A Year Of Adventurous Living

Credit where credit is due: This idea was inspired by my dear, beautiful, hilarious friend Harley May and her year of scary living. Thanks, friend, for indirectly giving me a kick in the pants. 

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On January 1, I blogged about a few things I’d like to do differently this year.

A few days later, I told you I’m about to start counseling.

And today I’d like to tell you about my year of adventurous living.

The new year always brings a sense of hope with it, don’t you think? A feeling of newness, of starting over. Erasing all the stupid mistakes we made over the past 365 days and staring at a blank chalkboard / canvas / dry erase board / whatever you write your life on inside your head.

For me, it’s a chalkboard. And today, for the first time, I really stepped back and looked at my 2011 chalkboard. Examined it. Thought about what was written on it–and what wasn’t.

Here’s what I realized:

I didn’t do much in 2011. In fact, you could sum up my year in a very short list:

1) Cared for new baby.

2) Went to work.

3) Got stressed out about clutter.

4) Thought about things I’d like to do, then decided they were too much trouble and did something easier.

5) Wrote a new book.

That’s . . . it. I mean, obviously, that’s not REALLY it. But by and large, yeah, that’s it. And in thinking about it, I had to wonder: How much of my resentment and negative thought patterns is coming from the fact that I am not living adventurously?

Probably a lot.

I am, by nature, an adventurous person. I love to do new and unexpected things. My college life was VERY adventurous. I did Little Adventurous things, like speaking to strangers in my classes or exploring a previously unknown section of campus.

And I did Big Adventurous Things, like moving to Spain for a semester by myself. I also bought a plane ticket to New York for New Year’s Eve 2005, on a whim, with no place to stay and no guarantee that anyone would go with me.

(People went, by the way. And one of them was my future husband. And we stayed in the coolest hotel ever.)

But things have changed a bit since I became an “adult.” The last time I did anything Big Adventurous was March 2009, when Rob and I roadtripped it to Chicago. We had no reason to go except that we’d never been. We didn’t plan anything besides where we would stay, and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.

(Side note: Chicago is ten hours from where we live in Birmingham, Alabama, Deep South, USA.)

(Also, when people say there is nothing but corn in Indiana, well, they’re not kidding.)

I’m okay with not having Big Adventures right now. We’re in a stage of life that just doesn’t lend itself to spontaneous road trips or, you know, moving to foreign countries. Having a baby and two full-time jobs changes things, and I’m okay with that.

What I’m not okay with is losing the Little Adventures.

What happened to the concerts we used to go to? Why are we eating at the same restaurants over and over? Why do we hardly ever see our friends, and when was the last time we made new ones?

It’s unacceptable. Talk about a rut.

So I hereby dub 2012 The Year of Adventurous Living.

I don’t have a specific plan, but I’d like to do more things I’ve never done before. Little Adventures, mostly, although if a Big Adventure presents itself and we have the time and money to do it, I’m game. But I’m not counting on any Big Adventures. Not right now. Just small ones.

Here are some things I’d like to do:

1) Get out of town more. Just . . . get out. With or without Baby Girl. Stay with friends and family who live in other cities. Explore. And if it’s a place we’ve never been before, that’s even better. We’ve got a trip lined up later this month (no, thieves, I will not tell you exactly when) and then I’m going to a writer’s workshop in Mobile in March. I’m also trying to line up a quick Nashville trip sometime in the spring, because seriously? Nashville ROCKS.

2) Follow through with friends. I’m tired of saying, “Let’s get together sometime,” and then a year later, I realize it never happened. I want to make it happen. Having people over can result in unexpected Small Adventures, even if it’s just a conversation you never saw coming.

3) Sign up for our church’s Ballroom Dancing class. Oh yeeeeeah, baby, you heard me right. Seems the ol’ church is feeling the pain of a rut, too, because they’re starting all kinds of fun social things. Film nights, art events, some sort of business/entrepreneur type thing that is absolutely NOT up my alley, and a bunch of other stuff–including BALLROOM DANCING.

I have no experience in ballroom dancing. Neither does Rob. We can’t wait to sign up.

4) Sing Karaoke. I’ve never done it. The THOUGHT of it terrifies me. Which is why I want to do it. What song would I sing? How would I sing it? What would I wear? WHAT IF I BOMBED? Only one way to find out.

5) Go to concerts. This one requires something we don’t have much of, and that’s extra cash. But we have a couple of great smaller music venues in the area, and their tickets are generally on the cheaper side. So I think it’s doable, with a little advance planning.

6) Do my very best to get in shape and be healthier. I know what you’re thinking. THIS IS NOT THE HOTMOTHER. The Hotmother is dead. DEAD. This is just Operation Stop Gaining One Pound Per Week.

No, really.

It’s easy for me to be like, “Oh, I’m tall, no one will be able to tell if I gain a little weight. I can wiggle into these pants. Sure, there’s a muffin top, but no one’s really looking anyway. Let me just eat this cheesecake and then I’ll go for a walk or something.”

It’s ADVENTUROUS for me to say, “I need to do something about this, and I’m going to. Starting now.”

Now, you know me: I need a plan for these kinds of things, and usually, not even a plan can keep me on track. But I’m trying again. I’ve downloaded an app called My Fitness Pal on my iPhone, and I’m inputting calories and exercise every day. Or, most days. This is how I lost 9 lbs. right before I got pregnant in 2010, so I’m hoping it’ll work again.

Here are the Little Adventures I’ve already had:

Explored a trail near my house (turns out there is a whole Narnia-type wild forest area back there!)

Deleted my Goodreads account (more on that later)

Started the Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred DVD workout (it hurts, ladies, IT HURTS, and this is not one of those John Cougar Mellencamp “Hurt So Good” kind of things. It hurts SO BAD.)

Deleted my Google Friend Connect widget (too much pressure, and also, Google isn’t going to let non-Blogger blogs use it anymore, so it was inevitable)

Considered going to Zumba. (Baby steps, people.)

How about you? Have you had any adventures lately, big or small? Do you have any suggestions for me?

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30 thoughts on “A Year Of Adventurous Living

  1. Katie says:

    I do Zumba!! I lt has been a while since Ii have laughed as hard as I did the first night I did it. I am a white girl with zero moves, but it is so fun. Try it!

  2. Alicia says:

    I think you’ve got some fantastic ideas. I also think you’re downplaying the lack of adventures last year. I imagine being a parent is the biggest adventure of anyone’s life. It takes incredible strength to do what you’re doing.

    Also, I know I’m not involved in the literary world, but I’ve never known anyone that’s written a book. I think that’s incredibly cool! You seem to have a good grip on things you want to start accomplishing though, and I congratulate you on that.

    • Anne Riley says:

      Well, that is true. Parenthood is quite an adventure! But after 13 months of it, it feels less adventurous and more normal life, you know? Yes, I love Baby Girl and I love raising her, but she’s not a novelty anymore. She’s a regular around these parts. Writing is kind of the same way–it’s such a normal part of my life that it doesn’t feel adventurous all the time, you know? So I’m hoping to break out of those molds and do something different every once in a while!

  3. Jessica says:

    These are great ideas! I have been thinking about the same thing. Between me and two sisters-in-law having babies this year, we have stayed close to home almost all year. With two kids it is hard to get out of the house, so I have started doing crafting projects and gotten into cooking(thanks Pinterest!).

    But like you, I would like to take a few more trips. We are starting by going to some (family friendly) Mardi Gras celebrations down near Gulf Shores in February. I have found that if there is a place, even nearby, that you want to go to, you can almost always find a Calendar of Events online(takes some spontenaity out of it) but you can at least see if there is something interesting to do there.

    • Anne Riley says:

      Yes! I totally have looked up calendars for nearby cities. Good for you for getting down to Gulf Shores–that sounds like a lot of fun!

  4. Shelly says:

    Anne! I want to hang out. I miss you. I feel like I only see you at weddings…well, lately, just baby showers. I took a Zumba class last year and it was so much fun! You don’t have to be good at it, just keep moving. I made up my own moves if I didn’t know what the instructor was doing.

  5. Anna Seekins says:

    We’re moving to Denver. Not the biggest adventure, but something….

    But if you would like a Washington DC adventure before June, I’d love to see you!

    • Anne Riley says:

      Denver would be more adventurous for me than for you, probably, but how great that you’ll be close to family! Free babysitting! Woo hoooooo! And ooooh, Washington is tempting. We may try to do that!

  6. Alexandra Shostak says:

    Omg I have that Jillian Michaels video. It kicked my butt. I did not get past level one. I thought, after a week and a couple days, oh yeah I can do level two. THAT WAS NOT A GOOD DECISION.

    I want to have a year of adventurous living, too! Actually, I want to have a life of adventurous living.

    And I’ll totally do karaoke with you 😉

    • Anne Riley says:

      I’m hoping my year of adventurous living will lead to a life of it! And yeah, sometimes I wanna punch Jillian in the face. Level 2 scares me. I have not yet completed Level 1 in its entirety.

  7. Harley says:

    I love this post, Anne! The ballroom dancing sounds like way too much fun. Tell me how that goes.

    As for the karaoke and small concerts, I WILL TOTALLY DO ALL OF THIS WITH YOU. LET’S SMALL ADVENTURE IT UP.

    I should’ve called you that night I went to the Zydeco. It was like a $2 cover or bringing a toy for Toy for Tots that night, so those types of things are not too expensive. LET’S DO IT.

    You rock my socks off.

    • Anne Riley says:

      Yay Small Adventures! I would love to go to some shows with you. And some Karaoke. And we will be fashionably dressed so that we can meet one of your scary criteria.

  8. Ansley says:

    I have also never tried Zumba. Let’s try it. We’re about to be on kinda the same schedule since I’ll be student teaching, plus we need to get together so I can give you back your books.

    Also, I’m all for going to do karaoke. I know it’s different here, but my friends and I used to go all the time when I lived in Korea. So. Much. Fun. And, it’s a lot less scary when you have a bunch of friends up there with you….baby steps, right?

  9. Alissa Grosso says:

    I’m not adventurous at all, but little adventures are my speed, and you’ve inspired me to plan some for 2012. Also, thanks for the tip on the Google Friend Connect widget thing. Had no idea.

  10. Jess Corra says:

    Hey, Anne! Check my blog tomorrow for a post related to your struggle post. 🙂

    But this post – love it! So very true. My word of the year is brave and I’ve already done two things for it.

    1. I booked a bus ticket to NYC without a place to stay (one has transpired, not a big risk since I knew a lot of people.)

    2. I got a new tattoo. (Not a big risk, I already have one.)

    I feel like I could quit now and I’d have lived up to my word, but the year is young. I’m excited to see what else I can make happen. (Not, what happens, what I can make happen!)

    My advice is to say yes. Small adventures present themselves all the time if you look for them and seize the opportunity. 🙂

    • Anne Riley says:

      Jessica, you are braver than I will ever be. Keep it up girl! And I read your post, and it was amazing.

  11. Jessica Love says:

    What a great idea! It’s so easy to get in a rut when you are saddled with responsibilities. It’s a great thing to make adventures a priority in your life…and it will give you more things to write about. I love your list…if I was closer I would totally karaoke with you.

    • Anne Riley says:

      Yeah, I’m excited to see what happens with all this. I do NOT like ruts. And if you’re ever over this way, you’ll have to come karaoke!

  12. Ali says:

    I second the “Nashville rocks” sentiment. I went there for a bachelorette party a few years ago and totally fell in love. I thought about moving there to try to become a country singer and then realized one small detail…that I can’t really sing.

    I’m totally with you on the rut too. Having a baby and working is tough! Hopefully you’ll inspire me to take some small adventures! 🙂

  13. Jen Stayrook says:

    I loved this idea when Harley posted it and I love it from you, so you know what? I’m copying the two of you (because if I’m going to copy people, why not copy THE BEST?) and doing this for myself.

    For too long I’ve used the tot as an excuse and I don’t want to do that anymore, not for me and not for him.

    “Oh, well, I have a baby and he needs a lot of care *flips through Netflix*”

    “Pregnancy…you know, uh…nausea. I should probably nap again.”

    I demand to see photos (videos?) of you and Harley doing karaoke together.

  14. Caroline says:

    I have just entered the “real world” and I am having major withdraws from my adventurous life in college! Hopefully my roadtrip to Nashville this weekend will help! So excited! Also on my bucket list for this year… Skydiving.

    • Anne Riley says:

      Yeah, all the cool kids are going to Nashville! And skydiving, whoo. I’ve done hang gliding, but never skydiving. Good luck!

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