60 in 60 Challenge: January - Month 1


60 in 60:   My 2019 Well-being Challenge

January - Month 1 

Last month I blogged about my 2019 challenge which is to try 60 new things in my 60th year (http://bit.ly/2Pen3ow). I’m still not thrilled about turning 60 in a few months but because of my 60 in 60 Challenge, I have been focused on planning new things to try instead of negatively fixated on the inevitable. 

Background Information

If you didn’t read my first blog, here is a synopsis:

  • I’m putting everything I’ve learned about positive psychology* or the science of flourishing and well-being into practice to be happier (happiness is a choice)
  • Happiness is contagious so why not spread it around?
  • Being active and learning new things is good for us especially as we age
  • I recently moved to Burlington, Ontario, Canada and want to explore my new city
  • Taking part in 60 new activities will be a way for me to use my character strengths** which is a sure way to increase happiness

My Challenge Criteria

The criteria for the activities are as follows:

  • no cost or low cost
  • takes about 60 minutes
  • preferably within walking distance or in Burlington
  • something that I have never done before
  • includes friends/family, when possible
  • contributes to my overall health, well-being, and happiness

Month 1 Update:

Truth be told, it was difficult getting back on track after the month of December.  My son Andrew was home from university for most of the month which made me happy but there was far too much lounging and eating chocolate!

The other problem has been my sheer lack of energy and desire to go outside.  I feel like finding the nearest cave and emerging sometime in April.  It’s been bitterly cold (-20 to - 30 C  with the windchill). 

Want to achieve a goal?  My advice is to tell as many people as possible!  This is what I have done and it’s a motivator. 

Here is a list of the new things I tried in January – Month 1:

1. Attended a Qigong Class

I bundled up and headed out on a Friday morning to the local Burlington Senior’s Centre (anyone over 55+ is considered a senior!).  The jury is still out on whether I actually like qigong.  I think what turned me off was the talkative instructor who tried to sell some products :(  I do a lot of yoga which I love and I guess I was expecting the same type of feeling.  Qigong exercises are supposed to maintain one’s health by creating a state of calmness, reduce stress, enhance the immune system and prevent illness. 

2. Donated Blood (almost)

I was excited to donate blood for the first time but it did not turn out as planned.  I was very disappointed to learn that I can never be a donor because I had contracted malaria while in Africa in 1995!  I decided to write to the Canadian Blood Services about this and received a very informative letter but unfortunately will not be able to be a blood donor.

3. De-cluttered

Even though I down-sized from a house to a 2-bedroom apartment last August, I still felt that I had a lot of unnecessary items. I discovered a thrift shop in a tiny little house two streets over from me run by the Burlington Humane Society (http://burlingtonhumane.ca/atticloft).  I find that having less “stuff” makes me feel calm.  If you are having trouble letting go of stuff and need to de-clutter, watch Marie Kondo on Netflix.  Her motto is “tidy your space, transform your life”.  I highly recommend it if you need to be motivated to “kon-marie” or de-clutter. (I did end up buying a book The Blue Zones for $1 - more on that later).

4. Donated Old Eye Glasses

In keeping with the donation theme, I donated a pair of old eyeglasses. I live right across the street from a Lion’s Club so I googled them to find out what they actually do.  They do tremendous work around the world including an amazing vision program.  If you have old glasses that could help someone, consider finding a Lion’s Club in your city.  http://www.lions14925.org/fundra/eye-glass-donations

5. Mentored

My good friend Ray has been mentoring an entrepreneur (for free) despite his very busy schedule.  I decided that I should show the same kindness and pay it forward by mentoring a young teacher/teacherpreneur.  Although I’m self-employed and rely on generating my own income, I decided that I could spend an hour per week to help a new teacher develop her professional skills.  It actually feels good to be able to share what I have learned after a 23-year teaching career. 

6. Moved by the Benevolent Angel

This beautiful steel sculpture greeted me as I walked up a flight of stairs at the Burlington Central Library.  It actually took my breath away – it’s stunning (research suggests that visiting an art gallery or being exposed to art has health benefits http://bit.ly/2RihYMU). It's accurately described as follows: “its peaceful face and extended arms exude compassion, generosity, and inclusivity; even as it hovers in precarious balance, it reaches outward”.

The city of Burlington has a Public Art Program and this sculpture is one of 27 pieces on display throughout the city.  This activity definitely appealed to my top character strength of Appreciation for Beauty and Excellence.  

7. Belly danced

One Saturday morning, I joined 30 women at BellyUp for a trial class.  It’s much harder than it looks and was quite the work-out.  I have to say it was a lot of fun but because I attended a class mid-way through the beginner’s program, I didn’t know any of the basics.  Nonetheless, it was more enjoyable than qi gong and the teacher, Joharah was excellent.  I think that this might be something I try again!

8. Cooked

I rarely cook and my go-to meal is a bowl of salad or cheese and crackers.  It makes sense to eat better so every month I will try a new recipe from The Blue Zones. My first creation was the soup below  http://bit.ly/2FSYBZo.  It was delicious and I made it three times now.  The book is a fascinating read about pockets of people in five countries where the life expectancy is 100! 

9. Tackled Technology

Andrew is a tech wizard so while he was home, I took advantage of some one-on-one training including migrating an email list; posting to Instagram from my PC and splitting screens and the "click to tweet"!

My Observations

First of all, I was surprised to see that I actually tried 9 new things this month!  I didn't realize it until I sat down to write this blog.  I'm happy about these small wins.  Overall, the activities fit my criteria (close-to-home and free/low cost) and as I mentioned, telling people about my challenge forced me to be active and actually do things.  To be honest, I think I would have just wasted the month trying to stay warm if I didn't have this challenge planned.

Getting back to my earlier comment about aging, one of the ways I’m trying to stay positive about aging is by deriving inspiration from some “amazing agers” such as 78 year-old dynamo Nancy Pelosi, the talented 80+ Quincy Jones and Burlington resident soccer referee, 78-year old Verna Dalgleish who was featured in the Burlington Post!  WOW!

If you have any ideas for an activity, please let me know.  If you would like to start your own challenge, I would be happy to encourage you on your journey. If you happen to live nearby and would like to join me in an activity, please email me palmer.patrice@gmail.com

Thanks for reading, Patrice


*Watch this great 5-minute whiteboard video to learn more about positive psychology https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qJvS8v0TTI

**My top character strengths are Appreciation for Beauty and Excellence, Kindness, Gratitude, Love of Learning and Creativity.  Using character strengths every day, and in different ways leads to happiness.  Take a free 10-minute survey to discover your character strengths http://www.viacharacter.org


Who Am I?

My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., CPP.  I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL teacher, trainer, and writer.  I spent seven amazing years teaching in Hong Kong where my son Andrew was born.  I left classroom teaching in 2015 and now work as a teacherpreneur (www.teacherpreneur.ca) doing the things I love such as writing, travelling and applying the science of positive psychology to all my work (www.patricepalmer.ca).



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