Monthly Archives: October 2012

Week 3: It’s all about the blog

Phew, week 3 already. And an easy task this week (or so I thought). Since I am doing this challenge, and posting status updates on Facebook about it, I thought I would go one step further and create a blog. I have never created or written a blog before, so that would fit in nicely with the challenge. And all you have to do is write some stuff and post it on the internet right? Wrong! Well, not wrong exactly; you do indeed need to write some stuff and post it on the internet.  But there are a lot of steps in between – you know, like setting up the blog.

I was pleased to find out that there are some good sites that allow you to create a blog for free and getting your own site on one of these is very easy. Fabulous. Finding my way around the creation process proved a little tricky and tiresome, but I am pretty good at all things computer, so I managed to work it out eventually.  And the writing part was easy – I pretty much write for a living, so that was done in no time. So what the hell did I spend the next 15 hours or so doing??!!

Yes, it has taken me about 15 hours to get to the point of sharing this blog with the world. Why? Well first I had to choose a template. Did you know there are a lot of templates one can choose from when creating a blog. No? Neither did I. And did you know that while the templates may look good in theory when someone else has spent the time making them look good (someone who might actually know what they are doing), once you start using a template for your own blog for some reason it just doesn’t turn out the same way? No? Neither did I!

I admit freely that some of the time it took to create this blog had to do with my perfectionist tendencies – constantly changing and rearranging little things here and there to make it all look and sound as good as I could make it look and sound with my limited knowledge of creating a blog site.

[Hmm, for some reason I am writing extraordinarily long sentences today which is somewhat unusual for me as I generally like to keep my sentences short and snappy. You don’t care do you? Just get the hell on with whatever it is you want to say so that we – the reader – can get back to doing something more productive than reading about someone’s attempts at blogging.]

So there I was, fiddling with a template and fighting with my inner perfectionist – choosing colours, discarding colours; searching my photos, uploading my photos (note: slow internet connection is not good for photo uploading – I could run around the house 5 times before each photo uploaded. Not that I would. Who would want to run around the house 5 times?); getting distracted by my photos;  working out why the photos would not put themselves where I was telling them to put themselves; forgetting to save my work and losing it all; finding ditty little functions to include on the site and then working out how the heck to use them; deciding I didn’t like the template once I had everything on there and changing it all. Oh yes, it has been fun this blogging business. Just call me the bloggantor. No seriously, don’t call me that. It sounds ridiculous.

I think the blog site is now in a place that I am happy to release it to the world. And when I say world, I mean my Facebook friends. And when I say my Facebook friends, I mean the 5 or so who may take the time to skim over it (thanks if you have – you are lovely).

And now I am off to give my bum a rest because it is sore from sitting on it for so long trying to get this blog happening. You know, this is the second post in which I have blogged about my bum. Methinks I may have an obsession with my bum. I certainly would like it to be smaller. But I am not going to lose sleep over it. Note to self: stop mentioning my bum in this blog. No more bum talk.

So just the one new thing this week. It took so much time I didn’t really have time for anything else. Well, I did have time for other things, but I didn’t want to waste them all in the first few weeks and be struggling around week 16 for things to do.

Introspection time-out

So what did I learn from the challenge this week?

I learnt that my bum has a low pain threshold (there I go with the bum talk again. Last mention. I promise).

I learnt that it is harder to create a blog than I originally thought. The same could be said for other things in life. Like dieting. And surfing (waves not the internet).

I learnt a lot of cool new tricks like how to link things without typing in the entire web link. That will come in handy one day.

I learnt that I really need to stop being such a perfectionist with things. No one else would care or notice if I didn’t have everything perfectly aligned or if I repeated the same word twice. And if they did care, I wouldn’t know about it anyway so it wouldn’t really matter. If a tree falls in the wood and no one hears it, did it really fall (that is not the saying is it? I can’t remember for the life of me how that saying goes right now).

I learnt that blogging can be a good distraction from your woes. In fact, concentrating on something, anything, is a good way to get you through some of  life’s tougher times. It gives you something to focus on instead of worrying about things that you can’t change.

I also remembered how much I like writing for pleasure. I write a lot for work, and I do enjoy that; but there is something special about writing for the joy of it. I learnt that it is important to reconnect with those things that you enjoy but which you don’t do much anymore because you are too busy, or you can’t be bothered, or for any of those other reasons that we all use. Do it, take time today and reconnect with something that you like doing, just because you like doing it, not because you have to. You won’t regret it.

Over and out for this week.

Until next time…’Our life is a stage, a comedy; either learn to play and take it lightly, or bear its troubles patiently’.
 

Week 2: Bazinga!

So on to week 2 of the challenge. By day 4 on week 2 I still hadn’t come up with anything new to do. Uh oh, maybe I did use up all my firsts last week after all? Enter mum’s birthday. Excellent. A perfect opportunity to do something new  – make a birthday card for my mum. Luckily I already had one of those large coloured cardboard things that people use in school to make posters with (what are they called?). I could make mum a big card. With a hand-drawn star on the front, and on the inside a list of 50 things that my mum is (you know – loyal, compassionate, generous, mentor, loved), I have to say I was pretty proud of my creation. And my mum loved it. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Week 2 sorted.

Or so I thought. Getting up at 445am the next day I realised that I didn’t have my running shoes for bootcamp. Horror, what to do? Then I remembered we were bootcamping at the beach, and for the first time ever I could do a workout without shoes on. With trepidation I started my first run without shoes. The sand was freezing but I felt…free. I also felt out of breath, but it was bootcamp so that was to be expected.

After our warm-up run we were told that part of the workout for the morning would involve getting in the ocean up to our waists. Whoa, hang on there, I thought; I am in my gym kit. You know, ¾ trousers and an exercise shirt. And it is 15 degrees. You want me to go in the water? Are you out of your freaking mind? What am I doing here?

I watched as others ventured in. It didn’t look like a lot of fun, especially when they came out dripping and then had to lie down in the sand and do sit-ups. Wet and gritty at 6am – not my ideal start to the day. But my turn rolled around and never one to back away from a task I ventured into the ocean. To my amazement the water was warm and it was easier than running along the beach. Not so bad then. I am, however, still trying to forget the rolling around in the sand in my gym gear whilst dripping with salty sea water. For the purpose of exercise. Moving on…

2 new things done this week – bargain! But wait, there’s more.

There I was hanging out on a somewhat frustrating Saturday feeling a little sorry for myself (ok, feeling a lot sorry for myself), and I get an invite from my mum to attend a foreign film at the cinema as part of a travelling international film festival. I usually avoid any film with subtitles. Hello, if I wanted to read I would read a book. But I needed to get out of the house, and this was my best offer. Correction, my only offer. So off I went to see “Where do we go now?”, a movie which won an award at the Toronto film festival or so the poster told me. And I admit, I really enjoyed it, and the subtitles did not annoy me as much as I thought they would. The movie was a mix of melodrama, music and satire, and it was both heart-warming and challenging. All in all I would recommend this film to anyone, even with the subtitles.

The next day I woke up feeling good, and started off on a 15km walk (the start of my training for a 100km walking adventure that will form part of my 52 week challenge. More on that in future weeks). Half way into my walk I stumbled across a vintage car show. The cars looked fabulous and entry was free so I decided to take a look around. I spent a lovely 20 minutes wandering through rows of renovated old cars from the early 1920’s onward. One beautiful car I came across had its own story of being passed down from grandfather, to father, to the current owner with pictures through the years. It was a lovely read. And, wait for it, I realised I had never been to a vintage car show before – strike up one more new thing for my 52 week challenge!

After my lovely morning of walking and car browsing I decided it would be nice to spend the afternoon doing something fun with my niece. In a flash of inspiration inspired by the balloon I was holding at the time (yes there are a lot of random things lying around my house) I suggested we do paper mache. My niece readily agreed and then I struck upon a problem – I had no idea how to paper mache. Thank goodness for the internet. 10 minutes online and I was an expert on the art of sticking newspaper to objects for fun. My niece and I whiled away a lovely afternoon outside getting covered in gunk and covering inanimate objects with newspaper and home-made flour glue to create, well, arty things.

Bazinga – 5 new things for the week achieved. I am on a roll now. But as one friend warned – I better slow down or I will quickly run out of new things to do in this little town I am currently residing in. Time to get creative and think up some fun new ideas for next week…

Introspective time-out

So what have I learnt this week?

Firstly I have learnt that you don’t always need to plan for new things. Sometimes they just fall into your lap. This week it was a virtual downpour that required absolutely no planning on my behalf. This situation could be used to support the theory that what you think you create. By thinking about participating in new activities, I attracted new activities (or at the very least I saw opportunities for new activities all around me that I may not have seen otherwise).

I learnt that by doing new things I could make other people happy and feel good about themselves, and in turn that makes me feel happy and good about myself.

I learnt that exercising in tight ¾ trousers in the ocean and in the sand creates friction where you really don’t want it and which isn’t altogether pleasant. I don’t recommend it.

I learnt not to judge a book by its cover (or don’t judge a film just because it has subtitles).

I also learnt that a path to nowhere can lead to somewhere you have never been and had never thought to be, but which provides an enriching experience to add to your journey. (Yep, the car show taught me that – who knew?!).

I learnt that the internet is a treasure-trove of goodness. Ok, I already knew that, but I did learn a lot about paper mache. Much more than I think anyone ever needs to know. Do you know that they actually make proper art from newspaper and flour glue? And that one woman has dedicated over 50 years of her life to paper mache. Ah yes, I also re-learnt the old saying – ‘each to their own’…!

So until next time… ‘remember that life is about living, not just existing’.

The beautiful setting for bootcamp at the beach. Such a view does take a slight edge off the pain (but only slight!)

Week 1: Exercise, singing and lessons

My very first week of the challenge, and I really thought it was going to be hard to find something new to do. I was wrong.  First cab of the rank was a Zumba class. I had always wanted to give Zumba a go – shaking my booty for exercise has always sounded like a great way to get active and shift some weight. The class was conducted outdoors in the botanical gardens, and better yet, it was free! No paying $15 or getting sweaty inside a gym. Happy days. I had a lot of fun shaking my stuff in the botanical gardens, and the class left me feeling fabulous for the rest of the evening. Brilliant. And new item accomplished on day 2 of the challenge. High 5 for me.

The very next day I was asked to take part in a casual 5.8km run with a local running group. I checked my diary (I don’t know why, there isn’t a whole lot in it these days). Turns out I didn’t have plans, and it was a new experience for my list so I thought – why not give it a go?  And give it a go I surely did.  Note to self: always remember to warm up before running. My lordy did my calves hate me after the run. They protested for days afterward. Oh well, no pain no gain they say, and despite the pain I enjoyed the run. Chalk up experience 2 for the week.

The day after the run (etched in my mind as the day of the screaming calves) I was invited to partake in another physical activity – CrossFit. I agreed before looking up what CrossFit actually entailed. Hmmm, note to self: find out what you are signing up for BEFORE signing up for it! Reading the website I found the following quote:

CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.

Um, ok, great. That sounds fun and easy then. Not at all nervous about participating at all! I was feeling grateful that I had only signed up for the beginners class. And in all honesty, after doing bootcamp for the previous 12 weeks it really wasn’t all that hard. In fact, I (almost) whipped CrossFit’s butt. I did, however, get carpet burn on my bum from the class. Not the outcome I was hoping for really.

By now I was up to 3 new things in the space of 3 days when a fourth was lobbed my way. This time an invite to a singer I had never heard of in a bar I hadn’t been to since I was 18. I was missing going to gigs so I jumped at the opportunity. And I am glad I went. Great music and a fun night out with an old friend (sorry Ems, old as in long time, not old as in age).

All in all this was a great start to the challenge and a really enjoyable week. I did get to thinking, though, “did I just use up 3 weeks worth of new activities in one week?”

Introspection time-out – what did I learn this week from these new experiences?

I learnt that Zumba was a bit of fun and a good way to let out the inner goddess by shaking your (insert body part here) like you just don’t care.

I learnt the importance of warming up. Sometimes we want to skip the boring part and get straight to the main event. However, this can have effects later down the track that are not all that pleasant. Better to take the time at the beginning, than suffer the consequences of your inaction later. Such a deep meaning to get out of a run don’t you think?

I learnt that sometimes it is a good thing to not look at the fine print before signing up for something, or you could psyche yourself out of it and miss out on some thing new and fun. Now, if that something involves a lot of money, or a life-changing situation, then the fine print is something you definitely should read. But for the smaller things in life, we can waste so much time looking things up and hesitating that we don’t end up doing half the things we could do. Yes, I got all of this out of an invitation to, and participation in, a  CrossFit class – you can find meaning in almost anything!

I learnt that saying yes to something, even when you have no idea what that something might be or sound like (in this case Ash Grunwald), can turn out to be a lot of fun. It is all a matter of how you look at things in life. Approach life with a sense of fun, and life will be fun. Approach it with negativity, and negativity you will get.

And with that thought I will sign off for the week.

Until next time… ‘Live life with no regrets’.

Picture of the carpet in the gig venue – it was too good not to share!

Four w’s and an s

What #1

So what is this Challenge Changer (aka where do I grow from here) all about? In short, once a week for the next year I am committing to doing something that I have never done before. Big, small, fun, hard, easy; it really doesn’t matter. The key is that it has to be something that I have never done. Ever. That is at least 52 new things. 52 brand new things.

Sounds easy you say? Well this particular challenge brings with it three distinct obstacles for me:

(a)  I have done a ridiculous amount of things in my life already (see here), so finding new things every week may prove quite difficult (cue creativity);

(b)  I am currently residing in a small town which greatly limits my options for finding new things to do; and

(c)  As I am currently only working part-time in said small town my funds are limited, so the more expensive challenges are off the list (no jumping from outer space for me).

Why?

The long and the short of it – I started this challenge because I was (and am) bored. Bored to the brink of insanity. I need something to occupy my spare time, and to help me through the days when things seem just a little too difficult.

As my family and friends can attest, once I commit to something I follow it through. From deciding to compete in a triathlon (although I couldn’t swim, I didn’t own a bike, and I couldn’t run for more than 50 metres without turning blue from lack of oxygen) to meeting the Queen of England, if I want to do it I will work hard to make it happen, no matter what the task may be.

What #2

 So what do I hope to gain out of this?

At first I hoped just to find things to occupy my time and return some much-needed excitement to my life. I also hoped it would show me that there is more around to do then I thought, if only I looked for it.

What I didn’t expect was the lessons I would start to learn along the way. This has come as a great surprise. After the first week I realised that I could actually learn something from my new experiences; or at the very least reinforce something that I already knew but may have forgotten.  A challenge with actual meaning – go figure!

Who am I?

Don’t we all ask ourselves that question sometimes? Well I have answered it for you about me – check out the About Me link.

So…

And here I am, completing my challenge for week 3 – starting a blog. For the sake of completeness, I decided to go back and capture my first few weeks, rather than starting anew from week 3.

Since you have found your way here, I do hope you enjoy the read, and maybe feel inspired to get out and do something new today.

One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.