8 1/2 Months, 100 New Experiences

8 1/2 Months, 100 New Experiences
New Experience #11. Climb Sleeping Bear Dunes. Here, I'm at the top and can see Lake Michigan.

In April 2013, I began a quest to have 100 New Experiences in 1 Year.

Why did I do it? The short answer is that my life needed a kick in the ass.

I have a Bucket List, probably just like many other people, and although I was making some progress on it, I felt like it my Bucket List was a “someday” project. I don’t currently have the resources to head to Paris or go visit each of the Major League Ballparks. My novel is still mostly in my head and earning six figures is still a ways away. One of the things I know for sure, however, is that a journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step. If I ever wanted to achieve any of the things on my Bucket List, I would need to take steps now to get started.

Most importantly, I needed to step outside of my comfort zone and make some major changes in my life.

My journey began on April 11, 2013 and I had until April 10, 2014 to complete 100 New Experiences. I finished on December 31, 2013, 3 1/2 months early. Many of the experiences are documented through photos and blog posts and they’re linked below. Other experiences I’m still in the process of writing about. You can also read the tweets about my journey by searching for #100Experiences.

In the past 8 1/2 months I’ve learned to be courageous and fierce again. I’ve stopped being scared and feeling stuck in a rut. I feel like my life has been reenergized and that I can do anything I set my mind to doing. Most importantly, I feel free of the stuff that had been holding me back. I’ve also learned how to be fully present in the moment and how to be happy again.

Never one to rest on any laurels, I’ve celebrated my achievement in my own way and am now focused on having another 50 New Experiences by April 10th for a total of 150 New Experiences in 1 Year (with the hashtag #100+Experiences). Then, I’ll embark on another set of new experiences for the next 12 months. I’m not sure exactly how many I’ll have, but the number feels less important than the quality of them.

Here’s the complete list of the 100 Experiences I had between April 11, 2013 and December 31, 2013. Look for more of the stories and pictures soon. To read all the experiences I hope to have, click here.

2. Vacation by myself and take care of only me. – DONE April 11 – 15, 2013 Read the blog post

3. Vacation in Nashville – DONE April 11 – 15, 2013 Read the blog post.

4. Go on vacation and leave work 100% behind (i.e., don’t check email or voice mail) – DONE April 11 – 15, 2013 Read the blog post.

5. Stand in the center of both the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium stages – DONE April 12 and 14, 2013 Read the blog post.

6. Play Elvis’s piano at the RCA Studio B – DONE August 12, 2013 Read the blog post.

7. Sit on the stage at the Civic Opera House during a performance – DONE June 16, 2013 with Christopher; saw The Second City Guide to the Opera

8. Play with the beluga whales at the Shedd Acquarium – DONE May 18, 2013. See the picture.

9. Take a cooking class – DONE May 21, 2013 at David’s Bistro in Antioch

11. Climb the main dune at Sleeping Bear Dunes – DONE August 17, 2013 with Dave

12. Learn a new skill – DONE April 24, 2013 Learned how to make a floral centerpiece

14. Max out my employer match for my 403(b) in 2013 – DONE Increased my contribution to max out the match May 2, 2013

15. Try 20 new foods – DONE December 26, 2013. See the photo album.
a. Pork – DONE May 2013. I’d eat it again.
b. Milk (I’ve just never liked the taste of it) – DONE December 26, 2013. Still don’t like it.
c. Eggs (I ate them up until 6th grade home ec class) – DONE August 18, 2013. Still don’t like scrambled eggs.
d. White Fish Pate – DONE August 16, 2013. Yummy!
e. Cabbage, Kale, & Leek Soup – DONE August 20, 2013. Yummy!
f. A 7-11 Slurpee – DONE July 11, 2013 (National Slurpee Day). Where have Slurpees been since I was 5?
g. Tim Horton’s Donuts – DONE July 7, 2013. Delish!
h. Chocolate Cheese Fudge – DONE August 24, 2013. I wish I could eat this daily.
i. 14 Year Aged Sharp Cheddar Cheese – DONE August 24, 2013. I never knew cheese could be this good.
j. Cheese Curds – DONE December 11, 2013. Not sure I understand why Cheese Curds are a thing.
m. Chicken & Waffles – DONE July 2013 with Katie and Steve. It’s good that this restaurant is a good hike from me.
n. Moonshine (drinks count as food) – DONE October 19, 2013 at Wishbone. And I thought Moonshine was just for hillbillies. Wow. It was fantastic!
o. Clams – DONE November 12, 2013 with Amy. See the picture. I love seafood.
p. Octopus – DONE November 12, 2013 with Amy. See the picture. Much better than calamari.
q. Pistachio Mousse – DONE November 12, 2013 with Amy. This was wonderfully decadent.
r. Pea & Lettuce Soup – DONE December 24, 2013. Who knew that foods from the 1600s could be so spectacular?
s. Lamb – DONE December 24, 2013. It melted in my mouth.
t. Beet Salad – DONE December 24, 2013. Still not a fan.
u. Cracker Jack Ice Cream – DONE December 24, 2013. This was much better than actual Cracker Jacks.
v. Buffalo Meat Burger. DONE December 21, 2013 at the Heartland Cafe. I had no idea that buffalo meat was so good.

21. Take the ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon – DONE August 16, 2013 & August 24, 2013

26. Stand on the sky deck ledge in the Sears Tower (don’t tell me it’s called Willis Tower now, I don’t care). DONE November 12, 2013. Read the blog post and see the pictures.

40. Have High Tea at the Peninsula Hotel – DONE June 2, 2013 with Lisa and Kim

42. Tour the Chicago Tribune – DONE October 19, 2013. Got the VIP Behind the Scenes Tour thanks to Amy Guth! See the pictures.

44. Attend the Book of Mormon – DONE October 6, 2013 with Laurie

46. Visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum – DONE December 30, 2013

48. See Oklahoma at the Civic Opera House – DONE May 3, 2013

50. Pet the stingrays in the Stingray Touch exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium – DONE May 18, 2013 See the picture.

51. Use my Passport – DONE July 6-7, 2013 with Christopher

52. Sit in the 3rd row for the Joan Baez and Indigo Girls Concert at Ravinia – DONE June 9, 2013

53. Have drinks at the Trump Tower Terrace Bar – DONE June 16, 2013 with Christopher

54. Visit Niagara Falls – DONE July 6-7, 2013 with Christopher

55. Make homemade Granola – DONE May 27, 2013 Read the blog post.

56. Visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield, IL – DONE November 22-24, 2013 with my mom

57. Kayak to Camp Lookout and all the way across Lower Herring Lake (from the southern most tip to the northern most tip)- DONE August 18, 2013 with Dave

58. Kayak on Lake Michigan – DONE August 24, 2013 with Dave

59. Kayak from Lower Herring Lake through the inlet to Upper Herring Lake – DONE August 24, 2013 with Dave. Unable to complete because the Inlet was too shallow, the current was too strong in the opposite direction we were going, and there were trees blocking the Inlet; will not try again.

61. Have a reunion with my cousin Ginny (have not seen her since 1998) – DONE July 7, 2013

62. Have a reunion with my friend Christy (have not seen her since 1984) – DONE July 21, 2013

63. Have a reunion with my cousin Sharon (have not seen her since sometime in the 1990s) – DONE August 2, 2013

65. Get my work email inbox to ZERO – DONE May 24, 2013 Read the blog post

67. Attend the Randolph Street Market – DONE June 29, 2013 with Tony

68. Have a booth at the Allstate Arena Flea Market – DONE August 11, 2013 with Christopher (I made $212 profit!)

71. Have a reunion with my friend Kalee (haven’t seen each other since the late 1990s) – DONE April 11 and 14, 2013 Read the blog post 

72. Meet Crystal Gayle – DONE April 12, 2013 Read the blog post 

73. Make at least three new friends – DONE I’ve made at least 4 new friends since April!

74. Attend the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago – DONE October 19th & 20th, 2013 See the pictures.

77. Pay off someone’s layaway at Walmart or Target ($100 max). Pay for a homeless person’s groceries at Walmart. DONE December 23, 2013.

78. Draw a zentangle – DONE November 2, 2013. See the picture.

81. Win a game of Words With Friends by more than 400 points – DONE August 19, 2013 (it was less satisfying when I learned I had just played a 10 year old)

82. Fly a kite – Attempted August 23, 2013, but could not get the kite off the ground. Will try again.

83. Visit South Manitou Island – DONE August 21, 2013 with my dad

84. Have dinner at Lovell’s of Lake Forest DONE July 2, 2013 with my dad and meet Captain Jim Lovell.

85. Attend the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest Rummage Sale – DONE May 4, 2013 with Tony

86. Use a Port-a-Potty – DONE May 4, 2013

87. Teach two LinkedIn classes at work – DONE July 23 LinkedIn 101: Building Your Profile and August 7, 2013 LinkedIn 201: Advanced LinkedIn

88. Take Amy Guth’s Crane #693 on adventures – DONE.Had cocktails at the Trump Tower Terrace Bar, sat on stage at the Civic Opera House, gone to Niagara Falls, rode the Ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon, climbed Sleeping Bear Dunes, visited South Manitou Island, watched the Watervale sunset, Richardsons Adventure Farm, RedEye, calls my desk at LFGSM home, so far.

90. Visit Northerly IslandDONE December 25, 2013.

91. Recover gracefully from a very embarrassing work faux pas – DONE August 2, 2013

92. Visit the Mars Cheese Castle – DONE August 24, 2013

94. Visit the Shedd Aquarium – DONE May 18, 2013

96. Pay someone’s bill at the drive-thru – DONE November 11, 2013

97. Complete Hike Lake County with my friends Jen and Alan (see August 12, 2012 blog post; we did not do it last year; best intentions, blah blah blah) – DONE on November 29, 2013! Hike 1 at Independence Grove; Hikes 2 & 3 at Old School Forest Preserve; Hikes 4 & 5 at Wright Woods Forest Preserve; Hikes 6 & 7 at Van Patten Woods

98. Move Little Merry Sunshine to its own domain. Move Little Merry Sunshine to ChicagoNow, part of the Chicago Tribune Media GroupDONE November 17, 2013.

100. Complete a corn maze – DONE October 12, 2013 with Chris, Alan, Jen, Katie & Steve

106. See the band Alabama in concert – DONE August 30, 2013 at Ravinia

107. Try acupuncture DONE December 26, 2013. See the picture of me with needles in my face.

108. Take a glass blowing class – Done November 3rd with Marci

110. Attend the Internet Cat Video Festival – DONE October 19, 2013

111. Invent a holiday – DONE September 19, 2013 Read the blog post about International Stay In Bed and Read A Book Day

112. Eat dirt – DONE September 23, 2013 (Don’t ask how or why)

113. Drive a Tesla – DONE October 9th, 2013 Thanks Bobby!! Read the blog post.

114. Have pneumonia. DONE September 25th – October 6th, 2013.

116. Play on a Jumping Pillow. – DONE October 12th with Chris, Katie, Steve, Alan, & Jen.

117. Have a new experience that cannot be shared on Little Merry Sunshine. – DONE August 16, 2013.

120. Visit the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum. – DONE October 19, 2013 See the pictures.

121. Visit the 41st Floor Observation Deck at the Kemper Building. – DONE October 19, 2013 See the pictures.

124. Get a pneumonia shot. DONE October 20, 2013. This was in direct response to having had pneumonia in early October. I never want to be that sick again.

126. Complete NaBloPoMo in November 2013. Read the blog post. DONE November 2013. Mid-month, I learned that it was better to post when it was best for me rather than according to some artificial mandate.

128. Be retweeted by Amy Dickinson (aka Ask Amy). DONE October 21, 2013

129. Be quoted by Amy Guth on RedEye Remix – TWICE. DONE November 2, 2013

130. Visit Santa. DONE November 9, 2013 with Chris and Tony. See the picture. I swear to you that there’s a picture exactly like this from when I was about 4 or 5. Eerie how much changes, yet how much stays the same.

131. Become a deputy voter registrar. DONE November 13, 2013.

133. Become an ordained minister. ORDAINED November 5, 2013 by Kevin Andrews, Pastor at Universal Life Church.

134. Present “Measuring Alumni Affinity” at the Jenzabar Regional Users Group Conference. DONE November 8, 2013

135. Give a meal to a homeless person.  DONE November 9, 2013 at State and Washington. Gave a homeless man a $10 Panera Bread gift card. Read the stories of the second time I fed a homeless man and how McDonald’s can change lives.

136. Have dinner at the Heartland Cafe. DONE December 21, 2013.

141. Meet ABC 7’s Ben Bradley (aka @BenBradleyABC7). DONE November 12, 2013. Read the blog post and see the pictures.

143. Dine at Coco PazzoDONE November 12, 2013 with Amy.

144. Take Sammy and Zoey to meet Santa. DONE December 7, 2013. See the picture.

146. Register my first person to vote. DONE November 18, 2013. Thanks Russ! Read the blog post.

147. Be interviewed on camera about my job for a marketing video. DONE November 18, 2013.

148. Attend the Grease Sing-A-Long at the Symphony Center. DONE November 30, 2013 with my friend Lyletta. See the picture. 

149. Participate in 31 Days of Random Acts of Kindness (#31RAOK). Thanks for the idea Stacy! DONE December 1-31, 2013. Read the blog post.

150. File and win property tax appeal with the Cook County Board of Review for my mom. Filed December 2, 2013.  

151. Dine at EatalyDONE December 31, 2013. See the pictures herehere, and here.

152. Apply to present “Measuring Alumni Affinity” at the annual Jenzabar JAM Conference in Washington, D.C. in May 2014. Submitted December 13, 2013.

153.Purchase a Jawbone and track my sleep, fitness, and eating in order to improve my overall health and help me lose 50 pounds. DONE December 12, 2013. Read the blog post.

155. See Die Fledermaus at the Lyric Opera. DONE December 13, 2013.

156. Meet Tony La Russa. DONE December 15, 2013. See the picture.

158. Meet Liz Murray (you know her from From Homeless to Harvard and Breaking Night fame). DONE December 17, 2013. See the picture.

160. Drive Lower Wacker DriveDONE December 17, 2013.

161. Spend Christmas Eve with friends. DONE December 24, 2013.

162. Create a new family Christmas tradition. DONE December 24, 2013.

163. Tour the 2013 Lake Forest Infant & Welfare Society Showhouse, a David Adler estate. DONE May 19, 2013 with Christopher.

164. Attend a New Year’s Eve party. DONE December 31, 2013. See the pictures herehere, and here.

165. Bowl a perfect game. Perfect meaning I bowled 10 frames and never once hit a pin. I had a total score of ZERO. DONE December 31, 2013. See the picture.

166. Lay on a $12,500+ bed. I honestly had no idea beds this expensive existed. DONE June 21, 2013.

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