Good for the soul

Friday - - Society -

When life’s just tick­ing along it can be easy to feel that no one re­ally needs you. It’s an es­pe­cially com­mon prob­lem amongst re­tirees, and very of­ten vol­un­tary or com­mu­nity work can be the an­swer. Gulf For Good (www. gulf4­good.org) can su­per­charge your sense of well-be­ing with a se­ries of events aimed at both chal­leng­ing you and help­ing oth­ers at the same time. Es­tab­lished in 2001, the char­ity ar­ranges adventures like cy­cling across Asia or tak­ing the Inca Trail in Peru. Par­tic­i­pants get a goal to aim for fol­lowed by a life-af­firm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and the knowl­edge that the money they raise in spon­sor­ship will be spent in the coun­try or coun­tries they’ve just vis­ited.

In the same vein but ar­guably even more hands-on, con­sider a com­mu­nity project in which you “do some­thing” – build­ing a well be­ing the clas­sic ex­am­ple – for fam­i­lies in need. It cer­tainly takes the feel-good fac­tor up a notch, and at www.go.uvol­un­teer.org there are pro­grammes to suit all skill sets. Fancy help­ing out young pris­on­ers in Nicaragua? Or teach­ing PE to Kenyan kids?

A lit­tle more im­me­di­ate, per­haps, and ideal for dog lovers, Dubai-based K9 Friends dog char­ity (www.k9friends.com) is al­ways on the look­out for vol­un­teers – dog walk­ers in­cluded.

Just plain crazy!

Some peo­ple sim­ply want to do some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent – peo­ple like Phil Shaw, the Brit who fa­mously com­bined rock climb­ing and iron­ing to cre­ate a new adren­a­line ‘sport’ called Ex­treme Iron­ing back in 1997. To this day no one’s en­tirely sure just how deeply Phil’s tongue was planted in his cheek when he came up with the idea, but the story goes that Phil was fed up af­ter a day’s work at his knitwear fac­tory and, in the mood for some climb­ing, de­cided he could have fun – and ap­pear on count­less TV ‘weird news’ slots – by merg­ing his job and his hobby.

Now a well-known ‘sport’ around the world, Ex­treme Iron­ing has seen en­thu­si­asts hoist­ing an iron­ing board up moun­tains and on to roofs, as well as wind­surf­ing, bungee jump­ing and even sky­div­ing with one.

Given that purists take the iron­ing part of the sport se­ri­ously, some ar­gue that women have an un­fair ad­van­tage (es­pe­cially when cou­pled with their nat­u­ral propen­sity for mul­ti­task­ing), but a brand new sport – what­ever your sex – that makes the most of your own skills could be just the ticket for a new life ad­ven­ture. Sk­i­lap­top­ping? Zumba-gar­den­ing? By be­ing the first, a world of ado­ra­tion (and YouTube hits) might just be yours!

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