Episode 54: A conversation with Sarah Outen

Updated: Feb 7

What does home mean to you? What - and who – do you need around you to really feel it?

Sarah Outen and Jen Randall made a film about Sarah’s journey around the world, launched late last year. It shines more light on both the joys and the darkest corners of her four and a half year adventure, how her headspace changed over time and how she has redefined home for herself.

If you don’t know Sarah, she describes herself as an adventurer, author, speaker and ambassador. Pretty much fresh out of university, Sarah left solo to row the Indian Ocean, becoming the first woman and youngest person to do so. She was just warming up. A few years later she rowed, cycled and kayaked a circle around the globe. One heck of a journey, which included Sarah being rescued several times in terrifying storms, learning fast to kayak in all conditions and teaching a guy how to cycle through China.

Sarah’s been a shero to me for years, since I heard her talk at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival. I was honoured to dig into it with her and talk travels and trauma, including:

  • The three-day tropical storm in the Pacific that ultimately led to Sarah’s rescue and struggle with PTSD, plus the nature of PTSD symptoms; psychological and at times very physical.

  • What happened through her breakdowns in 2016 and 2018, and how she has become more open about her mental health experiences by degrees

  • What it’s been like to reckon with being vulnerable on film - showing the stormy times as well as the achievements - through the process of making and promoting the film

  • The shifting experience on grief when ocean rowing

  • Sarah’s steps into the world of psychotherapy and the impact of therapy (EMDR)

  • The impact of boarding school on her life, the gifts and the harder impacts

  • The effect and the legacy of stress, lack of sleep and deep fatigue on the body

  • Having a tumour removed from her womb

Sarah’s story is inspirational with elements that are truly relatable and transferable – and as a huge bonus she is such a warm, down to earth, calm human and a pure joy to speak to.

If you haven’t seen Home yet, check for a screening through the website – there are some through February and March if you act fast! It’ll also be available for download soon after and you can sign up to find out when. Sarah’s book, Dare to Do, charts the raw realities of her adventures – go treat your adventurous soul.

A final note - this was one of the hardest edits since starting the podcast, frustratingly there was interference/background noise going on through the line. I’ve done my best but you’ll hear this at times, it was impossible to edit entirely.

Check it out on Soundcloud or all the usual podcast apps.

Please go share this episode with a curious friend and consider supporting my essential costs of production through Patreon. A smattering of bonus goodies will be yours!

Show notes

Sarah’s website

Home film website

Buy Dare to Do

What is EMDR therapy?

Equine therapy in the UK

Why we sleep: The new science of sleep & dreams

Mary Oliver poetry

The Story of Gulliver

Wild Swimming

Light Shed Pictures (Jen Randall)

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