UPDATE UPDATE: Because I have some truly sadistic friends, if my page hits £1200 during the AUK15for15 Livestream, I will eat ALL 100g of terrible, rotten, horrifically gip-inducing blue cheese (actually a green one - Roquefort - described as 'Sharp & Tangy') The AUK staff team have been asked to 'Face Our Food Fears'. Believe me when I say, a small mouthful of blue cheese is enough to make me gag. But no, for some a small mouthful is not enough (no smut intended). Some 'friends' want to truly feel my pain. Absolute b*st%rds. Why do this to myself? Well, honestly, we're still staring down a long Autumn/Winter with no sign of the return of regular fundraising (who knows when that will return to 'normal'?!). This is an opportunity to squeeze a bit more from our successful September campaign. Every pound helps. So, if you want to see me either cry or vomit on a Livestream, please consider a lil' donation. 

UPDATE: I've kept the original challenge info listed below but I wanted to write an update. Well, 2020 didn't really pan out the way anyone expected eh? Speaking honestly, I haven't been someone who has thrived and flourished with 'lockdown'. I've ended up being pretty poorly with numerous hospital visits and doctors appointments and a final tentative diagnosis of 'stress induced IBS'. And that's as much as i'll talk about that...

I've figured that the year has been stressful enough without trying to work in all these challenges too. I have managed to do some of them and have updated them below). 

However, i'm still feeling a little awkward about accepting donations and not doing what I set out to do. 

As such, I'm going to set myself a mini-challenge of walking 15,000 steps for 15 days in September (as inspired by another of our 'AUK15for15' fundraisers. It will be a challenge as September is always a full on month for me at AUK but by having this challenge, it will mean that I don't spend the whole time at my desk (which i've realised is terrible for my well-being). 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has contributed! 

Amy’s #AUK15for15 Challenge for 2020

The rationale behind this idea…

‘If it’s good enough for Jen, it’s good enough for me…’

Haha, mostly joking but when Jen told me about all the personal challenges she was setting herself ahead of her 37th birthday year and how she was marking her 25th anniversary of having alopecia and Alopecia UK’s 15th birthday, I thought it wasn’t the craziest idea she’s ever had.

Well, as it turns out, 2020 is a milestone for me too. 2020 is the tenth anniversary of me losing my hair. I know, right?! Where did that time go?! And things have changed for me considerably over the past ten years.

I’m older, wiser, better-looking, more modest(!) haha. My work-life has changed somewhat. I have an entirely new job, turning my back on a career in the pensions industry to focus on helping others with alopecia. And my personal circumstances have changed, with a divorce; a new marital status box to tick when completing forms. The past 16 months haven’t been the easiest. In fact, at times they’ve been bloody tough. But here I am. In the words of the living legend Sir Elton John, I’m still standing.

When Jen told me about the types of challenges she was setting herself, I thought to myself, ‘Hey, I could also do with practicing a bit of self-care/self-love’ – whatever you want to call it! I’m regularly dishing out advice to those struggling with alopecia, telling them to be kind to themselves. But the thing about support-givers; they’re not always the best at looking after themselves. So…

Here are my own 15 challenges to mark Alopecia UK’s 15th birthday. But unlike Jen’s ’25’ themed challenges, mine are built around ‘10’ to mark my tenth anniversary of having alopecia. You’d think that would make mine easier but I’m not convinced as I am really challenging myself with some of these, particularly the ones involving physical exercise...

1. 10 walks of at least 10km - DONE
2. 10 Park Runs (hmmm…) - DIDN'T QUITE GO AS PLANNED
3. 10 sessions of some sort of talking therapy (have been putting this off but writing this down will commit me to get something booked in) 1 SESSION DONE - NOT QUITE WHAT I WANTED
4. 10 yoga classes (wanted to try it, always found a reason not to join a class!) - 6 CLASSES DONE
5. 10 lbs lost (plus a few more if I can but I’ve gotta stick to the 10 theme!) - Hmmm...does 10 pounds gained get me any points?!
6. 10 random acts of kindness given to either strangers or people I know - DONE! (And something i'll continue with). 
7. 10 ‘classic’ books read (recommendations welcome!) - Hmmm....err...I struggled my way to the end of Pride and Prejudice. Without wanting to blame Covid for everything, I have struggled to concentrate on reading this year. Normally I love to lose myself in a book - not this year - TV has been my salvation!
8. 10 weeks alcohol-free (which weeks to choose?…and do I make them consecutive weeks or 10 weeks spread across the year…not that this is the challenge I’m most struggling with the idea of or owt. Haha. Details unclear but I WILL do 10 weeks without booze! I have experienced too many killer hangovers of late!) DONE! AND BOY WAS IT HARD!
9. 10 hours of de-hoarding! (Is that a word? Believe me, the 10 hours are essential! Chucking stuff out is the thing I most procrastinate about. Everyone, keep your eyes on eBay in 2020 for a load of 80s/90s toys!) - DONE!
10. 10km run. An actual official, organised, competitive 10k race. (Urgh). Nope! THANK YOU COVID-19!! Haha. 
11. 10 acts of support to local community groups/organisations/charities eg donations to food banks, de-hoarded goods to charity shops, volunteering at WI events etc 3 officially ticked off but again think I might have done a couple more than this. 
12. 10 ‘ticketed’ events/experiences – theatre, cinema, pop-up experiences, festivals, gigs etc to get me out of the rut by which all my social experiences are trips to the pub! TWO MUSICALS ATTENDED BEFORE THE END OF EVERYTHING!!
13. 10 meals cooked for family and friends (feel free to invite yourselves round!) Erm, does cooking ALL THE MEALS for my housemate count!? (Actually managed to tick off 4 meals for family/friends which is a miracle!)
14. 10 ‘Greatest Films of All Time’ watched (recommendations again welcome) DONE! Gawd, I picked some absolute stinkers.
15. 10 dates (erm…!) - NOPE!

The idea behind my chosen challenges is to do things that will hopefully make me a happier and healthier person. I’m hoping that some of my family and friends will support me along the next 12 months (lemme know if you fancy helping me out on any of these - join me on a walk or run or allow me to cook you dinner!  Unlike Jen, my deadline is not my birthday as I’m a March baby! My challenges will be running right the way until the end of 2020 (perhaps unlike this year I won’t avoid New Year’s Eve in 2020 and it can be my final ticketed event?!)

Some of my challenges might not sound like a big deal. But if I manage to achieve all of them, it will be a pretty big thing for me! And hopefully make me a happier person.

I know that many of my family and friends have dug deep for Alopecia UK over the past 10 years (and I’m very grateful!) but I’m hoping that some of you might be kind enough to throw another tenner my way in 2020 – ya know, for my ten years. I’m aiming to raise £2,000 with this page by the end of the year. And we’re hoping others will get behind the #AUK15for15 campaign, do their own fundraising and hopefully we can raise £15k with this appeal to mark 15 years of the charity. I’m also hoping to organise a fundraising pub quiz to try and bump up my total.

When I lost my hair in 2010, I expected it was a temporary blip. I thought my hair would return. But the universe had other ideas! It still feels ridiculous that a significant date in my life is the date of that first head shave but it was a pretty monumental day and those feelings don't leave you. With hindsight, it marked the start of an adventure! 

I’ll update you on my progress throughout 2020. Expect attractive photos of me with a sweaty face post-run and links to eBay listings of the random things I’ll be selling. Perhaps I’ll do a couple of book and film reviews! And I know some of my friends will be keen to hear about any awkward dates I have! Eeek. 

Watch this space!



Amy Johnson