As 50-year-old Lynn ‘Red’ Paterson paddles her way around the New Zealand coastline, she is carrying a 20kg tub of coconut oil and remembering her favourite quote: “Are you made of sugar? No I’m not. Well you’re not going to melt”.
“Are you made of sugar?” is a very old British expression that shows disdain for someone afraid of the rain, and Red is using it to make sure she isn’t intimidated by all that water she’s carving her way through, every day for 180 days.
The main purpose of Red’s journey is to “create a massive wave of support” for, and to raise awareness of, all the people who are affected by family members and loved ones experiencing depression. She’s also raising money for the Mental Health Foundation along the way.
Following some personal challenges in 2014 involving a family member experiencing depression, Red decided to fulfil her dream of being the first female to circumnavigate New Zealand (5000km) in a kayak; a journey that is currently underway.
“What I experienced and witnessed was the bigger picture of the damage depression can cause. It’s not just the individuals who suffer, but also family members who support, love and care so much,” she says.
Red wants to recognise and acknowledge those mothers, fathers, lovers, brothers and sisters who give support to their family members experiencing depression. She also wants to inspire and encourage others to set goals and be active every day, doing something physical and fun, no matter how big or small.
Aiming to paddle an average of 30km each day, Red estimates the trip will take 180 days. She set off on October 27 From Auckland and so far there have been dolphins, blisters, headwinds, massive waves, stunning sunsets and even a hailstorm to contend with.
“Exercise really is the best medicine. This journey is an example of how something momentous can be broken down into achievable segments,” she says.
The restorative coconut oil and sugar mantra, she says, will keep her going through what is a journey of ups and downs.
“It is my inner desire to paddle around New Zealand. I have dreamt of doing this all my life, you could say it is on my ‘bucket list’. This is a personal journey, not a race, not to beat others.”
To support Red: Text REDZNZ to 2446 to donate $3 to the Mental Health Foundation, or visit her fundraising page at redznzjourney.com