Can you believe it – it’s the last day? Of my enormous assignment for myself, to do 101 challenges in 1001 days.
I feel a little bit giddy, to be honest.
Even though there are no bright lights and I have not (yet) sipped a single swig of champagne.
In fact, for all intents and purposes, it’s a normal day: the frost lies crisp and white upon the ground, the trees stand still in a windless sky, the computer softly buzzes while I write and simultaneously shovel copious amounts of chocolate into my mouth and the puppy and I argue over who is actually typing on the keyboard.
Ah, yes, the puppy… Our new family member… I’ll introduce you to her properly later.
There are no banners drooping in the still, crisp air; no party hats sitting on dandruff free hair (this is not an advertisement; but we do use Head and Shoulders); nor have there been any clinking glasses, well, unless you count the ones precariously balanced in the dishwasher this morning.
But worry not. For tonight I will celebrate on the last of our 33 date nights. I’ve already marked it off. I fear I may just celebrate a little too much to be allowed to be left in control of machinery and other potentially perilous objects.
So what am I celebrating, exactly?
- Becoming really good friends with Tilly Bud, The Laughing Housewife my partner
in crimeduring the challenge.
- The murder mystery dinner (we had such a lot of fun especially as I was picked out as having had an affair with the murderer, which led to me being, shockingly, pulled up to waltz with him, in front of an audience of over 100 people – all German people can waltz (except my husband, which is the main reason we fit together so perfectly – I can’t waltz either. I have an excuse though not being German), but not knowing I wasn’t an authentic German participant – I had to play an Italian – the poor unsuspecting bloke had no idea what he was in for i.e. severely trampled feet and a hysterically laughing dance partner (there were over 100 people watching)).
- Making sure every single month – without fail – that Reini and I went on a date and made time for each other.
- The Eurovision Party.
- Watching 101 films. Watching films as a challenge means you can indulge yourself whenever you want and you don’t start to feel like a couch potato.
- Writing the first draft of my first book in NaNoWriMo.
- Trying new restaurants. I liked this challenge so much, I upped it from 10 in the first year to a total of 30 and I’m happy to say that I achieved this goal.
- Going on a bonding trip with Lori to a spa!
- Going to a wild west show – I really didn’t expect it to be so much fun and all of the kids really loved it too.
- Going to Linderhof Castle – beautiful.
- Taking Akasha to ballet. I only planned, originally, to give her a bash at it but as it turns out – she’s a proper full on little ballerina!
- Planting bushes in the garden. I have actually managed to grow something. OK I have also managed to kill several things but I succeeded in growing a few bushes!!!! I suspect I have found attached to myself half a green thumb. It might not be exactly in the thumb position but who cares? It’s half a green thumb!!
- On the theme of planting – finally I have a longed for pampas grass in the middle of the garden. In the spirit of honesty – the first one did die. But I soldiered on replanting. The second one is still alive, but we’re not through her first winter yet.
- My 40th birthday party. I totally loved it. But I do admit, I did go a little bit mad in organizing it. What with fancy dress and preparing 1000s of canapés and an art area for the kids and stilts and space hoppers and a trampoline and bubbles and a piñata and and and… And then a massive storm came and excited the Scottish visitors and drowned and tore down both the marquee and the carefully arranged tables. Aden had a full meltdown because, apparently, I had promised in a true British optimistic, weather-woman spirit that, no, it would not rain, when questioned (without reading any meteorological charts or anything!) and in contrast it poured.
- Resolving the pet question. We bought a puppy. A half-baked thing to do considering I’d not long had my third burnout. But she’s also been my salvation: going for walks, having cuddles, throwing a ball and then attempting to wrestle it back out of her mouth again. On top of that, she’s been an incredible asset for each of the kids for which I will be eternally grateful.
- I finally found support for my family. I’ve saved the best until last haven’t I? Last month my son was granted a Sozialpädagoge. He’s highly trained to work with autistic and ADHD kids and comes to the house and takes Aden out, two afternoons a week, and undertakes different challenges with him on a one-on-one basis. At the moment he’s working on helping him concentrate and gain confidence through various activities like climbing, potholing, swimming, and geocaching. And the local council have offered to pay for this support for the next two years. Sensational!
I did not finish all of my challenges. I expected far too much of myself and I realized quite early on that my wish to complete the whole assignment was nowhere near attainable. But that was OK. The idea for me was to have goals to aim for. Considering my burnout and how long it’s taken me to recover I do feel that I’ve done quite well. Moreover, although it was added pressure, I also feel that the enterprise helped with my recovery because I had a huge selection of entertaining tasks that I had personally chosen, to focus on.
Saying that, there have also been a few ‘lowlights’.
- I wanted to turn our office into an inspiring place to work (instead of a dumping ground) – I did so, I even put plants in there. The plants, of course, died and the office now looks worse than it did before. :-(
- I didn’t write a letter to myself to be opened in 10 years. I wanted to do this around my 40th to open then on my 50th but around my 40th I was so busy hosting a Spanish student and going to choir concerts and ballet performances and doctors appointments and preparing 1000s of canapés and collecting egg boxes (for the art area of the party) and eating my way through shop bought puddings so I could reuse the little bowls they came in for my own canapés, that I just didn’t have time. I would have loved to have known what I would have said in that letter to myself.
- Reading three German novels. I failed here appallingly. I started one with my dictionary in hand and my
translatorhusband lying next to me but he ended up snoring and I ended up dropping the dictionary and following him to slumberland. N.B. Not snoring: the official line is I don’t snore!
- Losing control of the 101 list. I couldn’t seem to keep control of the numbers and the letters on my page. At times my list would merrily head towards 101, while at others it would stop counting at the end of one section and then restart at the start of the next from 1?!? Then at other times my list would utilize the letters of the alphabet abandoning any kind of numerical system whatsoever. At first, I was infuriated and spent hours – OK – minutes trying to fix it and shaking a frustrated fist at the screen and yelling at my page, comments like; “Why are you doing this to me?” and “Who gave this computer free will?” Then my husband pointed out that actually, I’m just completely untalented when it comes to dealing with html.
- Learning how to make a photobook. I attempted this challenge sometime after we returned from France. I thought it would be lovely to have our favourite French photos compiled into a book that could be kept to be poured through by grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. After quite a struggle (remember my html experience) I managed to effectively put a photobook together online. I wanted to order it and then I saw the price of the masterpiece I had created, had a small fit and then decided to opt for a different company and a less glossy keepsake. I deleted the file, as you do, and rushed off to pick up a small person from somewhere. Then my husband accidentally destroyed the contents of our computer including addresses, kept emails, MY BOOK (luckily I had gone against his wishes and printed the whole thing off), important work he had done and our photos which hadn’t yet been backed up. Oops!
- Archery. For some reason I had a romantic notion in my head of taking a bow and pointing an arrow and releasing it off into the atmosphere… It would spin and twirl and then land itself on the exact, precise, on the nose particle that I had, a few mere seconds before, deciphered. What actually happened was: the arrow dropped to my feet, I had trouble ‘springing’ the arrow, the arrow couldn’t even find the haystack and the kids then hit every single target. I have discovered I have a deep dislike for archery. I felt like I did that time at school when I accidentally threw the discus into my screaming team mates or those days I could not throw the javelin any further than a meter. Or those endless lessons when I spent the whole double period trying to just hit the damned shuttlecock with the badminton racket – I’d drop the shuttlecock down towards the racket which was placed directly underneath the-said-cock and then I’d hit up the way and I’d miss every single time. I scratched my head quite a lot in those days (but I’m fairly sure that’s not the reason I buy Head and Shoulders in bulk every time I see it on special offer).
So, the gist of the story is: I’ve really, really, really enjoyed the challenge. I’m a little bit sad that it’s over but on the other hand I’m extremely pleased that despite being ill, I’ve continued to plod on through.
Today is no exception, I’m planning to finish off my Freerice challenge: I’ve donated 84,680 grains of rice so far and I’m hoping to reach 100,000 by the end of the day. I’ll have click-ache!! Plus I’m off out with Reini for the last of our 33 scheduled ‘date nights’.
A lot can happen in 1001 days and some of the goals lose their appeal or their importance as life evolves. But there are a few tasks from my list that I would very much still like to do:
The New List?:
- Make soap with the kids (I’ve even bought the ingredients but the kids are rarely all here at the same time).
- Try belly dancing (I need to get fit first).
- Take a pottery course (hopefully my pot won’t slide to the ground like my arrow did ;-) ).
- Publish my book (I need to edit it first!).
- Write a children’s story.
- Cook a goose (my foodie section was my most successful section but I didn’t manage this one, I am a bit intimidated about cooking a goose properly, especially because I have no idea how it’s supposed to taste).
- Go to Insel Mainau.
- Go to Herrenchiemsee.
- Go to Poland (this year we went to Hungary instead but I would love to do a city break in Poland).
- Do car boot sales with the kids.
- Write up my recipes.
- Floating (I have vouchers now – I just haven’t been able to ‘fit it in’).
- And put up that picture frame – why have I not done this? I do admit I did have pictures printed off at one point, but in the wrong size, deary me).
Thank you so much for all of your support. Luckily I’d also gone against my husband’s wishes and periodically uploaded photos to Facebook so here are a few visual reminders of the last 1001 days/143 weeks/33 months. Enjoy!