Catherine Edsell - The Matriarch Adventure

People often told me that I’d NEVER be able to do that line of work again, and that I had to be REALISTIC and maybe get a PROPER JOB. This confused and angered me. I had to search inside to see what really fired me up - eventually it just wan’t an option, I HAD to try
— Catherine Edsell | The Matriarch Adventure

Describe yourself in three words ...

Compassionate.  Dependable.  Diplomatic


What makes you happy?

Friends, family, being in nature, SUNSHINE!


If you could share a bottle of wine with anyone, anywhere who would it be with and where would you be?

David Attenborough in the Galapagos - just the thought makes me happy!


A book or podcast you're currently obsessing over?

The Word for Woman is Wilderness - Abi Andrews - a really interesting novel by a young author (only 19), but really insightful and well researched with a light, informal style. I'm a great fan of Into The Wild and this is a feminist look at the whole 'Mountain Man' genre.


Best way to unwind?

A long walk - the longer the better!


When did you realise you wanted to create a change or do something different in your work life? What was the trigger for this?

I think when my children were 3 and 5, able to communicate, I was eager to start taking them on longer, bigger trips and trying to incorporate expeditions back into my life. The trigger was actually an unusually long Easter holiday (Will and Kate's royal wedding), and I realised that I just had to do something interesting, something for myself, something pushing my own boundaries


Thinking back to then, how were you feeling?

Absolutely trapped!


What first steps did you take?

I took the kids to Thailand to work in an elephant sanctuary, it was amazing, challenging, difficult, both kids got sick, we even had to go to hospital, but it was so worth it. This experience made me realise that I COULD take the kids with me on expedition, so I looked into re-training as a Divemaster (as it's easier to take your kids to the beach than drag them through the jungle). My Divemaster qualification opened up a whole new world of expedition leading that I could do with the kids in tow


How did you figure out what you wanted to do?

I have always led expeditions, not that they define me, but it was something I missed greatly after having children. People often told me that I'd NEVER be able to do that line of work again, and that I had to be REALISTIC and maybe get a PROPER JOB. This confused and angered me and I had to search inside to see what really fired me up - eventually it just wan't an option, I HAD to try


How did you (and how do you now) overcome any self-limiting beliefs? Can you give us an example?

I imagine that they're not my beliefs, that they're someone else's, and look for examples where other people have overcome them. Also it's always easier to give advice to other people, so role playing in this way makes you play devil's advocate with yourself. Also, inspiring people - would Richard Branson take no for an answer? think he couldn't do it? dive back under the duvet? - NO. Plus, we're all just people right? We can all do anything if we put our minds to it - I'm no different from you, or him or them - where there's a will there's a way (an old expression but a good one)


Looking back with the knowledge and experience you have now, what advice would you have given to yourself?

You can blame other people for your situation - I felt I was trapped by my situation, by my kids, by my husband, but to unpick that is really liberating. I sat for too long feeling sorry for myself. My advice would have been (and eventually was), what if no-one is trapping you. What if this is just the way you are thinking about it, what if you change your thinking and take action, then the world and the people in it shuffle around and fit into your new paradigm and the best thing is, they were never preventing you in the first place, so they will step aside and support your new decision. (Of course, there are people in difficult relationships with agressive or abusive behaviours and these situations are much more sensitive, however, in my case I had no one to really blame except myself)


How do you maintain your Creative Confidence (your ability to have ideas, think creatively and do things differently)?

I thnk I've always been a bit maverick. My parents were very supportive as I was growing up, and didn't burden me with 'oughts' or 'shoulds', so I was free to make decisions in my own time however outlandish they seemed to the outside world, and I wasn't condemed for my ideas. I grew up without TV and was slightly out of touch with popular culture, so therefore was not influenced by 'trends' and 'fashion' allowing me the freedom to be creative with my thinking. After my first year at university (studying Humanities), I decided that it was so boring that I wanted to change courses. I had met a few people on the Creative Arts course, and managed to transfer to a BA Hons In Creative Arts. I suppose that degree gave me a springboard into a world where the whole ethos is to think and do things differently, so a combination of my background, my education and my zest for travel and experiencing other cultures, saying YES to opportunities that came my way (even if I didn't have a clue how it was going to pan out), and learning that generally things generally do work out, and even if they don't it all builds experience


What advice would you give to another women who's considering making a change in her working life?

Think about how your life will look if you don't make these changes - will you be happy with this? What's the worst that could happen if you do make a change? What's the best that could happen? Just sit with the feelings that arise. Be honest with yourself. Try and, just for a minute, not consider the kids, the husband, the family, the financial implications and find the truth of what you want to do. If this burns brightly it can carry you through the dark days


Best piece of advice for looking after yourself physically and mentally?

Physically, eat well - no junk, fresh home-cooked food, fresh air, good sleep, not too much alcohol. Mentally - talk to real friends and family, reduce social media.  Take time out to have fun, enjoy yourself, don't work too hard! Walk don't run! We were always told that as kids at school or around the swimming pool, but I actually do prefer to walk, not run. It hurts less, and I just let my mind wander....


Having pivoted (created a change in your work life), what are you most proud of?

It changes all the time, like little fireworks that go off, they burn brightly, then fade, then you move onto the next one, a new achievement that then becomes normal - this I guess is the development and then the assimilation of ideas. I am proud that in a really short space of time my idea (to create an adventure, like no other, for women to challenge themselves), became a reality. I am proud that I got up on stage in front of 1,500 people and talked about it (TEDxLondon). I am proud that now this is my full time job, speaking and leading expeditions!


An intention for 2018?

To stay authentic and real.


What if things don't go to plan?

What if things go wrong? Failure is always a hard pill to swallow. Be gentle with yourself - get a bit of distance from the issue, talk to friends, colleagues, family, maybe a coach. I try to look at it as a learning experience - How could I have avoided this situation? What did I learn? What will I do differently next time? Beating yourself up doesn't really help, but by all means shout, scream, sleep - it's all cathartic


 Photo credit: Cass Gibbs 

Photo credit: Cass Gibbs 

 Photo credit: Ida Vincent

Photo credit: Ida Vincent