It’s relatively early on New Year’s Day 2017; quiet in the house and a good moment for me to reflect on the year I have just left behind.
I partied hard last night… celebrating all that I achieved in 2016, but also glad to be at the end of that year and welcoming in a new one. Because I enter 2017 a very different person from the one who started 2016. 50 Shades of Brave has been a set of 50 challenges, yes… but it has been so much more than that too. I have grown, I have seen and done new things, I have had massive support from my friends and I have met some amazing people along the way. From something life-changing (my divorce) has come something life-changing.
Many people in the last few weeks have asked me which my favourite challenge was. Where do I start??!!
I guess the one I keep going back to is #11 Firewalk, which was an absolutely awesome experience and really the first time I realised that something amazing was happening to me as a person as I did these challenges. It was pretty damn good to raise money for such a fantastic cause too…
I also loved #18 Be a speaker at an event – not only the actual speaking, but hearing the other speakers and making new connections with fabulous people. #22 Go parasailing was amazing, everything about August 2016 was just brilliant, and by the time November hit I was on a roll …. dancing, walking, baking, fluting, hugging….
For those who don’t know, the list of challenges was actually longer than 50, to give me an opportunity to select things to do and hold some in reserve. It’s just as well, because there were a number of challenges that didn’t make the blog for various reasons…
‘Grow a Sunflower’, for example – Here it is… before the slugs … 😦 And ‘Send a message in a bottle / on a balloon’… I did, on May 30th, but it doesn’t make for a good blog because I haven’t had a reply… yet! I also challenged myself to ‘Contribute to a crowdfunding project’… which turned out to be donating to help a friend of mine travel to Mexico for some progressive MS treatment… I decided I didn’t want to devote a whole blog to the act of giving, since the more salient issue was actually the outcome for the receiver… Good luck Anne xx
Which leads me nicely on to reflections not just on the fun of my challenges, but also on the learning. From the outset (#1 Buy the Big Issue), I began to challenge my view of the world. I challenged myself both in what I did, and in what I thought too. #3… it was a bit of fun, but looking back I actually think to myself ‘their loss’ because I now believe so much more in myself and what I can offer! #13… learning through the pain of divorce and again in #25, which taught me that running away is sometimes not the answer, being still is; #14… challenging myself for the benefit of my son…;#24… facing a lifetime fear that I and my family and friends) would previously never have thought I could. And #41 Pay for someone’s shopping, which was probably the challenge that caused me to reflect most deeply on my values and my place in the world. I have also learned that the most amazing by-product of all of these challenges has been when people tell me that I’ve inspired them…. That, my friends, sends shivers down my spine.
I have learned so much about the value of the people in my life.
My kids…. well they have just been THE BEST companions on this journey. Georgia, Owen, your support has been unfailing. I am proud to be your Mum… and I still can’t quite believe that my 13 and 17 year old were prepared to stand with me in central Cardiff giving out hugs to strangers!!! You rock! I love you both so much.
My friends… all of you who raised your hands when I asked for help, company, support on challenges, and even put together a ‘challenge facilitation package’ for my 50th birthday… you make my world a better place and I love you for it. I’m not going to name all of you here, but I have named my ‘partners in crime’ for each challenge in the relevant blog. You are all magnificent.
Thank you to the organisations who have been involved in making the 50 Shades challenges happen: Perfumology, 42degrees coaching, IgniteCardiff, The Village Pottery, Chrome Roses Pole Dancing, Wood Park Off-Road… to name but a few. And the people I’ve met through those challenges who have encouraged, cajoled and supported me every step of the way. Without you, I couldn’t have done what I have done.
And so, I find myself looking forward to 2017 with a sense of great positivity, resolve and wonder at the blank canvas of 365 days before me. I found my spirit of adventure in 2016 and I don’t intend to leave it there! I’m looking forward to a slightly less frenzied pace to begin the year (as I read June’s blogs, I have to wonder why I didn’t get busier then instead of packing 12 challenges into the last two months!) but there is no doubt that I will be looking for ways to continue challenging myself this year. For a start, I have a few ‘catch-up’ challenges on the cards – things that didn’t quite come to fruition during the year, but which I still intend to do. I hope you stay with me for those.
I titled this blog ‘The End?’ And the question mark is all important here. Life has changed, and will continue to do so. As much as this is an end to what I set out to achieve, it’s also a beginning. So… let’s go…
Welcome 2017… I’ve been expecting you 🙂