I slept on it. I thought about it. I was on vacation and had time to mull things over. I knew on some level my wise daughter was right. I had to do something.
Now at this point I had actually already taken my first step in my journey of change but didn’t recognize it. I’d recently started grad school online to work on getting my Masters in Media Management. Mostly, it just seemed like a lot of extra work I had to squeeze into my schedule. I was thinking I might want to teach in the future and needed the degree.
I imagined getting my Masters in Journalism after decades in the business would be easy, right? Credit for work experience? No way. Instead I struggled taking the GRE just to get into school. I had no idea how to get the area of a right triangle or anything else. I barely got through 8th grade algebra when I was in 8th grade. I actually had to hire a tutor to get me through the math section of the test. In January, with two semesters behind me I was just getting used to taking instruction and sending assignments online.
It all felt new and frustrating to me. Nothing about going back to school seemed familiar. But there was also an inkling of another feeling. Excitement? Satisfaction? I wasn’t sure. But there was something; something I hadn’t felt in a while. I instinctively knew that “new” was worth exploring.
Still, what could I do with a blog? Just more work, I thought. My daughter pushed me for an idea.
“Alright, alright”, I said, “what if I did something new I’ve never done before every week?”
She laughed, “Every week? What about every day?!”
“How am I going to do something new every day?”
“Easy”, she said. “Let’s make a list. Let’s see: walk up to a complete stranger and start a conversation, don’t curse all day, learn to juggle, eat something really weird like bugs…”
“Whoa, girl. First, I am going to need a blog; a web site, right? I’ll make you a deal. You build the website and I’ll start January 1st.”
Honestly, I didn’t think she’d do it, but within a couple days One Year of Firsts was born. Alexa built the web site and I had to keep my end of the bargain. Once we started plotting and planning I felt kind of scared but thrilled. My brain cells were buzzing. Hmmm. Could I follow through on this? An entire year of first time experiences?
The Polar Bear Plunge was my idea; a crazy idea. Every year I saw the news clips of people jumping into the frigid ocean on New Years Day I’d always say “that’s completely nuts.” Still, I was fascinated by it; the symbolic act of starting a new year by shocking your body in icy water. I knew it was really about shocking the mind; an intentional wake up call to life and living it fully!
What better way to start off One Year of Firsts. That’s what I thought until I got there. I really wanted to go home and forget the whole thing except that funny feeling of scared and excited at the same time filled me. I’ve learned since then this is usually a good sign you are doing exactly what you should be doing. Experienced plungers told me the plunge doesn’t count unless you go completely in the water over your head. AHHH. I asked for their help and told them to hold my hands and just pull me in. I wasn’t sure I could do it myself. They were only too happy to assist.
You can go on my blog to see the results. I came out of the water shrieking. I was shrieking and happy. I’d done something absolutely and completely out of my comfort zone. I felt a kinship to these fellow plungers that I just met. “I get the secret”, I thought. “This isn’t just a stunt. This is important.”