So here it is: my 30 at 30!
This is an event which is organised by the mental health charity, MIND, with the aim of raising awareness of mental health while getting you to be active everyday. It might be doing something as small as going for a short walk, to something a bit tougher such as going on a 5 or 10k run. I’m not a runner, I much prefer doing group sports so this really will be a challenge for me.
In July 2016 my friend and I travelled the length of Vietnam. We stared in Hanoi and concluded our trip in Ho Chi Minh City. I loved the food in Vietnam, and so I am going to cook a Vietnamese meal from scratch. Why is this a challenge? If you have seen my ‘cooking’ you will understand why.
I admire people who have the gift of being able to dance well. I see them at weddings or in clubs and I am jealous of their ability to dance. I like to dance, I am just not very good at it. I am going to sign up for a dance class, and hopefully by the next wedding I attend (in July) I will have my dancing shoes ready, only this time with the moves to match.
I am not a morning person. It takes me ages to wake up in the morning, so much so that the floor in my house has been named ‘the sleepy floor’. I hit snooze as many times as possible then rush to the shower. I want to change that, and start my mornings in a calm, peaceful way, with meditation. I’m not going to be able to go from no meditation to doing it every day, but over the next year I will slowly aim to build up, starting with one day a week for the first month and go from there. I think this might be my toughest challenge yet!
5. Go on a gardening course
I have a lovely garden, which I know is a total luxury for London. I’ve tried to make the most of it by growing lots of plants and some vegetables. Mostly through trial and error, and a very resilient little tomato plant, I managed to have a beautiful garden throughout the summer. While I was able to grow the plants I have absolutely no idea what each plant is called or how it should be cared for. Therefore, I am going to attend a gardening course to learn basics in garden care.
✔ 6. Ticket for 1
I love films, yet I have never been to the cinema alone. I’m really looking forward to ‘Jackie’ coming out in January. I’ve always found the Kennedys so fascinating, and have watched many films and documentaries about them. Therefore, I’m hoping that for my first trip to the cinema alone, seeing through the eyes of the First Lady will be something to remember.
7. Host a dinner party
Some of my friends are wonderful cooks, who serve mouth-watering dishes. I enjoy good food, as I mentioned above, however, I am not blessed with the culinary skills they are. For this challenge I will write my own menu, and attempt to cook a 3 course meal, which I shall serve for my lucky housemates.
✔ 8.¿Que tal?
I’ve been trying to learn how to speak Spanish for ages, but get so far only to stop practicing and fall back. By the end of the year I want to be able to hold a conversation in Spanish that goes beyond ‘how are you?’.
While not a new challenge, the purpose of this one is to keep me moving after my RED January. Once the weather turns dryer, I plan to dust of my roller blades and get out to Hyde Park to learn how to skate with the best of them.
10. Take a free course
There are loads of free courses and so I plan to take the OU up on one of their free classes and learn something new. There are a few short courses I like the sound of, so I’m going to choose a couple and spend a quiet night in learning something new.
✔ 11. Bake a cake
My mum is a truly fabulous baker. She is one of those people who is able to whip up a cake easily before guests arrive and it always tastes incredible. I plan to find a few simple recipes and release my inner baker.
12. Make a dress
I can sew and make basic alterations but nothing more than that. I’d like to be able to make a dress for myself that I can wear on a summer holiday.
✔ 13. Volunteer
I am going to look at how I can get involved in my local community and what I can do to play my part. There is a foodbank near me that I know is looking for volunteers so I am going to see if I can help out there.
✔ 14. Go on a retreat
London can be crazy, and so I think it is really important to take time out and recharge. I always find going on retreats a great way to detox. In recent years I have been too busy to go on them, so this year I will make time to go on a retreat.
✔ 15. Keep a Travel Journal
I’m half way through my list and I haven’t even got to my favourite thing! Travel. I travel as far and often as I can. I’ve a few trips planned for next year. I kept a journal only once, when I spent a month in Zimbabwe. I’m so glad that I did that as it I, but usually all I do is keep ticket stubs and other mementos. For all my trips in my 30th year I will take along a journal and write down all that I do and see.
✔ 16. Flying Solo
The very idea of sitting eating dinner alone makes me feel awkward. I love to sit and enjoy a glass of wine and some delicious food with good company. The thought of doing this alone is really not something I like the idea of. But, my ’30 at 30’ is a challenge, and so I am going to dine alone! No phone, tablet, kindle or newspaper in sight. This is all about me eating good food. Alone. Except for that one photo I will take to record this event!
17. Learn about the guys who dared to be rebels: Saints
I’m a history buff, and love reading about people who did heroic things, who came from ordinary backgrounds, but did extraordinary things. Saints rarely make the history books and yet had such interesting lives. I’ve decided to learn about 7 Saints: St Anne, St Eugene de Mazend, St Joseph, St Martin de Porres, St Anthony, St Catherine of Sienna & St Andrew.
18. Plan a hen party
My lovely friend Ania is getting married and has asked me to plan her hen party. I’ve never had this responsibility before, so my challenge is to put together a lovely weekend for my friend.
19. Go to boot Camp in Clapham Common
The idea of running about in a park on a Saturday morning isn’t too appealing, but after my RED January I feel I should be slightly fitter and so perfect time to work on my cardio. I’m going to make use of ‘Meet-up’ and spend some weekends in February and March at a bootcamp in Clapham Common as I put my fitness to the test.
I’ve spent over a decade working on my family tree, which I can date back to the early 1800s. My family have kept the same names running through my family for generations, which while lovely did make the whole working out who was from which branch of the family rather difficult. I know the dates when people were born and died, and where. But, I know so little about what life was like for them during these times. I plan to add to my family through finding out more about what life would have been like for them.
21. Snail Mail
My best friend from uni loves hand written letters, and so over our last decade of friendship we have written each other lots of letters. These have ranged from updates during our summer holidays, to exchanging tales of our attempts to find our feet in the early days after we graduated to the more painful exchanges when we lost a loved one. All of these letters have meant so much to me. I plan to share this letter writing love wider, and each month I plan to sit down and write a letter to someone giving them my news and letting them know I’m thinking about them.
22. Movie night
I love films. Long train and plane journeys never feel bad at all when you have a really great movie. I feel like there is a few ‘classics’ that I have yet to see. I’m going to take recommendations from friends who have a completely different taste in movies and watch some of their favourites.
23. Get Crafty
I sit at a desk all day. I love my job, but find it nice to be able to use my hands. I think that is why I enjoy gardening so much. Instead of spending nights binge watching Netflix I plan to learn how to do new things, such as origami or knitting or other crafty things.
24. Go to Paris
I’ve been to Southern Africa, South East Asia, North America, South America and Eastern Europe, but I have some how never been to Paris. With the Eurostar making it only a 2 hour train ride away I need to see Paris.
25. Adventures in Canada
A friend moved back to Canada last year. While she was in the UK we had lots of adventures. A friend and I are planning on visiting her and going on our ‘Great Canada road trip’. 2 weeks of touring round Canada. Bring.It.On! There is lots of planning to do, routes to be decided, what to see, where to stay.
26. Call home more
I don’t call home enough! I really want to get better at this. Despite the distance between where we all live, my family are really close. As we all get older I’m made acutely aware of how I shouldn’t take anything for granted, and therefore must make more of an effort.
✔ 27. Be a tourist in London
When I first moved to London I did so many things from pop up bars, restaurants and all the sites that any good tourist would do. But, over time I’ve stopped being a tourist. I plan to take time to appreciate what a great city I live in by exploring more of this wonderful city.
28. Adventure Sports
I absolutely love sports and in my 30th year I want to try some new sports. I want to try fly yoga, and go paddle boarding down Paddington Basin, and any other adventure sport that I may be able to do while on my travels.
✔ 29. My Roots
I lay claim to Scottish, Irish and English heritage. This year I want to make a point of celebrating different elements of these cultures, from organising a Burn’s Supper, partying on St Patrick’s Day and all the other wonderful things each of these nationalities hold dear.
✔ 30. Make ethical choices
I try to buy Fairtrade products when I shop. Since the Rana plaza building collapsed where garment workers died I have tried to look closer at where my clothes are coming from. But this isn’t enough, I need to do more, lobby for change and work to tackling injustices. And above all, to hold myself accountable for the products that I purchase and use, and the way that I live my life, remembering that whatever I do may have a consequence on the life of someone else.