I began my career as The Travel Mom in 1996 when my kids were young. I studied early childhood education in college and was teaching parenting classes, preschool and Mommy & Me. Travel was something I really enjoyed, and at that time no one was really talking to moms about making it less stressful. Through trial and error, I took on the task of trying to make family vacations more enjoyable for everyone and became one of the early “mommy experts” on television. I was thrilled to be able to marry so many things that I loved and make a living doing it.
My children grew up, life changed, and I evolved too. Once the kids both went off to college I felt grateful to have had the opportunity to travel with them, but I wanted to continue my journey. The nest was empty and it was time for me to do things that I always wanted to do.
I turned 49 in January and challenged myself to have 49 brand new, first-time experiences before my 50th birthday. I started keeping this at a blog and video series: www.49Before50.com. Some of these adventures have been thrill-seeking. I’ve jumped from the roof of the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas, rode in a bobsled down the ice track at Utah Olympic Park, skydived, hang glided, and BASE jumped from the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Others have been more about learning to do something that I’ve always been curious to try. I took a bartending workshop in Las Vegas to learn to make the perfect dirty martini (that’s my drink!), participated in a training session at an indoor shooting range so I could fire a gun, and spent the day with a chef picking fresh produce so I could finally learn to make homemade salad dressing.
The most meaningful of these challenges have been those that are naturally uncomfortable situations for me. I pushed myself to try to be comfortable with these activities and grew a great deal from them. Some of those included visiting the Phoenix Herpetological Society to get educated about snakes and try to conquer my lifelong fear of reptiles, and taking a pole dancing class. I’ve never been “that girl” who is comfortable with that part of me so it was particularly tough to let that side of me come out.
All of these new experiences produce fear. If I didn’t feel afraid of trying some of this stuff, I would really be nuts. Fear lets me know that this is real, and there are consequences, and I am alive. Feeling the fear is a good part of this journey.
Pushing past what I know as comfortable has been a truly remarkable learning experience. Each time I do something new, I discover how capable I am. Whether it’s adrenaline-pumping, educational or truly uncomfortable, each accomplishment is a shot of confidence.
We are creatures of habit. We go to the same places, eat the same foods, visit the same destinations and have the same experiences all the time. I am not suggesting that everyone alter their lifestyle completely and take on 49 new adventures. However, I am encouraging folks to try one new thing: Eat a new food, visit one new place, attempt one new activity. My goal is to inspire and motivate others so that they can feel the sense of pride and success that I am feeling with each of these. I have enjoyed my 49 Before 50 Challenge so much that I plan to tackle 50 new things the year I turn 50.