In part one of my 40 before 40 challenge, I introduced the first ten things that I aim to achieve or experience this year, my 40thon Planet Earth. Having explained how, rather than feeling imprisoned by age, I have been set free by it, here’s the next instalment of 10 things that will lead to more happiness for myself and my family from this point forward…
Learn a Foreign Language
Despite now being a teacher myself, I wasn’t always the model pupil in school, and messing around in foreign language lessons was a particular speciality of mine. As such, apart from being able to tell people that I’m eleven years old in German (ich bin elf Jahre alt) – a clear indication of exactly when I stopped paying attention – my grasp of foreign languages is pitiful. It’s also one of my biggest regrets. We love travelling and it causes me genuine embarrassment when I’m unable to converse in even the simplest of manners. Consequently, look out French/Spanish/Italian et al…here I come.
Become a Proficient Canoeist
Although I’ve paddled a canoe here and there, it was a trip that I took with a mate at the back end of 2018 that made me want to really progress my skills and be able to take on bigger and better adventures. We paddled about 18 miles down the River Dee in North Wales, including a few rapids, but we were at the very edge of our competence. If I’m going to take my water-based adventures to the next level, I’m going to need some help. So, I’m going to get some coaching.
Develop my Handyman skills
For those of you who know me personally, you’ll know what an absolute klutz I am when it comes to anything remotely practical around the home. To compound matters, I have never taken any interest whatsoever in getting better. “Can’t do, won’t do” has always been my motto. Well, this year we need a patio laying in the back garden and I’m challenging myself to get involved. I’ll enlist help, of course, but I’ll be on the playing field rather than the side-lines.
Regular Live Video Chats
I’ve mulled over this idea previously, but told myself I was too busy to schedule it. In fact, I’ve realised that I just felt a bit weird about sitting down and chatting to a camera. I’m not even sure why. As a teacher, I talk to teenagers every day of my working life and have, more recently, through the blog, been speaking at outdoor events and festivals. However, to have no audience, no facial expressions or feedback to feed off has, until now, put me off. That’s going to change. I’ve got what I think is a great idea in the pipeline for regular video chats, so watch this space (or our social media accounts, to be more precise)…
Run 100km Non-stop
Last year I trained ridiculously hard to take part in my first ultra-marathon only to get injured a couple of weeks before the big day. That back injury laid me up for quite some time and it’s only really now, in the new year, that I’ve been able to start running on a more regular basis. So, as you can imagine, I’m desperate to complete some unfinished business. I’m yet to enrol in an organised event and haven’t actually ruled out just running my own route and asking other people to join me at various stages for a bit of support. Either way, 2019 will be the year that I finally run 100km.
Eat in a Michelin Starred Restaurant
I love food and, if you read part one of this 40 before 40 Challenge, you’ll know that I love cooking. Over the years we’ve eaten in some nice restaurants, both in the UK and abroad. However, I am yet to sample the delights of a Michelin starred kitchen and chef. I realise that this is,potentially, a very short-lived experience that requires pretty deep pockets. As such, I’m hoping the treat will be on my wife.
Organise More Environmental Clean-up Days
Although sporadically we’ll take our own kids litter picking in our local area, we haven’t really done it in an organised fashion or on a very large scale. We did do a very small scale beach clean-up with another family last year but, again, it was all very low key. So, for one of my 40 before 40 challenges this year, I want to help raise the profile of plastic pollution and the like by organising more regular clean-ups that we will document and post on social media in order to encourage others to do the same. Let’s face it, the more of us that are shouting about the issue, the smaller the minority will feel when they consider what to do with that bottle top, cigarette end or fishing line.
Reduce our Food Waste
Talking of waste and pollution, one thing that I’ve noticed about us as a family is the amount of food waste that we chuck in the green food waste recycling caddy on a weekly basis. It’s odd, because we seem to be pretty good at minimising our other waste and have always recycled very efficiently. However, our green caddy is always full on bin collection day. Conscious of how intensive some farming methods are on our planet, and of the fact that other people in other parts of the UK and the world are far less fortunate than us, and do not have the financial, social or environmental conditions to provide themselves with a steady stream of fresh food; we are going to do our bit to reduce our impact.
Eat Less Red and Processed Meat
Having had a little bit of a health scare pretty recently has actually done me the world of good in many ways. For starters, it has forced me to reflect upon my diet. This is something that I’ve never really done before, coming from the mind-set of ‘well, if I stay active and exercise enough I can eat what I want, surely?’. Wrong. The more and more research that I’ve done, the more I now see that my diet is an essential pathway to overall health and wellbeing. As such, as much as I love burgers, steak, sausages and the like, I’m going to strive for at least one day a week where none of them pass my lips. Something that we’ve already done is to reintroduce more fish into our diets and I, for one, am loving it.
Drink Less Coffee
A little bit like the one above, I’m also in the process of reducing my caffeine intake. This, almost exclusively, means drinking less coffee. I drink so much of the stuff in work that I’ve been known to get the caffeine jitters on more than one occasion. Consequently, in its place comes more water and some peppermint and green tea. I’ve only done it now for a couple of weeks but, already, I feel better.