If you had to put me in a box then you would call me an Optometrist first (the person who tests your eyes and sorts out your spectacles or contact lenses), however, like all of us, I am many more things than that: globe-trotter, humanitarian, runner, photographer, skier, sister, daughter, aunt, the list goes on. I am also 50. How did that happen, surely it was only yesterday we were all 25?
About once a decade I shuffle the list, move something to the top and set off in a different direction. Usually that means a break from whatever job I am doing before settling into a new, and probably quite different, role.
I do really, really like to travel. I have visited more than 70 countries, for work and for pleasure, and have a long list to go. I am in a competition with friends to see who can see the most countries. By the way if you want to join in, there are rules: transit airports don’t count, you have to pass through immigration and leave the airport for it to count. I actually visited Ethiopia 8 times on my way to Zambia with teams of volunteers, before I actually had my passport stamped and entered the country properly!
However, as my 50th birthday arrives, travelling is on hold and I am suddenly and unexpectedly on a different track, one that will define my next decade, and refocus my thoughts, passions and goals. You do our best: don't smoke, barely drink, run regularly, eat healthily (albeit with moderate cake and cappuccino intake), and then life throws you a curveball anyway. Last October I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer and since then I have had major surgery and the first rounds of chemotherapy.
So, the decade of my 50s is going to be memorable for many reasons. I am stressing the positive and re-evaluating my life, work and purpose.
50 challenges will allow me to make progress towards my hopes and dreams for the next ten years. I will travel again. I will help more people in Africa and elsewhere. I will learn Swahili and listen to interesting podcasts. I will mentor and coach people to achieve their own goals and aspirations. But I will also stop and smell the roses (or in my case the coffee probably!). I want to meet interesting people, go to a festival, visit new countries and cultures, learn new skills, read more and find out what I can do (and can’t do). As Mark Twain put it, (and I have this on my fridge so I see it every day):
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
The next decade will define me in unique ways. It is part of my journey, part of my adventure!