Last year Donna Hull of the Bitterroot Valley in Montana wrote for BoomerCafé about the adult coloring craze. Not so exciting? Try this one then: it’s about a wholly different craze for baby boomers, namely, getting more zest in life by trying something new, even if you’re not a hardcore adventurer.
“Don’t bend your knees,” the instructor called out during my first-ever paddle-boarding lesson. Legs shaking, I stood upright on the board for the third time that day. Determined not to fall off, I quickly sat back down. Truth be known, most of my paddle-boarding session was spent taking in the beauty of a calm Maui morning from a seated position on the board.
But did I mention the exhilaration I felt from trying something new?
Ever since this scaredy-cat, afraid-of-heights boomer turned 50, I’ve tried a lot of new experiences while traveling. Some have become favorite hobbies while others were one-offs. But the confidence and zest for life that I’ve gained from trying a new activity on every trip are the real paybacks.
I hiked 30 miles on a five-day tour of Glacier National Park. Preparing for the adventure by walking repeatedly up and down the biggest hill that I could find near my home helped with the conditioning. There was no way that I was going to be the one huffing and puffing and holding up the group’s progress. My knees were talking to me by the end of the tour but I was oh-so-proud of myself.
And did I mention the satisfaction that comes from reaching a goal?
On a cruise excursion in Moorea, part of French Polynesia, stingrays lazily floated around me in the crystal-clear waters of the lagoon. The guide held one close to me so that I could timidly touch its silky smooth skin. I smiled. Another stingray grazed by my legs as it swam through the water. I giggled. Another bumped into my chest looking for a fish handout. I laughed out loud.
And did I mention the joy that comes from trying something you weren’t so sure about?
In Colorado’s San Juan mountains, I stomped on the invisible brake located on the passenger side of our four-wheel-drive vehicle — ladies, you know the one I’m talking about — as my husband negotiated a rocky trail with the steepest drop-off that I’ve ever seen. Topping the hill, we were rewarded with a meadow of yellow flowers surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks.
Did I mention the satisfaction I felt from overcoming my fear of heights?
If you’re thinking, “I could never do that,” I’m here to say, “Oh, yes you can.” I’m not a hard-core adventurer or super athlete. The base camp at Mt. Everest will never be blessed with my presence. Have you seen those rickety swinging bridges across deep gorges on the trail to get there?
I’ve given my inner boomer self-permission to try new activities. Sure, I’m afraid sometimes, but I do it anyway, unless the adventure’s totally dangerous. Hey, I might be growing older but I’m not a fool.
So jump into the water, hit the trail, go hang-gliding with a hunky Swiss instructor. Experience the exhilaration and confidence of trying something new.