Monday, January 20, 2014

January blues, Resolutions and Bucket Lists

So the dreary grey of January has descended upon us. People on the tube look even more depressed than usual, and the next holiday seems an awfully long way away.

And as if to subliminally tell me that I should be in the same mood, I've spent the last two weeks or so having my butt kicked by some kind of gross virus.

A consequence of that has been that my social life nosedived for a little while, but not to be deterred I attempted to use my time in bed to my advantage. I’ve spent a large portion of January mulling over this idea of resolutions, and on a larger scale ‘Bucket Lists’. For those of you who don’t know, a bucket list is a personal list people make of the top things they want to do before they die. It’s normally 100 different things so it does take quite a lot of work and effort. Now before you worry readers, I haven’t gone that far (yet)…but I have mentioned it for a specific reason.

Bucket Lists and New Years resolutions are slightly different concepts, but they are quite often greeted with a similar snort of derision and a wry smile when discussed. Although I endeavor to be an optimist and a ‘dreamer’ I’ll concede that in reality a large proportion of resolutions will fall short, and I’m sure a number of boxes will be left un-ticked on people’s bucket lists. With that clear though, why do we insist on looking at these concepts as nothing more than pipe dreams or some sort of life crisis? Have our lives shackled us to the point that anything out of the ordinary is unobtainable or unrealistic? One friend of mine went as far as to say that she didn’t make any New Years resolutions simply because she already knew she wouldn’t follow through with any of them.

I personally could never live my life with that kind of outlook, but granted some people are just inherently pessimistic. That isn’t the problem though, it’s the total apathy a lot of people have towards broadening their horizons. 

Maybe I’m on my own in this and at the risk of sounding horribly clich├ęd, but the opportunities this world has to offer are endless and not only that, there are so many personal goals that each and everyone of us can achieve. Scrap that obvious image of jumping out of a plane from your mind; I’m talking about any type of goal you want. Even if it’s something mundane, it’s still something that you may have harbored a desire for, anything from getting a pet, to getting in shape, to saying ‘I love you’ more to the people you care about.

Once you’ve conquered some smaller goals, then set yourself more challenging ones. Move abroad and experience a different culture. Sack in a job if you hate it and pursue something that you love. Compete in an Ironman. Whatever it is, it really doesn’t matter. Even if you are a pessimist, that’s ok, but just give something a go. Break the mould and open yourself up to new experiences and new memories. Above all, anything is better than pure apathy. To be scared or to lack belief is ok, because you’ve already taken the first and biggest step in taking the challenge on.

So not to be labeled as a hypocrite, while I was lying in bed sporting some very stuffy sinuses, one thumping headache and with the traditional January blues, I thought about what I wanted to take on as a challenge. I decided I wanted to challenge myself to get fit and to motivate myself I decided to sign up for something slightly daunting…a 10k Assault Course run. 

So now I’m steeling myself to be covered in mud, drenched in ice-cold water, burnt, cut and electrocuted around a 10-kilometre course. And as if that wasn’t enough I decided to try and do two in 2 consecutive weekends. A quick thank you to Jonathan Friedman for being as crazy as me and joining me on this!

But this is just me, and my weird obsessions with challenging myself physically and mentally. What about you? Don’t be that apathetic person who reads this, thinks about it for a minute and then glides serenely back into a comfort zone devoid of any real heart stopping experiences. Challenge the monotony, I dare you. Tick off the first box on your bucket list, complete your first resolution…because once you do you’ll soon see that life just becomes that little bit more breathtaking.


Friday, January 3, 2014

A week of bizarre occurences

The period of time between Christmas Day and New Years Day is somewhat bizarre in my opinion. It's filled with an extraordinary amount of leftover food, a large amount of alcohol and for 95% of people a work ethic that, if discovered the other 11 months and 3 weeks of the year, would leave you looking for another job and signing on to the dole. 

No-one really seems to know what to do with themselves during this time. And so, to help create more madness we have the ever indulgent and slightly ludicrous Boxing Day sales. Now don't get me wrong, I understand the premise, but I just cannot for the life of me fathom why people put themselves through this shopping gauntlet. Suzanne Collins, I'm certain, was using the Boxing Day sales as the basis for her Hunger Games franchise. A bloodthirsty sport, with little room for remorse or compassion, people in one day turn from selfless and generous human beings to discount price obsessed zombies. 

Why on earth do people sacrifice more of their time off work to battle the queues and store assistants caked in makeup (again akin to the Hunger Games if you have seen either of the  movies). The shopping gauntlet is now undertaken over the Christmas period, and for the January sales as well, surely we can find better things to do with our time on this strange week?

My week between Christmas Day and New Years Eve started with a family visit to London's West End and a genuinely hilarious production of Jeeves and Wooster (from P.G. Wodehouse's iconic double act). 

Stephen Mangan and Matthew MacFadyen are fantastic as the upper class buffoon Wooster and his faithful and ever patient butler Jeeves. Slapstick comedy and a theatre setting mesh incredibly well in this memorable piece and I couldn't recommend this production highly enough. A visit to Joe Allen's, a restaurant in the West End steeped in theatrical history with a classic American feel polished off a great night. 

From the London West End I headed up north to Newcastle for a reunion with my Agassiz Village family. Never to do things quietly, or sensibly for that matter, a week of drinking, partying and general stupidity ensued with friends from far and wide. Anchorman 2 was much enjoyed after many long months of waiting (yes I am a big Anchorman/Will Ferrell fan) and I rediscovered for the 100th time just how bad I am at bowling! New Years Eve was celebrated with a large amount of alcohol, a number of drinking games and a large amount of singing and hugging.

For a week that is most definitely out of the ordinary in every way, it can be a fantastic opportunity to catch up with old friends and family and eat & drink until your heart is content. If you aren't proactive, however, then be careful. You might resort to duelling with the shopping addicts of the high street in a bid to find something entertaining and productive to do with your time...and as we've established there are many better avenues to go down.

Happy New Year to you all!


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