She Tried Something New Every Day For 365 Days

"It turns out there were new things everywhere, and all I had to do was make a little effort to enjoy them."

The year I turned fifty, I resolved to do something new every day. When I tell people this, they always want to know what my favorite "new thing" was. They assume that I did something really different and amazing, like moving my family to an exotic place or learning to fly a helicopter. And they are inevitably disappointed when I say that my favorite thing was doing something new. Every. Single. Day. For a year.

Balancing 365 new things with work and family, while still managing to do the laundry and get dinner on the table every night, was not always easy. In the early weeks of the project, I often found myself at 11:45 p.m. wracking my brain for something new that I could actually accomplish in fifteen minutes. Thankfully, it turned out there were lots of things I had never done before that I could complete in a short period of time. I finished my first sudoku puzzle. I signed up for an online class to learn Italian. I smoked a cigar. I curled my eyelashes.

As time went by, I found it was easier to just keep my eyes open to the possibilities that surrounded me. It turns out there were new things everywhere, and all I had to do was make a little effort to enjoy them. And so, on a bitterly cold Saturday when I would normally have stayed home curled up with a book, I bundled up and set off to attend an Ice Festival. I got up crazy early one weekday morning to see a Blood Moon. I celebrated National Dog Day with my pup.

It wasn't long before my friends learned that I was open to almost anything I could consider a new thing, and the invitations began pouring in—not just from friends, but friends of friends. As a result, I went dog sledding, enjoyed stargazing on New York City's High Line, had lunch with Antonia Lofaso, who has appeared on Top Chef, attended a Fashion Week fashion show, and met Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King. I went to numerous lectures on all kinds of topics that I never would have previously considered useful or interesting and found something to appreciate in every single one.

Whenever I learned about something that seemed remarkable, I compelled myself to pursue it. Instead of "Why?" I began to ask "Why not?" I made my default response "Yes." When I learned about a local group trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records by having the most people jumping on mini trampolines at once, I signed up immediately. The designated morning was cold and rainy. None of my friends or family members wanted to join me on my quest, but when I got to the field where the event was being held I found hundreds of like-minded folks. Together, we jumped for more than an hour, exhilarated by the exercise and the joy of accomplishing something slightly weird but totally wonderful.

A fair amount of my new things involved food. I tried wild boar. I ate nettles. I sampled gooseberries. I drank Limoncello. I made homemade pesto and hummus for the first time. I made pizza from scratch. I discovered that Thai eggplants don't look like any other eggplant I've ever seen; they are green and round, but the flesh cooks up soft like a regular oblong aubergine. I found out that I don't like radishes roasted any more than I like them raw, but that I love passionfruit in all forms.

As I look back on the year, it doesn't matter to me that many of my "new things" weren't exactly meaningful. What mattered is that I discovered there is an endless number of new things for me to try. It seemed to me an obvious sign that at fifty, my life was lush and full of promise. I could continue to grow, stretch my wings, and learn more every day for the rest of my life. I enjoyed the idea of changing my mindset, making a mental stretch, and getting out of my comfort zone. If nothing else, it gave me a reason to welcome each day as an opportunity to experience the world a little differently, to counteract all that's easy, predictable, or monotonous.

I can't fly a helicopter yet. But I am in a Guinness World Records book!

Cover image via  asife I Shutterstock

Story by Victoria Otto Franzese, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Yes! © 2018 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved. 

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