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Help Simon battle Severe Depression

$8,790 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 82 people in 5 months
Simon, who is now 31, has been fighting the effects of 'Bi-Polar Type 2' for most of his life, even including trying to take his own life. Lets keep him alive and out of hospital,  get him into an area he can find himself again, and then help him to figure out a way forward.
     
It wasn't until he turned 27 that he started to realize that  his condition was going to heavily impact his life,  and he started asking for professional help.
     
Trying many different health professionals has caused him to spend 10-15% of his annual income on Mental Health for the last couple of years. It started with being thought to be a mixture of Anxiety/Depression, but has now been properly diagnosed by a Psychiatrist as 'Bi-Polar Type 2' (also referred to as BP2).
     
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His family and friends have been trying to help as much as they can, and have managed to stop him doing some drastic actions.
     
So he has been putting in the effort and trying hard, but its not as easy as  'snapping out of it'.
     
Simon has always come across as an easy-going, happy, caring person who would often put himself before others.  From the way he displays himself both in person and on social media he appears to be  'living the dream'.
     
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Unfortunately this isn't the case and he isn't 'living the dream'  He has suppressed a lot of the thoughts in his head, and to this day a lot of people wouldn't even realize or notice what goes on behind the scenes.
     
Even family and close friends couldn't tell when he was elevated or severely depressed most of the time.  He would also remain very calm and avoid conflict, making it harder to notice. Sadly, pushing everything under the rug caused him to decline rapidly in health.
     
Simon was very successful at school, both academically and athletically.  Most people thought he was good at everything, which was due to his fear of failure and only doing things he knew he was good at.
     
He was a bright child with a lot of potential, yet through life he has found living more difficult, and harder to see a meaning to life.
          
Over the last 4 years he has become bankrupt, has no car or assets, is now unemployed, and soon be unable to call a place 'home'.  He needs to make drastic change in his life in order to keep living. He attempted to take his life via overdose the first time, and the local Alfred Psychiatric ward has been a temporary home multiple times now over the past few years, due to detailed thoughts of self harm.
     
He has put his close friends and previous relationships through a lot of stress and hard times, especially as he doesn't know how to love himself, yet alone properly love the others around him.
     
The world is a dark place to him when he is depressed, which lately has been rubbing off on those around him.
     
Depression is a real thing, that debilitates many people, and its the depression side of BP2 that is pushing Simon to the edge again.
 
        
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So.... he needs to push the reset button, find himself, and start life again from scratch.
     
He is currently spending the winter in the Victorian Alpine area for 3 months, travelling around various huts and areas via ski-touring and snow-kiting to find some form of joy in his life again.
          
Snow is the biggest passion in his life, and snow has always been a driving force for him since he was young. Being in an environment that excites and challenges him, through the good and bad, will give him time to figure out what to do with his life.
     
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Simon is commonly referred to as 'MacGyver', and can always make something work if it breaks, so if he needs to make something to get him out of danger he will hopefully be able too.  And apparently this winter is going to be a record cold one here in Victoria.
     
As well as using GoFundMe as a way to help donate to the journey, he will appreciate gifts from people coming up, or to teach other people to snow kite (contact him via Facebook messenger for snow kite guiding or lessons).
     
Follow  #simon3monthchallenge  on Instagram  (@bigmtnskierx)  to watch images (and the periodic video) of the journey unfold, as well as periodic updates here and on  simonsblog.kiwi
     
He will have data coverage and phone signal in most places he sets up camp, a PLB, and has talked in person to the local Falls Creek ski patrol and local SES manager with intentions upon leaving, prior to leaving.
     
Simon has already spent time with people that have have reached out to him for a chat over a coffee.  He wants to share his story with other people he meets with similar issues,  and find out their story and if he can he will help.
     
Simon has a very humble and proud exterior, and he struggles to ask to borrow or be given things.  Doing this is a big step in overcoming a fear of failure, and also reaching out to others for support.
     
After he has found some more meaning in life he will return and choose a path that he knows is going to be more beneficial to his health.
     
     
Simon has hit rock bottom,  so please give what you can and help Simon find a new direction in life and start to rebuild from scratch again.
     
Whether its $10, $50, $100, $500, buying and gifting certain items, or helping him back on his feet when he returns, he will appreciate anything, along with the appreciation of everyone that gets behind him.
     
He has been astounding skiers, Falls Creek staff, local cross-country skiers and ski-tourers with his story, upon meeting them on his journey.
     
Simon will also spend his time thinking of different ways to raise awareness to similar people who are struggling with mental illness, and he will come back and try to help others around him who are in a similar position.
     
Simon sold most of his ski-touring and backcountry gear when he moved to Australia, and most of the funds have been spent on the gear, medication, and food so far, so now any donations go towards getting Simon set up to restart life again.
     
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So far Simon has been helped with and hooked up by 'Sea to Summit Distribution Australia', 'Bumps - Snow Surf Skate', 'Kite Republic', 'NWT3K',  and the many supporters and donations so far.
     
If you are worried about Simon's well-being going on his journey he is now well prepared, and he is more than willing to open up and talk about his issues and explaining why he has chosen to do this.
     
People that dont know him well would think he is crazy, but his close friends understand why he needs to do this.
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Thanks again to everyone for their support, it has been amazing the amount comments and messages I have had lately.

This is an update that is the from my blog today:

I still have my ups and downs, and I have ways of managing them through various techniques, exercises, and brain training (but importantly this does still involve medication).

Common thinking occurrences on the ‘down’ side of things is not having stability, not feeling successful, not having a partner, and lack of motivation. I guess thoughts of not being a ‘Society Norm’.

I have found ways of re-training my thoughts around most of these as they present themselves, but some are more difficult than others. And it’s the days where you wake up in the wrong state of mind that it’s the hardest to shake them.

Today is a bit like that. The uneventful reflection days, that can easily lead towards the depressed days. Today it is snowing moderately, and I’m very in touch with keeping track of the weather so knew it was coming. When I woke it wasn’t snowing yet, so almost decided to go and do something fun for the day. But given that it was due to be ‘day snow’ (typically wetter and heavier in Australia) I opted to look after the tent and chill for the day.

When you have time on your hands doing ‘nothing’ (which also includes reading or listening to music etc) your brain starts doing ‘everything’. You can end up thinking about everything, negative things from the past, shit going on in the present, and fears or anxiety about the future.

There are physical things that your body has to do during the day (such as go outside to go to the toilet and eat etc) and things that you need to do to go about life if you want to live happily (like bang snow off your tent). If you don’t do these necessary tasks (whatever they are in life), life can get difficult/miserable. I wouldn’t want to be sleeping next to a pile of poo in my tent just because I didn’t want to get up and go outside now would I?

The mental side of the day becomes amplified. It makes you feel paralysed. Things you know you could do (in particular physical activities or mentally distracting tasks), but aren’t necessary (yet), get overcome by your thoughts about life.

And before I get everyone messaging or calling to ask if I’m ok, I am ok. I communicate privately with those I choose to, for a chat, or for help, when needed. And I talk to people that I feel would best understand my situation at the time. But yes it’s almost dinner time and I’m still in the tent.

I also have become heightened in being aware of any thoughts getting me down, and being able to accept them, and whether they are past present or future I can usually find a way to let those thoughts just be.

On the flipside of all that there are days where even negative things become funny.

Those are the good days. The days when everything feels perfect for whatever activity or task you want to do for the day. You feel motivated, and you get up and you do shit, enjoyable shit all day long.

The other day was the first day in a long time it was proper bluebird. No gale force wind, no snow falling but plenty on the ground, and the sun shining brightly from the moment it rose. My start to that day involved me waking up, being uncertain as to what would face me outside the door, being greeted by a bluebird day, then getting up to go to the toilet. The snow had drifted in the lower half of the 2 part door on the nearby toilet, and I didn’t have my shovel on hand. I climbed in through the top half, and then after I went to get out I realised I was locked in. I laughed. I laughed really hard because I thought it was just a quirky little life test for my happy day ahead. Instead of getting angry and trying to kick the door down I looked for a better solution. I took one of my snow gaiter’s off, and using the string that goes under the foot I managed to hook the latch on the outside of the door and get out.

That is one of those days where nothing can get you down, and everything that could even remotely be negative becomes a fun challenge to the day.

It hasn’t been all bluebird days or perfect wind, but then there also hasn’t been anywhere near as many negative or sad days.

I have had a mixture of all sorts of days up here, there is still day to day life to deal with.

The biggest difference is that there is a reduced amount of responsibility. When my world felt hectic a lot of the built up stress got released being here. Sure I still get stressed, and I have personal day-to-day responsibilities and a life even I leave, but it’s all manageable and doesn’t hit me like it used to. I have needed this break from ‘normal’ life to reassess my own life. I don’t feel overloaded and I’m learning who I am, how to appreciate and love myself the way others can towards me, and I’m learning how to ‘be me’. Altogether it’s helping me cope with my mental health.

There are times now where I’m getting anxious. I’m over the halfway mark, and although I have started piecing together in my head what I might do when I leave here to start a better life, I have no idea of how to make a lot of the ideas work or if those parts/change will actually impact me positively enough. I have had a lot of suggestions on where to go and what to do, but I keep getting anxious thinking too far ahead or feeling pressured.

I have also learned to be open to opportunity and let opportunities happen. This has helped reduced my anxiety a lot. I get so worked up on trying to be successful or in control I miss out on a lot of opportunities. Even some equipment failures out here, instead of doing it my way I have been open to other people’s input, and been given opportunity. Each time I’ve taken an opportunity it’s put me on a different path to what I expected, but almost always has turned out better than I expected.

At the end of the 3 month period I probably won’t know exactly what to do with my life, but I’m starting to think of the right questions to ask that spark opportunity and start putting a plan into action as to where to start. I’m not thinking to hard about that stuff at the moment, but instead I’m setting myself achievable mini goals up here, and not getting disappointed if the goal becomes to difficult or dangerous.

I am currently camped near the Pretty Valley Hut, only a 7km ski tour to civilisation, and I am ok both mentally and with my equipment and provisions.

I am safe, learning to appreciate life and the good things about me, acknowledging and expressing my feelings more, and I’m becoming a better person in my eyes. I’m becoming more accepting of other people, and who they are and the way they choose to choose to express themselves. For now all I’m trying to focus on is me. Being me, and being me in an environment I can be me.

Oh and don’t worry, anyone following me on social media will start to get bombarded with a lot of questions about direction after here soon.

Arohanui,
Me, ooops ahem I mean
Simon ❤
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So tomorrow is the first calendar month since I started my journey. I started this journey on the 23rd of June, and have already learned a lot about myself, my patterns, and a lot of my triggers that lead to sudden changes in emotion.

A lot has happened since my last blog, I have met and changed people's outlook on life telling them about my struggles, I have spent time with people that changed my perspective on life in different ways, and learned more things that are in my control and what is out of my control. I have experienced some very difficult times (in particular extended isolation and realising that some things you want to happen that are very difficult to make happen), along with positive times with company and accomplishing personal goals.

After so many problems trying to use the kite to move my gear around, I have accepted the fact to stop being stubborn trying to move everything in one go, and accept the fact that continually trying failed shortcuts is best be learnt from and altered.
Retraining the stubborn part of my brain to do things things in a more rational way and stop acting impulsively on emotion will lead to positive improvements in life (an example of this is a small instance of doing the extra slog and only ski-touring the gear in 2 loads at a time instead of getting caught up on rushing to do it all at once with a kite as planned initially). This journey is definitely a plan with no set plan now.

As I write this blog post I am about to repack some gear and return to my Red-Sled (the kayak), which I left by the Pretty Valley Hut.

Once there it will then be time to set the tent back up, and I intend to base myself in that area for the next month (hopefully in a spot near the hut with cellphone reception this time!)

My recent trip to Hotham to spend time with friends and enjoy activities with like minded people was amazing, a really fun weekend and good to get a break and feel a part of civilisation for a change.
This also has a downside, as I have some really close people that I'm going to miss being around again. I'm reluctant to start to ski-tour back, but know that it will be beneficial to continue in life.

It reinforces how important having key people in life is, and how much it can ground me and make me feel good to be around good people.
It also reinforced that certain memories are best left in the past, but also to learn from any mistakes and to cherish and hold on to the good times.

It's great to have friends that will go above and beyond to help out when needed, and to be able to help them. Friendship isn't just about hanging out together for me, it helps creates a stability for my mental health, and even when times are shit there is usually a silver lining, and a reason things happen in life.
I'm slowly starting to piece the parts of my personal puzzle together and find who I am, how to express myself, and how to avoid any downward spirals or excessive negative emotion.

These blogs and my daily picture/video social media posts have become a way of communicating my hidden thoughts and feelings with people who choose to follow me, and also leave myself a trail of memories of self development in a way that is seeming to work better for myself instead of writing in a diary.

That's it for now, and I better make a start on the physically demanding ski-tour to my temporary 'home' (the 4 day break has left me physically wrecked from pushing hard lift-skiing and freestyle snow-kiting).

Thank you again to all those supporting me, and seeing as I have now started listening to music whilst moving around I will also be able to start contacting people individually by phone now, and be more productive with my time here seeing as everything takes so much longer without the luxuries of modern life.

Arohanui,
Simon
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Day 17 update, looks like the www.simonsblog.kiwi blogs and gofundme updates are going to be each time I recharge power, so every 8-10 days for 6hrs ill have a chance to put my focus into writing.

So today I write my blog from the Falls Creek village (and this one is purely about my mental health, not what other stuff I have been doing during the previous days).

Looking around the village I see so many people with 'unnecessary' possessions, and wonder how many of them need money or other things to be happy and feel good, and how many are caught in the rat race. I'm not judging, just observing what I see.

And then amongst my people watching I'm curious what this 'wanting and having' is covering up in peoples lives, and how many people have pushed things under the rug that don't know how to speak out and talk openly to someone. Mental health, along with a lot of other types of bumps in the road at some stage of people's lives, are very common and should be looked at differently by society. No-one is alone, someone else has been, or is going through, similar things to someone else.

Im noticing that every choice I have made since realising I had mental health issues has helped me get to where I am now and what is 'needed' and 'real'.

I have had my tonsils removed because I found out I had sleep apnea and wasn't getting proper sleep.
I stopped drinking alcohol after realising it was hiding/covering many issues and bringing out a false personality that got me into trouble both with girls and with my adventurous lifestyle (most friends have met 'Bruno').
I went vegan for many reasons, which has helped cleanse my body and do my small part for the environment.
I reached out and asked for help from professionals when my mental health rapidly declined.
I found out how much I would be missed in this world if I did end my life, and how many people actually care.
It's hard to see that last one when blinded by everything else but a dark hole with no light, and im glad I pulled through and appreciate more and more each day where I am now.

The toughest one for me now is actually sugar and junk food. It's highly addictive, in particular acidic sweets and drinks. Having some pure maple syrup with porridge in the morning and stevia tabs with black coffee or tea is nothing like what I would normally have, and feels a lot healthier.

I feel like in a way this is what it probably feels like for a long term smoker to give up cold turkey.
I tested myself with coca cola and redbull whilst here in the village and the feeling of junk is getting a little weird and taboo. My body is realising I don't need it, and it does affect the brain. But a part of me still enjoys it, so I have a long way to go on that front and be more strict on moderation (another hurdle in my life, impulsivity and over indulging).

Everything else has been easy to give up straight away - cold turkey, except sugar (which I kept telling people is my last 'vice').

My body and mind is also becoming capable of things I didn't think were possible being out here, and walls I thought couldn't be pushed through I am starting to smash down.

One of the best things is talking to real people who understand, or talking to people openly with a common passion. Once you open up, people talk back with their experiences. It builds trust and let's you know who good people are, and who 'fake' people are (people that aren't being there true self). And these people that you trust and talk with shouldn't be 'carers' or 'helpers', but positive people you can share positive energy with.

Having phone calls or messaging is great, but having people in person to talk to brings out so much more (at least I find that personally, I'm not saying that resonates with everyone).

And having people to talk to close by that are real people (ie even a 2-3hr ski-tour in the dark to see a select few nearby), is highly beneficial to ones health too. A 'companion', 'amazing friend', 'partner', 'family', 'close colleague', 'cherished common acquaintance' - basically people that matter in your life, that you can be completely honest and trusting with.

This is also just as important as being able to have your time (whether your own time involves mindfulness, meditation, being in a flow state, exercise, peace and quiet away from light and noise pollution, personal stability, spending time loving yourself, or whatever other 'your time' works for you).

Im still taking mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety medication, and have no intention to stop taking those from fear of previous bad withdrawals from medicinal changes or disruptions in the past. It would not be a good environment to do so out here, best to wait until talked to in person with a professional to alter anything like that. So medication is still a large part of helping me stay in control, but trying hard enough I can control my body more, to be more resilient to negative effects in body/life/brain etc.

I really hope people can somewhat relate to, or understand all this, despite 'society-norms', fear, or stigma.

I'm also trying to avoid being preachy in these blogs, but I'm finally emerging from a shell and actually communicating (still only selectively to close people, but somewhat in a very open way to all).

I'll put up a wee Instagram post soon, with a link to this blog update, and write another blog next time I recharge.

And all the usual links are on this page to continue to support this journey and my return to civilisation at the end of winter.

Once I am settled and stable again I would like find ways to allow others to find help if they need it. I just need to remind myself from time to time that I am the most important person in life, just as everyone else should be too. That doesn't mean you shouldn't stop caring about others, but you need to put yourself first.

And the goals set at particular dollar targets haven't been forgotten, just waiting for the right time to safely do each.

Arohanui,
Simon
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Journey Update 2, Day 9
by Simon Evans
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***Please donate/support to give me more chance of getting back on my feet when I return - https://www.gofundme.com/help-simon-with-mental-illness ***
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Update number 2 since I’ve been out here. I’m slack, yes I know, but I am keeping up with Instagram and Facebook (and learning a lot more about both. Anyway, its day number 9 today).
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There might be a lot of things I have mentioned already on social media, but hey, this is a blog update.
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When Baz and I turned up to windy corner carpark at Falls Creek and started sorting out our ‘sleds’ everyone was very intrigued, especially when I told them my story and that I am spending 3 months in the VIC Alpine Area camping near huts to raise awareness of mental health. I spoke to the local ski patrol and head of SES, exchanged numbers, and spoke of my rough plan. They wished me luck and Baz and I started carting approx 150+ kg of stuff for 11km with a vertical gain of 200m. We arrived at dark and slept in the hut absolutely exhausted.
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Upon arrival there was 6 days straight of bluebird weather, but with a punchy melt freeze crust it meant the snow wasn’t that enjoyable and the wind was a bit light till day 4. Then on the day Baz was leaving (day 4) we got some good wind finally. Baz was stoked and I was stoked for him to not have to tour his sled and kite it instead .
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Edmondsons hut is rather chilly and full of hungry mice and rats, so all it is good for is having breakfast and dinner, and hanging stuff out of the cold. Other than that it’s warmer to do activities during the day, have dinner, and head into the tent. It’s surprising the sorts of dinners you can do with dehydrated food and raw food (see some of the pics below).
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I have been doing all sorts of things to keep busy and warm on down days (such as collecting dry wood from trees and coming up with a system to dry off the ice, turning snow into clean water and storing it, building walls around the tent to keep it from being battered by wind, and snow kiting or ski touring when conditions are suitable). Everything that normally is basic takes a lot longer up here. however I seem to be getting a lot more efficient everyday.
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I have also noticed that my body doesn’t crave sugar and junk food. I bought some Cola cordial with me, and dark choc to go with the trail mix, but I was over the Cola cordial very quickly and didn’t touch any of the choc until day 7. I have been enjoying maple syrup in my porridge and 2 sugar tablets in my morning coffee though .
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Surprisingly I thought I would go crazy being alone and being in silence a lot of the time, and prior to leaving Melbourne I got very stressed to the point of getting sick, trying to get everything ready by the 23rd. I didn’t think I was mentally capable of doing it anymore and started panicking. However the more people I talked to the more people that reminded me ‘I got this’. As soon as I was touring away from Falls Creek village I felt a sense of peace and a first step of achievement.
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My mental state up here has been incredible, keeping very busy and focusing on very basic day to day activities. I do get a tad worried both financially and what I’m going to do when I return from my journey, but then I just focus on tasks that need to be done at that particular point in time. It is doing wonders for my headspace and wellbeing, and talking to the people I meet up here creates quite a surprised reaction.
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I have wanted to snow kite, or ski, Spion Kopje everytime I have looked that way from Falls Creek, so that is my first goal before moving base. I am also due to do a village day trip to recharge batteries in the next couple of days, and will also have some friendly faces to catch up whilst there.
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After I have kited Spion Kopje I intend to start heading to dinner plain for a 4 day catchup with friends and do some snow kite lessons/guiding whilst there (plus I have always wanted to do the Falls-Hotham journey and back). The party/catchup is on the 19th July so hopefully I have plenty of time to get there and pull my kayak ‘sled’ using wind instead of touring
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Below is some links to some of my more memorable trips in the last 9 days (including a GPS whiteout ski tour to West Mt Nelse, using only GPS to tour and ski to Johnstons hut, before touring back to base):
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– Initial trip to Edmondsons hut to setup base: https://www.relive.cc/view/1656405258
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– A good snow kite session: https://www.relive.cc/view/1662484043
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– The blind trip during a storm to find lee-ward goods (which there were some nice tree runs just before Johnstons hut): https://www.relive.cc/view/1670830451
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I’m still working out WordPress & gofundme on my phone, so hopefully some photos attach and the formatting works.
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https://www.gofundme.com/help-simon-with-mental-illness
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Also at this stage I have to:
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– Kite SITTING IN the kayak ‘sled’ when its suitable conditions (which was a goal for 8K, thanks Nick)
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– Kite a full moon (or close to) at night when the conditions are right (which was a goal at 8.5K, thanks Baz)
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– Spend a week only using and sleeping in a snow cave when the goal hits 9K (thanks Brandie)
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And I’m very open to trying realistic challenges during my journey at certain targets, send me a message on Facebook ☺.
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Much love,
Arohanui,
Simon
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