THE BLOG

Shake It Up

02/06/2013 12:18 pm ET | Updated Apr 08, 2013

My goal for 2013 was to shake things up by making some changes. Oh, I know -- we change all the time... after all, change is about the only thing we can count on in life. But while that's true, I've also noticed that as creatures of habit, it's easy to get stuck in a routine, to remain fixated on one course -- to stay firmly nestled in the comfort zone. But where's the fun in that? Where's the gusto?

I'm not suggesting that one need go to extremes; I think the universe pitches us enough curve balls as it is. I'm not going through some kind of a life crisis either, so I won't be changing the wonderful, important and critical, parts of my life, i.e., my marriage, my family and my friends -- because the naturally occurring dynamics within those microcosms provide my 'gusto' foundation, and I'm keeping that!

But outside of what I call my Rock of Gibraltar foundation, I'm shaking things up for myself -- making minor changes, and trying new activities. I do the most growing when I'm being challenged, both physically and mentally -- much like pushing slightly heavier weights at the gym, or venturing into uncharted territory to acquire a new skill.

So, one of the changes was to dye my hair. Yep, I have been a blond for twenty years and, on a whim, I decided to go back to being a brunette -- a dark brunette, at that. It's a drastic change I suppose, and rather bold after so many years, and a lot of fun. Dark brown is actually my natural color. What a shock it was for all my friends to see me this way -- and even more of a shock for my kids, since they can't remember me with dark hair! My husband loved it immediately, and my 88-year-old mom and 90-year-old dad said, "We got our daughter back!" Most importantly though, I'm happy with it. For some reason, I have a new bounce to my step, and a new twinkle in my eyes. It's a silly, personal style thing I guess, but nevertheless, it was a refreshing change for me -- and it makes me smile. I know -- I need all new photographs now.

Shake-ups don't always have to be so dramatic to be effective. Mini-changes are welcome, too. For example, I decided to try a new activity: snowshoeing. Now this wasn't a huge leap for me because I ski, so snow and cold weather are environments I thrive in. Also, I hike and, obviously, I can walk -- which is basically the only requirement one needs for strapping on snowshoes, putting one foot in front of the other and proceeding ahead in a forward motion.

Snowshoeing was new and different and, though not difficult at all, I loved it. Being surrounded by breathtaking scenery, hearing very little but the soft schlump-schlump sound the snowshoes make in the snow -- the whole invigorating vibe of experiencing this method of walking in a wintry wonderland was invigorating and a nice change.

And then I added an educational challenge. I'm a fan and supporter of "Girls Who Code," a group that's working to inspire and teach young women the skills to pursue careers in engineering and computer technology. Since I'm also an advocate of lifelong learning and became so intrigued by the "Girls Who Code" concept, I decided to learn how to write computer code myself. Why not? There are so many options for us to continue our education these days -- online courses, private tutors, Khan Academy books. So, I'm in the early phases of learning 'Just BASIC,' which is a high-level computer language. I'm fascinated. I already know about interpreters, compilers, source code, object code, bits, bytes and strings. It's wild. Who would have thought that at 62 I'd be learning how to write computer code? But then again, why shouldn't I? I can't even imagine what I might do at 82.

As I write this, I realize I don't need all that much to be entertained. My shake-it-up changes are minor and mild. I don't need to fly off a mountain cliff in a parachute to get my adrenaline going, or race down double-black ski runs -- well, I can almost relate to that one, though I prefer to stick to the simple, groomed black runs or tough blues myself. But truly, my gusto for life is actually a state of mind, and perhaps that's where our gusto needs to be manufactured in the first place -- then we can pluck things from the outside to add to it. Therefore, these minor changes I've just told you about are all just the icing on my cake.

Still, who doesn't like to have icing?