26 Adventures & Me

midlife for women

How it all began: The Secret Santa List

I could not fill out a f*cking Secret Santa form!

You know the kind you fill out, so your secret Santa knows what to get you?

The form looked simple enough: life when children grow up

Favorite Candy – Hot Tamales or chocolate

Favorite Snack – Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes

Favorite Drink (non-alcoholic)  – Well, that takes off my top 5

Favorite Restaurant – ummm, I know where the kids and I like to eat. I’m not sure any are a “favorite.”

Favorite Movie – It didn’t say non-Disney, but I am assuming those would not be the best thing to put down. After all, I am supposed to be an adult.

Hobbies or Interests – _______ I go to the beach and USC football games. I wouldn’t call those hobbies or interests. Waiting on the kids at the theater or jiu-jitsu won’t do either. Can I leave it blank?

It was time to admit that I did not know who I was or what I liked.

mom of teens 

I’m not complaining. I would not trade the time I have spent with the kids. You can learn a lot about your children (even tweens & teens) driving up and down the road if you take the time to listen and ask good questions. I have loved being involved in school and activities. 

 But like many moms, “Kiri” got lost while I was busy being “Mommy.” Add in a job that took a lot out of me and a marriage on the rocks. I knew that I had to make time to have fun and do things for myself. I need to find Kiri Elizabeth again!

That sounds great in theory, but how do you put it into practice?

How do you keep it up when life happens?

I decided that it was a major problem in my life that I had to change. So I decided in 2016 to go on 26 adventures in 52 weeks. Why 26? Once a week was not realistic. Once a month was not enough to learn what I like. I settled on 26. They may not be every other week. There may be times when I have 2 adventures in one week or 3 weeks in between. But I was committed to 26.

What is an adventure? 

I don’t really know. Something different. Something I want to try just to say I did. Something with my husband, kids, or friends. Or something alone. Something I have said I wanted to do but never took the time.  Adventure comes in many styles, shapes, and settings. (Check out “What is an Adventure?”)

My original list included going hiking to see waterfalls, canoeing on the Edisto River, going to a wine tasting at the University of South Carolina, learn to ballroom dance, and taking a class at the local craft store. Then there are some crazy ideas: sky diving, hang gliding, learn to ride a motorcycle. I don’t know. Those sounded good at the time. The list changed and continues to evolve. I am always open to suggestions. 

Funny thing is that my actual list is very different. I planned some things, but many happened spontaneously or were “normal” experiences that turned into adventures.

There are things most would never categorize as an “adventure.”

But that is the thing; what I discovered was that the process of rediscovering myself and gaining new confidence had as much to do with my mindset as it did the actual experiences. 

 Here are a few of the original 26: Saw several small concerts in town, flew to Philly to see the Hooters by myself, sang karaoke for the first time, took my first Uber, took a white water kayak lesson, learned to pick peanuts, got hair extensions, attended a wine tasting, and got a tattoo. 

I completed 26 adventures in 2016 and 2017. Not going to lie. Some are a stretch to be considered an adventure.

What I learned

Along the way, I learned about myself, gained confidence, and brought a ton of joy and laughter into my life. And I can report that I was able to complete a Secret Santa list successfully.

While the actual trips, experiences, concerts, lessons, and adventures were amazing, the biggest area of growth for me was gaining an adventure mindset

An adventure mindset is not about another “to-do” list. It is learning to see adventure in our everyday lives.

An adventure mindset gives you a sense of wonder, play, fun, and pure joy.

Discover a whole new world of possibilities as you rediscover yourself, gain confidence, and have fun!

My life has changed in more ways than I ever imagined since that Secret Santa list in 2015. New things have been added to my wish list of things to do and some things are still waiting to be checked off. We never know where life will take us, but we can learn to view life as an adventure and be true to ourselves along the way.

I hope that you will go on adventures of your own this year. I don’t want any of us unable to complete another Secret Santa survey.


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