I always encourage my kids to try new things. I, however, have never been one to veer from a comfortable diet of work, kids, chores, television and reading. I’m not saying my life was unfulfilling. It was just a little unchallenging. I was always the person to stand on the sidelines and watch while everybody had fun.
Over the past few years, I’ve been making efforts to try new things. I started small. Drinks with colleagues after work – where we talked about things other than work — was a first step. Then came short walks with a friend that became longer and longer until I walked a half-marathon.
Then, last year, I conceived an idea. Life has been one adventure after another since then.
This idea was called, “Adventure Club.”
It started with a plan for 6-8 friends to get together once a month to do a new activity. Ideally, it would be something that would push us just outside of our comfort zone. An important element was that the event had to be a mystery. Somebody would plan it. Three weeks prior to the event, they let the group know the time, the cost and what to wear. A day or two before the event, they let the others know where to meet. It’s the mystery, I think, that’s made all the difference.
Let’s just say the idea caught on. What started with a list of about 20 women in April 2013 has turned into a Facebook Group with over 100 women only a year later. This is not a group of women with shared interests in a group. The commonality with the women is our willingness to just try something new.
Most recently, a local chocolatier from Drakes Glenn Creations, taught us about chocolate. We learned about the history of chocolate, a little history of the chocolate business and we got to taste different kinds of chocolate. We also got to work with different kinds of tempered chocolate to make a dozen chocolate covered strawberries. What’s not to love about that?
Chocolate is a pretty safe bet for finding an activity that all people love. Activities are not always so universally pleasing. The point is to challenge ourselves.
We once had an event that included Oyster tasting, after a boat tour of the local oyster beds in our bay. I would guess that at least a quarter of the 18 people who attended would have passed if somebody asked, “Do you want to go to the oyster bar?” I talked to quite a few people who had never tried, or admittedly didn’t like, oysters. I didn’t meet one person who was sorry she attended that day, though. I believe every person tried at least one oyster, in the spirit of the activity.
The beauty of the mystery is that you can talk yourself out of something you don’t like — or something you think you don’t like.
The second benefit of the mystery is that, you can just as easily talk yourself out of something you DO like. If you know you love kayaking, and that’s the event, you might think, “I’ll do it another time, so it’s no big deal if I miss it.”
That’s the thing about people – at least people like me. There’s always a reason to not do something.
But, here’s the thing about a mystery event. It’s like a gift, and you don’t get it unless you show up. You may not always love your gift, but the thought and joy that goes into picking it out – as well as friends at the party where you get it — makes it special. Since you’ve allowed yourself to be open to the experience — if you don’t like oysters, or brewing beer, or wearing those awful fencing helmets — you have still either learned something, or you can say you’ve tried it. Only a week after learning to brew beer, I was able to participate in a conversation about the affects of using wild yeast when brewing beer. This was especially surprising because I don’t drink beer.
Another reason Adventure Club works so well is that people love to share their passion. People have been happy to take on the planning duties, making it a simple project to keep going. It creates a truly eclectic set of activities, and relieves the burden of always having new ideas from any one person.
And, since I’ve opened myself up to these activities – and these wonderful people – I have thought of activities that I want to happen whether or not they come up through the club. If I see something that sounds interesting, where I would have always found a reason to say no before, I say, “Yes.”
Want to learn to play poker? Yes. Would you move a high school student from another country into your house? Absolutely! How about attending a canning workshop? That sounds awesome. Want to run a 5K? Why not?
You may be interested to know that I’ve pretty much stunk at everything I’ve tried.
I’m not the most talented black-smither, or the fleetest fencer, and I still have my doubts that I’ll be able to run for 3 miles. My skill was making Adventure Club happen – and having that to fall back on allows me to be awkward everywhere else.