Let’s begin with a little mea culpa. I dropped the ball. Let that sucker go and utterly and completely lost sight of it. Writing a blog was one of my thirty new things to try for 2017, but I blew it when I only managed one post on my site. Though I’ve steadily continued to try new things since I read the article and embarked on the notion in May of 2015, writing a blog being among them, I truly wasn’t ready to tackle the blog writing one when I launched this.

But I am now.

No, this re-boot doesn’t count as a new thing. As I said in my inaugural post, if you’ve tried something once before, even a long time ago, you still tried it already, so it doesn’t count when you give it a second go. (Insert massive eye roll here.) In order to be truly lucky, you have to keep pushing yourself, trying something new regularly, and seeing how it works out. The goal for this blog is to work out. By that, I mean I keep writing about the new experiences I’m having and learning from you about yours. I’m looking forward to being inspired to try some things I’ve never considered based on what you do and how your experiences work out for you. So please comment and share.

This year is a big year for me trying new things. As of November 1, 2019, which is the mid-way point of my Thirty New Things year, I’ve tried twenty new things. That put me way ahead of schedule, but to be honest, most of those occurred in the month of May.

In May, CruiserMan and I traveled to Santorini, Greece so I could attend a writers’ retreat. The retreat itself wasn’t a new thing, but neither of us had ever been to Greece, so our experiences exploring the country, the history, and the cuisine were all new. Four events that had a big impact on me all occurred during the afternoon and evening of one day while we were there.

We sailed on a three-masted wooden-hulled ship, which was a bucket list item for both of us. The efficiency with which the sailors raised and manned the sails impressed by itself. But the poetry of the sailors’ dance of hand-over-handing the ropes, stepping lightly from one mast to the other, and securing all the ropes and sails in perfect rhythm mesmerized me. Then the breeze filled the sails, and the sailors managed the ropes to to help the helmsman to steer the ship as we glided across the incredible blue of the Aegean Sea. Typically, I am the world’s queasiest boater, so this excursion didn’t thrill me for the fact that we’d be riding the sea. But something about sailing, the wind driving the ship forward, seemed to flatten out the waves, and I found myself laughing in joy as we sailed toward the sunset. Will I try sailing again? Yes, yes, I believe I will.

Part of our day included hiking one thousand meters up the side of an active volcano. The Italian guide spoke fluent English, Greek, Spanish, and Italian, and laughed and joked in every language, making the whole tour at home. Which was good, since the hike was steep and treacherous as we traversed slick shale and old lava flow rocks to reach the top. The views from the top of the volcano were worth the trek, though. We could see the crescent shape of the main island of Santorini, the entirety of the caldera created by the second most massive volcanic eruption in recorded history, and the pretty Greek towns of Oia and Fira perched high on the cliffs of Santorini and gleaming white in the sun like snow capping the island. The volcano sent up lazy puffs of steam that smelled like rotten eggs, letting everyone know the thing is not dead, merely sleeping. Seeing the solar-powered seismic measuring stations strategically placed over the surface of the volcano did nothing for my peace of mind. Still, CruiserMan and I added our miniature rock cairns to the field of them left behind by those who visited before us, our own “Kilroy was here” signature on the place.

After we climbed down off the volcano, we sailed over to a smaller volcanic island that bubbled up from the seabed in the late 1700s, about the time America was revolting against British rule. At the base of this island are sea-going hot springs. Living in Wyoming near Yellowstone Park, I’ve had ample opportunity to swim in hot springs. But I’d never swum in sea springs. I climbed off the boat with forty or fifty other intrepid folks and swam about a quarter mile into shore to test out the springs. The Aegean in May is quite cool, so the hot water swirling around us when we reached the area of the springs was welcome. Unfortunately, unlike landlocked hot springs, the tides move the water however they feel like it, so you can’t home in on the hot water. Instead, it swirls and turns around and away from you, making the experience of swimming in them jarring. One second, you’re enjoying warm bath water, the next second, you’re doused in cold water, giving you no chance to acclimate either way. I found it refreshing, but my fellow writers who hailed from Florida were not impressed.

Once everyone returned from their swim and we’d sailed toward the sunset for our own pleasure and for the photo ops of the people on the top of the island in the town of Oia, the sailors furled the sails and powered up the engines for the ride back to port. During this part of the trip, I learned how to Greek dance. The ship’s crew encouraged this behavior, and I was only too happy to join in. The steps are simple, but as we danced around the bar of the rocking boat, more than one person lost focus or balance or both with much laughter and teasing. For a moment, I felt like a cast member of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. If I were still teaching, I’d definitely teach Greek dancing to my freshmen when they read The Odyssey. Instead, maybe I’ll dance it at my sons’ weddings. Ha!

Another time, I’ll share more adventures from this trip. In the meanwhile, what new things have you tried, and how have they worked out for you? Leave a comment and let me know.

Yours in taking a risk (or thirty),

Tam DeRudder Jackson

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