When I was young I remember climbing trees without fear, swinging the swing in my garden so high I thought it would circle all the way round and doing wheelies with such zest and zeal, there was no chance of a fall or crash. I was a bit of a tomboy, or at least an outdoors girl who loved the sea, the woods, the mud, the challenge of the unknown.

So as I sit at the wheel of my rented 4 x 4 on my 6 hour road trip with Archie Archibald to Cornwall I wonder when that all changed. At what point in my life did I turn into a ‘London girl’, wanting everything clean and just so, worried when the next accident may happen or what disaster may befall me or a loved one in the next few days.

For sure after Rob, my boyfriend, died all too suddenly, I became prone to catastrophising. I would worry if Mum and Dad didn’t call at the exact time they said (had they been in a car accident?). I would expect the worst to happen in any small daily going-on (of course I would, the worst had happened in my mind). And if I wasn’t enough of a worrier before, that certainly grew exponentially. However, I have worked on all of this over the years, I’m aware of how I was, I am different now. Aren’t I?

As the sun shines all around me, the music blares from the tinny but loud car speakers, and I sing at the top of my voice, glancing intermittently at Archie through my front mirror to check in, I can’t quite work out at what point I started to sit safely within my comfort zone again. And why? Was I just getting old? Had my ongoing poor health created a strong desire to, whenever possible, have ease and comfort because all too often I experienced the opposite? Other than in work, why had I not pro-actively sought to stretch myself personally and more frequently?

As I look back over the past few weeks and how I have felt about going away with Archie Archibald, although very excited, taking away an 11-month boisterous and only semi-trained 36 kilo pup seemed highly daunting. I knew I wanted to go, but I wasn’t fully comfortable with what may pan out, given I was on my own. My contingency planning was in overload (could I really imagine that many scenarios for things to go wrong on a 4-night break in Cornwall?).

What were you worrying about you may ask? Well, here is a list of just a few of my concerns that had created an ever-present feeling of anxiety within:

  • Would the hire car turn up on Easter weekend? (They said it would but it’s a Bank Holiday) and importantly would I crash it on those narrow roads? (I have had a number of crashes in cars including rental).
  • Would Archie’s new safety car harness arrive on time from the US? (The latest day of arrival in the 10 day window was my day of departure so I should be fine, shouldn’t I?).
  • Would the property I was renting have a dog-proof garden? (It was sold as a dog-friendly house with a garden).
  • Will Archie be safe at the property? (It looks on the info they have sent me post-booking that there are a lot of steps to the house – Archie doesn’t walk up steps, I informed the agency of this.)
  • Would l lose him on a beach? (We practice his recall daily, but this is very different).

Now before you say (or think) anything, let me tell you, the harness did not turn up, the car is dented, the property not only doesn’t have a dog-proof garden, there is no garden at all Arch can access due to the multiple steps and sheer drops – including getting to the front door! We have had some challenges. (Please don’t utter, you get what you focus on!).

But what I want to say is that despite the above worries (and so very many more I have not listed) I stepped out of my comfort zone and I came away with Archie. Sure, I wasn’t exactly jumping out of a plane, or traveling the world solo, but the plan was to enter the unknown (quite literally, I have no sense of direction so it would be a miracle if I even made it to Cornwall – did I mention the broken sat nav?). But as many of you know from previous blogs it’s good to exit the comfort zone, enter the stretch zone, but avoid the panic zone when it’s all just too much.

So as I sat on the motorway, I knew deep down it was the best decision I’d made in a very long time to come away for a ‘dry run’ road-trip with Archie Archibald. It was time to address my worries, my fears, time to push myself a little bit and to explore. To kick the daily routine, to live, to flourish, to be free.

“Life Begins At The End of Your Comfort Zone” 

~ Neale Donald Walsch

And as Archie hit his first beach ever, and I watched him without fear scramble over rocks, through pools, leap into the sea, approach every dog he saw and sniff, explore, sniff some-more, I looked at him and thought… that was me as a child (without the sniffing of course). It was time to taste the unknown again and start taking a few more risks.

I’ll be back next week to fill you in on how that panned out. But suffice to say for now, Archie did not get lost. And we are both doing well.