I’m naturally pretty easy on myself.  But I’ve found a really effective way to ensure that I don’t get into a rut.  I found a friend who has promised to continually dare me to try new things (and I’ve made the same promise to her.)  For four years now, my friend Kelley Carman and I have been challenging each other to try new things and evolve.  It started the year our oldest kids got their driver’s licenses.  (Nothing makes you feel older than watching your kid drive away in your car alone!)


First, Kelley challenged me to start going to boot camp 4 mornings a week at 6am: This was a huge deal because I’m NOT a morning person and I hate to run.  But I did it and I never looked back.  We’ve been going for 4 years straight and I’ve never regretted the decision.
Next, we decided to ride the length of the Katy Trail (or at least as far as you can get on the Amtrak).  3 years ago I was recovering from a severed tendon and had only been off of crutches for 2 weeks.  Nevertheless, we loaded our bikes on the train, rode it to Sedalia and biked all the way home, with all of our gear for the week packed onto our bikes.  We had no “sag wagon” and no provisioner meeting us at checkpoints.  We did it truly on our own.  It took 3 1/2 days and we rode through freezing, pouring rain at some points, but we loved it.  We stayed at adorable bed and breakfasts, ate and drank everything we wanted and saw beautiful scenery.  I would highly recommend it as a great way to really see Missouri.   The route: Adorable place to stay in Boonville, with a fabulous restaurant: Quaint b&b in Hermann:
Two years ago, we decided we wanted to take our daughters to Paris for their senior trip.  The market had crashed, the economy tanked and our incomes were seriously in flux.  But the girls were only going to be high school seniors once.  We committed to doing it and found a way to have a first class trip at really reasonable prices.   I was also challenged to refresh my French so that we could get around.  I worked hard at it, but used French for all of our communications (at least at first).  Several vendors actually thanked me for using French (before switching to English to finish our transaction.)For beautiful Paris apartment rentals where you can feel like a local: For really helpful language lesson tapes:
Last year, Kelley decided we needed to try snowboarding.  Our families been going on ski vacations together for years, but we’ve been pretty content to leisurely glide down the blue trails on 2 skis.  When our sons decided they needed to try snowboarding, I was tempted to drop them at the ski school and go get a hot toddy.  But Kelley dared me to try.  I can honestly say that it was the most painful thing I’ve ever done.  And the pain lasted longer than the pain of childbirth.  But we did it.  And by the end of the day we were taking the lift up and boarding all the way down (not counting the time spent faceplanting into the snow and screaming 4-letter words just as the toddler ski school flew by doing their “pizza pies.”)  I actually boarded straight into a tree at one point and down a ravine into a creek at another.  (What sadist puts a creek at the border of the bunny hill anyway!?)  Later that night, just to complete the adventure, we came upon a huge, hungry post-hibernation bear on our walk home from dinner.  I learned that in a “fight or flight” situation, I’m really, really good at “flight!”  I was out of there before Kelley got to the the r in “bear!”  (I’m really embarrassed to realize that, apparently, I’m not a natural hero who thinks first about sacrificing myself for my friends.)  We were at Whistler Mountain in Canada (outside of Vancouver.)  We loved the laid back atmosphere and gorgeous, uncrowded trails at both Whistler and the adjacent Blackcomb mountain.   If you’re a skier or boarder, you have to try


This year, I decided we needed to do a triathlon.  Kelley was NOT excited.  She doesn’t really like to swim.  But she was a trooper.  We decided on the Memphis in May sprint-length triathlon so we could get some great BBQ after the race.  Since it’s at the beginning of May, we had to wear wetsuits for the swim portion.  We only trained for about two months, but we both did really well.  I finished in the top 10 in my age group for the swim.  (Don’t ask what I finished in the run!)  We both beat our goal times by a significant margin and neither of us finished last in our age group!  I highly recommend the training swims that Little Shark hosts in April and May out at the lake at New Town. ark-new-town-open-water-swim-series-pg68 0.htm Open water swimming is completely different from swimming laps at a pool.  The training swim was a perfect way to get acclimated both to the wetsuit and the technique needed for swimming in a straight line in open water.Memphis in May:
We’re looking for our next challenge. I think we’ll be hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu eventually, but I think that’s probably 2 years off.  We need something for next year. Any ideas?

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