How turning 50 inspired me to learn 50 new things
Charmian Bland says she's still 'living a rich life full of amazing experiences'
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.
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!'
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.
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:
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.
(The product of many different people's suggestions, and a list that has grown beyond 50!)
- Wear lipstick to work
- Learn to play the ukulele
- Get my scuba diving certificate
- Go to the Dark Table restaurant and eat in total darkness
- Go to a trampoline park
- Eat insects
- Learn to play the penny whistle
- Become a baby snuggler at a children's hospital
- Take a cooking class
- Join a choir
- Join an unlikely meet-up group
- Jump in the ocean in the winter
- Learn about and visit different places of religious worship
- Get cupping done
- Go to a Turkish bath
- Try circus silks
- Try slacklining and make it at least part way across
- Sing in a public performance
- Indoor or outdoor skydiving
- Donate blood
- Go to a cat café
- Go to a repair café and fix something broken
- Try bunny or goat yoga
- Do a sake tasting
- Speak to city council at a public hearing
- Rent a boat in Horseshoe Bay and explore boat access-only parts of the coast
- Learn a new magic trick
- Do a historical walking tour of Vancouver
- Make a bonsai tree
- Visit a raptor centre and learn falconry
- Hike out to Cape Scott on Vancouver Island
- Learn to play pickle ball
- Do Ancestry.com
- Build a sauna
- Volunteer in the Downtown Eastside
- Go on a craft brewery tour
- Crash a wedding
- Get a tattoo
- Get eyelash extensions
- Get Botox injections
- Do a restaurant paint night with friends
- Have a mud bath
- Get a new piercing
- Write a blog (you're reading it!)
- Get a professional henna tattoo
- Learn to make crème brûlée
- Ride a unicycle
- Put a bright colour streak in my hair
- Play laser tag
- Reach out to someone I haven't seen since elementary school
- Write a fan letter
- Go salsa dancing in Robson Square
- Try pole dancing
- Go to the Richmond Night Market
- Try a virtual reality headset
- Stomp grapes
- Go go-carting
- Learn to drive a motorcycle
- Be a puppy porter
- Learn the bagpipes
- Have a conversation entirely in another language
- Go heli-boarding
- Go to a steampunk masquerade
- Paint my fingernails all different colours
- Go to Burning Man
- Give a homeless person $50
- Do a series of five self-portraits using different mediums
- Learn to swing dance
- Pick Meyer lemons from a tree
- Save a life
- Learn to tan an animal hide
- Go to a silent disco
- Attend a MOMA opening night
- Ride an electric stand-up scooter
- Drive a Sea-Doo
- Go to Cuban salsa meet-up
- Climb a Mayan pyramid
- Be present at the birth of a child
- Do a high ropes course and jump from an extreme height
- Jump off a trestle bridge
- Fast for several days
- Do a mixology course for cocktails
- Learn how to do taxidermy
- Summit a huge peak
- Volunteer at Obakki Foundation fundraiser
- Join someone I don't know at their table and start a conversation
- Learn a new card game
- Go to a haunted house at Fright Night
- Try stand-up comedy (Thanks Ify!)
This segment originally aired in September, 2018.