This Nova Scotian marked her 50th birthday with 50 firsts

Donna Hatt didn't want to celebrate her 50th birthday with a one-day celebration. She decided to celebrate the occasion by trying out 50 new things in 2017.

Donna Hatt decided she would do 50 new things in 2017, such as a polar bear dip and snowshoeing

Donna Hatt went bass fishing for the first time at Ten Mile Lake on Nova Scotia's South Shore. (Submitted by Donna Hatt)

Donna Hatt knew she didn't want a party for her 50th birthday last year.

"It was actually in the wee hours of one night when I thought, 'What am I going to do? I'm a half-century,'" she told CBC's Mainstreet. "And the list just started streaming out on paper."

Hatt, who lives outside of Bridgewater, N.S., came up with a number of things she hadn't done before.

"I thought, you know what, I don't need a day: I need 365," said Hatt.

And there it was — 50 firsts.

Donna Hatt did her first polar bear dip at White Point Beach Resort on Jan. 1, 2017. (Submitted by Donna Hatt)

Hatt jumped into her year of firsts even before her birthday on Feb. 8, 2017.

On Jan. 1, she braved the cold to do the Polar Bunny Dip where she works at White Point Beach Resort. The day ended with a double rainbow.

Iceland, bass fishing, bubble bath

As the year went on, her list grew.

Hatt spent Thanksgiving in Iceland, which was a birthday present from her husband.

It turns out that turning 50 means it's time for colon cancer screening. (Submitted by Donna Hatt)

She went snowshoeing, bass fishing and sailed to new-to-her destinations in Nova Scotia.

Hatt gave blood for the first time.

She even went for a colon cancer test after a yellow slip showed up in the mail — an unexpected perk of turning 50.

Donna Hatt now owns a pair of snowshoes. (Submitted by Donna Hatt)

"Some of the things on the list, they're not big door crashers by any means," she said.

Hatt took a bubble bath for the first time ever. She even had bath salts, candles and wine to spice up the experience.

"After 10 minutes I said, 'OK, what's next?'" said Hatt.

A journey of self-discovery

Hatt ended up doing things she wouldn't normally do.

As Hatt told people about her plan, new opportunities came about.

Hatt was asked if she wanted to go see a country music concert because someone had spare tickets. Despite not being a country music fan, she went and saw Brett Kissel at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool.

Now, she even listens to country music on the radio.

Donna Hatt, who is not a fan of country music, attended Brett Kissel's Liverpool, N.S., concert on Jan. 26, 2017. (Submitted by Donna Hatt)

Hatt also learned some new dislikes.

"I usually like everything regimental and planned, articulated to the hour. What's gonna happen and when it's gonna happen," said Hatt.

Even so, her Iceland trip taught her that she's not fond of bus tours.

'A year is filled with options and opportunities'

Life is short, Hatt said, and there's so much to share.

"It's not about buying things: it's about time. And it's about spending time with people you haven't taken the time to spend it with," she said.

No. 26 on the list was a beach bonfire at sunset with friends. (Submitted by Donna Hatt)

The list isn't a contest, but about pushing herself to do something different.

Hatt accomplished more than 60 firsts in 2017, but she said "Nova Scotia is bursting with even more experiences" and she has 51 firsts planned for 2018, such as drinking lobster beer and going surfing in winter.

"A year is filled with options and opportunities," she said.

Donna Hatt led the Polar Bunny Dip for Canada 150 at White Point Beach Resort. Hatt says 173 people showed up, and so did a double rainbow. (Submitted by Donna Hatt)

About the Author

Natalie Dobbin

Associate Producer

natalie.dobbin@cbc.ca

With files from CBC's Mainstreet