What a great idea! Catherine Cleary, award winning journalist, spent a year trying out things she's always wanted to do. A Month of Somedays published by Londubh books, is subtitled How One Woman Made The Most of Now, and Catherine explains in the introduction how being a work-from-home mother of three she dreamt of doing the things she'd always wanted to do- the biggest barrier being time. Wanting to stretch herself and see what she could do, she set about her plan to allocate a small chunk of uninterrupted time every day for thirty days at a time.
With a list of six things she wanted to do; learn to play a flute, work an allotment, take an intensive yoga course, take a fitness challenge, learn Mandarin and start a small business Catherine takes on her own challenge.
She takes flute lessons in a suburban house in Dublin from a teacher who is also a professional flautist in an orchestra. Interestingly the instrument hire shop tells her they have seen a lot of adult learners and ninety per cent have stuck with it. Making a good mouth position on the way home she looks "like a demented plastic surgery victim"!
She takes on an allotment at Weaver Court, 45 metres square to work from scratch. By day thirteen Catherine says "I think I am starting to become a gardener" and on day fifteen they are eating the Swiss chard she has grown. This is one of her more social projects.
The Bikram yoga is intense, poses done in a mirrored and carpeted room at 40 degrees c, the idea being to allow stiff muscles to stretch and to concentrate the mind. By class sixteen Catherine feels something has clicked- she feels flexible and strong.
A thirty day aerobic fitness challenge finds Catherine being checked out at DCU School of Health and Human Performance and also learning about the psychology of exercise. Barefoot running is tried out whilst on holiday in Normandy leading to day two stiffness, but a stint in the rainy weather a couple of days later leave her feeling better for going out, "ravenous and happy". By day fifteen she sees an improvement in her barefoot running.
Mandarin, an entirely alien language sees Catherine heading to a language school in Merrion Square. Difficult but enjoyable, by day nine she can translate some written words but cannot yet understand the spoken word, and no breakthrough moment has come by day fourteen.
Tragically, after this project one of Catherine's friends dies very suddenly, and with a moving elegy to her lost friend her death teaches Catherine "to value the sense of potential in the ordinary everyday world and to see life as an adventure".
In the final chapter Catherine states that everything had been about her and she sets about baking on a grand scale to raise money for a charity.
I love the idea behind this book. we can all identify with the 'I'd love to do that one day' syndrome', and more people could find time for similar projects if they really wanted. I took a degree as a mature student with young kids and you don't think you'll find the time for these projects until you have to.
It is an immensely readable book, and Catherine brings to it her journalistic skills in reporting all the facts and background necessary to make it more than just a thirty day report of her progress in each project.
As Catherine says, "Just do it."