January has arrived, time to wipe the slate clean and adopt a ‘start as I mean to go on’ attitude.
This year I haven’t made resolutions. Every year I try, listing the usual ; lose weight, eat healthily, be a better me….those sort of really bland promises that get broken within a week. This year I’ve decided to change my thinking. I’m the kind of person who likes challenges. In fact, I seem to really quite enjoy making my life difficult and doing things the hard way. I’ll moan about it at the time, but eventually when I can reflect I can see how I survived and thrived!
So I’ve set myself 12 challenges, one for every month. Yes, I know. Setting ‘challenges’ sounds an awful lot like making ‘resolutions’. But not quite the same. I’m hoping the change in wording will tap in to my competitive streak, meaning I’m less likely to give up on them! Here they are;
A reading challenge –
My ‘to read’ pile stands as tall as I do…and then some. A lot of that pile is nature related. For the past 2 years I’ve taken part in the Mumsnet 50 book challenge, and I’ve never reached the full 50 in a year. Pre children this would have been an exceptionally achievable goal, but nowadays when I get the chance to read I end up falling asleep shortly after!. This year I’ll take on another book challenge, but time I’m aiming for a more realistic 2 books a month.
A writing challenge-
‘Other new features include Down on the Farm, which highlights the vibrancy and diversity of UK farming’ – Mark Whittley, editor, The Countryman.
Reconnecting with writing has helped soothe my mind. I need to do more of it-especially as I now have deadlines to stick to for actual publications! I can’t wait to see my writing in print in the Countryman magazine, look out for it in the April edition!
A Walking challenge-
I love walking. People always seem surprised when I saw I’m an outdoor type of person, mainly because I’m fat!! For some reason,for certain individuals anyway, fat people can’t possibly enjoy the great outdoors. I seriously beg to differ. I love being outdoors, it keeps me sane. It helps fight off the black dog days, days which trigger my retreat into my comfort zone (food & books) whilst simultaneously slipping into a sloth like state of torpor. This coming year I am going to challenge myself to walk myself back to health, both mental and physical.
Life behind a lens is fun. My challenge to myself is to improve my photography and learn new techniques. I’ve set up the #naturenuturegrow photo challenge on Instagram and facebook. The instructions are simple. I hope it will leave me with a photographic record of my year, with at least one photo for every day!
Explore the county-
Pembrokeshire is a big county with a wealth of outdoor environments. I have certain spots I love going to, but I think I need to challenge myself to find more of the ‘hidden gems’ across Pembrokeshire. Time to get off the beaten track and explore!
This past year has surprised me. I have learned a lot of things about myself that I didn’t know. I’ve found out that things I thought I couldn’t do (thanks to my anxiety disorder) I’m actually quite ok at. And I’ve learned that being ‘ok’ at things is just fine! Gardening is one of these things. I’ve grown from seed and rescued bedraggled plants from the sale rack at Homebase. This is a challenge I’m going to take forward into the new year. First challenge- grow a wildflower meadow this spring and summer!
A volunteer challenge-
Anxiety is a bitch. Excuse my language, but it really is. That gnawing self doubt, that lurks all day from the minute you open your eyes to the second you fall asleep. I’m stating to realise how much it has prevented me from doing. The idea of doing a group based activity where I had to actually interact with strangers would have made me physically sick up. In the past few months life is starting to get back on a more even keel. Now I’m quite looking forward to becoming part of something else, something bigger and something useful.
Challenge myself to connect more-
Over the past year I have come into contact with a lot of interesting people due to blogging. People, such as Dara , who writes a blog called Young Fermanagh Naturalist. He is really passionate about all aspects of nature, and writes eloquently and evocatively. Other inspiring nature bloggers include LJ, Nicola, Tony, Chris and Nicky and Joshua. I’ve also enjoyed linking up with a few bloggers, including the lovely Rosie over at A green and Rosie life , Tamsin and Nature mum. I have also met a few farming mummies too, like Emma , whose blogs are an excellent reminder that its not just me battling against a tide of children’s toys, muddy boots and straw. I’m really looking forward to connecting with more like minded individuals in the new year
Since having children I’ve found myself caring more about the impact I make on their future environment. So far I’ve made several small changes- cloth nappies, not using a microwave, using eco friendly cleaning products, avoiding micro beads. I’m not saying I’m going to become a hemp wearing willow weaving yurt dwelling nomad (unfortunately, although I do like a bit of willow weaving) but I hope we can continue to challenge ourselves to be a bit more eco friendly in the next few months. If you fancy joining me, check out the Going Green Linky for lots of inspiration on how you can live a cleaner, greener, more ethical life!
This challenge goes hand in hand with the previous. April will hopefully see the beginning of the dairy goat herd, meaning I no longer have to buy goats milk for the mini farmers. I’m also challenging myself to use more of our own fruit and veg, and adding value to our produce through preserving, baking and cheese
A Switch off and Connect challenge-
2016 saw me join the ‘dark side’. I became an iPhone addict, purchasing that little block of precious metals that now forms an extension of me. I find myself loving and loathing it in equal measure. This year I challenge myself to cut the umbilical cord between me and my phone, and be more present, especially when with the mini farmers.
A business challenge-
The arrival of the goats marked the beginning of a long path towards running our own farm shop, stocking our own cheeses and goat’s milk as well as other produce from local Pembrokeshire farmers.I think it’ll take longer than 12 months to get up and running but the challenge is there!
Hopefully 2017 will be a good year, full of lots of fun, good health and happiness. If I get to fulfil a few of these challenges, then even better.
If you are taking part in any challenges this year, let me know, I’d love to here about them.