2014 Highlights

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This past year has been just jam-packed with new experiences, time with others, personal growth and exploration. I am so thankful for the year, the memories and the new aspects of myself that have emerged by virtue of taking on my Chapter 30 life-by-design project. There are just so many totally rad people I got to be with in 2014 – thank you to all of you. xo

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Although the sun has set on my year of being 30, there is so much to cherish! [photo taken in Maseru, Lesotho]

HIGHLIGHTS

Below I’ve compiled a snapshot of the experiences that have punctuated my year and left me enlivened, grateful and excited for the next chapter. They are all hyperlinked to the blog post so you can see pics and read more when your interest is piqued.

Travel: Panama, Miami, Washington DCCroatiaIreland, Canada’s east coast, Niagara, AustinLesotho, US road trip

Challenging my mind: taking downtime (24+ naps throughout the year), reading 28 books (probably 20 more than any other year of my life!), learning phrases in new languages and studying French a little each day

Challenging my body: polar dip in -11C weather, going vegan for a month, doing Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred, doing P90x3 for 90 days, doing 108 sun salutations (at once) in Panama, running a half marathon

Letting go: totally decluttering, giving up swearing and television

Inserting fun: learning party tricks, trying new restaurants, trying new recipes, trying new foods including jellyfish (okay, let’s call it memorable rather than a highlight), lots of little adventures with friends (including Collingwood spa day)

Connecting with others: acts of kindness, acts of gratitude, helping others reach their goals, setting aside time for tea with friends, meeting a ton of new people, offering workshops, celebrating Jackson’s graduation, friends’ weddings (Melissa/Mike and Troy/Sarah), Kim’s bachelorette zombie extravaganza

Embarking on a big changeretiring and embarking on roadtrip

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Here’s to a completely wonderful 2015 for all!

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Do it yourself: a year by design

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Over the past 12 months of living a year designed just prior to my 30th birthday, I got to fully experience an extended lifestyle project (called Chapter 30 – consisting of 465 challenges for the year) comprised of two of my life’s philosophies:

1) Creating a life by design and

2) Punctuating time.

Sun City

(Photo taken in Sun City, South Africa, 2013 EH)

See below some tips and lessons I learned that you could take for yourself as you look ahead to all that 2015 can be for you.


Creating a life by design – the basics

So one thing I’ve integrated into workshops and coaching sessions over the past couple of years (and as well have made  my personal mantra) is to create a life by design. Here is the quick and dirty breakdown:

-Think of yourself as the creator of your life, not just someone who is surviving the world and taking life as it comes (and consider this perspective in a light and creative sense and not with gravity or guilt)

-Think of your life as a fun project you get to do or an experiment you get to test out (keep it light, fun, exploratory)

Take ownership over your life and don’t let circumstance pull you in every other direction than that which you desire

-Feel a sense of scheming and excitement about your life (“Yeah! I get to choose what I want for myself”….and go ahead and make it happen)

-Think of everything you want in your life in terms of some type of action toward the ultimate goal (it’s so reaffirming and empowering to think of what you want and break it down into things you can actually do today or this week that start you on the journey toward your goal)

Be okay with the act of planning being part of your life. Planning or thinking about things ahead of time doesn’t need to feel rigid or boring – in fact it can help keep a strong mental direction to what you want so when spontaneous opportunities arise, you will be primed and ready (and be clear you want to say “yes”).


What does it mean to “punctuate time”?

Punctuating time is an idea that I use to keep my life fun and full of rich experiences. So we all have routines, commitments, habits and other activities of daily life. Punctuating time is what happens when we insert something above and beyond the norm in our lives. It can be things like travel, social gatherings, classes, hobbies, etc. It can also be as simple as moments of chatting with a stranger on the subway, making a small effort to do an act of kindness or doing something typically routine in a slightly different way. The activity or experience punctuates time because it is memorable, different, enlivening, scary, life-changing or makes you vulnerable, connected to others, joyous, delighted or perplexed. I like to consciously add these things to my life so when I look back at a period of time, I have little milestones and experiences to remember. It’s a way of purposefully enriching my life experience and story.


What worked this past year of creating a year by design?

-Ensuring that all aspects of my life that matter to me had a goal/challenge attached to it (learning, travel/exploring, being connected to other people, making a contribution, eating/cooking, health, etc.)

-Setting a timeline (1 year) and then taking time each week and each month to plan (breaking the larger goal into smaller actions)

-Having accountability buddies through friends as well as a weekly meeting via skype with other people taking on life (Team Awesome). From encouragement to brainstorming, this tool kept the wheels turning even when life was busy, when I thought I was ready for a break, or [insert other excuses here]. They had my back. Also, reporting out on all of my goals through the blog and other social media definitely held my feet to the fire. I wanted to have good things to report to my community (and my gosh, the feedback really kept my energy up).

-Making goals that were firm enough that I new how to approach them but flexible enough that I could re-jig if I found a close substitute that incited inspiration.


Tips for creating a year that excites you:

Start by thinking freely about what inspires you, what brings you joy, what feels “right” for you, what aligns with your purpose(s)

Give yourself a break from conversations with yourself that start with “I should….”, “I really need to do ….already”, etc. Bracket those for now and try starting with a blank canvas – what would you add?

Think about all aspects of your life so you can consider goals in any/all areas of your diverse self: family, romance, career, learning, financial, health, spiritual, social, leisure, etc.

Move all of your goals/visions/ideas into action language. Basically break larger goals down into actions starting with the next actionable step (which could be as simple as doing some online research, calling a friend who may want to join you for that 5km run, cleaning out your cupboards, adding a link to a 5 minute youtube meditation video to your calendar each morning, etc).

Put everything into space and time. This means use any existing system you have (paper day book, digital calendar, phone reminders, etc) and place the action steps into your calendar so they take shape in your future life.

Review your goals. I always liked taking a personal tea time on a Sunday morning to look through my goals. During this time I would move forward anything that was scheduled but didn’t get done, I’d rework anything that just wasn’t working and I’d plan for the week ahead (so I’d email friends, look online for yoga classes being held that week, check discount sites for tickets I wanted to purchase, etc.).

Get an accountability buddy and agree on how and when you will check in with each other. You could use skype, text each other, have a shared online spreadsheet, create a facebook group, meet for coffee each week to gab and review. Getting your community involved will expand what you’re doing far beyond your own amazing capacities.

Set yourself rewards along the way so you can reinforce your awesome follow-though and celebrate your accomplishments. This can be something social (an outing, event, meal), something rejuvenating (like a spa day), something you buy yourself, etc.

-Leave space for your own humanity and don’t get bogged down when you’re not there yet or you have deviated for a short time. You are not a failure and you are totally deserving of prioritizing the things you want once again. Ask yourself, what can I add that would make a difference? When asking this question you might realize that fun is lacking so perhaps instead of a rigorous exercise boot camp, dance class is a better choice for you right now. Don’t be too rigid, but definitely accept you can do it even if you haven’t been able to do it yet!


I love, love, love working/playing with people on trying out ‘a life by design’ for themselves, so definitely comment below or email me.

12 month update: 465 of 465 all done!

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After 12 months of pursuing my Chapter 30 goals, challenging myself, planning my weeks, getting my community involved and sticking with it regardless of what came up in my life……I’m all done!

All 465 goals/challenges are completed. I definitely need to shout out to my wonderful family and friends (notably Jackson, Team Awesome, Fiona, Katie, Peggy, my parents among so many others) who constantly brought excitement, ideas and support to this lifestyle project.

See below my final month’s highlights and tally. Still to come on this blog, I’ll share what I learned from this process and my highlights for the year. Stay tuned!

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Highlights:

Embarking on road trip around USA

Memorizing African map

Finishing a year of studying French daily

Party trick with cups

Sunrise in Georgia

 

My progress:

Practice/study 1 language everyday (French)

Take 2 courses

Give up 3 things

Visit 4 new places

Undertake 5 feats of the mind

Try 6 new physical experiences

Take on 7 acts of self-expression

Do 8 outdoor excursions

Sing in public 9 times

Experience 10 sunrises

Experience 11 sunsets

Learn 12 party tricks

Have 13 people in my life take on challenges

Take part in 14 celebrations

Visit 15 museums

Engage in 16 acts of pure joy

Learn 17 chords on guitar

Connect with 18 new people

Take on 19 acts of gratitude

Try 20 new foods

Run 21 kilometers

Do 22 acts of kindness to others

Try 23 new recipes

Take 24 naps

Learn a phrase in 25 languages

Have tea with friends 26 times

Try 27 new restaurants

Read 28 books

Watch 29 films

Go vegan for 30 days

 

I’ve completed 25 challenges in the final month for a total of 465/465 in 12 months. 0 left undone.

Chapter 30 complete! New adventure underway!

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Hello friends and readers,

Thanks so much for following my year of being 30. I have completed my 465 of 465 goals for the year. Wow, that feels great!

I will do a couple reflective posts in the coming weeks to sum up the year, its highlights, what I learned, what might be useful for you, etc.

What’s next…..

Since many of your have asked, I wanted to tell you that my husband and I have taken a year “off” for a sabbatical trip. We are currently doing a road trip across the USA for the next 6 months or so and by next spring we’re thinking of doing something in Europe, Asia or South America. We’ve got a new blog!

So my Chapter 30 blog posts will wind down very soon (although it will remain online) and a new blog is up chronicling this trip! youngretirement.wordpress.com

Each week we post a video, highlights and stats from our travels. So if you liked Chapter 30, we think you’ll like the new blog too.

Happy holidays!

Erin

 

French day by day

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Challenge: Practice/study 1 language everyday (French)

Date: December 16, 2014.

Location: Several different countries (reporting on the final day from Orlando, Florida)

Being Canadian, I’ve had a small degree of exposure to French fairly often in my life, but I’ve never become fluent. This year I took on practicing each day. Many days I only did one lesson online or read one article in French (a mere 5-10 minutes) but I definitely feel way more comfortable with the language.

A small amount of consistent effort can result in something substantial over time. I am pleased to have seen this over the year. Especially when my former workplace became more officially bilingual over the course of the year, I was delighted to be able to follow along with meetings, read correspondence, etc.

Learning French was also confronting to my ego (fearing looking silly in front of others). However, any time I put myself out there and used French, I was met with excellent support.

 

So here were the strategies I employed to learn French:

-duolingo.com (excellent website to use the language is several different ways)

-learnfrenchbypodcast (short lessons by podcast)

-Drive Time French cds

-reading news in French

-lessons on YouTube (free, easy to find)

-practicing with friends and family

-reading The Atlantic Co-operator magazine in French then English (helped me learn language that was used in my workplace)

-listening to French radio

-Met a tutor every couple of weeks for a 1 hour session on skype or in person to learn new vocabulary and practice grammar

 

Bonne chance à tous!

 

I will continue to practice and study French. It’s a great way to challenge my brain and it’s useful in so many ways.

Thanks to everyone who supported me! Merci!

 

Geography feat: Africa

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Challenge: 5 feats of the mind (5 of 5)

Date: December 15, 2014

Location: Daytona Beach, Florida

This year I’ve made a big effort to do geography games, study the world map and get familiar with global geography. Maybe it’s my early rural education or maybe geography is a subject that just never stuck like I wanted it to, but now I’m on a mission to improve my knowledge of the globe. I can now correctly identify which country is on which continent and roughly where everything is. Did you know about Tuvalu, Suriname or Brunei? These are all countries (for some of you this is obvious).

Although I’m much more familiar with the whole globe, for this challenge I’ve memorized the continent of Africa specifically.

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(The Peter’s World Map – meant to be more accurate than other maps)

So now I can take a blank map of Africa and identify where each country is. Below see a photo of my final test (an online game on the sporcle website) where I correctly identified all of the countries (although sometimes I’ve seen a map where 56 countries are recognized, but in this one only 54 are recognized as distinctive countries). All good.  I’ve also got a near perfect score on this website on their full global geography game…so I’m not far off of my ultimate goal of knowing the full geography of the world.

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Poems to the world

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Challenge: Take on 7 acts of self-expression (7 of 7)

Date: December 15, 2014.

Location: Orlando, Florida

Earlier in the year I had generated a ton of ideas for this category – self-expression. I had debated getting a tattoo, visiting a nude beach, trying to make a viral youtube video, etc. So the liklehood of me doing at least 2 of 3 of the aforementioned items over the next week (travel sabbatical year) are pretty darn likely.

So for my final ‘self-expression’ challenge for this year, I’ve decided to submit some poetry into contests. I’ve had a lot of emotions arising over the past few weeks…..so I got it out through poetry and now I’ve submitted some of the poems to different contests:

-Blue Mountain Arts poetry contest

Poetrysoup.com

If you’ve got some creativity or some thoughts floating around in your head, maybe poetry is an avenue you’d like to try (or return to) if you want to get it out.