1 Grow Up! | Traveling Light Blog by Travel Writer Colleen Friesen

Grow Up!


Saturday in Brisbane Mall-14=


‘I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.’

-Kurt Vonnegut

Grow up!

Can you remember when you first heard that?  Did a parent or teacher say, “Quit goofing around and get serious!” Did someone admonish you and tell you to quit acting like such a child? Did adolescent self-consciousness prevent you from trying anything new and looking like a fool?

I’ve been thinking about kids and old people lately. Maybe because I’ve been in a few elementary schools for the first time in ages and probably because I’m visiting my father in the decidedly unhomey-home every week.

What I’ve noticed is that we love to get our kids to try new things. Take piano lessons, go to circus school, try painting, play the drums and ride the pony. Parents and other adults toss them a lump of clay, some Crayolas and blunt scissors and tell them, “You don’t know what you’ll like – so try everything!”

And then…much later, we send seniors on outings or they take continuing education courses, harmonica lessons and engaging trips and, if they’re in a seniors home, the activity director has them singing while playing goofy games.

But somewhere between that kid-zone and the senior-zone of life,can be the burdensome middle ground of serious living. So what happened? Or, as my good friend likes to say, “Quelle de hell?”

When did it stop?  Why aren’t we still trying new things? How do we really know for sure what we like or don’t like if we haven’t given it a go?




A year ago I would have told you in no uncertain terms that I would never ride a bike in a velodrome or bungee-jump into a South African gorge. I would have thought you completely mad to suggest that jumping into the Irish Sea while coasteering might be fun. But a year ago, I would have been wrong. Turns out I loved each of those things and everything else that I found frightening and uncomfortable (as an aside, like Tracy Johnston in her book Shooting the Boh, my motivations are eerily similar. Johnston says, ”I am by nature a passive person who likes excitement; a person with no magnificent obsessions who loves to participate in them.”  Not to mention, that because she was writing about the Borneo rafting experience,  her trip was (Menno-Alert!) free).

But back to the topic of mid-life management…

There are all sorts of very good reasons why we quit exploring.  Let’s face it. We’re tired.

It’s easier to flop on the sofa at the end of the day and let the television bathe us in its mindless blue haze.  Besides, why embarrass ourselves? We know what we like and what we don’t, because surely we’ve already done it all?

Last night was a prime example. It was slopping buckets of rain and I wanted to stay home in the worst way. Instead, I met three girlfriends for a drop-in BellyFit class.  We were, let us say, the more mature ones in a crowded room of twenty-somethings. We punched and swung and stepped our way into a sweat and then – quite wisely – went out for beer, chicken wings and most importantly, laughter.

I don’t think my knees will have me going back to that class (which was a little too reminiscent of those heady Flashdance-inspired aerobics classes from the 80′s – Where are my leg warmers!?)  Still, I’m glad I tried it and surprise, surprise…I was no longer tired.

And so.

I’ve signed up for a collage course that starts this Saturday at Emily Carr. I’m also looking for other courses in video-making and heaven help us, I’m joining a Knit-Along (if you’ve ever seen my attempts at knitting, you’d know I’m truly pushing my boundaries!). I have my new weekly find-a-new-trail plan and we’ve booked a new walking holiday in England.

No one says I need to split any atoms. But as the dowager Countess Crawley said to Edith, “You must keep busy. You’re a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do.”



All I’m talking about here is stretching the parameters of the known boundaries. Something as simple as signing up for a community class or finding a YouTube video that inspires. Juggling perhaps? A new cooking trick?

Let’s take back that long-ago admonition to grow up and redefine it as something elastic and stretchy, pushing ourselves in new and expansive directions. Shake it up. Shake it out.  Whatever you do…shake something!

Whether you learn to bake bread or stand on your head, the important thing is to grow up.


“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson




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10 Responses
  1. Martha says:

    Great blog, as usual very inspiring, but I’m trying to recover from an epic cold with sore throat, headache, cough that I picked up in Whistler. I’ll be will taking it easy until we escape to Arizona at the end of the month.

    I love Masterpiece with Downton Abbey … never miss it!

  2. Colleen Friesen says:

    Ah Martha…that cold is a nasty piece of work. It sure is making the rounds. I do believe that even the Downton Abbey dowager would encourage rest and relaxation in lieu of new activities (though you know she’d only let you off the hook until you’re recovered!)
    The Arizona desert sounds like the perfect destination right now…have a great time!

  3. John A says:

    Ah, but the dowager countess also said “What is a ‘weekend’?” Love the Vonnegut quote!

  4. Laurie says:

    Smiling from ear to ear on this one – ‘Quell de helle?” is so bloody brilliant. I wish I could do the Emily Carr collage course with you… I think there’s a moratorium on me going as long as Annie is thinking of attending/attending/or recently attended it :) She is in a mad rush to build up her portfolio for her application there. I also saw the retrospective on Emily Carr’s tree & forest paintings at the VAG last week so this whole week is feeling emily-ish. Thanks for the coffee break!

  5. Carol Perehudoff says:

    Don’t get after me to stretch my brain. If it won’t return to its original dimensions, as per Emerson’s quote, it will be sagging along with the rest of me. My motto for 2014: Think less for a tauter mind!

  6. Colleen Friesen says:

    Carol, I hadn’t given due consideration to the saggy-gravitational pull of Emerson’s quote. I will definitely have to reconsider my position on this! There is definitely enough sag happening already!

  7. Colleen Friesen says:

    Dear Laurie-Channelling-Emily-Carr,
    I wish you were taking the course with me too. How ridiculously fun would that be? You are most welcome for the coffee break, though I must point out that you posted your comment at 4:07 pm and everyone knows coffee is at 3. You are running a little late m’dear!

  8. Colleen Friesen says:

    Glad you liked the Vonnegut quote John. I first discovered it when I found it on a card that I gave to Kevin :)
    Yes, the dowager did make a few slips on her grasp of life. I actually found a great YouTube clip of dowager moments. I’ll be adding it to facebook in a minute. Come over and check it out. She’s so fabulous!

  9. Susie says:

    Ok so maybe the bellyfit class wasn’t a keeper but aren’t you just a tad curious about the class after? Lap dancing with 6″ stilettos – almost as scary as bungee jumping into the abyss – just saying?

  10. Colleen Friesen says:

    Susan. You’re right. Perching on 6″ stilettos would be more terrifying than flinging myself into a gorge. I’m not certain I have to accept every challenge. Pretty sure I won’t be signing up for that or the pole dancing. Not this week anyway…

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