Local woman seeks new experiences with 52/52 ProjectWritten by Evan Brune | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Fifty-two new experiences in 52 weeks is one Toledo-area woman’s way of changing her life.
Sherry Stanfa-Stanley, director of communications at the University of Toledo Foundation and a writer of fiction and humor, decided she needed to break out of a 30-year slump.
“I realized I’ve spent the last 30 years doing pretty much the same thing,” Stanfa-Stanley said. “At some point, we grudgingly decide to keep doing the same thing or we can embrace change. I decided to embrace change.”She started with a trip to Italy and eventually sold her house and moved into a condo.
“It was time for a change in my life. It was kind of scary, but kind of liberating at the same time,” Stanfa-Stanley said. “Then I thought, ‘What else can I do? What other changes can I make?’”
These questions led to a plan: 52 new experiences in the 52 weeks leading up to her 52nd birthday. Stanfa-Stanley is now almost two months into her plan. She documents her experiences on a Facebook page titled “The 52/52 Project.”
“As a humor writer, a lot of the things were crazy, silly things [at first],” she said. “But a lot of new readers have been really excited and charged. A few have called me an inspiration. So, I’m adding a few serious ones that are more thought-provoking.”
These experiences have included entering a pizza-eating contest, taking a belly dancing class, visiting an adult bookstore, visiting a synagogue and going without caffeine for a week.
“It’s good to challenge myself,” Stanfa-Stanley said. “I’m hoping that this changes my life.”
While many of the things on her list are relatively simple to set up, like eating chocolate-covered insects, others will prove to be a challenge.
“I have a few ideas that will be difficult to set up, logistically,” she said. “For example, I want to spend a night in jail, and I’d rather not go the old-fashioned way.”
Stanfa-Stanley plans to spend a night in a haunted house, work for a day on a farm, work as a street mime and do a stand-up routine at a comedy club.
“That [last] one’s honestly probably the most terrifying on the list,” she said.
One of Stanfa-Stanley’s larger projects is running a 5K.
“I haven’t run in 20 years. I was never a runner. A few of the things on the list take just a few minutes to do, but this will take months,” she said.
Her other big event was to audition for the reality TV show “Survivor.”
“Fortunately, it didn’t involve any physical activity,” she said. “We had to come up with a one-minute spiel for the producers on why we thought we should be on the show.”
Stanfa-Stanley also tried hypnosis.
“It always kind of intrigued me,” she said. “The jury’s still out, but I think it was possible that I was hypnotized. I remember sitting there thinking I wasn’t hypnotized. Two minutes later, I had my legs up on a stool and I remember thinking, ‘Yeah, I should probably move my legs, but I can’t really do that right now.’ I don’t know, but it was a fascinating experience.”
Other things on her list include singing onstage for a local band, ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, working as a beekeeper and appearing in a talent show.
“I still haven’t found anyone to let me [sing onstage]. I don’t know what’s wrong with these people,” Stanfa-Stanley said. “I play a mean tambourine.
“There’s plenty to do,” she said. “I think the whole key is to look for things outside your comfort zone. Sure, do things you enjoy doing, but also ask, ‘What’s frightening, embarrassing or physically-challenging?’”
Stanfa-Stanley said the act of breaking out and trying something new does take courage, but is worth it in the end.
“I think people will surprise themselves if they try something new,” she said. “You just have to decide if you want to continue what you’re doing or change your life.”