Things that make me happy: A challenge!

I’m not really one for sitting doing nothing. I like to be working on something and enjoy feeling productive. So when my ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) is bad and I’m either too fatigued to be able to do much or I am resting so that I don’t get to that stage, I can find life really frustrating.

I miss getting out the house, meeting friends, going for walks, and generally getting on with life. I’m lucky I have a number of hobbies that don’t require a lot of physical activity but even so I can get bored, feel frustrated and generally be a bit fed up. Even though I’m often doing the things I enjoyed doing anyway such as crochet or reading, when life changed and these were the things I did because they were the only things I could manage there was a shift in how I felt about them.

Over the last year or so one thing I’ve realised is when I set myself a challenge I can turn a straight forward activity into something that feels much more rewarding and fun. It can help me see that activity as something I’ve achieved rather than just something I’m doing because I can’t manage anything else and I enjoy the feeling of progressing towards a goal. I actually started doing this before my ME was bad but it’s a technique I’ve put in place for a few things now and for me, it really does make a difference to how I feel as well as encouraging me to become more creative and inventive in what I’m doing.

Below are some of the challenges I’ve set myself. I’ve made sure that they are achievable; the last thing I need is more stress or the feeling of failing at simple activities, they are my way of transforming my everyday activities into something fun, rewarding and a little bit different.


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Netflixing Round Europe

I watch a lot of telly and apart from my enjoyment of a good old Sunday afternoon Columbo marathon, I watch a fair amount of Netflix. This challenge started by accident, I’d realised I’d watched a series from a couple of different European countries and thought I’d try a few more. At some point I decided to sit down and look at which countries I’d watched and decided to see how many more I could tick off my list. I’m now recording them all on my Netflixing Round Europe post (not quite ready yet!)

Reading Challenges

This is my fourth year of setting myself an annual reading challenge and I’ve definitely read a lot more in terms of the quantity of books but I’ve also read a much wider selection of authors and genres. I initially created my lists by following Modern Mrs Darcy and Book Riot’s reading challenges (or creating my own list by mixing up my favourite prompts from each). This year I’m following my friend’s challenge, the Dance Dance Ramble Ramble Reading Challenge aka #DDRRreadingchallenge. You can see most of my reading challenges and my book reviews on the Reading Challenge section on this blog.

British Sign Language Challenge

This is my newest challenge and was borne out of a conversation with a colleague at work who, like me, had thought about learning sign language but had never gotten around to it. So we agreed we’d learn a new word or phrase a week and as I’d now made that commitment I decided the best way to keep it was for me to share it publicly, that way I was less likely to give up or forget! I’m only on week 4 as I write this but as of now I can wish you a happy new year, tell you my name, as for help and sing (or should that be sign) you happy birthday! Follow my progress on my BSL challenge post

The Happy Barnet Craft Challenge

The Happy Barnet Craft Challenge is probably my biggest challenge, as in it’s the one I’ve spent the most focus on, not that it’s the hardest. It started as a way for me to encourage myself to try new things and give myself a goal after deciding I couldn’t manage my mini craft business as the commitment of having to deliver for customers was just another stress I could do without. So, now in it’s second year I have 100 other crafters in my Facebook Group to chat crafts with, live demos, how to guides and lots and lots of lovely projects to enjoy. It’s now a big part of my life and whether I’m well enough to craft or not it doesn’t matter, I am still involved in the craft world and get plenty of enjoyment from seeing what others are doing.

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One-off challenges

Before my ME flare up really took hold I also undertook two pretty major collections for charities in Edinburgh. The first was to help tackle period poverty by collecting tampons and sanitary towels from friends and family and donating them to my local food bank by Valentines Day. You can read how well that went in my Tampon Mountain post (the name does kind of give it away that it was a huge success!). The other challenge was one I never got round to writing about (think health was starting to wane at this point) but again, thanks to generous donations from friends and family, as well as clearing out my own shelves, I collected 267 books for Streetreads (now part of Streetworks) in Edinburgh who give away books to homeless readers.

Both these experiences were really positive for me. Not only were they of course helping others but it was so rewarding to be part of something were you really got to see other people’s generosity and support. It is really pretty good for the soul, let me tell you!