Falling Forward: A Girl & Her Lists

Life List/31 for 31: Shave My Head For Charity

Posted by in 31 for 31, My Life In Lists, Projects

WELL. Where do I even start with this one?! Yesterday was an absolute roller coaster of a day (much emotions,  so feelings). As most of you are probably well aware, for the last 18 months or so I’ve been planning to shave my head to raise money for charity and honour my friend, Lisa, who sadly died last year from cancer. I wrote about it all here, if you’re interested.

I decided to split the money I raised between three charities: The Royal Marsden Hospital, who treated Lisa, Trinity Hospice, who looked after her and Cancer Research UK because, well, obviously. I also decided to donate my hair to the Little Princess Trust, so that someone else could benefit from it. It was 21 inches when it was cut and weighed 163 grams so hopefully they’ll be able to make a really nice wig!

Yesterday was Lisa’s birthday, so I decided that it’d be as good a present as any to shave my head on the same day. I actually am pretty happy with the results (people keep telling me I have a nice shaped head, who knew?) so that’s an added bonus!

I have a few thanks I’d like to give:

  • first of all, to Toni and Guy, Cardiff for kindly shaving my head for free and to Leaon especially for doing an absolutely fantastic job!
  • to Amy, for taking such wonderful photos of the event (all of the shots below were taken by her and are fabulous!)
  • and lastly to Q, for being so supportive and for doing a decent job when you buzzed off the last section! :D
  • (oh, and shout out to the woman next to me who looked so miserable the entire time: girl you made me laugh and laugh)

To everyone who has donated so far: thank you. You have no idea how much it means to me that so many people came together to support me – it really is a wonderful feeling and makes this whole endeavour completely and utterly worth it. You are all fantastic. Have a biscuit.

As of writing this post I’ve raised almost £3000 (if you include Gift Aid) which is. Well. Incredible, really. I’m going to leave the fundraising page open for a couple of months, so if you’d like to sponsor me retrospectively (or you were waiting for evidence that I actually did it before parting with your cold, hard cash ;) ) then you can do so here:

uk.virginmoneygiving.com/buzzcutchong

Tidy.

31 for 31: Get My Eyes Lasered

Posted by in 31 for 31, My Life In Lists, Projects

glasses

Goodbye, old friends. I no longer need your help because I had laser eye surgery on the 11th of August (after booking in a mere three weeks before!) :D

I think actually that was kind of helpful because it gave me less time to be scared after reading the terms and conditions (otherwise known as the “If you die it’s not our fault” document).

I ummed and ahhed about adding this to my 31 for 31 list, but eventually decided to include it because #yolo. It’s been on my Life List for years but I’ve always put it off, so I figured giving myself a deadline would be the final push I needed to get it done. Yes, it was expensive (I paid £2400 in the end, I had a £500 off voucher) but also totally, totally worth it. There were, however, a couple of surprises that I wish I had known about before hand…

Things they do not tell you when you get your eyes lasered:

  1. You have to sleep in googles. For a week.
  2. These googles won’t fit over the bridge of your nose and it’ll drive you so crazy that you give up by the fourth night and just sleep unguarded #renegade
  3. “Mild discomfort” can sometimes translate to “holy hell I think my eyes are burning out of my face”
  4. Your eyes might look a bit zombified for a few weeks, because there’ll be a line of blood around the laser cut site
  5. You can taste the eyedrops they give you.
  6. Nothing you eat will mask that taste, in the slightest. It is disgusting.
  7. You can’t wear eye make up for a week, either. My pale little redhead eyelashes were not pleased about this.

 

You do, however, get to buy My Little Pony sunglasses, so it sort of evens out. I’m not going to lie, the actual procedure was pretty freaky, and the first 6 hours or so were hell, but they’re healing well and I can see, you guys. No more double pairs of glasses to watch 3D films, no more squinting in the swimming pool, no more keeping my glasses clean. I am so, so happy!

If you’re thinking about getting it done and want to ask any questions then fire away, I’m happy to disclose all the gory* details ;)

*Just kidding! It wasn’t that bad, I promise! Wait, where are you going..?

Colour 365 – Quarterly Round Up

Posted by in My Life In Lists, Projects

We’re halfway through the year – can you believe it? 2014 seems to be absolutely rushing by – which means that another three months of the Colour : 365 have been completed, hurrah! The first quarter was pale blue, turquoise and dark blue, this quarter we’ve done dark green, green and yellow (which was obviously my favourite to complete).

Colour365: April 2014 Dark Green

Dark green was boring. Like, so much. I think partly because sometimes it’s hard to decide if a colour is dark green or just regular green and partly because dark green just isn’t a colour that I’m really that into, but this month felt long and I was definitely glad to see the back of it!

Colour 365: May 2014 Green

Green was slightly better – the weather was nicer in May and we took a trip to Italy where there was plenty of lush foliage, so that definitely helped! I was mostly waiting for green to end tho so we could finally get to the start of the brights…

Colour 365: June 2014 YellowYellow, yay! I picked yellow for June as it’s my birthday month and yellow is my happy colour, so it was super fun to spend a whole month yellow spotting. We have an absolute ton of yellow in our house so this month felt super duper easy, always a bonus!

My favourite photo from the month was from the last day, where we gathered a few of our yellow items together. Looking at this makes me so happy!

181/365: Yellow? It's Okay. I Guess.

We’re onto orange now for July, then it’s into red and pink. I’m hoping these months will feel a bit more fun, since the colours are much more distinctive :) We’ll see!

If you want to check out everyone else’s progress (or join in!) then you can see the Flickr group here :)

Happy 31st Birthday To Me

Posted by in 31 for 31, My Life In Lists, Projects

Me on my 30th birthday, at Bristol Aquarium, wearing panda ears. Of course.

So last year I wrote a list of 30 things I wanted to do, to celebrate being 30. The deadline for it was yesterday which means that today is my 31st birthday. Hooray! Happy birthday to me.

Completing my 30 for 30 was such a fun, motivating experience that I’ve decided to write a 31 for 31 this year and do it all over again. If you want to help me tick off any of the items then give me a shout! :)

Here’s to joy. Cheers.

  1. Shave my head for charity
  2. Donate my hair
  3. Read 31 more books from my ‘to read’ pile [0/31]
  4. Re-watch 31 of my favourite films [0/31]
  5. Finish my 100 cheeses [90/100]
  6. No swearing for a day
  7. Finally knit that owl sweater
  8. Learn how to French braid my hair
  9. Swim in a lido
  10. Go UV bowling
  11. Learn how to make delicious gluten free chocolate chip cookies
  12. Donate to 31 charities [0/31]
  13. Ride my bike 10 times [0/10]
  14. Take a ballet class
  15. Take the same walk every month & photograph the changes [0/12]
  16. Visit another European country
  17. Throw the 2nd annual Life List Party
  18. Get up to 40 words a minute in shorthand
  19. Print our family cookbook
  20. Finish the Top Secret Project for Arthur’s 2nd birthday
  21. Sew something I can wear
  22. Host a Team Chong Supper Club to raise money for the head shave
  23. Get the EE Cummings & grace quotes printed for our walls
  24. Eat at 12 new places in Wales [0/12]
  25. Give blood at least once
  26. Swim a length under water
  27. Be debt free
  28. Get my eyes lasered
  29. Send 31 surprise gifts [0/31]
  30. Read a Man Booker prize winner
  31. Make my own jam

I’ll be tracking my progress (of course) – feel free to tune in :)

Ps. Since it’s my birthday and all, if you’d like to donate to my head shave fund raising I would be insanely grateful. I didn’t ask for any presents this year, just donations and avocados – you can never  have too many of either I find.

Life, An Update

Posted by in A Little Conversation, My Life In Lists

I’ve had this post open for so long and all I’ve managed to write is the title. The habit of writing lists has become so ingrained that it’s become a struggle to write anything in long form these days. Oops.

So, where were we last time I wrote something that wasn’t a list? It was a pretty long time ago, I know that!

Things over the last year (?) have been…interesting. My parents split up, subsequently divorced and my dad moved in with someone else and is now engaged to her. My job has evolved, we got a cat, friends have got married, had children – a whole wealth of change has occurred in our little corner and it’s been difficult at times to keep up.

The whole deal with my parents was especially troubling but not something I felt I could really write about because it’s not my life, you know? Navigating our new family dynamic is hard and not always particularly rewarding – maybe we’ll never get there, who knows. My relationship with my mum has strengthened exponentially tho, and I am beyond grateful for that, if nothing else.

I can’t/won’t write any more about it, so let’s focus on the good things, instead. The sunshine, the hours of book reading, the late nights with friends laughing about stupid things. There’s been a lot of Life List activity this year which always makes me happy. I haven’t always managed to make the most of every day, but I’ve damn well made a lot of those days count for something.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen these photos before – for those who don’t, here’s a treat!

Boring Conference IV

We finally made it to the Boring Conference and it was wonderful. So many interest talks and friendly people, I’m so glad that James decided to do another one!

We’ve taken walks around the lake and had picnics in new places. I visited four new cities this year – Gloucester & Swansea with Q, and Wells & Salisbury with Amy and my mum.

Roath Lake – so grateful to have this beautiful spot so close to our house.

Amy & I are the coolest. Obvs.

I also managed to fit in a whirlwind meet with beautiful Amber Marlow in London, so that was fun. FYI: Taking photos on the tube is harder than it looks…

We’ve had BBQs and many, many games of Cards Against Humanity. We started a fledgling supper club (and ran into a few, hrm, niggles) and spent a lot of time in the kitchen. (Cooking and eating, heh). I also shot a lot of 35mm film. Mmm. 35mm…

I still really love to read other people’s blogs, I am just terrible at writing my own, apparently. We’ve getting back into the DIY swing of things with the house now the days are lighter, so perhaps I’ll do a couple of ‘before & after’ posts about the changes we’ve made.

I am well, I am happy (mostly) and I am still here, I promise. I just really, really, really like writing lists.

Why I’m Shaving My Head For Charity

Posted by in My Life In Lists, Projects

A couple of years ago I had a friend called Lisa. She was funny, she was witty, she was a bit a lot of a ray of sunshine and she had cancer. Stupid,  bullshit, twatclacking* cancer.

Lisa-Lynch

She was my friend, and she had cancer, and then she went and bloody died, because cancer is a dick like that. Like, what the hell was it thinking? Didn’t it know how much we all wanted to keep her?

I was so angry that I lost this beautiful girl, so I can’t even begin to imagine how her family felt, her husband, her best friends. Even now, a year later, I still get upset and sad and really, deeply angry every time I think about it.

Sigh.

So. I’m shaving my head on August the 30th. It would have been Lisa’s 35 birthday, which I thought would be a nice tribute to her (& because any excuse to have a gin or four is okay by me). I’m also shaving my head because I think she’d have found it pretty funny (given that she was (self admittedly) incredibly fond of her locks), and I was always trying to make that girl laugh.

My hair is pretty long right now. I haven’t had it cut since September 2012, and I’ll have another six months growth to add before the actual head shave date. For what it’s worth, I like my hair. A lot. It’s swishy and long enough to make a nice top knot, it’s a beautiful colour (probably the first time in my life I’ve ever said that, actually) and it makes me feel girly and, you know, pretty. Of course it does.

Do I think I’ll look good with a shaved head? Do I hell. I think, at best, I’ll look like a baked bean, at worst I’ll look like a boy. Does it matter? Does it fuck. Hair grows (mine grows especially quickly), friends, sadly, do not return from the dead. (Although actually, I’m a bit scared of zombies, so maybe for the better..? I digress…)

If doing this means I can raise some money for some amazing charities to help ensure that if it happens to any of you lot you might get a better chance of survival? Then I am all in. Let’s go.

I’m splitting any money raised between The Royal Marsden, where Lisa had her treatments, Trinity Hospice, who did their utter best to help her feel comfortable and Cancer Research because duh. So please, pleaseplease consider donating. £2, £5, £20. Whatever you can afford would be amazing – I want to raise as much as possible, for and in honour of Lisa.

virginmoneygiving.com/buzzcutchong

& if, post shave, I end up looking half as hot as she did, post hair loss? I’m going to count it as a win.

IMG_0365

Love you, miss you, think of you, bird. Always.

*a special one for all the Lisa fans there, heh.

2014 Goals: Paleo for January

Posted by in My Life In Lists, Projects

Go Paleo for January: Done!

Huzzah! :) Did we fall off the wagon a bit? A little. There was a black cherry cider at a weekend away with our favourite friends, a tub of marshmallow ice-cream after a particularly difficult Monday and the “I really should test these before I take them to work” salted caramel brownie, oops. I also ate peas and sweetcorn because I forgot they were a legume and a grain respectively – oh well!

The Good

Our first Paleo meal of the month

Paleo was interesting. Since I’ve spent the past few years trying to get into a wheat free, dairy free lifestyle and I spent 2013 abstaining from alcohol completely I wasn’t anticipating Paleo to be too much of a challenge, and in that respect I was proved right. I just had to cut out rice and wheat free pasta and flour from my diet and I was pretty much there. I’m also super thankful that I don’t drink tea or coffee, as I think that would have made the month substantially harder.

So did it help? Sure! I slept better and for longer – small things didn’t wake me up as often which is great for someone like me whose sleep schedule can be quite broken and erratic at times. In addition to that I found that after I got over the first few days of sugar cravings I generally had more energy during the day, which was useful. I also lost 5lbs over the month without adding any extra exercise in, although that wasn’t my main motivation in trialling it.

Also, the kale chips were pretty badass.

The Bad

Paleo is expensive to follow, there is no way around that. Having to bulk up on veg to replace the missing carbs means spending a lot more money on fresh veg than we were previously, and we also spent extra on things like meat and eggs which are always more expensive than your cheap carbs like rice and pasta.

I missed sugar constantly through the month – not entirely sure what that says about my diet but nothing good presumably. However, the cravings weren’t insane, thankfully, and I only suffered one headache early on in the month, so not too bad overall.

The Ugly

Sometimes Paleo food is not filling and you find yourself hungry but not wanting to eat another sodding clementine. Lunches were a particular struggle when I was away from the house and even with access to a full cupboard it was still hard to motivate myself to cook something for one. Salad would be a great option but it wasn’t what I fancied in January, really.

Also, eating out was relatively tough and we had to relax our rules a bit for fear of being those people (“Can you make sure my sauce isn’t made with butter or milk or cream or wheat or cornflour or or or” Christ).

Will we carry on?

Q’s inventive chicken, brazil nut and spinach fritters

No. Not quite. We’re planning on following Primal during the week now (Primal allows for high fat dairy like cheese, butter, cream and greek yoghurt, making it a slightly easier version of Paleo) and not being too strict on ourselves at the weekend. I’m still doing wheat free for 2014, but it’ll be nice to have some wheat free pasta or wheat free bread occasionally – it’s hard (and expensive!) to stick to a life without carbs indefinitely! Plus I’d really like some gin every now and again please.

Overall tho Paleo was a very positive experience and I’m really glad we gave it a shot. Having a buddy to do it with really helped to keep me motivated, so thanks, Q for being willing to try it with me!

If anyone is thinking of trying it and wants to ask some questions then please feel free to get in touch and I’ll do my best to answer them for you! :)

Life List: Throw A Life List Party

Posted by in My Life In Lists, Projects

Last week I ticked off one of my 30 for 30 goals (which was also a Life List goal): throw a Life List party! Inspired by Camp Mighty, I decided to create something on a slightly smaller scale…

The basic idea was that we would get a group of our friends together, have them teach each other skills and create Life Lists, and then try and tick a few goals off the lists if we could. It was so much fun – we ended up with 20 students and a crazy 25 classes, which is why I had to devise a timetable system to keep everything on track:

I also put together some goodie bags that had a notebook and pencil, a postcard, some stickers and some sweets for everyone to keep them going throughout the day. All of the tags said something nice on the reverse, because who wouldn’t want to read that, right? :)

Our decorations were…decidedly homemade. Ha. (Excuse the steaminess, it’s just because our windows are rubbish!)

It was a genuinely awesome weekend – people came from London and Cornwall to attend (including my mum and my aunt, which was ace) and everyone seemed to have a really good time – I was so proud of them all by the end!

It was really nice to see everyone embracing the Life List way of life too, hopefully they’ll all keep it up. We’re planning on making it an annual thing – next year we’ll be focusing more on completing goals while at the party (there wasn’t as much of that this year as I’d have liked).

I could write about this forever but I won’t because it would be boring to everyone but me, so I’ll just leave some pictures of the various classes. Thanks to Lou, Jen & Liz for taking them!

Jess tried her hand at learning some sewing basics, taught by my mum:

Rob taught a class on how to make macarons:

Jen taught a few of us the basics of singing and breathing – here’s Howard, Amy and Rob enjoying themselves immensely:

Rob also taught introductory German:

I taught a class in how to find more joy, using this awesome handout from Do What You Love:

We had class lists dotted around the house for people to refer to:

Mum also taught people how to make Cornish pasties (I’m pretty sure they were declared delicious!):

I taught Carrie, Catrin & Liz how to crochet (altho my lesson was somewhat haphazard..):

Sophie taught Jen how to crochet and was much better at it!:

I did however teach Sophie and Liz how to play the ukulele:

Amy taught two shorthand classes: (this says “thank you for teaching us”)

Jen also taught us how to read music:

Howard taught a class on how to use Photoshop:

Amy also taught people how to use their digital cameras:

and how to make cake pops (she’s multitalented, that one!):

& I taught two classes on how to write a Life List and how to be awesome at organising: 

Q also taught a few classes (basic guitar chords, intro to HTML & CSS and how to solve a rubik’s cube) but I don’t have photos of those, boo! I do however have this super cute video of Liz learning piano chords. Big thanks to Aaron for teaching PHP basics as well :)

Oh, and #ChongCat was there too. Of course.

Favourite Films of 2013

Posted by in My Life In Lists, Projects

Because we each have a Cineworld Unlimited card, Q and I watch a lot of films. We managed to rack up 52 visits to the cinema in 2013, and I watched another 30 films at home on top of that. I have a goal on my Life List to watch 500 new to me movies, so I’m slowly working my way towards that.

I thought I’d do a top 5 round up of my favourite new releases of 2013, just so I can look back on this at some point and think “oh yeah, I really should watch that again…”

5. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2

This was so good. So good! It was utterly adorable, had plenty of amazing food based puns and was just generally good all round fun. The perfect feel good cartoon, I think.

4. Despicable Me 2

Along with 75% of the population I have a massive soft spot for the minions, so it’s probably not surprising that this made it onto the list. Add in the fact that there was a nacho had with a lake of guacamole and I was totally sold. (Also, where can I get one of those, please?)

3. This is 40

We actually watched this twice and it was just as funny the second time around. I’m growing to love Paul Rudd – I’ve been fond of him since the good old Clueless days but he’s definitely coming into his own now that’s he’s older. Perfect.

=1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

It was so hard to pick between these two that I’ve pussied out and declared them joint winners of 2013 – sorry! We saw a preview of Walter Mitty a month before it was released and I just absolutely adored it. Beautiful soundtrack? Check. 35mm film love? Check? Super cute Ben Stiller actually acting and not just being goofy? Check.

In the same way that Eternal Sunshine gave us a new side of Jim Carey, I think Walter Mitty finally allowed Ben Stiller to break away from the cheap comedy characters he’s probably most well known for. An absolutely delight from start to finish and a must, must, must watch.

=1. The Way, Way Back

I loved this film so hard, you guys. So hard. What is it that I love so much about films where comedy players step out of them comfort zones? Eternal Sushine,Walter Mitty and now this, with Steve Carrell playing, well, an asshole to be honest. But so well! Bravo, Steve. Bravo.

This little film was awkward and intense but full of small joyous victories and tiny moments of triumph. It’s also the film that turned Sam Rockwell from an ‘eh’ to a ‘more please’ for me, so yay for that too.

I’m looking forward to what 2014 is going to offer. It’s probably going to be the last year that we keep out Unlimited cards so we’re definitely going to have to make the most of them!

Life List: Get a Marc Johns Illustration as a Tattoo

Posted by in My Life In Lists, Projects

Check! :) I bought the print of this “Seek out the joy” illustration ages ago and have wanted it as a tattoo ever since. Marc is incredibly cool about people getting tattoos of his work so I added it to my Life List thinking it would be fun to check it off one day.

I have seven other tattoos already, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – I find them a bit addictive? The more I get done the more I think of that I’d love to have so I’m sure this won’t be my last one but for now I think it’s definitely my favourite :) (It’s on my upper, inner left arm in case anyone can’t work it out!)

Here’s to the joy, right?