourite quotes (whether it was 20 minutes away or not):

Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations – Zig Ziglar

I admit that Sex and the City had a significant influence on my desire to go to New York and one of my highlights of the trip has to be visiting the outside of Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment. I’ve even started to watch the show again to get my New York fix and I was watching an episode earlier this week when Carrie described New York as, “the gateway to hope, opportunity and happiness.” When I heard this, something dawned on me. New York definitely gave me new experiences and happy memories that I will never forget, and I certainly got some challenges ticked off the list, which encourages me in my quest to achieve 40 challenges this year. However, I also realised that Beyond the C Zone is proving to be my gateway…my gateway to hope, opportunity, happiness, growth and freedom from the things that have been holding me back. And, from this, I have no doubt that I will reach my own “beautiful destination”.

I couldn’t end this blog post without saying a HUGE thank you to my fellow traveller – for sticking to the pact we made 4 years ago, for helping to get some challenges ticked off the list, and for the memories we made.

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She believed she could, so she did…

Sunday 29th April 2018…the day I completed my half marathon challenge. Rewind back to Monday 16th April 2018 (one of the inspirations behind my previous blog, Tantrum, Tears and Treatment) and I didn’t even think I would make the start line…I couldn’t even run 2 miles due to a dodgy knee, let alone 6.55 times that distance. I was starting to contemplate a totally different kind of personal challenge as I faced the prospect of having to withdraw from the race and deal with the feelings of failure and letting people down. Fast forward 14 days and physically, I’m feeling a bit sore, but mentally, I’m still feeling elated. I did it! I ran 13.1miles and my knee is now one of the the only things that doesn’t hurt!

At 08.45am I was shivering on the start line, alone but connected to about 6000 other people who were also about to take on the challenge with one common aim in mind…to cross the finish line. As the horn sounded to start the race at 09.00am, I began the long walk to the start line (I was at the back with the sub 2:30 group). Externally, the speakers were playing the theme tune to Chariots of Fire but, internally, the pesky inner critic went into over drive…How on earth did I think I could do this when everyone else was clearly more prepared than I was? How was my knee going to survive the distance? What if I caused an even worse injury? What if I didn’t finish? etc etc. The inner critic got more air time than I would have liked because the approach to the start line was slowed down due to having to dodge the mud and puddles. Then it loomed large, the timer was ticking and, before I knew it, I was over it. This was it…I pressed start on my Fitbit and playlist, gave a last minute wave to my supporters and then I dug deep and started to push forwards. I was about to go well and truly Beyond the C Zone.

I spent 2 hours, 29 minutes and 7 seconds racing myself through the City of Chester and the Cheshire countryside. In my custom made Beyond the C Zone T-Shirt I ran amongst people with their own stories and reasons for taking on the half marathon challenge, many of whom also had them emblazoned on their race attire. One of my favourite items of clothing were some leggings covered in inspirational and motivational words. My favourite became my mantra for the remaining miles:

“She believed she could, so she did.”

The Race Marshalls, those handing out water, live music, and crowds of supporters were AMAZING. Even in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere, people had come out to cheer us on and offer words of encouragement… “you’re well over halfway” gets my vote for the most encouraging statement. I high fived supporters who held out their hands as we ran past and hit the “boost boards” people had made for runners to get a psychological energy surge…I’m 100% convinced that my pace increased every time I touched one. The jelly babies were handed out at just the right time in the final few miles.

There was a comforting rhythm created by the sound of trainers hitting the tarmac and the beautiful scenery when running through the countryside was definitely worth getting up early on a Sunday morning for. But, the race was by no means easy. On two occasions it felt like I’d gone way too far beyond my comfort zone. At mile 10, I began to feel wobbly, I realised how much bits of me were hurting (apart from my knee!) and I was running into unknown territory because 10 miles was as far as I had got in training. At mile 12, I realised that I would have to face ‘the hill’ to get to the finish line. I hadn’t really paid any attention to those who had told me about the hill at the end of the race, but I did when I ran down it during the first mile of the race. It was a tough way to finish. I was tired and my legs hurt. I was so close but the end felt so far away as I ran/walk up what felt like a mountain. When I reached the summit, and turned the corner, everything changed…every step and every bit of effort was absolutely worth it.

The finish line was in sight and the roar of the crowd was immense. There was a sea of smiling faces, people shouting my name, cheering me on as my pace quickened. It was then that I felt a sudden wave of emotion build and I realised I was crying…tears of joy as my right foot went over the finish line and I punched the air in celebration. I’d done it! And, within the time I had aimed for.

Once over the finish line I found myself in the “athlete only area” being handed a medal and some much needed water. Imposter syndrome definitely starts to sneak in whenever the word “athlete” is mentioned at races. But, I have since discovered that the word “athlete” actually comes from the Greek word, “athlon”, meaning “prize”. For me, the prize on Sunday wasn’t the medal (although it’s a nice one!). It was what it told me about myself…running has helped me become physically and emotionally stronger by pushing me beyond my comfort zone and showing me what I’m capable of.

I got a lovely message from someone that expresses this far better than I can:

“…Again you demonstrate how brave and strong you are by pushing through the injury and taking that leap of faith (accompanied by your knee support) to smash today.”

Someone who gets a special mention is my Dad as I certainly couldn’t have completed the half marathon challenge without his help in sorting out my dodgy knee.

So, that’s another of my 40 challenges ticked off the list. Going Beyond the C Zone on this occasion has introduced me to new people who have provided inspiration along the way, it has renewed my love of running, and it has increased my belief in myself and what I’m capable of. I thought I could run 13.1 miles, and I did.

Tantrum, Tears & Treatment…

What a difference a week makes! I wasn’t planning to write a blog until the completion of my half marathon challenge but inspiration struck during today’s 10 mile run. This was because, at the start of the week, I couldn’t even manage 2 miles…I couldn’t even run for 5 minutes because of my knee. Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome (“Runners Knee”) to be exact…something that’s been niggling for weeks but struck big time a few weeks ago when, due to the pain, I had to abandon my run and ring for help….a lift home!

On Monday, when the pain struck, I started to think it was game over and the half marathon challenge was out of reach. My aim had been to run 7 miles but I was forced to give up at 2 miles…not even managing to run that. How was it going to be possible to run almost 7 times that distance? It was at this point, the moment when I thought it wasn’t going to happen, I realised how much the half marathon challenge meant to me. I’ll be totally honest and admit that I actually had a bit of a tantrum…kicking and cursing mud, grass, twigs…anything that got in my way as I stomped home. I was a 40 year old acting like a 4 year old. When I eventually got home, the tantrum turned into tears. It was beginning to feel like failure and, for those of you that know me well, or have read my blogs, you know that this is something that I struggle with and will try and avoid at all costs. It’s something that takes me well and truly beyond my comfort zone!

As I started to try and get my head around the fact that dealing with NOT completing the half marathon might actually become a Beyond the C Zone challenge, I phoned my Dad. He’s a physiotherapist and I thought he’d give me the final confirmation that it was challenge over…particularly given that 2 weeks after the half marathon I go to New York where I really will need my knee given the miles I’ll be walking. But, I was wrong…my dad was adamant that my knee would be absolutely fine if I continued with my twice daily exercises and the treatment he’d prescribed over the phone…plus the addition of a knee support. At the time, I don’t think this was what I wanted to hear…I was potentially going to be letting us both down (well, that’s what the inner pesky critic was telling me) if I didn’t make the start or finish lines.

So, I got the knee support (I’m now referring to it as my miracle and new BFF), continued with the exercises, and, on Wednesday, I managed to run 4 miles. On Friday, I achieved 5 miles. Determination (and stubbornness) started to drown out the pesky inner critic. It all hinged on managing to do a long run today…in my head I’d decided that 10 miles would convince me that I was physically and psychologically ready for the half marathon challenge. This was the dress rehearsal (albeit a little late in the training plan). I headed off with a new playlist, my knee support firmly attached and smelling of deep heat, energy gels in my running belt…and I DID IT! 10.01 pain free miles!! It will go down as one of my favourite runs EVER…the weather, the scenery, the playlist, the feeling, but, most of all, the completion of it. It may not have been my fastest run but it reinforced that it’s slow and steady that wins the race.

What today showed me was that sometimes you really don’t know what you’re capable of and sometimes my Dad is right (there can’t be very many times I’ve said that before!). The mind can often get in the way of what we set out to achieve, especially when we start to venture outside of our Comfort Zone! It turns the ‘I can’ into ‘I can’t. I’m now firmly back in the ‘this girl can’ zone and on Sunday I’ll be running the Chester Half Marathon for me and my Dad, my ‘I really can do this’ inspiration.

Bring on Spring…

I have always loved this time of year when the signs of spring suddenly begin to appear as nature comes alive again. Even the miserable weather this year hasn’t stopped it…I loved seeing the blossom in the snow and the clumps of daffodils that shine bright against their damp, grey, backdrops. The nights are lighter, birds are singing and there’s an air of positivity, especially when we see the sunshine – even if this has been fairly limited so far.

This year the arrival of spring has resonated with me more than usual. It’s reminded me of why Beyond the C Zone and my 40:40 challenges have become so important to me. They symbolise life beginning at 40 and outside of our comfort zone. The challenges I’ve completed so far have certainly given me a feeling of ending a period of hibernation and feeling alive again. The one that has achieved this the most came in March when a piece I wrote for Fertility Network Uk was published on International Women’s Day. As a challenge, I already know that this will be the one that means the most to me because, although it was probably one of the toughest, it’s the one where I found my voice and owned my story.

” Owning your story is the bravest thing you will ever do” ( Brené Brown)

I can honestly say that, on completion of this challenge, it felt as though the weight of winter had left my shoulders, my hibernation was coming to an end, and something else was beginning to grow. The response to what I had written was overwhelming. I can’t put into words my gratitude for the messages of support and encouragement I received, both from people who know me (but didn’t necessarily know my story) and complete strangers. It has even led to new connections. When I posted the link to my story it got the most views I’ve ever had – 483!! (I couldn’t comprehend how that was even possible)! And, in response to my story, I was repeatedly reading words like: powerful, brave, inspirational, courageous, heartfelt, motivating, awesome. I was particularly moved (and reminded) of ‘WWFD’ (‘What would Fi do?’) – this has now evolved into ‘WWFD’ when the creator of this acronym needs to be courageous and exciting.

As positive as the outcome of the challenge has become, it has also been pretty scary. There were many, “what have I done?” moments when I had to dig deep and remember that courage is contagious. And, if I consider the original definition of courage:

“It’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart – and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart” (Brené Brown)

So, If telling my story of who I am with my whole heart could help just one person experiencing struggle, I would have achieved what I wanted to by going Beyond the C Zone.

As you’ve probably worked out by now, I have a bit of an ‘inspiration’ crush on Brené Brown. However, it’s the inspiration around me in everyday life that gives me courage – nature, people following their passion or standing up for what they believe in, people making the most out of the struggles they face, people helping others despite their own adversities…There are definitely people in my life who don’t realise quite how awesome and inspirational they really are (I’ve made a note that I need to tell them!).

Earlier in the year, I attended a Chakra Workshop (on my own) as one of my self-development challenges. My third Chakra (Solar Plexus) was identified as being blocked, which, I learnt, can be a societal thing, particularly in the UK where we are perceived to be more reserved. I’m hoping that I’ve now started to unblock my third Chakra as I learn how to be “me” and present who I really am to the world. This has definitely started with owning and sharing my story. Imagine if more of us went beyond our reservedness and fear, beyond our comfort zones, to own and share our stories – you never know what difference you might make or who you might inspire, what seeds might be sown and what might grow.

My next challenge is to work on dragging my injured right knee out of winter and force it back to life in readiness for my half marathon challenge in 3 weeks! Fingers crossed that the next time I blog, I will be injury free, have a medal in my hand (along with a glass of celebratory fizz) and another challenge ticked off the 40:40 Challenge list.

http://fertilitynetworkuk.org/beyondtheczone/

Dealing with Setbacks…..

Well, I’m a few months into the 40:40 Challenge and, whilst I’ve been making progress towards my challenges, I’ve also encountered a few setbacks along the way. You’ll have worked out by now that I’m a bit of a perfectionist (ok, ‘bit’ might be an understatement) and, what I’m discovering through Beyond the C Zone is that perfectionism and setbacks are, by no means, a match made in heaven!

First let’s talk about setbacks….the curveballs that life suddenly sends our way. I’m beginning to identify a spectrum of setbacks – at one end we have the life changing ones that can turn our world upside down (believe me, I’ve experienced quite a few!) and at the other end we have the daily niggles like traffic jams that stop us getting where we need to get to on time, and then there’s different degrees of setbacks in between. Add a perfectionist into the mix and setbacks can become catastrophic – I speak from experience! My setbacks over the last few months have, in the grand scheme of things, been fairly minor but when you’re faced with the 40:40 Challenge, something that’s so important to me, they get pushed up the setback spectrum.

The setbacks started coming at the end of January when, a supposedly simple medical procedure wasn’t as straightforward as it should have been, and I ended up with some stitches in my back – this put a 2 week ban on stretching so Pilates went out of the window and my half marathon training was scaled down. Then came a knee injury and my half marathon training ground to a halt. The busy reality of day to day life meant that I started to feel as though I was getting behind on the challenges I’d started to set in motion (this really started to highlight my ‘all or nothing’ and ‘I’m going to fail’ tendencies’). Then came the snow, one of my ‘nice’ challenges was literally prevented from happening and had to be rescheduled. This didn’t only impact on me, it was my 40th Birthday present to my best friend. And, after all that, I finally succumbed to one of the nasty cold viruses currently doing the rounds. I’m still recovering and so the half marathon training is getting even further behind.

Instead of believing that the universe was conspiring against me and the setbacks were ‘signs’ that certain challenges weren’t ‘meant to be’, I decided to ‘challenge’ myself and see setbacks differently – after all, for me, this is the year of challenges. I’m not going to lie, this was tough, but eventually I recognised that the required healing/recovery time gave me the opportunity to slow down and focus on some self care, the busyness of life gave me the opportunity to reflect on and tweak how I organised my time and highlighted the need to put into practice some of the planning tips I’ve picked up. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about the weather!

It got me thinking about other setbacks that I’ve experienced in life, even the life changing ones, and I began to reflect on what I’ve gained from them instead of what I’ve lost or not managed to achieve. After all, that’s how Beyond the C Zone was born. The realisation that it’s the challenges in life that help us grow and develop, not the things that that are effortless or happen exactly as they should.

So, yes, setbacks can be tough but we’re always going to encounter them. We just need to try and look at them differently. We need to see them as change we haven’t adapted to yet. We need to quit the, ‘I really should be….’ or ‘but, I need to….’ statements, take a deep breath and look for the opportunity rather than the potential catastrophe. I can’t say I’ve totally cracked this yet (I still get waves of panic about my half marathon)….. it’s work in progress. On the plus side, I’ve definitely made progress in my reading challenge!

All or Nothing….

It’s been a few weeks since my last post and, in that time, I’ve had to frequently remind myself of the proverbial phrase, “patience is a virtue” – a phrase that takes me right back to my childhood! After being on a bit of a high following the launch of Beyond the C Zone and the completion of a couple of challenges, I’ve gone back to the reality of January…..the day job, the dark mornings/nights, illness, and the feeling that winter seems to be going on forever. I’ve also started to get impatient with the challenges. I’m a perfectionist so, for me, it’s all or nothing….typical black and white thinking. I want to focus on getting the challenges ticked off my list but I’ve been getting impatient with the fact that some of them have quite a few steps that need to be taken to get to the end goal and the highly anticipated tick. In addition to this, the pesky inner critic, perfectionism’s BFF, has been reminding me that I could actually fail the 40:40 Challenge because I’m not good enough, organised enough, brave enough, confident enough……etc etc. Thankfully, a fellow 40:40 Challenger and supporter reminded me that even if I didn’t get all 40 challenges completed this year, that, in itself, would push me way beyond my comfort zone and wouldn’t actually stop me reaching my end goal.

So, in recognising the need for patience, I’m trying hard to stay in the moment and enjoy the steps I’m taking to tick off my challenges. Each step has brought new experiences, learning and memories. I’ve had my first ukulele lesson……I can play a couple of songs (slowly!) and, when practicing the other day, was told that I actually sound quite musical. I’ve started Pilates. I’ve booked a trip to New York. I’ve completed my first ever Parkrun, in the wind and rain, running the whole 5K thanks to the Beyond the C Zone feeling that kicked in and spurred me on. I’ve made seven out of forty new recipes and started my first of the forty books I plan to read this year. I have also achieved another of the highly anticipated ticks having completed my challenge to make a Birthday Cake. You may ask how this took me Beyond the C Zone. Well, not only am I somebody who usually resorts to shop bought cake, this was a ‘special’ Birthday and I didn’t just opt for a basic Victoria Sponge cake, I went for a cake shaped like a bird – there’s a picture of the final result below. I won’t be giving up the day job just yet but the recipient loved it and the taste test proved successful.

As we move into February, I’m going to take my learning from January and try really hard to be patient, to stay in the present and enjoy the opportunities that every step towards a challenge and going Beyond the C Zone brings. After all, it’s slow and steady that wins the race!

Let the 40:40 Challenges Begin….

I have officially completed one of my 40:40 Challenges – my 40th Birthday “Warm Up Drinks” (the warm up to a joint 40th Birthday party later in the year). Like one of my friends, you might question, “how is this a challenge that pushes you beyond your comfort zone”? Well, I haven’t hosted more than 7 people in my home for over a decade, let alone done the catering (canapés without a recipe), decorations and the ‘play list’! We all have our own unique comfort zone, which means we all have different thresholds for going beyond it. But, that doesn’t matter because we can all still reap the same benefits of pushing ourselves out of it.

As the evening of the ‘Warm Up Drinks’ drew nearer, a sense of fear started to kick in. The voice of the pesky inner critic started getting louder and louder – “what am I doing”, “nobody will come” (there was a potential risk that this could have become a reality due to the dreaded winter ‘bugs’ doing the rounds), “it will be rubbish”, “people might not get on”…… basically the “I’m not good enough” self talk. Even on the morning of the event, I stood in the supermarket aisle with the inner critic telling me how ridiculous I was for thinking I could make canapés when I didn’t even know what I would use for the canapé base!

Fast forward eight hours and the event was in full swing. The canapés were eaten (and complimented), the drinks were flowing and the inner critic was silenced. But, what became most important to me was the company I was in, my family and friends. It didn’t matter that the melba toast with the smoked salmon and cream cheese on it had gone soggy or that the playlist wasn’t to everybody’s taste (I didn’t realise how eclectic my selections from 1978-2018 would turn out to be). What mattered were the memories that were being made as well as the kindness and human connection that manifested in my kitchen. I was totally astounded when two guests from different parts of my life made an unexpected connection over the ‘Cumberland Gap’ (a song that can be found on YouTube)! And, it was the connection of those present that produced a very creative list of potential challenges for me over the next 12 months, some of which we will be doing together.

As I embraced the challenge of the ‘Warm Up Drinks’ (and turning 40) I pushed myself further beyond my c zone (to be fair, the prosecco and gin cocktails might have offered a little support). I made a speech, from the heart, taking the opportunity to thank those present for being there and supporting me through the tough times. I also took the opportunity to complete a challenge, there and then, identified by my guests – a solo dance, ‘with groove’ (it had anything but that!). The biggest, unexpected, challenge has been the absence of my phone following it’s unexpected swim in the toilet at the end of the night!

After the ‘Warm Up Drinks’ challenge, as well as the challenges within this challenge, the Beyond the C Zone glow has remained with me as I plan and prepare for the next 39 challenges (even the voice of the pesky inner critic has quietened down). The completion of this first challenge has shown me that going Beyond the C Zone doesn’t just lead to personal growth through new opportunities and experiences. It builds connection, strengthens bonds, creates memories, and inspires others to join in – it appears that the Beyond the C Zone effect is spreading and people are identifying their own challenges!