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I first met Karen Darke ten years ago when I was a marketing advisor on a contract with a local enterprise company. The meeting was about her book, and I was told she would be in a wheelchair. I called and made an appointment to meet at her house.
When I arrived there was no answer. Having parked on the drive, I could see the garage door was open, so I walked down the drive to see if she was around. I heard a noise behind me and there was a chirpy “hello”. I turned to see a mud-splattered woman on a low hand bike.
“Been waiting long? I’ve been out on the hills” she said, as she parked the bike in the garage and lifted herself into a waiting wheelchair.
Since that first meeting, I have followed her journey to becoming an Olympic Silver Medallist in London and then on to the Gold in Rio. Our paths crossed again this year when she was a speaker at Reasons and Results.
Karen is a modern-day ‘Alchemist’: an adventurer, athlete, speaker and author, Karen’s purpose is about inspiring and impacting, about turning challenge into an opportunity, turning ‘mud’ into ‘gold’.
Her career started as a Geologist researching gold in the Bolivian Andes; however, a life-changing accident that left her paralysed led her away from being a ‘rock-doctor’ to winning Paralympic Gold in the sport of Paralympic hand-cycling in Rio 2016.
Like all journeys, it was not a straight line.
She has experienced some extreme lows on the roller-coaster of life and knows how trauma, stress and life events can lead to fear, pain and under-performance. Karen was always the adventurer; that was what caused the accident that put her on this path.
However, she does not let her disability define or stop her desire to push the boundary of what is possible. That desire has also created some highs, exploring and extending the limits of possibility physically, mentally and emotionally. She has skied across icecaps, kayaked at extreme latitudes of the planet, and hand-cycled over the world’s biggest mountains.
The Gold in Rio was the 79th medal for Britain, and 79 being the elemental number for gold led to Karen creating Quest 79: Find Your Inner Gold.
The project had Karen cycling 7 continents in 9 iconic rides, raising £79K for Spinal Injuries and encouraging people to step out of their comfort zones and discover passion, purpose or ability: their ‘inner gold’.
Karen views life as an adventure, and she embraces all its experiences as opportunities to learn and grow.
I hope you enjoy the conversation with Karen Darke
You can connect with Karen through her website:-
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As we come to the end of November, my US friends are about to celebrate Thanksgiving and then they will join the rest of us in the frenzy of activity and utter frustration of trying to think of a suitable gift for Great Aunt Edna, who nobody ever sees except on this one auspicious day of the year. However this year it is unlikely that Great Aunt Edna will be allowed out of the closet! At least if she lives in the UK where we have guidelines on how many households can get together for Christmas.
I am sure it was not an easy decision for those in power, knowing full well that putting Christmas on hold or restricting who and how many can meet is going to be painful. It must also be hard knowing that whatever they do will cause a surge in COVID cases in January.
The truth is Christmas will be different this year, regardless of the COVID rules. Personally, my Christmas has evolved many times with the changes in relationships, children growing up and parents or relatives passing.
Each change has meant finding new meaning and inspiration for the festive season. Having just finished an event about Spirituality, my wife and I realized we have something that could enable you to create a unique Christmas filled with empowerment to face whatever 2021 brings.
Are you ready to create a new way of celebrating Christmas? Something that can be personal to you or shared with friends and family? Something sacred and special that adds meaning to your life throughout the year ahead?
Christmas doesn’t have to be about frenzied shopping, over-eating and blobbing out in front of TV watching meaningless re-runs.
How would you feel about Christmas if it were an annual opportunity to give thanks for the highs and lows of the year just gone, and reveal the wisdom you need to prepare you for whatever the year ahead throws your way.
It all starts with the sharing of our family rituals, how we put meaning into the Christmas story and how you could create your own traditions to bring deeper meaning to this festive season.