Now Or Never

How turning 50 inspired me to learn 50 new things

When Charmian Bland turned 50, she decided to make sure she had a year full of new experiences. "I may not have celebrated my expected milestones of being married, owning a house and being a parent, but I'm still living a rich life," she says.

Charmian Bland says she's still 'living a rich life full of amazing experiences'

Charmian Bland has committed to learning 50-plus new things this year, including rope climbing. (Jonathan Ventura)

What does it mean to turn 50? If you're Now or Never listener Charmian Bland, it means being brave and trying 50 new things this year. When she called to tell us about the big plans she has for this year, we wanted to know more. Turns out, one of her big goals was to write a blog. Below is her post for Now or Never!


I hadn't expected to be one of those people who was hesitant to turn 50, until it was actually my turn. I was disheartened by the idea of a number, a big scary one, defining who I was or how I was supposed to behave. I think I've always wondered how other people perceived me, and I couldn't figure out if my outside image matched my inside feelings. Turning 50 really had me focusing on that question.

Several weeks before my actual birthday in February, I was on a walk with a close friend who was also turning 50. We've been friends since we were five years old, so we share many memories and experiences, and we trust that we'll support and challenge each other. We both agreed that the years were going by at an increasing speed, and we needed to approach things with a new outlook if we wanted them to slow down.

Learning how to scuba dive was at the top of Bland's '50 at 50' list. (Submitted by Charmian Bland)

We discussed some things we could do to celebrate our fifties in unique ways, which led to the idea of doing 50 new things for my 50th year, one new thing a week with a couple of weeks to spare. Little did I know my list would quickly grow to more than 100 different possibilities!

'Slow down Mom, that's just nuts!'

Bland, second from right, dressed up for a steampunk masquerade. (Charmian Bland)

I was instantly excited about the idea and brought it up with everyone I spoke to, starting that night in a conversation with my mom.

She was quick to jump on board with a suggestion to kick off my 50th year by going completely crazy and wearing lipstick to work for a whole day. Wow, slow down Mom, that's just nuts! Down it went on my list, though, with a new rule that anything goes.

It was soon followed by suggestions such as: getting my scuba diving certificate, eating insects, going to a trampoline park, learning to play the penny whistle and jumping in the ocean in the middle of winter.

One of Bland's goals was to be a puppy porter, and travel with a dog back to Canada. (Charmian Bland)

My "50 at 50" list became a challenge for my friends, colleagues and students to come up with new things that I should try. I was a bit surprised by how often I could reject ideas because I had already done them. It made me realize that, contrary to my beliefs, I'd not been living a small life and 50 did not need to be a marker of old age. I may not have celebrated my expected milestones of being married, owning a house and being a parent, but I was still living a rich life full of wonderful people and amazing experiences.

Like jumping out of trees:

50-year-old jumps off of a 40-foot tree

4 years ago
Duration 1:06
Listener Charmian Bland jumps out of a tree as part of her '50 at 50' list!

No rules, no regrets

The most rewarding part of my "50 at 50" list was getting other people excited about trying new things and committing to doing them with me. Given my lack of rules about my list, I decided that if an opportunity presented itself, I would participate, then add it to my list afterwards.

Who knew I'd have a chance to go to a steampunk masquerade, climb a Mayan pyramid, dance at a silent disco, be a puppy porter (bring a dog back to Canada by plane for an owner) and learn to play pickle ball?

 Quite frankly, there are some things on my list that I don't imagine I'll ever have the guts or opportunity to do, like getting a tattoo or trying taxidermy, but I've been much more aware of how even the smallest experiences can be meaningful and make me smile. I still have a solid five months in my 50th year and I plan to finish them off with just as much energy and enthusiasm as I had when this adventure started.

 

My "50 at 50" list

(The product of many different people's suggestions, and a list that has grown beyond 50!)

       
  1. Wear lipstick to work
  2.    
  3. Learn to play the ukulele
  4.    
  5. Get my scuba diving certificate
  6.    
  7. Go to the Dark Table restaurant and eat in total darkness
  8.    
  9. Go to a trampoline park
  10.    
  11. Eat insects
  12.    
  13. Learn to play the penny whistle
  14.    
  15. Become a baby snuggler at a children's hospital
  16.    
  17. Take a cooking class
  18.    
  19. Join a choir
  20.    
  21. Join an unlikely meet-up group
  22.    
  23. Jump in the ocean in the winter
  24.    
  25. Learn about and visit different places of religious worship
  26.    
  27. Get cupping done
  28.    
  29. Go to a Turkish bath
  30.    
  31. Try circus silks
  32.    
  33. Try slacklining and make it at least part way across
  34.    
  35. Sing in a public performance
  36.    
  37. Indoor or outdoor skydiving
  38.    
  39. Donate blood
  40.    
  41. Go to a cat café
  42.    
  43. Go to a repair café and fix something broken
  44.    
  45. Try bunny or goat yoga
  46.    
  47. Do a sake tasting
  48.    
  49. Speak to city council at a public hearing
  50.    
  51. Rent a boat in Horseshoe Bay and explore boat access-only parts of the coast
  52.    
  53. Learn a new magic trick
  54.    
  55. Do a historical walking tour of Vancouver
  56.    
  57. Make a bonsai tree
  58.    
  59. Visit a raptor centre and learn falconry
  60.    
  61. Hike out to Cape Scott on Vancouver Island
  62.    
  63. Learn to play pickle ball
  64.    
  65. Do Ancestry.com
  66.    
  67. Build a sauna
  68.    
  69. Volunteer in the Downtown Eastside
  70.    
  71. Go on a craft brewery tour
  72.    
  73. Crash a wedding
  74.    
  75. Get a tattoo
  76.    
  77. Get eyelash extensions
  78.    
  79. Get Botox injections
  80.    
  81. Do a restaurant paint night with friends
  82.    
  83. Have a mud bath
  84.    
  85. Get a new piercing
  86.    
  87. Write a blog (you're reading it!)
  88.    
  89. Get a professional henna tattoo
  90.    
  91. Learn to make crème brûlée​
  92.    
  93. Ride a unicycle
  94.    
  95. Put a bright colour streak in my hair
  96.    
  97. Play laser tag
  98.    
  99. Reach out to someone I haven't seen since elementary school
  100.    
  101. Tweet
  102.    
  103. Write a fan letter
  104.    
  105. Go salsa dancing in Robson Square
  106.    
  107. Try pole dancing
  108.    
  109. Go to the Richmond Night Market
  110.    
  111. Try a virtual reality headset
  112.    
  113. Stomp grapes
  114.    
  115. Go go-carting
  116.    
  117. Learn to drive a motorcycle
  118.    
  119. Be a puppy porter
  120.    
  121. Learn the bagpipes
  122.    
  123. Have a conversation entirely in another language
  124.    
  125. Go heli-boarding
  126.    
  127. Go to a steampunk masquerade
  128.    
  129. Paint my fingernails all different colours
  130.    
  131. Go to Burning Man
  132.    
  133. Give a homeless person $50
  134.    
  135. Do a series of five self-portraits using different mediums
  136.    
  137. Learn to swing dance
  138.    
  139. Pick Meyer lemons from a tree
  140.    
  141. Save a life
  142.    
  143. Learn to tan an animal hide
  144.    
  145. Go to a silent disco
  146.    
  147. Attend a MOMA opening night
  148.    
  149. Ride an electric stand-up scooter
  150.    
  151. Drive a Sea-Doo
  152.    
  153. Go to Cuban salsa meet-up
  154.    
  155. Climb a Mayan pyramid
  156.    
  157. Be present at the birth of a child
  158.    
  159. Do a high ropes course and jump from an extreme height
  160.    
  161. Jump off a trestle bridge
  162.    
  163. Fast for several days
  164.    
  165. Do a mixology course for cocktails
  166.    
  167. Learn how to do taxidermy
  168.    
  169. Summit a huge peak
  170.    
  171. Volunteer at Obakki Foundation fundraiser
  172.    
  173. Join someone I don't know at their table and start a conversation
  174.    
  175. Learn a new card game
  176.    
  177. Go to a haunted house at Fright Night
  178.    
  179. Try stand-up comedy (Thanks Ify!)

 


This segment originally aired in September, 2018.

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