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S1 E6: Fran Chats (Full Transcript)

FRAN: Hello adventurers, it’s Fran Turauskis here and you’re listening to Seize Your Adventure. So I’m actually recording this, and editing this, and putting this out on Valentine’s Day today, which is a bit earlier than usual. And there is a reason for that. There’s two reasons in fact. The first reason is that as well as being the Patron Saint of love, and romance, St Valentine is also the patron of epilepsy. So there’s a number of reasons for this, as there always is. But it does actually mean that in some countries, epilepsy was known as St Valentine’s affliction. 

The second reason that you’re getting the podcast a little bit early this time, is that today, the 14th February, is in fact Seize Your Adventure’s one year anniversary. One year ago today I launched the Seize Your Adventure website. I had stayed up until very late in the morning trying to get it sorted, and then just went through the day in a little bit of a daze. So I thought that today would be a very fitting day to do the question and answer with myself.

So, obviously, usually I would have a conversation with the person who wrote the story from the episode previously. But as the last episode was my story, I’m going to have a semi-interview with myself, but I will be using questions from people that have sent in questions via Instagram and Twitter and also questions recorded from a couple of my friends and people I have been working with over the past year, and will be working with in the future, in fact.

To kick things off, I do actually have a question, or two questions, that were very similar. So the first one that you will hear is from Dave Cornthwaite, he is the founder of SayYesMore, and I actually am going to be an ambassador for SayYesMore this year. So that was just announced yesterday and you will obviously hear a little bit about that in the future.

You may well recognise the second voice you hear. So this is Jade Nelson who did the first and second episodes with me. She’s a big supporter of Seize Your Adventure and she’s done a lot of work for me over the past year as well.

So here it is, Dave and Jade, what are your questions?

DAVE (recorded in cafe with saxophone music behind):  You’re building this idea for Seize Your Adventure, what’s the highs and lows of the early process? What have you struggled with and what are those little reminders that keep you going?

JADE: What have you found to be the most difficult with starting Seize Your Adventure, and the most rewarding?

FRAN: The most difficult it’s having time. It’s having enough time to do this, I’d love to be doing this more, but I do work part time so I’m only doing this in my spare time at the moment. I just wish I had more time to find other people whose stories I can tell to try and get the stories that have been told so far out there to more people, because it is slightly upsetting when I see my stats sometimes and it’s always much lower than I would want it to be and I really wish I could get these stories out to more people and that does take more time and effort unfortunately. But the best bits? Easily, it’s the feedback that I get from all of you who are listening, it’s the feedback that I get from people who have read the stories that have seen the accounts on social media and to just know that this is something that is needed, this is something that people are appreciating. It really does help me to carry on doing this even when I feel tired, even when I would rather be doing something else outside to be honest with you, it really does help me. But in terms of the highs and lows in terms of actual events, I would have to say, and it’s not just because he asked the question, but Yestival last year, October last year, I was invited by Dave to speak at Yestival, and it was so emotional, that talk. Of all the talks that I’ve done, to be able to tell my story, to be able to connect with other people that were all telling amazing stories as well. Yestival is definitely up there as one of the best bits from Seize Your Adventure so far. 

So I have a couple of questions here from an interview I did at the end of last year by Sarah Booth, who works for– I think it’s actually pronounced ‘as-eye’? Acai Activewear.  And she asked me, “have you always been adventurous?” No. I’m not sure I always have been adventurous. I was one of those kids that– I wasn’t very good at climbing trees. I didn’t really like swimming that much, there were lots of things I wasn’t that adventurous about, and I was a scaredy-cat to be honest with you, particularly when it came to  watching scary films, or going on rollercoasters and that kind of thing. We used to go hiking, hiking holidays most years when we were young. So I actually attempted to climb Snowdon for the first time when I was seven years old, and I climbed it for the first time when I was eight. I did Scarfell Pike when I was a teenager, and then I did Ben Nevis when I was about 18 years old as well. So I managed to do the Three Pikes [sic] of England, Scotland and Wales by the time I was 18 essentially. 

Yeah. We used to do– we used to do a couple of adventurous things actually. So I did like doing things like gorge walking and climbing, and that kind of thing whenever I could do it. But I lived down South in England, so it was a bit tricky to get out and do those things and it wasn’t as popular when I was young. Second question from Sarah, “what do you love most about being outdoors, and what kind of benefits do you get when you’re doing your favourite things?” So, my favourite things are hiking, running and climbing, when I can do it. I don’t do climbing as much. My favourite thing about hiking is that– I just like being out in nature and I like being out and seeing new landscapes, um, there is a connection to nature, there’s a connection to the the place that you’re hiking, when  you’re actually going through the landscape and you get to feel your body working with the landscape, to try to get to the top of that mountain, or try to get to the end of that day. But hiking is– it’s where my soul belongs to be honest with you, I wish I could do it all the time. Um, running, I started doing running when I came back from the Camino because I couldn’t be hiking for 7 or 8 hours every day, unfortunately. I do have to go to work, I do have to make money and I do have to stay inside and do the podcast. But running was a good way to try and keep my fitness up, and it’s not something that is very natural to me, I’m definitely more distance than speed, but it definitely does feel like it tests me a lot more. And it definitely does give me a time to just get away from the everyday grinds, the everyday life admin that I have to do, the same as all of us. So running is a little break from that. And climbing, when I can do it, it’s of kind of like meditation for me, you can only focus on the climbing when you’re climbing you can’t have any other thoughts in your head, it’s going to be about where your foot is going, where your hands are going and where you are on the rock, and that’s about it, that’s all that you can think about. So climbing is great when I’m stressed, or when I have too much to think about, to just go and do that for a bit.

So the next question is from one of the contributors to Seize Your Adventure, and also the Founder of an epilepsy community called Life Elektrik, so this is Christalle Bodiford.

CHRISTALLE: What keeps you motivated to keep adventuring, even on your bad days?

FRAN: So, what keeps me motivated, even on my bad days? It’s– it’s slightly difficult because I don’t know if I do keep motivated to be honest with you. I’ve had a few bad days this week, I’ve felt a little bit under the weather and I have somehow pulled a muscle in my arm even though I’ve been doing nothing. So I kind of feel like me doing nothing is a bit dangerous, I have to keep going.  So, yeah, some days I just don’t keep going. I think it’s like all of us. I have bad days, and I allow myself to have those bad days where I don’t have to do something. But, what keeps me going, what keeps me motivated is having a purpose or a goal that I’m aiming towards. So it was really easy on the Camino, my purpose was to get to the Albergues, I had to get there else I wouldn’t be sleeping indoors, I’d be sleeping in the middle of nowhere, without a tent. But now that I don’t have that set purpose, I do give myself goals. I try to give myself goals every week, everyday. I really live to the idea of “no zero days”. So if you’ve got a goal that you’re aiming towards, so long as you’re doing something small every single day towards that goal, it doesn’t matter how big or small it is, so long as it is going towards that goal, you’ve done it, that is something that you can say you’ve done today. So for me, that is either to go for a run everyday or to try and get 10000 steps in everyday, so that I’m at least doing something towards my fitness.

A question here from Instagram: “What are some tips you have for new adventurers or explorers?” 

I do actually have an article about this on Seize Your Adventure, I’ll link that in the shownotes for you. But my main tip would be to always assess where you are starting from. If you assess your general fitness, if you assess your comfort zone, find out what it is you currently feel comfortable with, and that you can currently do, and then you go from there. So you just push yourself a little bit further each time and then suddenly you’ll realise that you are that person that you looked at and thought that I couldn’t do it. That happened to me very much on the Camino, and it still happens with my running. At the start, I was looking at people who were walking quicker than me, they were walking further than me, they could walk without complaining about the aching muscles at the end of the day and I didn’t know if I would ever get to that stage, I thought it was going to be painful the whole time. But after about four or five days it started becoming easier, and then it started becoming fun, so it’s always about starting where you are, you can’t start anywhere else, assess where you are, figure out your fitness and then go from there. 

And a similar question here: “How do you start getting back to a normal life after you’ve been diagnosed with epilepsy?”

So this question I always find a bit difficult, I always feel like a bit of a fraud when people ask me this question and I can’t tell you how to get back to a normal life. In all honesty, I think Jade Nelson says it very nicely, you are going to have to find a new normal. You are going to have to adapt things because things are different now. To use an extended metaphor, if you are feeling a bit lost because of an epilepsy diagnosis, you don’t know how to handle it – the first thing you always do when you are lost is to stop. Just stop. Find your map, find where you are on the path, and then you can figure out how to get where you want to go. And you are on a different path now, you are now someone with epilepsy. It doesn’t necessarily have to lead you to a different place. It just means that if you have goals, if you have things that you want to do, you may have to take different steps towards them, you may have to adapt the way that you were doing things before so that you can now do it with your epilepsy. So, this is something that is something that is going to be different for everyone depending on how much your epilepsy affects you, depending on how your seizures manifest themselves, depending on whether your medication works or your medication gives you more side effects to try and keep those seizures at bay. It is going to be a different path for everyone. You are gonna have to make different adaptations, but there are always ways to adapt things. Just because you are doing it differently from before, it doesn’t necessarily make it any less enjoyable, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to get back to what you were doing before, but you are gonna have to follow that epilepsy path, unfortunately.

The next question comes from someone who I actually met via one of my favourite podcasts. So we both put in answers to a callout for a podcast called She Explores, I’d very much recommend it to anyone that is wanting a little bit of adventure stoke, adventure inspiration. Here’s a question from Kathi Kamleitner, who is the founder of a blog called Watch Me See.

KATHI: Hi Fran, thank you so much for your podcast. I guess I would like to know what is your answer when people tell you can’t do something, or you shouldn’t do something that you really want to do? An adventure or a hike or something like that.

FRAN: So, before I answer the question I would just like to pause and say that I love Kathi’s accent so much! 

I have been very lucky and not many people have dared to tell me not to do something. My friends, my family, my boyfriend, they know me quite well, they know that they can’t stop me from doing something that I want to do. And even the doctors, when I was telling the doctors about wanting to walk the Camino, they didn’t try and stop me at all. My doctors and the epilepsy nurse has been so supportive of me, and they’ve just helped me to try and do what I want to do. Yeah, I’ve been very lucky, I don’t have people telling me not to do it that much. 

If Someone did dare to say that to me? I’d probably just try and go off and do it better than I was originally planning to do, do more than I was originally planning to do. Because I– I know my limits quite well. I know what I can do and can’t do. So I set myself challenges that test those limits a little bit. If someone tells me not to test my limits, I will go and test them even more.

Another question from the Instagram world: “Has there ever been one person who has particularly inspired you?”

I have to say there isn’t one person, there are lots of people, and that is all of the contributors for Seize Your Adventure, I will tell you a little bit more at the end of the episode, but everyone who has contributed so far has inspired me, and that leads into a challenge that I will be setting for myself a little bit later on this year.

Just a small question here: “What has been your adventure so far?” That one comes from my dad, so thank you Dad for a nice, small question. My favourite adventure so far? I’ve really bad with this one, partly because I have an awful memory but I always say that my favourite adventure is the one that I just did, and the one that is coming next.

Similar question from somebody else on Instagram: “Can you share with us one of your most memorable experiences of the Camino trip and what you learned about yourself?”

I was out there for about six weeks and I was walking for 32 days during that time so it’s very difficult for me to pick out one memorable experience but I would say the one that I carry with me still is one of the ones that I talked about in the podcast last time in my story. When I was on about my 20th day of hiking, I was walking with some other people who had only just started their Camino, and one of the ladies, she turned to me and said “tu eres fuerte” which means that “you are strong” and that was a really nice moment, not just because I understood it in Spanish, but it is a mantra that I do repeat to myself if I do have those bad days. Tu eres fuerte. 

Another question here from Christalle.

CHRISTALLE: When you’re choosing your next outdoor adventure or challenge, do you take your epilepsy into consideration, and if so what are some things you look for in challenges?

FRAN: So my first answer to this question, I was really tempted to just say ‘no, no, I pick the challenge and then I figure out how to do it’. But then I– [laughs] I remembered that I actually did the Camino trail because of my epilepsy. I was looking at much more remote trails to begin, there are a couple in Slovenia that I wanted to try, and a couple that were very off the beaten track. But I ended up doing the Camino rather than one of those more remote trails because the Camino had a good mix of people that I could contact if I needed help, people that could help me if I needed it, and I would be able to sleep in the same room as other people every night. Although there were a few nights where I was actually in a room by myself, I don’t quite know how it happened on such a busy trail. But, yeah, I do consider it. It was the reason I did the Camino and I think that– interestingly enough, as much as I wanted to be a bit more remote I think the Camino was the path that I needed to do at that time of my life. It helped me to experience a bit more of Europe, which after Brexit I was worried, and still am a bit worried is going to be more difficult for me now. And I also got to learn about the politics in some other countries as well. I was walking with people from– obviously Spain– Venezuela, Argentina, USA, all over the world, so I got to learn a little about what was happening in their countries as well and it was just before the Barcelona referendum, so speaking to people about other country’s politics it really put my own country’s politics into sp– into perspective a little bit.

This next question comes from Tiffany Webb, who is actually the producer of another epilepsy podcast called The Epilepsy Spectrum. I would recommend going and checking it out, particularly if you don’t know as much about epilepsy because she goes into it really nicely. And it’s nice, short episodes as well, so you get just a little snippet in each episode

TIFFANY: My question for you is what is your greatest life lesson that you have learned from having epilepsy?

FRAN: For me, having epilepsy really makes me appreciate the times between seizures, the times when I am feeling healthy. It has taught me to not take my body for granted, to not take my health for granted. I see it as almost a duty to make the most out of my health and to go out there and enjoy life as much as I can, and not take for granted that I can do it in a year or two, because I’m here right now, so let’s do it right now.

Jade also asked this question, but this question is from Jordan Wylie. So, I actually caught up with Jordan Wylie a couple of weeks back at the National Running Show in Birmingham, and we had a good old chat, a good quick-fire interview with him, which you’ll hear next month. But here is the question that he asked for me:

[Background noise of restaurant]

JORDAN (over): What do you want to achieve from the podcast? What do you– what do you hope to– in this time a year from now when I say “Seize Your Adventure how’s it going?” what do you hope to have achieved and how can we help you achieve that?

FRAN (to Jordan): I would just like people to hear stories from all kinds of different folks with epilepsy, and all kinds of different adventure stories, so whether that is the bigger adventures such as yourself, the world first, or whether that is the smaller adventure of stepping outside for the first time after your last seizure. I just want people to– I want people with epilepsy to know that they aren’t alone and I want people without epilepsy to know that we are– we are all people we are all individuals and it’s not something to be scared of.

JORDAN: Yeah. And I think that you are doing an incredible job, I think Seize Your Adventure is an excellent initiative, you know, your content’s good, you know. You’re engaging with the right audience. And, keep doing what you’re doing.

FRAN (to Jordan): Thank you. Thank you very much.

JORDAN: [laughs] Pleasure.

FRAN (in studio): Can you tell that I was a little bit nervous answering that question? I have to say I was a bit star-struck when I was speaking to Jordan, but he is a fab guy. You’ll hear from him next month.

I just wanted to expand on that a little bit and answer his question properly. What do I want to actually see Seize Your Adventure doing?  I want the podcast to be regular and I want the podcast to be listened by a lot more people, and I want the website to be a lot more regular. I don’t know if I’ll manage this within the next, but I would like to take Seize Your Adventure offline at some point as well, so have either a hard copy magazine or hard copy book at some point, to just make it as accessible and reach as far as possible. 

And so, the very last question here from Joe Stevenson, who you heard from in episodes 3 and 4. So Joe, I asked [laughs] I asked him to ask me a question quite quickly at the end of the interview so you can hear he was a little bit sprung upon. But this was Joe’s question:

JOE: Well, have you got any adventure’s lined up yourself in the near future?

FRAN: Yes! Yes do. I have quite a few adventures lined up. This is gonna be a very exciting year for me and rather than one big adventure like I tend to do usually, I’m going to be doing lots of little adventures and a couple of rather strenuous ones. So, I turn 30 in May, and I actually turn 30 in the same week as National Epilepsy Awareness Week. I took this as a sign and a challenge, and between my 30th birthday and my 31st birthday, I’m going to be doing 30 adventure activities, 30 adventure challenges. So these are going to be on all levels, and as much as possible I have made them all activities that contributors already do. There’ll be fairly small adventures like stand-up-paddleboarding, I’m gonna do a day surfing, I’m going to do a day snowboarding and there’s also gonna be a couple of bigger adventures. One of them, I have signed up to Race to the Stones, so that’s 100km over two days, so that’s just over two marathons in two days. You can walk it or run it, it’s along the Ridgeway to the Avebury stone circle. Now, I chose this because we used to visit Avebury a lot, we used to walk the Ridgeway a lot when I was young, so it’s a quite personal route for me. But I chose this challenge because of one of the very inspirational ladies that did a Q&A for me, and I’m hoping to speak to her again at some point. Jessica, this one was inspired by you, thank you very much.

One of the other big ones that I will be doing, I will be doing a rather big hike at altitude somewhere. This hasn’t been decided, this will probably be at the start of next year, so I’ve got a bit of time but I’m thinking along the lines of Everest base camp, Kilimanjaro, something that will test me at altitude.

So this is gonna be called my 30 at 30 Challenge. You can actually get involved. There’s two things that I’m looking for in particular. If you run an adventure activity of some sort, please do get in touch if you would like me to use your company. And if you have epilepsy yourself, and you do any of the challenges that I’m planning, I would love to do some challenges with you. I would like to get 87 people with epilepsy or at least 87 people who have been affected by epilepsy in some, I’d like to involve that amount of people in the challenge. And the reason for that is because in the UK, 87 people every day are told that they have epilepsy. So I just want to highlight a few statistics there, with that number.

I am gonna take a little bit of a break next month, there’s not going to be a story, there’s just going to be the Q&A that I had with Jordan. This will give me a little bit of time to put into that 30 at 30 challenge next month. And them, from April, we’ll go back to the two podcasts a month. We should be hearing from a couple of people in April and May. And from June onwards, I’ll be hopefully speaking to some of those people that are joining me in those epilepsy adventures. With 30 adventures, there’s going to be a lot of stories to talk about there.

That brings me to the end of today’s episode. Obviously a slightly different structure to this episode, I hope that you still enjoyed it. I hope that you actually enjoyed listening to some of my inner thoughts and ramblings. 

[Music fades in underneath – folk Waltz with accordion and violin – buskers in Bilbao]

It’s slightly strange being on the other end of an interview, but it is only fair considering I put other people on the spotlight to put myself on the spotlight a little bit today as well.

I hope you have a very nice rest of the day. Do keep an eye over the next couple of weeks, because there’ll be a couple of other things for Seize Your Adventure’s first birthday as well. Happy Birthday Seize Your Adventure! I hope that we have many, many more years to celebrate.

Until next time, Safe Adventures everyone.

[Music slows and slowly comes to an end]


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