Oh, there you are! Hello! Yes, it’s me. No. Really. It’s me. See, I’m waving :).
I realise I’ve been MIA from the blog for a while. December in fact (oops!). But I’ve had good reason, honest! Um…well…actually…I haven’t. There, I’ve said it. I’ve just been lazy with my writing. Admittedly the start of the year wasn’t that great for me – there’s been incessant insomnia, a return of the evil cluster headaches, and bouts of the dark side again. All in all, pretty sucky :(. And though I could easily (and perhaps justifiably) blame these things for my blog blackout, it’s probably fairer to say that it’s mostly been down to my laziness. Bad Cups! Time to make amends, friends. Laptop on, typey typey typey, and here we go… my first post of the year.
In between the sleepless nights, the agonising head ouchies and other prime soap opera-esque fodder, my teeny tiny brain has been ticking over, cultivating the seedlings of my “next challenge” – I promised you all one after the Marcothon, remember? – and would I let you down? Nooooo, of course not! And this one is gonna be good. I say “one”, but this challenge is not singular. No sir. This is going to be an ongoing venture, with many, many mini challenges throughout the year. And of all types, shapes and sizes. Yup, I told you it was gonna be good :).
There are rules though. Um, hello? It’s me right? Of course there are rules. Rules help to control the fun. As well as aiming to do at least couple of “somethings” a month, all challenges must adhere to my strict criteria of either being something:
- I’ve never done.
- I’ve always wanted to do.
- I want to work on.
- That scares the cupcake out of me!
This idea has been in the back of my mind for a while now, since around the time I officially become a marathoner last year. Yes, I have finally accepted this title and, four months on, am just beginning to allow myself to to feel impressed with the accomplishment (for those of you who actually know me, this is indeed progress, so well done me!). Completing a marathon is something I’d wanted to do for years. I never thought I would do it. Even when I was training. And I was petrified of the reality of doing it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m crazy determined when I set my mind to something, but daydreaming about doing something and actually doing it are poles apart. But I did do it. Silly little determined me :). And, sitting here now, thinking about it, I actually did quite a few new things last year, that fit some of the criteria for this year’s challenge. Admittedly, this could be seen as cheating – including things I did last year in this years challenge – but I made the rules here, so I’m gonna allow it. If it makes you feel better, you can think of these as warm up acts for the main event. Cue a little self indulgence from me…
- Joined a running club (Categories: Always wanted to & scared the cupcakes out of me) – mid 2011 to help with my marathon training. Normally a lone exerciser, mainly because I don’t like be all sweaty and gross in front of people I know, this was the first big boundary pusher. Running? In front of other people? With them looking at me and stuffs? Eek! But I’m so glad I made myself do it. I chose the brilliant (and free!) local SRC run club, hosted by UK-wide running experts Sweatshop. If you’re a runner already, and looking for motivation, or just interested in getting into running but don’t know where to start, look into your nearest Sweatshop run club. These guys really know their stuff, and give amazing advice and support to novice and experienced runners alike. You can take advantage of their free gait analysis to make sure you’re running in the right trainers for you, and there’s even a reward system to keep you motivated to turn up every week, with freebies and everything! Based on my own experience, you meet some super friendly like minded people, whatever your ability, and have a great time (well, apart from the running bit…). Some of my best friends are people I’ve meet at SRC. Nuff said.
- Had a makeover (Categories: Never done it & always wanted to) – with a professional make up artist and celebrity hairdresser no less! Well, it was for my 30th after all. And. It. Was. AWESOME.
- Had a birthday party (Categories: Never done it & always wanted to) – altogether now, “awww”, to the 30 year old who had NEVER had a birthday party before. But as it turns out, she throw’s one hell of a shindig! That’s what three decades of belated birthday blowouts will do to a gal.
- Went to cupcake decorating and baking classes (Category: Never done it) – run by my friends at Angel Food Bakery – the BEST cupcake shop ever – in the gorgeous Ton. I loved it so much, I’ve done it twice! Highly recommended for all lovers of the sweet stuff .
- Took a trip to NYC (Categories: Never done it & always wanted to) – went to celebrate my 10 year wedding anniversary, and had the most fantastic time. First time to New York, and first holiday in 6 years! Packed an incredible amount into 6 days – thanks to my awesome organisational skills – and could gush about the city indefinitely. Wonderful people, stunning apartment (thanks to @airbnb – if you haven’t heard of them, you definitely need to check them out), so cool it hurts and never a dull moment. Quite simply an amazing place, and I can’t wait to go back :D.
- Completed the Shine Marathon (Categories: Never done it, always wanted to & scared the cupcakes out of me) – I came, I walked, I gave up running for two months whilst my feet recovered. Not quite as catchy as Julius Caesar’s quote perhaps, but definitely more fitting.
- Created and launched my own website (Category: Never done it) – um, well, you’re kinda on it right now! Two weeks of long days, longer nights, and much tearing out of hair as I tried to find my inner coder and this is the result – Ta-dah! There is a blog post dedicated to the story behind the story, naturally. Check it out here: Code Runner.
- Took part in Burning the Clocks workshop and parade (Category: Never done it) – another fun workshop in Brighton, making paper lanterns to burn on the beach as a token for the end of the year. Brilliant workshop, brilliant parade. Check out my posts Willow, and paper, and glue, oh my! and Burn baby burn for the full story.
- Completed The Marcothon (Categories: Never done it & scared the cupcake out of me) – a month long, run 25 mins/3k everyday in December, Twitter-based challenge. Scary because a) it meant running everyday in December and b) because I hadn’t so much as looked at my trainers since the marathon in October! I did it though :). Too many posts on my Marcothon challenge to list here, but you can read all the gory details in my December Archives.
I seemed to be clocking up quite a few firsts in 2011, without really thinking about it, so why not put some proper thought into it and see what happens? Push my boundaries. Jump out of my comfort zone. Pee into the wind! You know, and other go get ’em phrases. Why the hell not. So, back at the end of last year, I reached for my Moleskine book (ah Moleskine, how I love thee…) and started working on a list (oh lists, I think I love you even more than Mr Moleskine) of “somethings” to try in the year. No, I’m not gonna tell you what’s on the list! Where would be the fun in that?! But I’ll give you a little taste of what’s to come… there’ll be some creative, some sporty, some ridiculous, some mini personal triumphs, some scary (eek!), some reflective (ooo, get her!), maybe some travel-related… Some will be huge; like walking the Great Wall of China (to be clear, I am not planning on walking the Great Wall of China, this is just an example of something huge, ok?), some will be tiny; like stopping saying “Yeah. No.” all the time (why do I do that?! I HATE that!!), and some will be just downright bizarre! And hey, despite my continued resistance to it, I may even throw in some running ones too :). Sounds pretty exciting huh?! Well, hold on to your hats folks (do people still have hats to hold onto?), cos I’ve already done some! Roll the pics…
- Watched some movie “classics” (Category: Never done it)
I like movies. I do. I love a good movie. I even love a rubbish movie. As long as they are the right kind of movie. You see, I’ve always had boundaries with some genre’s of films. A thin red line that I won’t cross, no matter how much I’m told I’ll like it once I’m over the other side. I’m not sure why this is, or why only certain types of films are targets. I’m not the only one who has this mental block though; I have a friend who has never seen a James Bond film. Ever. Now THAT is shocking! But back to the point. This block has always been there, in the background, and I have been judged, mocked and condemned for my no-chance stance when it comes to films that fall within my no-go policy – Epics (Ben-Hur, Anthony & Cleopatra), Classics (Casablanca, An Affair to Remember), Modern Classics (all the Star Wars’*, all the Lord of the Rings’, all the Harry Potter’s) and Musicals (Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz) – none of these, and many more besides, have ever appealed to me. So I’ve never watched them. *I did agree to sit down and watch the three original Star Wars films with my husband, who is a geek and therefore a HUGE fan of the series, for the first time last year, but I wasn’t exactly blown away, much to his horror and shame. Needless to say, it’s also a sore point in our house whenever E.T. is on and I’m heard to say “Oh man, really? You wanna watch that again? But it’s soooo lame”. Oh hush out there, with your recoils of shock! You guys are so dramatic! It’s just a film! Anywho, I got to thinking that, whilst these films don’t immediately appeal to me, maybe I should give some a go, and see whether my ingrained distrust of them was well founded (possible), or whether it was just another nonsensical anomaly that I needed to cut right out (more likely). So I gave it ago at Christmas, with gusto, watching three “classics” that I had hereto never seen nor been interested in seeing before; the lucky blighters being “Singin’ in the Rain”, “Miracle on 34th Street” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”. As you all pick yourself up off the floor, no doubt stunned and shocked to the very core of your being that I’ve never seen these before (honestly guys, relax yeah, they’re just movies…) I’ll tell you this. I watched them, and they were alright :). Now, let’s not be hasty and boycott my blog just because my opinion may come across as somewhat muted about what I understand are highly esteemed classics in the history of cinema, ok? I wouldn’t normally go near such films with a barge pole, so the fact that I watched three in quick succession, and found them to be quite sweet, well that’s something. And I now don’t immediately make a death dive for the remote when a “classic” pops up on my TV. That’s progress. Baby steps people. Baby steps :).
- Went to the cinema (Categories: Never done it & always wanted to)
Maybe I should clarify this one, hmm? I have, of course, been to the cinema before; I’m not Theatrophobic. But this was a particular cinema I went to, one that I had coveted for a very long time – the Grade II listed gorgeousness that is The Duke of York’s Picture House in Brighton. This one screen gem just outside the city is Britain’s oldest purpose-built cinema, recently celebrated its 100th birthday, and is simply a stunning place to see a film. And it has sofa’s. SOFA’S! And cake. Delicious homemade cake. That you can take into the screening with you. With a glass of wine. Which you can enjoy. Whilst curled up on a sofa. Need I say more? And at the beginning of January I did precisely that, whilst watching the equally beautiful film “The Artist”. Bliss :).
- Attended a Launch Party (Categories: Never done it & scared the cupcake out of me)
This was a bit out-of-the-blue. Officially this wasn’t on my list when I first started it, instead popping up via Twitter a few weeks ago. The party was to celebrate the opening of a brand new London office for the brilliant internet based holiday rental company Airbnb. The invite was pretty vague, offering little more than a date, time and venue, with nod to some free food and drink. It coincided with my Thursday night run club but, luckily for me, the run club leader is a very close friend, so she let me off for the night. This was the first challenge of 2012 that would really test me, as I can get a bit nervous about social things. I’m never sure if I’ll speak to people, or if people will speak to me. You know, those sorts of dilemmas. I had a few weeks to mull it over though, and to ever so gently, talk myself into going. So, in to a freezing cold London I trundled, being sideswiped by dead eyed commuters all the way. As always, I was one of the first to arrive (I hate being late to anything, I don’t care if it’s not cool!) and quickly got chatting to a fellow Airbnb Member who, incidentally, was hogging all the warmth from the only wall mounted egg-incubator heater in the foyer! After a slight delay (accredited to the press conference overrunning – tsk tsk naughty press boys), in we swarmed, like a big swarmy thing, with a thousand other Airbnb Members, Hosts and Staff. We drank the free booze, ate the free food – which awesomely included ice cream! – scouted around for the much discussed, but never discovered, Airbnb freebies, wet ourselves laughing at the stupid rude tweet war we had started with a big group of young and trendies behind us, and basically had a rip-roaring good time. I made some new Twitter buddies too :). At one point in the proceedings I was even in touching distance of the hallowed founders of Aibnb. I know, check me out! However, after their address to the revellers, I realised that our little clique had been rubbing literal shoulders with them all night on the dancefloor – how often can you say that about the guys behind a multibillion dollar start up? I can’t imagine Bill Gates busting his moves next to me at the next Microsoft product launch party, and apologising for spilling beer down my boot. I guess it could happen though, right..?
- Trialled a local fitness camp (Categories: Never done it & scared the cupcake out of me)
It’s no secret that I’m not really a fan of exercise. Like the majority of people, I’d be thrilled if I could sit at home, watching repeats of Scrubs <feel free to insert your own go-to TV show of choice here>, guilt-freely eating cake without putting on weight, or otherwise negatively affecting my health, but instead increasing my fitness levels and improving my body tone with no effort at all. Oh, how lovely that would be! Sadly, this is a desperate pipe-dream and therefore exercise is a necessity. But what kind of exercise is still, in my case at least, up for grabs. Yes I run regularly, and more so now than I think I ever had (despite of my constant cries of derision about it). I’ve done the gym thing for several years, but I loathe it. The effort of going, the unnerving grunts from the muscle packed free weights area, and the dreaded gym bunnies. It’s just not a great fit for me. And I haven’t been in a long time. But I’m keen to get my core fitness back on track – that was the one benefit of going to the gym regularly, it just isn’t enough to keep me interested. So I’ve been looking into alternatives for a while. And a local fitness camp kept popping up during my research. I’d shied away from it before as it looked suspiciously like a boot camp, and I ain’t no fan of bootcamps. You want me to drop and give you twenty? I couldn’t drop and give you five even if you promised me cake for life and Simon Baker’s mobile phone number! Shouting at me isn’t gonna help either, so you can cut that right out. And does anyone really respond when you call them “Worm”? But this camp kept coming up, teasing me with it’s offer of a free trial. So I got in touch, and had some refreshingly open email dialogue with the camps Director, Mark. After agreeing to a trial session I signed off, warning him “… if I collapse a lung, or one of my legs fall off, I’m coming after you!”. His response to this was prompt and tinged with a little palpable fear. Excellent. Just what I wanted :). The video actually gives a really good idea of what a typical one hour session is like. Shame it was taken on a sunny day with a large smiling group, instead of on a frickin’ freezing day with a teeny group (mostly made of trial newbies like me) where smiles were replaced by chattering teeth. It was bitterly cold, and aside from some hardcore dog walkers, our little team of 5 were the only people mad enough to be out on the icy recreation ground early on a Saturday morning. How ridiculous we must have looked, doing our circuits, icicles hanging from our running fleeces. It was tough. But I expected that. My legs were burning after the first set of squats and I was out of breath for the full hour. My abs have been killing me for the past two days. It even hurts to rub them! But it was all my own doing. Mr Instructor hadn’t barked orders at us like a Drill Sergeant. He didn’t demand that we drop and give him anything. He hadn’t call us “Worm” (not that I heard anyway…). He just encouraged us to work as hard as we could, having quickly picked up on our individual levels of ability at the start of the session. So, did I enjoy it? At the moment, the jury is out. I’ve been offered another free trial with a larger group at a different location if I want. Hmm. We’ll see…
So 2012, my year of doing stuffs, and not a bad start to my little adventure. But there’s a long way to go. I have a couple more “somethings” planned for February, and already have stuff in the pipeline for the next few months. I’ll be posting updates here and there, so keep checking back to see what I’ve been up to! Am I gonna give you any clues on what I’ve got planned? In a word, no. That’s not one of my new somethings. Sorry… ;).