Let’s start my column today by asking, what does my title, “70 X 70”, mean?
Creating titles is a favorite part of my writing process. More often than not, every story I draft will have several proposed titles. In fact, my title for this column just changed a minute ago from 70 – 4 – 70 to 70 X 70. There were other titles now scrapped and never to be seen.
You know how around the first of the new year, 2019, many of us made our New Year’s Resolutions?
I made one New Year’s Resolution, and today, I am going to fulfill my resolution by writing this story, 70 X 70.
Towards the end of last year, I was in a meeting with a competent and intelligent young lady named Michelle Brown. We were talking about my motorcycle crash up near the Arctic Ocean when the subject of her mother, Danette Leisle, came up.
Her mother’s story was so compelling that right away my Arctic Ocean motorcycle crash story switched from compelling to use to be compelling as I chose to focus on her mother’s story.
Danette makes the traditional New Year’s Resolution and the old bucket list ideas old-fashioned and boring.
Many people, when they turn 70, become depressed, down in the mouth, sad, or downright grumpy. Not Danette.
Danette wanted to celebrate her 70th year, so she and a friend came up with a new idea on the day before she turned 70. I am calling their idea the Danette Plan. Danette wanted to do what she could to keep her life fresh.
Danette has never been fond of the bucket list because it is like starting with a full bucket and then removing things from the bucket one at a time until the bucket is empty and your life is over.
With Danette’s idea, you start with an empty bucket and then fill it up one life experience at a time. You never have to stop as long as you are able to experience life. If you fill your bucket, start using a bigger bucket.
New life experiences do not have to be monumental. They can be new ways of looking at and experiencing old things.
She challenged herself to try 70 new life experiences in her 70th year. She wanted to do 70 things she had never done before.
Danette did not have a list, like a bucket list. She merely kept her eyes open and watched for opportunities that had never been presented to her or the opportunities she had not embraced in the past.
She had no pre-plan. She just tried to observe and try new things as they came her way.
70 new activities and experiences during the span of her 70th year. Thus the title 70 X 70.
Michelle kindly arranged a phone call between her mother and me.
Danette shared some of her notes found in her 70 X 70 Journal which she at times refers to 70 @ 70.
One of the first experiences Danette told me about was her opportunity to enjoy a specially prepared authentic Chilean meal.
The new things did not have to be big and/or dangerous, just new things that were never experienced in her life before.
Here is a partial list of some of the other life experiences she included in her 70th year.
Enjoyed Espresso Con Panna in Jerome, Arizona. In Italian, Espresso Con Pana means with cream.
That is 2 new things. Only 68 to go and an entire year to get all 70 accomplished.
After reaching her 7th decade, her 70 X 70 plan gave her a new and different way to look at life which in reality made turning 70 a lot more fun. For Danette, 70 was not the end of life, but a new beginning.
Her new beginning completely eradicated any chance that her 70th year would be a mundane life experience.
What next? She attended the ever popular baseball Spring Training in Arizona.
Using Tumblr, Danette created her own blog to share her photos and experiences while traveling in France right after turning 70. At age 70 the blog creation was not easy, but she met the challenge.
Danette took a private tour of an ancient cave in France.
She spent a significant amount of time attending a Buddhist retreat in France.
Danette danced in the isle of a train.
She entered an adult crayon art contest and won second place.
Danette invited someone she did not know well to coffee. If you know me, you know I do this all the time, but it was a new life experience for Danette.
Danette served on a jury.
She had her photo taken with a famous French violinist.
She rode a bullet train.
Danette tried on clothes in the back of a van at a street market in France.
You get the idea.
So let me ask, how old are you going to be in 2019; 25, 50, 65, 75, 80? To embrace the Danette Plan, take your age, let’s say for example, 50, and start accumulating 50 new life experiences in your 50th year. If you fail to meet your goal of 50 X 50 and hit only 35 X 50, I would say you will have had a successful year, when compared to a boring unchallenged year.
Because we are in the front part of 2019, we all have time to accept the Danette Plan Challenge to make our lives more meaningful. Go ahead. Fill your bucket.