Ever-changing. Restless. Passionate. They’re three words that describe today’s interviewee, and they’re qualities that resonate massively with me, and with a lot of us I’m sure – for those of us who seek out the adventure in life, who travel to learn about new worlds, who see a life without passion as deeply lacking. But it’s not always about the escapism, it’s about the everyday too and focusing on the small things – being present, appreciating people, calling your mum. (Note to sellf: must remember to call mum).

kitesurfing dubai

I talk a lot about adventure, travel and seeking out passion projects, and I mentioned in a previous feature, that one of my current goals is to surround myself with people who inspire me, who push me to do more – whether that’s quite literally, or indirectly. This blog is about telling peoples’ stories, and maybe inspiring others along the way – like little life case studies if you like. And for today’s little case study, I catch up with 24 year-old Dana Miskulnig, of Life of Dana, to talk all things bikes, boards and coaching. Originally Austrian, born and raised in Dubai, Dana pursues a whole host of awesome sports activities, while practicing life coaching simultaneously – and this is what she had to say.

When I’m doing any of these sports whether it’s riding, kiting, wakeboarding or skating, I just get focused on what’s happening in that moment and forget about everything else that might be going on.

1. How did you get into action sports in the first place?
I have my parents to thank for that, I grew up waterskiing, wakeboarding and doing all sorts of watersports because my parents were into it. My dad was the one who got me a surfboard and would go to the beach before school to teach me. Then one Christmas my dad got me and my mom a motocross bike and that’s when I really got into all the action sports.

2. Do you come from a family of adventure/ action sports enthusiasts?
My parents are quite adventurous; they would take me out of school when they went on trips for things like sailing through the Caribbean or going for bike trips through Cape Town. Now that I’m older they still go off but on their own (they’re in Djibouti as I write this for a dive trip). They’re planning on going by motorcycle to Austria through Iran in a few months. I also have two sisters in Austria who are really into their downhill mountain biking and I love joining them when I’m there!

desert bike ride

3. What sports do you pursue on a regular basis? 
My two loves at the moment are motocross and kiteboarding. Motocross will always be my first love – there’s something liberating about going into the desert and just going wherever you please. It really gives me that peace of mind when I’m out there. Kiteboarding I only recently got into and I was hooked. Using the elements to glide across the water gives you a different kind of rush. When I’m doing any of these sports whether it’s riding, kiting, wakeboarding or skating, I just get focused on what’s happening in that moment and forget about everything else that might be going on.

4. What’s your favourite sport?
Motocross will always by my number one ❤

5. How do you train/ keep physically fit?
Lately I’ve been kiting so much I get a full body workout at the same time! But I do love going to 1SIX8 in Jumeirah for their Punch and Core workouts (they’re my ultimate favourite in Dubai). Or I’ll go to a Crossfit class at Alioth. I try to do more body weight/functional training and things that are fun than just lifting weights (sometimes I’ll even give aerial hoop a go to try and get a bit more grace in my movements).

6. What’s your idea of the perfect holiday and where would it be?
Going on an epic adventure for sure. I’ve never been to Brazil but would love to get a bike there or a camper van and pack it with some kite gear and road trip to some epic kite spots.

kite surfing dubai

7. Do you find that people are intimidated by your action sports persona?
It used to be that way sometimes, but I think now people just feel the stoke when I talk about it and they want to get in on it too!

8. What do you do to relax and unwind?
I do love my naps. Or I’ll just hang with a friend, eat some junk (Ben & Jerries are my homeboys) and watch some cheesy TV show (I guess I’m a one extreme to the other kind of person).

9. Tell us about your coaching and what it means to be a co-active coach?
There are many ways to go about life coaching and the model that I’ve adopted is the co-active model. This one is about holding your client as naturally creative, resourceful and whole – and completely capable of finding their answers to whatever challenges they face. My job is to ask those powerful questions and use certain tools to empower and bring out those answers that already exist within my clients rather than me telling them what to do. I love it because even though these things are already within my clients it’s like they get to know themselves on a whole other level and they get excited to actually follow what serves them. As a coach I’m someone who they are accountable to and this pushes them to really go for it, and the results are pure magic. Sometimes it’s not just about crushing the obstacles in their way or bringing out their values, but simply processing certain emotions. There’s a lot of that, just going through certain emotions to allow people to move on from something that might be holding them back.

Life of Dana

10. How do you help people through your coaching?
The most common thing I hear at the end of a session is ‘I’m so relieved’. I think the biggest impact is having someone listen to you with no judgement and being able to let out the things that are buried deep. Just creating that awareness and helping my clients learn more about themselves is more powerful than we think. And when they then use that learning to take action in their life, the result is pure magic.

11. What is one key piece of advice that you would give the SATC reader to practice for 2018?
It’s hard giving advice to such a broad audience but I would say practice listening to your gut. We tend to look so much to social media, society, what we’re told and so on that we forget to look inside and listen to our instincts. Do what works for you. And for the love of everything good PLEASE don’t take social media so seriously. Let it encourage you and inspire you but don’t live by it like it’s the guidelines to life.

12. What’s on the cards for Life of Dana in 2018?
I wish I knew! For now it’s focusing on my coaching career and figuring out where I’ll be over the summer.

13. You’re an inspiring person yourself, but who inspires you?
First of all, thank you for that ❤
The people who inspire me are always changing but at the moment I’m inspired by Ruben Lenten. I had the chance to hang with him for a few days in Cape Town a while back and his energy is just so infectious. He is so positive and it almost seems like nothing can phase him. The kind of people who leave you feeling like the world is just a little bit brighter are the ones I want to surround myself with.

14. What’s it like to be part of the GoPro family?
It’s really awesome! We get to test out all the new products and sometimes they take us for trips to put our gear to use. Getting to know some of the GoPro family members across the globe has been incredible; there are pilots, travellers, families and all sorts of crazy folks out there doing their thing.

desert motorbiking

15. What’s your top travel destination and why?
This is so hard because there’s so much but basically anywhere that is a bit out of the way. I did a motorcycle trip through Morocco – from Marrakech to Tangier and that is definitely one adventure I would recommend. The landscape is ever-changing as you go North and it’s still such an untouched place.

16. If I should try one new action sport for 2018 what should it be?
If you have the budget try doing a motocross lesson (the start up cost is probably one of the biggest factors of whether or not someone commits to the sport). If you’re looking for something more affordable try a kite lesson (I learned in Diani Beach in Kenya and it was the best spot I could have learned). If you’re looking for something that you can do solo and doesn’t require too much gear you could also give skating a go; I’m still useless at it but it’s super fun.

motocross dubai

17. What do you think of the social media/ digital influence, as someone who embodies a healthy outdoor lifestyle?
I have soooo much to say about this so I’ll try to be as concise as possible.

1. I think it’s awesome that we can create this voice for ourselves no matter who we are with these apps, but I do think we have a certain responsibility as that voice gets bigger.

2. A few people have mentioned how awesome my life looks and how they think everything is perfect and I’m always happy, and while I do feel very fortunate for my lifestyle it breaks my heart because first of all, I’m human and I have my good and bad days like anyone else. But what’s worse is that they compare their lives to what they see online and think it’s not good enough. It’s what we make of every situation and not how good our lives look online. Because when the phone switches off what remains is real life, so make the best of it. Just because you’re not climbing mountains every day, or by the beach or traveling 24/7 does NOT mean your life isn’t adequate.

3. Social media is just a highlight reel so try to think about from where that person is probably posting that photo. I personally do it from bed in the morning before I’m about to get up and go about my day.

4. I’ve learned that keeping my own mental health towards social media is so important. I feel lucky that I get to see both sides of the coin, being an observer of bigger Instagrammers and being a small one myself. This has brought me so much learning. And I rarely take things too seriously on social media because I just don’t want to get caught up with it. When I go to some events and I see that it’s all about taking 1000s of photos I kind of click out because I would so much rather get a few nice photos and enjoy where I am.

***

Choose one thing to try out this week (not necessarily action sports) – but something that either challenges you, or makes you stop and think. That could be as extreme as a sky dive, or as simple as taking a walk along the beach – to take some time out and be more present. We all get caught up in the hustle and bustle, but remind yourself of the passion projects from time to time, the people who feel good to be around, and that what you see on social media, isn’t necessarily the reality.

 

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