A pizza in Buenos Aires: self evaluation, digging deep, and the adventure of a lifetime

I sat down at an Italian restaurant in Buenos Aires this evening to eat a pizza and have a drink, as well as to watch the world go by, enjoy the atmosphere, and clear some mental space for the next 21 days of my life. I know, pizza in Argentina, what was I thinking? I was thinking ‘simplify’ and ‘decompress’ and get in a place to truly ‘show up’ to the Homeward Bound programme expedition.

In less than 6 hours I will leap out of bed and catch a taxi to the Airport to make my final connection down to Ushuaia, the ‘town at the end of the road’, at the southern tip of Argentina. There, I will board the MV Ushuaia for three weeks of adventure and self discovery, hoping to develop as a better leader for science, and for the planet.

Wow. Saying that is incredible. One year ago I found out that I had a place on the programme, and now here I am, far, far away from my little town on the Scottish west coast. Where did the time go? 

I know where it went – we have been busy! Media pieces, public engagement events, and new projects. Interviewing female change agents and project managing across borders. Learning ,ore and more about myself, my motivations, and values than I ever have before. It is amazing how things come together.

In the past few days I have been reviewing all of the “brainfood” drip fed to us on a weekly basis by HB central, going back over things that now have so much more insight for me when taken together, as a whole. And it hasn’t been comfortable, either. Starting to truly examine myself has been hard – asking why I sometimes feel directionless, or lost in my career, or why sometimes I dwell on thoughts for too long, turning them over and over and over again in my mind, but not reaching any productive conclusions. There is a lot of good in there too (don’t worry!), but also a lot more to work on. And now, I really WANT to work on these things, rather than just knowing I should. “Want to” is so much better motivation than “have to” – see Susan Davids excellent talk for more on this! I am a little afraid to confront all of these things, but now I feel ready to “face my thoughts, emotions, and stories with kindness, curiosity, and courage”. I am ready to show up!

I packed my bags last week, and now the adventure really begins! To anyone reading this from the Children’s University, Imhave my CU passport and a pack of bubblegum, as voted key items for a trip to Antarctica by the awesome CU Fridays group of Queen Mary University. Neville, my toy macaroni penguin is also by my side. I’ve also got a collection of beautiful Crubag silk scarves to keep me warm, and a new travel yoga mat so I remain sane (or else I would be running laps around the deck of the ship).

The departure messages of all the other women travelling to Ushuaia to join the programme have been flooding in – it feels like something big really is happening, like a pilgrimage of sorts to renew both ourselves and our motivation for science, sustainability, and a positive future. And this is just the beginning…..!

I will do my best to post updates from the ship here when I can, although internet connectivity may make it difficult. You can, however follow the programme as a whole on Facebook, on twitter (@homewardbound16), and on instagram (@homewardboundprojects). 

It is left for me to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who supported me to get this far: the Scottish Association for Marine Science, The UK Natural Environment Research Council, Accenture UK, colleagues, friends, and family. Thank you!