To celebrate, yes celebrate, my 40th year on this beautiful planet of ours I’ve decided to push myself. My 40 before 40, however, isn’t intended to be a bucket list of uber-cool adventures, crammed into a crazily jam-packed 365 days. No, my 40 before 40 needs to take account of my job and everything else that real life actually throws at you. As such, my 40 before 40 will concentrate on having lots of little experiences that all, when stacked together, further promote my own and my family’s happiness and contentedness.
Why now though? Well, I remember watching Peter Pan as a child, blissfully unaware of what it would mean never to grow up. Those childhood days were long, fun-filled and worriless. I remember hitting my twenties with verve and vigour, excited at the prospect of now being a real grown up – whatever that actually means. Only now can I look back on my naïve younger self and realise that being preoccupied by numbers rather than experiences wasn’t the route to genuine happiness. Reaching my thirties resulted in a (fairly) mild meltdown – an age-related crisis – a fleeting but taxing head shattering, which left me shaking and with cold sweatsswearing never again to face the world with my aging complexion and, as I saw it, failing body. Please God…why me? WHYYYYY? Basically, as far as reaching 30 was concerned, life, as I knew it, was over.
Or so I thought. You see, the further that I’ve progressed through my thirties, the more and more I’ve become comfortable and confident with my age. Where I once worried about getting old and becoming less of the person that I once was, I now realise that, through age and experience, I’m unquestionably a more rounded person with more interests, hobbies and love in my life than ever before. So, with that in mind, and in order to further pursue my positive embracement of the aging process, I’ve decided to challenge myself to achieve and experience 40 things in my 40th year: 40 before 40, so to speak.
When I first pondered the idea of doing 40 before 40, I realised, almost immediately, that I wanted this to encompass a whole host of ideas and experiences from all areas of my life. Some will be entirely new challenges – things that I’ve often flirted with theoretically but never actually pulled my finger out enough to action and do anything about.
This group will include a combination of brand new (to me) skills to acquire, places to visit and experiences to have. Other inclusions on my 40 before 40 list are things that I (or we as a family) toy with occasionally, but want to build on because doing them more often, or with greater resolve, will bring us greater happiness in the long run. Some of these have often had time issues relating to them so will require me to seriously rejig and prioritise everything that I am consumed by. Only by doing this will I ever be able to sustain things and get the most out of them.
The last group of inclusions are things that, at some point in my life, have fallen away and I now want to be reconciled with. I seem to remember a time (mostly before kids) when I had time to idly loiter, for instance. Now, I’m not saying that I have any interest in sitting on other people’s garden walls waiting and wonderingjust because I can, like I did when I was a kid, but you get the idea. So, without further ado, here’s the first instalment: 10 things off my 40 before 40 bucket list…
Paddle a river from source to sea
Having watched the amazing Yukon Assignment film at the South West Outdoor Festival in October, I’m now transfixed by river journeys. Now, limited resources, time and experience mean that, for now at least, the Yukon is well out of reach. But I am blessed to be surrounded by a selection of rivers in North Wales and the surrounding areas that could, realistically, give me the opportunity to achieve this feat. The idea would be to canoe, carrying all of my/our belongings along the entire length that a particular river runs. The Dee, for instance, which is my nearest river, has a length of 68 miles travelling from Snowdonia to the estuary between north East Wales and the Wirral Peninsula.
Ski as a Family
2019 is the year that I want to take the kids skiing abroad. Although I ski and Nat can, our eldest toddler has only had a handful of lessons in this country and our youngest, at 3 years old, hasn’t had any. However, I want this to be the year that we introduce them to this amazing winter snow sport properly and hopefully make it a bit of a family tradition.
It may sound strange as an English teacher, but I want to read more this year. Although I get through oodles and oodles of texts at work, reading for myself and my own enjoyment, particularly since we’ve had the kids, has taken a bit of a backseat. I want to rekindle my love for autobiographies and literary travel writing and maybe even reread some of the novels and plays that captivated me during my uni days, but which have sadly long been forgotten about.
Perfect some Tagine Cooking Recipes
Having wanted a tagine for ages and finally getting one for Christmas, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve only used it once. I genuinely like cooking: it relaxes me when I get in from work and means that we’re not forever eating warmed-up, supermarket ready meals that lack taste and nutritional value. So, armed with a tagine cookbook (c’mon, us males love some sort of instruction manual that we can then begin to slowly disagree with), I’m hoping to learn, adapt and perfect a range of meals fit for me, Nat and the kids to drool over.
Go Wild Swimming
I keep saying it and keep saying, but apart from a few little opportunistic dips when I’m wild camping or walking in coastal areas, this is something that I keep putting off. I don’t even know why – apart from time, possibly. This year is going to be the year that I build on the opportunistic dips and actually plan, specifically, to go wild swimming. People who I know do it regularly absolutely love it. I’m out of excuses so who’s joining me?
Actually finish a boxset
Nat and I both seem to have commitment issues when it comes to TV. We have started pretty much every popular boxset TV series under the sun but never, ever, even come close to finishing one. It’s genuinely weird: we really like the ones that we watch. However, at some point a switch has flicked in our heads and we’ve decided that we simply can’t take any more. From 24 to Lost, Breaking Bad to Sons of Anarchy (which we only watched 3 episodes of!), we seem incapable of finishing any of them. I think Breaking Bad currently holds the record having got us all the way to season 3 before we gave up. Come on…we can do this!
Be more consistent with my running
I’m an all or nothing kind of guy. When I’m training, I train properly. I leave nothing out there, so to speak. However, once I’ve finished training for a specific run or event, my interest and fitness drops off. This can last 2, 3 even 4 months in some cases, and the result is that I find it incredibly difficult to both motivate myself to get going again and get my fitness levels up to previous standards. This year I’m planning to be different – more consistent. I’ve started a Sunday morning trail running social group to this end. This way I get to run with other people (something I rarely do), which will, fingers crossed, keep me more motivated to run week in, week out.
Play more Board Games
We have a few board games at home but very rarely play them. Sometimes it’s rather too easy to turn on that TV box in the evening after a long day, sink into the sofa and slob. Every time we play a board game, however, we have a laugh. I remember what a furiously bad loser my wife is and she remembers what a cheat I am. Either way, it beats sitting in silence every night.
Sort the garage out
Whether we’re talking about our previous house or our new house, the garage has always been an absolute tip. This year I have a dream. A dream where my two children can live in a house with a garage that they can walk through. A garage that will be judged by the organisation of it storage shelves and containers rather than by the amount of junk it hoards. Let’s do this!
Spend New Year in a foreign Country
I’m not sure about you, but for me, after the razzmatazz of Christmas; New Year has always been a bit of a damp squib. We build it up, look forward to it only for it to pass by without anything remarkable having occurred. I can remember literally only a couple of New Year’s ever, and even they weren’t the stuff of legend. As such, I want 2019 to be the year where we go on holiday for New Year toexperience it from another perspective.
So, that’s the first 10 of my 40 before 40 list sorted. If you’ve got any ideas of your own that I could steal, please let me know.