At the beginning of January, I set myself a series of challenges to kick start my new year. I’ve managed some and completely and utterly failed others. Here are the results…
1. Try a completely new fitness class
I’d planned to get down to the local gym, but the sessions on offer weren’t exactly ground-breaking, and most were something I’d done before. I’m aiming to try zero gravity yoga at some point, but still waiting for it to be rolled out across the UK! Anyway, I set this goal because I was falling off the exercise wagon, badly. Try motivating yourself to do exactly the same DVD everyday and you’ll start to go insane.
I use YouTube a lot for workouts, particularly Pop Pilates, but again, that didn’t come under the banner of ‘something new’. I Googled ‘fitness trends’, and up popped a link to a site called www.thinqfitness.com, a virtual space where you can be ‘taught’ routines. It’s exactly like being in a class, expect for the fact that you don’t have overzealous people crashing into you, and sweating.
I road-tested two. Firstly, cheerleading. Now, strictly speaking, I’ve done this before, but it was so much fun that I wanted to mention it. I then spotted belly dancing. I have NEVER attempted this. My early grounding in ballet has made it impossible for me to be really loose with my hips (ooh err!), and my back is perma-straight. ‘This is it,’ I thought. ‘This is the challenge’. I did it, and I found it VERY difficult. It just goes against the rules my body has learnt! Plus I was a bit terrified of the instructor. Still, I tried it! And I may well try it again…It got me in the carnival mood, just in time for ‘Hot Brazil’ at the V&A (more on that later).
2. Exercise 6 days a week
I can’t check this off, sadly. I thought it was achievable because I’d stuck to that schedule for two months in the lead up to Christmas. Suddenly, in the New Year, when everyone was gearing up for the gym, I suddenly got extremely burned out, probably due to my daily two hour workout sessions, every day but Sunday. I started slipping off quite badly. I made a goal of working out every other day instead, but I struggled with that for the first few weeks. I decided to go for runs instead, as I sabotage myself by exercising at home, then getting distracted by a text or an email. I’ve got better now, and am at least doing a bit of something every day.
3. Read at least 2 books of some merit – no chick lit!
I read Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis. I also read ‘How To Be a Woman’, but I don’t think that counts. I also read a book of Polly Sampson short stories and started Less Than Zero and The Doll, by Daphne Du Maurier. All in all, a very good innings, considering I was freakishly busy.
4. Keep to my newly devised blogging schedule
The blogging schedule was a plan I devised myself so I could start posting more regularly. I’ve not 100% stuck to it, in the sense that I’ve actually posted more than I planned! And it’s already had a great effect. Two weeks into January and I’d had more blog views than in the whole of December!
5. Apply for membership of the Royal Society of Literature
I applied! And I got my beautiful card – see below. I’ve already booked for two events, including ‘Being a Poet’ and ‘Titanic Voyagers’. I’m extremely excited.
6. Attend a late night at the V&A
Hot Brazil night! It was…well, hot. And busy. Click on the hyperlink to see more about it, and my other museum adventures.
7. Attend a talk/lecture at the V&A
Weather permitting, tonight I’m attending the ominously named ‘Deadwood: The Future of Magazines’.
8. Do something wholly to benefit someone other than myself
Urgh. I’m appalling. I attempted this – I’m an ambassador for the Teenage Cancer Trust, and we’ve been putting some plans together, but I don’t think I can count this as truly doing something for someone else. Uh uh. Try again next time, contestant.
9. Submit a piece of my writing with the aim of getting it published
I did this in a roundabout way. My friend and I pitched an online magazine idea to an arts organisation, which would entail doing writing. As part of the application process, I had to upload writing to my portfolio, so I’m going to go ahead and check this one off, as we worked very hard on it.
10. Listen to a whole album by an artist I’ve never listened to
I set myself this challenge because I’m such an old man. I sit around banging on about how great the 80s were (despite being born at the tail-end of the decade!) for music, and how I don’t like anything new. Well, that’s pathetic, and a bad attitude.
When I went to Latitude last year, I listened to lots of new music in ‘preparation’ for the festival, because while I knew reams of songs by Adam Ant, OMD, and Echo & The Bunnymen, I’d never heard anything by Foals, The Vaccines, Hurts or Everything Everything. I made myself listen to them, and I actually loved most of it. I felt like I’d wasted a portion of my youth just rediscovering old music, and not hearing anything new.
I chose Young Knives because I listened to a bit of ‘Love My Name’ and really enjoyed it. I listened to ‘Ornaments From the Silver Arcade’ and I fell in love with it (Even if I did have to stop myself going ‘it sounds like Devo!’). It was incredible to do that thing where you really ‘discover’ an album. Where you start off by liking one song, and then suddenly you really love about three others, and you just work through the album. My picks are ‘Woman’, ‘Human Again’ and ‘Everything Falls into Place’.
It’s a big thumbs up from me on Young Knives, and I also listened to Neon Indian’s ‘Era Extrana’, and got really into that too. ‘Polish Girl’ was my standout track. I found once I broke that first barrier, I actually wanted to discover loads of new bands, instead of wishing away my youth! I’m actually genuinely proud of myself for putting down the Steely Dan and listening to something made this side of the century.
11. Learn a new song on my ukulele
Ok, I feel a bit like I aced this one, folks. I got a bit cocky. I didn’t just learn a new song, I learnt a MASH UP. A mash up that I INVENTED. I was messing around learning ‘Wetsuit’ by The Vaccines, which is very simple in the chord department (think Ramones.) For ages, I’d been wanting to rework ‘Stand & Deliver’ as something a little more melodic, and slightly less speak/singy. It actually came to me when I was singing in the bath, a slightly less shouty version.
I was tinkering around on the uke, working out a segue from Wetsuit to Stand & Deliver, when I realised they used the same chords. Interesting….Next thing I knew, I was splitting them up and retooling them into one song. And it might be terrible, but at least I can tick it off the list, and I bloody enjoyed it as well.
12. Visit a bar I’ve never been to in London
I visited the long bar at the Sanderson Hotel as part of a press launch. It was absolutely beautiful, and I think I might now want to live there.
13. Start my Vogue Secret Address book challenge
I started, with A is for Apps. More to come soon.
14. Draw something
I’d ordered some Sharpies, and I wanted to do something truly epic. I didn’t. Instead I just drew this when I was supposed to be working:
15. Stop procrastinating and design and order my business cards
I did it! I ordered a personal set and a set for my role at LadyMPresents.co.uk. I got them from Moo.com and they were, like, WELL ace.
16. Throw a dinner party
Another big fat fail. There was just NO TIME. And everyone kept saying it was going to snow. Urgh…I’ll have to roll it over for another month.
So there we go, chaps! I managed about 13 out of 16, which I’m actually quite pleased with. So, what shall I do for February? I need suggestions! Either comment on here or drop me a line at @ameliafsimmons. How was your January? Did you do anything epic, unusual, or just plain stupid?
I love you byeeee xx