50 Before 50

It’s been a long time. It’s weeks since I arrived back from my cycling adventure of a lifetime but it’s been a surreal time. On the one hand, I’ve been constantly greeted by people congratulating me and saying I should be proud of myself. I am, truly. I think it is completely amazing that I not only managed to complete the trek but that I was able to raise so much money into the bargain. And I fell in love with cycling! I would never have imagined that would ever have happened to lazy old me but it did and I am so grateful. I have even celebrated with buying an e-bike on which to commute to work and do some of the shorter trips I usually take in the car. My ride home from the bike shop and my subsequent return trip to work a few days later were both scary and exhilarating at the same time. I still need to get used to cycling with traffic and in the dark and I have yet to refine my route but it has been brilliant. Special thanks go to Maurice at the Electric Bicycle Hub who was so helpful and to my mate Jon who put me in touch with them even though he has never cycled at all!

On the other hand, there is a huge part of me that wishes I could do the Sri Lanka cycle challenge all over again and pay more attention as some of the details of the places, the people, the sights, the food, the smells and so on are already fading. Then there is the part of me that really wants to do it all again because to some extent it was escapism and now it is over I feel a big hole in my life. And that big hole means I have time on my hands to mull things over, dwell on Tonya not being here any more, think about my life’s failings and generally be a misery to all those around me. I have had days at work where it has just been easier to state up front that I am feeling grumpy so that people have no expectations of anything else. None of this has been helped by my having a lot to do – at work, at home, everywhere around me. But, this is not me. I’m not this miserable, grumpy, depressive sort of person. I’m an optimist and I love that. So, it’s time to turn it all around. I truly believe that happy people are productive people and that you are the controller of your own destiny. While I’ve sat here in recent weeks bemoaning all these things I need to do, I could have actually been getting them done! So, in 2018 school language, it’s time for a reset.

Yesterday I met with a friend and colleague who is a very busy junior doctor. She apologised up front for not getting a research project finished which we are doing together. But her job is as busy as mine and she has been juggling loads of balls at work and in her life outside medicine. As we sat chatting, she reminded me of a challenge she had set herself in which she was going to do 30 special things in her 30th year. Her 30th birthday is nearly upon her and she has just a few things left to do from the list. One of them is to write a letter to our Prime Minister – how cool is that? Another is to drink a $100 bottle of wine. My advice here would be to drink the wine before writing the letter. Or should that be the other way around? She’s already completed things like sleeping in a fort, sampling all the drinks on the menu at her local cafe and having a spa day. So this all got me thinking – I could set myself a similar challenge.

In two years’ time I shall be 50 years old. It is so difficult to believe that my life keeps moving on at such a pace. Sometimes I feel that someone has pressed the fast forward button. How on earth did I get to almost 50 without really noticing? It sounds so old! I don’t feel 50. I don’t feel I look 50. While it could be seen as thoroughly depressing at face value why not just turn it all around? Embrace it. Celebrate it. Shout it from the rooftops. So, I am going to do a 50 Before 50 challenge. As 50 is significantly bigger than 30, I reckon it will take me two years so let’s make a start. I’ve thought hard about the list. I want to do things that take me out of my comfort zone; things that challenge both my mind and body; big things and little things; things that will benefit others while I have fun; scary things; fun things; odd and unusual things; things that I’ve wanted to do but haven’t got around to doing.

So here it is – my List. I’ve always loved a good list and so did my good mate Tonya. I have made this list for me, but recognised her in a few of the goals because we would have been 50 a few months apart and I’ve no doubt if she’d still been around that we would have done some of these things together. Some of the things are pure self-indulgence just for me but many of the things on the list are intended to be done with other people. I will be looking for recruits (or shall I say victims) to help me in these quests! Yes, there are 51 things on the list on purpose, in case one of them is not possible. They are in random order. Some of them need careful planning whereas others will be able to be done spontaneously. I am going to have just the best time ticking them off over the next couple of years. Some of the individual items themselves involve doing 50 things and I’ve not yet refined all of those lists completely so there is still some chance for suggestions. For example, I will definitely be looking for nominations for 50 charities to whom to make a donation.

As I cut and paste the list here, I do so with a huge sense of excitement. This is probably the first challenge I’ve set and designed myself. That’s not to say I didn’t take advice and some of the best suggestions came from my posse of friends and family. I can’t wait to get on now with tackling this list. I can’t wait to take the photos and tell the tales. I know you’ll all be egging me on just the same as always and it goes without saying that we’ll have a complete blast!

Finally, to Sonja – thank you so much for inspiring me. I feel it might be a turning point for me. I’ve bought you that $100 bottle of wine. You deserve it.

Enjoy x

50 Before 50

  1. Drink 50 white wines and 50 red wines from 50 different NZ vineyards
  2. Dine at all 50 restaurants on Metro magazine’s Top 50 Auckland restaurants list
  3. Visit 50 places or do 50 things I’ve never been to or done in NZ
  4. Go to a yoga class
  5. Cook 50 new recipes from my cookbooks
  6. Watch 50 films I haven’t seen before*
  7. Sign up as an Uber driver
  8. Get my body painted and walk down the street
  9. Tell 50 people I love them
  10. Carry out 50 random acts of kindness*
  11. Find 50 people called Helen Evans and send them all birthday cards
  12. Give $50 each to 50 different charities*
  13. Watch 50 sunrises
  14. Make an artwork out of 50 photographs of me, one from each year
  15. Knit a piece of tree art
  16. Climb a tree
  17. Make a piece of pottery
  18. Have a bra made for me
  19. Design a pair of shoes
  20. Sleep under the stars
  21. Hold a birthday party for 50 disadvantaged children
  22. Go skinny dipping
  23. Take part in a boxing match
  24. Donate a kidney
  25. Have a breast reduction
  26. Climb Macchu Pichu
  27. Go to Lapland
  28. Have a surfing lesson
  29. Try stand-up paddle boarding
  30. Have a scuba diving lesson
  31. Fly a helicopter or plane
  32. Go abseiling
  33. Paint my nails 50 different colours
  34. Do the Oxfam half trail walker (50km)
  35. Go clay pigeon shooting
  36. Learn to say Happy Birthday in 50 languages*
  37. Hold a comedy show
  38. Go to Antarctica
  39. Visit a Welsh tea room in Patagonia
  40. Find 50 people born on the same day as me and send them all birthday cards
  41. Go on an Air NZ mystery trip
  42. Hold a murder mystery party
  43. Get to 50-something kg
  44. Be a nude model for a life drawing class
  45. Build a den in my living room and hold a sleepover
  46. Eat 50 different cheeses*
  47. Have a professional photo shoot
  48. Drive a race car around Hampton Downs racecourse
  49. Make a cushion from tumble dryer fluff and recycled underwear
  50. Swim in the sea 50 times*
  51. Serve Christmas lunch at the Auckland City Mission

*suggestions welcomed!

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