My 52 New Things Project

I have received the message loud and clear – I should not have deleted the 2015 posts about my 52 New Things project.  In hindsight, deleting those posts might not have been my best idea.

Although I’ve kept hard-copies of my old posts, I decided I would rather revisit the project in a new post rather than recreating individual posts from the past.

At the beginning of 2015, I needed to shake-up my world a bit.  I felt like I was settling into a rut of sameness and I wanted a challenge that would keep me on the edge of my comfort zone.  After all, that is the whole point of this blog.

My project wasn’t intended to be a high octane list of death-defying activities.  I’ve been there, and done that. I was simply trying to add variety and new experiences into my life.

I glibly called it 52 New Things, thinking of it as a weekly challenge, but when I used the hashtag #52newthings for the first time, I discovered it was actually a “thing”. People were already doing it all over the world and I had accidentally tripped into an existing phenomenon.

My list grew gradually from things I wanted to try, things I read about, heard about … a dozen and one different sources offering possibilities.  It was a combination of simple things like trying new foods, fun things like trying a flotation tank, to much bigger objectives like travel, and exploring my home city of Toronto.

At the end of 2015, I had completed 85 new things broken down into the following general categories:

Travel = 19
Visiting Around Toronto = 14
New Foods = 12
Unusual Recipes = 11
New Experiences = 9
Personal Development = 9
New Projects = 4
Meeting Bloggers = 3
Miscellaneous = 4

It was a year of many highlights including travelling to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland.  However if I had to pick just one thing about that first year of new stuff, the undisputed high water mark would be joining the 600 km Friends For Life Bike Rally from Toronto to Montreal in support of the Toronto People With Aids Foundation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
My guys – Dempsey, Trevor, Jazz, Jordan on Red Dress Day for HIV/AIDS Awareness

 

I was asked to be a volunteer driver with the medical team and normally I would have avoided this kind of activity at all costs – a week-long commitment, dealing with strangers, in an unfamiliar setting, camping in tents, in the heat of summer.  I wasn’t even sure I would be able to drive 8 hours a day for 5 consecutive days.

Nothing about this experience sounded attractive.

… but this was a worthy cause important to my son and ‘adopted’ sons, and I had committed to a year of trying new things.

It was time to walk my talk.

Bike Rally3
Me – two days without a shower in the summer heat and humidity, somewhat sleep deprived

I was humbled by the energy of both the riders and the volunteers – their stories, their kindness, their support of one another.  I surprised myself at my ability to adapt, fit it, and not only survive, but thrive.  We laughed, we cried, there was drama, sadness, and moments of silliness.

In the end, this experience touched me deeply and provided the ultimate learning for this year-long experiment.  If something feels scary and audacious, take the leap … it is likely going to affect you in ways you can’t predict.

The 52 New Things project was such a positive experience, I have continued it each year since then – although now I just refer to it as my New Things List.  At the beginning of each year, I purge out everything I completed in the prior year and delete anything that no longer interests me.

The truth however is that my list keeps growing anyway.  There are just SO MANY things I want to do, see, experience.

Maybe this inspires you to try your own year of doing new things too.

91 comments

  1. Joanne, I was one of the folks asking about this and cannot believe I missed the post. Actually, I was traveling and had marked it in red in my inbox (thank goodness!)….and today being a cold rainy day is an in-box clear-out day. THANK YOU for reposting what this was all about. I love it and will definitely be in the steal and reapply mode … this will be my year for 52 new things. I’m going to look back at Jan, Feb and Mar and start the list of things done… and then look for the next set of opportunities. The idea fits really good with me activating my retirement lifestyle vision – I am active, connected, and creative. I SOAR. (newest articulation) So excited to see how I’m doing against the 52 goal! Again thanks for the inspiration.

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    • I’m so excited that you are starting your own version of this lifestyle. I am calling it a lifestyle now rather than a *project* because it seems more appropriate to do 🙂
      Even better that you are going back and recreating what you’ve done in the past 3 months. It is a great wakeup call regardless of the results – either patting yourself on the back for already being in that mode, or confirming that it’s time to get into gear 🙂

      Looking forward to hearing about your own stories 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Simply love this idea. I’m hoping to post something mid-year to see how far into the 52 New Things I’ve gotten. I did look back and had a pretty good start to the year. But it will be a challenge. I’ve added many new things into my life in the past 3 years that are “regular” now and I really like – yoga, Zumba, daily journalling, blogging, foodie club, walk & talks. I’m quite liking my new life rhythm, but it does leave less time for new things!

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  2. Those adopted sons are such characters who would motivate almost anyone!! Great photo of you looking like a firm “badass,” Joanne. Hands on hips, no nonsense woman. Hear you (and me) roar! Lol 😀

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    • Thanks Teagan – adopting the New Things strategy has been a big game changer for me. It frames my attitude about how I look at things.
      … and yes, the guys are already after me to consider returning to Bike Rally this year, except this time as a rider. THAT ain’t going to happen 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I am not in a place in life where I feel I need to seek out new things. THEY COME TO ME, lol! That being said, I’ve been in ruts where I would’ve welcomed them, and I’m sad I wasn’t caught up in that movement then, because that would’ve helped. Learning is my favorite, adventure is fab – just not too crazy for me and my anxiety 😉
    Love the photo of your sons 🙂

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  4. Yup, I like the idea of categories and then ideas flow from that – thanks Joanne. I’ve found on many an occasion of eg NOT wanting to go on walk, hike, pick up trash, eat a certain something, whatever, that when I DO do it, I surprise myself by actually enjoying myself ..

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  5. Oh, I didn’t know you’d deleted those posts. I remember that project so well. Weird food and the flotation tank were the highlights plus the bike race of course. Even though I was really inspired by that project, I never quite managed to put my own into a concrete format. But I’d like to think I was inspired to try so many new things more generally (including the flotation tank!). I think you’re amazing!

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  6. I love the idea of 52 new things. I have flirted with the idea of hiking/cycling the Transcanada trail, and have recently done some small segments of it in BC and Alberta. In my younger years, I went on a few multi-day cycling trips (Sunshine coast and Vancouver Island; several Gulf Islands), and multi-day backpacking trips (the West Coast trail), and just a few years ago Rob and I canoed the Bowron Lakes route, an 8 day trip, with some friends.

    Jude

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    • I went beyond the flirtation stage. Last year, my hiking partner and I decided to tackle the TransCanada. We’ve been doing sections within an hour’s drive of Toronto, but this summer I’ll be doing my first multi-day trips into Quebec. I’m actually in the process of planning it now.
      We’ve covered about 650 km doing a mix of hiking and cycling in out-and-back trips, depending the weather and the trail.

      I’m curious about your treks along on the West Coast Trail. I assume you’re talking about the trail along Vancouver Island? Did you do it end to end? … I would bow to you in deep respect. I hear that trail is pretty amazing – and challenging!

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      • Yes, we hiked the whole thing in 4 days (it was supposed to take 7). However, that was many, many years ago when I was still in my twenties. I think I would find the ladders up the cliffs a bit challenging now.

        Jude

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        • The ladders are what I thought were the most interesting about this trail. They would be challenging and exciting at the same time … although carrying a heavy pack on my back wouldn’t be very nice 😉

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  7. I’m sort of familiar with this 52 New Things idea, from somewhere but I can’t remember where. [You, maybe?] I like the concept, and need to think about incorporating it into my daily life. Clearly you did– and look at all you accomplished!

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  8. This is beautiful. ❤ You are beautiful. I just wish I didn't know it was all available online, all your endeavours and achievements, and now it's gone! Ahh, I'd love to browse those! But I see you regret this too.

    I'm not good at fixed plans, I prefer doing it organically. I do have extensive to read, to watch and to visit lists and I'm slowing moving through them. I do appreciate a kick in the butt. Especially visitors move me into action (and I have several incoming, yeah!).

    I wish you many inspiring and inspired moments.

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    • You are so kind and generous with your words 💕

      I admit I’m like you – I don’t particularly have much of a fixed plan …. except for the hiking/cycling time I have with Helen on the TransCanada.
      I get inspired to do stuff sporadically. One week I may be off doing many different things and then nothing for a few weeks.
      I’d say that if you already have lists, you’re ahead of the game!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You gave me goosebumps with this post. I applaud your involvement in this rally. I also thank you from the bottom of my heart for reminding me to go where I haven’t been before, fear or no fear. 🙂 This is a perfect example of why I love my blogging community.

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    • I know what you mean. I learn so much from the blogging community. Non bloggers just don’t understand!

      I know I’ve talked about life on the edge a few times, and the beauty of it is that it means something different to everyone. We all have a different sense of adventure and risk … and each is right 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Sounds challenging, but worthwhile. I thought you were going to say you’d cycled 600km yourself but, tbh, driving 8 hrs per day is just as impressive to me (I hate driving). Love the red dress photo!

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    • Those young men have been pestering me for a few years to join them on the ride. Once upon a time when I was in training and putting in a lot of cycling hours, this would have been realistic, but now I just can’t fathom the thought of sitting on a bike saddle for 100+ km per day for 6 days. Nope.
      I’m going to be challenging myself enough this summer with 2 cycling trips of 4 days back-to-back, but the volume will be only 40km per day – and I’ll be sleeping in a real bed at night instead of on the ground in a tent.

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  11. This experience is quite inspirational, Joanne. I have a good idea of what I want to do in retirement, but this seems like a way to make sure that something gets accomplished, even if my plans proceed slowly. I appreciate your sharing this.

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    • Thanks Dan – and you’re welcome.

      I too had a general idea of what I wanted to do with my retirement, but I tend to get bogged down into the “shoulds” rather than the “want tos”. Instead of the lifestyle of doing and learning I had wanted, my time was disproportionately consumed with chores. It was not making for a happy Joanne.
      My list helped me make doing and learning a priority.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m not as ambitious as you are but I like to try a few new things each year. Sometimes they are time consuming and sometimes not. I love learning new things. With my ancestry research I’m getting a yen to learn the language of my ancestors. I was good at languages when I was young but statistics show that it’s MUCH easier to do at a very young age. Oh, what the heck…

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  13. I love the idea of 52 New Things! I love retirement, but I do find myself drifting into comfortable sameness. I am tempted to come up with a list of my own. I’m curious, how many of these 52 things were specific (“visit X location, “try Y food”) versus general, like “I want to complete five new projects”?

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    • All of the items on my list are specific – and quite frankly, many get added after they were already completed.
      For example, one day when I was in the Asian grocery store I was inspired to try Jack Fruit. I had heard about it but had never seen or tried it before … and here was a huge bin full of them! So I seized the moment 🙂
      It had a lovely texture and flavour but was a nightmare to cut.
      So I was quite excited to find canned Jack Fruit (in the same Asian grocery store) and tried it. Bleech! Fail.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That is so funny! Paul and I were grocery shopping the other day and saw some Jack Fruit. We were tempted to buy one but decided that we didn’t know enough about how to choose a good one. Enter YouTube! When we got home we watched a few and learned a lot about picking a good one, how to cut it, and what to do with the various parts (did you know that the seeds are edible?). Next time we visit our local Asain market, we plan to get one. Good to know about the canned version (yuck).

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        • You were a step ahead of me – I had to ask a Chinese couple who were picking through the fruit to select one for me. They did so happily and picked a very good one 🙂
          … but yes, we had to revert to youtube to find out how to cut it! I didn’t know about the seeds though.

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  14. I’m so glad you revisited 52 things Joanne. I was a bit sad to hear you’d deleted your archive because I do revisit bloggers’ older posts from time to time, and certainly refer to my own archive on occasion.
    I think it’s a wonderful project and you’ve embraced it with such gusto.

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  15. ” I surprised myself at my ability to adapt, fit it, and not only survive, but thrive.” This line speaks volumes and is so true about what we CAN accomplish. Thank you for taking the time to take us back to the beginning of this project. It is very inspirational!

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  16. Thanks for doing this, Joanne. I appreciate you catching up those of us who didn’t have the good fortune of knowing you back then.
    You’ll see why I was especially eager to read this when you read a post that I’m going to put up in a few weeks. It has been a work in progress for months and I still have a ways to go, but your 52 New Things post connects beautifully and I look forward to referencing it.

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    • Awesome! I look forward to it 🙂

      There were a couple of posts I meant to do at the end of December related to my new things in 2017, but I never got around to it. Inspiration was lacking. I think I should dust off those ideas 🙂. thanks again for the nudge.

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  17. Keep at it, Joanne. Although I don’t know if making a list of new things is necessary. I’ve found that life has a way of imposing new things upon us, whether we want them or not. Usually I don’t want them. But in hindsight, some of my unwanted adventures have actually been a lot of fun.

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  18. I think it’s a great idea to challenge ourselves to try new things – big & little, great & small. And that photo of you ROCKS!

    Yesterday I made a Mexican Lasagna for the first time using gluten free corn tortillas. To be honest, I was NOT expecting to enjoy it much . . . but I continued forward. We loved it. Huzzah!

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    • Thanks Nancy – I was feeling a little rough around the edges 🙂

      Not all my new things were hits and certainly I have a few fails in the food category, but I’m much more open to trying recipes and ingredients that deviate from the ‘normal’. Your Mexican Lasagna definitely sounds like one of those and even better that you loved it!!

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    • Red Dress Day – or rather Dress Red Day, as they now call it – was and still is my favourite day of Bike Rally. The costumes and the fun of the day is the best. The legs on some of these guys as they strutted around camp in stilettos made me SO JEALOUS!! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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