Break Your Fears And Start Living Your Life

It was like a new beginning. The end of a painful chapter and the beginning of a new one, everything felt possible and everything was indeed possible. The first time I really stepped out of my comfort zone and got rewarded for it. It was the 1st of December 2013, I quit my job and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my life. This was the way out of a 6 months intense depression where I felt empty like if I was dead from inside, all motivation for anything was gone and I was getting drunk way too often and self-destructive just to feel something. That day, everything shifted. It’s crazy how one single decision, which takes a second to make, can change the rest of your life. This article is about overcoming your fears and how it might change your life for the better. It is based on my experiences but first of all a little disclaimer.

We all are unique and for some people, living a sedentary life and working 9 to 5 is what fulfill them and if it is your case that’s awesome, but this article is for the people feeling stuck like I did in a 9 to 5 job spending days working for a paycheck. I wasn’t fulfilled at all and was feeling stuck there. The decision to step out of this life was very hard to take but it was the best decision I ever took. I haven’t had any regret at any time since the 4 and counting years that I took it. I discovered another way to live and realized all the rules I thought were real, in the end, were just illusions created by society. The walls collapsed and I discovered a new world behind.

What is fear?

Fear is a very powerful feeling that is used by our body and mind to keep us safe. It can be what will save your life from a danger but as well what will keep you stuck in your comfort zone from doing what you really want to do but don’t dare to.

Usually, a good fear is the one acting on the now. There is a danger and it will help you get the right behavior to act towards this danger. The Sympathetic Nervous System is responsible to deliver to the body a whole lot of hormones which will affect your perception and help you to take the decision to Fight or Flight. This fear is the one keeping you safe and alive from doing something stupid. It is the good fear.

On the other hand, the bad fear is the one created by your thoughts, acting on the belief system. It makes you worry about everything that could happen in the future. We all are subjects to this fear and for some people, it is more important than for others. This fear creates anxiety and will hold you from doing what you really want to do with your life. In this article, this is the fear we will focus on and overcome.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

But before to start, there is my favorite ever commercial.

How do you want to live your life? Do you want to let your fears control your life or do you want to live it fully, be confident and get what you want in life? If you choose the second option, you’ll realize at the end, when you’ll look back, that all your fears are, just like this wolf, some illusions created by your mind. You can be afraid of it and walk back, or you can run through it and break those fears. This video is so true to me, it gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

You always have the choice

The only place where fear exists is in your thoughts and it always is related to the future. Your thoughts are creating fear of events that are not real yet and will most likely never be. Now, that’s up to you to choose to believe those fears and stay where you are or to realize they are just made up by your mind and overcome them.

The ultimate goal of every human being is happiness. If you don’t feel happy right now then lock yourself in your bedroom for 30 minutes and think about what change in your life could drive you toward happiness.

You are where you are because of who you are and if you want to get somewhere else, then you’ll have to change something about who you are right now. You can’t expect different results with repeating the same actions over and over.

You have the choice to take action and if you wait until tomorrow, it will never come. Your only possibility to act on it is NOW. One single decision can change the entire course of your life. From hell to heaven. This is what happened to me in December 2013 and seriously that was the most frightening decision I ever took and the most liberating at the same time. It was the first time I felt bliss. I can say now that my life really started on that day.

That’s when I decided to stop giving fucks about what everyone else wanted me to do or to be and started being who I really wanted to be.

I want to be clear, for me, the choice I took was to quit my job because I couldn’t stand it anymore. It wasn’t bringing me joy. But for you, it can be something totally different. Analyse what is not bringing you joy right now and should, then act on it.

Anatomy of your comfort zone

First of all, let’s describe what is your comfort zone. It’s a place where everything is known and safe. The boundaries of your comfort zone are made of fears. Outside your comfort zone, there is the unknown. There is most likely what you want to reach but are too afraid to run through the wall of fear. So, you stay in your known and safe area and let go of what you really want in life. It’s like a kid looking at candies through the window of a shop. We were born with an unlimited comfort zone and as we grow, our fear boundaries are slowly getting created by our parents, siblings, friends, society, experiences… the goal now, is to go back toward that state of unlimited comfort zone.

I see the comfort zone as an area made of different parts. You can grow one area and not change another one depending on what you push yourself into. For example, if you are scared of skydiving, by doing it, you will expand this area and realize it is actually awesome, there was no need to be scared more than that.  But doing this won’t make you more confident in your relationships with others if you are shy. It will grow only the part of your comfort zone that is related to action sports, not the one related to relationships. You got me? So basically,

If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try

Anatomy of your comfort zone – In this example, this person is very comfortable with heights, and public speaking but not at all with failure, love, and commitment. This person should push him/her self to challenges on those uncomfortable areas to expand his/her comfort zone on those points.

Your comfort zone is not something fixed. You can make it evolve all the time and the more often you push yourself out of it, the bigger and the faster it will grow. It can grow to a point where you don’t even have clear fear boundaries anymore. Everything can become easy and comfortable. It is when you realize that your fears are not real. You will realize this by trying again and again and succeeding at your tries. What if you fail? Well, I wish you to fail, because this is how you learn, my friend. Every success is the result of many failures.

The sooner you step away of your comfort zone, the sooner you will realize that it really wasn’t all that comfortable

– Eddie Harris JR.

Let me tell you two stories about fears and comfort zone:

To come back to the day I quit my job, my biggest fear was about not getting any paycheck anymore. What will I become without money? Paychecks are really an addictive drug keeping you where you are. Then, I went broke after only 4 months… yes, shit happens, in addition, my car broke down, I had nowhere to stay and not enough money to go back to France and I was in a really small town far from everything. I had a strange feeling at this time. Not the one I expected. Instead of being frightened, I felt excited. I realized, first, that I was still alive. I realize that money is not life at all and it doesn’t control your vital organs either your happiness. Every one of my organs was still working very well and I was actually feeling very happy and part of this whole world as I was watching the stars laying down on the roof of my broken car thinking of the possibilities. Then, I realized that when you don’t have anything to lose anymore, you only can win and that’s where the magic happened. I had nothing else to lose and everything was possible again. So, I started contacting people to find work opportunities. Believe it or not, this is when I found my best ever paid job. I was totally out of my comfort zone because at this time I was still really shy and didn’t speak English well enough yet but I realized that all the opportunities are out there, it was only up to me to get out and catch them.

Now, let’s go into the wild. One of the first times I slept alone in my tent in the wild was in the Gorges du Verdon in France. I was in this enclosed cocoon and the only one of my 5 senses connecting me to the outside world was my ears. Every little noise was subject to a crazy amount of stress and stories created in my mind. What could it be? Will I die tonight? I was too scared to open the tent to check out what it was… The next morning, I woke up, alive. With time, and on each night in a tent, I learned to let go of those fears and I was telling myself, you’ll see tomorrow you’ll wake up, alive, and you will laugh at it.
Now that I’ve been sleeping almost everywhere, in any conditions, from mountains top to caves, from boats in the middle of storms to the middle of the Australian outback with no one around for hundreds of kilometers and surrounded by dingos, snakes, etc… I’m still alive, and I realize how huge the gap between my first time and now is. I totally live in a different world! All because of those stories made up in my mind.

Don’t wait for the stars to be aligned. Create your own constellation!

As you can see in both cases my fears were just the creation of my mind but I thought, at that time, it was my reality. Your thoughts create the reality you live in. The good thing is that you can modify your thoughts and so you can control any reality.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Dare

I understand it’s not so easy at first to get out of your comfort zone. It’s frightening but try it once and you will realize how addictive it can be. Start small if you need and grow your challenges one by one, day by day. Roma wasn’t built in a day. Be willing to set yourself uncomfortable and try something new every day. It’s like everything, practice is the key and it will make the uncomfortable comfortable.

What is the last time you did something crazy? Something that made your hands humid, your heart racing, your breath short…? Now, close your eyes and remember how you were feeling before doing this thing that was scaring you, and then, how were you feeling after you did it? Do you remember how good and satisfied you were feeling afterward! Even if the result was a fail, you felt relieved to have tried it. I think this is a great video where Will Smith is explaining this feeling and the fears that we are building around it very well:

God placed the best things in life on the other side of terror, on the other side of your maximum fear, all the best things in life!

– Will Smith

You realize at the point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear

– Will Smith

What to learn about all of this? It’s that your life is waiting for you on the other side of this wall of fear but only you can run through it and reach what you really want to get in life.

And remember, you’ll always be able to get money back at any time but you will never ever be able to get your time back. That’s why you need to take action now.
You always can lose your money and material possessions but you will never lose your experiences. Once you get it, it’s for life. So take the leap and explore this outer and inner world. Create memories and experiences.

Don’t have regrets, live your life now!

One last thing, have you heard of that nurse, Bronnie Ware, who asked her dying patients what was their biggest regrets? There is the 5 most common regrets:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

You can read more details about those regrets right here.

I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it

If you want to go further, you should watch the movie The Truman Show which shows very well how beliefs, fear and realizations works. As well, I created a playlist of very good motivational videos and I will keep adding videos to it. You can find it by clicking here I hope it will kick your ass for acting NOW!

Now tell me, what is your biggest fear and how do you plan to overcome it?


The Majestic Earnslaw Glacier, NZ

Since I arrived in Wanaka, I heard about Earnslaw burn. People were saying that you need serious skills to get there. That it’s lost in the wild, far away from everything, kind of a secret spot where people go more by helicopter rather than by walk. They were right! This 12 hours return walk is difficult especially when you add some pouring rain to the equation.

A real adventure starts when you get lost, or so the saying goes … I make sure that I’m lost from the first one hundred meters of almost any hikes… don’t laugh at me, it’s just like that. For most people who come with me, it can be annoying and they start to have serious doubts about the fact to trust me for the rest of the adventure. This time, was not an exception and when after 30 minutes of walking on a really slippery and a bit too dangerous track a meter by a hundred meters cliff following the river, I had to admit we were lost. Iva just laughed and accepted it saying that it was a good exercise to start again. We came back to the car and I double checked on my computer, to find the NZ Topo Map webpage still open and realized that the hike was starting on the other side of the river!

We have a river to cross! And what a river, we both almost slipped on rocks due to the strong current but everything went well and my photographic gear was still dry (for now). Then, we finally started to hike on the good track marked with orange triangles. You finally don’t need specific skills to find your way as soon as you start on the good track.

While we were walking, battered by the rain and the wind, I’ve had a lot of thoughts going through my mind during this 6 hours walk. After two hours, I’ve asked myself if I could find a dry part of my body. Negative answer. Impossible to notify a dry part on all of my body even with my “waterproof” jacket on. We were both totally soaked!

In this kind of situation, your mind can be really impressive and find the best way to disconnect from the bad feeling of the body. When the outside feelings are too uncomfortable, I learned to turn the focus inward and feel the warmth inside of my body rather than the cold and wet environment outside of it.

One of those thoughts was about Mike Horn’s adventure around the world on the equator, latitude 0. While he was crossing the Amazonian forest, for few weeks and was wet all the time. I felt instantly good as I knew that in our case it was going to be like that just for a couple of days.

Then, my mind jumped on his choice to allow the water to come in his shoes by creating holes in it, instead of trying to keep his feet dry. At least the water didn’t stay in his shoes when he was out of the water. It’s really nice to have dry feet when you hike but if your shoes are going to be wet you should prefer something that can release the water. The choice can be tricky.

A bit after that, I thought about my body and the feelings. I realized that our body is just a tool gave to us to emit and receive information. Nothing less, nothing more. What if you can disconnect the unpleasant information to just keep the pleasant ones? It’s maybe in what Tibetan monks excel at!

So, I tried to disconnect my mind from the feeling of my body. Not so easy. I guess the best way to do that is to focus on your breath. Thinking about the infinity of possibilities to accept the moment even if it’s not a pleasant one. After a few hours, we finally reached the alcove under a mountain where we set the camp for the night.

When you are in this kind of situation, totally wet, cold and in a remote area, you must set up the quickest possible the following points:

  • A shelter to be protected
  • A fire to stay warm

Iva started to build a stone wall to protect the fireplace from the wind while I set up the tent under the alcove. Luckily, there was some not too wet wood underneath the big alcove. Definitely not enough to stay warm all the night but enough to start a fire and dry some of our clothes especially Iva’s sleeping bag. To keep the fire going all night long we’ve been for a mission to find some wood, obviously wet, that we cut in small pieces to make it dry faster. We finally ended up with much more wood than we needed but it will be for the next ones who adventure here.

There is maybe a specific technique to make a fire under an alcove or in a cave to avoid the smoke. But we definitely didn’t know it and we had some bad time coughing with burning red eyes due to the smoke. The wind was turning quite often and it was difficult to define where to put the tent and where to put the fire.

The night was cold. Very cold. And Iva’s sleeping bag still wet after few hours of drying… We organized a bed to keep us warm with my dry sleeping bag and covered us with the wet one.

In the morning, I saw some orange glow coloring the roof of the tent and cannot believe it was the sun reflecting on the mountain. I opened the tent and it was the total opposite than the day before. Blue sky, not a single cloud. Hard to believe in Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud.

I jumped out of the tent, grabbed my wet camera bag, and start to walk barefoot to the end of the valley. It’s a long walk. The temperature was certainly below zero… I could tell because of some parts of the waterfalls and rivers were still frozen. It was really nice at the beginning to walk barefoot and feel the land. Ok, at some stages I didn’t feel some of my toes anymore but as soon as the sun touched them, they came back to life. What was impossible to see last night was finally here in front of me or it was maybe me in front of him. This majestic giant Earnslaw Glacier with all its waterfalls. Majestic is the perfect word to describe it. I was feeling so small. It’s in this kind of moments that you can feel the beauty and the strength of nature. So much stronger than each of us.

We must stay aware that we are a part of this nature, we are not over or under it. We are it and every of our action should be aligned in a way to respect it. It’s really difficult today to live in harmony with nature by consuming responsibly and locally but every effort as small as it is count. I’m trying to be more responsible every day and I realize how difficult it is.

Going to the end of valley barefoot was maybe not the best idea as the bush started to be really dense and full of thorns that were scratching my feet and legs. What a great challenge in the way to disconnect the brain from the body. But as soon as I wasn’t focused anymore on taking photographs and running in the bush it started to be very painful.

Unfortunately, a lot of my photographs were blurry due to the fog into my lenses created by the heavy rain and the humidity of my camera bag. Luckily the 70-200mm was not that foggy so I created few panoramic to recreate the wide effect of the 24-70mm to keep a souvenir of this majestic mountain.

Iva was supposed to meet me on the way to the end of the valley but I didn’t see her. I know she wasn’t going to stay at the camp and will join me but I guessed we might miss each other on the way. We finally realised back at the camp that we crossed each other by a 25 meters apart on the way without noticing it. The valley is really wide at some parts and from the alcove, there are no proper tracks anymore.

The way back to the carpark seemed infinitely longer than the first way. This is when I realized that the brain can sometimes shut up some unpleasant parts unconsciously.

If you want to do this hike you should:

  • download BackCountry Navigator App. It allows you to save some maps to access it offline with your gps. Of course, it’s always better to use a paper map as on this kind of temperatures, the battery of your smartphone will drop significantly.
  • Allow two days, three must be the best to enjoy fully the end of the valley.
  • Be ready to be wet and face some strong winds.
  • Don’t be afraid of crossing rivers, as you will need to.

If you go there, enjoy the hike it’s wonderful and worth it even if it can be tough on the body and the mind.


Outex Review, best waterproof housing for travellers!

Water is my key element. Whatever it is, ocean, lakes or river, I love to be in or near the water and as a photographer, I obviously wanted to bring my camera with me at some point. I often did without any protection, by being very carreful, or for canyoning, in a pelican case, but for shooting, the camera needed to be out and wasn’t protected. I always wanted a waterproof case but it is very expensive and too big to travel anywhere with it. That’s when came Outex. Let’s have a look about this very cool product! 

Quality and portability

First thing, I’ve been traveling the world for more than 4 years and I needed something compact and easy to carry. Outex is very compact, It can actually fit in a pocket. This is a really good point!

Then, I needed something of great quality. Because there is a lot of cheap options out there but I don’t want to put my DSLR into a something I couldn’t rely on. Outex is using great resistant and stretch silicone, with high-end Zeiss quality glass. It means that the case shouldn’t affect the quality of your photos and in addition, it is very resistant.

So far the product fit both of my main requirements, quality and portability.

Flexible and evolutive

The great thing with Outex covers is that you can use many different lenses with the same cover. You will just need an adaptor for the diameter of your different lenses. For the rest, the cover can fit either a wide lens or a zoom.

The good point with the model I use is that you can set it up on a tripod. It is very handy if you want to create long exposure shots while you are exposed to water.

If you want to use flashes or remote tethering etc… it is possible too. There is an option for pretty much everything you can think of.

An affordable price

Finally, the price was one of my other requirements. Most of the hard cases are over 2000$ and with Outex, you can start at 295$ for the entry kit and 425$ for the pro kit. Very Affordable in comparison to other solutions.

Pros and cons

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Flexible and evolutive
  • Access to buttons
  • High-quality components 
  • It is floatable

  • Time to set it up on the camera but with experience, it can be fast.

Some content created using Outex

Outex is waterproof and so is perfect for any kind of dirty and dusty environment. An event like the Holi Festival in India was a perfect playground to test it up!

Any Questions?

You can ask me in the comments below or head to Outex.com website for more info and details.


Breast hill – A mountaintop photo studio

As I am writing this article in the heat of South East Asia, I’m trying to remember the feeling of being in a cold environment. One vivid memory I have was the end of the winter on Breast Hill. This adventure was filled with excitement, to say the least. It started out breathtaking and ended with a dark night at the base of an icy wall. Let me take you back to the beginning…

At the beginning of the southern hemisphere’s spring, end of September 2015, my friend Leandro most known as Leo, was visiting me in Wanaka as he had to renew his Australian visa. Since there were some complications he ended up staying two extra months in New Zealand which meant he could join me on my adventures. Stoked! With us, there was also a couple, Matte Vonnée, Canadian and very talented portrait photographer and his French girlfriend Sonia. Matt and me, met at a potluck dinner at my house

 in Wannaka. He contacted me a few days ago and we planned on going to an adventure together. Our plan was to reach Breast Hill summit to shoot some amazing photographs with the beautiful views of Mount Aspiring, over Hawea Lake, as a background. Little did we know what that was going to take!

Before we could start our journey, it was important to find out the conditions and weather. Is it still snowy? Icy? What is the forecast for the next couple days? Google is a great way to find information but the guide companies and tourism centers usually have a better idea of conditions. However, no one knew exactly how it was up there since some said it’s snowy and we need ice axes and crampons, while others said it was fine to hike normally. We didn’t have the technical equipment and were on a low budget, so we decided to take the latter advice and go with our hiking shoes, gaiters, all the usual camping equipment and our photography gear. Which for Matte included a huge Rotalux Octagonal softbox and a Broncolor Move 1200 L battery for his flash unit.

Once we had everything packed, we met downtown Wanaka in the morning and followed each other to the east side of Hawea Lake. We parked the cars and despite the lack of sign to go up, we thought that we were roughly at the right place. It already got off to a bumpy start since that first place we arrived was not the correct spot. We had to hike back down to the cars and drive back until we saw the very small and discreet sign. Now we could start the hard climb up. The sun was strong and it felt warm in our t-shirts and shorts, even though it was the end of winter. During our hike up to Breast Hill, we met a mother with her kids who told us that if we were to keep going it might start to get icy in some parts.

We were determined so we continued on to the ridge. The view was breathtaking! The first patches of snow started to cover parts of the track. And a bit further along, the snow started turning to ice. This is when the technical gear would have been useful! The sunset was nearing so we stopped to get some photos at the golden hour. It was a little bit of a challenge to get the big flash set up in the wind. I was able to get some behind the scenes shots of Matte and Sonia during this process. After a quick session, we packed everything back up and kept going.

As night was beginning to fall, the snow got deeper and icier. It was important to put all our weight on each step to crush the ice for a good grip. The night became dark. Very dark as there was no moon to light the sky yet. We followed the trail poles that were rising above the snow but soon arrived at a point where we couldn’t find them anymore. They were either completely buried or too far away to be seen with our headlights. According to the map, the hut was supposed to be on our right. But all we could see was an icy cliff. If one of us would have slipped, it would be nearly impossible to rescue or find them. This realization caused some of us to panic. We had to be so close to the hut but just couldn’t see it! After a too long time trying to find our way on that wall, it was time to make a decision to either keep searching for the hut path or hike back to the car in the dark.

The fact that we were tired, cold and that our vision was limited to the gleam of our headlights made it harder to make a decision. After being stuck for at least 30 minutes on that slope, I decided to find a flat spot for everyone to rest while I climbed over a rock face to see if there was anything on the other side. The snow was deep, making it hard to make footprints. We were definitely the first to come here after the last snow. Upon reaching the top, I could see a fence in the distance! This was a good clue to help us find the track again. I came back to the others to motivate everyone to keep going before we could be getting comfortable in our sleeping bags.

The best motivation, when in very harsh conditions, is to trick your mind with imagination and visualisation. Picture yourself in a warm and comfortable environment. Especially if this is what you can get at the end of your current trip. Feeling comfortable inside your body, inside your mind even though the outside is still very cold, windy and wet.

We started hiking up the rock face and, as we reached the fence, we saw other poles indicating the track. It motivated all of us! But after walking on that track for 20 minutes we should have seen the hut but still couldn’t. Everyone was tired. Making wrong steps and sliding on the ice, some of us didn’t have enough strength to crush the ice anymore. We needed to stay positive and keep going. The mind is the key, if it starts to fade, everything else will too. A few minutes later we made it back to a crossing where we saw the mistake in our earlier footprints. We had followed the wrong poles and went to Breast Hill instead of to the hut. After 50 more meters downhill we finally saw the hut and everyone felt relieved. We began running and sliding on the ice all the way down to the hut which was hidden behind the edge of the icy wall.

The hut felt like paradise after our challenging hike in the dark. It felt good to organise ourselves, cook a nice warm dinner and soon after, everyone fell fast asleep. Except for me, I wasn’t done with the day just yet and wanted to see if I could get some photos of the aurora australis. There were some very weak green and purple lights but not enough for a memorable photo. However, the moon was beginning to rise which made for some great photographs with Leo who joined me outside of the hut. Too bad the moon wasn’t out earlier to help us find our way!

After our short night of rest, I got up early to hike the ridge for the sunrise. Leo wasn’t far behind. It was unbelievable! The view was astonishing and soon Matte and Sonia joined us in my excitement. It was the perfect location for Matte’s portraits! We spent half the morning up here taking photos. After a successful session on our mountaintop studio, we went back to Wanaka for a much-needed burger. The best meal after a hard hike! We all reminisced about our crazy adventure and we were all glad to make it safely back to town.

As a photographer, it’s rewarding to go on adventures with your peers. We can see how each other work and gain new insights and perspectives. It inspires us to keep taking photos, try new compositions, and explore different settings.

When going on hikes like this, where the temperatures can drastically change, I like to wear and pack multilayers clothes. Most important is the base layer. It’s good to have it be Merino wool. Primino is the best… it has all the advantages of Merino wool and it dries faster. Then a mid layer. This could be a fleece or a flannel shirt. Finally, a good jacket. Sometimes I will layer a windproof jacket under a rain jacket if it’s raining or really windy. Otherwise, a nice Gore-Tex will help keep you warm and dry from the elements while still be very breathable. I use Montane clothes thanks to my sponsor Further Fast NZ. They make very lightweight and packable gear. If I had to choose one, I would definitely recommend the Prism jacket, great for all conditions and it packs down to the size of a pillow.

If you want to know more about Matte Vonne, check out his work and bio here Fi.hn. Thank you to Amy Nieuwsma for proofing this article.