When i turned 30, i realized that all of my decisions, both personal and professional were based on the notion that there was a certain place i should be in my life at this point. i decided to challenge myself and to make a change. Reflecting on my experiences, i am going to pursue opportunities that i want instead of ones others think i should have. Opportunities that would create happiness, push me out of my comfort zone and in turn, create a better version of myself as i experience a #yearof30adventures.
With that being said, its been roughly 5 months and i have found myself exploring, learning, and pushing the envelope thanks to my new #giving30fucks mentality.
April’s challenge was to hone in on one of my New Years resolutions and to be more cognizant of what i was putting into my body by making more meals from scratch and spending more time in the kitchen. i challenged myself to cook at least 1 new recipe a week.
The kitchen can be a pretty intimidating space. There is so much to learn about the science behind food, how to pair things and the “proper” way of doing it all. The more time i spent in the kitchen, i realized it wasn’t as intimidating as i made it out to be, rather it is a space that fosters creativity and allows me to express myself in a completely new and unique light. It’s a space i now spend large chunks of time in with minimal distraction or interruptions, experimenting with trial and error and learning that failure is a catalyst of innovation, creativity and success.
Weekly meals quickly turned into daily concoctions which then lead to baking … Where i cooked up a pretty cool business idea that i hope to one day bake to life.
May was spent focusing on being present when with family. Those that know me, know that us Kuzemko’s are quite unique and our gatherings are far from traditional. In this day and age it is easy to get distracted by our phones, and lose the richness of those conversations that matter most.
May was a big month for family festivities, Ukrainian Easter, Mother’s Day, Birthdays and Anniversaries which led to spending most weekends with my wild, crazy, amazing family. Although it continues to be a work in progress, i used this time to start the ball rolling with allowing on “No cellphones at the table.” i learned some really interesting facts, exchanged stories, rekindled connections and even took a vacation to wine country.
Aside from documenting the classic Kuzemko moments and playing around with hilarious filters – i found that all of us became more aware, more present and more appreciative for the moments we spent together. However, who could have predicted all my non-millennial relatives would get such a kick out of snapchat!
June was all about re-connecting with the people that truly nourish my life. It’s easy to get caught up in life and before you know it, it’s been 8 months since you’ve seen your longest friends. With work consuming most weekends and summers the past 3 years, i wanted to make up for lost time and used this summer to re-connect with friends.
We all know running makes up a large chuck of my life. 6 months ago, it encompassed my personal, professional and social circle all in one. Although, the first few months of 2016, i realized it had become mostly just professional. Not having time to enjoy the running scene from a personal level i found i had lost touch with some of my closest friends as well as a bit of my love for the sport in general.
So, June was the month i made a promise to myself that Tuesday’s were spent running track, drinking beer, laughing and catching up with my crew; which by the way are speedy little humans who continue to inspire and push me to be a faster athlete and a truer friend. There’s no better feeling than coming around the last turn of that 400 full speed with 6 pals cheering you on. (Well actually there is… It’s drinking a beer after the work out but that’s beside the point).
A few of my besties became new mama’s and i am so so fortunate to be an auntie to Myla, Shane and Oliva. Scheduling get togethers gets a bit more complicated with friends with kids. Trying to find the right time and place and making sure you’re keeping a close enough eye on the kiddies that they don’t end up smearing sweet potatoes all over the walls means quality time with these friends are a rare gem. June happened to be the month where the schedules aligned and i had lunch dates, meet and greets and even spent a weekend cottaging – Babies welcome.
4 cottage weekends, 2 island beach days, an out of town wedding, and a bikes and beer tour , June was a packed month filled with laughter, love and lessons with friends. i am grateful for all of my relationships and realized life doesn’t stop for you so every once in a while you have to pump the breaks and re-kindle those meaningful connections.
July was a unique month. One that was humbling, emotional, tested my patience, fears and my strengths. It taught me a lot about reality, fairness and how to make the most out of this wild game of LIFE. This July i spent 14 days up in Muskoka volunteering at Camp Ooch; a camp for children affected by cancer.
July’s #giving30fucks was such an impactful one that truly changed my perspective on life. Many lessons and adventures were had, that checked off a a few things from my list.
For two weeks straight, i am responsible for 8 sick little girls who are constantly looking up to me as their role model, seeking advice, encouragement, and pretty much view me as the coolest cat in town with no fears so i had to be “ON” all the time. There is no OFF button … Even at 1am, and then 4am, and 5:15, and 5:45…ON ALL THE TIME.
The incredible thing about this camp is the word NO pretty much is non existent when it comes to trying new things: Campers in wheelchairs can rock climb, or those with visual impairments can waterski; it’s a place where anything is made possible. We use the motto “challenge by choice” which means each experience is relative to each individual. At camp we encourage all campers (and councillors) to push their comfort zones a little bit further. For example, one camper may have a fear of water, so swimming in the lake might be something they though they would never do, so wadding knee deep in the lake would challenge their comfort zone. While another camper may feel more comfortable with only putting on a life When having a life threatening disease, many decisions are made for you whether you like it or not. The “challenge by choice” motto encourages campers to be in control and try new things without feeling forced, and empowers them to leave camp apply their learnings into their everyday life.
This summer i took part in activities that pushed me to overcome a few fears and break feelings of anxiety: Heights, caring too much about what others think, and speaking/ performing infront of large audiences. With #theyearof30adventures top of mind, i put myself in situations that i may not have a year ago.
Strapping myself into a harness and jumping tire to tire, 150 feet off the ground, clipping on and off the safety wires while also being responsible for one of my campers: Fear off Heights ✔️
Waking up at 4:45am before the day started so i could attempt an early morning wakeboard with new friends: Fear of failure/ anxiety from caring about what others think ✔️
Leading an evening program and speaking infront of 250 campers and councilors while wearing a silly costume: Fear of being infront of large audiences ✔️
These were just 3 of many instances where i was challeged to not only step outside my comfort zone, but was challenged to be the best version of myself by being a mentor, motivator and a kid again.
August – well August’s adventure really is one that will be continuous and i’m sure i’ll post about regularly. i pretty much pushed the envelope off the table …. In fact i pushed it 3 time zones and a whole country over. i put on my big girl pants and my NFG hat and hit pause on my Toronto life. i’ve never lived more than 90 minutes from where i grew up, i have an amazing group of friends that i’ve had anywhere from 30 years to 2 months, i saw my family weekly, i ran the same running routes and i’ve lived in the same apartment in the city for 5 years. It was time for a change.
It wasn’t an easy one; i left family, friends, i even turned down jobs. However it is one that i will learn and grow immensely from. My 29th year wasn’t one of the better ones, so as a commitment to myself, i am focusing on looking forward, chasing down MY dreams, and spreading my wings. i am lucky to have such a strong supportive circle back home.
My new found freedom has already proven to be successful, by building the framework for many new adventures that continue to ✔️ things off my list.
Excited to learn, excited to adventure and excited for change. ✌🏼️