40 Before 40: Pandemic Edition

My 40th birthday is at the end of this year. At the end of 2019 I wrote a “40 before 40” list of goals to achieve before I reached that milestone. I blogged about that a little bit but never shared the list online

I did achieve three of the goals last year – I went to see Book of Mormon and did a photography course before the pandemic hit. I also manged to use my manual chair every day for over 40 days later in the year. Looking at the list as I write this, I could also be said to have done two more – I attempted to make button art at Christmas but it didn’t work out (I have plans for a different button art project) and whilst I didn’t make it to a writers retreat, I have done a couple of online retreats.

But there were several overnight trips in that 40, and even more one day trips. Most of those are currently out of reach. And to be completely honest I’m struggling with motivation to get things done at home at the moment. So a lot of the habit forming ones such as “write everyday for 40 days” feel unachieveable.

That said I didn’t want to give up on the idea of 40 before 40 entirely. So at the end of last year, I came up with two slightly simpler versions of the 40 before 40 goals.

I occasionally crochet squares for Woolly Hugs. This year I am aiming to crochet and send 40 of the 12 inch ones. I’ve already done two which will be in the post next week.

Also, for years I’ve been occasionally reading books from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die book (I have a list of all the books that have been in each edition and read from that – it’s about 1300 when you count removed books). This year I want to get back into it and read 40 books from the list. I’m in the middle of listening to the audiobook of The Circle by Dave Eggers from the list now.

If I could manage to do more of the “at home” or low key goals from my original list that would be good, but the crochet and the books are what I’m actively planning to do write now.

And perhaps at some point when life looks something a bit more like normal I might start a 101 in 1001 list with the tattered remains of my original 40 before 40 list. It’s quite a long time since I’ve done one of those…

2017, Thoughts and Such…

I’m not making any New Years Resolutions this year.  Nor am I setting a “focus word” or doing any of the other major new year, new me things that people post about on the Internet.

I am continuing to work towards the goals on my 101 in 1001 list (which I’ve made a conscious decision not to share here). I get on a lot better with that sort of goal lust than any other.  Or so experience has taught me.  Without checking the list as I can’t be bothered to get it from my bedroom I think I’ve completed 4, have 3 in vague states of planning and have just started another 1 today.   Oh and I looked into one goal but have had to put it on hold for this year.

I also have some very short term goals – this months is read more and write more.

At the moment 2017 looks uninteresting, I don’t anticipate any major changes in my life and don’t have anything hugely exciting planned to look forward to. Uninteresting is kinda good in a way but I’m hoping to get plans for fun things to lookforward   to booked in the next week or so.

I think the biggest thing I’d like for 2017 is for it to be better than 2016 was. But when I stop and properly think about it, as difficult as 2016 was with deaths and broken wheelchairs and other problems it was also a year of good times, brilliant experiences and a couple of new friends. And that’s what matters.

I posted this on facebook last night but think it’s worth sharing here too.  

2016 by the numbers:

6 deaths. And Milo had to be put to sleep

2 new wheelchairs

66 books read (or 21,265 pages)

5 trips to the cinema

I don’t know how many trips to theatre/musicals/comedy

2 West End Musicals

2 print and 1 online edition of Tenants Times

5 trips to Birmingham 

5 visits to London

1 day in Bournemouth

Countless trips to Oxford or Reading

All in all it’s been tricky at times but it’s been one good year.

Random Bullet Points of Life

For the small things in life worth mentioning but perhaps not worth an entry of their own

  • I have several part written blog entries and a few others that I’ve thought seriously about but not posted. These may or may not see the light of day.
  • This week is likely to be the last sail of the season.  They’ve not said as much but given how early we’ll have to be off the water I can’t see managing the week after.  I both am and am not ready for the season to be over.
  • I have some exciting plans for the off season
  • For the past few weeks I’ve been writing a new 101 in 1001 list.  It’s over four years since I last had an active 101 in 1001 list and I think this is a very different list to the ones I’ve had before.
  • Current powerchair mileage is roughly 135
  • I’ve been enjoying watching the paralympics but am sad they’re over and wishing I’d made the time to watch more.
  • Earlier this week I raised a small and tangentially access related niggle with someone. Good: they really got it. It’s not something that can do anything about but perhaps my raising it will prevent it happening again. Bad: I felt the need to start said conversation with “I know this is kinda bitchy but…”
  • A friend from uni and I went to see Mamma Mia the Musical in Birmingham. It was excellent. If we’d been able to go on the date we were originally supposed to (I changed the tickets as engineering works would have meant rail replacement to/from Leamington Spa) I would have tried to get tickets to go a second time. But unfortunately we went to the matinee on the last day.
  • There doesn’t seem to have been a lot of reading going on lately. Basically unless I’ve been on a train it’s unlikely I’ve been reading.

>101 in 1001 version 3 Item 28… #disability #standingframe #botox #mission101

>Use the standing frame everyday for a week

…has been completed!

I wanted to do this one now because having had more botox a few days before I wanted to make the most of it.

In someways using the frame everyday was easier than expected – i had wondered if it would get too painful after a few days running. And it didn’t although on one or two days it was sore when it wouldn’t usually be. At least one of those sore days was when my mum was helping me and she can’t get the straps as tight as my dad does so that’s possibly why.

Time was a bit of an issue though, working out when I could fit it in that someone else was also free. It wasn’t a big deal but it was nice on Wednesday to just decide at 5 that I would pop to the supermarket and not have to stop and go “oh yeah, no, standing at 5.45, can’t”

Achieving this goal felt really good and mum said she thinks my standing without the frame seems better. Although that said I did lose my balance when transferring on Thursday and need a little help getting in the car on the way home last night.

♥ Emma

>101 in 1001 version 3 Item 6…

>Get a new powerchair

…has been completed

Ok ok this has been completed for two weeks but I forgot it was on the list! I was just looking at the list for something else and noticed it.

Obviously I’ve already blogged about the chair and how great it is. I have more to write about it as well. The comments people make are one thing and a few things I’ve noticed, that sort of thing.

Talking about the 101 in 1001 project this time round I should probably admit that it’s not been something I’ve been paying too much attention too. I really do need to change that. It’s been a project I’ve been doing since 2006 I think and I do get a lot out of it. I’ve tried things, given up others and been places I might not otherwise have been. So I don’t want to give it up.

My new powerchair

Trying out the seat riser

And playing with the tilt in space

♥ Emma

>50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind: Question 2

>I recently came across 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind. I was very intrigued by the questions and decided to make answering them one of the goals on my current 101 in 1001 list. I’m going to try to answer one question a week.  You can find the other answers I’ve written so far here

2. Which is worse failing or never trying?

Failure isn’t important.  What’s worse here is not trying to do something for fear of failure.  That’s the short answer – you have to try.  If you don’t try you automatically fail and you do so worse than if you try and it doesn’t work out

Many times in my life I’ve been told I won’t be able to do X or I can’t do Y.  Because I’m disabled.  I’m different to everyone else and  obviously a girl in a wheelchair couldn’t do what everyone else is doing.  And obviously the people saying no couldn’t help but no better about my limitations than me.  And obviously they couldn’t possible adapt things.

A lot of these are things that I’ve then gone and found a way.  I might not have managed it all, it might have taken a lot of help and it might not have been the best ever but I did it in some way shape or form – my way.

Sometimes it’s gone very wrong and I’ve regretted all or part of it – my trip to Madrid a couple of years ago is a bit like that.  I tried it, I loved it and it mostly worked but with two falls in the three and a half days I was there (one of which left me sore for days and necessitated an ambulance being called although I thankfully avoided the trip to hospital) it’s very obvious that I should have looked further into access and adaptations so I could have avoided some of the problems.  I regret that part but I don’t regret the trip.  Looking back now if someone said “hey we’ll back it so you didn’t lose control and  flip your chair and land on your face and crack a tooth and have blood gushing from both sides of your nose and a black eye BUT it’ll mean you don’t go on the trip to Madrid at all” would I take them up on that offer?  No because the first fall was one of those incidental ones that have no effects and yes I have bad memories of the second and all that surrounded it but I have great memories of the rest of the trip and I had fun – even after that accident.  You’ve gotta take the good with the bad as they say.

Occasionally when people say I can’t do something and I think I can they will stop me from trying.  That is so, so frustrating.  It can turn out to be the right thing however – the time at uni I was sure there was a way I could try ice skating and my support worker basically said “no way you’ll break your arm” was definitely one of those times.  I’m equally sure that there are times when that was probably the wrong decision – but I’ll never actually know for sure!

On The Great British Bake Off recently one of the contestants was saying that she tells children (I think she’s a teacher of some sort?) that they can’t all be THE best but they can all try THEIR best.

If I try something and I fail I at least know I’ve done my best and given it a go.  If I refuse to try I’ve not done my best, I’ve not done anything.  And that contestant on the Great British Bake Off was right – you should try your best whenever possible.

Besides, as someone who grew up with a disability and who will be disabled all her life – if I didn’t try and fight like I do I wouldn’t be half an independant as I am now – or have done anything like everything I have.  Yes, failure sucks.  But trying is what matters.

>50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind – Question 1

>I recently came across 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind. I was very intrigued by the questions and decided to make answering them one of the goals on my current 101 in 1001 list. I’m going to try to answer one question a week.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

This is a tricky question and one of my least favourite on the list but I decided to work through the list in order so I’ll give it a shot.

I’m 29, I’ll be 30 in December.

I think in many ways growing up with a disability meant that I learned certain life lessons earlier than the majority of people do. For the most part I see this as a good thing. On the flip side having CP meant that some childhood and teenage experiences or perhaps rites of passage were out of my reach. Some I have now experienced and others I haven’t. This used to be something that really bothered me but it doesn’t as much now. Partially because I’ve come to realise that they aren’t all they are cracked up to be (in some cases) and that a lot of people are in similar positions to me.

But the question relates to age. I think the experiences I “missed out on” if you will made me younger than my age – or at least they did when I was a teenager. The thing is though, that’s part of being a teenager – firsts, lasts and bluster and bravado about what you have and haven’t done.

Equally learning the life lessons early – about rights, fairness, trust, access etc. Meant I grew up quicker than my peers. Because I knew about relying on people who were meant to help you and being let down and I knew I didn’t have an automatic right to do what everyone else was, that sort of thing.

I think as an adult those two things are less of an issue than they used to be. They’ve played a big role in making me who I am but now they’re in the past and rarely come out. I do think in someways I am very fucked up and this played a part in it. That said I said that to one of my besties last week and she said she didn’t think I’m at all fucked up. So I must be doing better than I realise. Or doing a really good job of hiding it.

I also think actual age becomes little more than a number once you get well into your twenties. I have friends who are younger than me by several years , ones who are older than my parents and everything in between. Obviously we have different life experiences to each other and bring different aspects to our interactions. But even if all of my friends were turning 30 in December like me that would still be true.

So if I didn’t know how old I am, what age would I say? Mid twenties. I like where I am in my life right now and for the most part I like who I am. That’ll do me.

Unless, of course, the question gave you a do over and let you go back to where and what you were at that age. In which case I’d choose 18 and just off to uni. Those years were very important to me – and a hell of a lot of fun!

>My third 101 in 1001 list

>The Challenge
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple challenges such as New Year’s resolutions or a ‘Bucket List’. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities.

1. Read Les Miserable by Victor Hugo
2. Try 5 new fruits
3. Watch all of Star Trek Voyager
4. Sail by myself in a regatta
5. Reread the Harry Potter books
6. Get a new powerchair
7. Write 1 million words
8. Sort my garden out once and for all.
9. Go a week without using social media
10. Exercise everyday for 3 weeks
11. Knit myself something to wear
12. Visit Ireland
13. Go to at least two Paralympic events
14. Knit all of the animals in my book
15. Read at least 20 books off of my TBR pile
16. Do a 1 day craft workshop for something I’ve never tried before
17. Dye my hair fuchsia and leave it like that for a week.
18. Write everyday for six weeks
19. Go to a Shakespeare play
20. Try 3 new vegetables
21. Customise an item of clothing
22. Read at least more books from my list
23. Do an indoor skydive
24. Speak at another event
25. Knit everyday for a month
26. Try porridge again
27. Try weetabix again
28. Use the standing frame everyday for a week
29 enter the writers forum short story competition 6 times
30 enter the writers forum poetry competition twice
31 do some housework everyday for a month
32. Lose 50lb before Ben and Geri’s wedding
33. Be up before 8 am everyday for two weeks
34. Improve my vocabulary
35. Use my manual chair more when out and about
36. Start a dream journal
37. Work my way through Writing Down The Bones and do the exercises
38. Go on a mini cruise
39. Go 3 weeks without eating in front of a screen or whilst reading
40. Go somewhere new for the day
41. Keep a food diary for six weeks
42. Try a new sport
43. Read a newspaper twice a week for a month
44. Paddle in the sea
45. Wear make up everyday for a month
46. Go 6 weeks without picking up lunch from Boswells or anywhere else
47. Go to a restaurant by myself
48. Share some of my writing on authonomy
49. Watch 10 old films
50. Go to the proms
51. Read 5 books by Charles Dickens
52. Ask a bookseller their favourite book and buy it even if it seems I’d hate it.
53. Read Emma by Jane Austen
54. Sail in the novice racing
55. Sail somewhere new
56. Go on the Eurostar
57. Try a personal shopper
58. Visit Banbury
59. Go to Paris
60. Learn to yoyo
61. Visit 3 new museums
62. Go to the Houses of Parliament
63. Try origami
64. Make a mobile
65. Go to a musical in London
66. Learn proper photo editing techniques
67. Go a month without taking any naps
68. Stop taking on others problems
69. Bake bread
70. Read we need to talk about Kevin
71. Start scrapbooking again
72. Watch some original Doctor Who
73. Don’t eat chicken for a week
74. Drink a smoothie everyday for a month
75. Eat fish every week for 3 months
76. Visit Japan
77. Set 1 day a week as Internet free day and stick to it for 4 months
78. Crochet 15 squares from my book.
79. Take part in Operation Beautiful
80. Do something cultural every month
81. Answer (and blog) the 50 questions that will free your mind.
82. Go swimming by myself again
83. Have a picnic in Hyde park
84. Go for a drink in the Randolph
85. Visit a country I’ve not been to before
86. Try wheelchair abseiling
87. Have a go at drop spinning
88. Read about philosophy
89. Visit the botanical gardens in Oxford
90. Grow potatoes
91. Only use cash to pay for things for a week
92. Work out a realistic budget and stick to it for 2 months
93. Catalogue my books
94. Try sailing a new type of boat
95. Visit Bletchley Park
96. Write a letter to myself to open in 10 years
97. See the Northern Lights
98. Make chocolate cake
99. Go on the open top bus tour of Oxford
100. Make a photo collage for my wall
101. On day 1001 publish a new 101 in 1001 list

>A complete list of the items I have completed on my 2nd 101 in 1001 list

>Today being day 1001 I’ve just sat down and worked out what’s completed.  I’ve completed 54 goals this time round which is slightly better than the first list which I completed 51 goals from.  Several I was very close to completing (more this time than last time I think) but didn’t get there.  Whilst I never aim to complete the entire list I do hope to better it with my third list (which I am very excited about).

Here are the goals I’ve completed

1. Read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
2 Read the first Swallows and Amazons book and the rest if they’re any good
3 Read War and Peace
4 Complete Thing a Day one year
6 Make a serious attempt at learning to Crochet
9 Complete NaBloPoMo
12 Go to bed before midnight every night for a month
13 Buy a new more appropriate life jacket
17 Take a crafty course at the arts centre
18 Enter some creative writing competitions
26 Read 250 new to me books during the 1001 days
28 Make a serious and continued effort to become A Writer
29 Go to see We Will Rock You
30 Join a Stitch n Bitch type group
31 Take meds everyday for six months
33 Read 100 books in a year
34 Spend at least one day a month away from the computer for a year
35 Spend at least one day a week away from the computer for a month
36 Try to have one day a week where I don’t eat in front of the computer for three months.
39 Go shopping at hobbycraft
40 Make more time for crafts
41 Drink more water
43 Sort the black hole known as “under the bed”
44 Reorganise all of the flat and possibly get some parts decorated.
45 Get blinds for my bedroom and possibly the lounge
46 Investigate getting a cleaner rather than carers
48 Get emotional/bored eating under better control
49 Find out from mum exactly how much stuff she has of mine from pre uni, get it back and sort it out
50 Have a go at mosaic making
51 Have a go at weaving
52 Read Catch 22
53 Stop stressing about finances so much.
55 at the end of the 1001 days donate £1 to charity for every goal not met
56 at the end of the 1001 days treat myself to something special. Budget – the number of goals met x £2 each
57 Start a memory/keepsake box
58 Go three weeks without eating chocolate or drinking coke
66 reconnect/get back in touch with old friends
72 create/buy notecards with some of my photos
75 go on a random day out
79 make more of an effort to recycle
80 Buy fewer new books (use the library, charity shops and borrow them from people instead)
81 come up with a funky and appropriate bag which can live on my powerchair safely and securely
82 make more of an effort to actually walk
83 sort my sofa out so I can use it more
84 Lose some weight
85 Buy new cloth pads
86 paint my nails more often
87 spend an entire day in my pyjamas
88 write about my school days
94 buy new bedding
96 visit the Ashmolean
98 remember and mark people’s birthdays
100 research family history/genalogy
101 on day 1001 publish a new 101 in 1001 list

>The final lot of finished goals for my second 101 in 1001 project

>I’ve blogged the majority of my 101 in 1001 achievements this time round.  These are the ones I’ve done but not blogged about.

40) Make more time for crafts

I’ve just started doing that in the past couple of weeks, mostly with knitting.  I am very much enjoying and hankering to get some other crafts out soon, probably scrapbooking.  But I must find some space first.  I need to work more on this but I’m calling it done.

41) Drink more water

That’s been done for a while, I generally drink a lot of water now.  It’s just boring to blog about!

49) Find out from mum exactly how much stuff she has of mine from pre uni, get it back and sort it out

Stalemate.  Whenever we’ve discussed this we’ve come to the point where I am convinced there is some of my stuff in my parents house but they don’t know where it is and think there can’t be.  We may never know for definite. Calling it done.

51) Have a go at weaving

I bought a cheapy childs weaving loom.  My attempts at weaving were a bit of a failure if I’m honest but I shall try again at some point.  I suspect half the problem is that lately all my craft time is in front of the tv or while listening to audiobooks/podcasts.  I need to concentrate on just it to start with me thinks.

53) Stop stressing about finances so much

I made a plan a few months ago and I’m slowly working my way through it.  It’s been delayed due to circumstances beyond my control (and which I really ought to chase) but I am worrying less, even if I could  still be managing a little better

55) At the end of the 1001 days donate £1 for every goal not met to charity

Realistically it wouldn’t be a great idea for me to make a big donation to charity right now.  But I donated a very large amount (the most I’ve ever done) to Bliss via my sister’s sponsorship for running the marathon earlier this year. So I’ll call that done but if I do find a spare tenner sometime soon I may well make a donation to LLTGL

56) at the end of the 1001 days treat myself to something special. Budget – the number of goals met x £2 each

OK so I’ve had it for a while and it cost way more than the budget set in this goal BUT I had this in mind when I bought my iPad in July.

79) Make more of an effort to recycle.

Yup. Doing that.  Thought I’d marked it off ages ago actually.

82) make more of an effort to actually walk

Slow progress on that one and more work needed but ever since I had the serial casting this summer I am trying to walk more

84) Lose some weight

Done but not very well.  I’m still a fair way down from my highest weight but a good chunk up from my most recent lowest weight (if that makes sense). A work in progress.

86) paint my nails more often

Yup. I quite often paint them now and I hardly ever used to (in recent years).  I have treated myself to several new ones in pretty colours and even have a spectacular green stain where I spilt the majority of a brand new bottle on the hall floor last week.  Plus, I am having loads of fun with the bottle of nail effects I bought a couple of weeks ago.

88) Write about my school days.

Another work in progress.  I’ve written quite a lot but I’ve not reached a point where I consider it finished or decided what I want to do with it (if anything) other than I don’t think I want to use it for this blog.  Harder than I expected.

98) Remember and mark people’s birthdays

I am doing much better at that and I have to say I like it.  Facebook is obviously a big help there but it’s not just that.

100) Research family history/genealogy

Made a start and found it really interesting.  Definitely want to do more but I think I need to find a bit more about the how to do it before trying again as I tied myself in knots a little and think I may have found the wrong person for my great grandfather.

101) on day 1001 publish a new 101 in 1001 list

Well, today is day 1001 and I’m putting the finishing touches to the new list.  It’ll be up tomorrow.