Having been inspired by a television programme, I recently decided to write a ’40 before 40’ list of things that I would like to do or achieve over the next two years and four months (to be exact) before I hit that big ol’ milestone. I don’t have a problem with turning 40 (as yet, anyway!), but having created a bucket list in the past and finding that a long-term list is too easy for me to put off or forget about, I thought that something shorter-term might work better for me.
I found it pretty easy to come up with at least 30 things for my list straight off the top of my head, and for the rest I obtained inspiration via Google. It has ended up being a mix of exciting challenges and the more mundane but nevertheless important (to me) things that I have often thought I really want to do one day, but haven’t yet got round to organising. I won’t share the whole list now – instead I thought I would write a blog post about each one as I tick it off the list, as a way of keeping a record and incentivising me to work through it.
What I was surprised to realise when looking through the lists of others for inspiration was just how many things I have done – from big things like taking a gap year to travel solo, to challenges such as the London Moonwalk, to one-off occurrences like firing a gun (on a firing range in Vancouver, all very safe and above board!), and a myriad of things in between. So I also ended up writing a ‘things I have done’ list, which I think will be lovely to look back and reflect on in years to come.
So, back to item #1 and the purpose of this post…
The weekend before last I found myself in Machiel in northern France for the weekend celebrating a friend’s birthday at the family holiday home of another friend. Having written it just days beforehand, I shared my list with my fellow travellers and they suggested that I aim to tick the first one off that weekend. That’s encouragement for you! On the Saturday afternoon, we visited the village of Saint Valery-sur-Somme, a picturesque commune situated on the estuary at the mouth of the River Somme. After a pleasant wander around the medieval ramparts and the Gothic church at the top of the hill, we descended to the waterside where we followed a boardwalk past restaurants and pretty houses. As the weather was glorious we decided to sit outside and have a beer in the sunshine. Lots of people were eating moules mariniere, and someone suggested that we should order oysters with our lunch as it was one of the items on my list. I am not a huge lover of shellfish as I’m not keen on overly strong tasting fish, nor on the prospect of potential food poisoning, plus they just look revolting! But I wanted to say that I had at least tried one, so on the list it went.
I tried to put up a fight and delay the challenge, knowing that we may visit the local oyster festival back home later in the year, but the boys were having none of my excuses and the oysters were duly ordered. I was actually panicking at the prospect and felt rather sick and shaky about it…totally over reacting to what is, for most people I’m sure, not a big deal. I will say now that one of the items on my list is to do a skydive, and it did cross my mind that if I was panicking this much about eating an oyster, how on earth was I going to manage that one!? But that’s a worry for another day.
After a tutorial in the art of oyster eating from one of the lads, I dove in…sprinkled with a little salt and a generous amount of lemon juice, that slippery sucker was in my mouth, chewed once, and swallowed within a few short seconds. And…it wasn’t that bad at all! Fishy, salty, slimy, but over and done with quickly, and washing it down with some beer helped I’m sure. When I said it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be a disappointed groan resounded from my travel pals – who were secretly hoping I would gag or do something equally dramatic I’m sure! But I was just elated to get my 40 before 40 challenge off to a positive start.
At the time of writing, I have already ticked off another item from the list, as well as booked an exciting trip in June that will see another item completed, so it’s certainly keeping me busy. Already I am discovering that my self-imposed challenge is providing me with a sense of focus and purpose that I have been severely lacking in life in recent months (years), so I am really looking forward to seeing where it takes me.
For now, love and life challenges