I know it would be WAY more fun to write adventures one at a time — not to mention more fun for you to read them individually — but it’s another catch-up round for me. I fear I’ll need to ask Year of 52 Adventures for an extension into January, but this being the season of hope and wonder, I may just find a way to complete 14 adventures during the next 26 days. Here’s what I’ve been up to for the past few months…
Adventure 28: Learning to knit.
Last year I agreed to serve as an advisor for the student organization Knit for the Needy. Group members meet weekly (and work on their own) to knit scarves, hats and gloves for people experiencing homelessness in Cincinnati. I adore the students who started the organization and appreciate its mission, but I just couldn’t find the energy to stay on campus for their late evening meetings. This year, thanks to an earlier meeting time, I stopped being an absentee advisor and started knitting. I’m still working on my first scarf, and … well, I can only get better. I think I’ll donate my second scarf.
Adventure 29: Hosting a casual dinner party.
One item from my original list of potential adventures was hosting a four-course dinner party with recipes I’d never attempted. However, with more thought, I realized that it wasn’t going to lead to the kind of relaxed and enjoyable evening I’d envisioned for myself or my guests. So, with mostly new recipes that could be served family style and an invitation to two new friends, I felt just enough challenge to make this an adventure. Maybe it was the huge pitcher of Sangria we drank, but I think the evening was a success.
Adventure 30: Taking a drumming class.
Working at UC has its benefits, especially when those benefits include a free class at the College-Conservatory of Music. For the past six weeks, I’ve been taking a Drumming for Stress Relief course with a fantastically diverse and interesting group of women from across the university. After a somewhat timid first week, we really found our drum circle groove and have been having a blast together. I’ve always been a little wary of drum circles–they seemed just a tad too hippie-ish for my taste–but I’m a convert now. I’m still going to skip the Patchouli, thank you very much.
Adventure 31: Going to an NFL game.
I’m sure there’s something I care less about than professional football, but that one thing escapes me at the moment. However, when a generous friend offered to take me to the Bengals-Dolphins game in October, I was able to see some intriguing possibilities … there’s tailgating (I eat food! I drink beer!), there’s cheering (I can stand up and yell, even if I don’t understand why!), and there’s Dhani Jones (I like Dhani after he gave a presentation to UC Honors students about social entrepreneurship and his Five Star Ties!) The clincher was a great forecast for game day; I would not claim to be anything other than a fair-weather football fan. The verdict? Football games are kind of fun. Good company, sunny skies and lots of cash for expensive stadium beers are a must. Thankfully, a victory is not.
Adventure 32: Dining solo at a restaurant.
I’m an introvert, so one would think I’m cool with eating alone. Not so. Even when DP and I are at a restaurant together, I get a little anxious when I’m the only one sitting at the table … do I look at the other diners, do I continue eating, do I pretend like I’m deep in thought? Clearly, social awkwardness is a natural skill. I faced my solo dining fear straight on by confidently walking into Wine Guy Bistro and asking for a table for one. (No, my book did not need a seat.) My goal was to focus on the food and the personal time, and I was feeling so confident that I even asked for a serious modification to the one vegetarian dish on the menu (kindly and with no expectations, of course). I don’t know that dining solo will be a frequent event, but I do feel more comfortable about taking myself out for a nice dinner once in awhile.
Adventure 33: Designing and mailing invitations to Friendsgiving.
In the tradition of Festivus, Friendsgiving is an annual celebration DP and I host for those who would like to give thanks without the marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes and family drama. I usually send an email invitation, but this year I wanted to go old-school and send a print invitation. I loved designing the simple postcard, and many people told me how much they enjoyed getting something in the mail besides catalogs and credit card offers.
Adventure 34: Restoring a cast iron pan.
If you’ve stopped reading, I don’t blame you; this is not one of my most exciting adventures. I wish I could tell you a great back story, like it was my great-great-great grandmother’s pan, or I bought it for a nickel at an antique fair. The truth? Several years ago, shortly after my mom bought it for me, I left it soaking in the sink for about five days too long. And it’s been sitting, rusty and unusable, on a shelf in my kitchen ever since. When getting our house in order this summer, I nearly placed the pan in the box of things destined for Goodwill; but in the year of 52 Adventures, I saw rust as opportunity. With a scouring brush attachment on a power drill, muscle, grapeseed oil, and a hot oven, I was able to return the pan to its glory days. Sweet, boring success!
Adventure 35: Making a PostSecret.
Don’t you love reading PostSecret? (If you’ve never visited, do yourself a favor and check it out!) Last week, after years of reading, I was motivated to create my own. After realizing that I had quite a few secrets to share–most of which are incredibly mundane–I settled on one of the more intriguing secrets that I thought would resonate with readers. I felt giddy and excited, clutching it in my hand as I took my usual walk through Mariemont. After I dropped it into one of the street mailboxes, I spent the rest of my walk imagining how many people might read the card as it traveled to Maryland, and of course I hope that many others will see it one Sunday on the website.
Adventure 36: Submitting my This I Believe essay to NPR.
I’ve shared the essay on my blog, and now it’s on NPR’s website. Woo-hoo! Sure, they publish everyone’s, but still…
Adventure 37: Taking a hot yoga class.
I’m surprised by how long it’s taken me to complete this adventure. Every time I’d decide on a class, I’d find some excuse for not going. I don’t mind sweating, but I do tend to overheat fairly easily; I think that I was afraid I’d have to take a break and that might make me look “weak.” (That truth is really painful to admit and sheds light on a troubling double standard I hold: I encourage yoga students to listen to their bodies, and I NEVER think that they’re weak when they rest in child’s pose or savasana–in fact, I think they’re incredibly wise and strong. So why don’t I feel that way when I’m practicing yoga?) I finally found the way to hold myself accountable to this adventure: I invited a new friend to join me, and I pre-paid for the class online. The class was fine; being in a hot room on a cold and snowy day was nice, but I didn’t find the practice to be any more engaging or detoxifying than one in a 70-degree room. Glad I did it, and I might try another studio and teacher, but it didn’t rock my yoga world.
Adventure 38: Completing a two-day raw food cleanse.
Using the word “completing” is very intentional, as I’m beginning day two of the cleanse. (I nearly gave up last night, after a very disappointing raw broccoli mash that tasted nothing like mashed potatoes, as the recipe suggested.) My initial goal was to follow a program–there are lots of 3-day cleanse books available–but I didn’t have enough time or interest to research the pros and cons of each. Rather than limiting my intake of food, I decided to focus on eating raw, whole foods for my cleanse. Unfortunately, I’m rather food-obsessed, and the second I woke up yesterday, I started thinking about all the foods I “couldn’t” eat this weekend. Not a good way to start. But I’ve worked my way through those thoughts–allowing myself a cup of coffee this morning helped–and I’m trying to focus on the opportunity to drink more green juices (they really are delicious if you find the right combination of greens and fruits) and to reset my eating habits/patterns after a few months of consistent overindulgence and mindlessness. I’ll admit–knowing that warm soup awaits me on Monday is helping me through the day, too.