The Importance of Creating New Memories

Posing on a pedestrian street
in Malaga Spain
Several years
ago I attended a WOW Woman of Worth conference filled with amazing female speakers who spoke on a wide range of topics relevant to those in attendance. One by one they took the stage and offered their wisdom. Everyone's gift was unique.

I have come to believe that each time I feel the pull to attend an event with multiple speakers, there will be one who has something special to offer me that day. I will know when I hear it. That is the easy part as I usually react physically by getting goosebumps.  At that conference it was the keynote speaker, Linda Edgecombe

Linda shared about a decision she made to walk the Camino De Santiago  – an 800 kilometer trail trekked while carrying her few possessions in a back pack. She was excited to embrace this new experience, but the trip didn't play out exactly as expected. Linda decided to go in the spring.  Instead of sunshine and flowers, it rained almost every day. And she chose to go solo with visions of connecting with fellow travelers from all over the world. The reality was there few people were on the trail at that time of year, and most didn’t speak English.

On my balcony at Black Rock Resort in Ucluelet, BC
I was there to write a travel article on the resort

Her talk offered the audience a hilarious tale of adventure which included everything from funny moments to days it took sheer determination to keep going. The loneliness, the rain, the discomfort were real. At one point she called her mentor back home and said she was throwing in the towel.  I no longer remember what her mentor said to help her dig deep, but the result was a renewed commitment to finishing no matter what the journey ahead held. 

My morning commune with the alpacas while staying 
on a property in Swan Valley, W. Australia

When walking into the town at the end of the trail she expected blue sky to suddenly appear, a choir of angels to sing and greeters to meet her to celebrate her success and offer a much needed well done. It didn’t happen. Instead, the end of the line was anticlimactic. The town was very old and picturesque, but the weather was still grey and raining, so few people were out and about. With no one to share this moment, the end was just another day.  

Ziplining for the first time in Whistler BC Canada

Linda closed this story with a truth that floored me.  I don’t remember her exact words, but it went something like this.  As you age, you need to keep pushing yourself to have new experiences.  If you don’t, you’ll be THAT person in the room who is continually sharing the same old stories from the glory days of their youth. I sat back stunned and don’t think I heard another word the rest of the evening.

Taken at the start of my trip to visit a friend in Kauai, Hawaii

It’s so very easy to get in a rut as you age, especially once you’re an empty nester.  A million things can get between you and all the wonderful new experiences waiting to be embraced. Our bodies aren’t as hale and hearty, travelling isn’t as easy, and there is a comfort to be found in an everyday routine.  You might find yourself dreaming big, but never getting around to taking the steps necessary for those dreams to become a reality.  I made a choice that night to not be the kind of parent whose grown children roll their eyes every time I tell THAT story again. And again. And again.

Set up to start my first ever online
cooking class!

First I committed
to taking a trip somewhere new every year, although I did have to take two years off during the pandemic. For my significant birthday in 2020, despite the pandemic, I created a Year of Marilyn Bucket List Challenge. It embraced everything from writing old school letters, to zip lining, to taking a cooking class.  I didn’t get everything crossed off my list, and some things I tried didn’t work out. It didn’t matter. Each offered a new experience – a new story to share. I quickly decided this would be a yearly event and went on to make a new list at the start of 2021 and 2022.

Outside this list, I kept my eyes out for unique local events. One I thoroughly enjoyed was an intimate, small venue, candlelight jazz concert.  Another was Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience – a walk through viewing with the artist’s work projected on the walls and accompanied by classical music. A third a concert by a gospel choir from Soweto. I’ve been discovering numerous local trails I’ve never hiked and hope to visit a few of them while the weather holds. And I’m still thinking about doing a buddy sky dive.

What I have learned through this is every time I travel somewhere new, take a chance on a new experience, try a new food, meet with friends, dip my toes in a new hobby, visit an art gallery, attend a musical performance or even walk a new trail, I am creating new memories to share. I can bring something unique to the conversation. Trust me, no one wants to hear those same old stories from years ago you've been telling forever, no matter how great they are.

On a bike tour in the countryside outside of Prague with a fabulous local guide.

Take a few moments right now to start a bucket list of dreams that includes ideas from simple to elaborate, and make a commitment to crossing at least one off in the next 30 days.  They don't have to be fabulous, expensive, or complicated to ignite a flame inside. After that, you just need to keeping embracing another and another. Don't ever stop adding to that list. 

Note – If you need  help getting the ball rolling you can check out my 2020 list HEREmy 2021 list HERE and my 2022 HERE. After three years, the habit of trying new things is so ingrained it felt unnecessary to create one in 2023.