PUBLISHED ON: 6 May 2014
James Aspey, a 27 year old cruelty-free health and fitness trainer from Sydney, started his Voiceless365 challenge on January 1st. He's travelling around the country helping to share the message of kindness to animals – and generously raising funds to support Animals Australia's work.
We caught up with James to chat (by email!) about his adventure so far.
How is your journey going?
On one hand, it's been amazingly fun and I've met heaps of kooky, interesting people while visiting some incredible places on the South East coast of Australia! On the other hand, it's been eye-opening, stressful, confrontational, and a total emotional roller coaster! The vow of silence was especially challenging in the first month and I slipped up a couple of times, though now I'm just past the 100 day mark and apart from the few unintentional slip ups, I haven't spoken a word.
What have been some of the highlights and challenges?
The biggest highlight for me is receiving messages from people who've learned something useful because of my journey or something I've written about in my blog. Even better is when I receive a message from a follower saying they've gone vegetarian, or better still, vegan, because of Voiceless365. The knowledge that my sacrifice is making a difference to the animals really is the best feeling and makes every moment of the Voiceless365 mission worthwhile.
Another highlight was a solo adventure climbing 1545m up to the top of Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and hanging my legs off the edge while soaking in the scenery.Like anything, with the highs come the lows and a particularly distressing event took place while I was volunteering at a rescue farm in Adelaide, when a three day old bobby calf nearly died in my arms. It was hot, 46 degrees! He was dehydrated, malnourished, and his eyes were rolling into the back of his head. Despite this, he was the lucky one, escaping the fate of other male bobby calves. He was rescued from a one way trip to the slaughterhouse. I nursed him every day for nearly a month and now he is a strong, healthy, young calf.
Have you had any surprises along the way so far?
I'm continually surprised at being able to communicate with other people, without using my voice. I thought I was going to become a recluse for the year and expected to spend a lot of time alone, reading books and studying. It turns out, I've barely had a moment to spare and my skills communicating through body language are getting a little better each day. In saying that, it's definitely not always easy.
How are you feeling about the rest of the year?
If you'd asked me a few days ago, I would've said I was feeling anxious and looking forward to the vow of silence ending. At the time, I was feeling frustrated at not being able to clearly voice my opinion and get my point across in a debate I'd fallen into the middle of. Those moments are fairly rare and most of the time I feel optimistic and happy on a journey of a lifetime and helping animals along the way!
Thanks so much, James, and we wish you the best of luck with the rest of your journey!
You can stay up-to-date on the Voiceless365 journey through James's website www.voiceless365.com or his Facebook page. And if you'd like to to make a donation to his fundraiser click here. We know he would really appreciate your support (as would we)!
Inspired by James and his commitment to being a 'voice' for animals? You can challenge yourself too, with a personal fundraising page! It's simple and easy to get started.
All photos: James Aspey/Voiceless365