Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The 1001 Things in 101 Days Recap

Many, many moons ago (well, a little over 1001 days ago, about 11 days before my 29th birthday), I wrote this list of 101 things that I wanted to achieve in 1001 days. You can access it here at the top of the page. There was quite a bit of it going around the interwebs at the time thanks to something called the Day Zero Project, probably fuelled by the general tendency of the human race to want to feel like their lives have meaning, and I because I came across it during a fairly stressful period in my life it was right up my alley.

The stressful period deteriorated into something even more horifically cruddy, and the list became something of a lifeline for me. I threw myself into it, frantically scrambling to get all these things done that I suppose had no real bearing on my quality of life, but which still made me feel like I was achieving something when everything else in my life was falling to pieces around me. You'd be surprised how powerful cupcakes are at getting you through a sticky spot ;)
A quick note on that cruddy period in my life - I got a call the other day from the key person responsible for it (no prizes for guessing that it was my ex!), and he had the cheek to suggest that a fairly ambiguous one-liner I wrote about him when I was hospitalised, and me mentioning moving on and dating other men, was hurtful to him. I'm angry at myself for even acknowledging that and for reacting on here, but for wont of another forum, all I have to say about that is that mate, if you don't like it, don't read it. This is my space, not yours, and you're damned lucky I'm not the sort of person to air others' dirty laundry in public, besides a very tame rendition of how things affected me. I will try to keep it clean and respectful for the sake of your family who may be reading, as I have done to date, but I WILL be writing about it because it was part of my life, and so is this blog. So harden up, or don't read it. I don't care which.
Rant over.

This will be a long post (it is already!), because there are 101 items on the list, and I'm bored and am in hospital (Edit - not true anymore, but we all know my style is somewhat less than succinct!). A friend kindly suggested that I should grant myself an extension on it because of my incarceration here in hospital, but I don't honestly think I'm going to make any huge advances in the two to four weeks after my planned surgery that I would probably grant myself, so I might just call it a day and start a new list. When I get around to it. #102 - write a new list ;)

My new list will probably be a less ambitious one this time, or at least, one that doesn't involve multiple elements to each point. I mean, reading all my unread books? Baking a cupcake per month for a year?? What was I thinking??!?! That's like, 25 items covered by two points on the list, right there! If you count them as individual items, you could almost argue that I finished the list ;)

So here it is - my complete 101 Things recap. If you want more details of any of them you can click on 101 Things in the word cloud to the right of the text, and you'll see the updates I did quite religiously for the first little while. Some have photos, some don't. I won't include any photos in this post because... eh, too hard. But I'll try to keep it interesting for you nonetheless.

Number of challenges complete: 59

Number of challenges I give myself partial credit for: commenced or planned: 9

Number of un-commenced challenges: 32

Food and wine
1. Declare my 29th year to be Year of the Cupcake and conquer my fear of cupcakes, good and proper. One new cupcake each month! [12/12]
- Gluten Free Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Icing
- Gluten Free Rose and Pistachio Cupcakes
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes
- Donna Hay's Short-Black Cupcakes
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple and Rum, with Vanilla Icecream Icing
- Christmas Cupcakes
- Gluten Free Chai Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting
- Valentine's Day Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling
- St Patrick's Day Soda Bread Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Frosting
- Chocolate Heartache Cake (GF)
- Apricot Upside-Down Cakes
- Coca-Cola Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Well this one is quite self-explanatory. If you click on The Cupcake Files tab at the top of the page, you can see (poorly-formatted!) pictures of all the cupcakes, with links to the recipes. Some of the ones on the list above have also been hyperlinked. This was obviously by far the most delicious of my challenges.

2. Taste wine in the Barossa (done it before but my wine supply is dwindling!)

Hell yeah! I headed to the Barossa on Queens Birthday weekend 2012 with my friend Mary and her man Ian. I used to live in Adelaide, so we hit up the places I knew I'd like plus a couple that Mary recommended. I bought about ten bottles of wine, more than half of which were port/fortified/toquay/muscat. Hah, I'm so predictable! When they weighed my bag, it was only about 20kg (we're allowed 23kg here in Australia on domestic flights) including the clothes I had wrapped around the bottles, and I remember marvelling at how heavy it was and wondering why in God's name people choose to travel with their entire baggage allowance. Mind you, my judgement on luggage size is a bit skewed, because during this challenge I spent 9 weeks travelling through four continents, including seeing the bright lights of New York, going on safari in Tanzania (#54!), freezing my butt off in the stately homes of the UK and snorkelling off the reef in sub-tropical Belize (#55-ish), and only brought a 40L pack as my luggage. Now THAT is travelling light!

3. Taste wine in McLaren Vale (ditto)

I did this one on Cup Weekend 2013 with my friends Jody and Brad, and baby Chloe. I even managed to wangle a free bottle of wine at Serafino, which went a little something like this:
Them: Aww crap, the cork broke. Better tip it out and try another one...
Me: ... Orrrr you could just give it to me, free of charge...
Them: *pauses* Yeah, okay, just make sure you drink it within a week
Me: Sold!

We also had lunch at Woodstock, which was verrrrry nice.

4. Taste wine in the Clare Valley

I did this the same weekend as #3, with the same people as #2, plus an extra. We ended up having lunch at Skillogallee, which was pretty awesome, too. This time I got a proper wine box and freighted a dozen bottles home. Much easier than wrapping clothes around bottles and praying they won't break!

5. Learn to make meringue buttercream frosting

Did this for #6. Nowhere near as difficult as I had envisaged (if you don't count the fact I totally crapped the first batch up by overheating it. Two dozen eggs later...), although I did learn that it doesn't like hot days. That's a bit of a no-brainer, though.

6. Make Sweetapolita's ruffle cake

Done! The link to my Pintrest board is in #8, and the board with a picture of the cake is "Cakes I have made"

7. Make Sweetapolita's rainbow cake (ex-Whisk Kid)

Done! Made it for my friend Kaye's birthday, sort of, and also for my friend Emma's 30th, only I used a gradient of pink layers instead of rainbow colouring. (See Pintrest for both)

8. Make my own wedding cake (failing that opportunity, make a super-fancy, highly-decorated cake for someone's birthday or other event)

Hah. Well, the wedding didn't happen! I think I also added the parentheses to that one when Shit Got Real, and I began to suspect the wedding wouldn't happen. But I did make a wedding cake for someone else, and a whole lot of other birthday cakes. If you click on Decorating in the word cloud to your right you'll find most of them, or if you just want the pictures you can visit my Pintrest board - my username is vanessalillian. I'm also making a wedding cake for my uni boyfriend in a couple of months' time, which, surprisingly enough, isn't actually weird for me. I guess that's what happens when you stay friends!

9. Make gnocchi from scratch

Did it, more than once, and am actually quite comfortable with the process now, so I'm feeling a bit smug about that one ;)

10. Learn to cook artichokes

I did it once, and decided that, despite enjoying the learning experience, it was a total pain the arse. I think I'll stick to the pre-prepared, marinated ones in the future.
11. Learn to cook chokos

Yep, I did that. And I wrote about it in a guest post over at Kelly's blog (magnetoboldtoo).

12. Learn to cook (or not cook??... see how confused I am???) figs

Well, I picked them from the tree next door to mum's place. I had a nibble of a raw one, and decided that whatever variety was on the tree was definitely for cooking and maybe for drying, not for eating raw! Picked a bunch, had them in a container on the bench at my house... and then promptly forgot about them. The morning of the day I was hospitalised I noticed they had started to turn to liquid and had decided to clean it up that night. When I got home from hospital, about four weeks later, that had mercifully been done by my housemate.

13. Make chutney

I did that! For Christmas (I think)! It was yummy. I think I posted about it, so there should be a recipe floating about this blog somewhere.

14. Bottle fruit

Nup. I had intended to bottle figs at the same time as figuring out how to cook them, so that one fell by the wayside along with #12.

15. Hold a dinner party with a theme every 6 months, e.g. a certain county's cuisine/colour/flavour...[4/5] Edit: Screw the theme thing. Just have people over for a proper dinner!

Hmm, it kind of happened. Definitely not themed, but I do know that when I was working in Tassie I had people over for dinner at least three times, probably four, and I recall doing it once other time on the mainland so I think I'd call that successful!

16. Make monkeyface biscuits

Hells yes! I love them so hard :)

17. Make croquembouche. Or profiteroles. Some sort of fancy French pastry thing filled with creme patisserie, anyhow!

Done! Way easier than those nuffies on Masterchef make it look, too, and I don't quite understand why creme patisserie or choux pastry have such an awful reputation. If you follow the instructions it's not that hard.

18. Make a lemon tart

Done. Yum.

19. Learn to make a Toblerone

Done. Yum. And now I've remembered that I have leftover booze. Guess what I'm making when I'm off these painkillers! Given that I didn't post about it, my super-quick recipe is a shot of each of Kahlua, Bailey's, Frangelico and cream. Shake together over ice, pour into a glass that has been smeared with honey and grate some Toblerone chocolate over the top. Nom.

20. Learn to make a Pina Colada

Done. It wasn't quite the roaring success that the Toberlones and the Cosmos were, and it wasn't as good as my friend Fran's dad makes them, but it was still pretty good. Cos, you know, booze.

21. Learn to make a Cosmopolitan

Done. I'd probably refer to the recipe I used as a panty-dropper. Crude phrase, but oh-so-accurate!

22. Learn to make cheese

I did that at Red Hill Cheese with my friend Emma... and I haven't made it since. But now I know - make sure everything is sterile, and then follow the instructions. It's a cross between chemistry and cooking. Pretty simple, really!

23. Make icecream

Done! I have an ice cream maker attachment for my Kenwood now, so, although I haven't made ice cream as often as I'd have liked, I have made some pretty awesome sorbets.

Hobbies and crafts

24. Blog at least twice a month for a year (this post doesn't count) [95/24]

I think 87 posts over the last two years counts!

25. Learn to use photo editing software

I was tempted to rush in and do this whilst in hospital, but this old computer is on its last legs and I'm pretty sure it would melt down if I installed anything or asked it to perform even a vaguely challenging function...

26. Research camera lenses properly to determine which one I want next

I did that, mostly by asking questions in camera stores. Some camera stores were pretty well useless, and it surprised me which ones - Ted's, and Michael's, both the city stores. I walked in there willing to part company with a large chunk of cash in exchange for a little education and guidance... and received zero. So I went down the road to Camera House, where they educated me AND let me actually try the darned thing (unlike the other two places), plus they flirted with me which helped a little (let's not lie - I'm such an attention whore!). So I parted company with the cash, and they gave me knowledge, a 20% discount, 1000 free prints and a slightly inflated ego. Win!

27. Purchase said lens and take some kickass photos with it

I ended up with a macro lens, so if you have a look at photos of recipes that are more than about eighteen months old (because that's when I got lazy and started using my iPhone) you'll be able to tell pretty quickly which ones I took with the lens. Plus I also broke my macro lens, and I don't know when, and it's incredibly ironic because it's the only lens I own that I haven't dropped! Sad face.

28. Write a post on what I have learnt about lenses so that I can give the next poor sucker a helping hand

That never happened. I might do it in the future, and I might not. Eh *shrugs* not feeling especially philanthropic at present!

29. Make an effort to take a photo each week for six months

Not on purpose, but I probably did it accidentally... with my iPhone. The intention of this one was to churn out some really good photos with my DSLR, but that never happened.

30. Do a jigsaw puzzle

Did a couple, in fact, and discovered that they're kind of a form of mediation for me, as long as the theme is nature (trees, water... that kind of thing)

31. Build a Lego model

Built several, and contemplating buying a new set to play with while I'm recouperating (ditto for the jigsaws!)

32. Sew one garment and one useful item (curtains, napkins, apron etc) from scratch [1/2]

I made a quilt for my friend Emma's baby, Arthur. Well, more of a small, quilted play-rug than a quilt (which makes it a useful item). Unfortunately for me (and fortunately for others) it has kindled a love of quilting - unfortunate because it is expensive and time-consuming! As for the garment, well just before I got put into hospital I had bought a dress pattern and fabric and was about to cut the pattern out. So partial credit - it would have been finished if I hadn't been in here.

33. Knit something tricky, e.g. a jumper with a snowflake pattern on it

I found a pattern, and hadn't gotten around to buying the wool when I ended up in here, but again, it would have happened.
34. Take a long-exposure photo of the night sky
Nup. Cos, effort.

Sport, health and recreation
35. Exercise 4 times per week in the lead-up to the wedding Bogong hike. Keep a record of it and share it with the world when I'm done [0/24] (eep! Six weeks to go!)
Well I didn't actually climb Mount Bogong. I decided that it was potentially outside my capabilities, mostly because it was an unknown, and went for a return visit to Mount Feathertop instead. But I do know that I was hitting the gym at least three nights a week in the lead-up to that, so I probably came close to achieving this. And I was relatively fit when I did the hike, which was the purpose of this one, it's just that it was a bit of a mental challenge on account of it being the first overnight hike I'd been on since being diagnosed with my heart condition. Don't underestimate the need for mental fitness, people!
36. Go for one month without red meat
Yes! I actually did this, right at the end! I tried and failed several times, and then started to do it without even realising amidst a bit of a health kick (namely, trying to shift some of the 18kg I gained when Shit Got Real). And then I was put in hospital, and didn't want to undo the hard work I'd done sitting around on my arse, so, knowing that chicken has fewer calories per gram, I opted for chicken-based and vegetable-based meal choices. I think I accidentally ate roast beef in a sandwich once or twice, but I'm giving myself this one.
37. Go for one month with no processed food i.e. the only thing that can come from packets are things like rice or spices or basic baking ingredients like flour and sugar, where you can visually identify the individual ingredients. An exception will be made for bread, but only for wholemeal or rye breads, not refined white ones. Keep a list of everything I eat that month to hold myself accountable lollies, chocolate or chips
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! See how I changed this to make it easier? Well, epic fail. I even failed at failing! But over the period of this challenge, I realised that you don't have to deprive yourself of things you enjoy in order to be healthy. My intention here was to help me lose weight and get a handle on binge/stress eating, but as it turns out, restricting myself doesn't help that. As it turns out, removing the source of stress was far more effective!
38. Spend 20 minutes per day walking for a month. Shopping counts! [0/31] (I assumed it would be a long month but it would have been smarter for me to choose February...)
I have no idea if I did this. I stopped counting. Probably not.
39. Climb Mount Bogong (again) Climb Mount Feathertop (again)
Yep, did it! Well, Mount Feathertop. As I said in #35, I decided that Bogong wasn't a great idea. And it's kind of a good thing that I made that decision, because it made the medivac that followed quite a bit simpler than it otherwise might have been! Yep, climbed a mountain, no worries. About 36 hours later I was in a helicopter headed for the Royal Melbourne Hospital, having gone into VT in the wee hours of the morning and been defibrillated by Zappy II. Scary but hey, I didn't have to climb that last hill ;)
40. Buy a good pair of sneakers that give my feet the support they need when I exercise
Yep! I have a pair of Asics GT-2000. Actually, they're just about due for replacement now. But the point is, they are a really comfy pair of shoes and they make running much more comfortable. Definitely worth the investment.
41. Learn the Viennese Waltz
Nope. Not even sure why I wanted to learn it. Possibly because it seems graceful, which I am not! I'm still pretty keen to try ballroom dancing in general, but just haven't gotten around to it, nor is it easy to find a willing partner who is also tall enough and who I trust not to drop me. Yep, that's happened before. Not fun.
42. Do a 4WD course
Kind of, so I'll go with yes! I have a qualification that says I can operate a 4WD, but unfortunately the course was focused on safe driving techniques on gravel roads rather than bashing your way through mud and recovery and stall starts and things like that, which is what I meant when I wrote this. So that's still something I aspire to, but given I did **a** 4WD course, and given I just spent a year in Tasmania driving over quite challenging, rocky terrain and through snow, and spent the year before that sliding about in riverine silt in a flooded forest up on the Murray, I am probably still more capable in a 4WD than at least 75% of people that I know!
43. Go horse riding
Yep, and I did it in style! Put your hand up if you've ridden a horse up a volcano in Guatemala *raises hand* Oh, so, just me? Can't imagine why... ;)
44. Get a shooter's licence
Nope, and I wish I had after the year I spent in Tassie with all that roadkill. I'm damned lucky that everything was thoroughly dead, and I know that sooner or later I'm going to have to euthanise something as part of my job, and I'd rather do that with a .22 than with my bare hands or a rock. Just sayin'.
45. Take calcium tablets every day - no Swiss Cheese spine for me!
Umm, kind of hot and cold on this one, but I'm getting better at it, and I do plenty of weight-bearing exercise and eat quite a bit of dairy, so I think I'll count this as a success. Hopefully I still count it as a success when I'm 60...
46. Take a poledancing lesson
Done! In fact, I paid for 8 classes and attended 5 lessons. The first four lessons were great fun, besides the incredible bruising on my legs, which is probably because I'm all leg and also terribly uncoordinated. Seriously, I just couldn't believe it. The entire insides of my legs were a messy pulp, which was in no way sexy or allluring. But considering I was doing it for the purposes of improving my strength in a fun way and was not at all related to wanting to be a poledancer, I guess that wasn't such a big deal. The first four lessons were a lot of fun, but on Lesson 5 I had a really bad day, and was failing at things I already knew I could do, and I was miserable. Lesson 6 I missed because I was coming down with a cold, and could see that I wouldn't be able to give it even 50% and would feel even crapper about it than I had the week before, and instead of attending Lesson 7, I was hanging out in ICU. Not cool! It has occurred to me that it was hanging from a pole by one hand that actually caused the pacemaker lead to be crushed between my collarbone and my first rib, but I guess I'll never know. Huh. I guess that's probably a sentence that has never been written before in the history of the world ;)
47. Take a ballet lesson
Nope. I still want to because I hear it's one of the toughest forms of exercise out there. Plus, anything that improves my posture and grace has got to be a good thing!
48. Participate in a fun run/walk
I participated in two! I did the 5km Run Melbourne event in 2012 and raised about $1100 for the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, and a 2.5km mud run down in Tassie in 2013 and raised about $1200 for MS Tasmania with my friend Katie. I was supposed to do Run for the Kids this year... but I ended up in hospital instead. On the day I managed to get out and do my first walk since surgery and clocked up 3km, and it nearly did me in! Not exactly the 5km run I had envisaged for the day, but not a bad effort for ten days post-surgery.
49. Lose 1kg per month until I am under 75kg (but over 70kg) and am happy with what I see. Keep it off and throw away my "backup" jeans [2/5] Obviously I didn't foresee stress-eating my way to gaining 16kg from the time I first wrote this! New goal: Lose the 16kg again and be back to where I was more comfortable and my clothes fit properly [4.8/16]
Nope, although the trend is a downward one again, which is encouraging!. I'm much less serious about weight, 1001 days later. In this period, achieving fitness-based goals has become much more important to me. Yeah, I want to get back into my size 12s and yeah, I feel like a bit of a heifer wearing size 16 jeans. But something strange has happened to me - although I'm not exactly thrilled with the shape I'm in right now, and although over the last year or so I have had my fair share of rejection from men, I have also had two 24 year olds, including one who was taller than me AND had a six-pack AND was gainfully employed, hit on me. Crazy!
I have had four married or partnered older men (that I can think of) buy me very expensive drinks, and have told me that they think I'm gorgeous and would make someone a good wife, with no other agenda besides wanting someone to spend an hour chatting with.
I have made lots of new friends from all walks of life, without it having anything to do with how I look.
So my sense of self-worth is becoming less about what sized jeans I wear and more about who I am as a person, and my confidence has skyrocketed as a result. Also, on those days that I feel frumpy and am still obsessed with body image (it happens to us all), I remind myself that the average Australian woman's dress size sits somewhere between a fourteen and a sixteen, and that's me, except that I am not average. I am, in fact, a quarter of a meter taller than average! So reminding myself othat helps.
Anyway, the point of this is that weight loss now means something totally different to me - a) it means that I can wear more of what is in my wardrobe, and b) it means that I feel healthier and have more stamina. I'd be lying if I said I don't care how I look, but I'm not fixated on it like I was 1001 days ago. Besides which, in the last 1001 days I have undergone heart surgery twice and been defibrillated twice, and have on all those occasions besides the most recent surgery have returned to not even square one, but sub-zero confidence and fitness, so I think I kind of get a bit of a free pass on being at the top of my game, don't you??
Anyway, that was a lot to say about something I apparently don't care very much about ;)

50. Visit Wilson's Prom (this may or may not fit into the sport, fitness and recreation category, depending on whether the visit involves a hike)
Yessss!!! I finally made it down there on Labour Day weekend, and climbed - alone - up Mount Oberon. It's not really a hard walk, or so everyone told me, but it was challenging for me. I'm pretty proud of the fact I did a totally unknown walk alone, and it has given me confidence to do more of the same. I really do enjoy the freedom, and the feeling of achieving something like that. And don't get me wrong, I do like having the company, but I feel bad when my friends have to keep waiting for me. I know they don't mind, being the wonderful people that they are, but sometimes it's just easier to walk alone. It makes me forget the bad stuff.
51. Visit a theme park
Wowsers, that was a while ago! I visited Sea World on the Gold Coast right at the start of this challenge and... wow, I just had this memory come crashing down on me. It was the weekend after Shit Got Real, and I remember sitting between my friends Kaye and Danielle at Danielle's house in Brisbane, crying my eyes out because things with my former fiance were going horribly, horribly wrong. I can't believe that more than a thousand days have passed since that day, and what has changed in the time that has elapsed. But Sea World made me happier. It rained all day, which seemed quite fitting for the occasion. I'm also one of those weirdos who doesn't really mind walking in the rain, as long as it's not cold. It was also kind of a blessing that the sun wasn't out, because I burn easily and probably also wouldn't have had as much fun if I'd actually had to line up for anything! I got to touch a sea cucumber and poke an anenome and OOH I got to feed the rays! That was so awesome! I love critters. They make me so happy :)
52. Take Grant to the snow Go skiing Find someone who wants to go skiing and research ski holidays
Partial credit - I'm doing a half-arsed job of organising a ski trip with friends now (although I probably commenced it after this list expired, to be honest). I didn't get around to going skiing in general, and, well. Well, well, well. Reading this list is teaching me something about myself - that for a long time there, my happiness was wrapped up entirely in making someone else happy, and I was beginning to mistake someone else's desires for my own. And that's not to say that you shouldn't try to make your partner happy or have common dreams, but that ought to be quite a reciprocal thing, and you should never lose sight of yourself and your basic needs in doing that. But YAY FOR SNOW!!! :) Incidentally, I saw a lot of snow whilst working in Tassie, and even got snow down my pants (snowball fight with one of the operators), but no skiing.
53. Go fishing with Saul and Steve (that's my brother and my might-as-well-be-my-brother, for those who don't know me)
Done! We went up to Eildon over Australia Day weekend in 2013, and we went fishing (I caught the largest fish of the day! Er, which was grossly undersized...) and got towed around behind the boat on the biscuit, and ate spit roast lamb. Great weekend :)
54. Visit Africa
Done! I visited Tanzania and went on safari in the Serengeti and the Ngorogoro Crater. I also went snorkelling in Zanzibar. As you do.
55. Visit Mexico
Done! I even dragged Saul along with me for his first overseas trip since 1992, and he loved it. We saw seven temple complexes, drank a lot of tequila and spent a fair bit of time on beaches. We also visited Belize and Guatemala. Awesome trip :)
56. Visit Tasmania, preferably to do the Overland Track (which will depend on my health and the level of idiocy of my friends for agreeing to accompany me)
I didn't do the Overland Track, but I did go one better than visiting Tasmania - I lived there for nine months! But I have the two year national parks pass, so I guess I'd better scoot down there and get some use out of it, so even if the Overland doesn't happen, climbing Cradle Mountain might. Also, because of the heart thing, I now feel like I can get away with taking the slack option and do the Cradle Mountain Huts walk, which means you basically carry your lunch and your clothes, and the guides do the rest. So that's a possibility ;)
57. Write a list of 10 places around the world I wish to visit in this lifetime (I don't think phrasing it as "before I die" is particularly appropriate, because everyone assumes they'll die at around eighty, and in reality our time on this planet may be much shorter than that. Macabre, I know, but why wait a lifetime to do something you want to do?)
I'm pretty sure I did that. It's probably in an update post somewhere. And it obviously didn't matter that much to me because I can't remember what was on the list! Probably Turkey and Greece and Morocco and Egypt, and India, perhaps also Ypres because my great-grandfather died there in WWI and his body was never recovered. Who knows where else. If there's one thing I've learnt from this list it's that desires change, and that's okay.
58. Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge
Yep! Climbed it with my friend Tim last year, on what I decided would be my last trip to Sydney in a long time, if I could possibly help it (sorry, Sydney, you suck for lots of reasons!). Discovered in doing so that onesies don't look great on me (as if there was any doubt).
59. Take Grant to Kangaroo Island Organise a camping/4WDing trip with friends
For the original one, again with the doing things for other people! I've actually been to KI, twice, and would like to go back one day, but have no need or especial desire to do it in the next 1001 days. For the second part, I guess you could kind of count our annual camping trip to Nariel, although I didn't organise it, strictly speaking. Partial credit, I suppose.

Thinky and learny stuff. Stuff is good.
60. Re-read Wuthering Heights. Again. Try to enjoy it, or at least to understand why it is a "classic". Try not to be angry about wasting my time when I find out I still hate it
I read it, and I didn't hate it this time! It only took three shots at it to get to a point where I could tolerate reading it without gnashing my teeth. I still don't think it's the world's greatest romance, but I am starting to see its better qualities, and I was more readily able to identify with the characters this time around (although I won't say who or why).
61. Read A Long Walk to Freedom
I read it, and it helped me to understand how much the world has changed in my lifetime, and what a significant role Nelson Mandela had in that. Rest in peace, Mandiba.
62. Do some sort of further education in ecology or science
I'll give myself this one - I learnt to use GIS software at work. That's basically mapping software, which is often used in conservation and land management. I feel like I've finally entered the 21st century! I also recently spoke to my regional manager about putting me through my Masters of Environmental Management and he told me do some research and bring a proposal to him, so whoohoo!
63. Do some sort of further education to make me more employable, in an area such as safety, quality or management
The ball is rolling on this one - my company is putting me through a Certificate IV in Occupational Health and Safety later this year. Sure, heaps of people have them, but I might as well be one of those people.
64. Get a food handler's certificate
65. Read the unread books I have before buying more [10/15+]
- Three Cups of Tea, by David Oliver Relin
- The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
- Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
- We of the Never Never, by Jeannie Gunn
- Memo For a Saner World, by Bob Brown
- Murder at Mansfield Park, by Lynn Shepherd (and Jane Austen)
- Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Ben H. Winters (and Jane Austen)
- Possession: A Romance, by A.S. Byatt
- A Short History Of the World
- The Odyssey, by Homer
- Back From the Brink
- The Rings of Saturn, by W.G. Sebald
- Bombproof
- From Kinglake to Kabul
- Silent Spring
- The Pilgrim's Progress
- The English Patient
- 50 Shades of Grey triology (yes, really, and they were given to me!)
I kind of failed this one because I didn't finish all those unread books, and I also started buying more, although to be fair they were all second-hand ones. But I'm closer! On top of those I also read a few books I borrowed from people, including Touching the Void which is one I've wanted to read for aaaaages. My hairdresser, who is alarmingly well-read, also lent me one to read after my surgery so I guess I'd better get on to that one before my next cut...
66. Read Gone With the Wind (will have to wait until I've achieved the previous one because I don't own it! Oh, but I'd forgotten about libraries... and one of my friends probably owns it... yeah, I'll be fine)
My friend Emma bought it for me for my birthday, knowing that it was on the list and that I wasn't allowed to buy anything new in 2013 (new year's resolution, which I did really well with!). I read it, and I loved it. It showed me an interesting side to the American Civil War, which I had hitherto known very little about.
67. Watch Gone With the Wind (it doesn't really fit into the other categories so I'll leave it here for purposes of comparison to the book)
Watched it with Emma, and Nat, who owned it. We chatted the whole way through it (I seem to recall it's about three hours long so it's hardly surpising that three women, who haven't seen each other in ages, who are drinking tea and eating cupcakes can't stay quiet for three hours!). I'd actually kind of like to see it again on my own, so if anyone wants to lend it to me...
68. Take a language class
Eh, I downloaded a Spanish app (I think it was called Mind Snacks) and it was actually really helpful for my trip to Mexico, but I didn't attend a formal class. Partial credit.
69. Take a botanical illustration class (or just a drawing class, if they won't let me in due to my lack of wikkid skillz!)
Yessssssss! I did this. It took me about two hours to draw and colour a radish. Yes, really. It's an incredibly time-consuming process, but also very rewarding.
70. Learn ten new songs on the guitar [2/10]
Uhhhh... *crickets chirp*
So here's another example of things that got me through a dark time (like the cupcakes!), and it's not an especially happy story. Honestly, when Shit Got Real, the music in me kind of died. I know that sounds dumb and melodramatic, but it did. I just didn't have it in me to sing for a long, long time. There was one exception to that. The next time I went home to Adelaide, alone, after Shit Got Real, I was packing up our personal belongings and freighting my ex's stuff to his parents' house, so that I could rent my house there out as a holiday rental. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do. During that process I was listening to a lot of Paul Kelly, which is pretty normal for me, and the song "Everything's Turning To White" came up on my playlist one day and it touched something inside of me. I think it was the chorus - When he holds me now I'm pretending/I feel like I'm frozen inside/Behind my eyes/My daily disguise/Everything's turning to white, and then, later in the song, When he holds me now I'm pretending/Nothing is working inside. That's exactly how I felt. So I picked up my guitar, and I learnt that song, and I played it over and over and over until I had played and cried and sung all of the ice out and I knew the lyrics by heart. And they're quite creepy lyrics, too - it's a very dark song, so it matched my mood at the time, but it's still a hauntingly beautiful, wistful song. I also remember that after I had sat there for an hour or so, playing the same song, my chest hurt where the corner of the guitar had pressed against Zappy I. The pain of both made me not want to play for a very long time. In more recent times, it's because the action on my guitar is too high and it hurts my fingers and I'm a sook, but hey, I'll get that fixed soon. And I started singing again in Tasmania. I did a lot of driving and one day "Don't you think it's time" by Bob Evans came on. It was like it had been written for me. Don't you think it's time/Time for moving on/Time for growing strong/Time to leave the past behind. So I downloaded it, and I played it again and again and sang as I drove the several hundred kilometers I would drive each day, and every time I sang it I felt a little bit lighter and a little bit happier. So there. I learnt two songs, not ten, but with good reason.
71. Learn the basic geography of Africa [1/55] (probably easier to learn it country by country) Learn some basic geography and history about the places on the list at #57 (10 places I want to visit) [0/10]
Nuh. Don't care enough about it, and not sure why I ever did. Whatevs.
72. Read Romeo and Juliet again. Understand the meaning of the words and appreciate their beauty as I go. Learn 3 soliloquies from it [0/3]
Started it, haven't finished it. Suspect that there aren't three soliloquies worth learning, at least, not ones that I don't already know from having watched the movie with Leonardo Di Caprio approximately twelve point eight billion times. There are certainly some beautiful exchanges between characters, but not soliloquies. Anyway, I'll get around to finishing it soon.

73. Get married (yeah, I know, foregone conclusions are cheating...) STRIKE ONE! Be in a loving relationship at the end of the 1001 days, and be thankful for every day that you have them in your life STRIKE TWO! Go on at least three more dates in the next twenty days, before this 1001 days is up!
Haha, three strikes, actually. I probably would have gone on three more dates, had I not been hospitalised, but alas it was not to be. HOWEVER, I did have last year's runner-up Cleo Batchelor of the Year visit me in hospital simply because I asked him to, so that's, like, practically a date, right?? BAHAHAHAHAHA, no. Ummm, okay, so then there was the anaesthetics registrar that I asked out. He was married, as it turns out, but I didn't know that when I asked and I'm sure that if he hadn't been he would have gone out with me because I'm awesome, so maybe that counts?? Hmm, perhaps not. Alright then, there were my two not-dates with a guy from RSVP. Not-dates because we're getting to know each other as friends, which is actually a remarkably good idea. And you know what? He really has been an awesome friend. Mindblowingly so. I won't say too much because he's probably reading this and I don't want to embarrass him, but I will say that he's a lovely guy who has been incredibly supportive of me and helped keep my spirits up while I was in hospital. 
In summary, you obviously can't count your chickens before they hatch, even if they appear to be "foregone conclusions". And that means that there has been no marriage. And no loving relationship (although my relationship with myself has improved!). And no three dates (although I have been out with eleven guys this year!). But I do have one great friend and two great stories, and I reckon that's just fine for now.
74. Delete crap photos from SD cards and hard drives
Uhhhh. next!
75. File photos properly
76. Make albums for holidays and events, using only the good photos
Next! Although  now that photobooks are a lot easier to get printed, I might put together a couple of those for the holidays I've been on.
77. Print the GREAT photos and frame them
Not so much. I printed some PRETTY GOOD photos with those 1000 free prints, but I haven't actually gone through them in painstaking detail, nor have I enlarged them. So I think that one counts as a fail, too.
Interestingly, though, I've realised that I have failed on most of the photography ones. And I don't think it's that I don't enjoy it - because I do. I think it's that I'm more intent on actually living the moment and yeah, I do take heaps of photos, but don't have time to do much with them because I'm so busy doing ALL OF THE THINGS!!!
78. Learn to blow-dry my hair to make it nice and shiny and smooth (I'm turning 29 in a couple of weeks and don't own a hairdryer...)
BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Yeah, I'm turning 32 in three months. And I still don't own a hairdryer, and I still don't know how to dry it all smooth and shiny. Well, okay, I know how to do it in theory, but in practice it is a royal pain in the butt. Maybe I'll give it another shot next time I cut my hair shorter, and maybe I won't. What I do know is that long, thick, wavy hair does not an easy blowdrying experience maketh! Incidentally, I (kind of) learnt how to tame my longer hair during this period, without the aid of a hairdryer, so it wasn't a dead loss.
79. Use up all the dregs of half-used beauty products before buying new ones
Kinda. I do try to, but the box never seems to be quite empty. I'll keep chipping away at this one.
80. Clean out my underwear drawer and get rid of the "uglies". Everybody has them and nobody should!
Yeah, I'll give myself a pass on this one. Basically I've become better at throwing old things that I don't, for one reason or another, really like anymore out, and that includes underwear. I've also become better at wearing the not-uglies rather than leaving them crumpled at the back of my drawer for a special occasion that you never remember to wear them for, because those suckers cost a bit more than the boring ones and they deserve a little love! Nobody sees 'em but me, but you'd be surprised how a sexy pair of undies can improve your spirits. Seriously, girls (or guys, if you're into that kinda thing...), give it a go!
81. Apply for an ABN
Nope, although it's easy to do so really there is no excuse...
82. Save up for a second house
I'm kind of in the process of doing that still, and it is taking the form of pouring my spare money into my existing mortgage so there's a substantial redraw and less interest. Plus I bought in a suburb where house prices were bound to rise. I guess that's the best way to do it. But I am in a position now where I could buy a second shoebox house against the first one, and that's the aim of the game, so I'll give myself this one.
83. Fix the gremlins in the House at Ness Corner
Uh, nope. It's easy to forget about the gremlins when you don't live there. My agent is pretty good about the little maintenance bits and pieces, but there's some more serious work that needs doing so I guess I should get onto that. You know, actually look after my investment ;)
84. Rent out the House at Ness Corner and become a bloated capitalist (HAH!)
Well it's definitely rented out, sometimes (as a holiday rental), and I'm definitely not a bloated capitalist because the agent takes about 18%, plus I have to pay the cleaners, and the maintenance/lawns guy, and the linen service, and do boring things like replace pillows and doonas more frequently than you normally would because nobody likes to remove a pillowcase and see someone else's drool watermark. On the bright side, it works favourably in terms of tax, so yay for that!
85. Own a dog. Train it well.
Nope. I haven't even lived anywhere that I could have a dog since I started this list, and even if I had, I haven't been home enough to train it properly and give it the attention it deserves. I think, though, when I buy that second shoebox house and have a yard that it can happily destroy without affecting my bond, I will get one.
86. Plan to have kids... or actually start having them... hmm, should probably discuss this with the future hubby!
Well here's another one about counting your chickens before they hatch. I was probably thinking about having kids at the start of this challenge, but within a week or four the wheels had fallen off and things weren't looking quite so favourable. So no, I haven't actually started having them, and the future hubby at the time of writing this list is most certainly not going to be the future father of my children. And who knows who will be, or if I have even met him, so I can't very well discuss it with him! So yeah, I still want them, but if there's one thing the last 1000 days have taught me it's that you shouldn't make too many exceptions to achieve a desired end result, because it's just not worth the pain. So I'll just start with being happy with how things are, and go from there.
87. Listen more attentively
I'm actually getting better at this one! My ability to pay attention and retain and recall information is improving. Which is just as well, because it was pretty abysmal before. I don't know whether it's because I've actively worked on it, or because I have spoken to fewer boring people lately ;)
Incidentally, while I was in hospital I overheard two men who'd had heart attacks talking to their OT about acquired brain injury caused by oxygen starvation from a heart attack, and how they will need to "rewire" your brain to improve their ability to recall information, and it kind of supported what I have long suspected - that I have at some (several?) point suffered acquired brain injury. When I was 18 I had three seizures in 18 hours (or, as we now know they were, cardiac episodes), and I stopped breathing all three times (and have stopped breathing at least twice before that). The first of that cluster of three, my friend performed CPR on me for about 15 minutes, which is well and truly in the zone of potential brain injury. And I remember my thinking being foggier, and my ability to process logic problems and pay attention being severly diminished, from that day. So considering that, and considering I've never received any threapy or done any exercises to reverse it, I have to say I'm a pretty high-functioning individual! Maybe "do memory exercises" is something I'll add to the next list. Don't wanna be like Homer Simpson with a crayon lodged up his nose...
88. Interrupt less readily
I'm getting better at this, mostly because I'm now aware of it and I annoy myself when I interrupt other people. I think it also goes hand-in-hand with listening more attentively. Just before I started this challenge, I realised that there was a correlation between my inability to retain information and my need to interrupt - because if I didn't say what popped into my head, it was gone. So I think with my better listening and my improved ability to retain information, I'm less inclined to interrupt people. Whew, that's good, because I was starting to look like a bit of a jerk... ;)
89. Write more neatly, no matter how much of a hurry I am in
Yep, definitely getting better at this one. It's not perfect, but it's certainly better than the chicken scratchings I was making before. Better to spend a little longer writing something than spend the time trying to decipher it later.
90. Prepare properly for meetings
Yep! I've found that my level of preparedness for meetings is directly proportional to how many f**ks I give about the agenda for the meeting. Luckily I have attended more intersting meetings lately ;)
91. Be sufficiently auditable at any moment in time
Yeah, although technically speaking I generally am. Probably because I AM an auditor and know what I can get away with. Heh heh heh. So yeah, it could use a little (lot) of work but I think it's all in the wording - "sufficiently".
92. Ask mum about her life. Take notes.
Nope. Bad daughter.
93. Ask dad about his life. Take notes.
Nope. Bad daughter. Although to be fair, dad was off the rails for about a year of this so I'm not certain that what he told me would have been entirely true-to-life...
94. Ask my parents about their parents.
Nope. Bad granddaughter!
95. Declare the first Sunday of each month to be Purge Day - all clutter must go!
Nope. Still cluttered. Although I have to admit that 2013 - my year of not buying anything new - went a long way to assuage that. To this day, most of the clutter is useful stuff - cooking equipment, books, sewing stuff, clothes - but I just haven't had a good way to store it. That's one for when I get my own place again, I think. And I'm also going to start writing lists of "allowable purchases" at the start of every year, based on needs not on wants, to limit the influx of clutter. Okay, some wants!
96. Send a birthday card each month for a year [0/12]
Epic fail. Although I probably was involved in 12 birthday celebrations in one year, so maybe that counts...?
97. Write to my Aunt Judy every 6 months. She's written me birthday cards every year as long as I can remember and I've been a horrible, crappy niece and so very rarely have I written back. I suck [1/5]
Well I did it once, but that's it. Still a horrible, crappy niece! She did write back, though, which I intended to reply to, and which obviously never happened because I suck. This is one I'm keen to improve on because she's lived in Queensland my whole life and I don't really know her very well.
98. Have a (tastefully!) nude portrait done
Nope. I started to line it up, and then it never happened. But I'm actually kind of still interested in getting it done, just for something different. We'll see.
99. Locate, sort and predominantly discard my highschool stuff. I think it's in a box under mum's house...
Nope. I don't think I've even been under mum's house in the last 1000 days, perhaps because there's so much crap under there!!! Might be time to get a skip bin...
100. Have a vegetable garden
Well, kind of. I did plant some stuff at mum's, but then it died because I was only home on weekends, and there was a heatwave, and mum didn't keep the water up to it. So, partial credit for this one.
101. Make friends with my cousins. They're blood and I love them, but I really know nothing about who they are and what they dream of
I think I'll count this one as a partial success. I saw a lot more of two of my cousins on my mum's side, which was great. I still haven't seen much of the others, but again, it's something I'd like to improve. And one of them is moving down to Melbourne later this year, so it'll be great to see more of him.
So that's it. That's the wrap-up. It was long and perhaps a little tedious for you, but it's not like I was holding a gun to your head and making you read it. It's done now, and I can move on to a new project! I'm not sure what that project will be, but this list has taught me enough about what is important for my new list to be more realistic. Oh, and I'm definitely going to make it a shorter list. Maybe 25 things in 25 weeks or something. 101 is damned hard to keep track of!

It's interesting what I've learnt about myself and about my priorities in life as I have gone through and written this recap. And I have to say, damn, I've done a lot of stuff in the last 1001 days. Go me!!! When it's all written down in one place, you feel a bit more like you've achieved something. What can I say - I'm a sucker for crossing things off a To Do list :)
So, dear reader, what's on your list?


  1. OMG it must be something in the job description for the blokes at Camera House... Sir Reg and I decided to buy a decent camera a couple of years ago, and the bloke who helped us out flirted shamelessly with me the whole time (as well as knowing what he was talking about and helping Sir Reg decide what camera he actually wanted - it was awesome!)

    1. Haha, that's fantastic! I wonder whether it was the same guy? This was the Elizabeth St store in Melbourne, and I agree, this guy really knew his stuff. I'm also curious to know whether they get all blokey and bond over football when a guy comes in on his own, or if they keep with the flirting tactic ;)

  2. Ugh, your ex sucks. Which personality disorder does he suffer from?

    If it makes you feel any better, I've been reading since you first posted the list, and you have accomplished so much! It has inspired me to create my own list, because I can't list anything I've done in the past 1001 days!

    1. None formally, as far as I know, but anything is possible ;) Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all bad and he definitely had plenty of redeeming qualities (and I'm not just saying that because his sisters might be reading!), but hindsight tells me I let way too much slide.

      I'm glad I've inspired you, though, and I'm sure you've done **something** of note in 1001 days, it can just take a bit of realising what those things are. I mean, if I didn't have the list to refer to, I'd probably only have mentioned my overseas holidays and maybe the hike as my achievements, and that's it. It's about the little things, too!

      Let me know how you go with your list! (Even putting a list together is an achievement of its own!) I'd also like to know what's on it - it's always interesting to see other people's goals :)

  3. His sisters are definitely reading this, I always read your blog! And whilst a lot of this hurts I understand you were hurt too. None of us won in this....... I loved catching up with your list and I'm glad you checked back in with it. I hope the next 1001 days are full of love and light Vanessa.

    1. You're right, there were definitely no winners... except maybe Qantas ;)

      I'm glad you're still reading, though. One of the things that sucks the most for me is losing a family, and it's good to know you're still kind of around. I hope the next 1001 days are awesome for all of you, too. You deserve happiness and peace xo


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