The Joy of New Discoveries


“Life is like a game of poker: If you don’t put any in the pot, there won’t be any to take out.” – Jackie “Moms” Mabley

I recently began reading The 52 Weeks: Two Women and Their Quest to Get Unstuck, with Stories and Ideas to Jumpstart Your Year of Discovery by Karen Amster-Young and Pam Godwin. After feeling stuck and bored with their lives, they decided to embark on a 52-week challenge of self-discovery. They vowed to try something new each week for 52 weeks. The idea behind the challenge is that trying new things not only relieves boredom, but provides the momentum required for growth and development in our lives. Amster-Young and Godwin argue that trying new things may lead to new-found passions and realizations, and more joyful lives.

I was drawn to 52 Weeks because it’s not often that I try new things. These bursts of adventure are few and far between. There are movies, plays, concerts, and classes I have put off attending, always promising to get to them after I complete some other grown-up responsible task and have more time. Even a waitress at my favorite restaurant thinks I should live a little closer to the edge.

“Don’t be afraid to try something different. You might actually like it,” she told me as she tried to convince me to order an apple martini and something other than my usual salmon croquettes with collard greens and mac and cheese. Yes, I am in need of a life reboot.

So, I’ve decided to embark on my own 52 Week Challenge – albeit not for 52 consecutive weeks. I need to ease into this “try new things on a regular basis” routine. I commit to making a conscious effort to try something new. It’s time to dust off my old bucket list. Here’s my list thus far:

  1. Go on a NYC walking tour – Although I have lived in NYC all my life, I am unfamiliar with many of its neighborhoods. Whenever I visit a new city, I love walking around and exploring. Why not do that at home?
  2. Visit NY’s Metropolitan Museum of Art – I’ve been to the Louvre in Paris, but not to the Met in my own city? Clearly, I need to get my life together. Don’t judge me.
  3. Take a pottery class – This has been on my list for years – like 8 or 9 years. Pottery is beautiful.
  4. Take a photography class – I love taking pictures, particularly of buildings, trees, and flowers.
  5. Go on a writing retreat – I’m a writer. ‘Nuff said.
  6. Go to a writers’ conference – Ditto
  7. Submit an essay to a literary journal – Ditto
  8. Submit an essay to a website/magazine – Ditto
  9. Volunteer – Giving to and making time for others is important and fulfilling. I haven’t volunteered in a very long time. There are organizations I keep saying I’m going to contact, but never get around to actually doing it. There’s no time like the present.
  10. Take an improv class – This seems like a fun way to face my fear of public speaking and become more spontaneous.
  11. Hang a picture – I’ve never hung a picture for fear of banging a hole in my wall. I bought a painting almost a year ago and had it framed – and it’s still sitting on the floor. Don’t judge me.
  12. Take a cooking class – I am a horrible cook. Point. Blank. Period. Exclamation point. I blame Granny. Whenever she cooked, she’d chase me out of the kitchen and tell me to go read a book or do my homework. So that’s what I did, and continue to do. Speaking of which, I should replace the batteries in my fire alarm.
  13. Cook new dishes – Maybe I should change this to “turn on my stove at least once a month.” When I first moved into my apartment, I contacted my building’s management office because my stove wouldn’t turn on. I thought it was broken or hooked up incorrectly. It turns out that my turning-on-a-stove skills were broken. Yea, I’m trying to get my life together.
  14. Travel to a country I’ve never been to before – I love to travel, but never make it a priority. Prior to a recent trip to Montreal, I hadn’t been out the country since 2009. It’s time to get more stamps in my passport. My Australia trip is coming up!

Okay, I’ve only got 14 weeks covered. I’ll add as I go. What new things would you like to try?

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