About simonjohnparkin

A graphic designer from Brighton, UK who likes walking an' that

30th Challenge complete

It was last year that I first mentioned my 40 challenges to my friend Karen. She suggested that she could give me a challenge. We had just been talking about how excrutiating I would find some of the hippy workshops that she goes to, shamanic journeys, reiki healings and the like. So that was of course what she thought would be a good challenge for me. My partner and I moved away from Karen so it made it difficult for us to attend any workshops. Instead she challenged me to do something she had been doing online: a 21 day gratitude challenge on Facebook. Every day I had to post three things that I was grateful for that day on The Gratitude Club Facebook group.

I did it. It was tough. On some days I had just done the same that I do every day. Get up, make porridge, go upstairs to work, walk the dog at lunchtime, go back to work, make dinner, put my boy to bed, watch crap on telly, go to bed, repeat. But having to find things that I was grateful for kind of made some bits of the day sparkle. The walk with my dog was a memorable little jaunt with my best friend. Putting Elliott to bed was a fun little moment having a splash in the bath. Life is all about moments after all.

I didn’t like posting my thanks on a public website though. It seemed smug sometimes. On a site that’s about presenting a public profile it didn’t seem balanced showing a purely positive perspective when sometimes you’d had a crap day. Life’s not all roses, nor is it meant to be. For that reason, I don’t think I would carry on doing this practice. It was certainly enlightening though.

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28th Challenge complete

Bossington BeachHow much does it take to organise a beach clean-up? Bring along a couple of bin bags? Whoever was meant to be organising the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean at Bossington Beach, just down the road from Minehead, couldn’t even do that. About 10 volunteers turned up – including me so that I could tick off my ‘volunteer’ challenge – but no organiser. We stood around for a minute or two and then decided to just start collecting rubbish ourselves.

My dog Juju can’t walk very far now so she just sat down on the rocks and refused to go any further while I wombled up the beach picking up the odd bit of litter. I didn’t have a plastic bag so I had to use one of Juju’s poo bags to collect rubbish. Plastic bottles wouldn’t fit in it so I had to balance them in my arms.

Considering the beach already looked pretty clean we collected a fair bit of rubbish. Someone nipped back and got a couple of bin bags and we managed to fill them.

I don’t feel like I earned this challenge. Maybe I need to do something else.

24th Challenge complete

Approaching Shag RockThe outdoor swims I’ve done lately have had a slight element of not wanting to be there, whether that has been to finish a bit quicker or that I was cold and didn’t like it and wanted to go home and have a cup of tea. They were all great experiences but I had a niggling feeling that something was missing: a certain amount of joy. My swim to an island changed all that and I’ve got a theory as to why.

I met up with Gary and Claire and members of Happy Wild Swimming – a group who go swimming purely for the joy of swimming outdoors – in Torquay. With their expert local and marine knowledge they knew when it was best to tackle the reasonably short but challenging swim to Shag Rock, just off Meadfoot Beach. On the day we chose, the sea was lively to say the least but with the beautiful Mediterranean sunshine it was hard to cry off.

Five of us waded into the waves and headed off towards the island. Okay, it’s technically a rock not an island but a small landmass surrounded by water is a good enough definition for my challenge.

The water was a lovely clear bluey-green and I was able to put my head in the water for longer than I ever have before to do the front crawl. The sea threw us up and down like we were on a rollercoaster but thanks to Gary & Claire’s positive light-hearted attitude I didn’t feel scared at all, just exhilarated.

Shag Rock successAfter 10 minutes or so we reached Shag Rock. The waves were really crashing against it and I didn’t think we’d be able to actually land on it but, after some coercing from Gary, I managed to sit on a rock at the edge of the island with him and get the money shot before the waves pummeled us off our perch.

We swam round the island and reluctantly headed back to shore, covered in seaweed and scratches but euphoric after our shared adventure.

So what put the joy into this swim? It wasn’t particularly the scenery or the ticking off of another challenge, it was the company, the shared camaraderie and the positive, joyous attitude of all the swimmers.