When I turned 39 I looked ahead and I really, really wanted the last year before I turned 40 to be about doing new things. I am the kind of girl who prefers going to the same restaurant and ordering the same thing off the menu that I ordered last time. I wear the same couple of pairs of jeans in my closet, I buy neutral colors because they go with everything and they don't draw attention. But there is something that feels alive about stretching yourself, even in little ways.
I recognize that for the person who grasps the fulness of life every moment, always choosing the new over something they have already done, my list of successes might seem rather boring. But for me, it was about altering even simple decisions, when intentionally looking to do the new instead of the comfortable familiar. I actually ended up doing more than 40 new things, but here are the 40 I chose to write down.
Right after my birthday we decided to take a day trip north to the Canadian border, instead of staying home and doing chores, our normal Saturday routine. That simple decision kicked off our journey with four new to us places:
#1 Lafeen's, Bellingham (WA)
#2 Peace Arch Park
#3 Little Red Caboose Cafe
#4 Million Smiles Playground
Later in August we planned our Family Vacation with my goal of trying new things in mind. We headed to The Dalles, where I had never been with the purpose of doing as many touristy things as we could pack in the four days we were gone.
#5 Byways Cafe, Portland (OR) - This was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, so we wanted to stop and try their breakfast on our way. Good enough, but we won't make a point of going back.
#6 Vista House
#7 Bonneville Dam, Bonneville (WA)
#8 Apple Valley Country Store
#9 Solstice Wood Fire Cafe - Super, super yummy pizza. If I find myself in the area again, so going back!
#10 Maryhill Museum - The best part of the museum, in my opinion, was the outdoor sculptures, which you don't have to pay to see. The kids loved looking at the art they could actually touch. For their ages, this was just perfect!
#11 Goldendale Observatory State Park - Daniel was most intrigued by this, but it was cloudy. The conditions weren't good to see anything at all, unfortunately. Almost felt wrong to count it, but we did go.
#12 Maryhill Stonehenge - The kids loved running around and through this tribute to the original Stonehenge.
#13 Baldwin Saloon - This saloon made the list because of what I ordered, a Captain's Platter that had oysters! I never try new food and have NEVER tried oysters. I won't be ordering them again, but at least I can say with all honesty that I know that I don't like them.
#14 Pink Sparkle Shoes - I purchased my first pair of pink sparkle shoes. These shoes run so contrary to anything I would ever buy. They make me think of my sweet lifelong friend who lives life in fun shoes all the time. I bought them right after she lost her dad and right before she lost her mom. They help me to remember. Every time I wear them I think of her. The purchase delighted my daughters and made me long to live life wearing more pink and less beige.
#15 Pioneer Pumpkins and Corn Maze - We went to a different corn maze, rather than the one we have always gone to. Remember I said simple decisions.
And in the spirit of simple everyday decisions, we went to two new restaurants. I would have ordinarily picked old faithfuls, where I knew I would love what I ordered. And guess what, they were both good. Shocker, I know.
#16 Taco Del Mar
#17 Bob's Burger
#18 I got a makeover. Yep. My first makeover ever and it included eyebrow waxing, which I was really, really hesitant to do, knowing I wouldn't want to keep having them done. But it was so fun and I am so glad that I did it.
#19 I started working out faithfully on a treadmill, 4-6 days a week. I have never done that, my whole life. And writing this nearly eight months later, I am happy to say that I have kept it up. Super big deal for me!
#20 Skagit Valley Running Co - It quickly became apparent that I needed to get fit for running shoes. So I went to the Skagit Valley Running Co and actually had a professional fit me for shoes. So worth it.
When we hit our Ten Year Anniversary this past Spring we decided to go away for a full week, just the two of us. I had three goals for the week. First, to check off some new things. Second, to do things that my husband loves. And finally, to stay active, even though we were on vacation. I'm thrilled to say all three things were accomplished!
#21 Kala Point - We purchased a week at a timeshare. Never done that and was thrilled with what we got, even though we felt we were bidding blindly at the auction we'd purchased it at.
#22 Waterfront Pizza, Port Townsend (WA)
#23 Fort Worden, Port Townsend (WA)
#24 Banana Leaf Thai Food, Port Townsend (WA)
#25 Indian Island/Marrowstone Island/Fort Flagler
#26 Burgers Landing
#27 Dungeous Lighthouse Spit Hike - This is the longest natural sand spit in the United States (11 miles round trip). I am most PROUD of accomplishing this of anything all year. We hiked all the way out and all the way back! It felt like an immense accomplishment. It's not a half marathon, but to be able to do it after just three months of working out on a treadmill it felt like a great accomplishment.
#28 Pedro's Fiesta
#29 Port Townsend Aero Museum
#30 The Belmont Restaurant Hotel and Saloon
#31 Walk/Run 5K - I completed my first 5K. This felt wonderful. I won't ever be one of those race junkies who runs a race every other weekend, but this felt like a really great accomplishment. It felt good to have my kids see me do something like this. I have wanted to model a healthy active lifestyle without it taking away from time with them.
#32 Tacos El Rey Food Truck, Marysville (WA) - I've always wanted to eat from a food truck and finally did that this year. We even went back. Oh wait, that kind of defeats the purpose if one of the new things becoming a regular thing. Hmm. Still fun!
#33 Logger Rodeo, Sedro Woolley (WA) - Going to the rodeo was a big deal because I never would have gone to a rodeo if I hadn't been looking for things I had never done. Seriously, never thought of myself as a country living kind of girl. In fact I think I kind of have been known to turn my nose up to all things country. But I really surprised myself by enjoying this experience! So glad we went and took the family! There might even be a bit of a country girl deep down.
#34 Stage Design for VBS using sheets of insulated styrofoam - This was a true first for me. I've never been able to think on this kind of scale when it comes to artistic things. Eric pushed me and this really ended up being one of the things from the year that I was shocked that was able to do. I'm already thinking about what I can do for next year.
Before we left on vacation last week we had gotten pretty close to wrapping up my list. But, I realized that I had really started a new habit of looking for new things, everywhere. So when we talked about where to go I immediately knew I wanted to go someplace new and I wanted to try more Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives restaurants coming and going. So we did! We headed to Nevada and found out I LOVE IT! The heat was divine. My insides still feel warm and we've been home several days.
#35 Otto's, Portland (OR) - Good hot dogs, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get them again.
#36 Jackson Pizza Parlor, Medford (OR) - This was a beautiful discovery. If you ever heard me talk about Three Rivers Pizza (in New Mexico) from our road trip three years ago... well, this pizza rivaled that one. Truly! Maybe it has something do do with being at the end of our first day on a multiple day road trip. Whatever. I'd go back in a heartbeat! It's only five hours away!
#37 In and Out Burger, Redding (CA) - We totally routed our trip through Redding, JUST to go to In and Out Burger because I have wanted to go for years. Finally made it! Couldn't believe how cheap they are. Love it! So thankful they are so far away or I would be stopping for a burger far too frequently!
#38 Trolley Ride, Virginia City (NV) - I'd never been on a trolley before. So we did the trolley tour. A bit of a disappointment. Hardly feels like it should count, but it does.
#39 Ponderosa Mine, Virginia City (NV) - I'd never been in a mining shaft and this was a pretty cool experience. Gracie even opted to wear the helmet and didn't understand why she couldn't keep the hard hat!
#40 Stage Coach Ride, Virginia City (NV) - This was the best first time experience all year and it was so appropriate for it to be number forty! I would do this again in a heartbeat. My only regret is not encouraging Eric to ride shotgun. This five to seven minute ride was worth the whole trip to Virginia City by far. To hear the girls giggle with delight was beyond wonderful. Eric said he's never seen me smile so big and wish he'd brought a video camera to catch my reaction in the stagecoach. It was just so fun. We even bought all the photos their professional photographer took. And if you know me, you know I don't "waste" money on that kind of thing. But this is a memory that really summarized this entire last year! I love that I have great photos capturing it!
Committing to new things this year was the most significant decision I made all year. It has made such a tremendous impact on my life. There is this bittersweet sadness that the year has come to a close. I don't have the same excuse to try things that I have never done before. I am hopeful that the practice of choosing new over the familiar has been established enough to be called a habit. I don't want to fall back into the old rut of doing what I know I'll like.
What new things do you think I should do this next year to keep me from falling back into old habits?